Triquetra (IPA: [tɹaɪ’kwεtɹə]) is a word derived from the Latin tri- (“three”) and quetrus (“cornered”). Its original meaning was simply “triangle” and it has been used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. Nowadays, it has come to refer exclusively to a certain more complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it. This widely recognized symbol has been used in for the past two centuries a sign of special things and persons that are threefold.
The triquetra has been found on runestones in Northern Europe and on early Germanic coins. It presumably had pagan religious meaning and it bears a resemblance to the Valknut, a symbol associated with Odin.
The triquetra is often found in Insular art, most notably metal work and in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells. The fact that the triquetra very rarely stood alone in medieval Celtic has cast a reasonable doubt on its use as a symbol in context where it was used primarily as a space filler or ornament in much more complex compositions. But Celtic art lives on as both a living folk art tradition and through several revivals. This widely recognized knot has been used in for the past two centuries a sign of special things and persons that are threefold, such as Mother, Daughter and Grandmother – Past, Present and Future -and especially the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It can also mean Self, brother, and sister.
The symbol was later used by Christians as a symbol of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This appropriation was particularly easy because the triquetra conveniently incorporated three shapes that could be interpreted as Christian Ιχθυς symbols.
A common representation of the symbol is with a circle that goes through the three interconnected loops of the Triquetra. The circle emphasizes the unity of the whole combination of the three elements.
Modern Pagans use the triquetra to symbolize a variety of concepts and mythological figures.
Germanic Neopagan groups who use the triquetra to symbolize their faith generally believe it is originally of Norse and Germanic origins. Celtic Reconstructionist Pagans use the triquetra either to represent one of the various triplicities in their cosmology and theology (such as the tripartite division of the world into the realms of Land, Sea and Sky), or as a symbol of one of the specific triple Goddesses, for example, The Morrígan.
The symbol is also sometimes used by Wiccans and some New Agers to symbolize either the Wiccan triple goddess, the interconnected parts of our existence (Mind, Body, and Soul), or many other concepts that seem to fit into this idea of a unity.