Title

Spiritual Tattooing: Pain, Materialization, and Transformation

Status

Faculty

School

School of Liberal Arts

Department

Theology and Religious Studies

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Publication Title

Journal of Religion and Violence

Description/Abstract

This essay utilizes information gathered through in-depth interviews with people living in the San Francisco Bay Area to shed light on the phenomenon of spiritual tattooing—the practice of giving spiritual meaning to tattoos and to the process of tattooing. The essay analyzes the role of the body, voluntary pain, and marking the body in the context of religious experience and expression, and highlights the connections between spiritual tattooing and practices of self-violence. Spiritual tattoos work through an inside-out/outside-in mechanism. The process of tattooing draws abstract or overwhelming interior elements (thoughts, emotions, memories) out and materializes them through the infliction of pain. At the same time, things of desire outside the self (spiritual ideals, healing symbols, conceptions of a new self) are conveyed into the body through the process of painful inscription. Through the pain of tattooing and the marks left in the skin, abstractions are made concrete and real, shaping identity, memory, and spirituality.

Keywords

Tattooing, body modification, embodiment, materialization, self-inflicted pain, self-directed violence, trauma, memory, identity

Volume

3

Issue

2

First Page

189

Last Page

212

Scholarly

yes

DOI

10.5840/jrv201581012

Disciplines

Religion

Original Citation

Pagliarini, Marie. “Spiritual Tattooing: Pain, Materialization, and Transformation,” in Journal of Religion and Violence, Vol 3, Issue 2, 2015. doi:10.5840/jrv201581012

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