The Ink We Express Ourselves With

Niles Tattoo

The regular hosts on the YouTube channel Pagan Perspective answered a question about tattoos in August from Yucca. The question was, “Do any of you have tattoos? If so do they have any particular significance in your practice? What are your general views on the subject?” I thought this was an excellent question and decided to answer it myself on my personal channel (and here of course!).

I have one tattoo. It is a tattoo that I designed while in college and sat on for a few years before taking the leap to get it done. I always loved the idea of permanently displaying art that represented my beliefs on my skin where it would grow and change with my body. However, permanent is well, permanent. I wanted to be sure that the tattoo I got would be as meaningful after twenty years as it was the year I got it. I’ve never thought drunk tattoos or tattoos on a dare were a good idea. Such spontaneous actions do not reflect my personality well nor do they reflect the power of tattoo art well either, in my opinion.

Humans have used art to enhance their spiritual practices for centuries. Tattoos are, of course, a form of art that allows an individual to see and feel the messages of an art piece wherever they go. It’s one of the most intimate forms of art made even more special when it includes a spiritual message. Many cultures, especially Native or Shamanic ones, have used tattoos as art and spiritual enhancement within community rituals. The Tattoos can symbolize the natural world, Deities, individual spirit journeys, rites of passage, and a host of other beautiful things. I think that many in the Western world seek to recreate some of these rituals or at least meaning behind their own tattoos.

For me, my tattoo symbolizes my spiritual practice in a host of ways. I used two symbols commonly used in Celtic practices, the triquetra and triple spiral. Celtic symbols were important because that is my heritage. My brother and sister both had Celtic tattoos as well. My sister’s first tattoo was a giant Celtic knot on her back while my brother journeyed all the way to Ireland to get a Celtic Cross on his shoulder. I wanted my tattoo to tap into this family connection. The triquetra works as a reminder of the Earth, Sea, Sky; the Maid, Mother, Crone; and the Past, Present, Future. It’s a never ending knot that speaks to the cycles of nature and our world. The triple spiral reminds me of the infinite nature of the world and the mystery surrounding me. Surrendering the the power of the spiral is a way for me to tap into the energy of where I am now and what my spirit needs. Sometimes, it’s hard to explain what my tattoo really encompasses. So much thought and energy went into the design I’m never quite sure where to begin explaining.

The year my sister passed away, my life under went a great deal of changes. It was a shift moving transition. Towards the end of this transition period, as I was beginning to see where my new choices were leading me, I decided to mark this time with the tattoo design I had been sitting on for years. I saved up the money and decided to place it on my back right at my heart chakra. It’s simple and just black and white. I don’t need a showy piece that screams my beliefs out. I need something powerful and profound and reflect how I approach the world. The beauty of a back tattoo is that I can cover it for formal, work events or show it off easily. Some people sadly make judgement about tattoos. It’s nice to be able to side step those judgments.

I was unable to do the tattoo in ritual space; I didn’t know my artist well enough for that. However, I made the day as special as I could and went in full of the intentions I wanted for the tattoo. I was surprised at how minimal the pain was. There was one spot near the bone that was bothersome, but that was it. It was a fantastic experience. I’m still pleased with my tattoo today.

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