Skulls are one of most powerful symbols used by many cultures with hundreds of different meanings around the world. Due to the increased popularity of skulls in mainstream society, I wanted to know, “why do people where skull rings”.
What does a skull ring symbolize? A skull ring is worn to represent strength, confidence, individuality and one’s mortality. Skull rings symbolize the wearer’s bravery and resilience in the face of death and the freedom for self-expression.
A ring, like most jewelry, is a very personal choice with a wide variety and depth of meaning to the wearer. Let’s dive into some more thoughts I have.
For some, skull rings are only worn to make the wearer appear unique and rebellious. For others, they are worn to represent resilience in the face of adversity. More recently, due to skulls becoming more mainstream, these rings are often worn to simply look cool and edgy.
The skull is not only a symbol of death but rather a symbol of divine wisdom and general intelligence. It is often worn to represent a person’s understanding of their mortality and embracing their fate.
Other’s wear skull rings because of the known intimidation factor and to boost their self esteem and confidence. The ring represents freedom, individuality and that they don’t adhere to rules set by society. They live every day to the fullest and basically “march to the beat of my own drum”.
Skull rings, jewelry and clothing are very common in the biker, heavy metal, gothic, the occult, and alternative lifestyle subcultures. Heavy metal fans and rockers have always loved jewelry and clothing depicting dark symbolism.
As of recently skull symbolism has grown in popularity and has become a more mainstream fashion trend. It is often depicted in modern art and worn by popular singers, actors, and models.
A reality tv series called Skulls and Roses was launched in 2019 by Amazon, where couples compete on Skull Island. Skulls are widely used in this series as symbols of love and self-preservation.
Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Steve Tyler, Axel Rose and Johnny Depp are often seen wearing not only skull rings but a variety of skull jewelry, accessories and clothing.
Sylvester Stallone, in the Expendables moves, popularized a large skull ring with a raven on it.
No matter the reason, wearing a skull ring is often a deeply personal choice and can tell a story about the wearer.
Skulls are a very powerful element in most cultures across the world. It is often depicted in a variety of art forms representing a societal issue, emotion or simply used tell a story.
A classic example of this is Charles Allan Gilbert’s 1892 illustration of his representation of vanity. See the illustration below, it is a very clever demonstration of looking beneath the surface.
Image from - www.illusionsindex.org
The grim reaper is another very popular symbol often depicted alongside skulls. The reaper is considered the personification of death and wisdom above humans.
Death knows when we are going to die and how it’s going to happen. Thereby being the symbol of divine wisdom and general intelligence
The reaper is a classic example of dark symbolism popularized by heavy metal and the rocker subculture.
Ancient civilizations believed that skulls and bones were links that connect the world of the living with the world of the immortal. Since skulls don’t decompose, unlike flesh, skulls were considered eternal.
For this reason, skulls of people and animals were used in tribal ceremonies, rituals and the occult. Skull and crossbones were also depicted as an ancient instrument used by sorcerers to gain spiritual power.
See the image below of the Sedlec Ossuary also known as the Kutna Hora Bone Church.
Image from - Wikipedia.org
The Ossuary is a small Roman Catholic chapel located in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. It is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 to 70,000 people.
This is on my bucket list to visit and is a classic example of skulls being prominent in Catholicism. Here is a link to the main website for opening hours and tours of this chapel: Sedlec Ossuary.
Day Of The Dead Festival (Dia De Los Muertos) – is a multiday Mexican holiday celebrated throughout the country in the beginning of November. Family and friends dress up and create traditional food to celebrate the lives of those they lost.
Sugar skulls are the most common symbol used in this tradition. Altars with decorated skulls are placed around the gravestones of family and loved ones to celebrate their death rather than mourn their loss.
These skulls are often made with molded sugar and decorated with a wide variety of icings, even bright beads and feathers. A variety of costumes and traditional clothing is also worn for this holiday.
Ancient Tibet – skulls are very prominently used in traditional ceremonies and considered a symbol of power. Skulls are typically adorned as a necklace around a deity representing the concept of emptiness rather than death or loss. Emptiness is a quality of the universe in Tibetan culture.
Skulls are used in a variety of forms and functions in Tibet, such as the Skull Lamp. This lamp burns human fat with its tongue burning as a wick. This represents a purification symbol, the body (skull) is purified by the flames as are speech (tongue) and mind (fat). That life is transitory.
Hinduism – make use of skulls extensively in artwork and the depiction of deities, and can be traced back over 5000 years. In ancient India skulls were adorned by gods and goddesses as necklaces, bracelets showing their ability to conquer death.
Nataraja, the incarnation of Shiva, dances the cosmic dance of creation with a necklace of skulls adorning him. This garland identifies him as time and death of all things.
Image from - Wikipedia.org
19th Century Western Europe – the Hussars of the Prussian army are widely known to have worn skulls into the battlefield. They adorned black hats with a silver skull known a “dead head” to symbolize the unity of war and death on the battlefield.
In Celtic culture skulls represent the seat of power and the house of the soul. Skulls are used to celebrate the memory of the dead as a good luck charm. More recently, some people prefer to carry tiny stone skulls in their pockets as a good luck charm.
Skulls are a powerful and pervasive symbol in Celtic culture and are often used in conjunction with sacred wells. Skulls are tossed into sacred well water as a means to cleanse the soul, for divine clarity or renewal of the soul.
Skulls are commonly used as carvings to decorate doorways and hallways of ancient ceremonial grounds as a warning sign, and to ward off evil.
Which way should a skull ring face? Facing your skull outward is most the common direction worn. Skull rings facing outward represent confidence and self expression while defining the wearer's style, edginess, and rebellious nature. Facing a skull inward is more sentimental and represents perseverance, commemorative to a lost one, or as a gift given.
What finger to wear a skull ring? This is very personal choice and is dependent on your location in the world. It is not uncommon to see men wearing 2-3 skull rings on both hands. Some men and women prefer a more minimalist approach and will only wear one skull ring.