From Simba to Aslan, the lion has found pride of place in our hearts and minds. There are many tales of this magnificent beast, and many people also want to get a lion tattoo because it has a profound meaning for them. So, what does the lion represent and what can it tell us about ourselves when we get a lion tattoo?
King of the Jungle
Probably the first thing that most people think of when they think of lions is that they are the king of the jungle. In this sense, they are powerful creatures, with a power and grace unmatched in the animal kingdom. Their regal bearing, large mane, and ferocity conveys this sense of magnificence.
Here are some other meanings associated with lions:
- Wisdom and intelligence
- Power and strength, like a wise king
- Courage in the face of adversity
- Mastering one’s emotions and bringing order to the inner and outer worlds
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Solar and sun energy
The lion predominantly represents masculine energy. This is why it is also associated with the male energy of the sun. However, the lioness has also long been associated with power and nobility as well. Many ancient people across the Middle East and Africa used the lioness in their art and design as a symbol of female empowerment.
The Ancient Connection
Not surprisingly, humans have been worshiping and admiring lions for millennia. In fact, much primitive cave art has been found that depicts the lion as part of the hunt. So ferocious are they that primitive people depicted them on their cave walls and sought to draw power from them through sympathetic magic.
The ancient Egyptians considered both lions and lionesses as spiritual animals that had a definitive tie to the gods and goddesses of their pantheon. Indeed, the famous Sphinx celebrates the power of the lion, and it is a monument that has withstood the centuries and still provokes a sense of awe and wonder in viewers today. The Egyptians even built a temple complex called Leontopolis to mark their respect for this most regal of creatures and connect it for eternity with their spiritual worldview.
The Lion in Religious and Spiritual Tradition
In ancient Greece, Aesop the story-teller often used the lion to symbolize morality in society. His tales often used the lion to talk about the strength of a society resting on its morality and sense of right versus wrong. In this context, the lion is a wise creature and guides us to create a better society.
The lion has long been an important part of numerous religions and spiritual traditions. For ancient Christians, the lion could symbolize good or evil. Just think about Daniel and the lion’s den, or the Bible stories where the lion eats a person who threatens the Christian faith or rejects it.
The conquering lion of Judah, Jacob the prophet, is also intimately tied to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In Judaism, the lion is also a powerful figure and is associated with tradition and protecting the word of God.
Aslan and the Chronicles of Narnia
The ancient Greeks were not the only ones to use the lion to symbolize wisdom and morality. C.S. Lewis is most famous for his Narnia series of fantasy books. In them, Aslan is a lion that is wise, regal, and moral.
In Narnia, Aslan is regarded as the King of Narnia. Aslan is not only a talking lion, he is also intelligent, wise, and powerful. He can be calm, but can also be fierce when necessary. In this sense, Aslan also represents honor and emotional control. Thus, Aslan is the king of both the inner and outer worlds. He symbolizes control of the emotions and is also regarded as the King of the fantasy world of Narnia.
Disney and the Lion King
Unashamedly based on the Japanese animation Kimba the White Lion, Disney’s Lion King was a massive movie hit in 1994. It remains popular today and there have even been other adaptations of it.
In The Lion King, Simba is a young lion who is set to take over the kingship of the Pride Lands after succeeding Mufasa, his father. Mufasa is suddenly murdered by Scar, another lion, and Simba then goes on a quest that leads him to wisdom and ending the tyranny of Scar.
In The Lion King, we see the lion primarily as a regal symbol. The lion here is wise and powerful, like Mufasa. But we also see the dark side of the lion too – when Scar murders Mufasa through raw ambition and bitterness.
In this context, The Lion King is representative of the two sides of the lion—the good and the evil. This sits squarely in the Christian tradition, but also plays out in an African setting where the lion is a wise and powerful figure.
Simba undergoes a personal transformation and finally understands his place in the world. His inner wisdom, morality, and sense of justice prevails, and he defeats tyranny in the form of Scar.
Why Should You Get a Lion Tattoo?
If you’re a Leo, the connection is pretty clear. Your symbol is the lion or the lioness. You are regal and powerful, and a lion tattoo can convey this meaning forcefully and with grace.
To many people, the lion represents power and authority, but it also has many other meanings too. The lion has always been a great symbol of masculinity and the inherent power of the masculine in traditional terms. But the lioness is also a great symbol of power for women too. The lioness represents the power of the feminine. In fact, the ancient Sphinx is not a lion, but a lioness.
Here are some ideas for lion tattoos with great meaning and significance:
The Lion and the Lamb
The lamb has always represented innocence and purity. William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” present the lamb as a symbol of childhood and pure innocence.
Combining the lion and the lamb speaks to the Old and New Testament of the Bible as well. It invokes images of Daniel in the lion’s den as well as ancient Roman gladiatorial matches where Christians were pitted against hungry lions.
For Christians, the lion and the lamb together have great significance. The idea relates to a dual nature of power and purity. It talks of innocence and experience, as well as passion and logic.
The Conquering Lion of Judah
The Conquering Lion of Judah is intrinsically important in the Rastafarian tradition that hails from Ethiopia. Here. The lion symbolizes nobility, authority, and spirituality. For the Rastafarian, love for others and accepting and tolerating others is a big part of their belief system, and the lion represents all of this.
The Tribal Lion
Done in a tribal style, the lion symbolizes the power and significance of the lion throughout human history. It recognizes how important the lion was to our ancestors, and how it continues to inform spiritual traditions.
The Lion and the Dragon
What do you get when you combine two of the most potent and powerful symbols in human history? You get a lion and a dragon.
Both of these creatures have a central meaning in many cultures. In this incarnation, they represent strength, courage, power, and ferocity. This is a great tattoo idea for men who feel a strong connection to the idea of the lion as a symbol of male energy.
The lion and the lioness have powerful meanings and have been central to many human cultures. The lion still plays a role in our world today, as represented by the popularity of The Lion King. Whether you want to draw on the power of the lion, speak to male energy, or recognize the great power of the feminine, these creatures have fired our imaginations for millennia.