The Skull: The Meaning and the Implications

The Skull

The Skull: The Meaning and the Implications

Richard Hollerman

We know that this subject may be a very strange one for a short discussion in a website of this nature. Why would anyone wish to deal with the skull?

What do we mean by the skull? Literally, the skull is “the bony or cartilaginous framework of the head of vertebrates, made up of the bones of the braincase and face; cranium” (The American Heritage College Dictionary). Informally, is refers to “the head, regarded as the seat of thought or intelligence” (Ibid.)

These thoughts don’t really address what we are examining. Even Wikipedia seems to be oblivious to this matter. Consider this: Has it ever occurred to you why the skull is so often pictured or depicted today? Why is it found on shirts, jackets, and other items of clothing? Why is the skull meant to convey dread, shock, and abhorrence? Why is the symbol of a skull so prized in our world? We speak about America and probably the same is true of Europe and Latin America, but we don’t know about other countries of the world.

At one time, death and its symbolism must have been much more negative than it has turned out in our day. Scripture says that the Lord Jesus, “through death” rendered “powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). In other words, there is a natural “fear of death” and this surely must come from an innate awareness that death is the end of our earthly existence and the future only holds pain, anguish, and misery to those unprepared to meet God.

But in our day, instead of death causing a natural revulsion, it has become something to “play with” and joke about. Whether people have an awareness of what happens to them after their death and they try to avoid it, or whether they think that it is “cool” to adore something that traditionally has evoked fear, we are unprepared to say.

The skull has become associated with various media in our day.

Many people are so devoted to the symbolism of the skull that they enjoy putting it on their clothing (shirts, jackets, caps, etc.).

It is now associated with Halloween, along with all of the other wicked elements of this pagan holiday.

It is associated with pirates, along with the wickedness and cruelty of this class of criminals.


It has been connected with the tattoos that people place on their body.

The skull seems to entrance people–especially young people–even when it evokes terror into their heart.


It has long been associated with many different aspects of the occult.

The skull represents death. It represents the end of the body and the flesh. It represents ghosts and demons. At Halloween, children like to think about “haunted houses” as a residence of these ghosts and demons. It is all an intriguing and mystifying circumstance that may awaken one’s horror of the unknown.

Thus, many people put skulls on their clothing or in their houses. I think it was earlier today that I followed someone whose vehicle sported a skull.  The skull and crossbones have a special significance. This is “a representation of a front view of a human skull above two crossed bones, originally used on pirates’ flags and now used as a warning sign, as in identifying poisons” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary). Whether one identifies with one or the other, this symbolism represents something evil, dangerous, or wicked.

Hopefully the skull is something that we, as followers of Christ, should avoid. We should renounce it if we have become attracted to it or participated in some aspect of it. While it would be the head bone of a human being and it is God’s own creation, it has become the symbol of so many things that are negative and evil. Surely the devoted Christian will want to avoid this at all times and warn others to abstain from the symbolism of the skull as well! As Paul would say, “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).



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