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Snake and Dagger Tattoo: Meaning

From religious undertones, to heavy metal albums, to a relationship with the medical world, there are a lot of potential meanings to getting a snake and dagger inked onto your skin. In this article, we’ll go through all of them – so that you can decide on whether or not the tattoo is right for yourself

If you could list certain things that you wouldn’t like to catch out of the corner of your eye while walking down a dark alley at nighttime – snakes and daggers would probably make the list.

But when they’re put together – eg. when you see a tattoo design of a snake coiled around a downward pointing dagger – what exactly does it mean?

Is it a symbol of danger for the person looking? Or hope for the person who’s wearing the tattoo?

In this article, we’ll take a look at all the possible meanings behind a snake and dagger tattoo.

First up. What does a snake and dagger tattoo normally look like?dagger and snake tattoo

Typically, an S&D tattoo will feature a dagger pointing downwards, with a snake/serpent coiled around it right up to the handle.

The snake will normally be bearing its tongue and flashing its fangs.

Depending on the artist, that tattoo can either be very minimal or extremely elaborate and colorful.

Double Meanings? Why Snake and Dagger Tattoos Can Mean Many Different Things to Different Individualstraditional snake and dagger tattoo

Snake and dagger tattoos don’t have one consistent meaning, as many people will get them for different reasons.

Here are a few possible reasons why someone might get a snake and dagger tattoo:

Snake and Dagger Tattoos Can Be about Duality

In almost every culture, snakes are depicted as animals of contrast and duality. They can symbolize good and evil, order and chaos, justice and injustice, or creation and destruction. (We only need to look as far as the Adam and Eve story to see how the OG snake played both the helpful guide and the treacherous bringer of chaos…)black snake and dagger tattoo

Similarly, daggers have their own duality.

They’re instruments of pain and destruction, but also of protection and strength.

When combined, the snake and dagger tattoo can therefore indicate a person who values a brash outward view on life, while also appreciating the need to be defensive and composed.

Above all, the snake and dagger tattoo is about looking at things from both sides.realistic snake and dagger tattoo

These Tattoos Can Be About Protection or Warding Off Threats

As highlighted above, a snake and dagger tattoo can symbolize protection.

It can also be appropriate for a person who has faced difficulties in the past but is now less naive and wants to wear the tattoo to ward off future threats.

Remember, many people get tattoos after they’ve been on a journey of self-discovery, and they want to mark their growth in some way.

A snake and dagger tattoo can act as an individual’s own protective talisman.snake and dagger tattoo american traditional

They Can Be About Popular Culture References

Some people might get the snake and dagger tattoo because they’re referencing an image from popular culture.

As a prime example, many tattoo lovers will bear a specific type of snake and dagger tattoo – with wings and a grey-haired skull – because it references Motley Crue’s 1989 album, Dr. Feelgood.

Similarly, certain Harry Potter fans have been known to get the snake and dagger tattoo because of its resemblance to the ‘Dark Mark’/Death Eater symbol. (Although it should be noted for accuracy’s sake that the Dark Mark symbol is actually a skull and snake, rather than a dagger and snake.)

Additionally, the ‘Rod of Asclepius’ – a well-known symbol in the global medical & hospital community – sometimes acts as a model for the snake and dagger tattoo, meaning that it’s not uncommon for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to get a snake and rod/dagger tattoo on their body!snake and dagger forearm tattoo

They Can Have Darker Religious Meanings

We’ve already mentioned the Bible story of Adam and Eve above – and how snake imagery is synonymous with the Devil in Christianity.

To add to this, the Bible’s Book of Proverbs refers to wicked people as having “daggers in their hearts.”

And, while most people tend to get tattoos based on good, positive meanings, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that certain people will want to get tattoos to emphasize their darker sides.

For some, a snake and dagger tattoo can be about them, proudly showcasing that darker, more sinister side to their personality.snake and dagger tattoo forearm

They Can Be About Life, Death, and Healing

We’ve already highlighted that the serpent and rod symbol is related to medical matters, but it’s fair to say that snake and dagger tattoos, in general, can symbolize many issues surrounding life, death, and healing.

The tattoo might be appropriate for someone who has overcome their own health challenges or who is currently fighting an illness.

In this case, a snake and dagger tattoo would showcase their resilience and strength in the face of whatever they’re going through – like the animal and the weapon itself, the tattoo might mean a person striking out when they’re faced with (life-threatening) danger.

In Popular Culture

Paris Jackson has a Snake and Dagger Tattoo

Paris Jackson attends The Elizabeth Taylor Ball To End AIDS at The Beverly Hills Hotel on September 21, 2023 in Beverly Hills – @Getty

There are several intersections between the snake and dagger tattoo and popular culture – including celebrities who have gotten the S&D image tatted onto their skin.

Paris Jackson – daughter of Michael Jackson – has a distinctive snake and dagger tattoo on her bicep.

Her tattoo comes from the cover art for metal band Mötley Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood album.

Paris Jackson Snake and Dagger Tattoo on biceps

Paris Jackson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City – @Getty

Elsewhere, celebrity tattooist Romeo Lacoste – who has tatted the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, and Marshmello – is noted for having done several snake and dagger tattoos, with incredibly colorful and intricate designs.

Takeawaydagger and snake tattoo meaning

A snake and dagger tat is always going to be one of those tattoos that begs questions.

Even if you put the possible, deeper meanings to the side for one second, the idea of getting these two potent symbols imprinted onto your skin feels like a big step in and of itself.

As this article highlights, there’s no single meaning behind the snake and dagger tattoo, so it will likely mean something different to each person who gets it.old school snake and dagger tatto


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