Butterflies are one of the most popular tattoo subjects and are overwhelmingly so for women. The butterfly is the embodiment of the feminine in tattoo culture. That’s not to say that only women should ever get a butterfly tattoo, only that they embody feminine themes. Any guy who ever got a pinup tattoo has also decided on an overtly feminine theme, just from a different perspective.
The Tattoo Butterfly and Spirituality
It’s been said that the tattoo of a butterfly reflects the temporary and often chaotic nature of things. With its short life, abundance of beauty, and seemly erratic movement through life, it embodies not only all things temporary but also the instable. If your life has been a series challenges, if you have suffered loss or if you have lived a particularly transitory existence, a tattoo butterfly may tell your story well.
Looking even deeper into its spiritual significance, we find that butterflies are also the embodiment of goddesses in many pantheons spanning many different cultures. The deities associated with butterflies are also said to be the embodiment of such attributes as love, flowers, and even spirits of the departed with their symbolism of metamorphosis as well as death and rebirth.
In some cultures, butterfly deities are regarded as patron goddesses of women who die in childbirth or soldiers who die in war, making a tattoo butterfly an ideal tributary symbol for a child of one of those mothers or a surviving relative of a soldier killed in battle.
A Symbol of Transformation
In still other cultures the butterfly is a symbol of transformation and rising above circumstance. The lowly caterpillar enters its cocoon or chrysalis and emerges brilliant, beautiful, empowered and taking flight. This makes the butterfly tattoo a significant symbol for anyone who has come from modest beginnings and come through them transformed into something extraordinary. This has little to nothing to do with money – it has everything to do with the inner person, just like tattoos themselves.
Not Just For the Ladies
The butterfly was a favorite symbol among Japanese Samurai and can even be seen etched into Samurai armor and weaponry. They considered the butterfly to be a symbol of fire as well as one symbolizing virtues such as elegance, transcendence and nobility. A tattoo butterfly set against a Samurai motif would therefore make for a very masculine tattoo, especially for someone who has proved any of these virtues by his actions or character.