In our studio in Truro Cornwall we know that the Butterfly is one of the more popular tattoo choices; especially for women probably because of it’s natural beauty and variety; but rather than being considered a tattoo cliché the butterfly should actually be recognised for its symbolic meaning not only from within our own culture but from around the world.
People throughout the ages have felt a spiritual connection with butterflies, with ancient people believing that the butterfly was in fact the human soul. Within the Christian faith the butterfly was said to represent the soul having escaped the limits of the body, similar to that of the amazing metamorphosis of the butterfly.
Woman who choose to have a butterfly tattoo are said to be a “free spirit”, who are as unique as the patterns on the wings of the butterflies. Whilst men will sometimes choose to place a butterfly within a tattoo design the butterfly remains prominently a female tattoo choice; is this because of the enormous variety, their delicate and detailed colouring or is there something else?
For the ancient Aztecs the two noblest deaths was that of a fallen warrior and for women who died during childbirth, with the butterfly representing their souls.
In Japan one butterfly would represent young womanhood and two butterflies for marital bliss (I have two butterflies). Japan’s Geisha’s have also long been associated with butterflies.
According to Chinese culture, a butterfly stands for joy, happiness and wealth and is considered to be a sign of good luck.
In Celtic symbolism the butterfly hold similar characteristics and represents beauty, love, honor, also being a symbol for the soul within the Celtic belief.
In Ireland the butterfly is though of as the souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory. Whilst the legends of the Native Americans thought that the butterfly would carry wishes to the Great Spirit to be granted. And in Greece it thought that a new human soul is born every time that a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis.
Over the years people have had a fear of butterflies along with their night-time relation, the moth, who was thought to be an omen of death, whilst the human soul took the form of the butterfly.
So does the positioning of your butterfly mean anything? Apparently so, it seems that there has been a trend for women to place their butterfly on one of the seven-chakra points (maybe unknowingly admittedly). We are not sure however, how many women would really choose the third-eye position (between the eyes) for a butterfly placement. The butterfly paced on the shoulder blade is said to represent the dreamer, the chest unconditional love for living things, the lower back symbolising stability and self-preservation. Below the belly the tattoo represented virginity (a long-standing tradition of branding maidens for the gods), but now thought of more as a representation of true love.
However it doesn’t really matter if your butterfly tattoo is there to represent a transformation or metamorphosis in your life, moving through different life cycles, renewal or playfulness, or tuning towards your emotional or spiritual self or whether it there solely for its pure beauty and design.
Celebrities with butterfly tattoos include Julia Roberts, Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore and Harry Styles to name but a few.