There’s a chance you’ve seen tattoos of many spiritual symbols. Some people get them out of devotion to whichever religion or culture they hail from. Maybe it isn’t a particular belief in a religion but a respect for the meaning of the symbol in their own life.
There are many famous religious symbols, some are ancient, and some have undiscoverable origin stories, making it impossible to decipher where they come from.
Whether you’re looking to choose a symbol of meaning to get tattooed or get some inspiration to create your own spiritual symbol of meaning for some body art, Mad Rabbit’s got you with the what’s what.
One of the most recognizable symbols in the Western World is the cross. It’s most widely understood to be a Christian symbol. In general, it’s a symbol of devotion to the religion and all that it stands for.
In Christianity and Catholicism, the cross is where Jesus died for everyone's sins. It’s also a point of prayer, where your sins and questions can be heard and answered. The symbol represents God’s benevolence and love. For some, the cross may represent home and community.
A sacred heart refers to the heart of Jesus and is representative of boundless love for God. The image of the Sacred Heart is usually adorned with roses, thorns, a cross, or arrows.
Thorns and arrows puncturing the heart are representative of Jesus’ sacrifice. Fire burns from the top of the heart as a reminder of Jesus’ burning love for his people. If you get a sacred heart tattoo, you can get creative with how you’d like to adorn yours.
The Virgin Mary is the virgin mother of Jesus who bore Jesus in a miracle occurrence. She represents motherly love and sanctuary. The Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadelupe, or Mother Mary, is usually depicted with open arms, accepting all those who need her motherly love.
She is also usually surrounded by beams of lights depicting her connection to the divine. Below her is usually an angel or multiple angels, as she is the mother of Jesus and protector of all children.
The Om or Aum is a mantra sound represented by a Hindu symbol that looks like a three, accompanied by a few other figures. Om is the sound of all time and creation. It’s the OG universal vibration.
Om represents collectiveness in a way; it is the essence of everything. Try chanting “Om” three times. Start with a deep breath, and while releasing air from your mouth, make the “Om” sound from deep in your belly.
This practice is used as a meditative and alignment practice. An Om symbol tattoo can be a great reminder to center yourself and remind you of your interconnectedness to everything.
Okay, this is a big umbrella term. There are a ton of astrological symbols. Each sign has a symbol, and there are the planets, stars, constellations, and houses. Astrology studies relational celestial movements and how they influence the universe.
If you’ve ever heard someone ask what your “sun” or “star sign” is, that’s astrology speak. Chances are, if you’re getting an astrology tattoo, you already know what your placements are and what they stand for.
If not, but you’re interested, we suggest finding out your time and place of birth and then googling “birth chart” or “natal chart.”
Lotus flowers, like succulents, are famous for growing in harsh conditions. Lotus flowers bloom in murky, swap-like waters and symbolize resilience and courage. It is famous for being a Buddhist symbol used in Buddhist shrines.
But the history of the lotus flower, like many symbols, isn’t limited to one religion or culture. Many people use it, but generally, it represents beauty, purity, courage, and resilience.
It also resembles a mandala, as most flowers do. The color of a lotus can also mean different things — white for purity, red for passion, pink for femininity, and so on.
A mandala is a symbol of universal life and the universe's interconnectedness. Mandala means circle or center in Sanskrit. They can remind you that you are not alone; there is always a bigger picture.
Mandalas also remind us that there are cycles of existence beyond death and that life is part of a larger infinity. Creating a mandala is a meditation in itself, starting from the inner circle and creating a completely symmetrical design going outwards. Creating a meditative connection to mandalas can be useful in centering yourself.
The Hamsa is also known as the Hand of God. It’s an ancient Middle Eastern symbol of protection. In Judaism, it’s a reminder of the power of prayer. The Hamsa is said to bring good luck and positivity.
It’s a symmetrical five-finger hand with what looks like two thumbs curving outwards on each side. It’s noted as representing the Mesopotamian goddess of heaven. The hand repels evil when the right side is up; when it’s upside down, it’s a symbol of invitation.
The Hamsa, in Judaism, is thought to be the hand of Miriam, Moses's sister. It’s common to find it in synagogues as well as Islamic homes. The Hamsa is meaningful to Islamic cultures as well.
The chakras are parts of an energy system that originated in ancient India. They are described in ancient texts dating back to 1000 BC.
They are seven points of consciousness represented by different parts of the body. They start at the base of your pelvic floor and reach up to the crown of your head. We’ll briefly explain each one from bottom to top.
This chakra is located at your pelvic floor. It is your foundation. It represents basic human instincts: survival and stability. It is the grounding point.
This chakra is located at your lower belly, under your belly button, and over your sexual organs. This chakra represents your sexuality and creative energy. It’s the pleasure chakra.
Solar Plexus Chakra
This chakra is located in the upper stomach and lower rib cage area. It represents confidence and self-assuredness.
Surprise, surprise, this chakra is located in the center of the chest near the heart. It represents love, compassion, and gratitude.
This chakra is located at the throat. It represents communication. Here is where you can focus on your ability to verbalize your truth and hear others.
Third Eye Chakra
This chakra is located between the eyes. This forehead chakra represents intuition and imagination. It’s the “big picture” seer.
This chakra is located at the very top of your head. It is kind of like the ruling chakra. It’s linked to everything and represents awareness, intelligence, and connection to the higher powers.
The evil eye is an ancient symbol of protection from jealousy. It has roots in many countries and cultures, including Greece, parts of Latin America, and Asia.
The evil eye represents the evil glare from anyone wishing you bad luck or harm. An amulet or jewelry with an evil eye, which consists of three circles inside each other (to look like an eye), is said to protect you from these intentions.
The Ankh is said to be the key to life. It comes from Ancient Egypt, where the Nile was a source of life. The Ankh is the key to the Nile, so it represents a key to all life and time. This symbol has been around for at least 5,000 years, but it’s believed to be even older.
Ankh was a symbol of royalty and eternal life for kings and queens. The significance of the shape of the Ankh is unknown, and there are multiple theories for it. Some say it’s a knot, some say it represents the union of man and woman, and others say it represents water and air.
Yin yang is a circle split into two equal shapes; each shape holds a small entity of the other. The symbol represents balance and the necessity for duality to see the other side. You can only see as much light as you’ve seen darkness.
Yin is the black portion of the symbol, and yang is the white portion. Yin, the white side, also represents masculinity. Yang, the black side, represents femininity. The dots of each side within the other side represent that there are no absolutes and everything is interconnected. They can’t exist without each other.
Up to Interpretation
As you read this article, we're sure you’ll find yourself with your own ideas of what these symbols mean, and that’s the thing. Most of these symbols have been around for longer than we can imagine and have meant many different things to many different people.
Whatever these symbols mean to you, we hope they bring you positivity and light and a new, meaningful tattoo! Take good aftercare!
LATIN CROSS - Christian Faith | U.S. National Park Service)
Exploring the Mandala | Asia Society
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