Weeping willow tattoo meaning and symbolism (explained)

The willow tree is one of the most common species of trees in North America. The weeping willow, however, stands out from the crowd with its distinct shape which makes it one of the most popular choices when it comes to designing a tattoo.

weeping willow arm tattoo
weeping willow arm tattoo @ willowtattoovalencia

The meaning behind weeping willow tattoos

Since the tree’s branches are known to droop down, they are often associated with sadness or even depression. The association has evolved over time so that the tree is now seen as one of grief and sorrows, but it can also represent the mourning of lost loved ones.

The weeping willow represents sadness, loss, and melancholy. It’s seen as a sign that you should not be afraid to cry when you feel sad. It also symbolizes forgiveness, deep empathy for others’ pain, and sympathy.

willow tree leg tattoo

It is also the tree of knowledge, representing the quest for wisdom and dreams.

The willow tattoo meaning comes from the Celtic mythological tale about Deirdre; King Conchobar’s favorite who killed herself after she fell in love with Naoise. The willow tree in the tale is a symbol of innocence and true love.

The weeping willow also symbolizes strength, stability, and flexibility in society. It represents a person’s inner pain but how they deal with their setbacks is what makes them stronger in the end. 

When a willow grows strong amidst a storm, it becomes flexible. This attribute is an analogy for someone who has endured hardship and pain but came out stronger than ever.

colorful willow tree tattoo
colorful willow tree tattoo @tattooartbyhailey

Since the willow tree was believed to protect against lightning strikes, it also symbolizes protection against life’s harsh blows. It brings comfort to those who need some extra support.

And because the weeping willow is known as a feminine tree, it also symbolizes a woman’s natural cycles of life, death and rebirth.

The willow tree is also tied with the moon since its long branches are said to be how the tree pays homage to the moon. The weeping willow tattoo can therefore symbolize a connection with nature, spirituality, balance, and femininity.

The weeping willow meaning can also have a more creative origin, depending on the symbolism of the willow itself.

willow moon tattoo
willow moon tattoo @ tattooistmuha

What other people are saying about this tattoo

“I got my weeping willow tattoo after ending a relationship.”

“I decided on the willow tree because it’s always there in the background of my life, but I never actually pay attention to it. Maybe this will remind me to look at the world around me.”

“My tattoo is a reminder that you can’t live in the past and be unhappy with what happened. You have to keep going and think of tomorrow.”

“I got this tattoo because it’s such a beautiful and unusual tree.”

willow tree rib tattoo
willow tree rib tattoo @yeoyoungyoung

Wrap up

A weeping willow tattoo can represent a wide range of different concepts and ideas. The message you want to convey with your ink is, therefore, vital in choosing the right design and incorporating symbolism that makes sense to you.

But for most people, it is often an ode to their loved ones who have passed away since the tree is often associated with sorrow.