The cool thing about tattoos is how they transcend subcultures. People from all walks of life may get tattoos to mark an occasion, tribute somebody they love, or just express themselves in a uniquely personal way.
Though there are many kinds of people who may choose to go under the needle, some symbols are common in tattooing. Let's have a chat about the big bad wolf, and how he became a mainstay in tattoo culture.
Wolves are a popular animal to have depicted in a tattoo, especially for men. Male wolf tattoos may be common, but there are no two wolf tattoos alike!
In many cultures, wolves are a symbolic animal. It's easy to see why people are fascinated by this furry predator. As deadly as they are beautiful, wolves are the graceful and majestic counterparts to our doggo friends- familiar, yet frightening.
But what exactly is the meaning behind all these wolf tattoos? The answer, as usual, is up to the wolf's canvas.
For many tattoo artists, wolves have come to symbolize dedication to family, and survival.
But people may have all kinds of reasons to get a wolf tattoo, depending on how they and the wild beast were first introduced.
"Hey there little red riding hood…" most people are familiar with this tale: A young girl in a red cloak enters the forest to go see her grandmother, only to encounter a nasty wolf.
At the last second, red riding hood is saved by a huntsman, and everyone lives happily ever after.
The original version of this tale was not nearly as innocent. Though there are a few versions of the story, most commonly red riding hood is eaten by the wolf.
This was used as a cautionary tale for young girls, but the sexual implications of the story are unavoidable.
Many say that Little Red's riding cloak represents her sexual maturity. In this version, the wolf symbolizes the world of men, who Red is presumably about to encounter now.
With this story in mind, a wolf tattoo may be well suited to a young man with a strong sexual drive who's looking to go out, flirt, and have a good time.
The big bad wolf in this tale is seeking to eat those little pigs, come hell or high water. In this tale, the wolf is destructive and relentless.
Under the lens of the 3 Little Pigs, someone with a wolf tattoo may be looking to achieve their goals no matter what the cost or who they may hurt along the way.
Whether it's in the 80's sex romp Teen Wolf or the more recent mind bending fantasy drama Hemlock Grove, movie and TV writers have an obsession with werewolves.
Going back to the Little Red Riding Hood interpretation, Werewolves tend to represent someone's most basic and primal desires- particularly their sexuality.
In Teen Wolf, he is able to "wolf out" whenever he becomes angry or aroused.
Maybe men with wolf tattoos are looking to embrace a side of themselves that is instinctual, determined, and indulgent when it comes to earthly pleasures. And, as long as everyone's having fun, what's wrong with that?
Pop culture may have given us a certain view of the wolf, but there is an ancient symbolism that can't be ignored when we talk about our furry friends.
Many cultures and religions have attached their own meaning to the wolf. Let's explore a few examples:
Many ancient First Nations tribes felt an affinity with wolves because of their similar ways of hunting and building communities.
Some First Nations people believe that Wolves are the reincarnated souls of hunters from the past.
Wolves have a strong sense of community. They hunt in packs and share a strong bond with their fellow pack members, often able to communicate through body language, subtle sounds, or touch.
Wolves are highly intelligent and pass their knowledge down to their young. Unlike many mammals, wolves mate for life and take care of their young until they are ready to become hunters themselves.
This noble sense of duty earns the wolf a respected place in First Nations folklore.
To a First Nations person, a wolf tattoo would symbolize strong family ties, integrity, communication, and a keen intelligence.
Eating little pigs wasn't so bad for Japanese farmers, who often had their crops eaten by wild boars.
According to Japanese mythology, farmers would leave offerings for wolves at the mouths of their dens as a way of asking for protection.
Wolves were also seen as having the supernatural abilities to protect against fire and other disasters.
This association with protection and crops naturally lead to wolves being seen as a fertility symbol, and wolf charms would be worn by those looking to conceive a child.
A wolf tattoo done in a Japanese art style will symbolize protection and good luck.
The Lithuanian goddess Medeina is depicted as a beautiful, curvy she-wolf who is voluntarily single and refuses to be married.
She is a forest goddess and, above all else, is there to protect the forest. She is therefore not always helpful to hunters, and is seen as both divine and ruthless when the occasion calls for it.
A wolf tattoo with a Baltic influence could be a beautiful tribute to Medeina, and other strong women in your life who stand up for their beliefs- not allowing their judgement to be clouded by romance.
If you are feeling inspired, let us take that inspiration one step further with a few of our favourite wolf tattoos.
While wolves have been interpreted in many ways by many cultures, there are some commonalities.
The determination of the wolf, its strength and majestic animal nature are essential personality traits.
Do you feel a wolf tattoo would represent everything that is you? Why, or why not?
What's your favourite wolf tattoo? Tell us here!