As birds of the night andÂ birds of prey, the owl has been associated withÂ psychic powers, the “angel of death,” and the goddess of night. Greek, Roman, and Celtic mythology all have owls as representatives of spiritual influence, wisdom and knowledge. Hinduism uses the owl as a symbol of cosmic spirituality as well.
Native AmericanÂ religions and shaman priests have placed numerous spiritual associations upon the owl. The Cree believed that the whistles of the Boreal Owl was a call to the spirit world. If an Apache dreamed of an owl, it meant that death was eminent. Cherokee shamans looked to Eastern Screech OwlsÂ forÂ guidance on punishment and sickness.
In Africa the owl is associated with witchcraft and sorcery. To the Bantu the owl is the associate of wizards. In eastern Africa, the Swahili believe that the owl brings illness to children. Zulus in southern Africa view the owl as a bird of sorcerers, and in the western part of the Africa the bird is considered a messenger of wizards and witches. In MadagascarÂ owls are said to gather with witches and dance on the graves of the dead.
As a spiritual symbol, owls can be found throughout the world.Â Australia, China, Greenland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and Sweden all have cultures or mythical traditions that give considerable spiritual significance to the owl.
As a tattoo design or symbol, there is perhaps no religious icon or symbol more universally recognized today than the Christian Cross. Religious symbolism is prominently featured in several tattoo design genres, both ancient and modern, and in fact it could be argued that all traditional tattooing among indigenous peoples has a strong spiritual element.
Symbols like the cross go back long before the written word. One of the oldest crosses was placed within a circle. These Solar or Wheel Crosses appeared in Neolithic Europe, often as petroglyphs or rock carvings. They are also found in Asia, America, and India, as representations of the rising and setting of the sun, the seasons, and theÂ union ofÂ the polarities. Since the cross was used all over the world, it is no small wonderÂ that it took on many different meanings within many different cultures.
Within modern tattoo genres, the cross is aÂ tattoo designÂ that has been in vogue for at least the last two centuries, and was tattooed by sailors, merchant seamen, was heavily represented in Old School tattooing, was popular among Military Serviceman, Latino tattooing, and is today one of the most popular tattoo designs in the world.
The Cross itself is one of the most ancient, widespread, and important symbols in human history – the vertical and horizontal lines representing Father and Mother Nature, respectively. The point of intersection of those two lines — the point of synthesis — represented those mystical and spiritual concepts that embraced the meeting of the material and the spiritual in human existence.
Long before it was taken up and adopted as the most powerful of Christian symbols, the cross became one of the most widely cultivated of sacred symbols. It symbolized life and immortality, fertility, theÂ union ofÂ heaven and earth, the sun and the stars. Its four pointers, or arms, symbolized North, South, East and West, or the four winds, the elements, not to mention the human form, itself. Throughout the world, it was used decoratively, as well as a protective symbol. It was seen on coins and carvings, and on stones and jewelry in Bronze Age Scandinavia, Pre-Colombian America, China and Africa.
Four thousand years ago, the Indian Cross was a symbol of auspiciousness. It was seen as the -world-wheel, denoting an ever-changing world around the unchanging God-centre. It was also used in the Near and Far East, North America, and Europe. More recently, the direction of the four arms was reversedÂ — also known as the Swastika –Â and came to represent Nazi Germany under Hitler.
Ancient Egypt used the hieroglyph “ankh” for regeneration, later adopted byÂ the Christian Copts to symbolize physical and eternal life. The ankh, unique for itsÂ loopÂ over the cross, came to be used in astrology as the sign ofÂ Venus, and is still used today in biology to identify the female sex.
Of all the many different cross symbols, the Roman or Latin cross is the most popular and universally recognizable symbol of Christianity, although it was not adopted as such until 300 AD. This is the cross upon which Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified, and so it has become accepted as theÂ Christian cross.
The Tiger is a potentÂ symbol across Asia in many cultures and has long been a fixture in indigenous tattooing in India, Burma,Â Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia,Â Malaysia, China and Japan. Tigers are associated with power, ferocity, passion and sensuality, beauty andÂ speed, cruelty and wrath. The appearance of a tiger in a dream may signal that new power or passion may awaken within you.
In Asia the tiger is associated with the power and might of kings, aÂ positionÂ similar to the Lion in the Middle East and Europe. (not a terribly surprising symbolism for apex predators who early men would have seen as direct competitors and potent threats – see alsoÂ sharks,Â bears,Â wolvesÂ andÂ lions).
The Koreans call the tiger the ‘King of the Animals’. In Hinduism the god Shiva, in his aspect ofÂ the destroyer, is depicted wearing a tiger skin and riding a tiger. The tiger is generally seen as aÂ symbolÂ of power and strength, but also of destruction and violence. The tiger can be aÂ symbolÂ of both life and death, evil and evil’s senseless or destructive power. In China, tiger images are used as charms to ward off evil. Stone tigers are common protective guards outside of buildings and houses. At the time of the Chou dynasty, images of tigers were hung in pregnant woman’s rooms to protect the unborn baby. In some areas tigers are thought to punish sinners, in the name of a supreme being, by attacking them.
Some Asian cultures have stories about were tigers, people that can change themselves into tigers, much like the werewolves seen in horror movies. According to their legends, the Tibetans and Na-hsi of the Yunnan province in China have descended from tigers. The Na-hsi give tiger figures to boys and girls at their coming-of-age ceremonies and also to newly wed couples.