As one of the two celestial bodies in our sky, the moon has inspired cultures and individuals for as long as humans could first talk. We, as a civilization, have been fascinated by it, not least because of its position as the brightest object in the night sky.
We have used its cycles to build our calendars and given it credence in our religions and legends, and the power it has over our imagination and our planet is immense.
When it is gone, we are plunged into darkness, when it moves, the tides of the ocean follow it, and when it is brightest, it fills the night sky.
Such is the moon’s majesty and deep symbolic meaning, that it has been depicted in artwork spanning centuries until the modern day, with people all over the world choosing to get tattoos of the moon permanently engraved on their body.
With such a long and storied history, it’s no wonder that its impact has gone further than tales and made its way onto our skin.
Humanity’s awe of the moon is difficult to fully explore, due to it being such a vast topic that spans thousands upon thousands of years, but a good way to look at its meaning to us throughout history is through our worship of it.
The moon gods and goddesses, or the lunar deities, have persisted in almost every culture since time immemorial. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Khonsu was the moon god and was a god of time. In ancient Greek mythology, it was Artemis, the good of the hunt, wilderness, and chastity.
In Irish mythology, it was Elatha, the king of the Formorians, who were the precursor to the deities of Irish mythology. There are many, many more, but this just shows the moon’s impact on our societies and how our image of it has changed.
However, even though the symbology of the moon’s significance varies from culture to culture, there are one or two things that stay the same across cultures and persist to this day. The biggest one is our calendars.
Very few cultures around the world don’t use the lunar cycle somewhere in their calendars, we here in the west do it with the Gregorian calendar that focuses on moon cycles, the Chinese calendar does it using astronomical phenomenon, including the moon, even the Jewish calendar – as old as it is – uses moon cycles.
With all the impact the moon has had throughout history, the question remains: what does the moon mean to us today? Well, there are a couple of different things that the moon can mean to different people.
The first one is femininity and fertility; lunar cycles are often linked to menstrual cycles – with menstrual and moon often having the same root word in many cultures.
This can be seen in famous figures throughout history who have been attributed to femininity, fertility, and the moon: the Virgin Mary and the triple goddess of the Wicca to name two.
Another meaning behind the moon is wilderness and the wild spirits. This can probably be attributed to wolves howling at the moon and the boundaries between the order of our towns and the wilderness just outside that become more prominent at night.
The imagination of humanity probably created the idea of wild spirits of neither good nor evil intent roaming the land whilst we slept, and the change that can come over us because of them.
Finally, the idea of moonstruck or abnormal people and thoughts coming from moonlight has persisted as well.
This follows the same idea of wilderness and the wild spirit, but is thought of more insidiously, with legends of werewolves being prominent. In fact, the word lunacy comes from the idea of the moon itself driving you insane.
These are the most common symbols that people associate with the moon in the modern age, barring just astronomical or scientific meanings.
However, that should not limit you, whatever personal or spiritual meaning you derive from the moon is your own and should in no way be affected by these if you choose not to believe in them.
In terms of design, there are many variations of the moon design and how it is inked onto someone’s skin. However, there are a few that are more popular and recognizable than others, due to the fact that it often has a deeper ideology or meaning behind them:
The crescent moon appears in the sky when the moon is waxing or waning, therefore signifying significant change by the expulsion of negative energy and, through this, a growth and creativity in the person. It is a good tattoo to get when you are pulling yourself out of a low point.
This tattoo has several different meanings. The first is its supernatural and gothic ideology, being the moon of werewolf transformations and the time at which magic practitioners could cast their most powerful spells.
Followers of Wicca consider it an especially potent symbol. Another is purely astronomical, with many people getting a realistic version of the moon, complete with craters and the sea of tranquility. This is purely out of love for astronomy and is a great way to show your appreciation for the stars.
Sun and Moon
The sun and moon tattoo is often used when thinking of family, as the sun is traditionally masculine and the moon traditionally feminine, so pairs well with parents or you and your partner. In this case, people often put stars around the sun and moon to denote siblings or children.
Another way to look at it is duality, the different traditional traits of both celestial entities combine in this tattoo and recognizing the duality inside ourselves and the traits that we all share.
The meaning of the red moon tattoo is often seen as a sign of the apocalypse and the misfortune yet to come. This can be interpreted as the doom we see coming in ours and the world’s future, however depending on where you come from this can be a positive symbol.
In the UK, a red moon and sky at night is seen as a good sign that tomorrow will bring nice weather and luck.
The moon as a symbol is one of the most enduring in our planet’s and humanities history. People have stared in wonder for generations at its ever-changing position in the sky and pondered on its existence and its relation to us.
Everyone has come up with their mythos, legends, and stories about the moon and its importance to our cultures and individuality is something incredible. For those who decide that it is worthy to decorate your skin, thousands of years of culture and modern scientific phenomena would back you up in your endeavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do I Put On A Tattoo Of The Moon?
Put whatever you feel is suitable. Many people like having a black cat staring at the moon or a tree in the foreground. Any image that you feel would complete your tattoo is perfect.
Another example would be ravens flying across it, as a harbinger of death or as part of old Irish Celtic belief with the goddess of death and the afterlife, Mórrígan, often taking the form of a raven.
Can I Color My Moon Tattoo Without It Being Just Gray And Black?
Color your tattoo however you like, even if it flies in the face of convention. Part of the reason that red and blue moons became so popular as tattoos is because people flew in the face of convention, so it stands to reason you should be able to do the same.
However, be certain that this is not just a passing fancy and that the color is something you truly want.
What Does A Moon Tattoo Mean?
A moon tattoo can mean a multitude of different things depending on the symbolism behind it. In the article, we explore a couple of different tattoo meanings and a small amount of the different cultural influences that inspire moon tattoos, as the topic is absolutely enormous.
However, the biggest question is what the moon tattoo means to you before you get one, that is the meaning that is most important and is the entire reason you will be getting a moon tattoo.
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