Including any and all belief systems, spiritual paths or practices, almost anyone who has chosen to be tattooed has gone through this basic set of questions and answers, but by clearly defining this process we can take it to a higher place and purpose. This will not only make for a far better experience for you and your artist, but has a host of other benefits that can ripple outward into your daily life.

First, a couple of important definitions:

If we are to acknowledge the bottom line idea of occult sciences we can see that it proposes that the universe operates according to certain natural laws. If these laws are understood, one can lead a more purposeful and rewarding life. These mysteries and the connection to the Great Mystery (Creator/Creatrix) are part of our collective human birthright. A human being is just one dynamic reflection of the cosmos and we as humans represent reciprocal divine limitation.

Ceremony and ritual express and make tangible our inner truths and realities. This is a two-way street. Duality is part of our earthly experience; yet, it is not the ultimate reality… only a part. This duality can be worked with and transcended through various modes of operation.

One way that our ancestors did this before recorded time and into the present day, is through ritual tattooing. At the very base experience we must engage in a Mind-Over-Matter relationship with our body /vessel. Though much of the understanding of this mystical and magical root of tattooing has steadily died off in the face of modern society and its trends, there is a reason that it survives so strongly in our psyches.

Not only does being someone who is tattooed make you statistically more attractive to others (especially to the opposite sex) but it also can help you associate more strongly with your inborn elemental nature, and adds character both outwardly and inwardly.

The 5 things/questions are:

  1. Desire
  2. Intention
  3. Image
  4. Placement
  5. Execution

1. WHAT IS THE DESIRE?

Desire comes from somewhere within us. It is inspiration and “a product of the human spirit.” It carries with it a need for action but several things must precede action. Desire is the drive to manifest the subconscious and supra-conscious parts of our being into our present (waking) awareness. Desire can stem from wanting to move AWAY from something (experience, thing, idea) or TOWARD something (experience, thing, idea).

Ex. Mike wants to be loved and cared for by someone other than his mother.

2. WHAT IS THE INTENTION?

Intention follows directly on desire. Desire has the seed of the intention within it and we must faithfully cultivate the seed of desire if it is to bear fruit. The drive behind any action we take must have purpose. Purpose is another way of saying “intention”.

One should take sufficient time to define this purpose. Research, Study, Reflection, Contemplation and Meditation are all suggested methods to making this clear. When it has become clear, write it down in a small notebook or somewhere you can easily see or access it.

Ex. Mike decides he would like a girlfriend. (Mike writes this down in a journal)

3. WHAT IS THE IMAGE?

Symbols and images are containers for energy and are capable of holding many layers of meaning. For further investigation please see my article on symbols here.

The particular energy of a symbol can vary with social context and often geography. However, many symbols are universal in nature and are more static in their meaning. On a base level, things that relate to certain archetypes ( *See Carl Jung) and have resonance with our Intent and Desire will be helpful associations. Having clarity of Desire and Intent will make this easier to figure out. As long as you are clear on the context and meaning and how you wish to use it, move forward.

Ex. Mike starts to think about what kind images and energies that his Desire and Intent can embody. He wants something that will give him an edge and perhaps imply a little bit of danger, but also something that says he will be a good provider and protector. Mike sketches a picture of an ornate and jewel encrusted sword.

4. WHAT IS THE PLACEMENT

Placement is often the most watery and difficult consideration, but sometimes it is clear even before the image has been decided. For those who feel the need for some type of healing, release or new imprinting on their body, the placement of the tattoo can certainly be a primary matter. Regardless, the placement of the image will be superimposed on some area.

Depending upon tradition, there are certain associations you may wish to consult and apply in this decision. Centered of Off Center, Symmetry or Asymmetry, Front, Back, Right and Left, Masculine / Feminine etc.

How this image fits on the body aesthetically, the flow (vinyasa) of the image and its energies over your body contours are all factors. Also, the visibility of where the tattoo is in relation to how you would like to see yourself, as opposed to how others may see you can affect the final landing place.

Only when this is decided should you proceed.

Ex. Mike decides he wants the jeweled sword image to go next to an old scar on his bicep that he got from his negligent father. His father always made him feel inadequate about things. So with this tattoo he envisions this image of the opulent sword (energies of; sharp,strong, protective, dangerous, and expensive), vertically centered with the point down toward the scar that it WILL cancel or cleanse the old association of being inadequate with this new powerful image and intention. The tattoo is in a strong place (bicep) on the body and in effect he is giving his own power back to himself.

5. WHO WILL EXECUTE THE TATTOO

Unless you have someone whom you trust and want to work with again, finding the right artist to carry out this work can take longer than all of the other steps combined. Yes, it is not hard to find a “tattooer” these days, but finding the correct “one for YOU” should take whatever it takes until a good fit is found. High quality of work and cleanliness are primary considerations but beyond that, clear communication and a calm, steady demeanor are most valuable.

Remember that you are going to be surrendering your bodily vessel into this person’s very capable hands. Receptivity should go both ways and while you hold the reins until the moment that the needles touch down, you must allow the work to proceed as it will by tuning into your receptivity into the original intentions and desires put you there in the first place. It should be obvious that if you end up with many obstacles in working out a plan of action for your tattoo with any given tattooist, you should be talking to someone else instead.

Ex. Mike walks into a shop to talk to a tattooist about helping him design his jeweled sword piece. The artists there don’t seem very interested in talking with him and aren’t listening. He gets a card from a friend he trusts at a coffee shop. Mike talks with this new tattooist about his idea. A plan of moving ahead is devised and the deal is struck. They both communicate their working processes and together they will manifest this work!

I hope that there is something you can use here. It is my sincere effort to give back to the practices that have taken me through great transformations. Please sign up for the Tattoo Vinyasa Newsletter, and I will send you a copy of my PDF treatise on The 5 Components of a Magical Tattoo.

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To summarize, these 5 points can be looked at a bit differently if we use symbols. Below I have arranged the 5 questions in a clockwise manner around a pentagon. If we follow the clockwise pattern, we now have a template for making practical use of this information, and I hope you will. Tuning into the quieter parts of the self always yield some insight if we are willing to make the time to for it.

With Honor and Respect,

Jon Osiris