More and more people choose the mysterious symbol of angel for their tattoos today. The design probably owes its popularity to both its profound sacred meaning and ancient roots, as well as various new meanings popularized and romanticized in modern subcultures.
Though this symbol is not the most popular, it is used commonly in both male and female designs. Angel tattoos for men and for women can be extremely different, though this is more due to personal preferences regardless of the gender. The subject can have numerous variations depending on the meaning or the implication required. But before getting into details, let us define the angel.
Angel Tattoo Designs
Who Are the Angels?
The word “angel” derives from the Greek “aggelos”, which means “the mediator”. Angels often appear on the pages of the Christian Bible. There they act not only as messengers of the Lord, but also as His defenders, as well as the punishers of the guilty. The angels are usually presented as intermediaries between the affairs of people and God.
The humanoid winged creatures have always been identified with the divine will. Perhaps derived from the ancient Egypt and ancient Semitic winged deities, in some religions angels are considered as the intermediaries between the material and spiritual levels. They appear in Islam, Judaism, and specifically in Christianity. The ancient Greek mythology left us a romantic image of Cupid, who represents loyalty, fidelity, and love. In the Bible, the Quran, and the Torah, angels have deep religious significance.
Through centuries, angels appear in the roles of messengers, warriors, and – more modern image – guards or protectors. The hierarchy of angels was proposed in the fifth century in the work “Celestial Hierarchy” and suggested another interpretation: the desire for order on both the divine and social levels.
Depending on their closeness to God, the angelic ranks are traditionally as follows: the six-winged Seraphim (red), the Cherubim (blue), and the Thrones – the first, most powerful, sphere; the Dominions, the Virtues, and the Powers – the second sphere; the Principalities, the Archangels, and the Angels – the third sphere. There also are the fallen angels, the ones who sinned. Led by Satan, they symbolize the sin of pride in Christianity.
The Greek philosophers believed that the angels controlled the stars and had been born from some ethereal substance. In Christian iconography, they have always been intangible, and depicted with halos and wings, or – in the frivolous baroque art – as cupids.
However, nowadays the image of the angel has been popularized and in many ways abandoned its religious implications. It penetrated subcultures; the fallen angels have been romanticized; the angel as a symbol has acquired many other values and implications. That specifically may explain the popularity of the angel tattoo among both women and men.
What Are the Basic Meanings of the Angel Tattoo?
Angel tattoo has special significance for everyone who makes it. However, there are some “common” meanings.
- A talisman. As mentioned above, many people express their faith with angel tattoos. Such tattoo becomes a talisman for the person, his or her defender. As angels are believed to be mediators between the humanity and God, perhaps, some people think of such tattoo as the way of becoming closer to God. That actually may help a person and give him or her strength for changes or decisions, if truly believed in.
- Commemoration. Angels are sometimes tattooed in memory of someone departed or just someone dear. For example, mothers make tattoos with little angels to commemorate their late children. Such tattoos often help people to cope with the pain of loss, to survive the loss of a loved one.
- Decoration. Angel tattoos are often made only for ornamental purposes. No doubts, angels can look very impressive in different ways, depending on the style. This is, probably, the most common purpose for this tattoo, as people like to decorate their bodies with cool unique images.
- It is often made as a sign of hope for the best, hope that things will change.
- Such tattoo can also be the sign of loyalty and devotion to someone or something.
- Fight. Fallen angel tattoo, fighting angels and demons in a tattoo likely have the meaning of a struggle between two opposing life principles. Perhaps, this person has not yet decided which one to choose. Often, however, this tattoo has only ornamental value. Many people apply it only because it is popular, looks interesting, and attracts attention.
One of the most common today is the angel’s wings tattoo. It has many meanings. Additionally to the ones of the angel tattoo, it may also mean striving for freedom, liberation from any burdens of the mundane life.
Of course, for each person, it may have his or her own special meaning.
Which Parts of the Body Usually Get Angel-Tattooed?
Beautiful angel tattoos can be placed on almost any part of the body, depending on your preferences and lifestyle. Don’t forget to consider the tattoo size in connection to its place on your body: small angel tattoo designs will look good on the neck, for example, while a big detailed realistic angel tattooed with the 3d effect will look amazing on your back.
- Chest. More often men tattoo angels on the chest, so that it is closer to the heart. In that way, eternal devotion to God and sincere faith can be expressed. Also, it may symbolize the memory of the departed loved one. This tattoo is rather personal, as it is usually hidden from view under the clothes.
- Forearm. Angel tattoo on the forearm is also usually done by men. This tattoo looks beautiful and expressive. Depending on the image of an angel, it will affect your image, adding softness or militancy to it.
- Arm. Nowadays, it is very popular to tattoo a whole sleeve on the arm. This is preferred mostly by boys, but is also common for girls who consider themselves a part of a subculture or just a cool artistic person.
- Angel tattoo on the shoulder and on the shoulder blade. This tattoo is usually chosen by girls. The image of a little angel Cherub with wings or a slim girl with angel wings will look magnificent on a girl. This tattoo draws attention; however, if needed, hiding it is very easy.
- Angel tattoo on a leg. Girls often tattoo a baby angel on the shin. This tattoo looks stylish, interesting, and attracting attention.
There is a point of view that religious symbols, including the angel, should not be tattooed from the waist down. It could be interpreted as disrespect to God and His laws.
What Types of Angels Are Usually Tattooed?
While it is argued that the angels are impartial, they are often depicted with the full range of human emotions: smiling, grieving, sorrowful, determined, angry, etc.
Some people believe this kind of tattoo will be protecting them against the evil eye, damage, and other negative energy. Others pay attention only to the aesthetic side of it, with no special meaning or implications. And it is easily understandable, as angels are often depicted as young handsome men or beautiful slender women, or delicate babies with halos, or cute cupids with bows and arrows.
Tattoo of a praying angel, often a kneeling one, has its own special meaning for each person who has it. People usually address God with prayer, thus such tattoo may reflect appeal for the health of the loved ones, or soothing of soul, or wishes coming true.
An angel falling down may indicate frustration and loss of faith in a brighter future.
Seeking for a defender symbol or talisman, people tattoo baby angels. Back in the Middle Ages, there was a custom to decorate churches, palaces, and squares with statues of cherubs. The tattoos of little baby angels are very popular among girls. Such image may mean purity of its owner and her faith in the pure love.
Men tattoo images of the archangels as a talisman. Archangels are among the highest-ranking angels, created to protect against evil forces. Therefore, they are often depicted with swords and spears in their hands. Such tattoos adorn a man and make him manlier.
Angel of Death
Also, the angel of death is a very popular design for tattoos. There are several such angels, in fact, – depending on the religion. For example, in Judaism, there are such angels of death: Michael and Samael, the archangels, and Angel Gabriel. Christianity, additionally to Michael and Samael, has Abaddon – the destroying angel from the Book of Revelation, and a sacred figure Santa Muerte. In Hindiusm, there is the lord of death, Yama; and Islam has Azrael.
It is worth noting that there can be both an angel of light and the dark one, so-called fallen angel. Fallen angel tattoo ideas may be of a great use for the person who wants a memory of a bad period in his or her life, during which something wrong was done. Such tattoo can also be used as a sign of repentance for the actions that resulted in the loss of a loved one.
Also, this tattoo can mean protest, protest against the law of morality and/or the common norms, the state of affairs in today’s society. The most famous fallen angels – demons – are Beelzebub, Satan, and Leviathan. Their image demonstrates a clear threat; they are usually depicted with horns, broken or studded wings, with arms in their hands, surrounded by fire, etc. Such tattoos are often made monochromic or just in black-and-skin, to make the effect more dramatic.
If the angel has the signs of both the “right” and the fallen one – for example, one wing of feathers, and the other one of metal spikes – this can mean looking for “self”, or the struggle of two opposing principles. Also, it may indicate duality, real or ostensible, in nature of the person. The same meaning may be expressed by tattooing both angel and devil together.
Talking about cupids, a separate group of angels, masters are especially creative when designing tattoos with them: unusual bodies and hairstyles, glowing halos (which are, by the way, difficult to tattoo), arrows, and bows. Mostly, the cupid is depicted as a baby angel with a bow.
Today, quite common are the angel wing tattoos, where only angel wings are tattooed. They can be medium-sized or very large, and as a rule are applied on the back, between the shoulder blades. This tattoo can show your desire for freedom and renunciation of the burdens of mundane existence. If a date or initials are tattooed near it that may mean that the tattoo commemorates a late loved one.
There are a huge number of image elements closely associated with the angel tattoo and believed to emphasize its meaning and power. Among those are scepters, wands, harps, pipes, rods, swords, and much, much more.
For example, an angel with a sword may mean the person in a rather aggressive mood, planning to take revenge on his or her enemies for all the evil done. Moreover, such tattoo is designed to scare off enemies from its owner.
Images of angels are often combined with texts, for instance: phrases from the Bible, popular expression, or just the words that have personal meaning for the tattoos’ owner.
The choice of the tattooed image is totally up to you, thus go and create your special unique design. Tribal style or realistic, simple or complex, there is a huge variety of choices and a vast space for creativity. If you need some inspiration, go for a gallery with pictures and photos of tattoo design ideas. But most importantly, remember that clean removing of tattoos is next to impossible as of today. Therefore, take your time and decide well, good luck!