This is my hand (hello!). My tattoos are by UK tattoo artist Emma Garrard

13 Ancient Symbol Tattoos And Their Meanings

Discover a world of ancient runes and pagan symbols with these 13 meaningful symbol tattoos!

beccyrimmer in Tattoo Ideas

If you're like me and interested in the spiritual meanings behind numbers, symbols and images, you'll love this article.


I've picked 13 symbol tattoos to share with you, along with a short description of what they represent.

Symbols can have multiple meanings and a vast history that spans across thousands of years, and hundreds of different countries and cultures. What a symbol means to one individual, might be completely contrasting to what it means to another.

Many of the tattoos below are ancient pagan, celtic and Wiccan symbols, including one on my own body!

The meanings of symbols can change over time, as images and icons are used by different societies, cultures, religions and political groups. When getting a symbol tattoo you've got to be sure that you're happy with the meaning, and what your tattoo might represent to others, and come to represent in the future.

Once you've decided which symbol you want as a tattoo, you can either go simple with the design, or incorporate that symbol into a larger tattoo piece with additional imagery.

For me, symbols are the most powerful tattoos. They can be so small and simple yet hold an unbelievably strong force for the wearer.

A Celtic knot tattoo by Pue, Sak Lai Tattoo Studio, Thailand. Photo taken from Instagram @tattoo_thailand.
A Celtic knot tattoo by Pue, Sak Lai Tattoo Studio, Thailand. Photo taken from Instagram @tattoo_thailand.

This symbol transposes many different cultures, from Christianity to Celtic and Pagan, it is also known as the Triquetra (Latin for 'three corners'). The three loops are all joined together and so the symbol can mean everlasting love, protection, and the unity of combined forces (for example, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost).

Tattoo by Jay C and taken from Instagram @_j_a_y_c_
Tattoo by Jay C and taken from Instagram @_j_a_y_c_

The Wiccan / Pagan 'Triple Moon' symbol, also known as the 'Goddess'. The triple moon represents the coming together of three female powers: intuition, creativity and knowledge.

Tattoo by Lady B ink, find heron instagram @ladyb.ink
Tattoo by Lady B ink, find heron instagram @ladyb.ink

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Runes are the Ancient Germanic language and the oldest runes date back to 150AD. This one brings together two rune letters in a cross, and stands for 'Good Luck'.

Photo taken from Instagram @johnhansentattoo
Photo taken from Instagram @johnhansentattoo

This beautiful tattoo by John Hansen represents the 4 Pagan elements (Earth - green, Water - blue, Fire - Red, Air - Orange). Each element has a specific triangle shape and colour, and they are all brought together to create this epic, watercolour tattoo. In the middle - the spirit, or the individual. These four elements are important as they represent everything the world is made-up of and they are the four elements that Pagans and Wiccans worship as part of their celebrations and rituals.

This is my hand (hello!). My tattoos are by UK tattoo artist Emma Garrard
This is my hand (hello!). My tattoos are by UK tattoo artist Emma Garrard

I have the four elements tattooed (as mentioned above) on my four fingers. In the middle, one of the most famous symbols, the Pentacle, which brings together those four elemental triangles in a circle.

Another Pentacle tattoo by Melbourne-based artist Lozulite. Taken from Instagram @Lozulite
Another Pentacle tattoo by Melbourne-based artist Lozulite. Taken from Instagram @Lozulite

A Wiccan / Pagan symbol, the pentacle represents 5 points (the four elements and the self, or the four corners of North, South, East and West, and the self). The circle combines everything together, meaning this symbol stands for unity and the circle of life... everything is connected, in both rituals and in everyday life.

Tattoo by UK artist Dan Barren, Daventry and taken from Dan's Instagram @DanBarrenTattoos
Tattoo by UK artist Dan Barren, Daventry and taken from Dan's Instagram @DanBarrenTattoos

Pentacle tattoos are striking when added into a bigger design. This pentacle is within a larger dagger tattoo with lots of detail and colour.

Tattoo by Ash from Newbury, UK, taken from Ash's Instagram @ashbtattoos
Tattoo by Ash from Newbury, UK, taken from Ash's Instagram @ashbtattoos

This Protection Rune is called 'Vegvísir', or 'Runic Compass'. It is a Nordic symbol that is local to Iceland, and the Icelandic word Vegvísir literally means ‘guidepost’ or ‘direction sign’ and might help the wearer be guided down a particular path or direction in their life.

Tattoo taken from Instagram @charlotte_verduci_tattoo
Tattoo taken from Instagram @charlotte_verduci_tattoo

This is the Othala Rune, meaning 'homeland'. You might wear this to pay homage to your ancestors or something you have inherited.

Tattoos by Emmy Broadhead, Macclesfield, UK, and taken from Instagram @emmy_rosy_dawn
Tattoos by Emmy Broadhead, Macclesfield, UK, and taken from Instagram @emmy_rosy_dawn

A variety of Pagan symbols on these fingers. On the little fingers, two element triangles, on the inner forefingers, the sun and moon.

Tattoo taken from Instagram @nightmareshipp, artist unknown
Tattoo taken from Instagram @nightmareshipp, artist unknown

The 'Thurisaz' Rune, also known as 'Thor' or 'Thorn', represents strong resistance, power, strength and force.

Tattoo by Instagram @kmtfolio
Tattoo by Instagram @kmtfolio

A Triskele tattoo is a Celtic and Pre-Celtic triple spiral. The three interlocking spirals can mean many different things as this symbol is so widely used - an example is life, death and birth.

White Runes by Renei Oxyuranus (Instagram @reneioxyuranus)
White Runes by Renei Oxyuranus (Instagram @reneioxyuranus)

The left rune is 'Mannaz' meaning man, human or life. The right rune is 'Agliz', a powerful rune representing the universe, or the sun.

beccyrimmer

@Beccy Rimmer

Tattoo blogger, writer, dreamer, thinker. Aspiring teenage witch, crazy cat lady.

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