Turning tattoo regrets into personal power

Turning tattoo regrets into personal power

rainbow arm

I've spent the last two hours staring at my freshly tattooed arm, breaking only to chase off a scaryrabid cat outside. Last night, I came to a conclusion about this new tattoo: it is aesthetically upside down. But tattoos are never perfect. Instead of criticizing surface style, I want to explain how potential regrets can turn into personal power. Whether in battle, ritual, or another reality, when it comes time to put your tattoos to good use, a meaningful mark trumps a pretty one.

1. Placement
My talented artist, Briza, wanted to put the Ace of Wands in the same direction as my other Aces–the Pentacle and Sword. But my vision was to have the Wand going the opposite direction. So that's what I got.

Looking at it last night, I realized my arm as a whole would look more pleasing if I had gone with Briza's preference. And so I despaired, and regretted, and went to bed.

Waking this morning, I remembered that I chose the placement for a reason beyond aesthetics. I wanted to embrace both the right-side-up and reversed readings of the cards. By placing the cards in opposite directions, I am accepting the dual nature of the cards.

There are destructive and constructive forces in the universe, and I strive for balance between the two. I want to be able to call on both sources of energy as needed. With all cards going the same direction, there would be no opportunity to see them both ways.

2. Subject matter
These fucking clouds are a buzzkill. Clouds are an integral part of the Aces, and they are taking up a large, prominent area on my forearm. How did I come to a point where I wanted to tattoo clouds on my body? They're gray, and they're bulbous. I've always hated the cloud on the original Pentacle, so why would I add more??

This may be a weird answer, but the clouds are a shield. They are a barrier. They will protect me, and hide me when needed. They are also a life-giving source of water, and shade, and change. This tattoo brings them new respect.

3. What I see is not what you see
When you get tattooed, you want to admire it. But there are only so many places on your body that you can easily see without aid of a mirror. When I look down, I see these clouds and these birds, neither of which are my favorite elements of the tattoo. I want to stare at the colorful bits!

By forcing myself to perpetually gaze at clouds and birds, I am reminded of two things. One is the reason I got more tattoos on my arm in the first place–to cover up nasty self-inflicted scars. The other is escape. The clouds will forever recall the darker times in my life, when I don't have a handle on my own energy and I self-destruct. The birds will always represent the choice to leave that state of mind.

I can choose whichever reality I want to exist in. Or I can wallow in depression. With such ambiguous flexibility, I find a constant reminder of the situation useful. My attitude and experience is my choice alone.

I now look at tattoos as tools. The symbolic and literal meanings of the objects on my skin serve specific purposes in this reality and others. As a designer, form versus function is a constant challenge. No matter how pretty something is, if it doesn't work, it won't get used. As time speeds up and we enter new planes of existence, I am still searching for compromise.

Jessica Mullen
Living the magick life.
  • Todd

    Request: I would like you and Briza to help me design my tattoos ( sleeves up both arms ) depicting the history of Activity Theory, from its inception in the early 1900s up to today.

    Some base line visuals, simply for reference, and shouldn’t be considered what I’ll be getting inked, are in Chris’s deck he presented on Saturday:


  • Todd

    P.S. Note slides 79 through 85 in Chris’s slideshare !!

  • jessica mullen

    designing tattoos is one of my least developed creative skills. it is painful and tedious and frustrating! i do suggest that you take your ideas to briza – call her ahead of time to find an available 20 minutes when you can meet. she can take your ideas (and any visuals to get started) and turn them into a visual masterpiece. she is really good at what she does – and the more you trust her, the better the work will be.
    i can email you her email address.
    ps. looks like a great presentation!

  • Tiffany (stagnantide)

    do you have more pictures of your tattoos? They are beautiful. I recently got a tattoo on my forearm because I wanted to be able to read it (it’s from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe) and admire it. I also put it there because I was self conscious about some of my scars on that arm and by having the tattoo there, people will notice IT instead.


  • jessica mullen

    Thanks Tiffany! I would love to see pix of your tattoo, do you have any? Here are some more of mine: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=tattoo&ss=2&ct=6&mt=all&w=94348950%40N00&adv=1

    I must admit I chose the placement of my recent work for similar reasons to yours. The tats look much better than scars and prevent future damage!

  • Tiffany (stagnantide)

    ooh yours are so gorgeous. I have 3 tattoos so far, a star on my right wrist, a heart on my left, as well as part of a poem on my left forearm. i want to get more, but I am unsure about placement mostly.

    the star I’m not really happy with (I don’t think it was very well done :/):

    BUT here’s my left arm :)

  • jessica mullen

    the star looks perfect for some future additions! i started with a single star on my left wrist and it eventually morphed into all the tarot work. the poem looks lovely!

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