All About Skull Tattoo Meaning and Symbolism

Skull tattoos have been a favorite design since the heyday of sailors and exploration. Today, skulls are often associated with death and decay. They are symbols of mortality and the end of life or vitality. It can be difficult for people to accept the popularity of skull tattoos when they mean such dark and depressing things, but the fact is that skull tattoos often have a very positive or motivating meaning.

Skull tattoos do represent death, but they typically represent the fleetingness of life. Memento mori is Latin for remember your mortality, meaning that it is important to keep your inevitable death in mind so that you may live life to the fullest while you still can. Death comes to us all, so that thought shouldn’t be depressing.

Instead, an unlived life is the depressing thought. Skull tattoos remind people to experience obstacles and hardships, to take chances and be their best.  All is vanity is another common motto seen with skull tattoo designs.

This design shows that death eventually comes to everyone, and anything achieved in life will pass or fade away. Oftentimes, this combination of meaning and imagery represents a belief in an afterlife. People who choose these tattoos want to remember that their mortal life is meaningless in comparison to the wonders and glory that await them after death.

Strangely enough, skull are also used as a good luck tattoo design. Gamblers wanting to change their bad luck sometimes choose symbols of ill will, like skulls and black cats. These tattoos, contradictory though it seems, is meant to bring the gambler success in the future. Perhaps this tattoo is based on the idea that skulls not only represent death, but also change.

This symbolic change is neither innately bad nor good. In the Kabbalah belief system, the skull represents rebirth and is a time for celebration, not sadness, sorrow, and mourning. In the same way, death does not always mean something negative. Death can be a positive experience and remembering those who have died can be uplifting.

Skull Tattoo Meaning and Symbolism:

The rise in popularity of tattoo in general and a deeper understanding of the symbolism behind skull tattoos have both lead to more and more people to getting a skull tattoo. It does not have to symbolize only a negative side of death but actually for many cultures and people skulls represent a celebration of life. I know it sounds paradoxical and doesn’t make sense but read on to learn more about the symbolism and imagery of skull tattoos.

Symbolism Behind Skull Tattoos:

As stated above skull tattoos don’t just have to symbolism rebellion, anarchy and being a bad ass dude in general. There are actually many much deeper traditions and symbolic meaning behind skull tattoos.

Latin Symbolism

In Latin the saying of “Memento Mori” roughly translates as remember everyone must die This is not to be morbid or sick and focus on death but it is actually meant to focus on life. It is very much like the old Samurai of Japan that would frequently state today is a good day to die. For the Japanese Samurai saying this means I need to live today to the fullest becuase life is passing and quickly gone so I should not live with regrets. A skull tattoo can have the same meaning and symbolism behind it.

Religious Symbolism And Meaning of Skull Tattoos

For many religions and cultures skulls hold a very significant place also. Just think go the Hindu god Kali or even Shiva who adorn themselves in necklaces of human skulls. They are showing their strength and power over life and through destroying come rebirth and regeneration. So for example the Goddess Kali is known as the great destroyer. However, she is seen as not only destroying in her destruction she is also paving the way for the new to come in and rebirth.

Many of us are also familiar with the bright skull and skeleton images that go along with Mexico’s celebration of the Day of The Dead. In fact much of Latin, Central and South America celebrate the day of the dead. Yes at it’s heart it is a day to rember loved ones but it is also a day to celebrate their time on earth and more deeply appreciate your time on earth. So a skull or skeleton does not just simply mean death but it can also mean enjoy life to its fullest at the same time.