History or Celtic symbolism
Celtic tattoos adorn many bodies, even if most of them don't know the history of how Celtic designs came about, tattoos in the Celtic style are extremely popular and becoming more so each year. There is not a lot of written documentation about the Celts, their beliefs and symbols, what is known are mostly orally handed down as the ancient Celts had no written language. For this reason symbols were used to communicate the way they perceived, worshipped and gave thanks to the Gods, the world and the things around them. Celtic symbols today, as then, are still used to communicate emotion and symbolic meaning.
It wasn't really until their conversion to Christianity that the beauty of their symbols was used by Christian monks to illustrate books and scriptures of the day.
It is not certain whether or not the ancient Celts used their designs as tattoos. Today it is suggested that before adorning your body with an ancient Celtic symbol you try to find a tattoo artist who has at least some understanding of Celtic history.
The symbol of the butterfly
Apart from beautiful knot work which symbolize the cycles of life and death, love, friendship, family or spirituality, the Celts took animal symbolism very seriously and used these symbolic images in a host of creative ways either in carvings, jewelry or tattooed onto their bodies.
One symbol that speaks out from days gone by and lives only because of folklore handed down over time is the butterfly. Transformation, rebirth and inspiration are incorporated in the Celtic butterfly meaning. The concept of rebirth for the Celts was very important as it spoke of the recycling of life, spiritually and physically.
Celtic butterflies also speak of transition. The Celts, especially the women understood that transition is common in nature and used the butterfly symbol to adorn items relating to childbirth as a way of welcoming new babies into the clan or tribe. The Celts admired the energy of the transition this small creature had to go through to get from 'conception' to 'birth', and that also ties into perhaps the most powerful connotation attached to the butterfly and which we know of today thanks to myth and folk lore which is transformation. The Celts honored the butterfly because of the impressive process of metamorphosis it had to go through from egg to larvae to pupa and from the pupa or cocoon emerged the butterfly, breathtakingly beautify, in all its glory. Without this transformation, the butterfly would not exist.
Butterflies not only signify transition, rebirth and recycling but also resurrection, celebration, lightness, time and soul. True Celtic symbolism of this beautiful and dainty creature is the deep lesson it speaks of, the butterfly asks us to accept change while unquestioningly embracing the changes in her environment as well as in her body.
The butterfly asks that we accept metamorphosis as a symbol of faith, in other words, we need to keep our faith when we undergo transitions, she asks that we not fret and show anger at what is really a useless quest against the turning tides of nature and for this reason the Celts also associated the butterfly with their soul as we are all on a long journey of the soul, along the way we encounter turns and unpleasant conditions that cause us to 'morph' into ever better beings. At end of a soul journey, we are always changed and are not the same as we were before we started on the path.
The Celtic butterfly in the 21st century
Today, just as any century that has passed before offers its own trials and tests that require that we accept, change and transform and many look back at their personal soul journey with pride. Many people want to commemorate them and what better way to do this than with a tattoo.
A Celtic butterfly tattoo is possibly one of the most versatile, colorful and attractive tattoos that can easily stand alone while conveying its message or it can be incorporated in a larger tattoo that tells a longer story about the wearer. There are many designs available and while today the butterfly is revered as Celtic tattoo art for its beauty and diversity, the intricate design of a butterfly is what makes them so popular today.