Ancient Art Of Hand Tattooing
Hand tattooing refers to the art of putting ink into skin, not onto. It's the ancient way, machine free. It's perhaps more personal, more intimate. And it's a method that returns organic body marking to its tribal roots.
Yes, we are all tribal. All of us. We all have our heritage grounded in the rich, life-giving soil of the earth; hence we are also indigenous.
I am a tattooed woman who walks the earth. The permanent markings on my body tell a story, connecting me with my ancestors, those who have gone before. On my father's side my roots go back to the Picts, a tribal confederation of people who lived in Northern Scotland long before the Romans or the Christians invaded the land. It is believed that they marked their bodies with beautiful symbols and designs. Perhaps they were permanent tattoos. Perhaps they were merely painted on. Perhaps by connecting with them as ancestors we can find answers.
In rune lore it is said that the Berkana rune should be carved upon the wrists of a woman in labor to ease the birth of the child. Perhaps such markings were a form of tattooing.
I'm traveling to California this month to meet with a woman who does hand tattooing. I have been shown, by my ancestors, the images that will soon mark my skin, becoming part of my story, my legacy and my history.
Tattoos are and were part of a visual language. They tell stories. They guide. They protect. They remember.They form a part of the cultural and religious heritage and history of humans throughout time.
Even though tribal tattooing has been declared illegal at various times in history, mainly as a result of missionization, it has not been possible to eradicate the practice altogether, However this rich, organic method of communication is currently endangered, not because of laws but because so many indigenous cultures continue to be destroyed and die out,
Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year.
Yes we know it's summer but why do we call it solstice?
Because for several days around this time of year the sun rises at the same spot on the horizon and the sun sets at the same spot on the horizon.
The ancients spoke of this experience as 'the time when the sun stands still'.
It's all about perception, isn't it. What do we see? What do we observe? What do we experience. We see the sun rise. We see the sun set. The earth doesn't move, does it? We experience movement through our bodies and what we see is that the things above us in the sky move. Things in the day sky and things in the night sky.
This observation is so powerful, visceral, experiential we still speak of it with the same language used by our ancestors. Solstice.
How often has it happened to you that someone in power and authority, or someone who professes to know more than you do, tries to convince you that what you see, observe and experience is not true?
Forget all the jargon, the convincing arguments, the scientific measurements, the instruments, the text books, etc.
Reconnect with nature, the earth and life around you and allow yourself to know that what you experience is true, perhaps not for others, but for yourself.
Solstice. The sun stands still.
Photo courtesy of James Pritchett - unsplash.com