In today’s modern times many ancient symbols are experiencing a revival in popularity. It’s not uncommon to find symbols like the all-seeing eye featured on items of clothing, brand logos, or even upon people’s skin. This design has quickly become one of the most recognizable ancient symbols, thanks in part to its mysterious roots steeped in occultism and ancient wisdom.
Commonly called the “all-seeing eye”, this symbol is also known as “the eye of Providence” and is classically shown as an eye within a triangle, or pyramid. The all-seeing eye is a simple yet powerful symbol that can easily be designed to complement any tattoo style. It works wonderfully as a stand-alone piece, or as a powerful symbol within a bigger tattoo.
To learn more about the meaning of the all-seeing eye tattoo and gain some inspiration for your next piece, keep reading!
What is the all-seeing eye symbol?
The all-seeing eye symbol is traditionally depicted as a lone eye within a triangle enclosed by bursts of light. This ancient symbol has been revered by various ancient civilizations and played a role as an important icon in many world religions.
The most common meaning assigned to this mysterious design is that it represents the “all-seeing eye of God”.
The all-seeing eye tattoo design can be easily recognized by its placement within a triangle, or atop a pyramid. It differs from other popular motifs featuring eyes in that it is always shown in the same fashion, with the same design components to mark it.
A similar design featuring a single eye, is the eye of Horus tattoo. This eye is also placed within a triangular design sometimes, but features a classic Egyptian style eye with what can be described as a “teardrop” placed underneath it.
What is the meaning of the all-seeing eye tattoo?
When questioning the meaning of the all-seeing eye tattoo it becomes quickly apparent that there are many different interpretations of this age old symbol. Like most tattoos, there is no unifying meaning behind selecting it as a permanent piece of art. Instead we find that there are a wide range of interpretations for the eye of Providence tattoo, allowing those who resonate with the symbol to choose for themselves what it means to them.
The eye of god
The most commonly understood meaning of the all-seeing eye tattoo is that it represents the omnipresent eye of god watching over humankind.
Another popular interpretation is that it symbolizes benevolent guidance from a divine source, since the word “providence” means “guidance”. The light source shown behind the all-seeing eye is traditionally believed to denote “illumination”, or wisdom.
In various spiritual and religious beliefs the all-seeing eye is believed to represent the awakening of the spirit, or the opening of the third eye.
A common rendition of the all-seeing eye design is the crying all-seeing eye tattoo. Although this tattoo shares much of the same symbolism as the original design it is believed to be worn as a sign of gods sorrow for humanity.
This design can be used to represent a number of various personal beliefs, particularly surrounding empathy for human suffering, or a state of sadness in regards to the state of humankind.
The traditional depiction of the all-seeing eye has held importance in almost every major world religion, being utilized as a symbol of inner wisdom, spiritual progression and looking within oneself for answers.
In the early days of Christianity the symbol was used to represent the holy trinity via the three points of the triangle. In Buddhist religions the all-seeing eye is viewed as “the eye of the world”, while in Hindu belief systems it is said to be the “third eye” of Shiva.
Within all of these various belief systems the all-seeing eye works as a symbol to represent transcendence and higher planes of perception and understanding.
"Illuminati" - A symbol of power and control
Aside from the symbols use in religious and spiritual practices, the all-seeing eye also appears on the reverse side of the US dollar bill.
The eye of Providence design is also used by the secret society of the Free Masons, DARPA and on the official seal of Colorado. The all-seeing eye’s usage by government entities, the Federal Reserve and secret societies has led some to believe that the symbol also holds a darker connotation. Those who follow this line of thought believe that the all-seeing eye is used as a subconscious marker, or a way to denote covert control of the world by a group of ultra-elite oligarchs, leaders of industry and politicians, known as the “illuminati”, or “enlightened ones”.
In this way it can be interpreted as a symbol of power, influence, surveillance and control.
In tattooing when the symbol is used in this form it is typically referred to as an “illuminati eye tattoo”. Some choose this symbol to remind them of the presence of hidden control, while others use it in hopes to manifest similar circumstances of money, power and control. When used in this way, the all-seeing eye tattoo is typically depicted as the floating pyramid capstone, similar to that of the dollar bill and US seal.
Metaphysics and the occult
Stranger still, some within the spiritual and scientific communities believe that the all-seeing eye is a design intended to deconstruct myths surrounding the nature of reality.
The eye within the center of the triangle is said to represent a black hole within the core of the Milky Way Galaxy. Physicists have discovered that when information, such as a book is absorbed into a black hole, the information will “project itself” from the 2D realm into the 3D, ensuring that it is never truly lost.
In many ways this connects to the all-seeing eye’s association with hidden knowledge and wisdom being perceived by the “3rd eye”. For those interested in metaphysics, science and the occult, this can be a perfect symbol to represent the nature of reality. Adding various mystical and physics related symbolism alongside your all-seeing eye tattoo can further clarify its intended meaning.
When designing your all-seeing eye tattoo, be mindful that there are a wide array of interpretations within this simple design. You can tailor it alongside your artist to create a design that fits your personal understanding and intended meaning.
History of the all-seeing eye symbol
Scholars have traced this intriguing symbol back to the days of Ancient Egypt, believing that it was created from the “eye of Horus”. The eye of Horus is similar in nature to the all-seeing eye, as it features an eye within a triangular shape design. This symbol was traditionally used to protect against evil forces and to help guide the pharaohs into the afterlife.
Interestingly enough, the all-seeing eyes most famous depiction is featured on the reverse side of the dollar bill, where it is pictured as the floating capstone above a giant pyramid. The symbol was first placed on the dollar bill by FDR in 1935, and had been used since 1782 on the seal of the United States.
The pyramid on the seal consists of 13 steps to reach the top of the structure, each step intended to represent one of the original 13 states.
The famous quotes placed on the dollar bill by the all-seeing eye read as “annuit coeptis”, which translates to “he approves of our undertakings”, and “novus ordo seclorum”, or “new order of the ages”. It is believed that the forefathers of the United States intended to use this symbolism and its accompanying phrases to assist in manifesting a civilization as ever-lasting as that of Ancient Egypt.
Still, others maintain that it was used to imply that secret societies like the Free Masons and others had surreptitiously gained control of the country.
In contrast to its use by government entities, the all-seeing eye has held significance in various world religions, such as Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. Within these belief systems the eye has traditionally been used as a symbol of spiritual ascendance and inner wisdom.
The all-seeing eye symbolism has made its more recent mark on history when its likeness was discovered in crop circles across the world, only adding the symbols mysterious energy and intrigue.
Best body placements for the all-seeing eye tattoo
The all-seeing eye tattoo can easily be used as a singular small piece, perfect for the hand or palm! The striking visuals of this simple design work wonderfully within this small space and can serve as further inspiration for future tattoos on the arm.
For those interested in creating a sleeve of spiritually inspired tattoos, the eye within the triangle tattoo is an excellent design choice. It works both as a main focal point for the piece, as well as a more minimal add on to an intricate design. Thanks to the large sized canvas of the arm, there is more room for imaginative and creative design.
Whether your next tattoo is going to be a large sized back piece, or a singular design, the all-seeing eye is a great design motif for the back. Many back tattoos featuring spiritual symbolism, Egyptian references, or themes of inner wisdom and transcendence have utilized this powerful symbol.
All-seeing eye tattoo designs
Feeling ready to dive into some all-seeing eye tattoo inspiration? Check out our gallery and see some of our favorite pieces featuring the all-seeing eye!