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This blog seeks to explore the divine feminine by examining the history of women. The analysis of archaeology and history found here is meant to raise questions, not necessarily find answers. In addition, by looking at our female ancestors, we can seek to make connections in our current lives and define ourselves as women in fresh ways.

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Sacred Tattooing : A Brief Introduction

Altering the body as a means of drawing close to our gods, signaling our membership in a religious community, or communicating our beliefs has a long history. Tattooing has a proud place in human religious practices. For thousands of years we have sunk pigments into  our skin in a painful, transformative process. While those of us in the West may often think of tattoos as some combination of art or fad, there have always been those who practice tattooing as part of their spirituality. And among these people, we see a rich history of women tattoo artists and Goddess imagery. 

A recent issue of Archaeology delighted me with an overview of some ancient tattoo practices, including the role that women played in various cultures. I would like to introduce you to some of these ancient tattooers and their work over the course of the next few posts that I make. This will build up to the eventual discussion of spiritually significant tattooing in women's lives today. At some point, I will share with you the experience I went through adding an ancient tattoo image to my own collection of tattoos.

To get started, let's look at a quick assortment of ancient tattoo images.

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Above is a depiction of what an artist in 1588 imagined a tattooed Pict woman to look like. The sun motif is interesting.

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This sketch shows the actual tattoos found on an Andean mummy. These tattoos are possibly medicinal, related to acupuncture. I wonder if the symbols indicate a prayer or what other symbolism they involve.

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The mummies of Nubian and Egyptian women often contained tattooing similar to what you see above. These tattoos were done by women, and we will talk about this more in-depth in another post.

As you can see from just this quick sample, tattooing has been a global practice for thousands of years. Women are a part of this rich heritage. We will further analyze, speculate, and discuss tattooing and women's history in the coming months.

 

Photo Credits:

Magazine photo by blog author.

Pict woman: public domain, Wikimedia

Andean tattoos: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440310002669

Egyptian woman's tattoos: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/researchers-in-museums/2012/12/10/tattooed-mummy-amunet/

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Emily has a master's degree in literature with a focus on women's history and works as a writing teacher. She is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.

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