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Tattoo Symbolism > View symbols

Tattoo Symbolism

An Encyclopedia of the Symbolism, Meaning and Magic Behind Popular Tattoo Designs

by AdamSkyArtist

April 8, 2005

Continued from page 3…


It's a shame that one of man's oldest and most spiritual symbols was hijacked by Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party of German between 1935 and 1945 to become one of the most despised and reviled symbols of modern times. Taken from the Sanskrit word meaning "well-being", the swastika was a symbol employed by ancient cultures throughout time and all over the globe from the ancient Greeks, American Indians, Hindus, Vikings, Romans, Celts, Aztecs, Christians and in virtually any society throughout the history of mankind. Interestingly, it has always meant something the same for each culture; prosperity and wellness. The Buddha is sometimes shown with a swastika as the seal to his heart and decorates his chest in temple statues. The swastika is also man's oldest symbol of the cross, predating the Christian cross by thousands of years. In Western culture the swastika was a luck charm leading up to the years before the Third Reich. A Canadian women's hockey team from 1916 emblazoned their jerseys with the swastika and a town in northern Ontario named themselves Swastika because of a lucky gold strike.

Tree of Lifetree of life

With branches reaching for the sky and roots clinging to the earth, the Tree of Life is an important symbol within many cultures. For all cultures, the symbolic importance of the tree is that it dwells within three worlds between heaven, earth and the underworld. The Tree of Life also depicts the cycle of life and death through renewal as the tree sheds its leaves in autumn and is reborn again in spring. Trees are also important in a variety of religions as bearers of fruit which usually imparts wisdom, be it wisdom of the good or bad variety. Many times the Tree of Life is depicted with its branches interconnecting with its roots, exemplifying how the cycle of life is perpetual.



Yin Yang

The Yin Yang is an ancient Chinese symbol rooted in I-Ching philosophy. The ancient Chinese noted that during the duration of the year, the celestial bodies that make up the big dipper would rotate in different directions depending on the season; when the dipper points to the east, it's yin yangspring; when the dipper points to the south, it's summer; when the dipper points to the west, it's fall and when the dipper points to the north, it's winter. Combining these four polarities with following the changes in shadow distance from a concentric circle measured from a single point, they illustrated a chart in the swirling form of the Yin Yang; Yin being darkness and Yang being light. With the notion that opposites are equal, Yin represents woman and Yang is like man. Yang couldn't grow without Yin and Yin couldn't give birth without Yang. In astrological terms, the little circle in Yin is marked on the summer solstice position and another little circle is marked on the winter solstice position. In general, the entire Yin Yang symbol is a Chinese representation of the entire celestial phenomenon but transcends cosmology as being a representation as the never ending recycling of existence.

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