Compass Tattoo To Give You Direction – A Guide For 2021
Every Tattoo Has A Story – What Does a Compass Tattoo Mean?
In the 15th century, time measuring instruments became popular, as it can often be seen on canvases of the Old Masters.
The compass symbolized reasonableness, because its arrow always points strictly to the north, and neither the weather nor any other external processes affect its being straight and clear – just as the reason and logic should be.
Prior to the compass, the people were orientating themselves only with the help of sun and the moon, which later explains how the sun compass was inspired.
Throughout history, north has symbolized progress and advancement (whereas south symbolizes things going wrong).
Apart from this meaning, the compass also symbolizes:
- Guidance – following your North Star, or navigating your life’s journey towards your True North is where compass always pointing to the north symbolizes guidance. It will without fail always lead you to where you need to go.
- Orientation – in the past, having a navigation tool like a compass meant you knew which direction you were facing. This means you always have orientation and knowing where you are headed.
- Travel – when staying in one place, you can always find your way around the known ways of your local area. But travelers need to make sense of uknown paths, new challenges and finding their way to their destination. This is were compasses come into play, making them a staple in every suitcase.
- Independence – using a compass signifies independence and the willingness to move out of your comfort zone. Wearing the compass symbol is a sign of independence and confidence that comes from knowing that no matter what, you’ll always find your way.
- Safety and protection – compass was seen as a symbol of protection since ancient times, as it has a clear and useful function to the sailors to get them out of challenging times.
- Luck – compass is a device that will bring luck to a lost person,
- Motivation – a compass leads a traveler where they need to go, it helps you to move and shows you the way to follow your path.
The Symbol Of The Compass Rose
That said, the directions represent: infinite possibility, the present, the past, and the future.
For those adding a compass rose to their tattoo, it usually means that they want it to symbolize the guidance to their true north and to navigate the journey unfolding before them.
The compass rose represents spiritual direction, awakening and discovery.
The Story of the Four Directions
The four directions – north, east, west and south – have had a long standing and important role in the folklore around the world.
In Chinese Feng Shui, each direction correlates to the Chinese zodiac animals:
North (rat) – adaptability, charm, creativity, sociability, wit.
East (rabbit) – trust, sincerity, love, compassion.
South (horse) – physical strength, health, adventure, loyalty.
West (rooster) – confidence, business, energy, persistence.
In ancient Celtic symbolism and tradition, the cardinal directions were acknowledged in several ceremonies and festivals. Here is a brief outline of these directional representations:
East – air, communication, new beginnings, new growth
South – fire, energy, passion, creativity
West – water, emotion, psyche, movement
North – earth, home, security, fertility
Native Americans have their own meanings of cardinal directions that you can use in your Native American inspired tattoo. The Lakota, for example hold to the following guideline:
North – wisdom/thought
East – salvation/spirit
South – beginnings/purity
West – conclusions/fullness
Not All Who Wander Are Lost
This well known phrase is the second line of J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem “The Riddle of Strider” from The Fellowship of the Ring.
So, here is the full quote:
All that is gold does not glitter;
Not all who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither.
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
In Tolkien’s epic fantasy works is the wandering souls are an important element, even though he does not always celebrate them. Indeed, he often warns against the danger of wandering far from guidance.
When one wanders, one should still be keen enough to know when to continue wandering in a particular direction or when one’s fate is in jeopardy. That may come through the assistance of maps, compasses and guides.
But one big takeaway from this lyric not all who wander are lost is the concept accepting even what is deviant from current societal norms
The perception of (ab)normal behaviors continue to change over time (e.g. living together before marriage, smoking in public, gender roles, etc.).
When we meet someone, who seems to be aimlessly drifting, we should consider they are on a personal quest to find their real self.
One other way to look at this is that those who are willing to face the adventure, to wander off the hardened road, have the the faith to follow one’s heart (true north).
Best Compass Tattoo Placements
Compass tattoo design, depending if it’s a single element, or a part of a big elaborate navy scene, can be inked on different body parts.
Many will use compass in combination with maps or anchors and that is when the inner forearm, shoulder or a calf is a great placement to have enough room for all the intricate details. This is where many styles can come in, from realism (for the maps) all the way to geometric style for a more abstract design.
Smaller, simplistic compass tattoo designs fit beautifully on the wrists, triceps and chest.
If you are looking just for the compass on a vintage map, you can also go for the chest, or upper back.
To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best compass tattoo ideas.
Take a look below to check them out all:
Watercolor Compass Tattoo
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A tattoo is an artwork which depicts the individuality of oneself. The tattoo has different believes in different societies of the world, some associates it with spirituality, freedom, the birth of new passion, a way to pay homage whereas some feel that it is the mark of criminality, rebel behaviour, bad omens and wraith.
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