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In a decade of trying, it proved impossible for me to come up with a design for the tattoo I’d always wanted. This, perhaps surprisingly, was due to the fact I’m a creative by trade. Why should this be difficult then you ask? Well… people with an inherent creative nature tend to find their ideas are constantly changing, adapting and evolving. Even commercial designs and brands undergo refreshes periodically… so to come up with a design that is deemed (relatively) permanent with no easy opportunity to change it? That just serves to stifle the creative process, similar to writers block I guess.
Luckily, just over a year ago I came across the below image on a tattoo page I happened to be following, and I was immediately drawn to it. I knew instinctively, there and then, this was the tattoo I was getting. I had no idea why, but as time went on, I began to see the meanings and the symbolisation behind the imagery, and how I related to it. This lead to two other tattoos being done afterwards, both in quick succession, and both tying in with the original concept…
Tattoo 1: The lower arm tattoo shows a collection of trees, the majority of which are without leaves (in winter) and one which is an evergreen. This reflects that feeling of being alone or out of place, which is common among INFJs. The trees signify being rooted in one place and being unable to move, escape or travel… and the birds show that desire to fly, to be free, to explore and to discover.
Tree: Growth, strength, knowledge, life, nature, the Self, stability
Birds: Freedom, exploration, travel, vision, nine birds (Life path number)
Roots that reach into earth, arms that reach up to heaven, and trunks that connect the space in between, trees mediate between heaven and earth and symbolise the soul’s journey through the manifest world in both its sacred and mundane aspects. ~ Jean Raff
Tattoo 2: My heart wants roots, my mind wants wings
The tree/birds theme of the first tattoo is complemented by this quote by E. Y. Harburg. This playing homage to a dichotomy that I think all of us experience during our lives. This had further meaning for me as I was in a LDR at the time and the conflicting desires to escape, to be with her, to be free, to settle and unable to do so, due to our individual circumstances were all poignant and relevant.
…A tree is one of the best examples of a motif that often appears in dreams (and elsewhere) and that can have an incredible variety of meanings. It might symbolise evolution, physical growth, or psychological maturation; death (Christ’s crucifixion on the tree); it might be a phallic symbol; it might be a great deal more. And such other common dream motifs as the cross or the lingam can also have a vast array of symbolic meanings… ~ Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols
Tattoo 3: We can bequest our children but two things, the first is roots, the other, wings
This follows on from the second tattoo in that my circumstances to which I refer, were of course, my two children. The quote is attributed to Hodding Carter
No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell. ~ Carl Jung
Update: 31st March 2015
Been planning my next course of tattoos to add to the above, and this is what I would like to incorporate over the coming years
Neck – Saffron wildflower plus William Blake quote… “To see a world in a grain of sand. And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.”
Chest – Raven illustration plus quote from Edgar Allen Poe… “Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore…”
Under Chest – Broken heart illustration plus C.S. Lewis quote … “To Love at all is to be vulnerable”.
Stomach – Pi number (3.142 etc) in shape of the golden spiral (nature and Science). Additional one above (turbulent eddies as in Van Gogh paintings) with the 1.618… Golden Ratio number. Turbulence from eddies also tie in with upward flight of Raven
Back – Khalil Gibran quote – “The strong grows in solitude where the weak withers away”. Possible lone wolf illustration/image
Right Sleeve – Butterfly image and Rumi quote … “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”. Butterfly also relates to the Butterfly effect (chaos theory)… ie “Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.” Butterfly pattern could include mathematical patterns such as the mandelbrot set.
Right Torso – Tree and roots illustration along with Carl Jung quote … “No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” ~ C.G. Jung. Tattoo situated on the trunk (torso of the body) which ties in the concept as well as showing the Raven flying from the tree (ties in with the original tree/birds tattoo on forearm). Tree trunks and branches could incorporate DNA strand patterns (tree of life).
Lower Right Leg – Rumi quote … “It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” ~ Rumi. Tattoo located on leg to relate to walking and progressing.
Left Leg – “I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Other options – 1. Heraclitus quote: “Change is the only constant”. 2. “Beware the barrenness of a busy life” ~ Socrates. 3. Libra scales/balance of life (both the kids being Libra) using Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man as a basis for holding the scales.