Lily Tattoo Meaning
Lilies are one of the most elegant tattoos I've had the privilege of admiring. I mean, they are lovely flowers in nature, and in skin art, they can be just as breathtaking. What's even cooler is the symbolic meanings associated with the lily. It's not surprising this flower has just as much symbolic meaning as it does beauty.
Quite a bit of lily tattoo meaning comes from its presence in spiritual history. Take Christianity for instance, in the book of Matthew (6:28). "Consider the lily of the field, how they grow: they do not toil. They do not spin." This is an illustration of how we are cared for...all our needs are met. Lilies don't worry about the next rent payment. They aren't concerned with Facebook followers. God provides. It's the same with us. It takes faith to realize our every need is seen to. Maybe it takes a symbol too...like the lily, which is a glorious symbol of how we can give ourselves permission to chill out - God's got everything covered.
Christian symbology holds the lily as a symbol of lots of other things too, like: Innocence, Purity, Faith and Gentleness of Spirit to name a few. It gets much of this meaning with its association with the Virgin Mary. In fact, the fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily. It's a French icon used in heraldry, but the fleur-de-lis makes an appearance in iconography all around the world. In Medieval Christian symbology, this symbol represents the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). The band binding the stylized lily symbolizes Mary, who, according to scripture brought the Trinity into existence when she bore the Christ child.
If Christianity isn't your thing, maybe classical mythology might add meaning to your lily tattoo. The Greek goddess Hera is associated with the lily. Wife to Zeus, she is known as the Queen of Heaven, and one of the big players in the pantheon. She breastfed Heracles, her stepson. Where some of her breast milk spilled, there grew lilies according to myth. Lily tattoo meaning linked with Hera presents concepts like: Motherhood, Strength, Birth, Provision. Lily in this myth might also symbolize making something beautiful from a bad situation. You see, Hera wasn't too keen on feeding Heracles. In fact, Zeus tricked her into it. Regardless, she did, and from her gift came life to Heracles as well as life to the lily.
The water lily is a big feature in Egyptian art and philosophy. The flower is an integral part of ancient Egypt's creation myth. As the myth goes, all of life sprang from the unfurling petals of the water lily. It is also a symbol of life and death, as the flower opens and closes with the rising and setting sun. The water lily grows in muddy places, which gives it meaning of making beauty in dark or unlikely situations. This flower is also a symbol to the Egyptian god, Nefertem. He is associated with the aforementioned creation myth, and is linked with the first sunrise. By association, so is the water lily.
My research turned up some information about the lily being a symbol of death. I'm not buying it, and I don't ascribe to this meaning. Furthermore, none of these accounts can underscore the association with death to any kind of historical foundation. The closest I can come is the water lily's association with the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This comes from the water lily opening - which means life. Conversely, the water lily closes every night - which is a primitive meaning for death.
I rather like the lily meaning of remembrance. In so many passages of history, myth and lore we see the lily as a symbol for remembering. This could be remembering beauty in times of challenge. It could mean remembering loved ones no longer with us. I like that far better than an unfounded connection with so-called death. I'm not a believer of death anyway - so the meaning was rather lost on me. Stuff recycles, it doesn't just 'get dead'. The lily is a great reminder of this. They return to the fields in their bright glory season after season. It's the same with all life. Time may change us, we may transition into non-physical...but we're never just gone. Lily is a great testimony to that ideal.
I hope this article on lily tattoo meaning has inspired you to consider this lovely flower for your next tattoo project. Moreover, I hope this information spurs you to learn more about lily meaning. You can check out my more in-depth article on Symbolic Lily Meaning here.
As always, thanks for reading!
Lily blessings to you!
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!