The whiteness of the lily's long white petals speaks of purity, innocence, and chastity. At the same time and in other cultures, the trumpet-like flower has evoked associations of erotic love and procreation. Clearly, the lily is one of the most ambiguous of all flower symbols. Christians took possession of the symbol on the basis of the Sermon on the Mount and it's "lilies of the field" passage. Consider how beautiful they grow, though "they toil not". God provides, that's the message, and the lily emerges as a symbol of faith and surrender to god's grace. Liturgically, the lily is a symbol of Easter and of Christ himself, of resurrection and immortality. It's evocative scent, the odor of chastity.
The flower's phallic pistil and erotic fragrance made quite the opposite impression on the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. They linked the lily with fertility. It was a popular decorative motif in those ancient cultures. The female principle was artfully suggested when the lily was placed in a vase or jar, as it often was. The connection with procreation may have been behind the French royal family's decision to adopt the fleur-de-lis as their coat of arms in the 12th century. Three petals bound at the base would ensure the prosperity of the royal line.
The lily is often seen near a coffin, symbolizing death as well as purity. Because of its association with Christ, lilies are symbolic that the newly departed soul, if they have led a virtuous life of faith, will find resurrection in the hereafter. Lilies are often featured in memorial tattoo designs.
In Medieval and Renaissance art, where flower symbolism was almost a language unto itself, the Lily symbolized purity, chastity, and innocence. White lilies represented the purity of the Virgin Mary. The Angel Gabriel was often painted presenting Mary with a white lily when he announced to her that she would give birth to the Son of God.
Below you will find a gallery of inspirational images that will help you in your quest of creating the perfect Lily tattoo.
Do you need inspirational images for flowers other than the Lily? Check out the flower inspirational gallery.