Trees have been considered special and even sacred across the globe since the beginning of time.
And there’s no wonder why!
Trees tower above us providing shelter from the rain, shade on hot days, and beautiful shadows as the sun gets lower in the sky.
There’s something awe inspiring about trees, and as we’ve learned more and more about them, there’s more science to back up how amazing they are.
Trees clean the air we breathe.
They also talk to each other through their roots using a complex fungi system.
Trees can share resources, warn each other about attacks, or even sabotage rivals.
Though there’s more information coming out all the time about trees, it seems we’ve always intuitively known there was something different about them.
The tree of life is a symbol in many more mystical religions. In short, the tree of life symbolizes inter-connectivity on a divine level.
In Celtic mythology, different types of trees were looked at for spiritual guidance.
Different trees had different meanings, and are still known in Celtic regions for their mystical properties.
Greek Mythology believed that there were human like beings living inside of, or inhabiting the space around, trees.
These beings were known as dryads and belong under the umbrella of “nymphs” in ancient Greek myths.
As people have had a fascination with Greek myths since their inception, dryads are a very popular tattoo choice.
The nice thing about a dryad tattoo is there’s no one way to depict a dryad, so you can put your own spin on the design.
What Is A Nymph?
Unfortunately, when most people think of the term “nymph” they associate it with nymphomania.
Calling someone a “nymphomaniac” is a way of putting a negative spin on their free spirited sexuality.
Nymphs are a group of magical women in Greek mythology who are said to inhabit different parts of nature.
They are often depicted as naked, which makes some people view them as sexually deviant beings.
The truth is, nymphs are naked because they are from nature.
They don’t see their nudity as particularly sexual or not sexual, it’s just the natural state we’re all born into.
A nymph is someone who lives free, liberated from ideas of “good” or “bad” behavior.
This may make them more sexually free than the average person, but they are not destructive or deviant.
Perhaps just a little cheeky if anything.
A dryad may be depicted as the spirit of a tree, a woman living in a tree, or a woman living in the woods in general.
Dryads are woodland dwelling magical folk. Hamadryads are specifically tree nymphs, though the terms “dryad” and “Hamadryad” are fairly interchangeable now.
Some other types of nymphs include:
Alseids: Grove dwelling nymphs.
Hydriads: Water nymphs.
Oceanids: Nymphs of the ocean.
Napaea: Nymphs from the valley.
Oreads: Mountain nymphs.
If a dryad tattoo is not for you, but you still like the idea of a nymph tattoo, there are a number of possibilities.
You can immortalize your unique relationship with one aspect of nature.
What Do Dryad Tattoos Symbolize?
Because so many religions and traditions have embraced trees as divine beings, there are many people with tree tattoos.
Some may choose the tree of life, others may want Christian imagery in their tree tattoo.
It’s an image that can mean so many things to so many people.
As for dryads specifically, they remain mysterious creatures to this day.
A dryad as a semi divine being. it has a long life span, but is mortal.
If a tree dies, the dryad may die with it.
Dryads are seen as wise because of their long life spans, and fierce because of their dedication to protecting their earthly homes.
You may call dryads the original “tree huggers!”
This is a term that gets thrown around to describe someone who loves the earth, but it actually has a tragic and significant meaning.
It all started in 1730, when a group of Hindu people wrapped their arms around the trees in their village.
Builders were clearing the area to build a new palace, and killed the protesters in order to do so!
Though this was a brutal act- the tree huggers did accomplish something.
It became illegal after that incident for trees to be cut down in that region.
Since then, there have been countless protests of a similar nature worldwide.
The war between nature and commerce wages on.
Common Themes In Dryad Tattoos
Though every dryad tattoo is different, there are some common themes.
A dryad is often depicted as part of the tree itself.
Usually the trunk of the tree is a nude woman’s torso, with the branches being her arms, and the leaves extending from her head.
Often the women in dryad imagery are depicted as being curvaceous, an ode to older paintings of nymphs.
Curvaceous bodies are often thought of as earthy and natural.
Some may choose a lighter, more pixie-ish body type for their nymph tattoo.
Typically these tattoos are in black and grey with perhaps hints of brown or green.
They aren’t usually very colorful tattoos- this is likely because the black and grey allows for some beautiful texture in the bark of the tree.
That being said, a colorful dryad tattoo is magical to look at.
Things To Consider Before Getting A Dryad Tattoo
Why a dryad?
When you know what this image means to you- you’ll have a better understanding of what you want it to look like.
Not sure if a Dryad tattoo is for you?
Check out our gallery below for some gorgeous inspiration.