Triquetra comes from the Latin triquetrus meaning “three cornered”.
It is made up of three intersecting vesica pisces that are sometimes interlaced with a circle. To early Christians, the triquetra symbolised the Holy Trinity—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. With the Celtic Revival in the 1800s this knot gradually grew to become an iconic symbol that implied the Möbius strip.
The triquetra is derived from the intersection of three implied circles and it faces upwards—a masculine symbol. The oldest example of this design comes from the face of the Sphinx which is discussed here. Leaving aside dozens of religious interpretations however, the triquetra is actually symbolic of truth. This is the conjunction of the three seats of consciousness within the human body—the Mer-ka-ba.
The brain is a key component of your central nervous system, with neural activity acting as a key processing unit of the body. This complex mass of tissue holds millions of neural connections, through to the nervous system via the spinal cord. Apart from the high electrical activity that is occurring through a vast network of neural pathways, neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors also fire constantly.
Acetylcholine (mind) is a brain chemical that plays a key role in cerebral function including memory, thinking, and learning. Supplements that increase acetylcholine levels have gained interest as nootropics—natural substances that may improve mental performance. One of the easiest ways to raise acetylcholine levels is to consume foods or take dietary supplements that are high in choline—an essential nutrient that can be converted into acetylcholine.
The heart is another neural system that has the ability to learn, remember and make original decisions. The electrical field produced by the heart is 60 times stronger than the brain with a magnetic field 500 times more intense. The heart’s nervous system contains neurons and releases a number of neurotransmitters, including dopamine. The heart’s own elaborate, self-contained neural system explains why some heart transplant patients adopt the behaviours and attitudes of their donors.
Dopamine (emotion) is an organic chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter—released by heart neurons to send signals to other nerve cells. In layman’s terms, dopamine is stimulated by the “pleasure” aspect of love. It’s also triggered when a baby hears her mother’s voice. Dopamine alerts us that our needs are about to be met. Good diet, enough sleep and regular exercise help to boost dopamine levels. Music and meditation are also beneficial.
Finally, the gut produces most of the body’s serotonin, with sheaths of approximately 100 million neurons embedded from your oesophagus down to your anus. This is called the enteric nervous system. It even has more neurons than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system. In addition to this, your gut contains billions of bacteria—there are 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells in your body.
Serotonin (instinct) is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Serotonin is stimulated by the status aspect of love—the pride of associating with a partner of high regard. While popular in a man’s choice, it is a requirement in a woman’s because couples with higher stature have more reproductive success. In other words, natural selection is aligned with our serotonergic, discerning instincts.
So in spiritual terms, acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin affect the higher, middle and lower energy centres respectively. Put another way, the brain (light), heart (spirit) and gut (soul), are the three main organs of consciousness. The triquetra then, is symbolic of the union of these elements the Greeks called agape.