Roses are a complex flower, and a popular tattoo. Obvious symbolism may be delicate beauty or love, but there is a wealth of culture behind rose symbolism that can be different based on different elements, including color and whether or not the rose is “open.”
In mythology, Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love) was often depicted with roses adorning her head, feet, and neck. This can be interpreted many ways, but the association comes from a rose bush that grew within a pool of blood spilled by her slain lover (Adonis), and so a common interpretation is that the rose symbolizes an immortal love that withstands time and even death.
In tarot, the rose is considered a symbol of balance. The beauty of this flower expresses promise, hope, and new beginnings. It is contrasted by thorns symbolizing defense, loss, and thoughtlessness.
A yellow rose tattoo symbolizes joy, protection against envious lovers, and a mature love.
White roses symbolize purity, mysticism, and a secret admirer.
Red roses are typically thought of as symbolizing romance or passionate love, but they also represent sacrifice or memorial.
Pink roses are representative of healing, first love, and innocence.
Blue roses signify the unattainable or the impossible.
Black roses are a symbol of death and farewell. (This is not necessarily morbid; it can carry a message of memorial.)
The most deep rooted rose symbolism, and the most important when it comes to a rose tattoo, is what does this image– including the color, number, and state of the rose(s)—is personal… what does it mean to you?*