Sacred Pain, intentional pain, on the subtle edge of masochism. Craving the tingling, raw skin scalding from a hot hot shower, wishing you could get the water just a bit hotter… exercise sessions that burn the lungs and muscles, push the heart to the point of explosion, the place where pain is on the edge of severe, but you …breath… into the intention of it and all melts away into a form of bliss. The depth of love from a relationship that you know wont work, knowing the separation will be traumatic, but the love is so sweet. That little animal you brought home, knowing you will one day say goodbye to that innocent love. Walking across hot coals, being suspended by the skin, scarification, rites of passage through starvation and ritual venomous ant bites. Childbirth. Making love for the last time. Receiving permanent marking on your skin.

Sacred Pain, knowing that you could withstand what you intentionally put yourself through.

The spiritual ecstasy of receiving tattoo has been a part of my heroine’s journey for near 20 years. The fascination of marking the body with a timeline, an outward expression of individual insight and reflection. A memory forever tagged. A turning point never to be forgotten. Archetypes, impressions of loved ones come and gone, wishes and reflections, adornment. Intentions for healing, magical spells, and incantations to our personal gods. Enhancing personal power, amplifying Telling the world of expectation and conformity that “no actually, this is who I am.” Animals are born with fur, feathers and scales that tell the world who they are and what they are about. How do humans do it, in our nakedness, we just blend with the landscape, hues of creams to tans to browns. Blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes… grey hazel eyes. Brown, yellow, grey, white, black, red hair… we aren’t that spectacular when you compare us to Resplendent Quetzals, Bengal Tigers, Octopi, Cuddle Fish, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, Bald Eagles, Blue Morpho Butterflies, Eyelash Vipers and all the like. We distinguish ourselves with clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, makeup…piercings. Wash it away, comb it out, let it close, in our nakedness, we aren’t all that different. The lifelines of scars, the lumps of time, the sagging of repetition… the intentional holes and marks we place, tell the world, “I am unique. Look at me. Read me. This is my story to tell.”

So many silly trends I am so glad I never jumped onto, 90’s/early 00’s neo”tribal” designs and Chinese characters… well, I did jump on the latter trend, though it felt appropriate, last name being Wu and all… and those lines, now blurred, nearly illegible, still have meaning. Luck, Love, Pleasure, Patience, Strength, Success, Will, Wisdom. All the things I wanted to cultivate in my 19 year old life, and still do. “Live With Intent”, some butterflies, astrological symbols and Runes, greek letters, a handpoked Sak Yant, vulture, bee, hummingbird, snake, spider, botanicals, initials, “Libertad.” What happens to those prayers when the lines start to blur and the color disappears, do the intentions fade away? New desires manifest, not being the same person, as the skin gradually sheds, a new being becoming out from under the old outward material expression.

There is no going back, well not really, not without more pain, from lasers of course, but in the removal is also the pain of regret and who wants that? Even that one I got on my stomach senior year in high school, the one that everyone is like “what is that?”, no regrets, it was who I was… “who is that?”

Meditating on certain forms, certain places, sometimes knowing that a tattoo will eventually be there, waiting for the right life moment to manifest itself. Almost a self fulfilling prophecy. Like pining over Bob Dylan songs wishing you were who they were about, but then again maybe you don’t because they are just such sad stories. The romanticism of it all. Saying… one day, when the time is right, The Death Card, one day a Bat, one day if this, then that. That will be on my personal world map, the pin points of where I have been.

…and the day comes… after days, weeks, months, years… ready to emerge. Perhaps like Michelangelo, when he said that the form spoke to him from the stone, maybe the image spoke from under the skin.

…those moments leading up to the initial puncturing of the skin, the racing heart, the thought… I am ready, wait no I am not… yes I am… blood drawn, bring it on, the intentional pain, mark the skin for life… who will I be after, will this actually help me to be… more me? The trance, those moments of surrender to the pain, feeling it form you, letting it wash you, ritual blood letting, ritual sacrifice. The scabs and discomfort, the new you in the mirror… you. The healing process, that you came out just fine and now you are different, the reminder indelible. The landmark of time and experience.

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Walk the Good Medicine Road