Celtic Claddagh Jewelry: The legendary origins

What follows is the legend of how the first Celtic Claddagh Jewelry appeared on earth.

Once there was a great Irish prince Ailill who fell in love with a beautiful young girl called Lissadel, but she was of low birth so his family did not wish him to marry her.

Her father feared that Prince Ailill would only dishonor her and also refused to sanction the match.
The couple was very unhappy about all the objections to their relationship but Lissadell had a plan.

Once when she was a child a fairy called Ashling had befriended her and had taken her to visit fairy land or Tir na og as the ancient Irish called it.
On her return home to Ireland Ashling gave Lissadell a magic charm in the form of a Celtic love knot and told her that if she ever needed anything to hold the love knot in the air on mid summer’s night.

Mid summer’s night was approaching and Lissadell was resolved to summon Ashling’s help. She arranged for Ailill to wait nearby and on mid summer’s night she stole out of the house to the banks of Lough Gill and raised the magic love pendant in the air where it sparkled in the rays of the full moon.

Soon she heard music and shimmering lights approaching and then she saw Ashling coming towards her surrounded by a band of fairies dancing and playing music.
Lissadell told Ashling her story and Ashling asked to see Ailill so Ailill was summoned.

Ashling asked Ailill if he truly loved Lissadell to which he responded that he would give his heart, his crown and his life for her and hold her with his hands and arms for eternity.

On hearing this declaration of such profound love Ashling had her fairies fashion a beautiful pendant and earrings for Lissadell and a pair of shimmering rings with the symbols of hands holding a crowned heart.

And right there on mid summer’s night on the banks of Lough Gill surrounded by fairies as Lissadell wore her beautiful shimmering Celtic Claddagh jewelry the couple exchanged Claddagh rings and were betrothed in the bright light of the full moon as it shone over the beautiful lake.

And when the couple returned to their families and everybody saw the shimmering fairy Claddagh jewelry they could no longer object to the marriage.
As they were wedded Ailill declared “With this jewel, I give you the highest thing that I can offer, I hand you my naked heart crowned with my eternal love”

And so Claddagh jewelry has come to symbolize a powerful declaration of eternal love and friendship.
And they lived happily ever after.

Since then the Celtic Claddagh jewelry design has been used for pins, pendants, rings and earrings. As Irish people emigrated all over the world they took Claddagh jewelry with them and now it is popular as both wedding and friendship jewelry.

Today the Celtic Claddagh design is used to create exquisite earrings, pendants, pins and rings. To see some of the most beautiful Celtic Claddagh and Celtic Knotwork jewelry on the Internet visit www.CelticSpirit.com

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Secrets of Celtic Knotwork Jewelry

While Celtic knotwork jewelry design had it’s roots in the spiral and trumpet designs of the ancient Celtic and Neolithic past it emerged in the form with which we are now familiar in Celtic knotwork jewelry masterpieces such as the Tara Brooch and in the magnificent Celtic Insular Gospel manuscripts produced in Irish monastic settlements during the 6th and 7th century AD.

While the rest of Europe was in the dark ages Ireland was experiencing a golden age.

The Roman Empire had collapsed and Europe had entered the dark ages of mayhem and illiteracy, overrun by barbarian hordes of Angles, Saxons, Goths, Vandals and Visigoths who destroyed libraries, schools and everything else in sight.

In contrast Ireland was at peace, producing fine jewelry and was rapidly spawning the monastic universities and scriptoriums that would eventually save European culture.

The Book of Kells, the Book of Armagh, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Lichfield Gospels, the Book of Durrow and the St. Gall Gospel Book are just some of the great artistic creations of the period.

The Book of Kells is regarded as one of the pinnacles of this cultural achievement, which is now known as the Ultimate La Tene and is one of the sources that modern artists draw upon in the creation of designs for Celtic knotwork jewelry. Others include the Celtic high crosses and magnificent examples of metal work such as the Ardagh Chalice as well as jewelry such as the Tara Brooch.

Ireland had converted to Christianity without much struggle. The Druids said that there was no difference between Druidism and Christianity and the Irish monks educated in the Bardic traditions wore the Druidic Tonsure for several hundred years until it was banned by Rome.

This brings one to the possibility that these Irish monks were the heirs of the Druids and were greatly influenced by them. The Druidic pre-Christian Celts were the first European people known to believe in the transmigration and immortality of the human soul.

There have been suggestions that King Ashoka of Indian sent a Buddhist mission to Europe to convert them but consider the fact that the Goidelic and Brythonic languages are sister languages to Sanscrit and Gaelic is the oldest living language in the world.

That leads to the possibility that the Celts and the Arians of India had a common ancestery, probably in the North Pole where the Vedic Hymns are thought to have originated during the last Ice Age and so may also have shared some of the same philosophical and religious beliefs.

The question arises as to what these monks were doing with the production of these manuscripts. Obviously they were preserving lititature, but was there something else?

The knotwork and interlace designs that adorn these sumptuous pages are highly complex and require great focus and skill to produce. Were they using this medium to work on their attention in the same way that a mantra is used in meditation?

This question and others deserves further investigation if we are to understand the true meaning of Celtic knotwork design.

Today Celtic knotwork design is used to create exquisite earrings, pendants, pins and rings. To see some of the most beautiful Celtic knotwork jewelry on the Internet visit www.CelticSpirit.com.

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