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.

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!!

Give the Gift of Art this Holiday!

The holiday shopping season officially kicks off this weekend, and I am excited to share some of the 2-dimensional art our tattoo artists have created, which are currently for sale.  I know it can be tricky to find a unique gift, especially for those hard to shop for friends and family, but Art can be a really thoughtful and personal gift to give anyone.

Here are a few of Steve Gillespie’s currently available Watercolor pieces, done in a traditional tattoo art style.

Stop by the studio or email if you see a piece that catches your eye!!

Preparing For Your First Tattoo- Part 2

Dragon Sleeve by Natan

Dragon Sleeve by Natan Alexander

 

It’s Tattoo Time…

Okay, now it’s the day before your appointment!! I know you’re excited, but there are a few things you want to keep in mind so that your tattoo experience is the best that it can be!  First, make sure you get a really good night’s sleep the night before your appointment.  If you are well rested, you will be able to deal better with the stresses of the process.  Also, don’t drink heavily the night before; it makes you very sensitive to sensations and will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.  Also, it sucks to get tattooed with a hangover and if you have thinned your blood with alcohol you could bleed out a lot of the ink your artist is attempting to put in!!

Its good to shower prior to your appointment, so you have fresh, clean skin; also, if you’ve got any hair in the area that you are getting tattooed, you can shave to prep the area, if you have a general idea of size and placement.  If you aren’t comfortable with that, your artist will take care of it for you at the beginning of your appointment.

Make sure to stay hydrated the day of your appointment and to eat a good meal just beforehand.  It is very important that your body has the energy to deal with the experience and you definitely want to give it more fuel than just chips or a quick snack.  Bring plenty of water and a couple snacks with you, if you are booked for a longer appointment, as you may want to take a break mid-way through your appointment to give your body more fuel to work with.

It is very important to mentally prepare yourself, as well.  Everyone feels it differently, but it is at least irritating and at worst painful.  Depending on your pain threshold, the location of the tattoo and many other factors, you may feel it more or less than friends or family that you have spoken to about it.  It may be good to get yourself centered and grounded; some people prefer to really focus on the sensation itself, or may use meditation in order to overcome the pain.  Some people prefer to distract themselves from the sensation with music, movies or by talking with the artist or a friend.  Overall do what works best for you because everyone will deal with the experience differently.  You may want to psych yourself up a bit, so you can get your adrenaline going, which will help with pain management, but don’t psych yourself out and make yourself overly sensitive or second guess what you’re doing.

SteveGillespie_TraditionalShipTattoo

Traditional Ship and Anchor by Steve Gillespie

You’ve Made It Through!!

You did it! You’re tattoo session is complete and you made it!  Was it what you thought it would be? It wasn’t so bad, right? You may even have already started planning your next one!

So, now that you’re done, the most important thing is taking very good care of it!  You have a large abrasion on your body and its going to take a bit of time to heal, and you have to make sure you do everything in your power to help it heal properly with the least amount of ink loss.

Your artist will probably have bandaged your tattoo at the end of your appointment, so you don’t leak lymph and blood and ink everywhere while your skin starts to clot.  After a couple of hours, or when you are ready to wash it, remove the bandage and clean thoroughly.  Sometimes its easiest to clean it in the shower, so if you have that option, use it.  If the bandage has stuck to your skin, soak it with warm water first and it should peel off after a few minutes.  There will be a lot of ink on the surface of your skin and on the bandage… don’t worry, it’s normal, your tattoo is not falling out!  Using a fragrance free anti-bacterial liquid soap, wash your hands first, then your tattoo.  You want to get all the lymph and blood off your skin, and you want it to feel smooth when you’re done washing it.  The less material on the surface of your skin, the less of a scab will form.  When you have thoroughly rinsed your tattoo, you can pat it dry with a clean paper towel or let it air dry.

The most important thing now, is to let it breathe!  Let the air get at it and keep it clean and dry for the next few days.  It is ideal to wash it 2-3 times a day as you can.  If needed, you can apply the tiniest amount of fragrance free hand cream to it, to relieve tightness and to prevent cracking, but you never want your skin to feel damp or greasy.

It can up to 3 weeks for your skin to look healed after your tattoo, and it can take up to 3 months for your skin to completely regenerate and be considered fully healed.  During that time, make sure to keep it clean; if you work in a dirty environment or go to the gym or public places that have questionable surfaces, you might want to keep it covered with loose clothing, but generally you want it to be able to breathe.

Don’t pick or scratch at it!  I know it itches, but don’t do it… if you must, slap it lightly (with a clean hand) until it stops itching.  Also, if you pick off those scabs, you could be lifting ink up with it or you could scar your skin and mar the tattoo.

Protect it from the sun!  For the first few weeks, you definitely want to keep it covered with clothing and not use sunscreen to protect it, as it could interfere with the healing process; after it has fully healed, you want to always at least have sunscreen on it to protect it from the sun.  The sun is the tattoo-killer and will fade the color right out of your tattoo if you aren’t careful.

You also don’t want to submerge it in water during the first month or so.  Showers are fine, baths are not.  Also, beware of hot tubs, swimming pools, ponds and the ocean; there are chemicals and bacteria in all of these places that can adversely effect your tattoo while it is healing.

Taking care of your tattoo during the healing process and beyond will help to protect your investment and keep your tattoo looking beautiful for years to come.  You didn’t go through all that pain to be stuck with a tattoo that is sub-par because you burned out the color or scratched off a scab and scarred it.

As always, if you aren’t sure about something, ask your artist!! Call the studio at 978-744-9393 and we will walk you through the process!!

Phoenix Arm Piece by Jaesun Duggan

Phoenix Arm Piece by Jaesun Duggan

Preparing for Your First Tattoo- Part 1

Getting a tattoo is a big decision, and not one to be made lightly.  If you have never been tattooed before, it can be a daunting process to begin.  There are a few things to know or to keep in mind when you start thinking about getting your first tattoo, which will make the experience less stressful and will help you to get a tattoo that you will love forever!

Flower Sleeve by Natan

Flower Sleeve by Natan

 

In the Beginning…

The first thing to do when you have decided it is time to get tattooed, is to figure out what you want.  You may know exactly what you want to have permanently etched on your skin, you might have a vague idea (or ideas), or you may have no clue what you want.  If you know exactly what you want or if you have a vague idea, you need to start looking at what artist will be able to execute your tattoo in the style that you are looking for.  If you have no idea what you want tattooed, now is the time to figure it out.

Think about what is important to you; what types of art do you like?  Have you seen any tattoos that have made you swoon?  Do you want to do a tribute or memorial for a family member and if so, what do you associate with them?  Do you want to mark your religious or spiritual beliefs on your skin? Your cultural history?  These are some of the questions to ask yourself to get you started.  You are going to have to look at your tattoos the rest of your life, be sure that you have ink you want to be looking at!!

Now that you’ve figured out what you want, now is the time to pick the artist.  Do you have a particular style of tattoo that you are interested in?  Realism? Traditional? Illustrative? Black and Gray? Color? Start looking at artists’ portfolios; do you see similar styles of work to what you want?  If you want a tattoo that is mostly line-work, are their lines clean and precise?  If you are looking for color work, is their color solid and bright?  Do they specialize in the style of tattoo that you want?  While you might not see similar pieces in their portfolios, see if the qualities of the tattoos are ones that you are drawn to or match the types of tattoos that you prefer.

Alice in Wonderland Tattoo by Jaesun Duggan

Alice in Wonderland Tattoo by Jaesun Duggan

 

Phase Two…

Once you have determined what artist you want to work with, set up a consultation appointment with them.  To prepare for you consult, do your research!!  Look in books, magazine and online for art and images that you like.  You don’t need to look at other tattoos to get ideas, look at all kinds of styles of art to find images that you can share with your artist to describe what you are looking to have done as a tattoo.  Look for images that you like the color palette of, the shape of x or y, the face of this and the body of that; this style of art, but that subject matter…. you get the idea.  But the more clear references you have, the easier it will be to tell your artist what you want.

During your consult, they will sit down with you and go over your design ideas, and figure out exactly what will work best for you; bring all your references and make sure to share what you like about each. You will also want to talk to them about placement and size, which you should mostly already have thought about.  Try to be open minded during this conversation; while you might think a tattoo will work at a certain size or in a certain place, their experience might be different from your imagination.  Some tattoos don’t heal well if they are done too small, some places might be harder to heal than others, and some designs might flow better with the shape of your body in certain locations compared to others. This is one of the most important parts of the process and it is very important to have clear communication with your artist and to let them know what is important to you and what you would be flexible about.

When you have gone over the idea, the artist will be able to give you a general idea of how much time it will take to tattoo and the cost.  Now you can book an appointment!  When you’re booking think about what your schedule will be like for a few days after getting tattooed.  If it is a larger tattoo, you might want to plan it so you have a day or two to recover.  Also, you won’t be able to go to the beach, swim in pools or use hot tubs for a few weeks after the tattoo, and you’ll have to be very careful of sun exposure, so if you’re going on vacation somewhere tropical, or have an event planned that would be effected by these kinds of limitations, you might want to hold off until afterwards.

Now that you’ve got your appointment set, you’ll need to prepare yourself to get tattooed and to take care of it while it’s healing.  Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn more!!

SteveGillespie_TraditionalSnakeTattoo

Traditional Snake Tattoo by Steve Gillespie

 

New Work in Steve’s Portfolio

We just added some newer pieces to Steve’s Portfolio! Go check them out and book your appointment with him today! Steve’s Portfolio

Here are some of our favorites:

SteveLegSleve SteveGillespie_TraditionalEagleChestTattoo SteveGillespie_TraditionalShipTattoo SteveGillespie_TraditionalSnakeTattoo SteveGillespie_UnderboobMandala

Recent Works by Natan

Here are a few smaller pieces, recently completed by Natan.

Firstly, a brightly colored lotus blossom and lettering. “Amor fati” is a Latin phrase loosely translating to “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate.”

Second, a Tibetan double dorje. In Tibetan the word dorje means “indestructible.” The dorje is a spiritual weapon used to banish non-truths and bring in the truth. The dorje is often used in a Tibetan Buddhist ritual, where it is twirled in order to bring in truth.

Third, which perhaps shouldn’t be categorized as a “smaller work,” is a bright shamrock surrounded by traditional elements (such as a clipper ship and swallow) in black and grey.

Natan has limited December availability before he sets off to Japan, and his January is already filling up quickly. If you would like to book an appointment with him, give a call at 978.744.9393.

More In Progress from Steve

Steve continues to start quite a few new, large pieces.

This owl and hourglass on a young gentleman’s back is coming along nicely! This also happens to be his first tattoo. We’ve had a lot of clients recently with the “go big or go home” attitude, which is fun.

This next photo is after the second session of this back piece, which is based off of a piece of flash by Timmy Tatts. Steve asked Timmy for permission before using it, which is generally a good code of honor to abide by in the tattoo world. The girl it’s done on sits like a champ, too. All of the shading was done in the second session yesterday.



That’s all for now kids! Check back soon for more updates.

Work from PJ

PJ is the sort of guy that is capable of working in a few different styles. Traditional is his favorite, but for example, he also enjoys Japanese. We’re not kidding when we describe him as a nomad, and he’s lived in many different cities and been to many different countries. He spent a year in Hawaii (yeah, we’re jealous too), where he developed a fondness for Polynesian tribal work. Here are a few very different pieces, showcasing some of what he does.

Our favorite traveler will be off again on the 17th, and will be back in the shop on the 24th!