As a tattoo design Flames or Fire may represent transformation, destruction, change, passion, a beacon of light and knowledge and serve as a warning to the wearer. Flames, fires and burning have often been used in religious rites and symbolism, as the smoke of the fire wafts towards the heavens it was thought to bear the wishes and prayers of the faithful. An object or sacrifice that is consumed in a fire becomes flames, heat and smoke and all that remains afterwards is ash.
The destructive power and ability of fire to destroy much in it’s path has made it both feared and revered. For while a flame may destroy something if it is not controlled, fire also gives off heat to ward off the cold, and light, to hold back the darkness. Fire and flames as symbolized in torches, beacons, urns, candles represent symbols of hope and light and knowledge.
Fire is one of the four principal elements – including Earth, Water and Wind – as well as one of the five Chinese elements. In Hinduism fire is one of five sacred elements of which all living creatures are comprised and is considered an eternal witness essential to sacred religious ceremonies.
In Christianity, fire is a symbol of the Holy Ghost and is often used in descriptions of Hell. God made his presence known to Moses in the symbol of the Burning Bush. Flames are also symbols of temptation and sin, and Satan is often depicted surrounded by flames.
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is the Titan chiefly honored for stealing fire from the gods in the stalk of a fennel plant and giving it to mortals for their use.
In Judaism fire also has great significance, candles are lit to usher in holidays and to separate Shabbat from the rest of the week, as well as to remember the dead; another important fire symbol is the Eternal Flame, which was a fire kept in the First and Second Temple that was never supposed to go out.
In mythology the Phoenix is consumed in flames and is reincarnated out of it’s own ashes. The flames are a symbol of transformation and rebirth and represent the cycle of life.
Get inspired by some great images and tattoos of different types of flames in our Flame Tattoo Gallery