This comes from a group that I’m a part of on Facebook:
So I wanna get my first tattoo. I know exactly what I want – a symbol to represent the sacredness in Nature. I’ve heard of folks who have gotten their coven involved with the tattoo process; casting a circle in the shop and blessing the ink. I’m intrigued by this notion and was wondering if anyone here has gone through something like that and what was it like?
Okay, now, I’m a person with 3 tattoos. I’m also a pagan.
Still, I’m leery of this particular practice. Especially as this person puts it in the question they asked in the group. After all “a symbol to represent the sacredness of Nature” is fine and dandy…a lot of people commemorate their religion/spirituality in tattoos or other means. That is nothing at all that I have an issue with. I don’t care if you want to have your tattoo blessed or consecrated after the fact by your coven, or by you yourself personally. That is a personal choice to be made by the individual in question. I think that is something personal that ought to be decided upon by the person getting the tattoo on their own. And if they want their coven/partner/someone else to consecrate or bless their tattoo after the fact, then I think that is a nice gesture and something very wonderful and meaningful to do to the tattoo in terms of meaning.
But…for this person to say “[get] their coven involved with the tattoo process; casting a circle in the shop and blessing the ink.” That is disturbing. Most people mean sage, or other oils, incense or materials to bless materials before an endeavor such as this. And doing anything like that is going to contaminate the tattoo shop’s materials. It would make the shop unsanitary and therefore endanger the person getting the tattoo, as well as potentially could affect others in the shop, depending on the shop’s layout and the tattoo artist themselves. Not to mention, sterilizing equipment is a big deal. Depending on where this poster lives (I have no clue, full disclosure), waving sage, or whatever other incense around, is just not going to happen.
Some tattoo artists do not allow crowds in their shops, which I fully understand. Too many people, too much noise, and it is just a huge distraction. They don’t want to have to deal with a mass of people who aren’t their client causing havoc in teh shop.
Some would take offense to the whole idea or a coven coming in and consecrating their shop, let alone their tools. Plus, they would never allow anyone to touch their equipment. Or at least, no decent artist would let anyone else touch their equipment. Sanitizing the equipment is a huge deal, and from the artists I know, they would never allow anyone to have sage or any incense near their equipment. It’s just too much of a liability and they would never risk their licenses on it.
On the other hand, I have heard of some artists who would welcome a very small ritual beforehand. If small meant 1 or 2 other people coming with the person to be tattooed. That might be understandable. But I’ve never heard of an artist who would allow a whole coven to come along. It’s too many people to deal with, too many things and considerations outside of the work, the client and the sanitary conditions that need to be considered. And I know plenty of people who have prayed or done internal ritual while getting their tattoos. That doesn’t seem to bother artists, because it is internal and quiet, not causing any disruption to the artist who is performing the service for the customer.
I suppose that the whole issue with the question asked, for me at least, is that I can’t fathom the audacity to ask a tattoo artist to put up with the imposition. I know people who would dare to do something like that to a tattoo artist. They actually have done similar things. Sorority girls with 10 of their “sisters”, or Fraternity Boys with 8 of their “brothers” with them all going in as moral support or whatever…and they all were loud, obnoxious, problematic. The group was obnoxious, rude, and inconsiderate to the imposition they made on the shop and the professional. And when they were done, they didn’t bother to even tip the artist sufficiently for the amount of trouble that they had caused.
I suppose that to me, dragging a whole coven in, putting a huge imposition onto a shop to deal with a coven…and all that it entails – that to me is beyond unbelievable. I could never do that. Consecrate or bless the tattoo after the fact. Have your coven, group, partner, or family…whoever it is that you want to do it…have them help you commemorate the event after the fact, but do not put a huge burden upon the artist doing the work.
I know there are perhaps a very few artists who would willingly allow the whole coven in the shop thing. And if they would, given prior knowledge, then that is great. But I suspect most find it a horrid distraction. So, for the most part, don’t put a huge imposition onto them. Just have your coven do the work after the fact, in a more appropriate location. Tattoos are important, and mean a lot to quite a few pagans. If yours is really that spiritually meaningful, then make sure that the consecration/blessing/whatever is done in a comfortable, appropriate environment.∗