Varieties of birds are often chosen as a tattoo design that can appear on legs, arms, backs and stomachs. Ranging in symbolism and mysticism, birds can represent many things from good and bad omens, prosperity, peace, freedom, strength and many more. Explore some of the most popular bird tattoo designs and ideas and learn about the symbolism behind their image.
Many people who choose to adorn their flesh with the artistry of birds in the form of permanant tattoo's often have a personal connection and purpose behind the choice. Below are some common bird tattoos along with their symbolism, history and mystical quality.
Bluebirds are a favorite bird design for their mythological history and appeal. Mythologically, the Bluebird is known as the "Bluebird of happiness" which has been treasured for thousands of years as a bird that brings good luck, happiness, good health, good news, new births and much more. The actual Bluebird that the mythological bird is centered around is a Mountain Bluebird or Thrush which is about the size of a Sparrow but is blue. Native American tribes held the Bluebird in high esteem as a sacred bird. In the Cochiti tribe, the firstborn son of Sun was named Bluebird, which was outlined in a story titled "The Sun's Children" which dates back to 1932 from a book titled, "Tales of the Cochiti Indians", written by author Ruth Benedict. The Navajo believe the Bluebird to be a strong and great spirit that has arrived in the form of an animal, and has passed down for generations a song dedicated to the bird. Bluebirds have also gained popularity by appearing in, and being referenced in films such as "K-Pax" and "The Wizzard of Oz".
Raven's have received a lot of mystical and symbolic persona's throughout history and unfortunatley they have more commonly been seen as a negative omen. Some believe that when a Raven appears, they are sending a message that death or war is coming. This belief was likely formed during times of great battles in which scores of Ravens would appear on the battleground to eat the remains of dead soldiers, just as they do with animal carcasses in nature. The Raven is connected to the Welsh hero, Bran the Blessed, as his name actually means, Raven. He was said to have been the holder of ancestral memories and his wisdom was well known throughout history. Today, it is said that Raven's still gather at the Tower of London where Bran's head was kept after he died. It was an act to support the legend of his great wisdom. In Nordic tradition, it was said that Odin was accompanied by two Raven's, Hugin and Mugin. Hugin was a Raven that represented the power of thought and Mugin represented the mind with the ability of intuit meaning. Odin was also known as the Raven God who fathered several daughters known as Valkyries that could transform into Raven's. In other legends, the Raven was once said to have been all white but after being caught lying, an unable to hold truth, the God Apollo punished the Raven and turned it's white feathers black. In Native American history, the Raven was not all bad. In fact, it was said that the Raven was a messenger and bringer of news to those who attuned their ears and eyes to the Great Spirit. This gave the Raven a positive reputation for bringing truth and light to those who were able to receive it. It has also been known as the Shapeshifter, similar to the Wolf in animal medicine and lore. Dr. Carl Jung interepreted the Raven as the Shadow Side of Self and said that if Raven appears in one's life, that it is a sign to acknowledge and face the shadowy side of one's life so that positive pathways can be formed and transformation can come.
The Owl has been known in Native American history as a sacred bird that governs the veil between Earth and the underworld, and is seen as a messenger of spirit who brings news of life and death, as well as being considered a guardian of Shaman's, wisdom and foresight. It is considered an oracle in its own right for those who are drawn to Owl as a totem or spiritual companion. The Kukuyu people of Kenya Africa have believed that the Owl was a harbinger of death and if a person were to see an Owl, it was a sign that they were about to die. The Uto-Aztecs and Hopi associated the Owl with sorcery and evil magic. The Maya and traditional Aztec's saw the Owl as a symbol of death desctruction which is seen in the history of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec God of Death who is seen adorned with Owls on either side of him. Similary, Arab lore describes the Owl as a bringer of bad omens. However, in Western cultures, the Owl is seen both as a symbol of wisdom and protection, similar to historic Native American interpretations.
Many people usually choose to get an Eagle tattoo for one of two reasons; for their show of patriotism or for Native American symbolism. The Eagle holds many respectable positions throughout history and culture as a symbol of strength, freedom, and power. Eagle's domain is in both Earth and Sky and it is said that Eagle can travel in between worlds of both the living and dead. They are said to be the bringer of prayers and delivers them into the realms of Spirit to be answered. They symbolize courage, healing, illumination of spirit and knowledge of magic. Native American chiefs adorned their headdress with Eagle feathers as a symbol of their leadership, strength and successes from battles. It also represents being able to hold balance within one's life. Those who choose a more patriotic theme, honor Eagle as a symbol of freedom or an animal symbol representing a fallen hero, friend or soldier. Many memorial tattoos done on behalf of those who have served their country use Eagles in their imagery.
Traditionally in Christianity, the Dove represents peace, love and unity. It was the bird that Noah on Noah's Ark chose to release out from the Ark that returned with an olive branch in it's beak to show that land was within reach. It is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit and is very commonly released during marriage ceremonies and weddings as a blessing of peace, love and unity for the newlyweds.
As small, delicate and lightweight as Hummingbird is, it is a bird with a strong and powerful presence that has been honored in many cultures through time. The Hummingbird flaps its wings so fast that they give the optical illusion of transparency. As well, it can also fly backwards and sideways with precision and agility. There are over three hundred varieties of the Hummingbird known today. It is celebrated in the Andes in South America as a symbol of the North which correlates with wisdom, and it is associated with the fire element. It symbolizes the soul and demonstrates courage, wisdom, joyfulness, playfulness and the spiritual journey one takes while in pursuit of many truths.