My First Tattoo Ceremony
I have been sitting with this Blog for about a month now, trying to let this experience unfold inside me before I start to share it publicly. This "after period" is the integration aspect of any Ceremony and it is indeed a sacred time. The whole process I share today has honestly been such a big occurrence for me, I know it will take years to fully set in, but it feels time to start telling the story now. It just feels so darn magical.
The idea of a Sacred Tattoo came to me about a year ago. I started seeing visions of my hands, fingers, face and chest covered in these beautiful tiny lines, dots and light code. Spirit did not show me what they were, or if I was to ink them onto my physical body, so I would draw them on myself with a pen each time they showed up. I sat with them and allowed myself to feel the magic that came through the beautiful designs. During almost every Ceremony I conducted, I would see these patterns appear and I kept asking: are these for me to get tattooed or do they already exist on my body in the Otherworld? Am I supposed to start doing tattoo work in Ceremony? Tattoos play a big role in many tribal cultures and they have been considered to be quite sacred and powerful.
Unfortunately, that perspective seems to have died out over time.
I myself have a handful of tattoos. They were completed during some pretty rocky times in my life. I often sought tattoo work when I needed to feel something because of the numbness I battled every day. To me, the pain was a reminder that I was here, that I was ok. On three different occasions I got a tattoo to show some guy how much I loved him or wanted to be connected to him. A handful of times I got a tattoo to "teach myself a lesson" or say "fuck you, I will do what I want". There was so much harshness to my attitude and approach with tattoos. As a result, these tattoos carry an energy and a trauma that is literally inked in my skin forever. I have done some work around making peace with the current tattoos, but still my body rejects the ink every few months and I can feel them trying to be pushed out. It has been about six years since my last one and it really feels like my take on getting inked will never be the same after the experience I had last month.
Around the time I started seeing these new designs, I began coming across people who called themselves intuitive tattoo artists. It seemed like many of them would take your idea and then draw something along those lines for you. While that sounded beautiful, and some of them indeed had beautiful work, that wasn't quite what I was looking for. I needed someone who could go deeper with me. I wanted an individual who could connect with me on a soul level, intuit the tattoo medicine I needed, and tattoo a unique design based on what they were seeing or experiencing within me. I wanted someone who could help me heal my relationships with tattoos, who could show me how to work with them in a Sacred Ceremony.
As it turns out, what I was seeking is a real tattoo technique and it's called Soul Tattooing. The woman who coined this term, Ashley River Brant, , Co-Founder of School of the Sacred Arts., was immediately added to my vision/goal board in the summer of 2021. She was not doing tattoo sessions at that time, and had not for several years, but I *knew* I needed to work with her.
Come December 2021, I was agonizing over a decision to visit the Gem and Jewelry show that is held in Tucson, AZ every year in February. Our church needed a large amount of stones and other supplies that are simply too expensive to buy in bulk in the Portland area. Taking a trip to Arizona would also allow me access to energies (specific stones and items) that I simply didn't have access to at our local shops. I had space in my schedule to go down to Arizona, but it just kept feeling like it wasn't yet time to book the trip.
Then on January 15th, I got an newsletter email from Ashley River Brant. She was opening her books for the first time in years and had relocated from CA to Sante Fe. In case you don't know, Sante Fe is a relatively short drive from Tucson. That was my sign! My body and spirit knew I needed to sign up for a Tattoo Ceremony with Ashley and I booked the trip immediately. I shared with her about the visions I was getting and left the rest in her hands.
As soon as I booked this experience, a new path was set in motion. I started purging, started experiencing pain in my liver (which I will go into later) and began considering how I could further open myself to receive this Tattoo Medicine. When I got on the plane headed to Sante Fe, I felt an intense sense of connection, one that is typically reserved for my work with Plant Medicine. I wept on the airplane as I began to read Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm, starting to feel this sense of being understood and connected to this Medicine Woman who would be bringing me my new tattoo. This was the theme of my tattoo experience - someone was seeing me and understanding me on a very deep and profound level.
Actually, this seems to be my theme of the year.
This was, thankfully, the off season for Sante Fe. The town was relatively empty, and that's honestly how I think I would prefer it. It was a pretty magical little nook in the middle of New Mexico and I really connected to the energy there. The town itself was incredibly unique and I have never seen anything like it.