Tattoos, the beginning

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why am I so fascinated with tattoos? Slowly, over the course of the past twenty years, this ancient form of body modification has moved from the edge of American culture to the center. Many, many people have one or more; and a significant subset have multiples. So it's popular; and it's vivid. I can't stop looking at them.

I'm pain-averse, and the thought of that many needle punctures over a portion of my skin gives me the willies. I came close this summer, but decided against it. I am still so fascinated, however, that I may have to get one, just for research.

I don't have the qualifications to delineate the history of this permanent form of decoration. But I can say this: it is old in human culture, going back at least to ancient Egypt, over 4 thousand years ago.

An on-line acquaintance of mine pointed out that people who get tattoos are usually people who want to have attention paid to them. I think this is true, but I know at least one person who got one who is more attention-averse than anything.

It is about decorating the self; and it's about tribal bonding. It's a marker that a person belongs, whether to a subculture, or to a particular group, and sometimes to another person. Of course, the problem with the love tattoo is it's permanence. A famous example of this in contemporary celebrity culture is Johnny Depp, whose "Winona Forever" became obsolete after their relationship ended; the tattoo became "Wino Forever."

From an energetic perspective, it's very curious. People with tattoos can have issues with the area being tattooed; it's certain that it changes the flow of energy over and around the marking. The placement of multiples can create a conjunction that points directly to a chakra: one musician I'm familiar with has two at his heart, one on a wrist, and one on the underside of the upper arm. With his arms raised, these form a direct line to the heart. Another had a series up one arm: pointing to the throat. It may be unconscious, but it's not a coincidence.