Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sacred Tattoos

Tattoos on Pinterest
A tattoo is a permanent affirmation that should be taken in a serious and sacred way, said my tattoo artist. Whether you know it or not, it will influence your path the rest of your life.

For all its recent popularity, a tattoo is more than an adornment or a fashion statement. The entire process—the idea, designing, placement and receiving—is an initiation.

Something is evoked.

When approached with clear intention and reverence, one can’t help but be transformed.

Tattoos on Pinterest
From the Inuit peoples of Alaska to the Mayans of South America, from thousands of men and women gathering at temples in Thailand to the current mainstream renaissance, tattooing has always carried a powerful message.

Historically, the it seems the Egyptians developed the technique and spread it to Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia. Four thousand years ago, tattooing followed the Silk Road to China and Japan. In 1991 a 5,200 year old mummy was found between Austria and Italy with over 57 tattoos—lines and dots thought to be used for healing as their placement corresponded to acupuncture meridians. The ‘Ice Maiden’ discovered in the Altai Mountains in 1993 is 2,400 years old. She has tattoos of mythical creatures including elk with twisting horns that turn into flowers.

Tattoos have multiple meanings both symbolic and literal. They can indicate rank, expertise in battle craft or sport, membership to a group or a connection to the divine. They can carry healing or protective spells—the tattoo artist channeling the energy of the animal or symbol into the person as it is given.

The elaborate tattoos of the Polynesian cultures are an initiation and feature geometric designs, curves and dots which can cover the whole body. Following James

Tom Hardy
Cook’s expedition to Tahiti in 1769, the islanders’ term ‘tattau,’ (to hit or strike), or possibly ‘tatu’ (to make a mark) gave us the western term ‘tattoo.’ The art then became fashionable among Europeans, (after being banned by Pope Adrian I in the 6th century AD) particularly so with sailors and coal-miners, occupations carrying high risk. Their tattoos of anchors and miner’s lamps were considered to have amulet-like protection.

After going underground for almost a century, the art of tattooing has reemerged in mainstream western culture. More and more people are getting ‘ink’ for personal reasons. For me, each tattoo represents a change in my life, an expansion of awareness, a shifting perspective. They are expressions of reverence for the images and ideals associated with them.

As my artist says, Getting a tattoo is a discipline involving physical, psychological and spiritual awareness. If any one of these elements is taken out of context, then the wholeness and true quality of the image is lost.

I've translated this idea not only into my own life but to that of the characters in my Quantum Enchantment Series where tattoos are the key to not only identity and clan, but the unraveling of worlds. SuperNaturalUnderground author Jaime Rush has used the notion of the tattoo in extraordinary ways in The Hidden series. Have you read her books yet?  Talk about a Dragon tattoo!

Does anyone have a tattoo story or image to share? Best ink on a character, or star? We'd love to hear them!

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, YA and epic science fantasy novels. She also co-directs Good Vibe Astrology, an online astrology and law of attraction gathering.

You can find out more about Kim at or on the 11th House Blog. She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month. Her latest release is Supernatural Underground: Vampires Gone Wild.   


Tina Wainscott said...

Love the article, Kim! And MWAHs for the mention. I had such fun with my tattoos! And your awesome books definitely showcase the significance and beauty of tattoos.

A friend wrote a fictional account of James Cook's expedition, and the cultural aspects
were fascinating!

Kim Falconer said...

Jaime, How could I NOT mention The Hidden when, you know, those tattoos of yours! And it totally resonated with my use of 'Ink' in the QE series.

I imagine that historical fiction of James Cook would be fascinating!

Thanks for dropping in!

Unknown said...

Darling! No mention of the Brits. The Romans originally called it Pritani thinking that the people painted themselves but they were tattooed with woad or ash. Many Roman soldiers thought it beautiful and wanted tattoos themselves but the government made it illegal. This obscure law was passed down the aeons and it states that it is illegal to tattoo the face or hands because it is to deface the property of the Crown. Pfft to that! Grand article x

Unknown said...

Good article -thank you!
I have a gallery of tattoos created ritually and/or with magical intent here:

Kim Falconer said...

Ly, Thank you! Your comments make the article more complete!

And can I say, I will forever appreciate and cherish your presence at my first tattooing. Love you!!!

Kim Falconer said...

Orryelle, thank you for including your gallery, and for dropping in.