Skin Symbols A-B
Tattooing is all about symbols, and figuring out a way to translate your dreams and desires into a visual image. The language of symbols is ancient and surprisingly universal. Below are the traditional meanings that various cultures have assigned to some of the symbols that are often used in tattooing.
Anchor: To the Vikings and other sea-going Pagans, an anchor symbolized security, a safe harbor, the way home after the pillaging and plundering was done. Early Christians saw it as representation of salvation and hope.
Angels: Divine inspiration, messages from your "higher" self, protection.
Apple: Due to the association with the biblical story of Eve and Adam it's become the primary symbol of desires of the flesh, and also of a quest for knowledge.
Arrows: In Greek and Roman mythology they were used to symbolize the sun's rays, and represented messages from the Gods concerning your unavoidable destiny.
Ax: The single-headed ax symbolizes the triumph of justice over might. The double-headed ax first appeared in Cretan mythology and symbolizes your willingness to but through the crap and see yourself as you really are. Because the Cretans were a Goddess worshipping society, the double headed ax symbol has been adopted by feminists.
Bat: In eastern mythology it represents happiness and long life. In the West, mystery, the hidden side of life, the ability to see truth and to transform oneself.
Bear: Usually shows up in the myths as representing man's uncivilized self. In most Native American legends the bear has immense power to do both good and evil.
Buffalo: In Native American mythology, the buffalo symbolizes abundance. The imagery is also associated with leadership and its attendant sacrifice of self.
Bee: In ancient Egypt the bee symbolized industry and wealth. Because bees swarm up to the sky they came to represent the soul in both Greek mythology and Muslim tradition.
Bird: Every winded creature symbolizes some aspect of the spiritual journey. Birds often represent freedom; leaving a bad relationship or situation. The color of bird also has bearing on its function as a symbol; black usually means misfortune; red, success; blue, healing or messages; yellow, good luck; white, peace.
Bite: Images showing teeth or, in the case of tattooing the most popular "skin rip" designs, symbolizes instincts warning with conscience and a strong urge to speak the truth.
Blood: In all cultures blood symbolizes life and/or sacrifice.
Boar: The wild boar symbolizes raw sex and a stubborn nature. In Celtic legends the boar was one of the sacred animal symbols, but it still represented sex and willpower.
Bones: For obvious reasons bones represent foundations and endurance.
Bulls: The bull represents both heaven and earth, and the moon and sun. The association with lunar power is the older belief (the horns resemble the crescent moon). Its bellow was associated with thunder and so the bull also represented fertility, power, and courage.
Butterfly: In Gnostic (they were a sect of early Christians) writings the angel of death was shown as a winged foot crushing a butterfly, so the butterfly, unlike many other winged creatures, was associated with life rather than the soul. In China, it represents joy and wedded happiness.