POPPY: meanings, stories, myths, symbologies

what is the meaning of a poppy tattoo?

the mythology with the poppy has really indulged itself, perhaps because it is red and goliardic and attracts so much attention, whether you want it or not

and so the wireless telephone of history has mixed the cards, pieces have been lost and new ones are added and the poppy has become a mythological being, with the most absurd and extravagant meanings

in this article I will tell you about fifteen, famous or not


what is the meaning of the poppy?

it has a thousand of meanings and maybe I haven’t discovered some yet, because the smile of a poppy is not afraid even of a concrete pitch

here are some of them:

  • RED
  • HIGHWAY and determination


but first of all, a story:

I was born and raised in a bookstore and, for most of my life, I believed in the fairy tale narrated by the world:

you must be perfect like Barbie even when your life sucks like Cinderella’s, then Prince Charming will come to rescue you from Shrek, you’ll marry a super hot Iron Man while hearing birds and the Seven Dwarfs singing in the background… and, in the end…. Everyone lived Happily Ever After in Neverland!!!

but that’s not true ^_^

and I wasn’t aware of that, so during the first 29 years of my life I’ve been following those paths created by those automatic programmes that the world was drawing in my mind, following the stereotypes of the medias, and I’ve been waiting for my Iron Man to take me to Neverland on a white horse

[I was so cute, wasn’t I?]


then, in November of 2014 something changed: EVERYTHING


the crystal world that I’d been building for years broke up into little pieces,

and it was the most amazing smash that could ever happen to my life

I started accepting myself and I took off the veil, a veil that, till then, I didn’t even know I was

wearing. I stopped hiding myself, I stopped playing hide-and-seek with myself

in this scenario, my avant-garde vision of the world started to pop-up

and I recognized the Poppy as my totem


through the column “why a poppy?” I will give a voice to the revolution that took place inside of me




there is a poppy, among all the species, that contains opium

which is stored inside the poppy’s seed capsules. It’s necessary to cut the unripe capsule

in order to get the opium from the inside

because if it gets ripe, the poppy will lose all its well-known powers

just like humans: once we grow up, we lose every glimmer of reason

because we are driven by the mental patterns of a society which is way too far from us

the poppy doesn’t take drugs
the poppy is THE drug

it contains a series of alkaloids

which make you see the world from a different perspective that you never noticed before

. That no one ever noticed before .

How many people, before us, changed the world with a poppy by their side?

Leonardo Da Vinci – to name but one – was one of them.

It’s said that his madness was the cause of his genius … In my opinion, it was his genius to drive him crazy: too much information, too much disappointment coming from a world that was too far behind him… so, opium helped him to take a break from a reality considered unworthy or unsatisfactory

was him just another fool?

Another one was .Picasso., who was also able to depict the world in a brand-new way…


how beautiful would it be to be a poppy?


and to have, deep inside, the possibility of seeing things from another perspective,

in a different way from the rest of society or just in a different way from how we saw things yesterday, or one hour ago

without social prejudices, perhaps

but, most importantly, to have, deep inside, the possibility of allowing others to see things from another perspective, in a different way from usual,

a new hope

maybe we just need to find the way, like Da Vinci and Picasso

maybe there’s a way to help people seeing new things

(but till we all find it out, a poppy – still unripe – will be destroyed, cut, injured, squeezed, emptied, insulted…

what about you, are you ready?)


tattoo for CHILDHOOD

if I say PAPAVERO – which is the equivalent of POPPY in Italian – I am pretty sure that the first logical association made by the average Italian speaker is related to a childhood song:

Papaveri e Papere”, which literally means poppies and ducklings,

and I’m pretty sure about this

because it’s the song that your grandpa used to sing to you… and that you used to sing with him


“lo sai che i papaveri son alti alti alti

e tu sei piccolina

sei nata paperina,

che cosa ci vuoi far?!”
(do you know that poppies are very very tall
and you are very tiny
a duckling you were born,
what can you do?!)


the grandpa of many of us, I believe

this song is part of our Italian childhood and it involuntarily recalls the light-heartedness that is typical of children: the sunny days in the countryside, the affection of your grandparents… and those silly questions that – with a smile – every child asks their grandpa with a smile


“La papera al papero disse:

Papà, pappare i papaveri, come si fa?”
(The duckling said to father drake
Dad, how can you gobble poppies?)


and you smile for a moment

remembering those values you grew up with
(and perhaps you even ask yourself if your grandpa would be proud of you, and if you made some bad decisions without him…)

do you still remember those values?

and you dive into the past: a caress to the wheat with the hand, a hug to grandpa, the mud on the toys

and that taste of simplicity that today you can barely see hidden



“Ma questo romanzo ben poco durò

Poi venne la falce che il grano tagliò

E un colpo di vento i papaveri in alto portò”
(But this romance lasted little
Then the sickle came to cut the wheat,
And a gust of wind brought the poppies away)



tattoo for RELIEF

as I anticipated in episode 2 I will now talk about the second Google result for the meaning of Poppy

The story goes like this: Demeter, the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, regained her serenity after her daughter’s disappearance only by sipping infusions made from poppy petals


a good opioid infusion, a bit of morphine here and there…. And everything would be easier!

Better than supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

♫ A spoonful of opium helps the medicine go down! ♫


in Great Britain, during WWI, people used to create poppy garlands to remember and celebrate those soldiers who lost their lives for the country.

The news of the death was given to the families together with a bag full of poppy petals that would be used to make an infusion

to sweeten the medicine

and to give a little help with the mourning process


because we all need something to hold on to in order to move on

and, sometimes, even the half-smile we have when we see a field full of red flowers,

those flowers growing everywhere

– at the edges of the railway, amid the stones – will be enough


“relief” doesn’t always have a negative connotation

we need to relieve ourselves by considering that even if something just went wrong, there are many other things we should take care of, things that are way more important and closer to us,

whose presence we often take for granted


and as soon as we lose them, they turn into our biggest regret

relieve yourself, eyes forward

take a look around

look deep inside yourself

you’re there, together with yourself




when you see a poppy field, an infinite red carpet, you can just admire it

smile and for a moment free your mind from all your thoughts, poppy’s positive character stays with you for a while


for sure, it’s contagious

if the first year you saw only one poppy in that rest area of the highway

after one year you’ll see ten

after two, there will be a whole field of poppies


because poppies don’t like to be alone,

they know that union means strength

and it’s contagious

and it’s invasive


and maybe we should be observing them more often, in this way we’ll be also infected by their willpower which is so placid and calm, so lovely

infected by the accidental smile that they cause

infected by life that runs fast and that will also fade fast

infected by their simplicity of their shape, so simple but also overwhelming

infected by all those nuances a poppy hides in its colour


infected to infect back in turn

that’s why I started drawing poppies

and then making tattoos

and paintings of poppies

and graffiti representing this amazing flower on grey walls

because I was infected and I want to infect back in turn



tattoo for the DEATH

How would you like to die?

in my bed, without suffering

maybe while I sleep, inebriated by that glass of wine I just had

It might be fast and plain

maybe I’d still be young. I wish I wouldn’t have to wait forever, because people get bored then…

It would be a dream to fall asleep like that



Just like a poppy, standing proud and healthy for all its days and then, one morning, a petal suddenly withers, and, in a minute, it slips away

There will just be an empty skeleton in the middle of a stunning green field…

the good news is that, at that stage, the poppy has already left its ripe seeds somewhere

The poppy did its job, and you?



nothing of a poppy goes to waste, just like with pigs

so, during spring, when you find poppies in a green field,

and you pick them up, you can prepare a fresh salad and season it with lemon

or, when they’re ripe, you can cook them in a frying pan with olive oil, garlic and chilli pepper

if you cut its unripe part, we already know what happens, I already mentioned the treasure you can find there

and the seeds?

Shall we put them on the bread? We can also add them to a salad or prepare a precious oil

And the stems? What, really? YES, YOU CAN EAT THEM TOO!

You can chop them up – as you do with parsley…

And what about the petals? They can be eaten as well!

added to a salad, but with moderation, they’re very intense for the liver!


It’s better to use them to prepare an infusion, it helps to sleep better and to relax mind and body

the dye obtained by the petals can also be used as a paint for lips and cheeks: that vivid red

colour lights up the pale skin and fills it with joy after a cold winter


but when you don’t manage to obtain it…

it’s better to not insist… It’s not worth to throw your pearls before the pigs, because the pigs won’t care, and they’ll keep tumbling across the mud…

you don’t have to feel sad about it

even if it’s sad to think about how many narrow-minded people you can find during your path, walking in the streets like homo sapiens



one of the worst things in life is a wasted talent…

it’s such a shame

so use your life, all of it

don’t throw away a single piece of it

and as for the pig, as for the poppy, don’t waste a single day of your life


live today as if it was your last day, who knows what may happen tomorrow?

so do your best to feel alive

don’t fall in the routine of waking up every morning and doing the same thing, because even today… you’re alive


tattoo for FEMALE

Did you ever observe a poppy from above?

Didn’t you notice anything?

does it remind you of something?


Where is your mischief? Where did you leave it?

dear people, mischief is the spice of life, you can’t eat an unseasoned meal in this short life of yours

I’ll tell you:

the poppy has two soft central petals which are symmetrical and

straight, they’re half-closed to give you a glimpse of its nucleus

full of pistils, those thin black nerve endings

In the external part, there are two more petals, which hide and protect the central ones

in the same way that lips hold a secret


those petals are red like the flesh when it’s merry and live


In the central petals there’s the most precious and hidden part of the poppy

the most sensitive and delicate one

that carries its most important emotions

and then, there’s the stem: a line going straight to the centre of the world


Now, does it ring a bell?

oh yes, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about

The female

The most feminine flower

for whoever feels like it, and for whoever loves it


tattoo for the DETERMINATION


Highway, you stop in a rest area, it’s empty. There are just dead weeds, cement, heat and smog

BUT, you can spot a shiny red poppy, which was brave in hope and strong enough to break the asphalt

and despite its delicate and tender bud, the poppy was able to break everything:

layers and layers of tar and gravel, just cracked, from all that, a small poppy managed to blossom

now it’s as shiny as the sun

and it’s right there, lighting and giving some colour to the infinite greyness

maybe this can be a cool fairy tale for us all

we see ourselves so delicate and tender, but we don’t see that all this sweetness and love for life it’s exactly what can crack the cement and make room for a gash of shiny and red life, that can contrast all the stubbornness that surrounds us



tattoo for INK-ADDICTED


I’m pretty sure that, during childhood, you used to tear the petals off the poppy in order to reach its nucleus. That black star-shaped part could leave a stain on your t-shirt and inside your soul

The coolest part was to squash that little star to get a black stain on the fingers

the black sign remained on your hands…

making you feel like a real gangster of the snack’s gang

that was our first childhood tattoo

so innocent

this happened before we could even have access to ink and needles

but still, we were already developing our inexplicable attraction to those stories on the skin



I don’t know how many of you have ever tried it, but in ancient times somebody used this technique before us

in fact, the inner part of the poppy was used to… guess what?? To make tattoos!

It was used for those holy and shamanic tattoos that had to be deserved, because life sucks, but you don’t give up

It wasn’t used for those cheap and ready tattoos that you can buy in the supermarket, which are not unique

anyways… since we were children,

ink entered in our skin, to express ourselves


NO GLOBAL tattoo


The poppy is a wildflower

You can’t find it in a flower shop, and I hope you never will

You can’t buy it

it hasn’t been polluted by society, commercialised by mass production.


The poppy is still an authentic and simple flower

that lives in the countryside on its own

It blooms from spring into early summer

you can’t have it whenever you want, you can only wait for it to blossom

you can observe it, admire it

and be delighted by its bright colour, which lights up smiles

you can’t pick it up

you can’t put it in a vase like you do with roses or with any other flower



the stem – so stable and proud – would immediately wither

and fall apart, together with its bright petals

you can’t pick up beauty

you can’t pick up happiness

you can just stop to observe it or taste it

you can’t buy all those feelings like you buy flowers at the florist’s

and, likewise, you can’t buy a poppy

The poppy is not for sale

you can’t buy it with a MasterCard, like everything else


Poppies grow in the fields very quickly, they become a huge red carpet trying to twist the décor of the world. They make you want to lie down and look at the sky and wonder what shapes of clouds is planning to pass by your piece of sky.

(“if only we had time” – that’s what we say in these cases…
but who knows what time is, after all?
perhaps if we tried to understand it, we could find the answer and then we could also find
the time to be happy, couldn’t we?)



RED tattoo


Red as the joy of drinking a glass of wine

and the colour of roses and love


as your cheeks after the orgasm

and the colour of your lips after eating strawberries

Red as the colour of the people running through our veins and shaking us

and filling us of anger and love for our life (even if life sucks)



as the sky when the sun goes down

Red as the colour that lights even the coldest soul, even your soul



tattoo for Morpheo and the RELAX


if you google the meaning of Poppy, you’ll have these two results: The first one regards the myth of Morpheus and, the second one is about relief

Morpheus is known as the god of sleep: in Greek mythology he is depicted with a huge bunch of poppies in his hands

So, he is the god of sleep

but his figure doesn’t mean: “go home, get some rest, sleep well and have sweet dreams”


it’s more like: “let’s see if in this life we manage to get some rest!”

and to find those instants of the day to love ourselves, taking some time for us, in order to relax, to slow things down

and to idle in a state of oblivion

This is a hymn to the rest of the warrior

that can feed your soul, give you a more relaxed and focused point of view and give you the amount of attention you deserve

(if you do deserve it)



so now let’s talk about the care of the self…

lying down with the legs in the air, holding a warm infusion of poppy petals in the hands: a good recipe to sleep good, free the mind and to switch all the negative thoughts off

let’s try to love ourselves for a second

let’s try to focus for a second

let’s try to say “fuck you” to the world, for a second

maybe after we start to breathe again,

the light-heartedness of Morpheus and his poppies will be ours, as well

NOTE: procrastination is something else, isn’t it? let’s not mess things up 



tattoo for SIMPLICITY

The poppy is such a simple flower:

Its four taut and smooth petals would seem fragile, Its red colour is so flat and unique, Its stem – so straight and thin – is a bit hairy, It doesn’t have thorns or contortions, it doesn’t have secrets in a nutshell, it doesn’t have any particular charm


and yet, its strength resides right there


What it takes to be strong, it’s right there.

In its simplicity

The truth

The proud spirit

Not even the wind can pull down those four simple petals

nor can it slightly bend that little hairy stem

and one single colour – without any shades – is enough to overwhelm your mind and your eyes with its majestic and mesmerizing strength

if you see a field of poppies, you can do nothing but smile, even if till that moment you were worried about the traffic

but even when you see just one poppy on the roadway, it would have the same effect on you




We don’t need those long materialistic fairy tales from consumerism,

we are enough, with no-frills

we are enough

even if we have only four unicolour and smooth petals and a thin stem

we can still make the world turn in our direction

we can change its thoughts at least for a second

we don’t need the information spread by the media

we are enough

if we are proud and we strive for our inner beauty (if we have it)

(and we should strive for our inner beauty fast, because one day we’ll be old, the fairy tale will end and if there’s no beauty inside of you, well…)



only one meaning that is missing is: THE REVOLUTION
that need an article only for him


END. for now, at least

with love, but always rock