Falling Angel

The tattoo in this post has me stumped.  It comes from the religious and mythological tattoo gallery, and when I look at it, I see two different things, yet both have similar meanings.

On one hand, I see a falling angel, which naturally evokes the tale of the Morning Star, Lucifer.  Depending on which version you’re familiar with, the Lucifer myth is often tied to ambition and downfall.  When Lucifer rebelled against heaven, taking on God and the angels loyal to her, his ambition led to him and his followers being thrown out of heaven, to spend eternity in hell.  The artists Bosch and Dore both have created images depicting the fall, which bear a similarity to the falling angel in the tattoo.

On the other hand, I can see this being an image of Icarus, and not the happy little guy with a bow from the NES game.  Like the Lucifer story, Icarus tried to reach beyond his abilities which lead to his fall, and eventual death.  Only in this case, Icarus was ignoring his father’s words of warning about flying to close to the sun, and ended up having his wings melt.


So what do you think is being depicted?  Is this an angel falling from heaven, or someone who flew too close to the sun?  Or is it something else entirely?

17 thoughts on “Falling Angel

  1. Its is Icarus. He flew too close to the sun and the wax holding his wings together melted and he fell to his death. He did this against his fathers warning.

  2. If Icarus’ wings burned/melted and that’s why he fell… well. I don’t think it’s Icarus because the wings are clearly intact.

    Modblog needs a facelift, really badly.

  3. I love how both the Lucifer and Icarus myths speak of a stunting of ambition. One might say they’re meant to keep us from aiming too high, to keep hubris in check. But I see them as lessons from overlords telling us we shouldn’t strive for things above our station in life. F*ck that. Where would we be without ambition and those who strive for greatness when others around them think them crazy?

  4. I’d guess Lucifer, since the wings don’t look melty or made of wax. Beautiful tattoo.

  5. Sorry for the double-post there– didn’t know my first one went through! We didn’t want to go with a melty look because I didn’t want it to look sloppy. Instead, the feathers are a little burnt-looking and have some chunks missing out of them, and there are feathers floating all up my side to give the impression that the wings are falling apart. I actually have never considered the parallel to the Lucifer story. Most people ask if this is my “guardian angel”– annoying. The Lucifer story is an interesting way to interpret this illustration, though.

  6. You referred to God as “her”.

    You rule!

    I’m mentally sending you a virtual double-double and chocolate- dip doughnut!

  7. The myth of Icarus is my favorite Greek myth. I love this so much. And the finished piece looks great!

  8. I think both ,myths tell a similar story. I don’t know that I think it’s truly important (to the viewer) which it was meant to be.

  9. I never thought I’d meet someone who has an Icarus tattoo that I like almost as much as my own. This is mine, sorry the pics suck.


    Its based on this image, though Icarus is on his way up in mine: http://imgur.com/U24Q6

    My interpretation of the myth is similar to what Jon P said above. If your dream is to touch the sun, there is a beauty in giving everything you have and risking it all to achieve it, regardless of what happens.

  10. I actually got this tattoo before I started my freshman year at college. I interpreted the Icarus story as a warning– don’t make rash decisions, listen to the advice of people who might know better than you, don’t get carried away in situations where you’re having a blast but could end up getting into a world of trouble. I basically wanted to remind myself to always keep my head on straight.

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