Vine tattoos are great for creativity of both the wearer and the artist. These beautiful little plants are also a symbol of growth, re-growth and harmony. However, the meaning does tend to vary depending on which type of vine you use.
One of the most frequently seen vine tattoos is of the ivy plant. To the Druids the ivy was seen as a symbol of determination; to Christians it is a symbol of man’s frailty, and his need to cling for support. Most ivy vine tattoos are done in a spiraling style up a leg or arm, you may even occasionally see this style growing up the back and shoulders. Given that ivy is a notoriously good grower, you could try something a little different, like wrapping it around a statue, cross, or even the legs, hips and arms of a pin up model. You could even use a single leaf, or whole vine of poison ivy to signify both beauty and danger.
Some people prefer a wider variety of color for their vine tattoos. For this you could use large clumps of fiery red Virginia creeper over a broad area of the body; delicate sprouts of purple, red, and pink and white sweet pea; or a creeping kudzu with its royal blue, or dark purple, and tail-like blossoms. Given the vast array available, your vine tattoos can be an explosion of colors, and feature any combination of these plants; they can be done in stripes down the back, they can be mingled together, or placed in their own individual part of the body.
A cult of worshipers grew around the god, Bacchus, to celebrate the joys of liberation through intoxication. The revelers often wore the crown of Ivy, too, believing it complimented or counter-balanced the effects of the grape. (Ironically, Ivy also stood for intellectual achievement in ancient Rome.) Legend tells of Bacchus evading his enemies by crossing a bridge of vines and ivy over the Euphrates River. Another myth finds Bacchus pursued by pirates at sea — and saved when the enemy ship’s rigging became crippled by clinging Ivy. The Ivy-crowned head of Bacchus can be seen on ancient Roman coins, circa 48 BC.
In old Ireland, the Celts regarded the Ivy as a symbol of determination, death, and spiritual growth. When portrayed with its spiral growth around a tree it represented rebirth, joy and exhilaration. The power of the Ivy to cling and bind and even kill the mighty oak impressed the ancient Druids. In respect of Ivy’s strength, they and other Pagan cultures used it in sacred rituals. As an evergreen plant, it became a symbol of everlasting life, and it was the Irish poet who traditionally wore the Ivy crown.
Christian artists saw the Ivy’s spiralling growth as a sign or symbol of the Resurrection. It represented the ascension of the spirit to the Divine. Earlier, the Christian church rejected both the Ivy and Vine as pagan symbols. They were being used in the Roman Saturnalia celebrations of winter, during which the god’s staff was made of Holly and his sacred bird was said to nest in Ivy. Centuries later, the Holly and the Ivy became inseparable as Christmas plants, their Pagan connections forgotten.
In times past, lovers took the Ivy to be the symbol of their fidelity. Brides carried it in their wedding bouquets, while women wore it for fertility and good luck. Must have been Ivy’s reputation for multiplying in the toughest conditions, growing even in near dark. In Victorian times, the Ivy was a symbol of wedded love and friendship in matrimony.
In England, Ivy is a popular Christmas plant bringing good luck and joy. Grow it up the wall of your house and your life and property will be more secure and better protected. Just try taking it down!