• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

The Sacred Tattoo – Kim Falconer

Star trek ‘Geek ink’—Spock, Kirk, Picard and Data, but we already knew that!

Star trek ‘Geek ink’—Spock, Kirk, Picard and Data, but we already knew that!

‘A tattoo is a permanent affirmation that should be taken in a serious and sacred way,’ said my tattoo artist, Gary Mooney. ‘Whether you know it or not, it will influence your path the rest of your life.’

For all its recent popularity, a tattoo is more than an adornment or a fashion statement. The entire process—the idea, designing, placement and receiving—is like an initiation. Something is evoked. When approached with clear intention and reverence, one can’t help but be transformed.

From the Inuit peoples of Alaska to the Mayans of South America, from the thousands of men and women gathering at temples in Thailand to the current mainstream renaissance, tattooing has always carried a powerful message.

Bast — Egyptian goddess and protector of felines, adoring Kim's arm

Bast — Egyptian goddess and protector of felines, adorning Kim's arm

Historically, the Egyptians developed the technique and spread it to Crete, Greece, Persia, and Arabia. Four thousand years ago, tattooing followed the Silk Road to China and Japan. In 1991 a 5,200 year old mummy was found between Austria and Italy with over 57 tattoos—lines and dots thought to be used for healing as their placement corresponded to acupuncture meridians. The ‘Ice Maiden’ discovered in the Altai Mountains in 1993 is 2,400 years old. She has tattoos of mythical creatures including elk with twisting horns that turn into flowers.

Tattoos have multiple meanings both symbolic and literal. They can indicate rank, expertise in battle craft or sport, membership to a group or a connection to the divine. They can carry healing or protective spells—the tattoo artist channeling the energy of the animal or symbol into the person as it is given.
New Zealand - ‘Moko’ designates rights of passage and significant life events

New Zealand - ‘Moko’ designates rights of passage and significant life events

The elaborate tattoos of the Polynesian cultures are an initiation and feature geometric designs, curves and dots which can cover the whole body. Following James Cook’s expedition to Tahiti in 1769, the islanders’ term ‘tattau,’ (to hit or strike), or possibly ‘tatu’ (to make a mark) gave us the western term ‘tattoo.’ The art then became fashionable among Europeans, (after being banned by Pope Adrian I in the 6th century AD) particularly so with sailors and coal-miners, occupations carrying high risk. Their tattoos of anchors and miner’s lamps were considered to have amulet-like protection.

Snake—snakes are images of power, knowledge, healing and the sacred feminine in many cultures. This one is a rattle snake found in north America.

Snake—snakes are images of power, knowledge, healing and the sacred feminine in many cultures. This one is a rattle snake found in north America.

After going underground for almost a century, the art of tattooing has reemerged in mainstream western culture. More and more people are getting ‘ink’ for personal and significant reasons. For me, each tattoo represents a change in my life, an expansion of awareness, a shifting perspective. They are expressions of reverence for the images and ideals associated with them—marks of initiation on life’s journey, a connection with my spirituality.

As my artist says, ‘Getting a tattoo is a discipline involving physical, psychological and spiritual awareness. If any one of these elements is taken out of context, then the wholeness and true quality of the image is lost.’–Gary Mooney
Does anyone have a tattoo story or image to share? Questions? (like . . . is it painful? The answer was too long to fit into the post!) Comments most welcome.

VOTE for your favourite tattoo!

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published in January by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

Follow Kim on Twitter

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36 Responses

  1. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for this fascinating post. As I said before – I love, love, love that snake tattoo, it’s so organic, it really looks like part of you and part of what you are wearing, the way it wraps around.
    I think it’s very interesting what you say about tattoos once being thought to give amulet-like protection. One of our Voyager books last year, The Painted Man (by Peter V Brett), took on this exact idea into its mythology.
    My question to you would be: How did you choose your tattoos? Or did they choose you? Did you design them, or did you see an image in life or in a book and adapt it?
    And – on your last point – does it hurt?! Can you choose to be anaesthised or does that take away some of the point and feeling and rush?
    I remember when I got my nose pierced, part of the whole time was the moment of pain when the needle went through – as well as the strangness of having this thin instrument sitting in my nose, visible right in front of left eye but so close it was out of focus, while the piercer got the stud to slide in. But I felt the brief moment of pain gave me a hit of adrenalin. But a tattoo is a much longer process (as I understand it) – done in more than stage.

    • Hi Natalie,

      If this comes up twice, please delete one. I can’t begin to describe what my browser’s been up to this morning!!!

      Great questions–particularly How did you choose your tattoos? Or did they choose you? This very query is in ‘Rosette’ when they are discussing ASSIST’s banning of body art. An’ Lawrence says ‘the tattoo chooses’, and Kreshkali and Rosette agree. He means the unconscious chooses—a deeper part of the psyche is engaging with the symbol and bringing it to light.

      The language of the unconscious is symbolic, pictorial, and when consciousness thinks ‘I want a tattoo’ the unconscious supplies the pictures of what is meaningful. It’s like a dialog between the two, which is part of what makes this process so unifying to consciousness. In this way, the symbol asserts itself, like a dream, and if we listen, we expand because we are bringing to light a part of us that was buried.

      This is why I recommend meditating on the images you have in mind and listening to your body when you see something that catches your eye. It’s a bit like falling in love—hard to describe but you know it when you’re there!

      The snakes that wrap around my body were a surprise. I had no conscious intention to get them. I had thought of two snakes around my right arm like a bangle. Ha. The tattoo had other ideas—big ideas which took me time to get on board with. It seemed so radical. But I started sketching them and talking to my artist about the idea and together we design the piece. You can get ‘flash’ tattoos—images pre-designed that you see on the walls or in a catalog. I think taking the time to allow the unconscious to collude with your desires and come up with something original is a powerful process—it creates something unique. There is also the consideration of how the image sits on the body. This is where the experienced tattoo artist will be a guide—it makes such a difference. You don’t want to just slap it on any old way!

      Your description of piercing is perfect for explaining how sensations (adrenaline, pain, endorphins, euphoria, resistance, allowing, fear, release) create a connection to the experience. You could be anesthetized but that would be like sleeping through sex, and that’s just silly! The pain isn’t like stubbing a toe or going to the dentist. It is part of the initiation and surprisingly enlightening!

      Thanks for reminding us about Brett’s Painted Man. It reminds me of the “Picti,” which literally means “the painted people.” Peter? Are you out there? Do you have any ink? Did it influence you’re writing Painted Man?

      (You can see once I start up on this topic the Gemini in me just doesn’t want to stop!)

      Thanks for your questions!
      Kim

  2. PS. One of my fave websites, on literary tattoos (which speaks of some of the things a person might commemorate with their body as canvas): http://www.yuppiepunk.org/2008/04/a-not-so-complete-history-of-literary-tattoos.html
    I love the idea of having a potent sentence incribed on your skin!

    • Great link!

      And yes, a potent sentence can be amazing–the power of the written word! Thousands of men and women go to temples in Thailand to have sacred scriptures inscribed on their bodies–and there is a whole style of tattooing that involves a word, message or lettering–in various languages.

      🙂

    • Oh wow, great link, Natalie! I’ve actually looked up literary tattoos before but never come across this site… there are some amazing ones here…

      • So glad you liked it – and you might find it inspirational 🙂 It made me long to get all sorts of poetry on my body – like that immortal line from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself …

        bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
        If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

  3. Great post, Kim! I have a tattoo of a beautiful angel on my right ankle, which I got after long deliberation. It signifies my connection to the spirit world and my desire to stay in tune with my spiritual self. I’ve debated getting another tattoo, perhaps something to symbolize my children and my love for them, but I haven’t made a decision yet. I just turned 40, so it might be something I’d like to do to mark that occasion, too.

    Is the snake pictured above your tattoo? It’s lovely!

    Blessings to you!

  4. Hi Rose,

    I would love to see a picture of your angel! I wonder if we could share images on a page…I’ve got room on my domain, If anyone wants to, I’ll post them and a link. Just email me enchantment@kimfalconer.com

    Yes the snake is mine–it is the male. I have a matching female on the front in blue tones.

    I think turning 40 is a wonderful time to celebrate with a new tattoo!
    🙂

  5. Hi Kim,
    Fabulous post! So many things to mull over. I have always wanted to get a tattoo, but I want it to be “right” – it’s not a piece of jewellery or clothing that I can just take off or change, or even a piercing that I could eventually allow to close up with only a small scar. I think the point your artist makes sums it up perfectly: ‘Getting a tattoo is a discipline involving physical, psychological and spiritual awareness. If any one of these elements is taken out of context, then the wholeness and true quality of the image is lost.’ … I know quite a few people who have just walked into a tattoo parlour and picked something out on a whim and it looks fantastic now, but I wonder how they will feel about it 10, 20, 40 years down the track. Especially younger people who may not yet have considered their career paths and may have to cover up their body art for work.

    Was that something you thought about at all? I know when I have talked about tattoos with people, the big thing that always comes up is age: the idea that what looks good on a younger person might look faintly ridiculous on an elderly person.

    I really like your point about the right image being something you’re drawn to, like falling in love. That’s why I haven’t done anything yet. The friends I have who already have ink can’t understand why I don’t just go ahead and do it, but I am not just going to plaster any old thing on myself! It has to be the right image and it has to be meaningful. I think yours are just gorgeous and from the photos on your site and what I can glean from your posts etc, they seem very “you” – which as you say, is how it should be.

  6. I was like that for years, Virtigo. I’d planned on getting a Thunderbird on my lower back–I had it designed but didn’t quite feel the full commitment (it is so like a relationship!). Then my friend came back from Egypt with a statue of Bast and I knew…I had the image drawn, designed and on within a month. You know when it’s right and the rightness is quite compelling!

    The age thing is interesting. I think the tattoos become a story of that time in our lives and the body the record keeper. We aren’t used to seeing mature people with tattoos in our culture. A few decades from now that may be different.

    Thank you for bringing your thoughts and wisdom here. I have a feeling the right match is not far off!

    🙂

  7. That’s a good point about the age thing and something I’ve been thinking about too… you’re right. It IS just that we’re not used to seeing older people with tattoos and probably even more specifically, seeing older women with tattoos. Now that tattoos are becoming more commonplace and more acceptable, it is a given that all these “young people” covered in tattoos will become the older people covered in tattoos. There’s no escaping time.

    And just as our tattoed bodies become the story and record of our own personal journey, I guess they’re also the record of a culture. Just as your post mentions the ancient and polynesian cultures, so I guess “our” culture is taking up tattoing in a much more mainstream way these days. One day someone will be digging up the mummified remains of someone from 2009 and what will they make of that? Especially when you consider that so many tattoos are images taken from mythology or mimic other tattoo cultures ie: city-slickers taking on tribal markings or fans inking up with old-fashioned sailor-tattoo artwork etc. It’s all very post-modern and intertextual!

    • it’s absolutely fascinating – and it is intriguing that images that you might consider to be fantasy are probably worn by people who might not even consider themselves in touch with that side of life. Everyone thus far who I know has designed their own tattoo has no regrets about getting it – it is as much a piece of art as a statue you might fashion from clay. And I think in that sense it brings us very close to the sense of the sacred and creation.

      • That’s the thing . . . when you contemplate the image–when it rises up out of your unconscious–and bring it to life in the design, it becomes a part of you. I’ve not known anyone to design their own tattoo and have regret’s. It’s like a piece of their own heart.

  8. It’s like we’re on the edge of a paradigm shift–and body art is part of it. You’re right about the stories becoming part of the culture’s stories–the monomyth that we all contribute to. And yes, some of our tattoos are replicas of ancient symbolism–we are reclaiming something lost–something that wants to refresh. I too wonder what ‘they’ will make of that, hundreds of years from now.

    Great point on it being ‘intertextual’-that would be interesting to research: Post Modernism and Body Art–the Physical and the Intertextual!

    🙂

  9. Ooh Kim, I haved loved Bast since I first saw your artist pic, but that snake is FABULOUS!!!

    How do they get on?!! 🙂

    ok, serious confession time – I promised myself ink for a significant birthday, but was so troubled by indecision (the what AND the where) not to mention being such a woos about pain, that I’m still waiting… four years later!!! Aargh!

    I have a sense that 2009 is going to be a year of major change for me. Your post may be the first step in opening myself up to let the tattoo find me at last…

    Thank you, as ever, for your generous sharing 😀

    • Janette, I think the creation of the tattoo, the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ is just like any other deliberate creation in life–when you release the struggle you float downstream to what you desire.

      I have a sense that 2009 is going to be major change too! If you have any questions along the way, about the ‘sensations’ or the ‘where’ etc, feel free to email me!

      Also, watch your dreams. The image will likely appear there first, in one form or another!

  10. Go Janette! I like the idea of opening yourself up to be found. If the time is right then you will be found by your tattoo! 🙂

  11. Nice post 🙂

    Reminded me I had to work out what my 22nd century “anti-social wretches” would be doing to themselves (tattoos being too acceptable for them) so I spent a few hours last night browsing web sites for ideas. There’s a lot of weird people out there 🙂 Some lovely body art though.

  12. Just saw this post today. I agree strongly that tattoos are sacred, and think that one must consider them carefully before having them done. I know a lot of people who got frivolous tattoos in their youth/inebriation that they later regretted. I remember one guy in college that tried to take his off with an electric sander (it didn’t work, so don’t try it at home).

    As for myself, I have one tattoo, a sword on my forearm that I had done many years ago to represent a series of (still unpublished, and with good reason) novels I had written. I intentionally put it someplace where I could always see it, as it was meant to be a reminder to me to never give up on my writing.

    Apparently, it worked.

    My next tattoos will be the ward symbols from The Painted Man in a circle of protection on my other arm. I have the design all set, I just need to find the time to go have it inked.

    • Peter, thank you for dropping by and sharing. I would love to see a pic of the ward symbols when you get them. I’m also glad to know I’m not the only writer with ink matching my novel characters’!

      I also like the idea of your Sword (in Tarot that is the symbol of the written and spoken word!) to remind you of your powerful intentions.

      And yes, it certainly did work!

      Ta for dropping by. 🙂

    • I’d love to see the ward symbols tattoo when it’s done – or even in progress with angry red skin. I’d also love to see the guy’s tattoo post-sanding 😀 – am sure it left him with a memorable image …

  13. Thanks, Monissa.

    Did you see any sites on scarification? Your ASW’s might be into that. The results can vary greatly–from very beautiful to something raw and brutal looking.

    There is some amazing body art out there, yes. I sent Nat about a dozen images to pic from because I couldn’t choose!

    🙂

  14. Scarification does seem the best candidate but so far I haven’t found much beyond a few articles examples, nothing in any depth, nothing inspiring. The AMOL site was useful though, it went into some detail. Thanks 🙂 I need to hit google, I guess.

    • Hi Monissa,
      There was also a gallery, and I don’t know if there was also an article, about a recent tattoo “expo” (or something) on news.com.au: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/gallery/0,23607,5037777-5007193-1,00.html
      There are some pretty detailed photos of someone getting scarred and there’s also quite a few people who have had subdermal implants etc. I don’t know if that will help you at all; it might be a good jumping point for further searches… Possibly some of the artists mentioned in the gallery might have websites that offer more information.

  15. It’s an interesting series of photos. More useful than endless thumbnail galleries with no explanations 🙂

    I hadn’t thought of looking for the artist’s web sites (I’m tired). That’s is geting me some useful stuff. Thanks!

  16. This is the site I was looking for on scarification. The results are beautiful…the bamboo back but the process is graphic…intense. Brutal really–or it seems that way.

    Those pics are worth a thousand words.

  17. Brutal indeed. There’s a photo on her MySpace page (the link’s in the comments trail) that shows the result two years later Quite different by then. Most of the photos of scarification online show things that have just been done.

    (Now I’m thinking my main ASW needs a snake wrapped around his chest/back a few times but the thought of it makes me cringe.)

    • Thanks for that link, Monissa. It is very interesting to see it two years later. Quite different in colour and texture.

      I guess the question with the ASW is do you want something ‘cringe worthy’ or elegant, or awe inspiring or sexy or dangerous or ??? The tattoo becomes an attribute, an expression and companion of character. What is the ASW ‘like’? What totem would chose them?

      I’m intrigued!

  18. Good question. When I went to type the answer, I realised I didn’t know.. “See how tough I am” was my first thought, but that’s not right because that makes it seem like he’s trying to prove something. More “I’m not afraid of a bit of pain” and “aren’t I cool.”

    “Getting to know your character through their body art.”

  19. I was wondering if the tattoo artist you mentioned was the Gary Mooney who until recently had a studio in Bangalow NSW (previously Byron Bay and Melbourne)? If so, do you have any recommendations for a similar artist – I was organising to have my work done with him when he became ill and now he no longer tattoos.

    I am specifically looking for a tattoo artist who understands the ritualisation of tattoo.

  20. Yes, Dark_argea, Gary Mooney has done all my work. He’s not tattooing anymore.

    There’s a woman in Lennox you might like. Let me find her page . . . Actually, let me also check in with a friend who was considering new work from an artist in Mullum.

    Standby!

  21. Kim, great post…even if I am late. LOL. Have been thinking of a tattoo for over 20 years – i know what I want it to say to ME, but i have yet to discover symbols/art/words that will convey it. I’m still looking….

    • Hey Jaki, these things emerge in the grace of their own time. I’ve never found a single symbol that conveys ‘ME’, but I have found many that speak to different aspects of my nature. I don’t try to take the whole bite . . . just bit by bit 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by. It’s never too late!

  22. hmmm that sounds interesting….something that speaks to different aspects of my nature. You’ve given me something to think about now…*grin* Thanks!

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