The skeleton, as a symbol, typically relates to themes of mortality, underlying truth, transformation, and the inner self. As the structure that holds a body together, it can represent stability, strength, and the essence of being. Its association with death and decay also make it a symbol of endings, but in tandem, it can denote new beginnings as it is often in decay that new life springs.

  • Symbolism: Mortality, Underlying truth, Transformation, Inner self, Stability, Strength, Endings, New beginnings

Skeleton in Dreams

In the context of dreams, seeing a skeleton typically reflects suppressed thoughts, hidden aspects of your personality, or emotions you have failed to address. It’s an indication to confront what you have been avoiding. Additionally, a skeleton can symbolize feelings of vulnerability or fear, emphasizing the need for self-protection. Carl Jung, a renowned psychologist, interpreted the skeleton as the “shadow self” or the dark, disowned aspects of the dreamer’s personality.

  • Symbolism: Suppressed thoughts, Hidden aspects of personality, Unaddressed emotions, Vulnerability, Fear, Shadow self

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Skeleton in Myths and Folklore

In various global myths, and folklore, skeletons are commonly associated with the afterlife and are often portrayed as spirits of the deceased. In Greek mythology, for instance, skeletons are seen as the remains of the heroes, symbolizing valor. In Mexican folklore, particularly the Day of the Dead celebrations, skeletons or "calacas" are seen as playful symbols of life after death, reminding people to cherish life and not fear its inevitable end. They are also used in storytelling as harbingers of doom or personifications of death itself.

  • Symbolism: Afterlife, Valor, Life after death, Celebration of life, Harbingers of doom, Personification of death

Skeleton Spiritual Meanings

Spiritually, the skeleton is seen as a representation of the core of our being, our most basic nature. It can symbolize the soul or spirit that remains after we shed our mortal body. In some belief systems, the skeleton is viewed as a vessel for the spirit, representing the body’s transitory nature. The skeleton can also denote transformation and rebirth, as it is the structure that remains to be built upon, mirroring the cycle of life and death.

  • Symbolism: Core being, Soul, Spirit, Vessel for spirit, Transitory nature, Transformation, Rebirth

Skeleton Tattoo Meaning

Tattoos featuring skeletons are often symbolic of overcoming difficult periods or expressing one’s understanding and acceptance of mortality. They can represent an acknowledgment of life’s transience and an embracing of one’s mortality. A skeleton tattoo may also signify a close encounter with death, a commemoration for a loved one who has passed, or a tribute to the constant cycle of life and death.

  • Symbolism: Overcoming difficulties, Acceptance of mortality, Transience of life, Commemoration, Cycle of life and death
Olex Lys

Reviewed by Alexander Lys, M.L., a specialist in the field of symbolism research and dream psychology. A certified participant in numerous psychological seminars and courses, the author of hundreds of articles on psychology, including studies on symbolism in dreams and myths from a scientific perspective.


Encyclopedia of Symbols

About the Author

Symbolopedia is a comprehensive guide to the meanings of symbols. Our content is crafted by professionals in psychology and symbolism, striving to maintain a balance between scientifically proven data and insights derived from myths, legends, and folklore. While our approach leans towards scientific interpretations of symbols, we acknowledge the significant role of the subconscious in their understanding, allowing for a blend of rationality and creativity.

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