Are tattoos symbols of transformation?
An intuitive inquiry into the deeper possibilities of an ancient and modern form of ornamentation
Keywords:tattoo, ritual, symbol, pain, altered states, transformation, embodiment
This research was motivated by the exponential interest in tattoos over the past four decades, which led to my research question: “Are tattoos symbols of transformation?” An examination of both current and historical literature generated an understanding of the tattoo process as a rite of passage, which considers the possibility of tattoos as transformative symbols between the mundane and transpersonal realms of existence. This generated a deeper understanding of tattoos from the essence of indigenous knowledge and why its revival is important in our current world context. The qualitative approach of intuitive inquiry was chosen for its creative and intuitive alignment with the subject of tattooing. The five hermeneutical cycles of intuitive inquiry aligned with the five stages of tattooing. Ten participants with personally meaningful tattoos were interviewed. Thematic analysis was applied to the data and five themes emerged: Ritual, symbol / non-verbal communication, pain, altered state / sacred dimension, and transformation. These themes were explored, revealing altered states of consciousness and embodiment, resulting in personal growth and an expansion in worldview. This research suggests that tattoos can be cultural and natural symbols carrying our stories and meaning through time, while restoring relationship to ourselves and a unified consciousness.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Lindie Pankiv-Greene
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