If you have found yourself contemplating the meaning of the trident tattoo, you are not alone!
In this guide, we will unveil the history and hidden meaning of this popular symbol. Although tridents are still a relevant icon in today’s society, they are considered powerful and ancient symbols, used by many religions, philosophies and centuries-old civilizations.
Although commonly associated with the Roman god Neptune, the trident has been a symbol associated with various gods and deities throughout time.
If you’re considering getting a trident tattoo, read on to learn more about the symbolism, history, and best trident tattoo placements for this mysterious and sacred object.
Trident tattoo meanings
Symbolism of the trident of Neptune and Poseidon
The most widely recognized use of the trident is found in ancient mythology of the gods Neptune and Poseidon.
In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, Neptune and Poseidon were known to wield otherworldly tridents, weapons that gave them power over the oceans and the blood of mankind.
These tridents were consistently depicted as massive, three-pronged tools believed to be capable of creating earthquakes and floods, while holding power over heaven, hell, and earth.
Many people have chosen to complete their trident tattoo by incorporating images of these ancient Greek and Roman gods. If this style interests you, check out our gallery for some seriously badass Poseidon trident tattoos!
Tattoo Gallery: The 250 Best Nautical Tattoos of the Year
Trident Symbolism of the Holy Trinity
Due to the three-pronged fork-like appearance of the trident, it is commonly associated with the divine number three. The number three is believed to represent the holy trinity of heaven, hell and earth, the
Taoist belief in the “three divine masters” and three of the named Hindu gunas in Indian Vedic philosophy.
In almost every belief system in the world, the number three is believed to hold incredible power. The number three is believed to be a symbol of perfection and completion, which may explain its widespread use in almost every major religion or philosophical school of thought.
If you are looking for a symbol to use as a representation of the divine qualities of the number three, you might want to consider a minimalist trident tattoo, displaying the stripped down concept of the three godhead.
If minimalism isn’t your style, you can also select a god or deity that best represents your connection to this powerful number, such as a Shiva trident tattoo or a tattoo encompassing ideas from creation mythology.
Tattoo Gallery: The 250 best religious tattoos of the year
Trident time symbolism
Closely related to the symbolism of the number three of the trident, the trident is also associated with the division of time.
Its three folds are said to represent: past, present and future, morning, noon and night, and beginning, middle and end.
The cycle of all these linear steps creates a compilation of all that ever was and all that will be.
If you want to convey this message in your trident tattoo, you can always add elements that remind you of the passage of time.
Tattoo Gallery: The 250 best tattoos of the year
The story behind the trident symbol
The trident symbol is believed to come from ancient Roman mythology and is most closely associated with the god of the seas, Neptune.
The trident was believed to hold divine power, with the ability to create earthly disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and storms.
Neptune is almost always depicted throughout this period holding his larger-than-life trident as a symbol of power.
The term “trident” actually originated in Rome, from the Latin word “tridentis”, with “tri” meaning three, and “dentis” meaning teeth.
In Greek mythology, the god associated with the trident was called Poseidon and has many striking similarities to the Roman god Neptune.
Poseidon was believed to be the god who controlled the seas, which included large bodies of water, as well as seas of human blood. He was believed to be the protector of all waters and sailors who often prayed to him.
In Greek mythology, the trident was forged by a Cyclops.
In Hindu mythology, the trident is associated with the god Shiva, otherwise known as “the great destroyer”.
Shiva is often depicted holding a trident which was used as a sacred weapon against negativity and enemies. The three prongs of the trident are believed to symbolize three of the gunas mentioned in Indian Vedic philosophy.
These gunas represent different attributes and attitudes found in life. The first, named “sattvika”, is said to represent qualities such as balance, harmony, goodness and purity, while the second, “rajasika”, embodies passion, action, dynamic energy and l egocentrism. The last guna, “tamasika”, is said to represent the qualities of chaos, imbalance, disorder and anxiety.
In the religious aspects of Taoism, the trident is believed to represent the trinity of the “pure three”. It is the title given to the three divine teachers and the highest gods of Taoism.
The highly revered text “Tao Te Ching” provides context for this, explaining that the Tao, or the nature of the universe, created the first of these “pure”, which gave birth to a second being, which gave birth to a third being. who created all things.
Here we see more of the sacred three symbolism commonly associated with the trident. In Taoist ritual practices, a trident bell is often used to invite otherworldly deities and summon the spirits of the dead.
The trident is used as a tool in this way as it is believed to symbolize the highest authority in heaven.
Best Placements for a Trident Tattoo
Trident tattoo on the forearm
Trident tattoo designs look amazing on the forearm! Thanks to the more slender space provided by this part of the arm, the trident symbol really stands out and makes an impact.
This area can also be complemented with a larger piece, such as a Neptune trident tattoo.
Trident tattoo on the hand
If you are looking for a simple trident tattoo, an excellent placement for this type of design is at hand. With the first level of hand visibility, it’s always a great place to display the symbols and art that matter most to you.
Check out some of our favorite trident tattoos on the hand for more inspiration!
Trident tattoo on the neck
If you’re comfortable with a particularly bold placement, trident neck tattoos can look really cool.
Many prefer to use this ancient symbol on the back or side of the neck. With this particular placement, your tattoo will have high visibility, so make sure placing a tattoo in this area will not affect your job before you get it.
Trident tattoo on the back
If you want a bigger space to display your art, trident back tattoos are where it’s at!
Due to the large amount of space provided by the back, you can opt for a massive trident piece or one incorporating various additional elements like Poseidon, Shiva, or nature elements like waves.
Trident Tattoo as Fill
If you are already covered in tattoos, but have limited space, the trident tattoo works great in space filler. You can easily change the size and design of this pattern to fit just about anywhere!