Symbolic Tattoo Ideas and Meanings
Your Source for Meaningful Tattoo Ideas
It’s no secret, I love tattoos. So much so, I’ve decided to devote a section of this website to meaningful tattoo ideas based on symbolism found in ancient/indigenous cultures around the world. This is really just an extension of the work I’ve been doing throughout whats-your-sign.com for the last seven years (and hopefully, for many years to come).
So why am I so jazzed about tattoos? Quite simply, tattooing (to me) is a soulful practice of permanently galvanizing a symbolic tenet or belief system.
I’m consistently preaching about the importance of keeping a keen spiritual eye fixed on symbolic meanings for self-development and improvement. Once identified and interpreted, our symbolic phenomenon can serve as a narrative for our lives, a guide for right behavior and ideals that enhance our well-being.
To some folks (yours truly included) there are certain symbols or symbolic concepts that are worthy of submerging ourselves into for full integration into our lives. Tattooing can provide this gift of total submersion and integration into a symbolic ideal.
It’s not just because a tattooed concept is permanent (although that certainly lends gravity to a symbolic idea). The process of tattooing is a ritual, essentially engraving a symbolic ideal into our being. When approached holistically, tattooing is an emotional, physical, spiritual and mental experience – a full-force experience that is truly permanent on all levels.
In time, I hope to fully develop this section of symbolic tattoo ideas into areas of tattooing itself, in which I go into deeper discussions about this concept of symbolic submersion and galvanization through tattooing.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the symbolic tattoo ideas I’ve offered on this website.
Note: If you’ve been re-directed to this page from tattoo-symbolism.com, a website I started in 2009, but have since removed from the internet (in 2011), no worries…all the information that was on tattoo-symbolism can be found here, plus more.
Categories for Symbolic and Meaningful Tattoo Ideas
Below are different classes of tattoos. From cultural and tribal tattoos to animal and flower tattoos, you’ll find something to inspire your next ink adventure.
Please keep in mind, these articles are written according to historical view of each symbol. You’ll get an understanding of how the Celtic people viewed certain symbols as well as Native Americans, Chinese and more. And of course, each tattoo article here is written with my own opinion. But that’s all these articles are. Opinions.
Even though we have proof a certain symbol means something in a certain culture – doesn’t mean that’s the end of the line. For example: If you want an owl tattoo, but maybe you’re hung up on learning the owl has some dark or negative meanings in certain cultures. I say, “so what?” A symbol (as a tattoo) is only as powerful as the meaning we give it. All this to say, I hope these articles are helpful, but please give yourself the freedom and permission to express yourself the way you see fit.
“Tattoos are like stories –
they’re symbolic of the important moments in your life.
Sitting down, talking about where you got each tattoo and what
it symbolizes, is really beautiful.”
Animal Tattoo Ideas
Animal tattoos are overwhelmingly meaningful. Why? Well, consider the animal kingdom. It’s all about what is primal. And what is more primal than reverting back to ancient, tribal roots through tattooing?
That’s just one side of the story. The other reason animal tattoo ideas are so powerful is this: They each convey a unique and profound meaning.
Whether a sparrow or a wolf, animal tattoos are perfectly poised to express an infinite array of meanings.
Almost all tattoos represent freedom. I mean, they’re not tied behind a desk, animals aren’t obligated to pay rent, and they certainly aren’t chained to a cell phone. Birds, bees, bears, bass…they all roam free, without ties. As such, many of us often look to the animal kingdom to convey this sense of vast freedom.
For more inspiration from the animal kingdom, check out Animal Totems and Animal Meanings. This article will provide you with the core meanings about animals and their profound messages they have to share with us.
According to Dictionary.com, there are two definitions for ‘celestial’.
- Pertaining to the sky or visible heaven, or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere, as in celestial body.
- Pertaining to the spiritual or invisible heaven; heavenly; divine.
The beauty about celestial tattoos is that the sky is the limit (pardon the pun). Consider: The universe is infinite.
That means you have an endless playground from which to pick and choose the perfect celestial body that represents your boundless personality.
From moons to meteorites, suns to stars, planets to pulsars…our cosmos has a myriad of meanings for your tattoo ideas.
Celestial tattoos aren’t just about outer space. These tattoos deal with spiritual and divine concepts. If you think about it, you can’t see beyond our galaxy. You can’t really see spirituality either. To discover a symbol that pins down the ephemeral concept of mind and spirit is a great way to remind ourselves that even if not seen, these essential concepts are certainly real.
“Sometimes magnificent visual art
takes root in the humblest of soils.
Tattoos and many other non-galleried forms of art have hosted
and fostered esthetic delights
that satisfy any rigorous definition of art.”
Tattoo Symbol Ideas
In truth, every tattoo is a symbol. Even the airiest concepts are funneled in our minds and squirt out in physical, visual form with the end result being our precious ink.
The whole idea of tattooing is highly symbolic. Ideally, one considers getting a tattoo in order to convey a symbolic concept that is meaningful and profound in his/her world.
So if all tattoos are symbolic, and all our ink is a symbol…what differentiates this class from all the others listed here? Simple. The following links to tattoo ideas are clear-cut symbols.
Meaning, it is a visual pictogram created sometime in history that represents an entire culture, cultural belief system, or era in which a movement has taken place. Take the peace sign for example. That is a symbol created in order to represent a movement that started 60s. The ank is a symbol created by ancient Egyptians to represent life as well as the continuation of life.
Not sure what the heck I’m talking about? Maybe my article about symbols and their meanings might help: Symbols FAQ. This article will provide you with the essential ideals behind symbols and what they’re all about.
Cultural, Mythological Tattoo Ideas
How cool is this…creating a custom tattoo from the stuff of myth and lore. I’m just not sure it gets any better than that. Why? Because myths are cultural beliefs are built on everything we’ve been talking about up until this point… with one caveat. A myth or a cultural belief is formed around environment (like nature, from which we can draw great tattoo ideas) plus the human dynamic.
So here’s the formula of a legend: Era+Environment+Human Behavior=Legend.
And how much more legendary can we get than our own tattoos? In essence, our tattoos are our own myth, our own legend, our own lore, our own culture. You get the idea. Cultural views and myths are a timeline through human history. If we adopt symbols from these histories, we are affirming the plight and pleasure of being human. To be sure, these unique tattoo ideas are fodder for fabulous ink.
For more inspiration you might be interested in my articles on god and goddess symbols:God and Goddess Symbol Meanings. This article will provide you with great tattoo ideas steeped in mythological deities.
I hope you enjoy these articles on various meanings of tattoos. What’s more, I hope these articles inspire you and give you some wicked-awesome tattoo ideas. Please keep in mind, the information in these articles are drawn from cultural, historical accounts as well as personal views.
I’ve had a lot of contact with tattoo artists around the world. I’ve also hung around a lot of folks with ink. A wonderful thing happens when one submerges oneself into the ink culture. A marvelous blend of ideas, artistic views and perspectives start swirling and everybody gets jazzed about the one-of-a-kind self-expression through tattoos. In the end, everybody I’ve spoken to agrees…a tattoo is a symbol. It is a symbol of who you are, what you’re about, where you’ve been and/or where you want to go. It is my greatest wish that the information in these articles and throughout this website offer some ammunition so you can fire off the best expression of yourself to the world.
As always, thank you for reading.
May all your ink adventures be illuminating,