As we continue to edge into the Age of Aquarius, interest in psychedelics is once again on the rise, influencing a creative shift in Western culture, and inspiring a new and diverse generation of trippy tattoos!
While the relationship between tattooing and psychedelics may seem insignificant at first, both have held important roles in ancient and indigenous societies as sacred tools to initiate rites of passage and promote inner healing.
One of the most interesting explanations of tattooing’s relationship to psychedelics comes from famed psychonaut and renowned ethnobotanist, Terrence McKenna, who viewed tattooing and psychedelic drugs as similar ventures for the spirit; believing that both marked a return to our “authentic”, “archaic”, selves, and that both spoke to a “rejection of linear values”.
As psychedelics continue to be decriminalized and welcomed into modern medicine, we see legal access to these substances increasing around the world as a means for individuals to initiate inner healing, escape the confines of reality, and reconnect to self; all processes which are powerfully complimented and commemorated through the act of tattooing.
If you’ve been interested in a trippy tattoo of your own, join us as we explore the history of psychedelic body art, and explore work from some of the most talented tattoo artists working within these mind-bending genres.
History of Psychedelic Tattoos
Psychedelic tattoos first emerged in the 1960’s and 70’s amidst the backdrop of America’s counter-culture revolution. As young people began to detach from the conservative values of their parents’ generation, many experimented with psychedelics, sex, and new forms of art in an effort to feel liberated from the constraints of the “old world”.
Inspired by San Francisco’s psychedelic poster art, tattoos featuring imagery like peace signs, yin yangs, and daisies began to appear, signaling support for free love, anti-war, the civil rights movement, and an appreciation for eastern mysticism. Popular tattoo motifs during the psychedelic era also included doves, grateful dead bears, weed leaves, butterflies, and mushrooms; all symbols which spoke to the counter-cultures desire for awakening, evolution, and peace.
Trippy tattoos of the modern-age sometimes take inspiration from the classic psychedelic tattoo motifs of the 60’s and 70’s, with a perfect example being “far-out” Minneapolis tattoo artist Lindsee Bee. Known for her Technicolor daisies, cheerful butterflies, and groovy fluorescent mushrooms, Lindsee brings quintessential designs of the 60’s and 70’s to life again through her signature style, reminiscent of Haight-Ashbury’s bohemian art.
Top Psychedelic Tattoo Motifs
In contrast to the colorful Volkswagen vans and multicolor daisy chains of earlier days, many contemporary psychedelic tattoos utilize dissociative composition styles, illusory textures, mind-bending fractals, and inebriating double-vision effects.
Whether you’d like to recreate an Alex Grey painting, pay homage to the cosmos, or remind yourself of an epic spiritual journey, a psychedelic themed tattoo is great way to inspire continued healing while integrating lessons from your experience.
Join us as we explore the top psychedelic tattoo motifs, visionary artists, and more!
As magic mushrooms inch closer to legalization in the treatment for depression and PTSD, more people than ever are experimenting with these enigmatic fungi and memorializing their experiences with a mushroom tattoo. From Blackwork botanical renderings to funky Traditional designs swirling with Day-Glo hues, mushroom tattoos adapt wonderfully to a range of styles and aesthetics.
Outside of commemorating a magic mushroom trip, mushroom tattoos are also used to signify rapid growth, psychic power, and the call of magic.
When it comes to tattoos inspired by the kaleidoscopic and mystical realms of LSD, there are no hard rules when it comes to design. From 3-D LSD molecules, to tabs dissolving on tongues, and disorienting Alice in Wonderland tattoos; acid has inspired a wealth of surreal and powerful designs.
If you’re looking to make your love for weed official, marijuana tattoos are a bold and expressive way to celebrate Mary Jane. Whether you love Neo-Traditional marijuana plants, Fineline joints, or New School
buds; weed tattoos can easily be crafted in a wide variety of expressive styles. To make your marijuana tattoo feel truly psychedelic, elements of surrealism, outer space, and geometric patterns can work to paint a trippy landscape.
Believed to serve as a mystical portal between humanity and god, the peyote cactus has long been used by indigenous cultures as a ceremonial tool for healing and exploration. Tattoos honoring the peyote cactus often incorporate fractals, Egyptian symbolism, and surrealist desert landscapes. If you’re looking for an understated psychedelic tattoo, Blackwork style peyote buttons work as strong but subtle ode to this special cacti.
San Pedro Cactus Tattoos
Responsible for producing a powerful visionary tea known as huachuma, the San Pedro cactus has long been used by shamans and healers throughout South America as a medicinal and spiritual tool.
Whether you prefer vintage illustrations featuring cut up cactus stars, quirky Traditional cacti in pots, or Black and Grey desert scenes, the San Pedro cactus tattoo is stunning tribute to concepts of divine masculine energy, exploration, and healing.
MDMA tattoos are as varied as the people who wear them, ranging from Fineline molecular designs to ignorant style pills in baggies. This sharp contrast amongst MDMA tattoo imagery works to shed light on the two very different worlds in which the drug has made a splash. Though primarily thought of as a rave drug, MDMA has undergone extensive clinical trials for use in the treatment of PTSD, as the drug is shown to help people process and transcend lingering trauma.
Ayahuasca themed tattoos make for some of the most visually complex and intricate psychedelic pieces. Often accented by exotic spirit animals like jaguars, snakes, frogs, and lizards, Ayahuasca tattoos commonly work with disorienting geometric patterns, elements of optical illusions, and vibrant chakra points. Tattoos incorporating the symbols, entities, and primary lessons of your Ayahuasca trip can be a helpful integration tool following a journey.
Known as the “spirit molecule”, DMT is considered the most powerful psychedelic in existence. Full of vibrant hues, dizzying fractals, open heart chakras, and piercing third eyes; DMT tattoos wear like permanent reminders of the invisible, the other-worldly, and the spiritual. For those who would prefer a small and simple DMT piece, options like a DMT molecule tattoo or a symbol or image representative of the journey’s main take away can be a powerful choice.
The experience of psychedelics can be profound, which may be another reason why these psychedelic tattoos are so eye catching and inspiring. Being able to take something that allows you to tap into parts of your brain, and part of perspective or reality, that you definitely can't tap into otherwise can be a life changing experience. Sort of like getting a tattoo!!
Transcendent experiences can allow you to feel more connected and more at peace with the world around you...just make sure you don't have a bad trip! Whether you’re drawn to surreal tattoos, seeking to honor a life-changing experience, or looking to show your support for psychedelic medicine, we hope these trippy tattoos have helped to inspire and guide you along your journey!