What Does Phoenix Tattoo Mean?
Has your friend got a brand new phoenix tattoo?
Perhaps you’ve seen the tattoo all over Instagram?
The phoenix tattoo seems to be hot right now. Everyone has one! But what does this beautiful tattoo represent? In this article, Beauty and Tips finds out.
The Phoenix Origin Story
If you’ve seen a phoenix tattoo on someones body part – be it their arm, their leg, their chest or back – you’ll know that it looks pretty spectacular.
The phoenix is a majestic, proud and stunning bird – but it’s also totally mythical. So why are people getting it inked on them?
The phoenix has different meanings to various peoples and cultures. It’s a magical, fiery bird that looks great when reproduced in art. It means virtue, grace, immortality and rebirth, and both women and men around the world display it on their bodies.
Its story is rooted in Greek mythology. In fact, the word phoenix when translated back to its original Greek means purple-red.
All you have to do is picture purple and red flames leaping about the place to see that the bird is linked with fire.
And indeed, the Greeks invented the phoenix to be a fiery creature that could survive for more than 500 years.
When it’s time to die, the bird puts together a nest before burning it down.
It also burns itself along with the nest and becomes consumed by golden flames.
Its story doesn’t end there, however. Three days later, the bird rises from its ashes, unharmed and ready to live again. It’s reborn, just as beautiful as it was before its death.
The legend of the phoenix travelled as far a ancient Egypt, and the natives there added their own appendix to the story. According to the Egyptians, the newly reborn phoenix takes its own embalmed ashes and carries them to the city of the sun – Heliopolis.
Once here, the bird sacrifices its ashes to the sun.
The Greek and Egyptian origin stories, then, are largely the same, and in both stories the bird is able to sing almost like a nightingale. Its plumage, meanwhile, is draped in purple, scarlet and gold.
So What Does The Phoenix Tattoo Mean Today?
Of course, the story of the phoenix is thousands of years old, but what the phoenix represents still resonates with people today. It represents a change – a rebirth, a new beginning. It represents a death of the old and a resurrection; an upheaval, a chance of a better life.
This is a powerful concept that many of us buy into. When it’s time to move on from something and look forward, we need to burn the past down so that we’re free to make positive changes.
For example, it could be that a person who bears the phoenix tattoo has struggled through hard times but is now coming out the other side with a determination that things will be better. The slate has been wiped clean; the past has been burnt, the dust has settled and now it’s time to forge ahead with a new life.
To put it in literary terms, that person is like a phoenix that has risen once again from the flames. They will not let the past define or trap them. They are a winner.
As well as rebirth and a chance to make a positive change in our lives, the phoenix also represents other things. It represents virtue. For example, when we move forward from a dark and troubled past, the idea is that we’re moving forward as a better, more rounded person. We’ve learned from our mistakes, and this new version of ourselves is better equipped to make the right decisions this time around.
What Does The Phoenix Mean To Different Cultures?
According to Chinese legend, the bird represents the feminine virtues, like kindness, wholesomeness and grace.
The Chinese Empress – believed to be the most virtuous woman in the whole of China – was the only one who was allowed to wear the symbol of the phoenix in ancient China. Back then, no one else would have been permitted to have a phoenix tattoo (if such things existed!).
For the Chinese, the phoenix acted as the yin to the dragon’s masculine yang. Together, they were the yin and yang of female and male energy.
The early Christians, meanwhile, were also aware of the phoenix and what it meant. Resurrection is, of course, central to Christian theology, and the phoenix came to represent resurrection to the early followers of Christ who saw in it similarities with Christ’s own resurrection.
The phoenix exists in Jewish legend, too, where it was the sole creature that didn’t eat the forbidden fruit. For the Jews, then, the phoenix represented an ability to withstand temptation.
Meanwhile, ancient Roman coins imprinted with the phoenix symbol have been recovered, with scholars suggesting that it represented the immortality of the Roman Empire.
Another major empire, the Japanese Empire, also believed in the powerful symbolism of the phoenix and it was one of their key emblems.
In Japan, the phoenix is known as the Immortal Bird, and therefore – like the Roman Empire – it represents the immortality of the Japanese Empire.
The Ancient Egyptians, too, knew all about the phoenix myth and, just like the Romans, they added it to their coins. To them, it represented their mythical Sun god, Ra.
All in all, if you’re stuck for a tattoo idea at the moment, the legendary phoenix is an excellent choice.
As well as being a beautiful bird, the phoenix gives us power, simply by what it represents. It also acts as a daily reminder that we mustn’t let what came before define us, and that change is not only possible but also necessary.
If you’re experiencing change and upheaval in your life at the moment, why not associate yourself with one of the most powerful myths there has ever been?
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