Cin, the desert mystic in Edges, has tattoos of animals all over her body, totems that help with her "lucid dreaming". She sees them as her spirit guides in a very real way.
As a child, instead of imaginary friends, I had imaginary animals. (We had real animals, yes - I grew up with two cats and two dogs, but I had a penchant for frogs and tigers too.)
After having my second child, my "me" time was taken up by a vigorous yoga and meditation practice. I was ecstatic about motherhood, yet personally I felt ungrounded. I had been a therapist of some sort for six years before having kids. Would I go back? Who was I? And what was I doing with my life? How was I going to contribute to the world?
If you read this blog or you've read my book, you already know that I have a keen interest in the mystical, in altered perceptions. So it won't come as a shock to you that a tiger started visiting me during sivasana (corpse pose) at the end of sweaty yoga classes. Will it surprise you that he told me his name was Solomon, that he was my protector and that I'd better take myself seriously as a writer or he would kick my ass?
Solomon visited me after every yoga class for months. He was the one who put the idea in my head to get a tattoo of HIM. I had always wanted one, but never found a symbol that I wanted on my body forever. This is serious stuff. My husband has two on his back, and my BFF has one on her back and one on her ankle. My dear friend who is both a Wiccan and an Interfaith Minister has many all over her body. (I'll call her DF)
I needed to incorporate the spirit of the tiger into my being. On my birthday, my BFF and my DF took me to the home of a woman tattoo artist in Jersey City, and we created Solomon together. I told the artist about him as she sketched him. (Not TOO intimidating, not TOO fierce). We lit candles and Ohmmmed like good yogis, and my DF drummed, while my BFF squeezed my hand. It was painful yes, but a beautiful experience, almost like giving birth to another part of myself.
I wrote, I doubted, and Solomon pushed against me. I still write, and I still doubt, but I have the sense memory of that push. That's right - Solomon rarely comes unbidden anymore. And I forget about my tattoo - after all, I can't see it. But since when is seeing believing, hmmm?
Do any of you have tattoos, or stories about tattoos? Does the whole idea turn your stomach? Are you fascinated, but haven't found the right totem?
And I can't end this post without a shout out to Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones for the title of this post. Their album, Tattoo You, came out when I was in 8th grade, of which I was a proud owner.
Cover of Tattoo You