Dragon Tattoo Meanings
It's no secret...at least it shouldn't be a secret if you poke around my websites. I'm enchanted with dragons. Always have been. The iconic dragon has wavered in and out of fad and collective imagery over the years. But I loved them before they were deemed 'cool' in pop-tattoo culture.
Why? Dunno, really. Just do. It might have something to do with coming into contact with them when I was a kid. Even before I could read, I remember dragons paying me visits. They'd talk to me, keep me company, protect me. Was I a lonely kid? Yeah. Did I have an uber-active imagination? You bet. Did this contribute to these dragon encounters? Maybe. It doesn't really matter. The crux of any kind of encounter is affinity. From the moment of our birth to our last breath, we emanate energetic messages out into our environment. Who or whatever heeds our call is a reflection of our own energy, our own need, our own personality. Such was (and is) the case with me and dragons.
So what's the big deal about dragon tattoo meanings? Why are these beasts featured (in one form or another) in almost every cultural landscape? For that matter, why do I have them tattooed all over my body? What is it about dragons that demands such attention? Plenty.
As mentioned, dragons have flown in and out of almost every cultural myth and legend. They're even mentioned in the Bible. I think this is because dragons embody all potential. They have the capacity to express the best and the worst of the human condition...as well as everything in between. These are magical beings. As such, the room for opportunity and potential is infinite. I think that's the key to dragon tattoo meanings. There is no limit to what, why and how dragons represent facets of life, humanity and even the universe.
As a powerhouse of potential, dragons are also symbols of duality. It's just the law of the land when it comes to the realm of possibilities. Why? Because for every good potential meaning, there is its opposite...the not-so-good. There are precious few models who sublimely demonstrate extreme possibility and duality as the dragon does.
Take a cross-cut of cultural view of the dragon as an example. Huh? I mean, the essence of dragon duality can be observed on a global scale. Meaning...in the East, dragons are generally considered good peeps, homies, righteous bros. In the West, however, dragons are often demonized and viewed in a negative light. There are variances, but it's an interesting example of what I've been talking about: Potential and Duality.
Let's expand on dragon iconography and dragon tattoo meanings on these two sides of the coin. In the East, such as China, the dragon is a symbol of luck, prosperity and protection. In the West, such as Europe, the dragon has a long held reputation of avarice (greed), immorality and chaos. These are broad strokes, but it paints a general picture of dragon symbolism in the two hemispheres of the world.
So what's your take? On which side do you stand? Good or bad? East or West? It's your tattoo (if, in fact you're reading this for tattoo research), so where on the scale of polarity does the dragon sit in your opinion?
Maybe these keywords for dragon tattoo meanings might help your decision-making process...
Big list, eh? In truth, it should be bigger...infinite, really, because the dragon is the embodiment of all potential, all possibility.
Maybe a closer look at legend and lore can offer more insight into your dragon tattoo research.
For example, dozens of saints are depicted slaying dragons in Western European and Christian legends. From Saint George to Saint Michael - they all cast their will and determination upon the dragon with a goal to vanquish it. In fact, the phrase: "By George, I think he's got it!" comes from Saint George defeating a legendary dragon.
To understand this Western dragon-ideology, it's good to get a feel for the lay of the land way back then. In short, there was a lot of conflict. From religious conversion, to warring over territories to even the plague...there was a lot of so-called 'evil' to be fought back then. Essentially, the dragon in these medieval/Christian tales represented bad stuff. Stuff like disease, enemies and 'sin' that needed to be defeated, eliminated. So, the dragon becomes an allegorical escape-goat for all the stuff that needed to be gotten rid of. How does this translate to dragon tattoo meanings? Well, I can't speak for you, but I can relate my own personal experience....
Like the dragon itself, I tend to teeter on both ends of polar opposites. I borrow both positive and so-called negative aspects from the dragon. In the above-mentioned scenario, the dragon is a symbol of that which weakens me. From negative thinking to addictions, the dragon represents the ferocity of errant thought/behavior. Some of my dragon tattoos remind me that succumbing to my addictions or 'stinkin' thinkin' can drag me down an unwanted path. Maybe it's similar with you. In this respect, dragon tattoo meanings can serve as a reminder...A reminder that, if left unchecked, we can become consumed by the paralyzing plague of the mind. The dragon can remind us that our will, our faith, our determination can vanquish the wild tendencies of destructive behavior.
Vice versa, there are countless positive attributes to dragon tattoo meanings....even in Western perspective. In the East, the dragon was a common symbol for emperorship. It was synonymous with royalty, nobility and beyond. Consider what it takes to rule an empire. Wisdom, discernment, strength, compassion, shrewdness. The dragon is all of these things and more.
The far East also aligns universal powers with the dragon. To explain, there is a dragon that governs fire, earth, air, water, the celestial heavens, etc. This is symbolic of balance. It's symbolic of equality. Dragons keep things in-check, they maintain homeostasis. This is essential for the constancy of the universe. It's also essential for good rulership. So what does this mean for a dragon tattoo? Here again, I can only speak from my experience...
In my case, it means the dragon symbolizes smart, balanced rule over my domain. My dragon tattoos remind me I have dominion over one thing, and one thing only: Myself. Dragons illustrate inherent power and wisdom to reform my action within my personal empire. When I exercise poor rulership (meaning, I think crappy thoughts, do stupid things that damage my life, etc), my dragons are a source of power and protection. They trigger my awareness back to ideals like nobility, integrity, purity. This may seem like an extreme (or odd) way to keep myself in-balance, but it works for me.
So what is the core essence of dragon tattoo meanings? Maybe it's about personal choice. Dragons have suffered a bad rap, they've been maligned...but they've also been revered and honored. In truth, dragons could care less about their reputation. I like that. It speaks of impartiality. Impartiality is the center of the spectrum of good vs. evil. It represents the fulcrum upon which true internal balance can be achieved. I think that's the epitome of dragon meaning.
Here again, the dragon deals with potential and opportunity. Life is what we make of it. Same with the dragon. They are what we perceive them to be. So ultimately, dragon tattoos are what we establish them to be.
I hope you've enjoyed this article on dragon tattoo meanings. If you did, don't miss my other article on Dragon Meanings here.
As always, thanks for reading. Moreover, thanks for indulging me this rather personal account of my own dragon tattoo journey.
Happy tattooing, and may all your dragon encounters be enchanting. :)
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!