Each mark on my body is a story. Each intentional one, a spell. A moment etched into my skin of an emotion, a promise and intention.
I hadn’t thought of it this way before. I didn’t know the magic I was delving into each time I invited a needle and ink into my flesh. And yet I did. This is a ritual that lives in our DNA. Our scars are part of our story. Whether intentional or otherwise.
My stretch marks tell the story of my growth, of my own up and down relationship with food and exercise and wellness. The scar on my chin is a reminder of that time I fell on my face in class and bled all over my new dress in the second grade. The white lines that run across my forearm are a tale of my teenage angst and heartbreak. While the one on my knee is a reminder of all the falls I took training for half marathons and that somehow I always manage to land on my left side.
Then there are the tattoos. The peace sign that lives on my hand. That came into being when I was 14 with a needle, thread, india ink, some marijuana and an idealistic mind that the world could be saved with peace and love. If we could all just figure out how to get along. That story was etched in a haze at the downtown square by a friend I considered close to my heart yet knew not at all.
The Celtic knot on my ankle that I wore the symbol of for a year before getting it. A shout out to my Celtic heritage and a welcoming in of fertility and eternity into my soul. The Celtic band that surrounds it came later as I wandered the streets of London, freshly graduated from college. And somewhere just before that London wandering, in that strange surreal space of time, hungover from celebrating my graduation, I chose to add a Chinese symbol for friendship on my shoulder. Matching tattoos and locations with my dear, dear friend, one who knew me as only one who spends countless hours creating our lives over coffees and bottles of wine and pizza box poetry could. A symbol that holds the story of our many transits around the sun as we birthed ourselves into who we wanted to become.
Years passed. New scars emerged. The kind you can not see. The ones born of loss and struggle. The lines, that like scars will not fade, that mark my face and tell the story of my emotional landscape.
And still more intentions were brought into being. A triple moon, a bond in my skin, linking me to one of my (circle and soul) sisters. A reminder of our intertwining stories, from before this life and into all the future ones we will share.
Then came death. My father’s death shook me and the snake came to visit me and soon I knew this being must have a place on my body too. This was a story that needed to be imbedded. This was a spell of remembrance that called to be cast. I answered the call and the moon cycles and snake messenger brought balance to my ankles. Creating a new sense of groundedness. Matching bands tying me to the earth with the weight of their stories. Completely different stories but living in the same book.
This year brought the gift of a feather and star pressed into my forearm. A tale told of two friendships that bled into three. One spanning 30+ years of my life the other the past decade, and their friendship born from the tendrils of my connections with each of them and location. This feather is a connection across the miles, linking me to these women in the pacific northwest.
And finally the Mule deer and my most sacred Mamma cat came into being. A glorious piece of art on my upper arm from a tattoo artist who told me the story of tattoo as spell and offered me tarot cards from her altar. A most amazing artist who exchanged stories with me about the power and medicine of cat’s as she etched a tale into my skin of grief, loss, love, remembrance and belonging.
Our scars are our spells. They are both the intention made manifest and story of who we are.
What is the story etched into your skin Wise Woman?
Emily Morrison MA, MFT