There’s no denyin’ it, tarot and tattoos go together really well. Like sunsets and mountaintops. Like early morning train journeys and headphones full of Bjork. Like re-reading Written on the Body after a break-up. So many symbols! So many pretty pictures! So many feelings! It’s no surprise that the internet is awash with pictures of dark-arts-body-art and arcane needlework.
I’m ashamed to say I don’t actually have a tarot tattoo myself and I’m really not sure why, so the very moment I finish writing up this article I’m gonna get my ass down to Black Crown in Leeds and get Gareth to cover me in cups, pentacles, swords and wands. Watch this space.
Meanwhile for your delectation I have compiled this set of the coolest, prettiest, sexiest and downright nicest tarot-related tattoos I can find.
PLUS! I found the world’s most awesome tarot-reading lady tattoo-artist. You’re welcome!
Monique has the Ace of Cups with a quote from The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Straddler Jack has this whole gorgeous sleeve of tarot tattoos!
On my inner lower arm is The Fool, upper inner arm is The Devil, and upper back of my arm is Death. Shoulder cap is a mix of symbols from the Sun, Moon, and World cards, and lady on the front is based on the 6 of Wands. Only about half the color is done! All art based on Tarot Art Nouveau. I chose the cards based on Mary K Greer’s constellations work for my birthday and astrological sun sign (Capricorn).
Brooke and her bestie Nadine got matching tarot tattoos of the Ace of Cups (with artwork based on the Tarot of Marseille deck):
Nadine’s is in color, my tattoos are only ever black and white. She’s the water sign actually, but as a typical fire sign (Leo, pretty much across the board, and if not Aries & Sag.) I wanna master my opposites and I always pick tattoo designs that are a little open-ended so I can aspire harder.
Here’s another friendship tattoo – Callie and her best mate have matching images of the four suits from the Wild Unknown Tarot:
My faraway bestie and I got the tarot signs together one weekend that she was visiting. We met in Chicago when we were 20, formed a band and DJ’d together weekly. We also had a mutual love for tarot.
I moved back to California when I was 25 but we’ll both do readings for one another whenever we get together which is about once or twice a year. Not only do I love my tattoo but it’s also a reminder of our friendship which has spanned over 15 years now :)
Katherine‘s Ace of Wands (again inspired by The Wild Unknown Tarot, tattooed by Ayako Junko Osaki at the awesome 4Points Body Gallery, MN:
Here’s another from the Wild Unknown Tarot showing the stunning Death card:
Actually you know what? The Wild Unknown Tarot has inspired a whole bunch of tarot tattoos, which they post on their Tumblr.
Witchbaby‘s awesome moon-phase tattoo isn’t strictly ‘tarot’ but I’m gonna include it anyway because I think it’s gorgeous:
Tarot reader Hilary Parry has the High Priestess inked onto her arm.
Why the High Priestess card? people have asked. My response is that She is a constant reminder to always always ALWAYS trust my intuition. What I really love about both my tattoo and the placement of it is that it does have multiple meanings, including the reversal. When most people see my tattoo, they are seeing the High Priestess card upright (and therefore all the meanings of the upright association). When I look at my tattoo, I am seeing the High Priestess reversed (because I must bend my arm at the elbow to take a good look at her). The reversal of the card is a reminder that every time I haven’t trusted my intuition, I always end up regretting it.
My gorgeous girl Emma has the platonic symbol for the element of water, which to me is completely linked to the suit of cups in tarot as I wrote about previously…
Here’s her sexy arm steering her boat, Flo:
I also wanna add in Leah’s awesome ‘we begin by listening’ tattoo which she mentioned when I interviewed her recently:
For Leah, this quote expresses the essence of her tarot and social justice practices:
One thing we’re doing within this activism is this focus on building, rather than on reacting, and on our own power as oppressed people to create our own amazing solutions… and two years ago when I started thinking “right, I’m gonna do this tarot thing as an actual business,” those worlds really started coming together, and I actually got them tattooed on my arm.
On my travels, I came across psychic tattoo artist Christian Castañeda, based in Mexico City. She has a stunning Instagram filled with tarot and other tattoos – here are a couple of my favourites:
For Christian, tarot and tattooing are intimately linked – after a tattoo session, she often pulls out her cards and reads tarot for her clients. I asked her more about how she combines the two.
There are two things that I think tarot and tattoos are related: both work in a very ritualistic way and both activities help people pour out one’s woes.
I started studying tarot because one of my best friends and mentor in life, gave me my first deck. It was the Marsella one. Six months later after he gave me the present, he passed away. Since we had a very special connection around our interests in alchemy and the occult, I decided to follow the path that he was about to teach me (he was an artist and a witch too).
Another reason for studying the tarot was that I needed to understand why was I working with certain specific symbols in my artistic practice.
My favourite tattoos are the ones who have this kind of Russian prison style, linework, dotwork, and engraving style. So if I don’t like the idea of the tattoo, I don’t do it. That’s because I believe that you have to love it if you are gonna make a mark on someone’s skin for life.
Writing this post has totally inspired my next tattoo… what about you? Have you got a tarot-related tattoo? Or are you inspired to get one? Which card or symbol would you get? Share it in the comments!
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hey howdy, i don’t comment much but i had to share my high priestess tattoo! (done by my lovely friend sara eve @ inka dinka doo in pittsburgh PA)
dang i think the link was broken. gonna try again (-:
http://saraevetattoo.weebly.com/uploads/6/4/1/2/6412120/541485_orig.jpg because it’s still not showing up for some reason, at least for me <//3
I’ll go behind the scenes and fix it for you!
Ah, I see — two sets of closing quotes! Blammo. Fixed.
Ha! Now delete mine so I don’t look like an interfering old busybody!! xxx
Okay so I was very excited to see it and managed to find it, hope you don’t mind me butting in @strongbademail! x
ZOMG! It’s stunning!!
thanks so much for finding it! idk why i’m having trouble posting it, probably ’cause i’m on my phone or something (-:
Thanks for including me!
At the risk/thrill of being totally pedantic our tattoos are actually based on the central cup from the 5 of cups (http://www.tarotlore.com/marseille-tarot-cards/five-of-cups/).
The “nothing gained without sacrifice” aka “when Satan closes a door he opens a window” vibe of the card is good for my perspective I guess.
And thanks for making it apparent that I gotta get me down to Mexico.
These are all beautiful!
A dear friend of mine has huge piece on her side of the Star; it was one of the reasons I knew our lives were irrevocably linked.
(Our other favorite card is the Three of Cups — what I was given as a life card in a reading by the same queer mentor that taught me the rules of texting girls.)
Oh wow. Do you know which deck/depiction of The Star?
Also: You should make a Three of Cups phone case.
OMG tarot card phone cases. YES! I’m just off to invent that.
Yes! Classic Pamela Colman Smith art. It is very beautiful.
Do it! Or check Society6, they are ALL over that. (I am very woo about things I touch all the time, like my keychains and my phone.)
Katherine’s ace of wands tattoo is beautiful! And Witchbaby’s moon phase tattoo reminded me that if I’m still working as a midwife when I’m fifty, I’m gonna get the phases of the moon tattooed across my knuckles :D Because by then I will hopefully be too well-established and well loved in my career for it to be a problem!
You totally will Emily!!
Personally, I wanna get Witchbaby’s moon phase tattoo exactly where she has it cus I think it’s the sexiest thing *ever*.
Woah! I love June’s (Ayako Junko Osaki) work! I have an amazing shoulder tattoo by her and she’s becoming really well known in the twin cities!
STUNNING! I love the artwork in tarot, it always seemed to be perfect for tattoo inspiration, I’d have to understand the symbolism in depth before I went there but I’m not ruling it out. Also platonic solids – hooray!
I love those tattoos. I am looking into getting inked for the first time, and it never occurred to me that yes, you can get a tarot theme…hmmm…
Woo – first tattoo! Which card/symbol/etc would you get?
This summer I got myself hybrid hierophant/wizard tattoo as a graduation gift. (Done by Nomi Chi in Vancouver)
I loved this article.
I got the ten of bones (10 of pentacles in more traditional decks) inked on me recently. I love it. it’s a card of abundance, being taken care of, having enough.
Ah, so great to see so many people getting tarot tattoos! I am a full-time tarot reader living in Sydney Australia and I am collecting tarot card tattoos. So far I have seven (only 71 to go!) and you can see them all here: http://sarahthepsychic.com/tarot-tattoo-project/
All the tattoos are done by my partner Megan Oliver who is such a talented tattoo artist, hooray!
Part of my “Heartbreak tarot” series
A great article! Sure, tattoo designing is a big industry now and the tarot theme has a great future. People need all cards as tattoo designs on the human skin textured background, plus a free license, permitting to reproduce the tattoo patterns.