The elderflower symbolizes many things including references to the bible, witches, grief, good luck and even the popular fiction series “Harry Potter”.
Flower tattoos often hold symbolic meanings and make great choices for tattoos as they are also visually appealing and can be done in a myriad of different styles. Here we will talk about elderflower tattoos, the history behind them and their meanings. To find out more keep reading!
What is the History of Elder Flower Tattoos?
The elder tree holds a rich meaning over history and has been used for thousands of years for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Although the history of the elder (flower) tattoo does obviously not date as far back, it does root its meaning in the same significance as the tree itself.
Because the elder tree has different variations all over the world, it also holds different meanings all over the world. For example, there is the European elder, the American elder and even the Blue elder.
Throughout European history, the tree was often associated with mothers and care, with some even attributing the figure of the “Elder Mother” to the tree. For this reason, the tree needed to be respected and well taken care of so that the spirit of the “Elder Mother” could take care of others in turn.
The folklore surrounding the elder tree did not stop there, with some even believing that if you were under the tree at midnight you may be lucky enough to see fairies, giving the tree its place within wider spiritual folklore.
The mother tree holds significance within the Pagan religion which was turned on its head by Christians looking to denounce the religion.
The flower from the tree was also used in a lot of medicines in order to cure allergies, fevers, acne and rashes. The berries were used in a lot of different foods and drinks such as cordial, pies and even wine!
All of these different associations meant that when floral tattoos began to gain popularity there was a wide range of meanings behind the elderflower tattoo. For some it held a spiritual meaning, either with positive connotations regarding Paganism or negative regarding Christianity.
In addition, the beautiful elder tattoos were a symbol of motherhood, good fortune and protection, with reference to “Elder Mother”, whereas for others it was simply a visually appealing tattoo.
What Do Elder Symbolize?
Elder tattoos symbolize many things and because of this wide range of meanings it is not possible to know the exact reasoning behind someone’s elder tattoo unless you know them personally (or ask!)
For example, if someone is religious then the chances are that this is what their tattoo is in reference to. If the person with the tattoo is Pagan then this is almost certainly a nod to their religion. This symbolizes a motherly figure who protects them and brings them good fortune as long as they respect her.
This Elder Woman was believed to be trapped inside of the tree as a spirit and looked after those who looked after her. However, those who took from the tree without thanks and without asking would be punished.
So, elder tattoos can represent both Paganism, protection and respect.
With regard to Christianity, the change in symbolism gave the tree negative connotations and is said to be the tree on which Judas hung himself. Although this image is certainly unpleasant it can be adapted to symbolize the righteousness of Christ and the place of Christianity as the true religion.
In regard to both of these views, the elder tree is a symbol of endings and rebirth.
What Do Elder Tattoos Mean?
Elder tattoos can mean different things depending on which part of the tree the person decides to get tattooed. Many people often opt for the flowers and berries as they are the most aesthetically pleasing part of the tree, and also the easiest to identify.
So, for a lot of people, elder tattoos are simply an aesthetic way to visualize their love of nature. However, elder tattoos can have a much deeper meaning than this.
For people who suffer from diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, it is believed that elderflowers can be used as a treatment and help to cure the sick. For this reason, people who work in healthcare within departments that deal with skin conditions may have an elder tattoo as a reference to their line of work.
Elderflowers have also long been associated with the countryside, and this can be seen in its multiple uses over history. In medicine, in cooking and even in decoration. For example, in England, it is still very common to have elderflower flavored drinks and sweets. This love of the countryside may be symbolized in an elder tattoo.
Where Do Elder Tattoos Usually Go?
Elder tattoos can be adapted to fit almost any area of the body but perhaps the most common position is on the arms where there is more room for the collection of flowers. The figure of the tree also lends itself well to filling any gaps and wrapping nicely around the arm.
Any area where the skin bends, such as around the ankle, the elbow and even the shoulder make a great place for an elder tattoo as the branch, leaves and flowers take this shape well.
Characteristics and Styles of Elder Tattoos
There is no definitive characteristic or style for elder tattoos. However, a lot of elder tattoos are designed in black and white as the flowers themselves are white and would contrast too sharply on the skin to the green leaves.
For this reason, a fine line version of the tattoo suits the flower well and makes it fit in well with any other pieces that you already have. You can obviously make the lines bolder to suit your own personal style or use a watercolor technique to make the tattoo pop.
Elder tattoos can symbolize religion, healing, protection or simply be chosen for their aesthetic. The rich folkloric history of the elder tree makes the tattoo symbolic for a lot of people and even has its roots in modern-day fiction.