Eye of Horus Meaning
and Tattoo Ideas
The symbolism of the eye of Horus can be complicated at best, and downright perplexing. It's because the eye of Horus itself is a symbol that is a mixture of many different symbols and archetypal significance. In essence, the eye symbol of the Egyptian sun-god Horus is an amalgamation of many different meanings all tied up in one tidy package. Now, let's unwrap that package and see what we find...
The eye of Horus is also known as wedjat, utchat, ujat and there are other terms for the symbol. All of the terms mean "eye" in some form, like: Painted eye, Green eye, Sound eye, Seeing eye, Hawk eye, etc.
There are three major components of the wedjat that beg exploration when researching this tattoo meaning...
As mentioned, the wedjat is a symbol belonging to the Egyptian god Horus. Horus was a sun god, and one of the oldest among the Egyptian pantheon. The sun is thought of as an "all seeing eye" - it is the opening through which light emits - allowing all things to be illuminated, and hence made clear to the sun god Horus. Simply put, the sun and the eye are synonymous, and as his symbol, so too is Horus the all seeing one.
This goes a ways to explaining why the eye of Horus is so frequently seen in funerary objects. The wedjat opens and shines a ray of light upon the path of the underworlds, essentially leading a soul upon its journey by the all-seeing, ever-shining eye of the sun.
Learn more about the symbolic meaning of the eye here.
The explanations are varied. One account describes the downward stroke under the eye of Horus to represent the rip caused by the Egyptian god Set. Apparently, the two gods were fighting over Osiris's throne. Set got hold of Horus' eye, and ripped it out - hence causing the tear marking of the wedjat. Thoth, a god of balance, harmony and mediation, restored Horus' eye, but the downward gash remained as a scar to remind all Egyptians to essentially "play nice."
Another opinion is that the mark mimics the markings around the eye of the falcon, specifically a peregrine falcon. This is logical, as the falcon is a sacred animal to Horus. The falcon is also a solar animal - associated with the sun, and Egyptian wisdom ascribes the falcon as all-seeing from its vantage point in the sky.
More about symbolic meaning of Falcons here.
In addition to the falcon, a serpent was another sacred animal to Horus. But not just any serpent The spiral marking represents Ureaus, a fire-spewing serpent that protected Horus, Ra the pharaoh and all of Egypt. Ureaus is a female serpent, who is also all-seeing, and is often associated with the cobra. The cobra is a sacred symbol in Egyptian wisdom, with the power to give or take away life. The symbolism of life (or lack thereof) is likely due to the poisonous venom of the cobra.
Find more about symbolic meanings of serpents here.
The spiral extending from the eye of Horus may also be symbolic of the expansion of consciousness after death according to pre-dynastic Egyptian wisdom. Specifically, the Egyptian spiral is symbolic of life/death, expansion/contraction, growth/recession. Similarly, the spiral is a representation of the cyclical nature of life, and its continuity. In other words, the spiral illustrates the idea that all life is expressed in a cycle. For example, to the Egyptians, death is not an ending - it is another curve in the spiral of life - a new cycle of life - a different form of existence.
Learn more about the symbolism of the spiral here.
Knowing the symbolic meaning of the components to the eye of Horus is a way to flesh out your understanding of this symbol and its tattoo meaning. When combined, these elements create a powerful symbol. It's no wonder the wedjat is seen in so many amulets, tablets and tombs in ancient Egypt...it is a pervasive symbol of power, protection and illumination. Here is a quick list of symbolic highlights the eye of Horus represents...
When considering the eye of Horus' tattoo meaning, it's a good idea to consider our motivations behind wanting this symbol of power. Here are some tattoo ideas and motivations for having an eye of Horus tattoo...
These are just a few tattoo ideas concerning the eye of Horus meaning. I hope these details have given you some guidance into this powerful symbol. Please know...this is a mere smattering of meaning concerning a very complex symbol shrouded in mystery and mysticism. If you're serious about getting this as a tattoo, I would strongly recommend diving deeply into more research on the eye of Horus meaning, and its significance in ancient Egyptian wisdom.
Be sure to check out the links at the end of this page for more symbolic meanings related to the wedjat, and more tattoo ideas too. Thanks for reading, and happy tattooing!
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!