The Symbology of Light in the Tattoo World

Light is the element of creation in almost all religions and the symbol of the divine presence. It’s a synonym of Good and its lack means simply Evil…

The Einsten theory

Light, in contrast to matter, has always been considered a dynamic entity, forming a unique ensemble which Albert Einstein tried to explain by way of his famous equation E = mc² whereby E is energy, m is the mass of an object and c² is the square of the speed of light. Despite the fact that populations all around the world are in agreement as to its significance, there have been many different interpretations and theories raised as to the nature and formation of light. These questions have been a mystery even for modern science until a few decades ago, and to some extent they still are today.

Niki Norberg, Niki Norberg Art Studio, Goteborg, Sweden
Niki Norberg, Niki Norberg Art Studio, Goteborg, Sweden

What is Light?

Light has, in fact, misled all who have tried to investigate it for centuries, be it waves or particles, a discrete or a continuous vibration. So many changing theories made it impossible for anyone to classify it with a single definition. This conundrum is due to the fact that it behaves at times like an electromagnetic wave, and at other times like a beam of particles and this duality, according to the quantum theory, is even influenced by how it is observed, which would almost have us believe that this is a projection of our soul rather than an autonomous, physical body. Despite opposition from the scientists (including Albert Einstein himself), many experiments have irrefutably demonstrated this affirmation.

The power of speed

Light has a constant speed, regardless of its intensity and the type of energy that generates it. This constant – just under 300,000 km per second – is used as a physical and metaphysical limit of what does and does not exist, confirming the fact that nothing can exceed the speed of light without shattering the logic and understanding of the space-time plot (very recent experiments have proved that at least one type of neutrino exists; how it does, is a mystery).

Javier Obregon, Javier Obregon Tattoos, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Javier Obregon, Javier Obregon Tattoos, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A brief history of Light

Before the nineteenth century it was believed that light was the result of mechanical interactions caused by the spread of an impalpable substance which permeated the whole universe, known as ether, and whose existence was not questioned for centuries. Evidence of the physical reality of ether was never found and at the beginning of the twentieth century. Scientists demonstrated that in order to exist and conduct light at a constant speed, it would require impossible characteristics. The ether theory – often confused with light itself – dates back to the time of Aristotle, who named it the fifth element, composed of fine, fluid matter, which surrounds and encompasses the earth together with the other four original elements (Water, Air, Earth, Fire).

The “Enlightened One”

In Buddhism, light is the symbol of Truth, and is the essence of all that is spiritual. This is reflected in the name of the founder of this religion, Buddha, which means “Enlightened One”. Followers of Lamaism believed reason and light to be one and the same. The metaphor of light is one of the bases of mystical literature. According to Vaisheshika philosophy, light was the result of a collision and movement between two or more particles of primordial elements.

Find Light = create Light

The schools of Samkhya were affirming that light was a continuous flow of energy which was released from the conversion of other elements into energy, where maximum levels of heat are obtained. According to Rigveda all colours were composed of a combination of three primary colours and the concept of the light spectrum, whereby seven colours are visible according to the frequency of transmission from the Sun, is typically Hindu. Throughout the ages the nature of light has always been identified but never understood, it’s as if it represented the reason for our very existence, impossible to comprehend unless you want to lose yourself in it and become a part of it. The best way to find light, is to create light.