If you’ve found yourself contemplating the meaning of the trident tattoo, you’re not alone!
In this guide we’ll unpack the history and hidden meaning behind this popular symbol. Although tridents are still a relevant icon in today’s society, they are considered to be powerful and ancient symbols, utilized by many age-old religions, philosophies and civilizations.
Although commonly associated with the Roman god Neptune, the trident has been a symbol associated with various gods and deities throughout time.
If you’re considering getting a trident tattoo, read along to learn about the trident’s symbolism, history, and best tattoo placements for this mysterious and sacred object.
Trident Tattoo Meanings
Neptune and Poseidon Trident Symbolism
The trident’s most widely recognized use is found in the ancient mythology of the gods Neptune and Poseidon.
In ancient Greek and Roman mythology both Neptune and Poseidon were known to wield otherworldly tridents, weapons that provided them power over the oceans, and over the blood of humankind.
These tridents were consistently depicted as three-pronged massive tools, and believed to be able to create earthquakes and deluges, while holding power over heaven, hell and earth.
Many people have chosen to complement their trident tattoo by incorporating imagery of these ancient Greek and Roman gods. If this style interests you, check out our gallery for some truly badass Poseidon trident tattoos!
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Trident Holy Trinity Symbolism
Due to the tridents three-pronged, fork-like appearance, it is commonly associated with the divine number three. It is believed that the number three represents the holy trinity of heaven, hell and earth, the
Taoist belief in the “three divine teachers”, and three of the Hindu gunas named in Indian Vedic philosophy.
In almost all belief systems around the world, the number three is believed to hold incredible power. It is believed that the number three is a symbol of perfection and completion, and this may explain its widespread usage in almost every major religion or philosophical school of thought.
If you’re searching for a symbol to use as a representation of the number threes divine qualities, you may want to consider a minimalist trident tattoo, displaying the stripped down concept of divinity in three.
If minimalism is not your style, you can also select a god or deity that best represents your connection towards this powerful number, like a trident Shiva tattoo, or a tattoo encompassing the ideas of creation mythology.
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Trident Time Symbolism
In close relation to the trident’s numeral three symbolism, the trident is also associated with division of time.
Its three prongs are said to represent: past, present and future, morning, noon and night, and beginning, middle and end.
The cycle of all of these linear stages creates a compilation of all that has ever been and all that ever will be.
If you’re wishing to convey this message in your trident tattoo you can always add in elements reminiscent of the passage of time.
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The History behind the Trident Symbol
The symbol of the trident is said to have originated from ancient Roman mythology, and is most closely associated with the god of the seas, Neptune.
The trident was believed to hold divine power, with the ability to create earthly disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and storms.
Neptune is almost always depicted throughout this time holding his larger than life trident as a symbol of power.
The term “trident” actually originated from Rome, stemming from the Latin word “tridentis”, with “tri” meaning three, and “dentis” meaning teeth.
In Greek mythology the god associated with the trident was called Poseidon, and bears many striking similarities to the Roman god Neptune.
Poseidon was believed to be the god who controlled the seas, which included large bodies of water, as well as the seas of human blood. He was believed to be the protector of all the waters, and of sailors who often prayed to him.
In Greek mythology the trident is believed to have been forged by a cyclops.
In Hindu mythology the trident is associated with the god Shiva, otherwise known as “the great destroyer”.
Shiva is often shown holding a trident which was used as a sacred weapon against negativity and enemies. The tridents three prongs are believed to symbolize three of the gunas mentioned within Indian Vedic philosophy.
These gunas represent different attributes and attitudes found within life. The first, named “sattvika”, is said to represent qualities like balance, harmony, goodness and purity, while the second, “rajasika”, embodies passion, action, dynamic energy and self-centeredness. The last guna, “tamasika” is said to depict the qualities of chaos, imbalance, disorder and anxiety.
In the religious aspects of Taoism, the trident is believed to depict the trinity of the “three pure ones”. This is the title given to the three divine teachers and highest gods in Taoism.
The highly revered “Tao Te Ching” text provides context to this, explaining that the Tao, or nature of the universe, created the first of these “pure ones”, which gave birth to a second being, which gave birth to a third being who created all things.
Here we see more of the sacred three symbolism commonly associated with the trident. In Taoist ritual practices a trident bell is often used to invite otherworldly deities and summon the spirits of the dead.
The trident is used as a tool in this way as it is believed to symbolize the highest authority of heaven.
Best Placements for a Trident Tattoo
Trident Tattoo on the Forearm
Trident tattoo designs look incredible on the forearm! Thanks to the more slender space provided by this part of the arm, the trident symbol really stands out and makes an impact.
This area can also be complemented by a bigger piece as well, such as a Neptune trident tattoo.
Trident Tattoo on the Hand
If you’re looking for a simple trident tattoo, a great placement for this type of design is on the hand. With the hand’s prime level of visibility it’s always a great area to display the symbols and art that means the most to you.
Check out some of our favorite trident tattoos on the hand for more inspiration!
Trident Tattoo on the Neck
If you’re comfortable with a particularly bold placement, trident neck tattoos can look really cool.
Many prefer to use this ancient symbol on the back or side of the neck. With this particular placement your tattoo will have high visibility, so make sure that placing a tattoo in this area will not affect your employment before getting it.
Trident Tattoo on the Back
If you want a larger space to display your art, trident back tattoos are where it’s at!
Due to the large amount of space provided by the back you can opt for a massive trident piece, or a piece incorporating various additional elements like Poseidon, Shiva, or nature elements like waves.
Trident Tattoo as a Filler
If you’re already covered in tattoos, but you have some limited space available, the trident tattoo works really well in filler space. You can easily alter the size and design of this motif to fit just about anywhere!