Avia Venefica’s Guide to Knife Tattoos

(courtesy tattoowhere.com)

Republished with permission from whats-your-sign.com:

Knife tattoo ideas could convey a countless concepts…from devotion to military obligation to expressing the sharp edge of betrayal. Most of my friends with knife tattoos tell me they got them when they were young. These tattoos often signify a lost love, and the knife conveys a cold, steely pain encountered with having been cut by the brutality of a lovers neglect or betrayal. In this scenario, we could also say a tattooed knife could symbolize a “cutting away” from a bad relationship – slicing through the trauma & difficulties caused by a lover and becoming liberated from the drama of a dysfunctional relationship . . .

Many times a knife tattoo can express a feeling of sacrifice. This conveyance is ancient, and deeply rooted in many religious/spiritual sects in which sacrifices have been (and still are in some cases) practiced for eons. Do you find yourself in a position of intense sacrifice? Do you hold to a singular devotion, faith or purpose that you would die for? An ornate, glistening knife tattoo might be something to consider to outwardly express that kind of intensity.

Interestingly, in Buddhist symbology the knife often represents cutting the ties of materialism. Are you vehemently against consumerism? Do you find materialism is the bane of your existence, holding you back from true freedom and enlightenment? In this sense, a knife may be an appropriate way to galvanize the act of liberating oneself from the binding ties of materialistic urge and greed.

When I think of knives, and knife tattoos, I think of the suit of swords in the Tarot. This esoteric suit represents challenges, usually wrought from mental nuances like doubt, fear, worry. In a cavalcade of (often tormented) archetypes in these cards, we see a constant struggle to slice through confusion. The knife in these cards symbolizes thedouble-edged nature of the mind.

The mind can be a remarkable representative of clarity and can expertly slice through befuddlement. Simultaneously, the mind can be a true enemy, turning and stabbing its owner in the back. I suspect a larger indwelling presence is designed to navigate the strokes of a knife. But, until we can all commune with that presence, a knife might be an apropos tattoo to express that dual nature of the mind – both helpful and potentially cruel.

I love knives, and used to collect them – I never really knew why – they just gravitated to my curiosity. Much later, I invested some time in understanding why blades appealed to me. It’s their cleanliness, the shine, their ability to carve through metaphorical crap. So utilitarian, yet so beautiful and elegant. A magnificent, multi-purpose tool – that, when well-crafted could also be a work of art.

So you see, the knife, as with any tattoo – is most profound when we assign our own understanding to it.

Here are some at-a-glance symbolic keywords to augment your own research into knife tattoo ideas:

  • Authority
  • Skill
  • Revenge
  • Betrayal
  • Solitude
  • Sacrifice
  • Military duty/service
  • Strategy
  • Sharp Intellect
  • Steely Resolve
  • Flawless Clarity
  • Singularity in Focus
  • Duality
  • Pain
  • Ritual
  • Accomplishment
  • Freedom

I hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on the symbolic meaning of knife tattoos. Take some time to consider what the knife represents to you.


  1. Mark Davis says:

    Good article, RF. I’ve been considering a knife tattoo for some time, so thanks for the food for thought.

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Avia Venefica’s Guide to Knife Tattoos

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