superstitious or spiritual, then you may consider tattoos to be symbolic of something deeper than a simple design. There are plenty of secret meanings behind tattoos (the art of permanent body ink itself has long been considered sacred and mystical), but not all of them are positive. For some people, certain tattoos are believed to represent bad luck, and naturally, tattoo artists are experts at understanding which ones are commonly deemed unlucky — and the reasons why.
For starters, it all has to do with the individual client. "Luck is truly in the eye of the beholder," tattoo artist
Jordanne Le Fae, tells Bustle. "[...] Whether the tattoo is truly unlucky based on the content of the tattoo will really depend on the persons faith." Beyond that, there are certain designs that tattoo artists notice clients getting that end up being bad omens for the future (like couples tattoos, for example).
Elsewhere, certain symbols — like dragon tattoos or inverted crosses — can equal negative energy. "There is hidden magic in some symbols," tattoo expert Lisa Barretta, author of
, tells Bustle. "It’s possible to have a bad emotional reaction to a tattoo if you are not familiar with the meaning of certain esoteric images. Granted, in most cases you determine what a symbol personally means to you, but there are ancient magic symbols that don’t have flexibility to be other than what they are." Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos
Below, see which tattoo styles are commonly considered bad luck.
1 Your Significant Other's Name
Getting your significant other's name tattooed, no matter how well your relationship is going, is considered a kiss of death according to tattoo artists. It happens
time and time again: Someone gets a tattoo of their love’s name inked and...the relationship fizzles out.
"A specific example of a tattoo that I consider bad luck is a significant other's name,"
Tyson Weed, tattoo artist at Sentient Tattoo Collective in Tempe, AZ, tells Bustle. "It's like a hex 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 in reverse — if your relationship is already failing, getting a tattoo of the other person's name won't save it." If you want to get a tattoo honoring your relationship, then you may want to get something other than their name. 2 An Upside-Down Cross Dani Daniar/EyeEm/Getty Images
Inverted crosses have
roots in Christianity, but in popular culture, they’re often tied to metal music and horror films with demonic themes. Should you want to get a cross tattooed on you, make sure you’re aware of the direction it will be facing.
"It is a very common request to get a cross tattoo on the forearm, but clients frequently want it facing them because it is 'for them,'" Le Fae says. "This then means that the cross is upside-down to the rest of the world, and could be considered unlucky." In general, getting a tattoo upside down is discouraged.
3 An Unfinished Dragon Tattoo Halfdark/fStop/Getty Images
Different cultures and backgrounds have differing 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 completed, because [with the eyes being the window to the soul] the dragon will feel the pain of getting tattooed once its eyes are completed and its soul intact," Le Fae says. So if you're getting a
sleeve tattoo, for instance, you may want to request that the eyes are tattooed last. 4 666 ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images
666 is one of the more
well-known symbols of bad luck. According to Barretta, this symbol can attract negative energy regardless of the wearer's personal beliefs.
"666 is another ominous symbol," Barretta says. "The vibration from that number sequence is considered the mark of the beast. Some people who have tattooed that number, even as a joke, found that in a weird, spooky way, somehow attracted negative situations into their lives." If you're at all superstitious, it's probably best to avoid this design.
5 A Death Knot
The Rune symbol of "
valknut," known as the death knot, 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 of the battle-slain, [and] some believe wearing or having this symbol tattooed is bad luck since it is associated with death," Barretta says. See a design you like with three interlocked triangles? You may want to make sure you're not actually getting the valknut tattooed.
6 Sigils sirtravealot/Shutterstock
Many symbols that appear to be simply abstract or design-forward actually have deeper, more esoteric meanings worth understanding before getting tattooed. Sigils, inscribed symbols from a demonology book called
Lesser Key of Solomon, are particularly worth staying away from, according to Barretta.
"Sigils are a type of symbol or seal (often seen on talismans) that are created for specific magical intent," Barretta says. "These glyphs are used as a means to bridge the gap between the conscious and subconscious mind. Sigils implant intent and program your subconscious mind to empower your sigil. Some small symbols you may have innocently inked can adversely affect your own consciousness." These symbols you might want to consider thinking twice about.
7 Macabre Tattoos Delmaine Donson/E+/Getty Images
Even if you can't find any connections in mythology, that does mean you’re in the clear. Sometimes simply getting something particularly gory or dark can end up attracting bad vibes, Barretta says.
"Sometimes tattoos of really macabre images — such as a bloody knives or dark-natured images of devils with grizzly teeth — also, believe it or not, have a way of attracting 'bad tattoo juju,'" Barretta says. "Pictures speak a thousand words and
tattoo images, in a weird way, convey an unspoken dialogue and seem to attract similar energy." 8 Evil Eyes Ray Tamarra/GC Images/Getty Images
For the spiritual or superstitious, the evil eye can have a
wicked connotation. From ancient history to present-day, certain cultures around the world believe it to be symbolic of bad fortune.
While a popular tattoo choice — and a relatively common talisman in homes and businesses — think twice before getting it permanently inked on your body. While an evil eye is believed to protect
you, the wearer, it’s said to bring a curse to those who stare at it directly.
In the end, what you decide to get tattooed is a personal decision — and bad luck is subjective. Still, tattoo artists and experts stress the potential associations with certain tattoos. Whether or not you believe in the symbolism, it’s worth understanding the meaning behind specific designs prior to getting inked.
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This article was originally published on
Feb. 27, 2019