Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tattoo. A Personal Journey.

I have been wanting a tattoo for as long as I can remember.  I was very young when I first was fascinated by body art, I remember seeing grown up men with pictures of anchors and ships etc on their arms, and I loved it.
My parents, of course, didn't encourage positive thinking what tattoos were concerned.  My mom didn't like them at all, and my dad just kept telling me how much it hurts to get a tattoo.... and what kid wants to be in pain?  (Good tactic dad! hehe).

I don't think I ever thought about getting a tattoo myself until I came to the US, and a lot of people, "normal" people", were sporting tattoos of all kinds. The stigma of the tattoo had changed.  It's no longer only "gangsters" and military personnel who wear tattoos, it was becoming a modern accessory for the average citizen .... grandmas and soccer moms have them! (I'm not bagging on grandmas and soccer moms... let me just say that lol .... I'm just making a statement regarding tattoos!)

SO .... now I wanted one.  But what to get? I was determined not to just walk in somewhere and pick something off a wall somewhere. If I was going to do this, it had to be personal, it had to mean something to me...
You'd be surprised at the amount of soul searching that goes into figuring out a tattoo design. (At least for me it did involve some soul searching...).  I went from wanting my favorite animals (tiger), to a dragon .... I thought of tattooing a portrait of a cat that would resemble a lot of memories from my past.

In the midst of all this, I realized that I was thinking too much about what other people would think of my tattoo. I was trying to please other people. That won't work!
It's my tattoo, my choice, my life. If other people don't like it or understand it, that shouldn't matter to me.  I wanted it to be pleasing to the eye of course, but the significance should be personal to me, regardless of what others thought.

So ..... I went back to my roots. Way way WAAAY back to my roots.  To Norse Mythology.  I've always loved Norse mythology. The stories, the gods, the animals... the tradition. It's very interesting and it's certainly relevant to me, both as heritage and as far as interest goes.  Now, as far as tattoos are concerned, there are a lot of choices from Norse mythology... from portraits of specific gods, animals .... symbols.  Personally, I like symbolism.  For me, I like pictures that symbolize a number of things, that carry a lot of meaning.... and that are open for interpretation for whoever sees them.

So let me break down my tattoo for you. And tell you what the different pieces mean to me.

And let it be known... there is a lot about this tattoo I can't really explain. But I'll do my best.

First things first...

Where did I have it done:  Tattoo Alchemy, Montclair, by Peachy.
Did it hurt?   No.
What did it cost?  Not gonna say, it's not about monetary value.

(However, I WILL tell you that the tattoo was paid for by the Palms casino in Las Vegas, from a jackpot I won there, AND by the CA Lottery from some money I won on a scratcher ticket ..... that ought to be good luck, don't you think?? :))

Let's get to the fun part:

The Runes.

The runes read: "For whom the sun also rises" 
Sound familiar? (Read the title of this blog.... hehe). 
The phrase carries 3 main references of inspiration to me. 

1. My daughter. Aurora.  Her name means "rising sun". Instead of directly tattooing her name on my body, again I prefer symbolism, so a sentence that incorporate the significance of her name was more my style.

2. My big inspiration and hero as far as writing and literature is concerned. Ernest Hemingway.  My two favorite novels, "For whom the bell tolls" and "The sun also rises" .... need I say more? (Read the statement again, you'll see it.... I merged the two titles)

3. I find it an inspiring phrase really.  For whom the sun also rises. That's me.
In addition to having my daughter and my literary inspiration embedded into it, it's a phrase of optimism for me. I always do try to find the silver lining, usually I do try to spot the sunshine when life hands you thunder storms. Hard to explain. But that's how it is.

Thor's Hammer. Mjolnir.

A lot of people when they heard I was going to have Mjollnir tattooed, asked if I was going to have lightning bolts shooting out from it. 
No. I didn't want lightning bolts. The hammer, on my back, represents other thing than lightning.  Everyone knows Thor's hammer causes thunder and lightning, so it's already implied.  But that wasn't my prime focus of the hammer.

1. The hammer represents the "good" side of the gods.  Yes, it represents Thor, but it also has connection to his father, Odin, to Thor's wife, Siv, it also represents the good side of Loki... because Loki wasn't purely evil. He was chaotic.

If you study the hammer more closely, you'll see that the top handle has the ram in it. You can see the horns curling around on top of the handle.
In the middle, there's an owl. You can see the beek and the eyes there if you look closely.  It's all part of an intricate pattern that is the hammer.  Just like me ;-) I'm made up of a very intricate pattern myself. hehe.

2. The hammer will hit anything Thor aims for.  It's an inspiration to keep reaching for my goals.  Aim for it, go for it, hit it. No matter what it is.  If it's weight loss, if it's a career goal, if it's something small like getting your car washed....  Aim for it and throw the hammer.
The hammer can level mountains (Mjolnir, I believe it means "crusher"). Yet, the hammer never flies so far away from Thor, that it couldn't find its way back.  That to me is a reminder to stay grounded, no matter where life takes you.

There are a lot of cool stories about Thor and the hammer out there, one of my favorite ones is called the "Trymskvida", in which the giant "Trym" steals the hammer from Thor, and he demands that Thor brings him Freya in exchange for getting his hammer back. Instead of bringing him Freya, the gods decide to dress Thor up as the bride and Loki was dressed up as Thor's bridesmaid.  It's quite comical to think of the two big manly gods dressed up as bride and bridesmaid, and the comical effect is heightened by the way they describe that "the bride" (Thor) eats an entire ox on her own during the wedding dinner.  Loki claims the bride eats so much because "she" has been so excited about the upcoming wedding and hasn't eaten at all for 7 days. 
Anyway, as a part of the wedding ceremony, Thor is handed the hammer and once it's back in his possession, he is able to strike down the giants and head home.

It is a fact a poem and I love it, it kind puts a fun spin on the otherwise serious and mighty gods, and here we do get a glimpse of the "good" Loki as he's helping Thor get his hammer back. (Of course, Loki had a hand in the hammer disappearing in the first place...)

Ok, so as you can see, the hammer carries a lot of significance to me, both purely physical and heritage wise, but also has a lot of symbolism attached.

The Midgard Serpent.

1. The Midgard Serpent represent the evil beings in Norse mytholgy, and Loki is also represented here as the Midgard Serpent is in fact Loki's offspring that he spawned with a giantess.

The serpent used to be named "Jormundgandr", but Odin tossed him in the ocean one day, and the serpent grew so large, he surrounded the world and could bite his own tail.  The saga has it that when he lets go of his tail, the world will end.
So he was named the "Midgard Serpent" (The World Serpent....).

2. The Serpent is Thor's arch enemy. There are several stories in which they encounter each other, trick each other and almost kill each other.

The story goes that at Ragnarok (the apocalypse, the end of the world), Thor will kill the Midgard Serpent, but then Thor wanders 9 steps and keels over and dies because he had been poisoned by the Midgard Serpent.

I found that including Thor's arch enemy in this tattoo felt "complete".  It's like a "yin and yang" of Norse mythology.
It's an odd balance. It's good and evil coexisting.   You can't have one without the other.

The tattoo, to me, feels complete.  Not only for all the symbolism that I personally have attached to it, but it also represents ME.  Anybody who knows me, knows that I'm a tomboy, I like gaming, I like RPGs and fantasy, so even if nobody knows anything about the symbolism behind my tattoo, they will still know that this tattoo is ME.

Finally, I want to tell everyone that Tattoo Alchemy is a GREAT place for tattoos!  Their portfolios are amazing (all of them), the atmosphere in there is like no other tattoo shop you've ever visited.  It's relaxing, non-intimdating, it's completely chill & I was SO comfortable there.  Everyone is really friendly, I will no doubt recommend them to others, hands down. 

I didn't even have a concrete vision when I walked in there.  I handed Peachy a couple of printouts of the hammer, of some serpents and of the runes and told her to "run with it" pretty much..... she did and it turned out so much more amazing that I had ever envisioned in my head.  She is fantastic!!! :))

Here are some pics from my tattoo experience.  Enjoy.

To me, there is so much significance in this tattoo, that not everything can really be explained.  I'm so happy I finally did this, and I'm 100% sure that when I turn 90 years old, I'll still be proud of my tattoo :)


  1. Yes, this tattoo is you. And of course you will still love it when you turn 90 :D

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