Owl Tattoo Meaning
Owls can be a beacon of hope for some people, symbolizing a rejuvenation of a life worth living.
Owls in fact are very special creatures because they embody hope and can even be guides through life.
There is a catch— Native American’s believe that the owl is seen as a bad omen and are known as creatures that lead you to the afterlife.
However, for the most part, owl tattoos are seen as symbols of being a wise soul.
Let’s chose to look on the positive side!
Types of Owls
Each type of owl is its own creature and has individual magical powers, or in general a certain symbolism.
As always, it is challenging to mix the fact that you may simply find a certain bird tattoo beautiful and want it on your body with the fact that it has a deeper meaning as well.
It’s up to you to decide which owl is not only aesthetically pleasing but also combines well with your personality or life goals.
We are about to take a look at some different types of owl tattoos to help you decide.
Great Horned Owl Tattoo Meaning
This owl has the appearance of horns because of its tufts on the top of his head, and these ‘horns’ are supposedly linked to the heavens.
I won’t go all spiritual on you though— it is just a myth that these birds have psychic abilities.
A Great horned owl tattoo truly describes the heart of a warrior, symbolizing strength and courage above all else.
Barn Owl Tattoo Meaning
Barn owls are traditional owls, and their tattoos can elicit a wide variety of good and bad omens as well as wonderful symbolism.
A barn owl tattoo could mean that you describe yourself as a wise person who serves your life for the betterment of society because you know that helping others and good karma is a true way of living.
A barn owl tattoo could also mean that you are more than capable of weeding out deception from others, in other words, you have high intuition for meeting new people.
Mexican Spotted Owl Tattoo Meaning
The Mexican spotted owl tattoo is a design not for the faint of heart— this owl is serious and, kind of creepy.
Mexicans believe in owls as sometimes being monsters: one called the Lechuza, or barn owl, represents a witch who turns into a huge owl and attacks people she disagrees with.
So, what does this all have to do with a tattoo of a Mexican spotted owl?
Well, it could mean for you that you have an interest in the supernatural, or more practically you could want to channel the power of the monster Lechuza and project a strength that is so forceful that even you could attack if the time is right.
Snowy Owl Tattoo Meaning
It has not been clearly determined whether seeing a snowy owl is a good or a bad thing, however, we do know that when one crosses your path it can mean that you are not making lemonade with the lemons you have been given (ha ha), or using the fruit of your labor to your potential.
Therefore, you may want to get a snowy owl tattoo if you have big dreams and goals in life that have not been fulfilled.
The snow owl tattoo could be a symbol of you channeling new energy to find your own true happiness in life.
Hawaiian Owl Tattoo Meaning
There are countless ancient stories in the Hawaiin islands about their owls, and most of them label the bird as a protector.
This tattoo could label you as a protector, too.
Whether you always back up your family and defend them, or you need the spirit of this owl to protect yourself, there are countless ways a Hawaiian owl tattoo could interact with your life and bring you much joy.
Black-Banded Owl Tattoo Meaning
This bird is rarely seen, though thought to be very common.
This strange combination of population and secrecy makes for a tattoo meaning that you are a person who is always there but rarely noticed.
Perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing— you watch, and listen, and see the world in a totally different way than others.
If this matches your personality, the black-banded owl not only makes for a fierce-looking tattoo but can be your little secret to a world in which you dominate from the sidelines.
The Meanings of Various Owl Tattoo Designs
The owl in tattoo culture has been mixed with other symbols frequently to create new and exciting possibilities.
Whether you embrace the creepy or ominous side of this predator of the night, or you chose to represent its wise talents, the following owl tattoo designs will make your head spin as to which tattoo to get next.
Owl and Rose Tattoo Meaning
When the rose tattoo is combined with the owl in a tattoo, you may want to think of the rose as dying and its petals falling off one by one.
The owl and rose tattoo symbolize the beauty of death, the owl being the carrying of one to the other side (whatever side that is for you).
This is a great tattoo to symbolize a loved one who has passed, or, even your own touch with death.
Owl and Snake Tattoo Meaning
Owls and snakes are both fearsome predators or strike at a moment’s notice.
An owl and snake put together in a tattoo make for an overwhelming combination of strength and power.
An owl and snake tattoo is for someone who has great charisma and doesn’t give up a fight.
Owl and Lion Tattoo Meaning
An owl and lion tattoo design is another great example of two predators that, when placed together, reign supreme.
It is difficult to design the two bodies together in a cohesive composition, but if your tattoo artist gets it just right this could be a monstrous tattoo meaning strength, power, and also sly wit.
American Traditional Owl Tattoo Meaning
Owls are quite a common subject of American Traditional tattoos, sometimes showing the owl perched on a branch with flowers, or on the darker side, paired with a reaper and a time clock.
As you can deduce from this symbolism, American Traditional owl tattoos can either be representing the owl as a string creature that will help you face your fears or bring you deeper into your darkest ones.
Sugar Skull Owl Tattoo Meaning
This design transforms an owl into a sugar skull tattoo or the other way around depending on how you look at it.
For those who don’t know, sugar skulls are part of the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead where they celebrate those who have passed on to the afterlife.
Therefore, the owl being a creature who carries people into the afterlife, this tattoo is all about your either infatuation with death or honoring someone you love who has passed.
Geometric Owl Tattoo Meaning
Geometric owl tattoos are mysterious: They bring out the part in the owl’s life where it hides in the night awaiting its prey.
An owl designed in a geometric tattoo style is for someone who also is a bit dark (and hopefully doesn’t have prey) but, certainly, is a risk-taker always looking to jump upon the next opportunity.
Wolf and Owl Tattoo Meaning
These two predators when placed together are a mean pair.
The wolf tattoo brings out the predator side of the owl’s symbolism, representing danger and fierceness.
This is the tattoo of someone who is a fighter in life and who had many battle scars.
Flying Owl Tattoo Meaning
A flying owl tattoo means that you have no limits.
Or perhaps you wish you didn’t have any.
Either way, the owl is wise and all-knowing, and when it sours through the sky it is totally free.
This tattoo is all about freedom and having peace in oneself, which helps to become wise.
Therefore, in a way, this is a spiritual tattoo.
However you look at it, the flying owl tattoo can help you take the first step to become who you really want to be.
Yin and Yang Owl Tattoo Meaning
This tattoo design is interesting because it literally takes the owl’s head and shapes it into a yin and yang tattoo symbol!
This works well with the owl’s meaning, because as we’ve discussed the owl certainly has a good and bad side.
Part of life is death as part of life is, well, life, and being wise while you’re on Earth.
This tattoo is rich in symbolism and tackles the heart of the problem: we all want to do our best in life but soon it shall end.
What a great metaphor for a tattoo!
Dreamcatcher and Owl Tattoo Meaning
These two symbols both live within the night.
As we sleep with our dreamcatchers, catching the subconscious as we sleep, the owl sours across the sky in scout of food.
There is also a Native American connotation here, symbolizing spirits who can help us or destroy everything in sight.
This tattoo is for someone who perhaps battles in the night to sleep or is a night owl (no pun intended).
Ultimately, a dreamcatcher with an owl tattoo is for someone who believes there is more out there than meets the eye.
Olive Branch with Owl Tattoo Meaning
A large part of being wise is being peaceful.
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and more, all preached peace and were known to be wise souls.
The owl with olive branch tattoo means that you value peace and goodwill towards others because you know it will bring peace to your life.
Skull Tattoo and Owl Tattoo Meaning
The owl and skull tattoo brings out all of the images of death and the afterlife that you can imagine.
This tattoo is for someone who maybe has a fear of death that they want to overcome.
Also, this tattoo could be for someone who has almost died once or twice, or maybe countless times and wants people to know that they no longer fear death or even feel that, in a way, they have overcome death.
Celtic Owl Tattoo Meaning
Traditionally, a Celtic owl is a female who may even be seen as a mythological Goddess of the Night.
The Celtics believed owls to know the ins and outs of the underworld and to be highly wise souls.
Not to mention, they were considered defenders of honor.
An owl designed in a Celtic tattoo style could be considered a protective omen against evil and be a promise that you will protect the good at all costs.
Tribal Owl Tattoo Meaning
Tribal tattoos could have so many meanings depending on which tribe’s style is being used to place this design on your body.
In general, a tribal owl tattoo can mean anything and everything an owl symbolizes.
This tattoo could be about death, it could be about being wise, being a protector, really anything you set your mind to do.
Truly, we are the only ones who know what our tattoos mean to us (that’s why over and over again people ask, “what does your tattoo mean?”)
Haida Owl Tattoo Meaning
The Haida were Native American craftsmen with extreme talents and with their very own tattoo style.
The Haida tattoo style looks like a tribal tattoo mixed with an American Traditional tattoo, basically.
The Haida owl tattoo is itself a protector against evil spirits and a guide as well to the underworld after death.
Is an Owl Tattoo Bad Luck?
In my humble opinion, an owl tattoo is most certainly not bad luck because if anything the owl helps people cross over after death.
The owl is a wise old soul, guiding everything in the world as well as protecting those who need it.
So what if the owl has some negative connotations by being associated with death?
The owl helps people with death and very rarely is considered to be a bad spirit.
If we all have to face the underworld, I don’t know about you but I’d rather be flying there with an owl than dragged there by some monstrous creature.
There are so many great owl tattoos out there with helpful meanings that anyone would want to share, and I’d say they make for pretty lucky tattoos.
Things to Consider
While less popular in terms of tattoo designs, owl tattoos are often intricate in design and hold great symbolic meaning.
If you are considering a new tattoo, whether it be your first or an addition to your collection, an owl tattoo may be the way to go.
One of the best things about an owl tattoo design is versatility and depending on your chosen style, this visual can be personalized to represent you on a unique level.
While animals like lions, tigers, or wolves are often more popular choices, owl tattoos can be powerful and masculine if the right style is selected.
Owl tattoo designs are, fortunately, highly customizable tattoos.
Whether you favor the classic black & grey tattoo designs or the more colorful display associated with the new school style, owl tattoos can be personalized to fit your unique preferences.
Once you have chosen the appropriate style for your owl tattoo, you should seek out an accomplished tattoo artist that can bring your vision to life.
For best results, you should try to find an artist in your area that specializes in your chosen tattoo style.
This will make the entire creative process go much more smoothly as your artist will have experience with the style you want.
Owl tattoos are typically very detailed tattoos and tend to look better if they are larger.
If you’re wondering what the best body placement is for your new owl tattoo design, you should probably consider how large it will be.
Will your owl tattoo feature an owl with its wings extended out in-flight or will it be of an owl perched on a branch, waiting for prey?
If your design will be centered around a flying owl tattoo, the bird’s impressive wingspan will need enough space on your body to be as detailed as it should be.
This makes this particular design perfect as a chest piece or back piece in particular.
If you prefer a stationary owl, you won’t necessarily need as much space as it will likely be longer in design than wide.
This makes these types of tattoos perfect as upper arm pieces, lower arm pieces, or leg pieces in particular but can really fit nicely anywhere.
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Alyssa Renee McCormack is a writer, curator, and photographer who publishes articles on the topics of the arts, culture, and social justice. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion business and art history and museum professions. Her experience working with a variety of art institutions, her world travel, and her inquisitive nature provides her with a unique insight. Check out her about page, she would love to connect with you!