OK, for those of you who haven’t started gouging your eyes out at the very idea…
Yeah, OK. You can put ’em back in, I’m only kidding. I’m not naked. (As far as you know, anyway.) But a few people have asked about my tattoos recently (since I got my latest, unsurprisingly), and since you’re either very distant, or not someone I’m comfortable being naked in front of (read: another human being), I thought I’d post a few photos. You will see nothing to appall you in any of them – they’re all cropped to show off nothing but the tattoo.
How’s this for embarassing: I couldn’t tell you when I got my first ink done. Some time between Winter 01, and Summer 02, I think. (A bit of digging through some very old blog archives reveals it was the 17th of March, 2002, and also that I used to be funnier. Or at least angrier.)
Anyway, this is one that means a lot to me (well, they all do, or I wouldn’t have had them etched in permanently). The circle is a very simple symbol that could mean a lot of things, but in this one, it’s a symbol of order, or at least stability. Fire is the element of spirit and of transformation – of magic itself. The rune in the centre is Ansuz, Odin’s rune, a symbol of poetry, inspiration and, again, magic. I am not, myself, an Odinist, in large part because everyone I’ve encountered who has said they were has either been a total arsehole who used their hack-level understanding of Norse myth to justify being a violent fuckwit, or just a bit of tit. Also because I do not believe in worshipping gods, as that only encourages the bastards. But in so far as I have a favourite god, it’s Odin, since he’s basically a deified shaman figure, and I’ll stop now before I bore the tits of the lot of you.
Annoyingly, and I didn’t know this when I got it, but there are “white pride” groups (or, if you prefer: racist shitstains) in parts of Europe that use the same rune. This was less of a problem when I had long hair, but now I shave my head, it means baring my upper right arm really isn’t an option in the company of anyone who doesn’t know me. Not that I generally do, but now I don’t really have the option.
Anyway: that’s my first tattoo.
OK, it’s actually a few inches up from my heart, but play along, would you? I really must get around to getting this one touched up – there’s a load of drop-out (the white bits at the base of the Yin section, where the black ink hasn’t been evenly applied) on it that annoys me, and in hindsight, I probably need to be worried about the spread on the Ses. Let this be a lesson: do not go to cheap tattooist. What you’re paying for is a) the skill to avoid drop out, and b) the willingness to point out to the customer that you’re being stupid in your font choices. This one, I have no idea exactly when I got, other than Summer 2004. I had week off, woke on the Tuesday morning with the conviction it was missing, and managed to arrange an appointment for the Wednesday afternoon a a place near my folks that an ex’s sister recommended. I should have waited, and gone to Into You, like I did for the others.
Anyway: “This Too Shall Pass” is from one of the stories of Solomon. It is a source of cheer when times are bad, and a reminder to savour things when times are good. It is possibly the single best piece of wisdom I know.
This, of course, is the Sephiroth (or any one of a number of other spellings). I suggest you head for wikipedia, your choice of Occult textbook, or, for maximim fun, a copy of Alan Moore’s comic Promethea to find out more – I do not have the space to explain the whole thing here.
In short, it is one model for explaining the spark of the divine in all things. I do not literally believe it to be true, or even that there necessarily is anything divine in the universe at all. It is, however, something that speaks to me of the human condition, of our need for patterns, connections and symbols, and our capacity to imagine, create, and be better than our base animal selves, and that’s why it’s on my left thigh.
And yes, I’m already planning the next one. I know what I want it to say, and if past experience is anything to go by, I’ll wake up in a year or two knowing exactly what style I want and where I want it.