Feather tattoos have increased in popularity over the past few years. Many people like them simply because they are simple yet beautiful designs that can be placed anywhere on the body. Others choose to get feather tattoos over all other options because there are so many meanings that can be attached to these designs. They are thought to stand for freedom, truth, flight, speed, lightness and ascension, among other things.
The symbolism for the feather tattoo’s ascension is derived from Native American culture. Birds are highly regarded in that culture, so it’s no surprise that the feather has meant so much to them for so long. You will see feathers in just about everything that some Native American tribes wear, including their jewelry, their headdresses, their weapons, and many more items.
The Chiefs of the tribe would wear feathers as a symbol of their communication with spirit and their celestial wisdom. This meaning comes from seeing the feathers as dropping from the gods, bringing with them many powers. This is why it was always seen as the highest honor when warriors would receive feathers as gifts from their leaders. Still today the feather holds many of these meanings to Native Americans as well as plenty of people who decide to get a feather tattoo.
Feathers in Native American culture were also used to represent the power of wind and air. As you probably guessed, power and air can represent the majority of important things in one’s life. In this way a feather tattoo that holds the wind and air meaning can represent something new to the owner every day that they have it on their skin.
In the Celtic culture the feather was worn by druids. Druids would don ornate feathered robes in ceremonies meant to invoke the sky gods. The use of these robes was believed to allow the druid to enter an ethereal realm. Unsurprisingly, this is an extremely deep meaning for the feather tattoo, which is why people with and without Celtic blood in them will get the tattoo and use that meaning.
The Celtic goddess Morrigan also wore a cloak of feathers to transform herself into a bird. The ability to turn into a bird meant she had a “bird’s eye view” on spirituality and could also easily spy on people. Similarly, many modern day people who get a feather tattoo might use the tat to show that they are looking out for those that they love. Of course, this is not a “spy” meaning, but it does mean that the person is keeping a close eye on the people they love and the people who attempt to get close to them.
In Christianity feathers were used to represent virtue. They used an image of three feathers which was made into signet rings. The three feathers symbolized charity, hope and faith. The rings would be pressed into hot wax and used as seals on documents. Many believed that if a document had the three-feather seal that it had to have come from a virtuous man. That same feathers symbol is used in some feather tattoos today, but it is simply to represent charity, hope, and faith, which are still considered by many to people three of the most important things in life.
Feathers have also been used as status symbols in many countries throughout the years. They were once symbolic of a higher class of brave hearted or those who were spiritually in tune. This isn’t as common today, but anyone can now get a feather tattoo to show that they think that they are powerful in their community.
One of the most famous feather designs around is the dreamcatcher. The feathers themselves represent dreams, which is why people who make dreamcatchers for themselves usually use the feathers that they saw in their dreaming state. In this way, someone could either get that specific feather as a tattoo or they could get a dreamcatcher tattoo.
A very basic but popular feather tattoo meaning these days is “beauty.” While there are hundreds of designs that could be used to represent beauty, the feather is one of the most popular because it’s easy to make this design unique. You can make it unique by adding in different colors, and you can even make it unique to you by putting it in an unusual place on your body. People have used the beauty meaning for feather tattoos by getting them in their ears, down the side of their bodies, on their forearms, and just about everywhere else.
If you want to get a bit deeper with your feather tattoo meaning, then it is a good idea to get a specific bird’s feather. For example, if you liked the bald eagle more than any other bird in existence, you could use the bird’s symbolism (national pride, etc.) and the basic feather meanings listed above as a more complete feather tattoo meaning. What’s great is that just about every bird out there has some extra meanings attached to them, so you can find one that matches up to your personality and get that type of feather tattooed on your skin.
The most popular feather choices for tattoos are those of: the owl-which represents wisdom or mystery; the phoenix-which stand for fire, creativity and immortality; the peacock-these are typically chosen for their bright colors and exotic look and represent compassion and immortality; the seagull- these represent a love of the ocean and rising above life’s tides; and the eagle- this birds feather symbolizes strength and bravery.
What you’ll also want to think about when getting a feather tattoo is how many feathers you want. It’s true that most people get a single feather since one feather generally has as much meaning as many, but there could be a good reason to get multiple feathers. For example, if you and a friend both wanted to get matching feather tattoos to represent your friendship, you could each get two feathers. You could also get multiple feathers to represent your family. It’s completely up to you!
In many cases the type of feather you get in your feather tattoo doesn’t matter as much as the color matters. Just about every color in existence holds many distinct meanings, so you could get a basic feather design and then make the color carry the majority of the meaning. A good example of this is when people get red feather tattoos, which represent love and passion. In that example, the feather itself holds very little meaning but the owner might love the design and they want to pack as much meaning into a simple design as they can.
One of the main reasons why the feather tattoo has shot up in popularity in recent years is because it looks great regardless of how big it is. This makes it one of the most versatile tattoos around today. You can get a huge set of feathers across your back, or you could even get a single feather on your foot. It can be the big, most meaningful tattoo that you’ll ever get, or it can be used to compliment another tattoo. What’s especially great about the feather tattoo is that it can look fantastic regardless of its size.
As you can see, there is plenty to think about when you are leaning towards getting a feather tattoo. There is plenty of history behind feather tattoos, but what it really boils down to is what you want the tattoo to mean. You can combine a bunch of the meanings listed on this page, or you can come up with something brand new and personal. We definitely recommend looking through a bunch of feather tattoo designs and looking up tattoo meanings before you get yours, but at the end of the day all that’s important is that you get a feather tattoo that suits you.