I love symbolism. I search for it in stories, poems, movies & such. I have always believed that symbols and signs, while definitely not the same thing, often go hand in hand. I was excited when I stumbled onto the PBP blog & saw that this was the prompt this week. This gives me a chance (excuse) to do a little research into my favorite symbol.
The Claddagh symbol is one of the most popular Irish symbols today. It represents friendship, love, and loyalty. Both men and women wear this symbol.
The heart of the claddagh symbolizes love, the hands mean friendship, and the crown represents loyalty. There are a few different stories that try to explain the creation of this symbol.
One story is of Robert Joyce, an Irish fisherman, who traveled to the West Indies. As the story goes, he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery. As a slave, he worked for a goldsmith. Even though he was so far from home, he always remembered the woman he loved, Margaret. It was because of this love that he created the claddagh ring. When he was freed and returned home, he gave the ring to his love. They lived happily together from then on. Another story tells of how Margaret Joyce received the ring when and eagle dropped it into her lap.
The Claddagh symbol is often worn as a ring, but other jewelry items feature the Claddagh symbol. The Irish word for the claddagh ring is “fáinne Chladach.” As a ring, it is often worn as an engagement or wedding ring, but can be a symbol of friendship as well. Wearing a claddagh ring shows others the wearer’s relationship status. If worn on the right hand it means that the person is either looking for love or is dating someone. In this case, the heart will face either outward or inward from the wearer, respectively. When worn on the left hand, however, and more dedicated relationship is indicated. On the left hand with the crown facing out, it means the person is engaged. With it facing in, it means the person is married.
Claddagh rings are traditionally passed down to the next generation. This is often done on the wedding day. If there are no claddagh rings to pass down, the couple may look for new ones they wish to exchange and pass down to future generations.
The Claddagh symbol is a popular symbol used by many Celtic people today, especially the Irish. Although it is most common use is as a ring, Claddagh symbols can also be found as necklaces, tattoos, and other decorative items.
Respectfully copied from http://celtic-symbol-dictionary.com/claddagh_symbol.aspx and http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f90/pixiestix4betty/claddagh.gif
For me, the Claddagh symbol represents more about myself than it does about my pagan beliefs. When I see one I am first reminded of my Irish heritage. I don't know exactly how it all trickles down, but I know that I have Irish coming at me from both sides. The next thing it reminds me of is how loved I am. I have received a Claddagh ring from a very close friend, my husband gave me a Claddagh necklace when we were first dating, and I bought myself one during a very hard time in my life. I think about my brother and his family also, he and his wife used claddagh rings as wedding rings, and they also gave his daughter one during the ceremony to symbolize their togetherness as a new family. I think of my father and his trip to Ireland to see & experience some of his heritage as well.
After doing some reading into Irish & Celtic Paganism I found this quote that best describes my beliefs and why I think they are best aligned with paganism.
"Celtic spirituality did not just bring together the goddess of the land with the god of the cross; it brought together a deep love of nature, the heritage of paganism, with the new social ideals of Christianity."
Patricia Monaghan, Ph.D.
This quote comforts me with the fact that I can believe in God, as I was raised to, and I can also believe in Mother Nature, as a goddess that also provides for us. I don't have to be characterised as a witch (because I am not!).
I am glad I ran into this blog prompt. It was great to find this info. What's your symbol?