While perusing some of my favorite Pagan blog sites, I came across a little tidbit referring to an on-line article which discussed the spiritual side of body art. Upon reading this article, I found it to be quite interesting, informative, and well-written. While it begins with a bit of background about the spiritual connotations of tattooing, most of the article is a question-and-answer interview with “Madame Lazonga” – a Seattle based tattoo artist who has long been advocating the importance of tattooing in people’s quest to connect with the Divine.
You can read this article for yourself by clicking on this link:
Interestingly, I think that there is a lot of truth to what Madame Lozonga has to say. Certainly, you will find tattoos to be fairly prevalent in the Pagan Community. Go to a Pagan Gathering, and I can almost guarantee that at least half the people there will be sporting a tattoo somewhere on their body. And the odds are, those tatts will in some way be reflecting their spirituality – whether it be pentacles or moons or celtic knotwork or the Goddess/Green Man.
This of course, begs the question – “so Osh…do YOU have a tattoo?”
Indeed I do…although it took me some time to work up my courage and conquer my aversion to needles.
Although I was ordained as a High Priestess in the Summer of 1984, and was given the opportunity at that time to get a free tattoo as an ordination gift, I turned down the generous offer and accepted a custom-made ring instead. I was still in my cowardly lion stage at that point.
It wasn’t until eight years later that I finally joined the ranks of the Painted Pagans. By that time I was living in Pennsylvania, where I was Executive Director of a non-profit agency serving deaf and hard of hearing consumers. One day, after doing a presentation to a women’s service organization a few towns over, I was driving leisurely through the countryside on my way home when I spied a sign that said “Tattoo Shop.”
A tattoo parlor here in this itty-bitty one-traffic-light country town in the middle of Amishland, USA??? This I had to see!!! So I pulled over and parked the car, and went to investigate. After putting it off all these years, I was beginning to seriously contemplate getting a tattoo – undoubtedly prompted by my Deaf friend Lucy, who sported a number of them on her own body. I was still nervous about the needles and the pain, but she assured me that “it really isn’t that bad.” Hmmmmpphhhh.
It turned out this tattoo shop was owned and operated by a woman, who was very friendly and pleasant to talk to. She showed me around, explained the procedure, and answered my questions. She told me that I could either pick a design from one of the books, or bring in my own design and she would be happy to tattoo it for me. This appealed to me, because I did in fact have a certain design in mind. After a little more discussion, we set up an appointment and I went home to contemplate my fate.
A few days later, I showed up for my appointment, with my special design in hand. I was greeted by my friendly tattoo artist (whose name I can no longer remember), who then introduced me to her male student, who was doing his “apprenticeship” in her shop in preparation for getting his own tattoo license. This gentleman was very polite and a bit flustered about the fact that on his very first day, he was going to be helping his instructor put a tattoo on a woman’s naked breast. I reassured him that I didn’t have any problems with it…”all in a day’s work.” Besides, when you’ve seen one boob, you’ve seen them all.
The actual tattooing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…it really didn’t hurt that much. Of course, the location might have had something to do with that – I’ve been told that the breast area is less painful than say…your ankle or pelvic area (or any place where the needle is close to the bone). Once it was all over, I had a chance to inspect the results, and I must say I was quite pleased. It wasn’t the easiest of designs, although it wasn’t that difficult compared to others I have seen. Nearly sixteen years later, I’m still pretty proud of it – take a look for yourself:
Yup, it’s a Celtic Knotwork design..sort of a fleur-de-lis shape. Actually, it is a modification of the design that is often found on the end tips of the Celtic Cross that can be seen in cemeteries all over the British Isles. I’m Celtic myself on both sides of the family, and I feel a strong bond to my Celtic heritage. I’m interested in all things Celtic – the culture, the history, the mythology, the language (Gaelic). And of course, the spirituality. While I consider myself eclectic, I do have a strong interest in the Celtic Path, and have been focusing more on Celtic Wicca, Shamanism, and Druidism in recent years.
I like the representation of the three petals of the flower, as three is a sacred number for many Pagans. Three represents the triple aspect of the Goddess – Maiden, Mother, and Crone…it represents the three phases of the moon – waxing, full, and waning…it represents the three aspects of an individual – body, mind and spirit.
So yes…my tattoo is a reflection of my spirituality, and my own personal connection with the Divine. The interlaced pattern with its unbroken lines symbolizes my own pilgramage in this life – both the quest to return to my own divine source, and the spiritual growth that occurs during such a quest.
Will I get another tattoo? For a long time I was content to just have this one, but lately I have been considering adding a second one. I’ve had the design I want for some time. It’s a bit more elaborate and complicated than the Celtic Knotwork on my breast – which means more time, more money, and likely more pain (ouch!) I need to establish a “tattoo fund” to start putting away the bucks for it, and then find a good tattoo artist who can render it justice on my lower back.
Maybe I’ll give Madame Lazonga a call.
to see more pictures of tattoos, and to read more about
Ocean’s thoughts on Paganism and tattoos,
check out her more recent posts:
if you look carefully, you can see Ocean’s tattoo on her upper left breast