On Tattoos

I have seven discreet tattoos, all very symbolic, all very thoughtful and meaningful, all a reminder of periods of my life and the insights I garnered. I’m not a fan of tattoos (ironic, I know). And none of my tattoos are for anyone but me. All reminders to myself.

 My first tattoo is a heart on my right wrist, which represents that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m a very open person, and I believe in the power of vulnerability, and I believe this is one of the qualities that allows others to see my humanity in an approachable way. Being authentic with myself has always been very important to me. It’s something I constantly strive for, to be a person of convictions, to walk the walk, to maintain integrity and possess a transparency of character. 

My second is a cross on my left wrist. It symbolizes faith, although a very different kind of faith nowadays. 

Third was a triquetra, which represents the trinity, and the eternal strength the interconnectedness of the mind and body and spirit provides when they are in balance. 

Fourth is located on my right inner bicep, which is the opening line taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essey “Self-Reliance”: “ne te quaesiveris” or “do not seek your self outside your self” or “seek yourself within”. To me it means that all the answers and happiness I seek resides within me, not in the world. As the bible says in John 15:19 and John 17:14-16, we must be in the world, but not of the world. Happiness and joy and wisdom are revealed to us from within. You will never find it in anything outside ourselves.

Fifth was a rearing lion on my right ribcage, pierced by two arrows, representing struggle, with a banner across his eyes which reads “Be not afraid” which is an excerpt from Shakespeare’s play the Twelfth Night, in which Malvolio says “If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. Thy Fates open their hands.” The Lion represents a lot of things, but for me it primarily represents Nietzsche’s blonde beast, or the lion mentioned The Three Metamorphoses illustrated in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The lion is the second metamorphosis.  

Sixth is the viking rune Inguz, on my right inner forearm, which translates literally as “seed” or “the god”, or more specifically refers to the potential energy within things before growth occurs, which consequently represents the concept of “where there is a will, there is a way”, and translates to ideas like male fertility and creation and generation. 

The seventh and final is a line in latin, on my lower left hip, which says “OMNIA MVNDA MVNDIS” and translates to “everything is pure to the pure heart”, which was taken from Titus 1:15. The whole passage reads “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” I chose this quote because it captures an idea I cherish very closely, namely: the quality of our thoughts determine the quality of our life, or as Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Despite my atheism, I do believe religious text can provide spiritual wisdom and insights. 

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