Thursday, January 26, 2012

still-sound 35. Tattoo

I had my tattoo expanded recently.  The municipal pool where I swim is closed for most of January so I decided to take advantage of the chlorine hiatus and have my upper arm inked. 

My first tattoo is on my lower, inner arm. A guy named Mikey inked it in Long Beach.  The image was taken from a book about Alchemy and Mysticism.  It is a drawing of a rose attracting bees with the inscription DAT ROSA MEL APIBUS floating above the flower.  Translated from Latin it reads The rose gives bees honey.  I viewed my first tattoo as something of an initiation.  By then I had lived in California for over two years and my life didn't resemble my life leading up to that point.  I felt that I was different and that even the world was different, or at least the way that I viewed it.  I figured that a proper initiation should include some physical pain (a test of endurace) and leave a permanent mark.

I had my second tattoo (on the outer part of my lower arm) inked by a talented tattoo artist named Lance whom I discovered by chance.  Again, I plucked an image from the world of mysticism, this time 17th Century emblamata.  A pair of heavenly hands shake within an ouroboros.  Mistletoe grows around the image.  Pagans value mistletoe as a sacred plant.  It grows high up in trees, never touching earth.  Mistle thrushes eat the white berries and defecate into the bark of the host tree: a propogation closer to the heavens.* 

Lance expanded the mistletoe motif into my upper arm and inked a couple of perched mistle thrushes.  There is another bird flying on my shoulder.  I may eventually have a sun placed between the thrushes emanating rays above the flying bird's head.  I may wait until the pool closes again to have the sun tattooed, but I may not.  Now that I can picture the entire completed arm, I kind of want to just have it realized.  Lance works from his home in Glendale.  His website is  While having the birds buzzed into my skin I stared at Lance's Planet of the Apes poster written in French for hours.

Some inks in Lance's collection.

Lance's posters

*The other day as I was stretching out at the edge of the pool, resting between laps, an older gentleman in the lane next to me asked, "Are you a birder?"  I didn't understand the question at first but then quickly realized that it was as simple as it sounded.  I told him that I didn't think so.  But as I started swimming away I considered how I often walk around with a camera dangling from my neck in anticipation of photographing any interesting birds that I happen to see.  I suppose this makes me an accidental birder of sorts.

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