Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More than words

A while back I mused a little on the magic of tattoos, highlighting in particular, the difficulty of deciding what words one might put on their skin. While all tattoos merit careful consideration in my world, words particularly do so,  because they have a magic of their own, a very ancient one at that.

In most Western folklore, it is held that a word can have as much power as the actual object, emotion, or force of nature it envokes. This probably stems from the time when humans first developed the capacity for language, when the ability to communicate complicated instructions could be used to your immediate advantage in way that must have seemed nothing short of supernatural others with less language.

There is a whole Judeo-Christian mythology about God inscribing his name, or another sacred word onto something to give it life. In fact, the whole Bible begins with a Word, equating it with God and God with the Word.

 Much folklore and light witchery too is dedicated to words, writing them on parchment and disposing them in different ways, or safekeeping them somewhere holy to make your dreams materialize. Little bits of paper litter the Wailing Wall, various Shinto shrines, prayer candles can be inscribed with the name of  a loved one to remember, or bring them luck, joy, health.

Oh, words are not to be taken lightly. There's even a Jewish myth of the Golem, where a mere mortal human being can animate a man made of dirt by inscribing a word on him.

At the same time, it bears repeating that tattoos are a deeply personal ornament, whatever one likes for oneself goes, no judgement. 

As far as I'm concerned you are free to honor your favorite TV show, day of the week, or 80s hairmetal band lyric on your skin, if you so desire. 

As for myself, I mentioned before that I've been keeping an eye and an ear out for a special word, sentence, cadence, for a while now.

And don't worry, it's not like I spend all of my free time thinking about what tattoos to get; it's just that as my personality evolves, as I essentially become more me with each passing year, I sometimes wonder "What will it be?". 

There are many other things like that I think about from time to time. 

What will be my life's work? Has it already begun, unbeknownst to me? Who will be our child? Or perhaps even, will we have a child, or simply carry on as this family of two happy adults (and a multitude of animals)? What will my first book be? Have I already begun it, or am I still practicing? What will our house be like, our land? Or will we not opt to live in that paradigm, gypsy-ing around this small Island for the rest of our lives? Which of my dreams and goals will I realize and which will not come to pass and which will fall away altogether?

 You know. Stuff like that.

 So obviously, tattooing words on my skin gets very little wonder time.

And yet. As I was musing on the right words again the other day, as I turned beds for starting some winter garden stuff,  they suddenly appeared in front of me, as though from a long remembered dream. 

"Really?" I thought to myself. "These ones?" The ones that have been there all along, for years now. The ones that so perfectly sum up everything that matters to me in this life, everything I need to remember each day. Seven words from more than eleven hundred years ago

Have they been waiting for me to find them all this time? Looking straight at me from their cave? Feeling a little like a fool is appropriate in this case. Not that it matters. I have my words now. They are not important to me so that I can tattoo them to my skin, but because I needed to be reminded of them. I was a little lost and now, I'm back to my path once more, the seven words making way for hundreds more. So obvious. So perfect.

 Or in the words of Jack Kerouac:
"Someday I will find the right words and they will be simple."

Got words? And sorry for my cryptic musings, I will certainly reveal the words once I've gotten them tattooed. Honestly I'm kinda musing for myself at this point. Excuse the self-indulgence. It is my blog after all, a narcissistic endeavor by nature.


  1. "A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages" - I know it's tattooed in one Angelina Jolie, but I happen to LOVE that quote.

    1. Who's that a quote from? It's beautiful.

    2. Tennessee Williams. It comes pretty darn close to stating what I feel like is my purpose on Earth. To say that prayer.

  2. I love when you write like this. I'm looking for the words to tell you how much your musings click with my brain- how ironic.
    I do this often too.. I even keep a little notebook for times when short phrases pause a minute longer than most and I write them down.

  3. i'm partial to "i like big butts and i cannot lie".

    1. That'd be pretty f***ing rad brigit!

  4. i have to recover from brigit's quip up there. holy shitballs.

    i love it when you write like this too. it doesn't feel like narcissism when i'm totally captivated by you and your thinkings.

    except the crypticness is pulling out my inner sleuth. and i want to guess the heart sutra. which is seven words.

    whatever you choose, i know i will find it delightful, surprising, heart opening and mind expanding. cuz that's what you do to me, baby. xo

  5. ooooh i can't wait for the big reveal! it's funny that body modification seems to be a theme nowadays.

    and i love that the words appeared to you while you were gardening. the best inspiration comes when we're occupies, yes? i always keep a notebook with me because ideas come to me randomly all the time. i have forgotten things and cursed myself for doing so!

  6. oh, well, I have no idea what your words may be. i always consider getting my family's names etched into my skin, and then i think - wait they already are....on my belly, in my belly, lining my face, my hands, and every action I do. what are blogs for if not to write what you want my friend. xo

  7. oooh i love your musings about the future, your life, your space, your dreams, your words. keeping my heart full of possibilities tonight, through words straight from your own. i am excited to see the phrase that inspires you so.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. love this! and i can't wait to see your quote. "It is my blog after all, a narcissistic endeavor by nature." haha so true! but i'm glad we all have a bit of narcissism in us!

    ok, here's my quote which i wanted to tattoo on myself years back, "the sunshine bores the daylights out of me". one of my favorite rolling stones lyrics. not true for me, but i've always just loved that line.

  10. I just came across your blog because I was looking at "flower crowns" on goole and one of your images came up in the search and I realised it was from a blog, so I came over to read it, and I am so glad I did! It's lovely. I love the post where you made a necklace from flower buds? And the flower crown you made yourself from real flowers. What a lovely blog you have! Hi, I am your newest fan! :) xx

  11. I like "What will it be?". I've always liked asking questions more than coming up with answers. :)

  12. I adore your musings and can't wait to find out what you get!

  13. Well.. as a reminder, my own quote would be Gandhi's "Be the change you want to see in the world" - meaning lovingkindness happens in each one of us first (everyday, anywhere) and spreads from there :o)

  14. I have lots of tattoos about 1/2 of them words/phrases and the words get way more attention than my tattoos that are simply images. oh my, yes choose carefully, cuz u will be asked to repeat them over and over and over... seriously... and people will want to know why you chose those words and what they mean to u etc... no one ever asks about my fairies, hearts, goat, stars, moons, but the words... they ask about like CRAZY! xo m