According to Greek mythology, Medusa was born a beautiful woman, one of three sisters known as the Gorgons. When she was still human she was a priestess to the goddess Athena. Being a priestess she was sworn to celibacy.
So how did a beautiful maiden turn into the monster we’re all familiar with? Medusa was really a victim, and turning into a monster was not at all her fault, but the god of the sea, Poseidons. Poseidon met Medusa and was immediately infatuated. He tried over and over again to seduce Medusa, who refused each time. Finally Medusa sought refuge in Athena’s temple to get away from Poseidon. Poseidon didn’t care and went after her, following her into the temple of Athena, where he forced himself on her against her will.
To punish Medusa for having relations inside her temple, Athena turned Medusa into a monster. A woman with snakes for hair that could turn any who looked upon her directly into stone. Seeing herself as a hideous monster, Medusa fled, shunned by all, wandering alone. In her despair her character turned into the monster of her outward appearance.
Many warriors tried unsuccessfully to slay Medusa, but all were turned to stone, and her reputation grew with each kill. Until Perseus was sent to collect her head and bring it to the king Polydectes. Perseus was given quite a bit of help to complete this task, which the other warriors did not have. He was given a sword smithed by the god Hephaestus, Hades’ helmet of invisibility, winged sandals from Hermes, and a mirrored shield from Athena.
Perseus was able to slay Medusa by looking at her reflection in the mirrored shield so he could see her coming and not be turned to stone. He decapitated her, and in doing so freed her from Athena’s curse.
As a tattoo Medusa is often done in black and grey, neo traditional, realism, blackwork, and American traditional. She is most often tattooed as just her head, either visibly decapitated or portrait style.
Who is your favourite mythological Greek character?
The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien is one of (if not the) most iconic fantasy stories ever written. The story was written as a sequel to another novel of his, The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was written in stages between 1937 and 1949.
Tolkien fought in WW1, and this was extremely influential in his shaping of Middle Earth. As an example, WW1 was fought not by heroes, but by civilians. This reflects the hobbits who are quite literally the “little people”, who then step up to fight a war that they had not asked to be a part of.
The films were directed by Peter Jackson, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. They were filmed back to back on location in New Zealand, making for fantastic landscapes and scenery.
Some of the most popular characters include Gandalf, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum (Smeagol), Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, Witch king, and Sauron. Fantastic creatures include the ents, the balrog, and the nazgul. Popular items include the swords sting, and the shards of Narsil, as well as the Witch King’s flail, and quaint hobbit holes. Of course we also can’t forget the ring itself, which makes a stellar tattoo, especially when paired with a portrait.
Lord of the Rings tattoos are often done in a photo realistic or hyper realistic style, as well as black and grey, dotwork, linework, American traditional, and neo traditional.
Frida Kahlo was a painter born in Mexico in 1907. She mainly painted self portraits, but many were heavily stylized, and some based on current pop culture.
Her art explored questions of gender, identity, class, race, and postcolonialism in Mexican society.
Frida’s art has been called surrealist, and magic realist. Her paintings are praised today by feminists for their depictions of the female experience and form.
Frida became an artist during recovery after she was injured in an accident when she was eighteen.
She became interested in politics in 1927, and joined the Mexican Communist Party where she met her husband. The two divorced in 1939 but did re marry.
Frida traveled Mexico and the United States, and was given a solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938, which was a massive success. This was quickly followed by another exhibition in Paris the following year.
Frida had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953.
She died the following year at the age of 47 due to bronchopneumonia.
Though she was relatively well known in certain circles during her lifetime, her work wasn’t appreciated the way it is now until the 1990’s, when her paintings became icons for feminists, Chicanos, and the LGBTQ community.
Jason Voorhees is the iconic villain from the Friday the 13th franchise. Jason is a silent, undead killing machine, and mamma’s boy. Jason haunts Camp Crystal Lake where he drowned as a child due to inattentive lifeguards. As a tattoo Jason is done in a realistic style portrait, American traditional style, neo traditional, black and grey, and new school/cartoon. He is usually seen wearing his hockey mask, sometimes paired with his machete or other weapons, or seen in Camp Crystal Lake.
Jason was born with facial deformities and a mental disability. His mother kept him away from other people, homeschooling him and looking after him herself, but when she was unable to find a babysitter she resorted to sending him to Camp Crystal Lake where she worked as the cook. Jason was bullied by the other kids and thrown into the lake where he drowned while the counsellors were having sex in the woods. Mad with grief, Pamela, Jason’s mother, murdered the counsellors she blamed for Jason’s death. Jason came back to life and waited for his mother to come back to him, for 20 years. Years later the camp tried to re open, but Pamela murdered all but one of the counsellors. The survivor, Alice, cut off her head, while Jason watched. Jason killed anyone who came back to the camp, mostly using the machete that killed his own mother.
Jason has a kill count of over 150 throughout the films he’s been in. Jason’s supernatural powers include immortality, regeneration, superhuman strength, enhanced speed, and durability.
Jason is a fan favorite in the horror genre, often paired with Freddy Kreuger, due in part to the film Freddy VS. Jason.
Anubis is the ancient Egyptian god/guardian of the dead. The name Anubis actually comes from the Greek, but the earliest Egyptian names for him include Anpu, or Inpu. Both have the same root word which means “royal child”, and “inp” which means “to decay”.
He is generally depicted as a black, jackal-dog-man hybrid, with the body of a man and head of a jackal/dog. The colour black was chosen for its symbolism of both decaying bodies, and the soil along the Nile river.
Anubis is first seen as the son of Ra and Hesat, before he is brought into the story of Osiris, and said to be his son.
Anubis is the earliest god depicted on tomb walls, usually presiding over the mummification process, or weighing of the soul. This is the process in which a persons soul is weighed against the feather of truth.
Anubis is both judge and guide of the dead. Making him an authoritative figure, as well as a protector. This makes him one of the most important gods in Egyptian history.
Later in history he was partially adopted into Greek mythology, associating him with Hermes.
As a tattoo, Anubis is often done in blackwork, black and grey, neo traditional, water colour, and realism styles.
Yōkai are supernatural monsters/ghosts/demons from Japanese folklore. The word itself is made up from the kanji for “bewitching, attractive, and calamity” and “spectre, apparition, mystery, and suspicious.” There are hundreds and hundreds of yōkai, from fairly harmless tricksters, to monsters that prey on human flesh. Being an animal that many are already afraid of, of course there are also spider yōkai.
As a tattoo these creatures are usually done in Japanese style, but can also be neo traditional, American traditional, black and grey, or blackwork.
There are three main types of spider yōkai:
-Ushi Oni: Which is actually classified as an ox demon. This demon is often depicted with the head of an ox and the body of a spider, and is usually near bodies of water. These creatures are always carnivorous and dangerous to humans. They are not always spiders, but this is one of the more popular depictions. The Ushi Oni is described as cruel and vicious, breathing toxic poison, and sometimes inflicting curses or spreading disease.
-Tsuchigumo: A giant spider who can live a very long time, and grow to monstrous sizes. When they get old enough they can transform themselves into other yōkai, even taking the form of humans in order to lure and kill people. These creatures live in forests and mountains, mainly preying on travelers. One famous tale tells of this creature transforming into a beautiful woman who leads an army of yōkai against Japan. A man named Yorimitsu is the first to meet the beast on the battlefield and strikes her, making the army disappear. The Japanese army then follows her back to her cave where she morphs back into a giant spider. Yorimitsu slices her open, unleashing thousands of human sized baby spiders. The Japanese army kills every last one and returns victorious.
Jorōgumo: This creature was known as the “whore spider” but is now better known as “entangling bride”. She lives both as a beautiful yōkai in human form and as a giant spider. This spider gains the ability to transform after it has lived for 400 years. She uses her human form to lure unsuspecting men to her lair before eating them. They live in caves, forests, or abandoned houses. This creature is often seen as part spider, part woman, generally the body of a spider and head of a woman.
All versions of this beast are terrifying, and all make a bold tattoo. Which is your favorite?