ICONOGRAPHY: A Day in the Life
Iconography, the identification, description, interpretation and meaning of a symbol or image, is an important part of Ildanach design and art throughout the ages. While much of our symbols and icons come from our Celtic perspective, we’ve found that at the basic, tribal level, many symbols are universal – these transcendent icons are found in almost every culture and philosophy.
Each of our symbols tends to not only have an interpretation but also a story. As space permits, we will include the story of an icon.
As iconography plays an important role in all that we do as artists, it is also important to note the source of our metals, for there is history here as well, and stories in the making. Each piece of art from the studios at Ildanach begins their day as something else. A bracelet may start out its day as a copper water pipe. Earrings begin as copper gutters or downspouts. Spirals and clasps have sown lightning in that they were once electrical wiring. Neckwear has protected the homes of generations of families as ceiling tiles and roofing.
So take the time to pick up the iconography of a design new to you, or compare what you know of a symbol with our Celtic ancestors. Check the Alpha Listing for a quick jump point to a specific icon.
Salmon of Wisdom
Awen: Creative Soul, Poetic Inspiration, Breath of the Source. Awen is often depicted as a sun with three rays shining down. Forensic study has taught us that the stone upon which an Awen symbol was originally found had broken off and fallen – the symbol was actually pointing upward. The dot in the center is the individual’s place in the Universe. One upward ray represents feminine intuition and energy, one ray that of masculine creativeness and energy and the middle ray the synergy and farsight created by the two. Awen is quite possibly the most fundamental symbol for anyone of creative intent.
Bear: Grandfather bear, healer, clown and wise one. Bear is a powerful totem – strength, wisdom, humor and guardianship.
Bee: Mana bringer and provider. Productive, resourceful, protective. Typically seen as a feminine energy, but can be masculine as well.
Bison: Sacred energy, foresight, endurance. As a representative of the bovine totem, bison is a strong leader and true to family.
Butterfly: New life, rejuvenation, beauty, resourcefulness.
Cat: Longevity, companionship, resourcefulness, curiosity, farsight, adaptability. Wise one, Messenger of the Ancients and Watcher of the Ways.
Cross, Celtic: Also known as the medicine wheel and great cycle this is a symbol of balance, equality, healing, faith, hope and synergy. The ring represents female energy and fertility as well as the earth and its energy. The cross represents male energy and fertility as well as the universe and its energy, and the representation of salvation. Together, they represent our place in the universe and the synergy of energies. Once thought to be the combination of pagan and Christian iconography, we now know this symbol is much older in many cultures and is important to both pagan and Christian iconography.
Cougar: See Cat, only moreso.
Deer: See Stag.
Dog: See Wolf.
Dragonfly: Guardian, wind dancer, hunter, provider.
Elements: Known in all cultures, there are many and varied symbols for the elements.
Feather: The Feather and Feathers represent those they once adorned and as many birds are considered to be messengers, their feathers are known as a sign of wisdom, knowledge, communication and the seeking ability to find/search/scout. Feathers of Ravens, being Soul Carriers for example, are symbols of knowledge and communication with the Other World (Heaven). An Eagle feather would be a symbol of communication or guidance from the Source and various Aspects and therefore Universal (celestial) wisdoms. Feathers, much like in Native American cultures, also represent the power and abilities of thunder, the winds and the element of Air. Do not forget or underestimate the feathers of the smaller bird folk and their wisdoms as well.
Fish: See Salmon.
Goddess: Feminine, Nurturing, Creation, Vision. This particular ancient symbol depicts the strength of feminine energy as she upholds the universe, the nurturing and life-bearing aspects and the sacred cup.
Green Man: See Guardian Aspect.
Guardian Aspect: Farseeing, Protection, Presence, Wisdom. The oldest depiction of the Green Man, the guardian aspect represents the masculine and the cycle of the seasons. Looking at the Guardian, you will see his helmeted head. Upon closer inspection, his nasal becomes the trunk of the Tree of Life, his cheekplates become strong branches, his crest the far reaching canopy, his mustache the nourishing roots and his mouth the wellspring.
Horse: Endurance, freedom, family, stubbornness, protective, creative.
Knotwork, Orkney: Eternity, Wisdom, the Journey of Life, meta-Union. Found in many ancient works such as the Lindisfarne gospels, this particular endless knot is often associated with the Orkney Isles of Scotland.
Knotwork, Tibetan: Great Cycle, Eternity, Constancy. Found in many cultures, this endless knot is particularly prevalent in Hindu, Buddhist and Celtic cultures.
Kokopelli: Fertility, Knowledge, Music
Lotus/Crown Chakra: Universal Consciousness, Unity, Balance, Life. Known at the Thousand-petaled Lotus, this symbol can also be found as a rosary or geometric symbol in architecture.
Moon, Crescent: Celestial, Feminine, Wisdom, Ocean Tides. As a waxing moon, the crescent is a symbol of fertility, growing strength and potential. As a waning moon, it represents caution, stored energy and renewal.
Music: Harmony, Rhythm, Symmetry and Asymmetry. As the language of the soul, music represents emotions and mathematical influence.
Om: Energy, Centeredness, Awareness, Clarity, Resonance.
Owl: Wisdom, nightsight, quiet contemplation.
Pard: See Cat. Father of all Great Spotted Cats, Paard was said to be able to take the form of a man. He is also said to be the only animal who can defeat the dragon. Farseer, Guardian Aspect, Healer, Tactician.
Peace: Popularized in the 1960’s as the symbol of peace, this icon is actually ancient in origin and represents Universal Balance.
Raven: Soul Carrier, Messenger, Guide.
Sacred Cup & Sword: Representing the Sacred Feminine (equilateral triangle with flat side up) and Sacred Masculine (equilateral triangle with flat side down) and their synergy in Creation.
Salmon of Wisdom: Wisdom, Courage, Craft, Clarity.
Spiral: Protection, Time, Great Cycle, Universe. One of the transcendent symbols, the spiral means many things to many cultures but predominantly guardianship and protection as well as a symbol for the universe.
Sri Yantra: The sacred instrument/wheel. Representing balance and the unity of the Masculine and Feminine divine – uplifting both for their individual and dual natures. 9 Triangles (Sacred Cup & Sacred Sword) intertwining to form 43 triangles within the lotus and steps of the temples nine levels.
Stag: Protection, freedom, sacred energy, masculine energy.
Star: Celestial, Masculine, Power/Energy.
Sun: See Star.
Tree of Life: Great Cycle, Interconnection, Creation, Wisdom. The Aspect which binds the road twix Earth and the Universe and Heaven/Otherworld.
Tree, Aspen: One of the Nine Sacred Woods of Celtic Philosophy, each region has woods who’s aspect is important as a totem and symbol. Those Nine Sacred Woods of traditional Celtic peoples tend to carry true throughout the world in cousin species and Woods sacred to other Cultures. Aspen represents Vision, Farsight, Victory, Transformation, Divination and Resurrection.
Tree, Fir: One of the Nine Sacred Woods of Celtic Philosophy, each region has woods who’s aspect is important as a totem and symbol. Those Nine Sacred Woods of traditional Celtic peoples tend to carry true throughout the world in cousin species and Woods sacred to other Cultures. Fir represents Longevity, Clarity, Wisdom, Energy, Focus, Imagination and Stamina.
Tree, Oak: One of the Nine Sacred Woods of Celtic Philosophy, each region has woods who’s aspect is important as a totem and symbol. Those Nine Sacred Woods of traditional Celtic peoples tend to carry true throughout the world in cousin species and Woods sacred to other Cultures. Oak represents Strength, Endurance, Stability, Nobility, Knowledge and Protection.
Tribal: Celestial, Speed, Strength, Agility.
Turtle: Determined, sure, cautious, adaptable, endurance.
Wolf: Natural Guardian, Family, Curiosity, Synergy, Herald of Nature’s Aspect, Scout and Tracker.
Yin Yang: Interconnectedness, Positive Duality, Male/Female Synergy, Balance.