People started inking their bodies thousands of years ago. Tattoos used to be a representation of someone’s social status, a mere decoration, or even a spell for protection from various evil spirits, and bad luck. It’s no secret that tattoos were used by multiple cultures separated by the oceans across the world. They used them for happiness, good luck, protection, healing, and many other reasons.
With that in mind, today we can find various tattoos that have protective effects on those who wear them. In this article, we’re going to talk about the different protection tattoo options with their origins from across the world.
If you’re confused about picking the right tattoo option for your body, we will also list the best protection tattoo ideas. But, before that, we’ll look into different cultures and historical values for protection tattoos. Every tattoo symbol has different protective properties, and with this article, we want to look at all of them, detail them and explain them, so that you can pick the tattoo that you feel closer with.
The Role Of Protection Tattoos
Many people who are getting tattoos done, don’t even know their deeper meanings and don’t spend a lot of time researching them. However, spiritual people who are attentive and detail-oriented pay extra care when researching the next tattoo that they want.
But, why protection tattoos? Do they work?
The protective properties of certain tattoos were believed in and worshipped for centuries, if not for over a thousand years. It is said that certain tattoo symbols can protect you from evil spirits and evil endeavors. That can mean pretty much everything that could represent some sort of danger for you.
Many civilizations also believed that protection tattoos can protect from diseases such as plague and other illnesses that were taking away the lives of people during the dark ages. Additionally, they could also protect from heartbreak and in many situations, warriors believed that the protection of tattoos will protect them from death.
Nowadays, many people get a tattoo for decoration and don’t think much about the other effects of tattoos. The deep belief in the protection properties of different tattoos has started to fade, so many people don’t have such strong faith in the guarding effects of these tattoos.
Still, they use them as some sort of lucky amulet, that, if anything, could protect them from the negative energy and jinxing, while also looking authentic and amazing to people who come across them. To make their tattoos authentic, many people also look for different cultural meanings of these tattoos.
They also look for tattoos that are native to certain cultures such as the Native American paintings, African tattoos, and even Celtic tattoos that were pagan. If you’re one of such people make sure to continue reading as we’ll cover all those cultures and look into some authentic tattoos that could only be painted by them.
Native American Protection Tattoos
If you’re looking for protection tattoos from evil, Native American protection tattoos are always a good place to start. Native Americans believed in good and evil spirits that resided in nature, as such, they also used their authentic symbols that were effective in fighting the bad spirits.
Further on, we’ll detail which are these protective symbols that will protect you from evil, and where you can find the good designs and ink them.
As you may know, from Alaska to South America, there are different Native American tribes, and they all had tattoos that were mostly unique to them. They believed that the ink on their body was meant to heal them and protect them from the bad spirit. Tattooing was an entire protection ritual for them, where they were strengthening and overpowering the bad spirits.
However, Native American tattoos weren’t only meant to protect and guard. Before the Europeans arrived in the Americas, they used tattoos to distinguish themselves and their tribe. With that in mind, tattoos were used to decorate their bodies and names, but also the family lineage, clan, as well as the rank they had in their society.
In some Native American tribes, it was impossible to be eligible for fishing or hunting animals, unless you had some sort of tattoo on your body. There are many symbols in the Native American tattoos, starting from the feathers, arrows, certain animals like deer, eagles, and bears down to the most popular protection symbol, the dreamcatcher.
Dreamcatchers are incredibly popular, but their popularity surfaced with the Boho-Chic culture, as well as other Bohemian cultures. Not many people know that the dreamcatchers originate from the Native American tradition.
According to science, we spend about one-third of our life sleeping, meaning that dreams play an important role in our everyday life, they are mostly the manifestation of our desires, wishes, fears, and other factors in life, which is why it’s important to have restful and sweet dreams to be able to function properly throughout the day.
With that in mind, many people recently thought of using dreamcatcher tattoos as a way to cleanse their minds while they are sleeping and ensure that they will have a sweet, loving, and peaceful slumber.
That doesn’t surprise us. In the Native American culture, in many tribes to be precise, dreamcatchers were made for children who were afraid of having bad dreams. As their name suggests, the dreamcatchers would capture the bad dreams and protect the sleeper from bad dreams and nightmares.
Dreamcatchers are usually quite detailed, they include a lot of embroideries, different patterns, and textures, and they are colorful too. Many people who get the dreamcatcher tattoo either get it as a regular black ink or get creative with colors so that it’d look like the original dreamcatcher.
Dreamcatchers usually don’t come alone, that’s why people get tattoos of deer, wolves, eagles, horses, bears, and other animals accompanied by the dreamcatcher. Usually, people want to convey more symbolism such as strength, courage, and healing other than just protection.
The trickiest part of the dreamcatcher tattoo design includes inking the center of the circles. That circle should be developed as some sort of web that is detailed and will help stop the negative energy, evil spirits, and forces that could disrupt your sleep and dreams. You can also get creative and fill in the design with different colors such as yellow, blue, or pink. Instead of the web, some tattoo artists are instructed to put animals in the circle, or plants such as flowers and trees.
The key symbolism with the bears is associated with courage, self-assurance, confidence, but also peace and rest.
The bears can get aggressively protective, and that’s why they are still considered the symbol of protection of the quiet and solitude. Bears are known for defending their territories, and they won’t choose assets in doing so.
Bears will do everything to protect their cubs, so bears are also associated with the protection of your loved ones, especially the family and particularly, the children.
Also Read: 40+ Bear Tattoo Meaning & Design Ideas (2023 Updated)
It’s no secret that the Native American tribes lived surrounded by the gold, but they weren’t interested in its value as much as the colonizers that came to the American soil.
Bulls are a known animal that marks the protection of fortune and wealth. For people who are working on a business that is looking for assets to prosper, the bull tattoo is the ideal way to mark the protection of wealth.
Viking Protection Tattoos
It’s no secret that Vikings were some of the most powerful, and fiercest warriors at their times. They were blessed by Norse mythology, strength, and courage. They raided various lands, starting from their neighborhood to Britain. Many Vikings were explorers and traveled the ocean too.
Various protection symbolism in today’s tattoos is derived from the Norsemen and Vikings. After all, they marked their lives and battle victories with tattoos and they proudly wore them when other nations thought that they were savages.
Vikings are pagans and they enjoyed the belief and blessings from their Gods. They also worshipped their Gods in battles and gave in many sacrifices of animals, and even humans to celebrate an upcoming battle or victory.
With that in mind, many Viking-inspired tattoos served for protection. In the following paragraphs, we will highlight some of the protection of tattoos and their ideas.
Huginn and Muninn (Crow)
The supreme Norse God was known as Odin, and he often manifested himself as a crow when visiting people. When near Vikings, crows were giving them protection, strength, and courage. Two of the most popular crows associated with Odin are Huginn and Munnin, a pair that was believed to always travel on Odin’s shoulder.
The pair were thought to be extremely powerful and brought blessings to those that they appeared nearby. Although their mythical powers are still unknown to today, Vikings at the time believed that the presence of these two crows meant the presence of Odin himself, and when Odin was present, nothing could harm anyone who believed in him.
The Helm Of Awe
Also known as the Aegishjalmur, the helm of awe looks like a spiked seal of multiple spikes that meet together at the center. It was the symbol of superpower that meant the protection for the Vikings that were joining the war.
Given that Vikings were strong warriors and quite fierce and vicious, they needed God’s protection to break through the battlefield and win in the name of the Gods. It was believed that everyone with this symbol tattooed was ready to join the war and that they were protected by the gods.
In addition to the protection symbolism, the helm of awe also served to give the Vikings the courage to fight when they are outnumbered, which, according to history, was often the case. The symbol would give them strength and courage to face everyone who’d stand in their way with confidence.
A trio of interlocking triangles was often associated with Odin, his power, protection, and guidance. Whenever Odin would show up, he’d be accompanied by what is believed to be this divine sign. That’s why many Vikings believe these triangles to symbolize the supreme God himself.
It was the symbol of protection and glory in the wars. It was a warrant that warriors deserved to join the Valhalla, or what was considered to be the Viking heaven where they’d meet their honor and glory in the afterlife.
With that, the Valknut became the symbol of Odin’s protection, and although it was rather used on jewelry than tattoos, it was the empowerment for people who were facing the difficulties and were afraid of not making it through.
Today, this tattoo can serve as a protection symbol against hard times.
African Protection Tattoos
When we talk about the protection tattoos from Africa, we’ll consider entire Africa, since it’s a large continent with rich heritage and culture, starting from Ancient Egypt to the southern tribes.
One of the key protection tattoo ideas comes from Ancient Egypt, particularly, from the God Horus who was honored and favored by humanity. Horus was the God and master of the sky. His one eye represented the moon, while the other eye represented the sun.
Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest civilization creations, and to this day, the belief that the Eye of Horus brings salvation and protection persisted. That’s why many people still ink them as tattoos, both in black ink and as a colorful art.
The Eye of Horus has a rich history, it was one of the flattering decorations on Egyptian, and other ships and even tombs in the pyramids of various pharaohs were etched with the Eye of Horus because they needed guidance and protection on their way to the afterlife.
The countries of Western Africa also boast of rich heritage when it comes to culture and protection symbolism, especially Ghana and The Ivory Coast. The Ashanti and Akan people that lived in the area had a rich and deep symbolism for power, strength, and protection. Adinkra symbols are some of the most popular symbols of such kind.
One of the most popular symbols from Western Africa is the Tree of God, which is also known as Nyame Dua. According to their symbolism, a divine being such as God or a good spirit protects the tree of God. A place where this tree resides is considered divine and sacred, similarly to the temples and altars where people come to pray.
Near the Nyame Dua, people would come to pray for protection, strength, courage, and love. There were even rituals that were practiced near such a tree.
Nyame Dua is extremely popular as a tattoo design. It consists of a heart-shaped symbol that is cut into four symmetrical parts. It also resembles a palm tree’s cross-section when observed from the air.
African Lion Tattoo
Lions are native to Africa, so it shouldn’t surprise us that they are considered the symbols of power and protection. When making a tattoo of an African lion, it’s important to draw them to be as realistic as possible. Aside from the protection, the African lion tattoo also symbolizes wisdom, courage, strength, and power.
You can make a tattoo of a lion or a lioness if you’re looking for a more feminine touch in your protection-symbolizing tattoo. They can symbolize family protection, love, femininity, motherhood, and passion.
Also Read: 23 Lion Tattoo Design Ideas (Meaning and Inspirations)
Celtic Protection Tattoos
Celtic culture is depicted by strength, courage, war, and protection. Their symbols contain a lot of different patterns and textures, and knots are some of the most popular symbols used by this tribe. For them, knots were their language of love, and we can see that through different pop culture that depicts Celtic culture.
The Celtic culture had it rough, especially during the dark ages of the Middle Ages where Celtic people were thought to be associated with dark magick and witchcraft. That made most of its art to fade away and be forgotten. However, the art was used as their language, so a lot of artworks persisted and remained to serve as the symbolism of love and protection on tattoos.
Celtic-like tattoos were given life thanks to the complex geometric designs that felt abstract and magical. They feel aesthetic, but they are often hard to ink, so it’s always necessary to work with an inspired tattoo artist.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Celtic protection tattoos.
The Shield Knot
Celtic culture is full of knots, and most of them symbolize protection. More often than not, the knot symbols end up on the popular armband tattoos, many of which were inspired by the Celtic culture.
Celtic knots are associated with infinity and the shield knot is no exception. Surrounded by the four corners, it’s good as an encircled scheme. The shield knot was used on Celtic warriors because it was believed to have the power to protect and shield them, either from the enemy forces, or the evil and bad spirits.
There’s also a popular belief, that the Shield Knot originated from the Norse mythology, Odin’s cross-like figure to be precise.
The triquetra is the second most important Celtic protection symbol, which is now a popular adornment in tattoos. This ancient symbol is believed to originate in 500 BC. It was believed to be a representation of the goddess and its three main aspects – mother, maiden, and crone.
The spiral shape has always been the representation of infinity, and so it has been in the Celtic culture. However, in addition to the infinity, the single spiral is also used as the representation of lunar and solar cycles. Aside from that, the single spiral was often used for knot symbols which were considered the symbols of protection.
Many people who are looking for a minimalistic tattoo with Celtic roots go for this type of tattoos because it’s easier than other abstract and complex Celtic symbols.
Japanese Protection Tattoos
Many people are interested in East Asian culture and enjoy inking Chinese and Japanese letters. However, in doing so, be extra careful because your tattoo artist needs to know what they’re doing and you need to make sure you will research your part. One mistake can end up in a tattoo meaning something else and not “protection” as it should.
Read More: Japanese Tattoos: History, Meanings, Symbolism, Designs
For many people, it has happened that they’ve inked a special Chinese or Japanese letter to highlight a certain meaning and later learned it means something completely different. However, other than the Japanese Kanji protection letter, there are other symbols of protection in the Japanese culture.
Turtles are considered sacred animals in Japan. Although not many people think about inking a turtle on their body, after learning about its protection and longevity symbolism, maybe they will change their mind.
Turtles are known to be able to live for hundreds of years, their slow movements are a sign of humility, while the long lifespan symbolizes longevity and wisdom. However, they also bring luck and protection, especially if you’re working on a new business.
Also Read: 50+ Top Turtle Tattoo Designs: The Symbolism Behind Turtle Body Art
Similarly like in East and Western Africa, lions in Japan can also be the representation of protection and guidance. Of course, they also symbolize strength, courage, and power. However, the lion itself is associated with the protection of home and “your territory. “ Lions are often turned into a tattoo, and that doesn’t surprise us because they are simply majestic and gorgeous.
In Japan, it is also believed that Lions can keep the evil spirits at bay. It’s worth noting that the Japanese lions in symbolism look different compared to the lions from Africa, that are represented to be realistic. The Japanese (Komainu) lions are also known as the lion-dogs because of their appearance on the art.
They are most used as the statues in front of gates of the houses, which is the key meaning of their protection.
2 thoughts on “18 Best Protection Tattoo Ideas & Meanings”
Any indigenous person will tell you getting a dreamcatcher tattoo is BAD LUCK. Don’t do it.
Dreamcatchers are meant to be destroyed once they are “full” and break. This is why they are traditionally made of organic natural materials like sinew, feathers, bark, wood. NOT plastic and metal or INK. Nothing permanent. Store bought ones, tattoos, and jewelry versions are essentially trapping “bad juju” on your body. Think about it, if it’s designed to catch all the “bad energy” and dreams and it’s on your skin, you are trapping that bad energy into your flesh. PLEASE don’t fucking advise people to tattoo dreamcatchers on their skin….
I think it goes without saying if you are considering ANY tattoo that isn’t of your own culture, you should consult people of that culture first.