I know from my years of tattooing that feathers are pretty damn popular! Especially with girls, although I have tattooed them on guys too. They do make great tattoo designs and they can be tattooed in a huge range of styles and are just a nice looking design in general. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with a feather.
The most common meaning given to feathers is due to the fact that they come from birds and bird are a symbol is freedom due to their ability to fly freely wherever they want. However there is a lot more to them that this if you’re looking for alternative or a deeper meaning.
The instances of feather symbolism throughout history generally refer to some sort of spiritual ascension. Native Americans wore feathers to symbolize their connection to the spirit world and show their wisdom. Also in Native American culture feathers were representative of the thunder gods and the wind and the air.
In Celtic culture the Druids would also wear feathers, this time in the form of feather robes. They believed that by wearing the feathers they could ascend to a spiritual world in the presence of the sky gods. So more sky related god stuff just like the Native Americans.
Yet again, more sky gods for the Egyptians who used feathers to represent the sky gods too. Bit weirder though this time. Ma’at, who was the Egyptian goddess of justice, would take the heart of someone who just kicked the bucket and weigh it against the weight of a feather. She did this to judge their soul. Bit of an unfair test if you ask me but maybe gravity works differently in the ancient Egyptian afterlife? More likely it’s a metaphor for having a “heavy heart”, which I think is some great symbolism. Get a feather/heart tattoo and you have a nice metaphor for having a light hearted, carefree outlook on life.
The Christian symbolism is pretty awesome too. Three feathers together symbolizes charity, hope and faith. They used to use this symbol on signets rings which they pressed into wax to seal their letters. If you got a letter from someone with the three feather symbol it was supposed to mean that the writer of the letter is a virtuous person.