Dove tattoo signifies rebirth, spiritual growth and peace


Cory Howard’s tattoo is a symbol of the faith and spiritual rebirth she experienced this last year. 

Tattoos can be conversation starters, impediments to employment opportunities and projections of a person’s unique style and beliefs. They are so common on college campuses, they may seem mainstream and even negligible, but each tattoo has a meaning or story behind it that is worth hearing.

For Cory Howard, a freshman at St. Edward’s University, the tattoo on the back of her neck is a reminder of her faith and spiritual rebirth that occurred in reaction to the personal growth that she experienced this past year.

On a day in late January of this year, Howard entered Platinum Tattoo, a parlor in San Antonio, anticipating the brutal, relentless pain of the needle in hopes that expecting the worst would make the pain tolerable. Her strategy worked. The pain level was bearable, though it did spike when the artist crossed her spine with the needle.

“I distinctly remember feeling a vibration down my whole spine,” Howard said. For only $60 and a sore neck, Howard walked out of the parlor satisfied with a quality tattoo.

It is an inverted descending Holy Spirit dove, the dove symbolizing peace, tranquility and rebirth, the descension symbolizing the Holy Spirit coming down from Heaven to Earth. Howard decided to have the dove inverted, facing upward to represent her newborn spirit “in flight and full of life.” She discovered the dove in the eighth grade when her grandmother gave her a James Avery necklace depicting the symbol that had belonged to Howard’s great grandmother.

Howard has no regrets about getting inked, despite having to endure her mother’s initial disapproval as well as her high school psychology teacher’s jokes about her becoming a deviant. When asked if she recommends others to get tattoos, she explains that it is a personal preference, but advises to consider it for at least a year before acting on it. She also warns that tattoos are addicting. Since getting the ascending Holy Spirit dove, she has gotten another tattoo on her ankle and is considering getting one more on her wrist. Tattoos with interesting meanings like Howard’s decorate the Hilltop. Engaging in conversation about them can connect students and initiate some stimulating and inspiring ideas.