Tattooing is spiritual. Sometimes representing a transformation in our lives or an acknowledgment of our connectedness. I have only one tattoo but it is vital to me. I recently placed it on my left rib cage near my heart to guide me on my journey forward. The idea behind my particular design has been tugging at me for a decade. When I first visited Ashland, Oregon in 2010 I knew that this would be the place where I would have it done; and upon meeting the artist I knew instantly that it would be he that did the work. Despite all of this the timing still wasn’t right. I had much to discover about myself before I would be ready.
My tattoo is a Hummingbird which is known to be a messenger of joy. It moves its wings in the infinity pattern allowing it to change direction readily, and representing the connection of past/future to the current moment. It is also known to be a creature with healing powers. My particular Hummingbird has the colors of the sunrise throughout its body representing a new beginning, with tail feathers that are the colors of the ocean. One point of significance is that I allowed the artist (who is also a shaman) to design the tail feathers as he felt they were intended for me. They are Tibetan and trail down my side and onto my hip. I am still discovering the significance in this. This act of trust did not come easily but it was important to my healing to embrace the unknown. I did so boldly. The placement of the Hummingbird is the most significant element. In a healing session years ago, both the healer and I witnessed a piercing of my Great Embracement acupuncture point (Dabao) at the moment of my father’s death…sealing it. I was only 10. This Great Embracement point is said to allow light and joy into one’s heart. I placed the Hummingbird here specifically to restore the Dabao and to allow safe passage for light and joy into my heart again.
The process of placing this tattoo which was a lifetime in the making was humbling and magnificent. I cannot explain what happened in the studio that day other than to say that I felt held by the Universe and completely transformed. I stood naked and comfortable with myself for the first time in a lifetime while the artist sketched the elements. When it was time to begin the ink one of my oldest and dearest friends sat beside me to guide me as I was born into a fuller self. The artist spoke to me about things I hadn’t asked as if he could read what I was thinking without my words. I trusted another human being completely despite everything; everything that life has dealt me. Music accompanied the process that was germane to the physical and emotional experience I was having at each and every moment. Most notably, Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” as the artist carved the most painful part of the design (tail feathers that resemble the ocean) into my body. And, with that, it is uniquely mine in a way that it can never belong to anyone else. And now you are a witness to this pivotal moment as well.
In my eyes you can also see that I found an inward place that I did not know existed. A place of immense calm. When staying present was too intense, I told them both that I was “going into the woods” ~ full of sequoias, beds of ferns and playful Hummingbirds flitting about. The sound of the needle morphed into the sound of their wings instead. And, when it was particularly excruciating, I just walked a little further to the sunflower patch on the far side. I had no idea this place existed within me and I’m grateful to know that I can go there whenever I need to find peace. I am stronger than I knew.
This remarkable journey and my Hummingbird have joined me ~ intimately to others, broadly to the Universe and particularly to myself ~ in ways that were inconceivable before my tattoo. I am forever changed by it. Time to let my "soul and spirit fly" ~ with gratitude and belonging.