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.
On the morning of my Tattoo Ceremony, I went to gather my altar items to take with me and the Plant Spirits I work with came to me very clearly. They asked not to be taken to the Ceremony as altar items, this was about me connecting to the plants more deeply within myself. They wanted me to experience the magic inside of me instead of being able to attribute them to the plants who would be present in the physical world on the altar. "You need to know your magic, Nadia."
There was quite a bit of anxiety and fear settling in as I walked to the location of where we would be doing the Ceremony. I had no idea what this tattoo would be, where it would be placed, or what it was going to do for me. So much of this was about me surrendering to what wanted to come through instead of trying to control it. This is the way so much of my life works - I connect to the Divine, listen to the messages and the instructions, execute what needs to be done, and surrender to the rest. When I finally sat down with Ashley, there was an immediate sense of peace. She had the softest, most beautiful feminine energy I have ever worked with. It was almost a sneaky powerful energy (haha)! She was so gentle and yet carries such a big and lifechanging Medicine. This alone was a powerful thing to witness and a powerful lesson to learn for myself.
First, we sat and talked about myself and my intentions. She asked what brought me there and also about my work and personal life. Then we shared a cup of tea and a meditation to help us both settle into the space. And then she drew the tattoos for me. I felt the tattoos were inspired by what she saw/experienced in my energy and the new plants that wanted to come into my life to work with me on a deeper level. Two of the plants were tattooed directly onto my skin and one remains present in spirit only.
The themes were clear and consistent with the messages I have been getting for months - bring in the joy, spice up my life and energy, express fearlessly and cleanse my body through movement and water.
The tattoo session itself was with the hand poke method and honestly I don't think I will ever be able to sit with a tattoo machine again after having it this way. My body received these tattoos beautifully and with minimum swelling or reaction. Still today it feels like the tattoos have been a part of me all along. When we finished, I went on my way and that was when things really started to move.
Every night I was in New Mexico and Arizona, I slept for over twelve hours. I was drinking insane amounts of water and felt like things were shifting in my physical and energetic body. Each period of sleep brought about dreams that involved old things that needed to be processed in my subconscious, lots of Medicine work, a few spiritual lessons and deep recalibration of my Feminine energy. My body was also communicating with me in ways I have never been able to feel on myself. My liver began to ail me and when I connected with it, it told me that it was in the dis-ease state. It told me that I needed to heal my liver through flushing what was backed up there. At this point, I decided to sign up for the liver flush protocol with Mama Medicine, another recommendation made by Ashley.
Side note: a little over three months ago, I was told by Spirit that it was time to stop drinking alcohol. This is a whole other story in itself, but I am glad I listened to this message because it has made this whole process so much easier.
I have always been able to see into other people's bodies and energy fields very clearly, but the same gift was never able to be turned onto myself. It appears that I have either been too disconnected from my body or simply not ready to see what was there.
As the week progressed, things blew up with my husband and my relationship began to shift.. again. We were both being asked to look at many aspects of ourselves and our relationship that needed to change in order for us to move forward together. We were asked to look at the Feminine/Masculine balance within ourselves and our dynamic. We were asked to look at where we are getting stagnant due to some unhealthy routines that were held in place by fear. Then I started to be able to see how much fear I was consuming on a daily basis - through interacting with certain people or watching certain television shows. Through reading stories or being too connected to the fear-driven insanity that is unfolding in our world. It felt like there was a fear buildup in my body and it wasn't even mine, yet it was weighing me down and impacting me on a daily basis. Most of it feels stored in my liver.
And all of this from a couple of tattoos!
Here I am 5 weeks later and I can feel that this Tattoo Medicine has only gotten started. We have only just begun the healing process and the rest is up to me and what I do with the information that has started to come through. The message from Spirit has been very clear - this unfolding process will take around 12 months at least. I am asked to be patient and to let it unfold, to listen to the messages that come up and follow the instructions provided as I integrate this Medicine into my body.
Ashley River Brant and her work will have my gratitude forever. This has been an incredible and life-changing experience I wish for everyone to experience.
Thank you for listening!