Tree of Life Tattoo Meaning: Ideas, Placement, Pros and Cons

If you’re planning on getting a tattoo, you likely want to choose something meaningful. If you’re looking for an ancient symbol that’s still easily recognizable today, you might be interested in a tree of life tattoo.

Tree of Life Tattoo Meaning

The tree of life tattoo usually depicts a tree with roots reaching deep and branches reaching high. It means the growth of life, strength, and spiritual connectedness.

1. Growth and Resilience

The Tree of Life is a symbol of growth, strength, and resilience. It signifies the ability to endure challenges, adapt to change, and flourish in the face of adversity. It serves as a reminder of personal growth and inner strength.

This symbolism can be seen in the Norse Yggdrasil tree, which is central to the cosmos, and the Celtic belief in the tree’s ability to thrive and endure.

2. Balance and Harmony

Tree of Life tattoos often symbolize balance and harmony in life. The tree’s roots represent grounding and stability, while its branches reaching upward symbolize aspiration and expansion. It signifies the importance of finding equilibrium and living in harmony with oneself and the world.

The Celtic Tree of Life represents the balance between earthly and spiritual realms. In Chinese mythology, the phoenix and dragon associated with the Tree of Life represent the harmonious balance of yin and yang forces.

3. Connection to Nature

Tree of Life tattoos celebrate the deep connection between humanity and the natural world. They symbolize reverence for nature, the cycle of life, and our responsibility to care for the environment. It signifies our bond with the earth and the importance of living in harmony with nature.

4. Wisdom and Knowledge

The Tree of Life is often associated with wisdom, knowledge, and enlightenment. It represents the quest for understanding, self-discovery, and spiritual growth. It serves as a reminder to seek wisdom and embrace lifelong learning.

This concept can be seen in cultural references such as Buddhism, where the Tree of Life represents the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. It serves as a reminder to seek wisdom and embrace lifelong learning.

5. Interconnectedness

Symbol of Interconnectedness: The Tree of Life is often seen as a representation of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the unity of the universe. It symbolizes the intricate web of relationships and the harmony between different aspects of existence.

This concept is found in various cultures, such as Norse mythology’s Yggdrasil tree, which connects the nine realms, and Celtic mythology’s belief in the balance and interconnectedness of life.

Tree of Life Tattoo Meaning in Different Cultures

That being said, from culture to culture, the exact meaning as well as the illustration of the tree of life varies. Here’s a brief rundown of what the tree of life stands for in different cultures and religions:

In Norse Mythology

In Norse mythology, there is an ash tree called the Yggdrasil tree. It’s also called the “world tree” because it connects all nine worlds in Norse mythology. Yggdrasil is central to the cosmos and considered very holy.

In Celtic Mythology: Balance, Harmony, and the Interconnectedness of Life

To this day, the Tree of Life is an important symbol of Ireland. Ancient Celts saw the tree as representative of balance, harmony, and the interconnectedness of life.

When Celtic people found a new place to settle, they planted a tree in the middle of the new plot of land, calling it the tree of life.

In Buddhism: Tree of Awakening

For Buddhists, the Tree of Life has special spiritual significance. Buddhists believe that this is the sacred tree the Buddha sat under when he reached enlightenment. It is known as the Bodhi Tree, which means “tree of awakening.”

Tree of Life Tattoo Meaning in Christianity

For Christians, the Tree of Life first appears in the Bible’s book of Genesis. It’s in the Garden of Eden and is a source of eternal life.

However, when humans are driven from the garden, they can no longer access the tree. The tree of life does reappear in the Bible’s Book of Revelation: it is part of the garden of paradise.

In China: Immortality

In Chinese mythology, the Tree of Life is a little different. Archaeological digs in China have discovered a bronze tree sculpture, which featured a phoenix and a dragon, and it is meant to symbolize immortality.

In addition, Taoism, a Chinese philosophy, includes a story about a tree that produces a peach of immortality every 3000 years, and anyone who eats the peach will live forever.

Tree of Life Tattoo Ideas and Designs

One of the great things about the tree of life tattoos is that you can get one in just about any conceivable design. The downside is that it can be hard to choose one! Here are just a few great designs to consider:

1. Celtic or Irish Tree of Life Tattoo.

Source: Michi Harlequin Tattoo.

The Celtic tree of life is pretty easy to recognize. It features beautifully intertwined branches and roots, and the tree itself is often contained in a circle.

Dna Tree of Life Tattoo.

If you like the sciences, you’ll love this distinctive look. With this design, the tree’s roots are replaced by the double helix of a strand of DNA. DNA represents life on Earth.

A Minimalist Tree Tattoo.

If you want a simple and beautiful design, choose a minimalist tree tattoo. To make sure others can tell it’s a tree of life, choose a tree with a roughly semicircular canopy of branches. It’s also wise to make sure the roots of the tree are visible.

With the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.

If you love the sun and stars, you can incorporate them into this unique twist on the tree of life tattoo. Include a geometric moon at the bottom of the tree and a sun at the top.

In Brilliant Colors.

Some people choose all-black designs, but you can go full-color as well. You might choose a tree with green leaves or leaves in fall foliage. You can even choose a silhouetted tree against a background of brilliant color!

Tree of Life Tattoo Placements

If you want to be able to show off your tattoo in a tank top, you might consider getting a tree of life tattoo on the outside of your shoulder. This is a look that works well for most people unless you have very small arms and want a larger tattoo.

If you’re hoping to get a larger tattoo, you can place it on a thigh, calf, or on your back. Rib tattoos are also a great choice, but they might be more painful!

Should You Get a Tree of Life Tattoo?

Getting any tattoo is a highly personal choice. That being said, since tattoos are permanent, it’s wise to think it over carefully and be absolutely sure you want a tree of life tattoo before getting one. Here are some pros and cons to help you make a choice:


  • Unlike many tattoos, this one has substantial cultural meaning.
  • Even for those unfamiliar with its meaning, the tree of life makes a lovely tattoo.
  • There is plenty of different designs to choose from.


  • They can be more painful than basic or smaller tattoos.
  • Most designs are relatively intricate, so an unskilled tattoo artist can easily botch them.
  • If you place the tattoo somewhere it can’t be hidden by clothes, it may limit your ability to get jobs.
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