Eft Triquetra: Red Spotted Newt

The delightful red-spotted or Eastern newt, Notophthalmus viridescens, is present throughout eastern North America and can be spotted in various stages of its distinctive life cycle.

Adult red- spotted newt, eol CC photo

Adult greenish-brown newts lay their eggs in fresh water where they will develop into larvae and, after about 3 months, transform into the juvenile eft phase. These young will move onto land before eventually shifting back to the water as grown newts. This variation in the amphibious life-cycle is different from most others as it includes the juvenile terrestrial phase. The Eastern newt’s red-eft stage is notable for its intense colouring and distinct spots along the back, which vary in number depending on the sub-species. The flashy orange- red hue is a clear warning, as they are 20 times more toxic to potential predators than during their aquatic stages!

Red eft newt larva, dreamtime stock photo

Eastern newts stay in this terrestrial phase for several years and you may find them burrowing or hibernating under rocks, logs and damp leaf litter where they can maintain needed moisture for their delicate skin. Most will then continue to metamorphose into grown newts, though some individuals stay in this terrestrial phase, only returning to pools to breed but not to live. Carnivores in each cycle, they rely on the presence of other small creatures such as fish, worms, snails and insects for their diet. For more information about Eastern newt biology, visit The Smithsonian's National Zoo (si.edu).

Red-spotted newt, eft stage, eol CC photo

 Newts are members of the lizard-like Salamander Order of Amphibians whose existence has been woven into a rich tapestry of myth and story related to their unique appearance, characteristics and cycles. Though they are amphibians, the name Salamander comes from the ancient Greek for “fire lizard”. This evocative name could stem from their multiple phases and ability to inhabit different environments- in reality: water and earth, in myth: earth and fire.

According to some legends, salamanders come from fire while in others they actually make fire and are thought to have taught this skill to humans. In many myths they are described as immune to fire and in the Talmud it is even suggested that anyone smeared with salamander blood will become fireproof themselves.

These legends reach across cultures and centuries - below is a drawing of a fire salamander creature from the 1500s! 

fire salamander, stock illustration,1560 ad
Another notable manifestation of salamander lore is within the metaphysical tradition of tarot. The suit of wands in this ancient divination tool is associated with the element of fire, symbolizing strength, creativity, inspiration, originality and expansive determination. In the traditional Rider Waite deck we see the Page under a flaming sun looking out over a blossoming wand, full of growth and potential. Her yellow- orange tunic and fire-y garments are covered with salamanders- embodiment of creative fire. They are continuously curving into circles, symbolizing her ability to transform desire into action and to alchemize stuck energy. Their transformative power helps show the seeker a new way of looking at the world while pyramids in the background allude to the growing potential of an adventurous life before her.  
Page of Wands Illustration, Tamara Clark, Eden Art
Because of their magical symbolism and led by their circular tendencies, I was drawn to render the eft stage of the spotted newt into a triquetra pattern, present throughout Celtic design, architecture and medieval manuscripts. The interlacing pattern is an ancient symbol of unity, strength and protection- often associated with the holy trinity or balance of eternal concepts: earth, air, water; mother, maiden, crone; birth, death, rebirth... 
I hope you've enjoyed delving into the nature of newts and the symbolism of salamanders. Have a look in the shop to see the eft triquetra nicely framed or on a selection of lovely things. Thanks for your interest! 
%3 to Conservation  🌍
Go to Shop page for Eft Triquetra, Illustration by  Tamara Clark, Eden Art