To read Part 1, click here.
The art of tattooing has been used for healing, rites of passage, protection and decoration for thousands of years.
The ancient healing applications of tattooing are becoming lost to history in these modern times, but they are more relevant than ever before. We see hints of this in both memorial and restorative tattooing, and I believe the power to heal is stronger than we realize. I believe that this sacred strength is still untapped. We must reconcile tattooing’s rich past with todays heart-centered tattoos true power.
For example, a person who hates their crooked teeth often refuses to smile – or covers up their mouth when they do. It’s easy to recognize the little ways that people might change their actions to hide a perceived flaw and show the world how they really feel about themselves. There are many internal and external ways that we all do this. It doesn’t help that media points them out to us daily, all the little ways we *should* feel inadequate. We are conditioned to non-acceptance to a point of not even being aware of it. Non-acceptance, and all the ways it expresses itself.
A tattoo can affect that immensely, giving way to the fact that visual reminders can strongly affect our overall quality of life. Anyone ever hear of plastic surgery? We might as well just admit it, we like to change the way we look, don’t we?
It’s nothing new though, humans have been altering their appearance since the beginning of time. It starts for each of us before we even have a say in it and then just explodes from there. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you cut or died your hair? Put on makeup? What girl doesn’t own a padded bra? Ever have braces? Those of us with the freedom to do so, love to express ourselves.
Tattooing and piercing are the simpler ways to do this because they only require one experience that creates a permanent result. The most extreme examples of this are body builders – because they are completely obsessed with changing their appearance. Each thing they bite or sip becomes an ode to their external self-expression.
Now that we can acknowledge how common self-expression really is, without judgement, we can explore the ways we can benefit from this is in the intentional tattoo process.
I just recently admitted the fact that I used to self-harm. It’s more common than we’d like to acknowledge, and by starting a conversation we can start to consider solutions – as a collective. As soon as I could tattoo, I started to design something to cover my own scars up.
Something completely magical happened to me the minute that tattoo was finished. A massive inner shift that I did not see coming. I didn’t understand how I was actually feeling about myself prior to this tattoo experience. I only really recognized it by the contrast of feeling so different afterwards. At the time, all I cared about was being able to wear shorts without people asking me about my scars.
But something even deeper was about to take place. The entire aura of that inner pain shifted to an energy of acceptance and love, freedom and joy. All of a sudden I was actually excited about life, maybe for the first time since I was a small child. I had totally rewritten that trauma! I healed that pain, it was gone entirely. It wasn’t just buried, it was… transformed.
Tattoos are a form of body art that gives each of us the ability to transform ourselves, on our terms. The outer change reflects an inner shift. It might only be recognizable in small ways that those who love us will notice – we smile more, we’re more confident, we glow differently. We recognize it, though, and that’s all that matters.