Are There Secret Messages Hidden in Tattoos?

I will be the first one to admit this – I’ve fostered a great deal of prejudice and judgment towards tattoos. However, my reasons were not rooted in that ‘mom and dad’ philosophy that one is scarring their body for life. My reasons were of different nature, and they mostly stemmed from my surroundings.

With the rise of the hipster population, I’ve seen a number of both close friends and acquaintances go through the inking process, and the process seemed very shallow. For instance, there was a friend who had a giant geometrical deer done across his chest, and when I asked him, why he choose that particular one he replies with: “Well I saw it on Pinterest and I thought it looked really cool, plus, the geometric shapes are so in right now.” I was shocked by the lack of thought put into something so permanent, especially coming from someone who I considered very smart and deep.

Unlike many people I know, I wanted it to truly mean something, and not be a shallow gesture that expresses a false sense of individuality; I didn’t want to be just another ‘special snowflake’. So, I started doing some research and even find people who have done tattoos that bear a truly profound and perhaps even a secret meaning. I’ve researched some of the most popular tattoos of today as well as some ‘ancient’ ones to see what was hiding underneath.

The infamous butterfly

This one has a seriously bad reputation, especially when inked on the lower back, otherwise known as the ‘tramp stamp’ location. I have to admit that I was positively shocked to find its true meaning. It represents beauty, metamorphosis, rebirth, and change. It’s plain, colorless, and almost ugly as it enters the world, and it leaves the cocoon as a vibrant, beautiful creature.

The Japanese believe that a butterfly stands for someone’s soul. In Chinese symbolism, two butterflies together stand for love. This was definitely food for thought and I found wonderful and intricate ones that I knew could only be done properly by a great tattoo artist. That is when I discovered that the best tattoos in Sydney are done by award-winning professionals of the Tattoo Movement. If you’ve truly experienced rebirth, or gone through struggles and came out stronger and more beautiful, you definitely have the right to proudly wear the butterfly.


This tattoo always seemed quite simple and devoid of meaning to me. Its secret meaning shut me up for good; apparently, they are a symbol of the desire to protect what is valuable to us and those that we are close to.

A lock is often present alongside a key – often as a metaphor for love and the key to one’s heart. This is something that should not be taken or inked lightly, especially if you do it with a romantic partner. It takes an enormous amount of love and belief in the permanency and strength of the relationship in order to commit to a tattoo like this.

A semicolon

One of the most powerfully meaningful, yet simple in appearance is the semicolon tattoo. It was adopted by campaigners in 2013, and marks membership to Project Semicolon, a movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life. It stands for the decision to keep on living and fighting, not giving in to depression, not letting death win.

The tree of life

Although there are various versions of this tattoo in terms of design, the meaning behind all of them is the same. Trees are considered sacred in many countries and cultures. They symbolize resilience and strength. The tree of life has different meanings in different cultures, but it generally symbolizes knowledge, protection, strength, forgiveness, and eternal life.

Heartbeat line

This type of tattoo is very popular among siblings, like two sisters. This tattoo design can be used in remembrance of a loved one, especially if that someone is no longer with you, or you live far apart and this is a symbol of the love you share. It can also serve as a reminder death is a heartbeat away, in which case it’s most commonly done when someone experienced a near-death experience. Finally, it can signify a celebration of something special, like the birth of a new love that you hope keeps “beating.”

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