Angels come in many shapes and sizes, origins and imagined appearances. Derived from the Latin angelus, Angel was originally meant to mean “Messenger of God.” Through the years, this definition has grown. Saying something looks like an angel can mean anything from the rosy-cheeked baby cherubs to the horned and tattered fallen angels– and each variety carries deep significance both to the public and to the individual.
Whether your reasons are religious, heavily symbolic, or both, an angel tattoo exists for you. If you are seeking a specific meaning, you may wish to base your concept on the information below.
Angel Tattoos and Their Evolving Symbolism
Angels are important figures in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to name a few. However, the descriptions from each religion’s sacred text are somewhat different from the explosion of art throughout the ages.
While most associate angels with flowing robes and feathered wings, the descriptions from sacred texts are often more fierce and even frightening at times. From many faces and wings to brass hooves, it’s a far cry from the cherubic cupid dolls.
Their meaning often varies based on the style and depiction of the tattooed angel. Over time angels in both tattoos and other forms of art have been used to represent a variety of feelings including:
All this to say that your angel tattoo is what you make of it. Angels can have a variety of meanings, from a lost loved one to a guardian spirit, an inner struggle or outer hope.
The Encyclopedia of Angel Tattoos
This term refers to the top, ‘chief’ angels who hold seats of power and can even be mentioned by name in sacred texts. The most famous are Michael and Gabriel, but seven have been named. These can be used to signify a connection to one’s religion.
Often elegant or tribal, many consider angel wing tattoos representative of freedom or protection. They can also signify the need to be close to God, the presence of a guardian angel, or the memory of a loved one. Tattered and broken wings often symbolize a struggle with faith or personal heartbreak.
Angel of Death/Destruction
Symbolic of fear, death, or rebellion. Some inkers have it as a show of respect to the celestial being.
These angels are typically carrying a Celtic cross or are designed with other Celtic symbols. They symbolize a strong connection with the Catholic church and/or Celtic roots.
Often depicted as winged babes or chubby-cheeked toddler-like figures, they often represent innocence.
Interestingly, these cherubs are actually ‘putti’ (putto singular). They originated as artistic depictions for profane passions and evolved to represent the omnipresence of God. (Art, am I right?) In Renaissance art, they were believed to represent influence on the lives of mortals.
Cupid was one of the original inspirations for the putti, and is now often considered as cherub.
Biblical and Jewish cherubim are something else entirely and make for much more imposing tattoos: two pairs of wings, four faces (lion, ox, human, eagle), straight legs, feet like the hooves of a bull that gleam like polished brass. However, some texts describe them as non-corporeal. In Christianity and Judaism, cherubim are said to have been placed at the Garden of Eden for protection after Adam and Eve were cast out.
Representative of a loss of paradise, a personal life struggle (either past or present), or a criticism of, or rebellion from, religion. These can be depicted with broken wings or more demonic features. Fallen angels in curled or bowed positions (potentially with broken wings) are often used to symbolize depression or brokenness, both presently or in the past.
Figures of rebirth or resurrection, many Christians choose soaring angels to represent Christ’s ascension to heaven. Memorial tattoos often reference a loved one’s ascension or the angel coming to guide their soul.
Charged with protecting mankind. Many believe that everyone is assigned a specific angel to guard them through life. They represent protection and rightful guidance.
Often depicted with their hands together, either slightly bowed or kneeling. They symbolize the need for connection with God. Prayer is the manner of communication between man and God in Christianity and other religions. These figures also symbolize divine interventions, guidance, and protection. Some parents will depict praying angels alongside names or other symbolism for their children to represent blessings, prayers for protection, and prayers for guidance.
Find Your Wings with Chronic Ink and Tattoo
At Chronic Ink and Tattoo, we understand the importance of tattoos that can be deeply religious or symbolic for our inkers. Our artists are dedicated to helping you design the best representation of your idea. Give us a call or fill out the form on our website, and one of our artists will be in touch to help you realize this significant addition.
Ready to Explore Your Own Angel Tattoo?
At Chronic Ink Tattoo, our talented artists are ready to help you explore Angel and other tattoos to make sure you find something you’ll want to show off for decades to come. If you’re in the Toronto, Markham, Mississauga, Kitsilano Vancouver area drop by our shop and check us out for yourself.
Tattoo Studio Locations
378 Yonge Street,
252 Eglinton Ave East,
7381 Kennedy Road,
100 City Centre Dr.,
1804 W 4th Ave,
Vancouver, British Columbia
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