Tattoos As Spiritual Markers

I had a strange day yesterday. I never had any intention of ending up in a tattoo shop, accompanying friends to a piercing. But that is where my day took me, and it is funny how a funky tattoo parlor can feel safe and comforting. I stood back and watched as the artists worked and my friends got their piercing. One of the artists had a Crowley-style unicursal hexagram tattoo, and I found that random sign oddly comforting. I spoke to him a bit about his tattoo, and we exchanged business cards. There is always this cool vibe when you recognize an occult symbol in someone’s tattoo or jewelry, you comment on it, and for a moment you and the person are connected by this simple, shared, secret knowledge.

Mrs. M. Stevens Wagner. 1907 Library of Congress

I have passed a lot of milestones in my life so far, and I know I have more milestones to come. Some have left marks on my body: scars from surgery, ear piercings, stretch marks. But I have never gotten a tattoo. Now, as I consider gathering my belongings, and consider the times I have lost important things in my life, I’m finding the concept of a tattoo very appealing. It is something that you simply cannot lose. You always carry it with you. The story of your journey is written on your skin, and continues to speak even after you die.

I have more important things to be focusing on in the next few weeks than body art, but it’s definitely percolating in the back of my mind. There are symbols I already have in mind. Different styles of hexagrams, a torch, and maybe some Theban script.

I’m curious as to how other Pagans use tattoos and body art to celebrate their milestones. I’d like to feature these stories on the blog next Monday. So if you want to share a picture of your tattoo, and the story behind it, send it to me in an e-mail with TATTOO in the subject line:

In the meantime, I am grateful and overwhelmed at all the support I have received. I am safe, and have been able to move up my flight date. Still some stressful days ahead, but all will be well, and that is entirely thanks to the kindness of my community. I sincerely never expected this outpouring of support and love. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Marc

    I don’t use my ink as a milestone, but I use them as religious symbols and foci for my energy.  There’s something a lot more intimate about focusing with them than tools in my hands.  To date, I only have one non-spiritual tattoo (which I posted the other day, and it represents much more to me than a simple book series), out of six.  I’m planning on a number more, but given my relative lack of art skills and my admittedly picky preferences of artists, it is slow going right now.

  • GwendolynnNoel

    I have 2 tattoos. I got the first one when I turned 18 and it really was a spiritual process! I designed it with runes to bear the meaning of intuition and self improvement and I’ve never told anyone this before but  I swear that while the person was tattooing me I saw the Goddess reach out her hand to me!  The  second is my interpretation of perfect love. I would love to send you pics but both are in areas I’d rather not photograph! ;) Great post!!!

  • Jasmine Lunamadre

    All of my tattoos are spiritually linked.. in fact I went to a pagan body art festival in August and got my most recent one in a ritual circle just for body art.

  • Daniel Castaneda

    I have a tattoo on my right arm of the Auryn. Don’t judge me. :P

  • Diana Rajchel

    There used to be a Pagan Ink site that featured tattoos on blogspot…

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I have a pentacle/crescent sigil on both inner forearms, a knot-work triskelion on my left pectoral, a wolf-head (tribal style) on my left shoulder blade and a crow/raven silhouette on my right shoulder blade.

    They all have spiritual meaning to me. The wolf and the corvid are totemic, the sigil is my personal sigil that I started dreaming about on a regular basis when I was twenty and the triskele pretty much speaks for itself.

    I’d like to get some more, at some point, but my money always seems to get prioritised elsewhere.

    …Oh, I also have an interesting pair of tribal eyes on my mid-back because it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

  • Sara Croft

    All of my tattoos have spiritual meaning, though few enough know it from looking at them. I’m saving up for a new one now in fact. 

  • Pythia Theocritos

    Glad you were able to move your plane flight mami; I was hoping that would be the case. As it stands, I’ve considered getting a tattoo but I’ve always wavered because it IS permanent and I’d wonder whether the ink would have the same meaning to me when my butt cheeks are all shriveled and I’m someone’s meemaw. 

    Maybe once I finally get where I’m going (I don’t know where that is yet or how I’m getting there so pfft…) I’ll commemorate it with…something? Perhaps a hamsa. 

  • Marc

     My friend got a tattoo of the Auryn, inked by a tattoo artist named Orrin.  :P

  • Cerridwen Freya

    I have 3 new tattoos, all if which were done the weekend of Baltimore Tattoo Convention. After walking around for hours, I ended up at this booth of a guy that have me good vibes. Wish I could say that he was a local artist but he’s from Alabama. I handed him samplers if what I wanted done and her started drawing them freehand. They were Pagan symbols that speak to me. On my right hand, I had Thor’s Hammer dangling off the Elder Futhark that were inscribed all the way around my wrist. He also did his own version of the Pentacle with the Tree of Life in the background and the 3 phases of the Moon on the back of my right shoulder. We talked about the symbols why I wanted them inked on me, the Universe and other stuff about spirituality. When we finished, I saw his signatures on his designs that he puts on his prints. They were actually bindrunes! He wasn’t aware, he really didn’t know anything about runes at all. He started to ask me about the meanings and when I explained them to him, he was floored. He said he’s been signing his initials that way for a long time, now it means more than just initials and squiggles to him. I’m glad I found someone that not only was good, but also acknowledges that his gifts were from the Universe and puts his energies into it wholeheartedly. I would love to get more tatts for my arms but my line of work dictates not to. I get looks already for the small pentacle I wear around my neck from some of the patients, some of which are not-so-pleasant, then add to that the ink on my hand and wrist. Good thing is, the large pentacle inked on my right shoulder is covered, don’t want anyone running out of my office. Anyway, thanks for this post and may your journey to your new home be safe and fruitful!