Heron Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Heron Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Looking at a Heron, you will see an elegant, long and curvy-necked bird with a stocky body and long, thin legs. However, this is just on the surface, and these birds are much more than what initially meets the eye. They are renowned for being skilled hunters and powerful fliers. They prefer to live in solitude as opposed to working in larger groups. 

In a wider cultural context, the image of a Heron holds powerful meaning and can be used to symbolize many things. These wonderful birds are intelligent, highly perceptive, observant, and have a strong sense of commitment towards all their endeavors. If you are thinking of getting a Heron tattoo you may be wondering whether you identify with the spirit of the Heron.

This article will explore the history of Heron Tattoos, what they symbolize and the deeper meaning behind them so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not you can identify with the Heron and get that tattoo!


What is the History of the Heron?

The history of Herons has origins in Greek mythology as well as Ancient Egypt. In Greek Mythology, the Heron is used as God’s Messenger and it was seen to bring terrible bad luck and was incredibly wrong to harm one. In Greek art, the heron represents the struggle between good and evil as well as representing honor and virtue in the stories of Athena.

The Ancient Egyptians also had an interesting and strong relationship with the Heron. The god known as Bennu is in fact a large red and gold Heron. Heliopolis is one of the oldest cities in Ancient Egypt; Heliopolis regarded this bird as sacred. The city was also known as the city of the sun and Bennu was known to be a creator of light.


In regards to nature, the Heron is known to fly alone. The bird is rarely known to be involved in larger groups unless it is during the mating season.

Because of this, the Heron is strongly associated with the notion of Solitude and in the Tarot, the Heron corresponds with the Hermit card. The Hermit speaks of introspection, soul searching and meditation.

A Heron is also associated with the Water Element. This element is one that encourages us to accept and flow with the energies around us. Instead of struggling and fighting against nature, we need to accept and cooperate with it. Herons also hunt in water and their hunting ability is strong, whilst the event happens instantly, their patience leading up to the event is unmatched.


What Do Heron Tattoos Symbolize?

First and foremost, Herons are commonly used to symbolize balance and stability. They are strong and swift fliers but they can be equally as effective on land. They stand patiently on one long leg for hours at a time searching for prey. This symbolizes their mastery of balance as well as patience. 

This balance is not only in the physical sense, but it is their balance of the mind that truly allows them to balance the body. It is thought that since the Heron is the master of inner stability, they express this by displaying their stability in the physical sense. If you believe you have mastered inner stability, you may choose to express this physically with the Heron tattoo.

Aside from this, Herons are also symbolic of self-reliance. They are social in the sense that they are deeply connected with their life partners but aside from this fact, it is their individuality that is the most striking factor about them. Herons hunt in solitude and find comfort even when living alone for weeks at a time, being self-sufficient is their lesson to us and a strong symbol.

Equally as important, these birds are also symbolic of knowledge and wisdom. They have an ability to fly higher than most other birds which allows them to gain a wider perspective of life. On top of this, their keen eyesight and attentive consciousness further help with this representation.


What Do Heron Tattoos Mean?

Heron tattoos are usually portrayed in different ways and in different themes. These differences in styles also portray different meanings.

White Heron tattoos are used to represent the concept of innocence and virtue. If you want this tattoo to represent spirituality and purity then choose white ink. The Heron was also thought to be a guardian angel which makes this more fitting. 

Heron tattoos with water in the background can be used to express renewal or change. This comes from the fact that the bird will often stand in one particular place for hours on end until a fish comes within reach. The heron then snatches the creature up with its beak. It is a representation of the cycle of life. 


The traditional Japanese variation of this tattoo is commonly associated with meanings of hope and protection. As previously mentioned, the bird was formerly thought to be a guardian angel figure sent to earth by the Buddha. If you want your tattoo to be strongly associated with Japanese culture, and protect you against evil spirits then this is the one for you.

If you want a Heron tattoo that represents good fortune and prosperity, then you should get a Heron tattoo with a crystal ball in its mouth. This means you will have good luck and success in life. As well as this, as previously mentioned the Heron is known to travel between worlds and the magical crystal in its mouth offers further protection against evil spirits. 


Where Do Heron Tattoos Usually Go?

As with any tattoo, the placement is entirely up to you, after all, it is on your body. However, there are factors that you may want to consider. 

Due to the fact that the Heron is quite a large bird with a lot of detailed parts, you may want to have your Heron quite large. Because of this, you need to place it on large areas so that the Heron can be tattooed in sufficient detail. 

Larger areas include the back, legs, torso, stomach and the larger parts of your arm (The bicep for example).

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