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Women’s Tattoos in History – Form of Rebellion, Taking Back Control of the Body & Self Empowerment

This is a cool, short article Dave brought to my attention from TIME Magazine, written by Olivia B. Waxman that I thought was interesting to share on the history of women’s tattoos. Every now and then tattoo info hits the scene and I love how it brings to light more of the energy dynamics that I’ve integrated for myself. I love learning of how things have evolved and in this particular article found an interesting connection with Winston Churchill’s mother Lady Randolph Churchill, who is said to have had a snake tattoo on her wrist (like me!).

The article shares, “Tattoos were an early way that women took control of their bodies.”

Here’s the article link: The Surprising History of Women’s Tattoos


I was alerted by one of my readers that were unable to access this article link, saying it was only for subscribers. I’m not a subscriber and had been able to open the link myself, but just in case others have the challenge too, I am copying the very short article below:

Circuses and sideshows may not seem like obvious places to look for stories of female empowerment, but experts say the performers who appeared in such acts played a surprising and important role in women’s history–in large part thanks to their tattoos.

The height of sideshow and circus popularity in the mid–19th century came at a time when women had few opportunities for economic independence, and providing for families was largely a man’s job. Not so for the female sideshow performers, many of whom capitalized on the fascination with body art by voluntarily tattooing themselves, enabling them to make their own money. (Though some were forcibly tattooed.)

Ink liberated Victorian-era women outside the circus as well. Wealthy socialites, for example, got tattoos as a form of rebellion. At the time, social mores required these women to keep their whole bodies covered. And so–influenced by tattooed British royals–they started summoning ink artists to their homes to give them designs they could hide. Winston Churchill’s mother Lady Randolph Churchill is said to have had a snake tattoo on her wrist (easily covered by a wineglass or sleeve); by the turn of the 20th century, roughly three-fourths of fashionable New York City ladies had gotten similarly trendy tattoos, including butterflies, flowers and dragons, according to the New York World.

As Cristian Petru Panaite, curator of an exhibit on the 300-year history of tattooing, open now at the New-York Historical Society, puts it, “Tattoos were an early way that women took control of their bodies.”



Best Preserved & Most Elaborate Ancient Tattoos in the World – Imagery as a Form of Language & Status

siberian princess tattoo on hand and with a drawing of dearAs I’m in the midst of working on sacred tattoo designs here, I found this article shared by a dear friend of mine -thanks Jim!! – to be quite a cool and synchronous read. The article shares about a 2500 year-old mummy of a Siberian “Princess” – known as the Ukok Princess – and two mummies of “warrior” men who were discovered 19 years ago on the remote Ukok Plateau, about 2,500 meters up in the Altai Mountains, close to the border frontiers of Russia with Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.

I LOVE the elaborate and beautiful designs of these nomadic Pazyryk people, which are seen to be the “best preserved and most elaborate ancient tattoos anywhere in the world”.

We all remember the “Ice Man” – Otzi – found in the Alps and his ancient tattoos, which are much older, but were no where near the incredible artistry of the Pazyryks’ tattoos, as he had only lines and dots.

The Siberian Princess is said to have died around age 25-28 over 2500 years ago, which makes her “some five centuries older than Jesus Christ, and several hundred years the senior of Alexander the Great”.

She was buried with six horses – her spiritual escorts to the next world and symbols of her status. It is thought she may have been “more likely a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman than an ice princess”.

Nonetheless, these tattoos had much meaning and symbolism to the Pazyryks, and across time, this has held true for all ancient cultures.

I love how the Pazyryks used animal imagery as a form of language to represent their thoughts. Wearing many animals myself, I do understand. 🙂

They were also used to define their status in society and in the world, and the more tattoos a person had, the higher their position, and the longer it meant that they lived. Again, as I point out in my book, Spiritual Skin, it is interesting how things changed and how tattoos began to be looked down upon in modern times.

Since the princess had only her two arms tattooed, it signified her younger age, as well as her status.

You can read the full article that details more about the tattoo findings of the princess and warriors, along with specifics on the fantastical animal imagery they wear, and other interesting insights here:

Siberian Princess Reveals Her 2500 Year Old Tattoos

Iceman, Otzi – One of the First Known Humans to Wear Tattoos

Otzi tattoosIn my book, Spiritual Skin, I included a little history of tattoos in my chapter, “Retracing the Origins of Tattoos: Evolution of Understanding.” One of the things I touched briefly upon, was the Iceman, Otzi, who is one of the first known humans to wear tattoos.

His body is carbon-dated at around 5,200 – 5,500 years old and has over 50 tattoos that can be clearly seen on his mummified body still. The parts of the body that the tattoos were found, correspond to stress-induced degeneration areas suggesting they may have been applied to help alleviate joint pain, which would mean they were therapeutic in nature. But there is also evidence that some may have served as a form of status marker.

Dave sent me this fun article by Andy Mills that has great close up photos of Otzi’s tattoos:

Otzi Confirms: Tattoos Have Always Been Cool

I thought you might enjoy perusing them and found it synchronous that the same day I got sent this article, I was also sent a spiritual tattoo video, as well as had the day before been talking tattoos with a girlfriend and discussing my past transformational experiences leading up to my latest concluding tattoo I just received is to come.

I also love the warning Andy posts at the onset:

(WARNING: the following contains an unapologetic pro-tattoo bias. If this upsets you, please complain loudly to Soren Wheeler at


But, seriously, what do Otzi’s tattoos point to?

That humans have been marking their bodies for thousands upon thousands of years, and even longer than our historical “written” records document, in my opinion.

And throughout the ages, tattooing has served many varying purposes – as adornments, status and rank symbols, devices for security and magical protection, symbols of religious belief and spiritual devotion, tools for therapeutic healing, sexual lures, and marks of fertility, symbols of rights or seniority, declarations of love, and even marks of punishment or status as an outcast, convict, or slave.

My book delves into an overview of other points of interest across time, and cycles us back around to a “present day resurgence” and how we are recapturing the ancient ways and infusing them with current energy and wisdom for how we can utilize sacred tattoos to create a more empowered life.

If interested in learning more, you can order your personal copy of “Spiritual Skin ~ Sacred Tattoos: More than Skin Deep” here, in time for Christmas: Signed and Inscribed Copy of Spiritual Skin 

It’s also available on Amazon here: Spiritual Skin

And in Kindle format on Amazon here: Spiritual Skin

If you would like to partner in co-creating your own sacred tattoo design to embody the empowerment you desire, you can contact me at

For more information about the process and pricing please visit: What is a Tattoo Design Consultation

Remember that current rates for designing are good through December 2013 only (3 more weeks) and will be increasing January 1st. You can lock in the rate, if you put in your deposit by end of the year. There is a waiting list, so a deposit will hold your space. 

Spiritual Skin for a Spiritual Life – Transforming Your Life One Tattoo at a Time!

“I feel so much peace from your tattoos when I look at them….I can feel the energy coming off of your tattoos. Wow, it’s powerful!….I have never liked tattoos, but I feel drawn to yours and find them to be so beautiful….they are like nothing I’ve ever seen or felt.”

The tattoos I wear are a continually profound, transformational experience that affects not only my own life, but the lives of others who experience the energy intention imbued within each creation. I hear and see it time and time again (was just reminded today by a businesswoman who stopped me in a store to express her feelings) and it moves me deeply to be able to create a mobile, living work of art, that simultaneously has personal and collective healing to share, as well as to be able to support others to do the same for themselves.

A new paradigm of transformative body art has evolved and is being revealed like never before. Ancient meets modern day potent integration! Sacred tattooing is so deeply a passion for me, which I find to be extremely and positively transformative on all levels, that the knowledge I’ve acquired would be a disservice not to share. I can’t help but do what I do and share what lovingly channels through.

Spiritual Skin is a book that has been a deeply mystical journey to bring forth – an unveiling of many rich layers intended to support many on their own empowering explorations into artistic self-expression, deeper awareness, ancient understanding and integration, spiritual healing and conscious compassion for the now. And, in the words of Tattoo Artist, Siva – “A book whose time has come!” It’s truly about creating personal portals of positive and inspirational impact.

“…The specific images and symbols you choose in a tattoo can help enhance specific things in your life, strengthen energy that is operating at less than its potential, open points that feel blocked, enhance and create potency to specific chakras, convey healing energy to specific regions, reveal your essence to others, heal karmic energy, connect with past lives, and tap into your subconscious and latent gifts. All of this can be done through the ancient art of tattooing, a means of rewriting your soul’s history, empowering your experience through “spiritual skin,” and creating an auric resonance to the energy of your choosing.” – excerpt from Spiritual Skin.

If you haven’t already heard, I am honored to announce that my book, “Spiritual Skin – Sacred Tattoos: More than Skin Deep,” is available in print on Amazon. You can now have this one-of-a-kind book at your finger tips.

“This is the BEST book about tattoos I have yet to come across!…A must read…I HIGHLY recommend this for any spiritually inclined tattoo collector and/or enthusiast!” Siva, Sedona-based Tattoo Artist. For more reviews and information please see this link:

You can now purchase Spiritual Skin directly on Amazon here: or simply visit or contact me at with any questions or to commission tattoo design services or consultations.

With Love and Creative Magic!

A Brief Unveiling of the Meaning and History of Sacred Tattooing

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years as a form of marking the human body for different purposes and with varying meanings. Almost every ancient culture that has walked the Earth has created and worn tattoos and body art as a part of their symbolic way of life. Tattoo history spans over 5,000 years ago and is as diverse as the people that have worn them.

The art of mehndi, temporary art done on the body with henna, also dates back about 5,000 years. Mehndi is still used in ritualistic and religious ceremonies in India, but the earliest proven civilizations to use henna are the Babylonians, Assyrians and Sumerians. Many ancient cultures have used both tattoos and mehndi for spiritual purposes.

Permanent tattoo designs, sometimes very simple, sometimes extremely elaborate, but always with deep personal meaning, have served as amulets, status symbols, signs of religious beliefs, declarations of love, adornments and even at times as forms of punishment. There is cultural significance to tattoos that is timeless.

It used to be that the earliest known tattoos were for a long time Egyptian, dated around 2,000 BC. Many mummies, which seemed to be exclusively female, showed evidence of tattooed designs on their bodies, especially on their thighs. But the timeline has been pushed back further with the discovery of the Iceman in 1991, carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old, from the area of the Italian/Austrian border who displayed tattoos on various parts of the body. His tattoos were examined and found to correspond to stress-induced degeneration areas, suggesting they may have been applied in order to help alleviate joint pain and therefore were therapeutic in nature.

It is believed by some that the Egyptian women practicing tattooing were dubious in nature and that tattoos were a mark of a prostitute, but it has since been proven that female mummies have been found in royal and elite burial areas and that at first considered a royal concubine, they now know at least one was a high status priestess. So there is no indication that tattooing was only for the “dancing girls” as they called them. Some believe that the tattoos were not marks of a prostitute or to ward off sexually transmitted diseases, but were actually functioning therapeutically as permanent forms of amulets to aid in pregnancy and child birth, as is suggested by their patterns and placements and the addition of the God Bes, who was the protector of women in labor, amongst other things. This helps to explain why Egyptian tattooing was purely restricted as a female custom. Egyptian tattoos were usually a dark or black pigment. Brighter colors, it seems, were widely used in other ancient cultures.

The Inuits, Nubians, Scythian Pazyryk, ancient Britons, Greek, Romans, Pre-Columbian cultures of Peru and Chile, Native Americans, Ancient Chinese and Japanese, and Polynesians to name a few are of the ancient cultures who practiced the art of tattooing for varying reasons. These included similar reasons like the Egyptian women, as a mark of nobility and high status (not having them was a statement of low birth, interesting huh?), as a mark of belonging to a religious sect or to an owner, if a slave, or to mark a criminal as punishment, symbolized devotion to a patron deity, which Roman soldiers adopted until Christianity spread with the belief that tattoos “disfigure that made in God’s image.” Tattoos were worn on every part of the body including the face, all with different meanings and significance.

The Polynesians from Tahiti give us the modern day word “tattoo” from their islander term, “tatatau” or “tattau,” meaning to hit or strike. After James Cook’s expedition there, it became fashionable amongst Europeans to have tattoos, especially men with high risk professions, in which case the tattoos carried amulet-like symbolism for protection.

Modern day tattoos are world-wide spread throughout every culture still, including Japanese, Africans, and Maori of New Zealand to name a few and of course within the Western world as well. All of the symbolisms and reasoning stem from similarities to past ancient cultures, whether we’re conscious of knowing what and why we’re doing it for or not. Some may be for new reasonings and self expression, but the foundation behind it has been passed down for thousands of years and not so coincidentally, many of us get tattoos of ancient symbols from ancient civilizations and cultures. Cross-cultural influences have continued to play a significant part in how we express and live our lives, incorporating and melding things together. Interesting how everything is a cycling circle or spiral effect, linking us all in timeless experience.

Tania Marie is a Visionary Artist, Designer and Reiki Master Teacher based in both Southern California and Northern Nevada. To commission Tania for paintings and murals, animal portraits, tattoo designs, to purchase some of her original works and custom or original crystal pendant designs, or receive compassionate healing support through treatments and classes, by request in your area, or by distance please visit or call 775-343-9244.

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