On Sacred Art, Body Mods, and Self-Image
Growing up, I was told that the idea of getting a modification on my body was a sacrilege. That tattoos, piercings, etc. marred the body g*d had given me and made me imperfect for the afterlife. I was told all this after having my ears pierced at an age I couldn’t object to, and what I later found out was against my mother’s wishes. *shrug* I can’t hold that against her, she shouldn’t either.
However, as I grew up, I learned to see a certain fearlessness in people who would go and get these things done. That fascination turned into a bit of an objectification for me as I enjoyed meeting with, dating, and getting to be very close to people who had artwork that fascinated and captivated me.
As I grew older and made my forays into the kink communities I chanced upon a class on branding, a new and emerging body modification that was happening in the community at large and decided (against maybe my better thinking) to try it. I got up and in less than 15 seconds, had a crescent moon branded onto a shoulder blade. The pain was minimal to nonexistent and there was no bleeding. The cautery pen (the same kind used in vasectomies) had done it’s job well. I played around a bit with the healing process and have a smooth scar with very little indentation and marring. The skin inside didn’t die or nectrotize or any other horror story that’s out there. It’s been a fairly good mark on me.
As I worked and learned about my spiritual path, the brand took on a life of its own and worked as my very own caller ID, if you will. If I was in deep meditation and focused on the intent I’d decided on, I would feel the brand light up and burn under the skin, an uncomfortable itch that I would leave alone as this feeling of peace and joy came over me. It is a way to know that Spirit is close, that I am being listened to, or that I need to pay attention. It has gone off at the weirdest moments; moments when I’m not paying attention, when I need to be reminded to stop, drop into myself, and check-in on how I’m feeling, moments of trepidation to remind me that I’m uplifted and supported. And during Ordeal work, it lets me know that one of my Fearsome Foursome™ is around, helping me, guiding me, or pushing me through the working.
It’s also become a marker for my real-life relationship. I am My Beloved’s Shadow Prince. The Moon and the Stars was one of the first songs I heard from My Beloved’s lips, and the moon on my shoulder warmed in response. My Beloved also enjoys the imagery and the concept of the spiral and has incorporated it into two complementary pieces of jewelry we wear.
In the here and now, I am currently researching and in consideration of five pieces of body art. Four for my Fearsome Foursome™ and one for My Beloved.
The one for My Beloved is probably going to be the first one I do and its details aren’t necessary here. The other four, need to be written down to reference them. This is also a way to provide some insight into who They are.
The first is a butterfly adapted from Paul Borda’s Butterfly for Xochiquetzal (Head Matron), I’m not sure what I want to change yet, or even if I’m ‘supposed’ to make changes, but we’ll see.
The second is Kali’s yantra. I am an initiate in the Daughters of Kali through Sharanya and received the name of Duti at my initiation. It means She Who Is Ambassador. Quite fitting.
The third is for the Morrighan. There is a piece of poetry that speaks of her cloaking us in her mantle of red, black, and white feathers. I am invoking that imagery and a crow into the piece I have created for her.
The fourth is for Odin. His two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, one holding a Valknut (as befits a dottir of Odin) and the other holding my bindrune.
The first part of all this is getting past the part where I remember that my flesh is no longer my own. I am reminded of this on a daily basis as I go through my day to day functions because that’s all I know to do. I walk in the beauty They provide. I walk in the mire of life because that is the path laid before me, and the one I consciously choose to walk for Them.
The second part is time and cost. That is on me, finding the artist who can do this for me, finding the time to get it done, finding the strength to survive the time in the chair, that’s where this all must have focus for me.
This may be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; harder than inserting hooks into my flesh, harder than standing still while a flogger went after my back, harder than letting myself be tossed around and nearly drowned. This requires not shying away from myself and where my mind will travel, as the tattoo is placed on my flesh.