The all seeing eye is an extremely popular tattoo design at the moment, particularly among neo-traditional enthusiasts. The typical all seeing eye design is simply an eye in a triangle. For most people this imagery instantly brings to mind freemasonry, there is however many different meanings this symbol can carry.
If you are an American or have ever seen an American dollar bill then you will have probably noticed the Eye of Providence sat atop a pyramid printed on the reverse. This is again, an eye in a triangle. The Eye of Providence on the dollar bill is actually depicting the all-seeing eye of God and is surrounded by rays of light or “glory”. You may also notice the pyramid on the dollar bill that the eye sits atop of has 13 layers, this is often mentioned by conspiracy theorists and given a darker meaning. The actual reason for the 13 layers is to represent the 13 original states.
Now to the Freemasons. The Eye of Providence was first used as part of the iconography of the Freemasons in 1797. This is thought to be a reminder to the masons that they were always being watched by God who, in Masonry, is known as “The Great Architect of the Universe”. The main difference in the design with regards to Freemasonry is that the rays of light or “glory” is depicted in a semicircular fashion around the bottom of the eye and is not always enclosed in a triangle.
A popular conspiracy theory surrounding the design is that the Eye of Providence is used on the Great Seal and the dollar bill because Masons were influential in the founding of the United States. This is simply not true, the earliest Masonic use of the symbol was actually 14 years after the creation of the Great Seal. The Seal was actually created by various design committees whose members were not Masons, with the exception of Benjamin Franklin who had his ideas for the Seal rejected. Furthermore, several Masonic organizations have gone so far as to deny any connection to the creation or design of the Great Seal.
So in conclusion, the links between the design and the Freemasons seem to be valid in that they did use an all seeing eye as part of their imagery and still do to this day. However the imagery was used simply to remind them that god is watching over them, the same reason it was used on the Great Seal.
So this is really a religious tattoo that pays homage to God, despite the folk lore surrounding it and claims that it may be in fact a satanic symbol. I would be wary however if you are a thinking of getting this design tattooed as a lot of people will probably think that it is Masonic and ask you why you got it. But then again you can just hit them with the information you just learned here and you will be fine!