Cross Tattoos – Which is Right For You?

The popularity of cross tattoos in today’s culture is astounding. Not only for the religious, but for the symbol itself. The cross tattoo has many different meanings to different cultures and even different meanings in different parts of the world.

There is no more widespread symbol in the world as the cross. It seems to have significance in just about any culture in any part of the world. The styling and shape of the cross may be different, but all have one thing in common. They all have two lines intersecting at some point. In some ancient cultures, the cross with a circle around it is representative of the sun. These “solar” or “wheel” crosses can be seen as far back as the petroglyphs in ancient Europe. This symbol was not only found in Europe, but in almost every ancient culture. Each culture had its own spin on the cross, but is was represented none the less.

Within each culture, the cross had different significance. In some cultures, the four ends symbolized North, South, East and West, all with the commonality of the center. In some cultures, the four points represented the elements. In many cultures the cross symbolizes fertility, immortality, or the relationship between the earth and the heavens. In ancient Egypt the cross can be seen in hieroglyphics. The cross was called the ankh, which was a cross with a loop on the top. This symbol is still used today as a common symbol of the female sex.

So as you can see, there are many different meanings of the cross symbol, with the most widespread being the Christian symbol representing God. Even within the Christian community, different denominations have differing meanings for the cross.

All that said, lets take a look at some of the most popular cross tattoo symbols. First there is the Maltese Cross. Originating in Malta, this cross symbolizes bravery.

In the Crusades, when the Knights of St. John were battling for possession of the Holy Land, the Maltese Cross was worn into battle by the Military of Malta, and other Orders of St. John. As the ranks approached the Jerusalem, they were bombarded by a new and deadly weapon. Glass containers filled with the highly flammable naphtha followed immediately by a flaming torch, were thrown at the troops with deadly consequences. Many of the Knights were burned alive. As Brothers of War often do, many of the soldiers would throw themselves on their burning comrades to try to save them. This is how the Maltese Cross became the symbol of firemen everywhere. It is a symbol of protection and courage. It is a powerful symbol of devotion and loyalty. The Maltese Cross is often used in cross tattoo designs with the center often containing a memorial, a name, or a favorite saying. The Maltese Cross Tattoo is also used as an element of a larger more elaborate tattoo.

The Celtic Cross Tattoo is symbolic of ones heritage. The Irish, Scottish and Welsh all have differing versions of the Celtic Cross. Many of them are quite intricate and elaborate. The basic design is of a circle with a cross through it. It is said that St. Patrick, while speaking to a group of druids, took their symbol of their moon goddess, (the circle)and drew a cross through it. This is thought to be the beginning of the Celtic Cross. Don’t know if this is true, but it is a good story. If you are thinking of getting a Celtic Cross tattoo, it would be a great idea to seek out a tattoo artist that specialized in this genre. You will need a powerful artist to get the best looking Celtic Cross Tattoo.

There is the Southern Cross which is derived of the Navy Jack, or the Rebel Flag. A form of the original Navy Jack, the Southern Cross is actually a star constellation only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross is shaped like an X with start that run up the inside of the X.

The Greek Cross is a thicker cross with each arm having the same width all the way across. The American Red Cross uses the Greek Cross. If you look at the Anchor, you will see a cross in the image. The Anchor Cross is the symbol of the sailor. It is a symbol of hope.

Finally, there is the Iron Cross. Originally is was a very high honor in the German Military. It was the symbol of triumph and courage. Much of the notoriety of this symbol came when Hitler re-established this honorary medal in WWI. It is really a shame that the decoration has a rather ominous symbolism these days. It really is a very beautiful cross.

Well, now you have a ton of information about the different crosses and a bit of history on each. Before you get that Cross Tattoo, do a little research, think about what imagery you are trying to convey, find yourself a great tattoo artist, and go for it. Love a great Celtic tattoo on a beautiful shoulder. Beautiful.

Peace always.

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