By Dan Thompson
If you're looking for a tattoo design that breathes fire, while depicting mystical strength and benevolence, the ancient dragon tattoo is the one for you. Dragons have been capturing the minds and hearts of people for centuries and still are, if the current popularity of dragon tattoos are any indicator of that continuing fascination.
The myths and legends around this flying creature can be found in many fairy tales and are part of the folklore of most ancient cultures. Usually, dragons are thought of as belonging to Asia, but the are part of the beliefs and mythology of cultures all over the world.
Dragons in Eastern cultures are associated with good luck, kindness, fertility and are considered protectors of the villages they fly over. The Western dragon is not so benevolent and is most often depicted as an evil destroyer of villages and a fire-snorting guardian of chests full of treasure hidden in deep caves on a mountaintop.
One of the more spiritual legends about dragons and their powers comes from the beliefs and superstitions of the ancient Celtic chiefs of Ireland. In their beliefs, dragons were symbols of power held by the Celtic tribal ruler. The title, "Pendragon," is the Celtic word for "Chief."
Though the Celts were one of the fiercest groups populating Europe in ancient times, they were spiritual in their relationship with the land around them. That spirituality carried over to Celtic dragons who were believed to influence the land and sites identified as dragon haunts were believed to possess special powers.
The ancient Druids, the priests of the ancient Celtic societies, thought the Earth resembled the body of a dragon, and that dragons were our spiritual connection with Earth's magnetism and healing waters. Some historians say they built their sacred stone circles where they believed the power nodes of the dragon's body existed.
The term "dragon" comes from the Greek word that translates to "to see clearly," which indicates the benevolent nature the Celts believed their dragons possessed, the gift of vision, wisdom and the ability to prophesize.
If you decide to decorate your body with a dragon tattoo, and your ancestry is Irish, stemming from the ancient Celtic tribes, you would be continuing the myths that survived a thousand years of wonderment and the magical powers of dragons. If you select the circular Celtic dragon swallowing its tail, your tattoo would symbolize eternal life.
Tattoo artists the world over are famous for beautiful dragon tattoos of all sizes and colors. Whether your choice of a dragon tattoo is one of the fire-snorting creatures that caste fear on the villagers or one that protected the land and promised eternal life, your body art is sure to be admired by all who see it.