One of the most popular tattoo design choices for women, the Butterfly reveals the feminine influence in tattoo culture. Generally speaking, butterflies are an overwhelmingly female tattoo design. Because of the butterfly’s short life span, many ancient peoples saw it as emblematic of the impermanent. It’s physical beauty and its fluttering from flower to flower seeking nectar have made it synonymous with the more unstable and superficial aspects of the human soul.
Butterfly goddesses have emerged in places as far apart as Minoan Crete and Toltec Mexico. Some of these deities were believed to be the personification of certain butterflies, and were regarded as symbols of beauty, love, flowers, and the spirits of the dead. They were also looked upon as the patrons of women who died in childbirth and warriors who fell in battle. At the other end of the spectrum, one of the Butterfly deities in ancient Mexico was the goddess of war and human sacrifice.
In Greek mythology, Psyche was represented in art with butterfly wings. It’s all about the airborne soul -and the caterpillar emerging from its cocoon, transformed from an earth-bound to an aerial entity, is the classic metaphor. To the Greeks, a human soul emerged each time a butterfly emerged from its cocoon. Diverse cultures looked upon the Butterfly as a symbol of transformation, regeneration and flight. Souls were carried by the Butterfly from earth to heaven, or in some cases were believed to be the souls themselves returning to earth.