When Most people think of tattoos, they associate them with decoration. However their purposes can be much more versatile. Tattoos have been used as talismans for thousands of years. Along with their more mundane purposes (such as body enhancement and social status), tattoos were used by ancients for purposes such as healing and protection, and to bring luck. One of the earliest examples of a tattooed person is the ice man, though there is strong evidence for tattoos on Egyptian mummies as well.
Here’s an article from the smithsonian talking about tattoos found on mummies and ancient cultures, and what they may have been used for. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/tattoo.html
Tattoos are still used as talismans today, in the more accepted form of guardian angels, four leaf clovers and horseshoes, among others. There are many other symbols commonly used today which also fall into the talisman category, kanji symbols, crosses, Celtic knot-work, sacred geometry, phrases, and pentacles, just to name a few.
How does it work though? What makes a tattoo a talisman? Any image or design which evokes the feelings associated with it can be considered a talisman. The key word here is archetypes. We have many archetypes to choose from, the angel archetype for example evokes feelings of peace and protection. While there are the more common archetypes of Jungian psychology, other symbols can be considered the same. Take the 4 leaf clover, most people see it and associate it with good luck. It’s all about archetypes and association.
Here’s the wiki on archetypes – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archetype
A tattoo can serve as a talisman. A visual reminder of why it is you are getting that tattoo, and what you hope to accomplish. My next blog will cover the workings of talismans, archetypes, symbols and amulets in greater detail, we’ll also explore the combination of Reiki healing and tattooing, a fascinating subject I have personal experience with. 🙂