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
That's the literal translation of the word Equinox. And there are two of them each year.
One in the spring and one in the fall, when the sun is overhead the equator and the length of daylight and darkness are equal.
The extreme happens at the time of the Solstices.
In winter the Solstice is the longest night.
In summer the solstice is the longest day.
The farther north you go, the more extreme this difference becomes.
Our native Northern European ancestors divided the circle of the year into two parts.
They were either going into the dark or going into the light.
Winter Solstice at about December 21 is the longest night and from that time forward the days begin to lengthen.
Going into the light.
Summer solstice at about June 21 is the longest day and from that time forward the nights begin to lengthen.
Going into the dark.
So to celebrate Spring Equinox is to mark the half way point between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice.
Once we reach Summer Solstice, the Great Wheel will turn and we will begin, again, to go into the dark.
This eternal dance is beautifully expressed in the shape and the meaning of the Dagaz rune.
Are you afraid of modern technology that uses Bluetooth?
Are you afraid of the runes?
It’s pretty likely that any of us who use modern technology such as mobile phones, laptops, printers and digital cameras take advantage of Bluetooth technology and would be able to easily recognize the Bluetooth logo.
However, not many people know that the Bluetooth logo is made up of runes.
Most people’s knowledge of runes is limited to movies, TV series and video games about the Vikings.
Or worse yet, they only know of them as symbols of modern hate groups, such as white supremacists, skinheads, and neo-Nazis and of course the Nazis of Hitler’s Germany.
Sadly we know very little about these simple yet powerful symbols from heathen Norse/ Scandinavian and ancient Germanic history because Western civilization has been obsessed, for far too long, with classical antiquity with its focus on the cultural history centered around the Mediterranean Sea, ancient Greece and ancient Rome.
There is a gaping hole in our education about the rich heritage of our Northern European ancestors.
The Bluetooth logo is in fact a bind rune and was created with that intention by the men who developed the technology. What they bound together in this runic symbol are the initials of a 10th century Viking king, Harald Bluetooth. It is made up of one form of the rune Hagalaz and the Berkana rune.
Should we fear the symbol because it contains runes?
Should we refuse to use the technology?
Symbols are powerful, visually and energetically. They can be used to promote good as well as harm. How many people use the symbol of the cross? It carries a varied history, one that is tied up together with violence, hated and oppression, as well as love, kindness and fertility.
Are we afraid of it?
Should we be?
A bind rune can be any shape that is created when two or more runes are linked together to form a pattern or a symbol.
If you look closely at the Bluetooth logo you can see that it contains more than just two runes: Hagalaz, Ior, Bekana, Gebo, Isa, Laguz, Raido as well as numerous Kenaz runes.
What else might be bound together in this bind rune that is said to represent a Viking king?
Instead of being afraid of the runes, why not take the time to learn more about their origins and their historical, and cultural significance for the indigenous tribes of Northern Europe, before the Vikings and before the Romans.
If you’re interested in the runes please contact me for information about classes, workshops, online courses and private readings.
In reading Gylfaginning I’m intrigued by the combining of the words yeasty and venom. So I scry the internet and learn that the word yeast is Germanic in origin and of course it is the word for the thing that is used in brewing beer and making bread dough rise and it also means spume, foam, ferment, agitation, to be covered with froth. Gylfaginning tells us that there are eleven streams that collectively make up Elivagar (Ice Waves) that finds it source in the wellspring Hvergelmir which is one of the three wells hidden in the roots of the world tree.
It also says that yeasty venom hardened upon these streams and became ice that played a part in the origin of the giant Ymir and the filling of the great Void, Ginnungagap.
Continuing to follow the trail, I discovered that the word venom has its roots in the word venerate, which finds it way back to Venus, which is more than a planet and a goddess. Venus originally meant physical desire and sexual appetite.
Venom is also a word with connection to the Latin venenum and it doesn’t just mean a poison. It can also be a magical herb or potion.
In another place Gylfaginning says, “So many serpents are in Hvergelmir with Nidhogg that no tongue can tell them.” Is it possible that these serpents are the source of the venom spoken of as being yeasty? They all dwell in the roots of Yggdrasil, down there where the wells are.
So why do we automatically think that the yeasty venom is poison? Could it be instead a foaming, frothing, agitated, fermenting magical potion that played a part in what emerged from the coming together of the fires of Muspelheim and the ice of Niflheim?
Fire and ice are joining hands again at this rhythmic time of global warming. What magical event will occur this time when the yeasty venom is activated?
Wasting Time Killing Time Borrowing Time…
Making Time. Timely. Timeless.
How do you view time?
How do you use it? Or does it use you?
If you steal time do you have to give it back?
And who would you give it back to?
Or more correctly, to whom would you give it back?
Can you make time? Create time? Stretch time?
If you kill it does that make you guilty and if so, guilty of what?
How do you use your time?
What is your attitude?
What is your viewpoint or perspective?
Do you live by ordinary time, aligned only with the god Chronos, the god of chronology, and chronological or do you live differently, creatively, imaginatively, aligned with Kairos, the god of sacred time?
Does all time belong to the gods? Then is it all sacred?
If I close my eyes and feel the runes, Jera comes forward as a representative of time. Jera, the rune of Harvest. There is chronology in the turning of the wheel of the seasons. There is rhythm. There are cycles.
The Harvest requires paying attention to timing as well as seizing the right moment .
You cannot rush. You cannot delay.
How do you view time?
How do you use it?
Phil Cousineau’s book Stoking The Creative Fires contains a great chapter on time and its connection with creativity: Seizing the Moment. Chapter 3. Click Image For Details And To Order.
bring yourself, come as you are
bring your curiosity and your willingness to indulge it
bring your heart and your willingness to listen to it
bring your wisdom and your willingness to act in accordance with it
bring your honesty
bring your work and your willingness to play with it
to laugh at it, to cry about it, to take pleasure in it
bring your willingness to give and receive
bring your willingness to make larger the circle of kindness
bring your commitment to participate in your life
Wise words indeed and just as valuable today as when we first wrote them.
There were five of us, the fearless women of PenHouseInk, Dixie Lewis, Dee Doyle, judi goldberg, Ingrid Kincaid and Leslie Hoffman.
We came together as writers.
We came together as friends.
We formed a Guild and over the course of about 5 years we published 4 volumes of writings.
Naked Writings dedicated to 'all writers who haven't yet'
June Bugs Out Of Season dedicated to 'those in relentless pursuit'
Remembering Our Future dedicated to 'the few becoming the many remembering our future'
Refractions dedicated to 'the relentless human spirit'
It feels good to me at this time to be reminded of these words.
How do these Touchstones touch your heart?
Odin went to the Tree and supposedly he hung there, without food or drink, and then he stabbed himself with some sharp instrument. A blood sacrifice? For what purpose? To gain the runes? To save the world? Not unlike the story of another male god who hung on a tree and got stabbed.
We women can go to the Tree and have access to the Wisdom that is guarded by the Nornir, in the Wells, in the Roots. We don't have to stab ourselves to bleed. We do it naturally; it is our nature. Our bleeding is the Source from which new life emerges.
And why would Odin offer up one of his eyes to gain Thought and Memory? Did he not know that we see with our mind's eye and remember with our hearts?
Life is the ebb and flow, the in and out of the tide. It’s the Os rune. It's the Isa rune. It’s freeze and melt, destroy and create. Instead of placing our fear-based focus on the changes taking place, perhaps ask instead, what’s being created? What will emerge this time as the fire melts the ice? It’s happened before. It is happening now. It will happen again. Life emerged from the chaos of Muspelheim and Niflheim coming together. Land is created when the volcano erupts, destroying everything. Ice melted in the past. It filled the great aquifers. That’s why we call it glacial water.
As the ice is melting, more and more runes are being revealed.