In many theistic religions, angels play a starring role. From guiding humans to the righteous path and being the messengers of God, to dispensing divine retribution, angels have been woven into the spirituality of humans for thousands of years.
As the centuries have passed, humans have shifted the perception and look of angels to be inline with our own ideas. For example, in the book of Enoch (an ancient Hebrew text), angels are not always described as winged people, but many eyed beings.
According to Ezekiel 1:15-16,
“As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.”
The look of angels and even how they feel about humans have changed. Today, we often see images of them wearing billowing white robes, or they are depicted as chubby winged babies, and are seen as loving beings.
However, they have been known to wield flaming swords and feel offended by the smell of humans. According to Learn Religions, when Enoch came to heaven, the first angels he encountered were not too pleased with his arrival.
In many new age spirituality ideas, angels are seen as a guiding force of goodness and light, encouraging humans to transcend the negative trappings that come with being alive on this earth, and are interested in our spiritual development.
There are now even angel tarot cards that are advertised to help you connect with the wisdom of angels and be guided to make the right decisions.
As angels have evolved in our collective consciousness, people often place their own specific meaning to depictions of angels, and get angel tattoos to remind them of a specific message or memory.
If you feel a connection with angels or perhaps you just like the aesthetics of angel tattoos, here are a few tattoo designs to get you inspired for your next ink:
According to Britannica, a cherub is,
“…a celestial winged being with human, animal, or birdlike characteristics who functions as a throne bearer of the Deity.”
This type of angel is featured in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic doctrine.
In these Abrahamic religions, this type of angel is known as throne bearers of God, attendants to God, and are beings who continuously praise God.
However, in our modern world, many people bring to mind a cute chubby baby with rosy cheeks when the word ‘cherub’ comes up (this is due to the winged babies found in Renaissance paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries).
When it comes to getting a cherub tattoo, it can serve as a representation of your religious faith. Saved Tattoo explains that this type of angel tattoo can symbolize divine protection and even as a memorial tattoo for a loved one who has passed,
“…these cherub angels will always be next to the innocent people and protect them from evil spirits. Moreover, people believe that those who have died are now cherubs that watch them from heaven…Furthermore, cherub babies can symbolize some superpower or heavenly body that always takes care of the loving ones.”
Cherub tattoos are often inked with a bow and arrow, and, of course, wings.
Archangel Gabriel Tattoo
Archangel Gabriel appears to key personalities in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran. He is a messenger from heaven and explains visions. One of his most notable appearances in the Christian faith is when he came to Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Jesus.
While Gabriel is described as looking like a man, he often tells the recipient of his messages not to be afraid of him,
“When Daniel meets Gabriel, he is frightened and falls on his face. When Gabriel greets Zacharias, his first words are, ‘Do not be afraid.’ Mary’s greeting is more celebratory, but Gabriel still follows up by telling her not to fear,”Logos
Due to this, an Archangel Gabriel tattoo can be a reminder to not be afraid of the next chapter of your life, no matter how challenging and daunting it may be.
When it comes to what an Archangel Gabriel tattoo should look like, he is often depicted with a lily, a lantern, or a trumpet.
Warrior Angel Tattoo
The thought of angels being serene, clothed in white, and a spiritual guide for humans is more new age. In Abrahamic religions, some angels are warriors with swords. Archangel Jophiel was the being who drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and then guarded the gate armed with a flaming sword.
Then, in the Book of Revelations in the Bible, it is angels who are prophesied to bind Satan and throw him in a pit to stay for a thousand years.
“A man who is passionate about his beliefs may want to show that with a design like this, or his decision could represent a side of himself that is ready to battle any negative thoughts or harmful energies,”The Trend Spotter
As these beings are depicted as warriors, a tattoo of this angel can be clad in armor and be holding a sword.
Do you just want a symbol of an angel as a minimalistic, mini tattoo? A halo can be the perfect choice. This symbol is often used in paintings and images of angels and saints to represent their holiness.
This ring of light first appeared way before Christianity and Islam. As BBC explains,
“The earliest examples of a disc halo come from the 300s BC in the religious art of ancient Iran. It seems to have been conceived as a distinguishing feature of Mithra, deity of light in the Zoroastrian religion.”
In just a few hundred years, the symbol of the halo,
“…could be seen in such far-flung locations as the Tunisian town of El Djem, the Turkish city of Samosata and the Pakistani city of Sahri-Bahlol. By the 400s, haloes had been embedded in Christian art in Rome and Buddhist art in China.”
A tattoo of a halo can represent divinity, sacredness, light, and spirituality.
When it comes to design, a halo tattoo works well standing alone as a wrist tattoo, or it can accompany a set of wings. If you do not want to stick with traditional black ink for your tattoo, a halo can be the perfect tattoo design to do in white ink or yellow ink.
Before opting for lighter colors though, it’s important to know what you are getting into. White and yellow are colors that do tend to fade faster than darker hues. Help your tattoo last as long as possible by putting sunscreen on it when you go out.
Angel Wings Tattoo
Another angel themed tattoo that you could go super simple with is an angel wings tattoo. With angel wings, you can go small and minimalistic with the design on your ankle (this can pay tribute to another winged deity, Hermes, in Greek mythology) or more detailed with wings on your back.
Of the latter, Tattoo SEO says,
“Larger, more defined and more sharply detailed wings can be meant to represent the wings of an archangel, one of the high-ranking warrior angels of God’s army…The appearance of these wings is often darker and more realistic, lending a graver tone to the image. This enhances the authority that the wings of an archangel command, giving the image the quality of a protector.”
For a memorial tattoo, your wings could include the name of a loved one that has passed away, a particular important date, or simply an “RIP”.
A tattoo of wings can also represent freedom and liberation, and can be a powerful choice for those who have gone through life defining struggles.
Angel And Devil Tattoo
The duality of life can be seen in all realms, including the world of angels. This is where the devil on your shoulder comes in. With the positivity and goodness of an angel, there is also the darkness and negativity of a devil.
Often the angel is a representation of the person’s conscience while the devil is a representation of temptation.
“It is pretty standard that, as a human, we sometimes struggle with these opposing sides within ourselves. No one can or should be ‘good’ all the time. And no one can or should be ‘bad’ all the time. Like the Yin and Yang symbol, the angel and devil show a sort of balance and ownership of the complexities and struggles that reside within us,”Ink Art By Kate
There are many ways to represent this duality in a tattoo, one being with angel wings. One of the wings can be inked in white to symbolize the angel or positivity, while the other wing can be inked in black to represent the other side. This is heavily inspired by the ancient Chinese Yin Yang symbol.
Fallen Angel Tattoo
Did your mind immediately think of Satan when you read “fallen angel”? While he may be the most infamous, there are hundreds of fallen angels – the Book of Enoch numbered 200 angels that fell from heaven.
There is something about the concept of a fallen angel that is inherently human. We all fall short of perfection, make mistakes, and sometimes allow pride to take over. Because of this, many people feel connected to the idea of a fallen angel, and get a tattoo to represent this.
Fallen angel tattoos are often designed as a winged human man or woman with their head bowed and wearing tattered clothing, sometimes even with a broken wing or halo.
A fallen angel tattoo is,
“Representative of a loss of paradise, a personal life struggle (either past or present), or a criticism of, or rebellion from, religion,”Chronic Ink Tattoo
Angel Of Death Tattoo
One of the archangels in Abrahamic stories is Azrael, or the Angel of Death.
“Azrael is of cosmic size: with his 4,000 wings and a body formed by as many eyes and tongues as there are living human beings, he stands with one foot in the fourth (or seventh) heaven, the other on the razor-sharp bridge that divides paradise and hell,”Britannica
This is quite the image, so many more modern depictions of the Angel of Death are of a human stature with a flowing black robe, dark wings, and a sword or a scythe. In the western English world, this figure can also be known as the Grim Reaper.
An Angel of Death tattoo obviously represents the end of life on earth, but it can also go further than that to the circle of life, the transition from this life to the next, and courage for the next phase of being.
“Although the Grim Reaper commonly represents ‘death,’ he can take on a variety of meanings. In the end though, your Grim Reaper tattoo will represent what you want it to,”Tat Ring
An angel is not just an angel; there are so many ways to see angels, from the explanations and meanings in ancient religious texts, to more modern interpretations in new age spirituality, there is a lot to be inspired by for your angel tattoo.