Tattoo Magic: Whats up with all the Snakes?

 

by K Lenore Siner

A visit to my room at Witch City Ink often prompts people to ask me “What is up with the snakes?” They are in the artwork on my walls, scattered around the room in line sheets of future and finished tattoos, a snake print leather covers my tattoo chair – not to mentioned that they are tattooed all over my body. The question is always met with a pause and a smile; when it comes to myth, symbolism and my personal story there isn’t anything I would rather share about.

Symbols have intrinsic, seeping power. Spend time with one and it will leave its mark on you the way spending time around a fire leaves you smelling of smoke.

Snake is connected to transformation, creation, wisdom, healing, the underworld, the circle, the spiral, the element of water and both death and eternal life. Snakes are an important part of the myth and symbolism of cultures around the world. There are dozens of serpent gods and hundreds of stories where they are featured. They show up as beneficent, troublesome, evil and sometimes a mix of all three. With such a rich history of myth and symbolism there is no way for me to do justice to it all. However, I would like to share a bit of why I personally love the snake as a totem and some reflections on why you might want to incorporate it into your next intentional tattoo.

I got my first snake tattoo more than a decade ago after participating in a woman’s initiatory ritual that involved a group of us building and walking a labyrinth (more on labyrinths here). At the labyrinth’s center was a woman holding a large, live python. As I took my turn walking the labyrinth I wondered what I should do when I reached this personification of the Divine in the center – should I kneel? Should I say something important? What do you do when you have the chance to meet god?

I kept taking the path and getting closer and still didn’t know. When I arrived in the center I felt something inside me shift and I stood up a bit straighter. I looked her in the eyes with that huge snake twisting around her neck and shoulders and I knew in that instant that there was no other choice but that – to meet her dead on, eye to eye, as an equal.

Meeting the snake priestess was my first experience of knowing my own divinity and it was an event that changed my life, enough so that I immediately went and got my first snake tattoo, to remember myself as divine through wearing the symbol of that experience in my skin.

Symbols are alive. Just like us they have different moods and manners depending on what they are in relation to. And just like us they are evolving and changing. As we develop a relationship with a symbol we write our own personal story with it.

Being raised in Christian culture, the earliest snake myth I ever heard was that of Eve in the garden being “tempted” by the snake. Here is a version of the story:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened.

Now I know this story is supposed to be about original sin and all that crap, but when I read it I cant help but think that this was a moment of empowerment! The snake shows up and directs Eve to consider that she has been given misinformation, she looks for herself and sees value in something that she had in the past ignored and when she engages it she becomes “like God”. This is not a story of sin, but a story of finding ones true will, and the power that goes with that – and the snake led the way.

In light of this myth, snake is connected to the acquisition of personal power and wisdom, specifically in the areas that we are told are dangerous or should be left alone. It is about listening to our intuition and acting on what we see as good and valuable – not just what we are told is true – and the transformation we encounter when we act on those impulses.

Another story – I had the terrifying pleasure of getting far too close to a rattlesnake while harvesting blue vervain in the hills of South Dakota a few years ago. I was out hiking miles away from any road or home and as I bent down to cut a plant I heard that distinct rattle sound from under a shrub a foot away. I was immediately still, focused, present and very aware of my heart beat, my life, as I backed slowly away.

In the presence of that snake, I got to feel the awe of being one false move away from a painful death. What has great power to transform has the power to destroy. In that, snake is not an easy friend. It means to invite death, to let go with each skin shed towards becoming the next version of us and its lessons often come to us as venom, the drop of poison that cures.

In the vast history of snake myth and meaning, these are my personal connections. So if you ask me “What is up with the snakes” the short story is that I love tattooing them as a reminder to embrace our divinity, follow our intuition even when it is contrary to what we have been taught in order to gain wisdom and power and to be able to come to terms with fear, death and letting go in service of our own transformation.

Do you have a snake tattoo that holds a particular intention for you? A favorite snake myth or personal story? I would love for you to share! Thinking of incorporating snake symbolism into your next tattoo? You know I would be more than happy to help, message me at @snakeoclock or call Witch City to set up a consult.

 

 

 

Tattoo Magic: The Pentacle

written by K Lenore Siner

Many people come to Witch City Ink looking to get a memento of their visit to Salem, most often something related in some way to the Salem Witch Trials or to witch craft in general. More often than not, I find that my client has only a vague notion of what the symbol they have chosen to wear permanently on their body means, and I at times I lack the ability to clearly explain the meaning of what I am tattooing. So I’ve decided to start blogging on some of the most common symbols that I tattoo and their meanings as a way to further educate myself as hopefully interest future clients as well.

Hands down the most commonly requested symbol is the pentacle.* The pentacle is an ancient symbol used by many cultures through out time. It was used by the followers of Pythagoras, the Jewish and Christian Mystics, and the ancient Babylonians. The symbol was coopted by several 19th century Western Magical traditions and also became a central symbol to the Neo-pagan movement in the 20th century. Add to that, the inverted pentacle was adopted by the Church of Satan in the 1960’s as its official seal and Hollywood has also had its fun over the past decades using it as an image of evil or “anti-Christian” beliefs.

With such diverse history, the pentacle has many different meanings to different people. However most meanings draw from its connection to the number 5 because of its geometry. Thus the pentacle is connected to the human microcosm -the 4 limbs and the head, the 5 fingers and the 5 senses – as well as the macrocosm – the 5 elements and the 4 directions plus center. Thus it speaks to the magical concept of the macrocosm with the microcosm, or that which exists externally (in the world) also exists internally (in the self).

5 is also a circular number and a number of manifestation as when 5 is raised to its own power, it produces itself again in its last digit.

The pentacle is often used as a suit of the tarot instead of coins or disks, and corresponds with the element of earth.

In Western magical and neo-pagan traditions each point of the star corresponds to a particular element. One may invoke an element, and the powers of that element by drawing the star starting from a particular point. This is of particular interest when tattooing a pentacle for you can enhance the intention of the tattoo by being mindful to the manner in which it is tattooed. The circle around the star can be seen as a magical circle, containing the energies invoked within.


One thing that frequently comes up while tattooing is the meaning of the inverted pentacle verses one with the point up. Many people associate the inverted pentacle as “evil” because of its association with Satanism and its use in pop culture horror movies. By looking at the attributes of the points of the stars its easier to understand possible meaning and decide for yourself what, if any truth that has. The pentacle point up places Spirit at the top, with Earth ascending towards Spirit. Inverted, Spirit is ascending towards Earth. This is read either as a focus on the internal journey of finding the Divine with in oneself, or as placing carnal or “earthly” desires over those of Spirit.

So why get pentacle tattoo? When it comes to tattooing magical symbols, intention is everything. Especially with a symbol that has been used so diversely, connecting clearly to your purpose in wearing it creates the matrix in which it can function. Looking at the above correspondences a pentacle tattoo can be an intention of focusing on manifestation and physical abundance, a way to dedicate yourself to the study and understanding of a particular element or direction, a reminder of the macrocosm within the microcosm,a symbol of your neo-pagan practice or just that “witch star thing” that people wear in Salem. No one intention is better than the other and each will lead the wearer down a different path.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts, your experiences of wearing a pentacle tattoo or requests for other symbols to blog about – please message me at @snakeoclock

Art is Magic, wear your Magic!

– K Lenore

*There is some debate as to the difference between a pentacle and a pentagram. Some sources say that a pentacle is a physical object while a pentagram is a drawing or diagram. Others say that that pentacle refers only to a paton or magical tool that can be inscribed with a variety of symbols. For the purpose of this article a pentacle is the encircled, 5 pointed star, in any of its forms.

Halloween Flash Sale!

Its Halloween in Salem and we have been busy busy busy at the shop!  To celebrate the “most wonderful time of the year” (lol!) we are running a special for small Halloween flash designs October 17th- 31st.  $75 per tattoo – first come first serve – walk-ins only.  Here are a few of the dozens of designs our artists have tattooed this week:

Also a reminder that our shop Halloween party will be held on Halloween night, October 31st from 7pm-12pm.  Come on by, meet our artists and enter our costume contest for a chance to win a $300 Witch City Ink gift certificate!

2017 Solar Eclipse

Happy Solar Eclipse day! Here is a small selection of some sun and moon themed tattoos our artists have done. Enjoy the eclipse and safe viewing!

Original picture on www.shopdixi.com/

Alas, you’re probably reading this with an eye roll, tapping your tattooed fingers on the table wondering when you’re going to hear the end of this debate. Answer: never. Because equal chances are that you’ve seen some really, really cute pictures of perfect finger tattoos on Pinterest or Instagram and are looking to get one yourself (see header). Whether it’s your first tattoo and you just like the look or you’re working on a full body suit, the do’s and don’ts of finger tattoos are always a good topic.

The truth of the matter is that finger tattoos are a gamble, at best. Take a moment to think about your hands. How much you touch with your hands each day, how little muscle and/or fat you have on each finger, how much work they endure in an afternoon. Though tattoos are permanent, your hands don’t have the thick layer of skin needed to hold the ink in, resulting in a tattoo that “falls out”- i.e. a fresh tattoo that can look sloppy, unfinished, or look years older than it is. Another common downfall of a finger tattoo is a tattoo that is “blown out”, or where the ink doesn’t hold in the spot and expands under the skin, turning your nice clean line into an ink blot.

This does NOT mean you shouldn’t get what you want. Many people decide on this tattoo and love the result. We tell you this because with the rise of social media and with celebrities popularizing the finger tattoo trend, many aren’t aware of the risks that come with this sort of tattoo. You should always go with what you want, it’s your body, just don’t be surprised if you come across an artist or shop that don’t do this or try and talk you out of it. As much as it’s your piece it is also the artist’s reputation, and no one wants you leaving the shop with a bad tattoo!

Original pictures unknown

Tattoo Aftercare

Info Graphic created by BARBERDTS.CO.UK

Last week we talked about the all important, yet often neglected, pre-tattoo care. This week we’ll be addressing its twin, the after process.
We appreciate that every artist has different suggestions for aftercare. And that’s to be expected! Each artist has a technique comfortable for them, and every body is different and thus has different needs. That being said there are a few well known moves that will greatly help you in your healing process:

  • Keep the dressing on your tattoo given to you by the tattooist for at least 2 hours Your tattoo is, frankly, an open wound when finished. Like any cuts you want to put a bandage on it at first to protect it until you get home.
  • Remove the dressing and wash down the area with warm soapy water. Do NOT scrub or soak the tattoo & pat the tattoo dry with a towel and leave uncovered The reason you don’t keep your fresh piece covered for very long is because you want it to scab as soon as possible. The scab helps lock in the color, so any damage to the scabbing will affect how well the tattoo looks when it’s healed.

 

  • *Apply a lotion to the tattoo up to 3 times a day & wear loose clothing to avoid irritating the tattoo So here is where we start to verge from our helpful info graphic. Here at Witch City Ink we recommend a light, scent free lotion (our artists are also big fans of Hustle Butter) whenever your tattoo is feeling tight. For those with sensitive skin, a small amount of A&D can also be helpful. But extended use of either product will affect the scab forming and thus potentially harm your tattoo. If you are using A&D you should only use it for a couple of days, and for lotion you should use sparingly for as long as needed.

 

 

  • DO NOT PICK OR SCRATCH at the scab of your tattoo. This will make the healing process longer, disfigure the tattoo, remove the ink and even cause infection. Seriously, just google what an infected tattoo or a poorly healed tattoo looks like when you feel the urge to itch and you will stop itching real quick.
  • Avoid swimming and being in the sun during the healing process At the end of the day the healing process is all about taking care of the delicate scab that is covering your new tattoo. Keeping a scab submerged in water or baking in the sun will only cause serious harm to the scab and thus to your piece.
  • It will take around 7-10 days for your tattoo to heal, sometimes longer depending on where the tattoo is. Personal anecdote to explain this one- when I got a small tattoo on my wrist, it formed a scab within a day and was all healed up within the week. My thigh piece though, which is much larger and has color, took almost a week and a half to heal and was still tender after that. Every body is different.
  • After the tattoo has healed continue to keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight. This will prevent it from fading. This last after care instruction is a universal truth! Sunlight is death to tattoos, new or old. All tattoos fade to a degree over time, but give your piece the fighting chance it deserves with sunblock and coverage during those sunny days.

 

Getting a tattoo? Do these first.

Everyone has questions about how to best take care of their tattoo but few people realize how important the pre-tattoo steps are. We love this graphic from BuzzfeedDIY that illustrates the best steps to take before you even get in the shop.

  • Eat a Big Meal Beforehand When you get tattooed, your body expends a lot of energy. To keep your calories up and to keep you going to the finish line, it’s good to eat a healthy meal before you sit down for your tattoo.
  • Drink a Lot of Water Same idea as eating a big meal beforehand. Pretty much treat your tattoo session as the physical challenge it is and do your best to prep your body as best you can.
  • Avoid Alcohol The Day Before This one probably is self explanatory, but alcohol is a blood thinner and that can cause problems for your tattoo artist. Also, no one wants a sloppy tattoo because you had too much fun before your session and couldn’t sit up in the chair. But after your tattoo? Go for it, friend.
  • No Painkillers See ‘avoid alcohol’ comments above.
  • Pack Snacks, Water & Cash for Your Tip Even if you’ve had a feast for breakfast it’s always good to pack fuel for later to keep that energy level going. Think of it as a great excuse to treat yourself! And while many tattoo parlors have card readers these days, it’s good to know that those systems do NOT generally have a tipping option. Artists understand that this isn’t common knowledge, but still- cash is king.
  • Wear Comfortable, Dark Clothes You know that cute, fitted white tee that is your favorite part of every outfit? Now imagine it with blood on it, agitating your nice, fresh, new tattoo. Not so cute.
  • Stretch Beforehand Like the graphic says, you’ll be in the same position for at least a couple of hours. Be your body’s friend and it will thank you!
  • Stay Calm. Listen, tattoos don’t tickle (except for sometimes). But as our artist Jae says, if they hurt that bad then no body would get them. The important thing to remember is to keep breathing and find your center. It’ll be over before you know it and after you’ll have a beautiful piece of art that’s all yours.
  • Set Aside More Time Than You Think You’ll Need Whether it’s because of parking or because you want to tweak your idea or because the appointment before yours wanted to tweak their idea, tattoo scheduling isn’t an exact science. It’s good to remember that even though we’re trying our best, we aren’t perfect but we want your tattoo to be. We’re trying our best but it’s not something to rush.
  • Of course each shop and tattoo artist will have different ideas on whats best for you and your tattoo, and at the end of the day you know your body best. But these are all steps we strongly recommend that will help you get through your tattoo session like a champ!

    Original Post in Buzzfeed DIY, illustrator unknown

    Black Friday Sale Returns!

    Well, 2016 has been a fun one but I think we’re all grateful for the holidays and the start of a new year.  We are definitely grateful for everyone who has supported us this past year and are eager to give back! We want to show how much we appreciate your business and also your trust in creating beautiful pieces of art by having a very special sale this week: All of our Gift Certificates will be 20% off!!

    We hope you will take advantage of this once-a-year special, to give the gift of beautiful body art to your friends, family, and of course yourself.  Gift Certificates can be purchased online, in the studio and over the phone: 978.744.9393.

    We are truly grateful for you all and hope you have a wonderful holiday season!!

    Solidarity Pins Event

    We hope that you will join us December 3rd anytime between 10am – 11pm! For each tattoo that we do, the wearer will be able to choose from the following list of charities:

    American Civil Liberties Union
    Council on American-Islamic Relations
    Human Rights Campaign
    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    NARAL Pro-Choice America
    National Immigration Law Center
    Planned Parenthood
    Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
    Southern Poverty Law Center
    Trevor Project

    For more information on all of these charities, go here
    For more information on what wearing a safety pin means, check out this great article.
    For more information on the Solidarity Pins Event at Witch City Ink you can check our Facebook or call the shop at 978-366-4924

    solidarity

    Tis The Season…

    k-witch-hatNo, not THAT season… its finally Fall and the Halloween season officially kicks off next weekend!  One of the reasons we love being in Salem, MA is this amazing time of year, filled with witches and bats and so much more.  We love to see our yearly halloween clientele, and love to meet new halloween-loving folks visiting the Witch City!

    We do, however, want to remind everyone that, if you have an appointment with one of our artists, please be sure to give yourself PLENTY oscreen-shot-2016-09-25-at-2-26-38-pmf extra time to get into the city and find parking.  It can be a real nightmare this time of year, especially on the weekends.  We hate when clients lose time on their appointment because they are running late due to traffic problems, so be sure to plan in advance for the delay, especially the closer we get to Halloween weekend.

    If you are visiting the Witch CIty this season and will only be here for a few days, we definitely recommend you call or contact us through the website to prebook your tattoo appointmentscreen-shot-2016-09-25-at-2-28-24-pmt, even for something really small, because we book up quickly on the weekends especially, and if you want to come in for a walk-in, come in early in the day to grab a spot.  We also have a lot more availability for walk-ins during weekdays.

    Please don’t hesitate to call the studio at
    978-744-9393 if you have any questions about getting tattooed at Witch City Ink!