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Angel tattoos (as well as other religious tattoos and Christian tattoos) have been slowly but surely gaining popularity over the past few decades and it makes sense when you think about it – if you get an angel tattoo, it's like having your guardian angel with you all the time.
The word angel comes from the Greek word aggelo, which means to pass along something new or to announce something. The word aggelos stands for the God Acolytes.
Angels are a link between heaven and earth. Angels belong to Judaist, Christian and Islamic traditions.
According to the Bible and the Koran, angels have the following tasks:
- Bring messages to the people, warn them or bring the word of God
- Worship God
- Angels serve and protect humans
- They fight evil
- They carry out God's orders (they do have a free will though, they can choose to obey or disobey, just like humans)
- Angels guard heaven and hell
- They keep track of all deeds done by every human being
Angel tattoo designs are usually pictured with wings, although the Bible doesn't mention angels that have wings. The confusion comes from another kind of supernatural beings mentioned in the bible, called cherubs. So the kind of angel tattoos that are so popular nowadays are actually cherub tattoos (see further).
Angel tattoos can be large or small, some designs are very large – covering the back for instance.
Often, angel tattoo designs are taken from classic art. There is a wealth of angel images in the art of the middle ages and Renaissance and these can be adapted to tattoo images by a skilled tattoo artist.
Angel tattoos can have the following meaning:
- They express a personal relationship with God
Sometimes people will get a memorial angel tattoo to commemorate the death of a loved one. According to a common belief system, the dead become angels who protect us. Getting an angel tattoo in memory of someone is a way of having them with you for always.
Angel tattoos are often combined with designs of:
- A fairy
- A cross
- The devil
Angel Wing Tattoos
Rather than a whole angel, some people opt for an angel wings tattoo. The wings can be quite large and ornate, covering the shoulders and or much of the back. Other angel tattoos depict the whole angel in a classic pose, either flying or at rest.
The most popular spot for angel wing tattoos is between the shoulders, the place where wings would naturally be if humans had them (I wish I had some!).
Angel wings are also nice stylized as tribal art tattoos. Here's an example:
Guardian Angel Tattoos
A guardian angel tattoo comes in different sizes and shapes, but its purpose is always the same – to protect the person wearing it. Guardian angels protect human beings in times of crisis. The advantage of having a guardian angel tattoo is that you have your guardian angel with you all the time!
As mentioned before, cherub tattoos are those that most people call angel tattoos. They are usually naked, have wings, look like a baby angel (usually male) and are sometimes pictured sitting on clouds with a trumpet or bow in their hands. They are the bringers of love.
The best-known cherub is Cupid who makes people fall in love by shooting an arrow through their heart.
Speaking of hearts, heart tattoo designs are sometimes combined with 1 or 2 angel wings.
The Archangel Tattoo
Archangels are the angels with the highest rank (arch is Greek for chief), the angels that are the closest to god.
The most popular archangel tattoo is one of Saint Michael, God's warrior angel. Another famous archangel is Lucifer, who became the fallen angel known as Satan.
The Fallen Angel Tattoo
A fallen angel is an angel that has been banished from heaven as a punishment for disobeying God. Angels have free will, so they can choose to do good or bad things, the fallen angels obviously have done something wrong.
The most famous fallen angels (aka demons or dark angels) are Satan, Leviathan and Beelzebub.
Typical fallen angel tattoos usually picture an angel with a menacing look, torn wings and sometimes horns, they look like a thug angel.
Demon tattoos are popular Gothic or biker tattoos.
Here's a very literal interpretation of the fallen angel:
The Angel of Death Tattoo
Also in the category of dark angel tattoos is the Angel of Death tattoo. The Angel of Death is another name for the Grim Reaper, although the Angel of Death is usually pictured with wings and the Grim Reaper is not.
There are many angels of death. Some identify him with Satan. According to Roman Catholicism, there is a good Angel of Death (Michael) and an evil Angel of Death (Samael). They carry the souls of the deceased to Heaven.
Angel Devil Tattoos
Of course, some people have a considerably less solemn take on angel tattoos. Some angel images are more cartoon-ish in appearance and can be accompanied by a devil image.
In fact, these angel devil tattoos have a special significance all their own – they represent the two parts of the human psyche, the good and the bad. An angel devil tattoo is an amusing way to acknowledge that both exist and that the best thing to do is to find a balance between them.
Angel devil tattoos symbolize temptation, the urge to give in to ones base desires (and don't we all love that?).
Celebrities With Angel Tattoos
Here's a list of celebrities with angel tattoos:
- Melanie C: has the word ANGEL written on her abdomen
- Justin Timberlake: has a large angel tattoo combined with the word GUARDIAN on his back
- Nicole Richie: actress and socialite who has angel wings on her back, among many other tattoos
- Drew Barrymore: has an angel tattoo on her back
- Beyonce: celebrity with a praying angel tattoo on her left thigh
- Fred Durst: has an angel on his back
- David Beckham: has a guardian angel tattoo on his back combined with the names of his children. He also has a winged cross tattoo design in his neck
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