I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for the longest time. The only reason I want one is for it to serve as an ammunition, a talisman, a protective symbol.
The only thing preventing me is the pain of getting one. Sure, there are those that apply anesthesia so you don’t feel the pain while it’s being done on you. But what about after it wears off?
I guess I haven’t quite reconciled with myself that the pain that one endures, whether during or after getting a tattoo, with or without anesthesia, is worth the long-lasting spiritual benefit one derives.
In The Huffington Post, Jacob D. Myers shares his insights and reflections when his wife had her first tattoo:
“My wife got her first tattoo this weekend. It’s a lovely piece, one that she’s been contemplating for most of our 14-year partnership. The wait was worth it! I myself have a number of tattoos, but the ones I’m really proud of came from a little tattoo parlor in Copenhagen, Denmark named Kunsten på Kroppen, which means, “the art on the body.” Recently, a friend who shares my theological commitments, and who bore witness to my wife’s tattoo experience, asked me about the spiritual significance of getting a tattoo. The question prompted me to reflect more deeply on the spirituality of art on the body.
Photographer Chris Ranier has contributed more than any to our understanding of tattoos as art in the truest sense — as a medium of cultural communication. In the documentary culminating his two-decades of photographing tattoos in indigenous cultures, “Tattoo Odyssey,” Ranier contends that tattoos in all cultures arise from “that basic human desire to belong, to be appreciated, and to go through some initiation process that gains an altered state of mind that says, ‘I am who I am.'” In other words, tattoos often signify one’s relationships, one’s movement beyond her daily existence to another plane of reality, and a new awareness of a person’s being-in-the-world. Tattooing, as art on the body, presents the bearer with several experiences that are rarely matched in the world, particularly the Western world.
My wife’s tattoo is a beautifully intricate floral piece by Belgian artist Dan DiMattia. When I asked what she thought about herself on the other side of the needle, she explained that her tattoo did not change her, but was an indelible expression of her journey toward her authentic self. She sees her tattoo as an outward mark of an inward journey, accessing a part of her self that had always been there. I asked her how this step along her journey made her feel and she replied, to my surprise, “Fierce!”
What then might we infer about the power of tattoos to impact one’s spirituality? The following observations are not intended to be normative; nevertheless, these musings are consistent with my own experiences and might resonate with others’ journeys as well.”
To read the entire article, click Holy Ink: The Spirituality of Tattoos.
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