A question was asked in one of the Pagan FB groups I’m in – would you get a tattoo as dedication to your path?
I love tattoos. Absolutely love them! I love them on people, I love the feeling of getting them, I love how they can come to symbolise something beautiful. I would never consider getting a design for the sake of it – it has to have meaning to me, and I have to draw the design.
I have three tattoos. If my Muggle didn’t despise them, I’d have more. (I had one when we first met so ner nee ner) Each of my three has meaning behind it, and is special to me.
Let’s be realistic – if you don’t like tattoos, don’t get one. Don’t feel pressured into getting one because they’re the current trend. They’ve moved one from being something for sailors and bikies (in the modern Western world, that is) into works of art, sometimes regrettable designs, but more often than not ways of dedication within the Pagan community. But if you don’t want one, don’t get one! But please try not to convince those of us who love them not to get them (ie. don’t be like my husband!)
Of course, tattoos predate sailors and bikies of the Western society. Personally, I love the Maori (New Zealand) tradition of Tā moko. It’s incredibly full on in that the skin was carved by uhi (chisels) rather than punctured with tattoo needles. The strength it took the individual to sit and have this action performed on them is remarkable. I love the stories behind why they get theirs, what each line means, and how it all equates to a bigger story of their life, their family, and their history. I also work with a lot of Kiwi’s, and when the guys have their sleeves rolled up you can see some of their tattoos and designs and… love!
Within the Pagan community, many of us get them after our first Dedication (whether it be in a Coven or solitary) or to commemorate a special occasion or passing a particular stage in our lives. I was 19 when I got my first tattoo. It was a simple pentagram which the tattooist hated me for because it was circles and straight lines. After studying for two years, I finally did my own Self Initiation and Dedicated myself to the Craft. I performed a beautiful ritual in a secluded spot in the You Yangs National Park (my spot now has a BMX track through the middle of it) and got the tattoo a few weeks later.
Fast forward several years, and I got my second as the third and final part of my Dedication ritual to Herne the Hunter. I almost passed out from the pain (outlines of his antlers) and he lent me his strength. He stood behind me and gave me tge strength to push through the pain, to remember that ive not only been through wose, but that this is for him. It was awesome. My husband hates this one in particular, but it’s my favourite of the three. The tattooist hated me (again, what’s with the hate?!) because it’s “upside down.” Umm…no! It isn’t! When I raise my arms to the sky within ritual, Herne’s tattoo is the right way up. It doesn’t need to be seen when my arms are by my side. I can see it right way up, and above my head he’s the right way up. Herne and I chose this design together. There were many versions before we settled with this silhouette.
Litha last year (ie. December) I went to visit my family interstate on my own. I had a fantastic girly catch up with my sisters, I went to my beach, and I caught up with an amazing artist, Helen Wells, who inked my third tattoo. It was in celebration of completing my first semester of university with Distinction (as I failed the first time I attempted university). It represents “focused attention”. This is kinda a favourite (sorry to my pentagram, it’s all left out!) as I love the design of it. The bow is antlers, the arrow head went through a few different designs, and it’s the one tattoo that was performed within a Shamanic ritual environment.
One day, if we are ever able to have kids, I will get something for them. I don’t want words, or dates, or images for them. I know when the time comes I will create something unique for them, that won’t mean anything to anyone else but them and me.
Or I will get a connect-the-dot giraffe. No, I won’t. But isn’t it brilliant?!
Tattoos can be beautiful and meaningful. They can represent so much more than a random picture chosen off the wall of the studio. They can become works of art, stories, achievements, or acts of dedication.