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For most of us, a phoenix tattoo isn’t just a work of art, it is a visual representation and purposeful expression.

The meaning of your tattoos is something that is often as deeply personal as the reason behind getting one in the first place.

This brief guide will explore some of the common meanings behind one of the more widely popularized designs: The Phoenix.

The Phoenix

When looking for a custom tattoo design a wise piece of advice is to research the symbolism behind any imagery that you’re drawn to. Generally speaking, tattoos are permanent, and you want to make sure you fully understand the meaning behind your design.

At any of the Chronic Ink tattoo studio locations, our tattoo artists will always be happy to help guide you in creating a design that brings your vision to life, making sure you end up with a tattoo that you’ll be proud to show off for decades to come.

When it comes to finding symbolic tattoo inspiration, the Phoenix is a great image to explore. This fiery bird embodies symbolism and has a deep-rooted history of use throughout cultures and legends alike.

The Phoenix has been featured in many tales and stories, and is still a well-known symbol in popular culture to this very day. The legendary bird has featured in everything from Greek Mythology and Shakespeare, to the Harry Potter books. The best thing about the Phoenix, as with any myth, is that depictions of it can vary. This affords you a certain degree of creative freedom to visually interpret the bird any way you wish.

But before you land on the “Phoenix” as your final choice, let’s dig into a little background on it’s origins and meanings…

What is a Phoenix?

The phoenix bird is a mythological bird that moves from one cycle of life to the next. When defeated, or in fear of impending death, the Phoenix will burst magnificently into flames. A short time after, it will emerge, reborn, from its own ashes. When the Phoenix emerges from the ashes, it rises with dignified power, strength and energy. The reborn Phoenix is renewed, refreshed and bursting with life.

Visual Depictions of the Phoenix

In Greek Mythology the Phoenix is depicted as a gloriously resplendent bird. The Ancient Greeks depict the Phoenix as a beautiful creature with very colorful and elaborate plumage.

The Egyptians believed that the Phoenix was a cross between a Falcon and a Heron. They paint an image of the Phoenix as a sun-worshipping bird with feathers that are made of gold.

In some Medieval literature, the Phoenix is pictured with a halo or a golden crest of feathers around its head, which emphasizes a connection with the sun.

Although the Phoenix is usually depicted as a colorful bird, there is no general consensus on this. Some say that it looks like a peacock, others describe it with red legs and some say that it has golden scales. Talk to your tattoo artist about your individual interpretation and they will be able to help you to find the right colors to suit your design and your skin tone.

Chronic Ink - Phoenix Back Tattoo

What Does the Phoenix Symbolize?

The Phoenix is an enduring symbol of many things. Here are a few things that a Phoenix tattoo can represent:

Rebirth & resurrection

The power of the Phoenix to regenerate and to be reborn makes it a strong symbol for those looking to recognize a new chapter in their life.

Growth

The Phoenix can symbolize growth, so it is a great symbol to consider if you’re looking to recognize your own personal growth or development, or perhaps the wisdom that you’ve gained through the years.

Victory & Overcoming Challenges

The Phoenix is a great symbol for anyone wanting a tattoo that represents a victory. It is also a good choice for anyone wanting to recognize a challenge that they have overcome.

Power & Strength

The ability of the Phoenix to come back stronger each time it is reborn makes it a great symbol for anyone who wants a tattoo that represents strength and power.

The Sun

The Phoenix is regularly associated with the Sun, which is also a symbol of life, energy and power. The warmth of the sun’s rays will fill you with hope and strength when you most need it.

Balance

In Chinese mythology, two Phoenixes pictured together is a symbol of perfect balance. It can represent two people in partnership and is a great way to symbolize your relationship with a partner.

The Phoenix in Literature

The Phoenix has been a popular symbol in literature and still features in popular culture today. Some references include:

  • Shakespeare references the Phoenix in a number of his plays. He also wrote a poem titled ‘The Phoenix and the Turtle’
  • DH Lawrence has regularly used the Phoenix as a symbol of rebirth.
  • C.S Lewis describes a ‘marvelous’ Phoenix that guards a garden in his novel ‘The Magician’s Nephew’
  • The search for the Phoenix is a plot line in Terry Pratchett’s novel ‘Carpe Jugulum’
  • J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books feature a Phoenix called Fawkes

The Phoenix in Music

  • ‘The Days of the Phoenix’ is the title of an album by the alternative band AFI
  • The pop artist Robbie Williams has a song on his 1998 album titled ‘Phoenix from the Flames’
  • The rock group Queen have a Phoenix as part of their logo
  • In Mozart’s famous Opera Cosi Fan Tutte, one of the characters is compared to a mythical Phoenix, implying that she is hard to find

What It Means to You

If your chosen custom tattoo features some symbolism or has a personal meaning, make sure to communicate this to your tattoo artist. Our experienced tattoo artists will be able to ensure that your tattoo is a meaningful reminder of your victory, rebirth, relationship or something else.

Whatever it is that you want to remember, commemorate or celebrate, our experienced tattoo artists will make sure that the finished piece is something that you can always be proud of.

Ready to get your new tattoo?

At Chronic Ink, we have some of the best traditional and neo-traditional Asian tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver. We welcome walk-ins for consultations at our Downtown Toronto, Midtown Toronto, Markham and Newmarket locations. No appoinment necessary or contact us and let us know your idea today.

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Tattoo Locations

Downtown Toronto

378 Yonge Street,
2nd Floor,
Toronto & Vancouver, Ontario
M5B 1S6

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252 Eglinton Ave East,
2nd Floor,
Toronto & Vancouver, Ontario
M4P 1K2

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Markham

7381 Kennedy Road,
Unit #105,
Markham, Ontario
L3R 5B5

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Newmarket

Upper Canada Mall
17600 Yonge Street,
Newmarket, ON
L3Y 4Z1

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