Lily tattoos are always a popular choice. The toughest part of the choice might be deciding just what kind of lily you are talking about. There are many species of lily though, with the exception of the Water Lily (discussed below), they all tend to resemble one another. Also, many types of flowers are often generically referred to as lilies.
The more traditional lily is a long stemmed garden flower with petals curling back from a horn-shaped face. This type of lily is strongly associated with the Christian tradition. Legend has it that it originally grew from the tears of Eve as she left the Garden of Eden. In artwork, the angel Gabriel is often depicted as holding a lily (or there are lilies nearby) during the visit in which he tells Mary she will give birth to Jesus. It is also used in artwork depicting any of the virgin saints. As such, the lily is generally associated with purity and chastity. Because of this connection, the lily is often paired with a sword. Together they represent the Last Judgment, and the division between the innocent and the guilty. Wouldn’t that make a nice symbolic lily tattoo? The most common lily associated with Christianity is, of course, the Easter lily. Because of its white petals, and tendency to bloom into life after a spring rain, the symbolic connection to the story of the resurrection is quite strong.
The lily is also used in a message by Jesus to demonstrate God’s love for His people. In speaking to the thousands, Jesus said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27; also Matthew 6:28)Other lily symbolism exists worldwide. In Greek mythology, the flower came from the milk of the goddess Hera as it dropped to earth (an outpouring which also created the Milky Way). In Aboriginal Australia, the (Gymea) lily symbolizes courage and perseverance. In both China and Japan, the day lily is said to dispel grief. Women wear lilies to help them forget the sorrow of a loved one’s departure.