If you are superstitious or spiritual, you may consider tattoos to symbolize something deeper than just a design. There are many secret meanings behind tattoos (the art of permanent body ink has long been considered sacred and mystical), but not all of them are positive. For some people, certain tattoos are meant to represent bad luck, and naturally tattoo artists are experts at understanding who is generally considered unlucky – and the reasons why.
For starters, it all has to do with the individual customer. “Luck really is in the eye of the beholder,” tattoo artist Jordanne Le Fae told Bustle. “[…] Whether the tattoo is truly unlucky based on the content of the tattoo will really depend on the person’s faith.” Example).
Elsewhere, certain symbols – like dragon tattoos or inverted crosses – can equal negative energy. “There is hidden magic in certain symbols,” said tattoo expert Lisa Barretta, author of
Conscious Ink: the hidden meaning of tattoos, says Bustle. “It is possible to have a bad emotional reaction to a tattoo if you are not familiar with the meaning of certain esoteric images. Certainly, in most cases, you determine what a symbol means to you personally, but there are ancient magical symbols that don’t have the flexibility to be other than what they are.”
Below, see which tattoo styles are generally considered bad luck.
Name of your significant other
Getting your partner’s name tattooed, no matter how good your relationship is, is considered a kiss of death according to tattoo artists. It happens again and again: someone gets a tattoo of their love’s name and… the relationship falls apart.
“A specific example of a tattoo that I consider bad luck is the name of a loved one,” Tyson Weed, tattoo artist at Sentient Tattoo Collective in Tempe, AZ, told Bustle. “It’s like a spell on a relationship. Whether it’s three weeks, three months or three years later, I almost always see that person again for a cover-up […] And it doesn’t work the other way around – if your relationship is already failing, getting the other person’s name tattooed won’t save it. than their name.
An upside down cross
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Inverted crosses have their roots in Christianity, but in popular culture they are often linked to metal music and horror movies with demonic themes. If you want to get a cross tattoo, make sure you know the direction it will face.
“It’s a very common request to get a cross tattooed on your forearm, but clients often want it in front of them because it’s ‘for them,'” says Le Fae. “That then means the cross is upside down to the rest of the world and could be considered unlucky.” In general, it is not recommended to get a tattoo upside down.
An unfinished dragon tattoo
Different cultures and backgrounds have different beliefs about what makes a tattoo bad luck.
“In Chinese culture, it is unlucky to fill in the eyes of a dragon tattoo until the tattoo is complete, because [with the eyes being the window to the soul] the dragon will feel the pain of getting the tattoo once its eyes are complete and its soul is intact,” says Le Fae. So if you’re getting your sleeve tattooed, for example, you might want to ask for the eyes to be tattooed last.
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666 is one of the best known symbols of bad luck. According to Barretta, this symbol can attract negative energy regardless of the wearer’s personal beliefs.
“666 is another disturbing symbol,” Barretta says. “The vibration of this number sequence is believed to be the mark of the beast. Some people who have tattooed this number, even as a joke, have found that in some strange and frightening way it somehow attracts other negative situations in their lives.” If you’re superstitious, it’s probably best to avoid this design.
A knot of death
The runic “valknut” symbol, known as the knot of death, is another symbol that should not be taken lightly, according to Barretta.
“[The valknut is] one of Odin’s symbols associated with the dead, possibly the dead in battle, [and] some believe that wearing or getting a tattoo of this symbol brings bad luck since it’s associated with death,” says Barretta. See a design you like with three intertwined triangles? You might want to make sure you don’t get valknut tattoo.
Many symbols that appear to be simply abstract or edgy actually have deeper, more esoteric meanings that are worth understanding before getting a tattoo. According to Barretta, sigils, inscribed symbols from a book of demonology called Lesser Key of Solomon, are especially worth avoiding.
“Sigils are a type of symbol or sigil (often seen on talismans) that are created for a specific magical intent,” Barretta explains. “These glyphs are used as a way to bridge the gap between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Sigils implant intent and program your subconscious mind to strengthen your sigil. Some small symbols you may have innocently inked may affect negatively your own conscience.” You might want to think about these symbols.
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Even if you can’t find any links in the mythology, that means you’re in the clear. Sometimes just getting something particularly gory or dark can end up attracting bad vibes, Barretta says.
“Sometimes tattoos of really gruesome images — like bloody knives or grim images of grizzly-toothed devils — also, believe it or not, have a way of attracting ‘the bad juju tattoo,’” says Barretta. “The images speak a thousand words and the tattoo images, in an eerie way, convey an unspoken dialogue and seem to attract a similar energy.”
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For the spiritual or the superstitious, the evil eye can have a wicked connotation. From ancient history to the present day, some cultures around the world consider it a symbol of bad luck.
Although it’s a popular tattoo choice – and a relatively common talisman in homes and businesses – think twice before inking it permanently on your body. While an evil eye is supposed to protect
youthe wearer, it is said to bring a curse to those who look directly at it.
Ultimately, what you decide to get tattooed is a personal decision – and bad luck is subjective. Still, tattoo artists and experts point out potential associations with certain tattoos. Whether or not you believe in symbolism, it’s worth understanding the meaning behind specific designs before getting a tattoo.