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Shape-Shifting Sacred Tattoo Design: A Shaman’s Magickal Journey of Emergence

Shaman Sacred Tattoo Design by Tania Marie

Back in the sacred tattoo design energy flow again, with several powerful pieces emerging. So many of these latest designs are holding amazing shaman, animal medicine, and shape-shifting energy. I love it, love the energy of each of the soul’s they are channeling through, and I am loving how the visions manifest into being!

The shamanic energy really feels prevalent right now, as more and more people are revealing and honing in on these gifts in a focus of return to natural harmony with Mother Earth and the Cosmos as their powerfully integrated selves.

Today’s Spiritual Skin focus is just that – A Shaman’s Magickal Journeyof Emergence. I am officially claiming that I fall in love with each piece I have the honor and pleasure of working collaboratively on and with each I continually uncover the bountiful creative expressions of the collective heart.

This design integrates several powerful symbolisms that mirrored my client’s essence self along with her journey of deeper personal and collective opening in heart service and empowerment.

I always listen and allow myself to be guided to what best hones in on the particular energy in the now moment and that embodies most supportively what would be empowering for each client.

Many times I have much to draw upon and much that is shared beautifully in our interactive consulting dialogue, and so it is always important that I fine tune in to just which frequencies are sharing their music most prominently. Some times I receive images and symbols that are not shared and they become space holders for the new energy, are symbolic of parts of their essence they hadn’t been focused on, and/or end up revealing things my client had forgotten to share or had significance in ways at the time were part of their journey into discovery.

In the case of this one, there were stand-out images and symbolism that definitely came through and I loved how everything wove together like a fine and intricately beautiful web of expression.

Many times, like with this design, I receive images and visions before I hear specifics from my clients, or have read what they have shared. I love when they are reiterated literally or in energy through their expressions.

One of the images that hadn’t been revealed in consulting, but came into being with this piece was the swallowtail butterfly.

Aside from the swallowtail having the butterfly symbolism mentioned below they also are symbols of innovation, which in part came from studies on the reflection and scattering of light by the scales on their wings, which led to the innovation of more efficient light-emitting diodes – LED. Who knew?! They are also butterflies of fairly open country and wide ranges of migration – freedom adventurer travelers indeed. And, with at least 550 species, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica making them quite a collective and eclectic butterfly family. The family also includes the largest butterflies in the world, the Birdwing butterflies of Australia. Swallowtails are different in a number of anatomical traits from from all other butterflies, most notably, their caterpillars possess a unique organ behind their heads, called the osmeterium. Not only are they diverse, visionary, and adventurers, but they are highly unique beings with an extra bit of brain power! 🙂

Needless to say, butterfly medicine came through instead of some of the other literal image depictions that had been conveyed, in a burst of vision where a swallowtail unveiled its wings as the unfurling of my client’s “beingness.”

Butterflies are messengers of powerfully transformative healing and regenerative energy and symbolism to the indigenous peoples across time. They symbolize the precious miracle of life, hope, love, transmutation, magick, joy, reincarnation – to the Maya, butterflies are seen as ancestors returning for a visit to physicality and have a very earth and cosmic bridging connection (ex: the galactic butterfly symbol – Hunab Ku powerfully broadcasts your reaching to actively join the consciousness of our galaxy), resurrection, transition, communication, celebration, lightness, time, soul, unquestioning embrace, freedom, keeping the faith, grace…phew!…it felt to be speaking to another aspect of my client in this greater expansion sense with her shifting work, community sharing, spreading of her wings in deeper ways of service and heart-deepening, more and more.

I also love this sharing about Native American Butterfly Legends by Denise Handlon titled Butterflies – Symbols of Life and Hope:

“Some tribes in the Native American culture believe that butterflies can take one’s wishes up to the Great Spirit. Capture a butterfly, whisper your wish to it, and release it to the heavens. It is believed that all wishes will be granted in gratitude for the freedom of this delicate creature. Other Native American stories include the story of the ‘Children who refused to walk’. In order to get the babies to move from four legs to two a handful of pebbles were thrown into the air and as they scattered they changed into beautifully colored butterflies. The children were so delighted they jumped up and began to chase the butterflies.

Some people believe that the Fancy Shawl Dance, as exhibited in ceremonial Powwows, is believed to have been derived from the ‘butterfly dance’. It is the story of a young butterfly whose mate was killed in battle. After removing her beautiful wings she wrapped herself in a drab cocoon and isolated in her lodge. Family and friends stopped by to console her, but she was wrought with grief. Not wanting to be a burden to her tribe she took her wings and medicine bundle and journeyed far and wide.

As she travelled across field and streams, she stepped lightly on each stone, her eyes downcast. It was in this way that she spotted a beautiful stone and her grieving heart was healed. Filled with gratitude for a new life of joy and renewal, she shrugged off the cocoon unwrapped her wings and began to dance a joyful dance.

When she arrived back to her tribe she told her People of the journey she took and the healing stone she discovered. In celebration, the People danced to celebrate a new beginning. To this day, the butterfly dance is danced using brightly adorned shawls in The Fancy Shawl Dance.”

The butterfly that emerged in this particularl sacred tattoo design also portrays that  integration and centeredness with having one foot in each world of physical and nonphysical and setting the heart a-flight with the way my client is bridging with her work and travels.

Depicted is a Native American Indian shaman/medicine woman shape-shifting collectively as all of what she embodies and portrays, but remaining individually unique simultaneously. I created her to look somewhat lion-like in facial featuring, as well as brought in some of the deer power animal essence through her facial energy, which had been another aspect of this client’s guides. She wears feathers, perhaps of the eagle or owl in her hair (again more of her guides), entwined twigs and leaves of Mother Earth, and her caped shawl with lion main emerging reminds me almost of the furry bear garments of the Native American Indians (bear and lion both also guides). But the stand-out was the lion and he emerges from her heart and throat chakras –his main and her hair and shawl all merging and integrating, his face doubling as the curvature of her neck and breast, and as the support system of the shoulder area and upper body standing in strength.

At the solar plexus a lotus essence almost like ethereal fire, emerges atop the butterfly with energy integrating into the lion’s mane, her hair and shawl. The swallowtail at the lower 2 chakra areas being released and freeing its creative abundance and joyful breadth of life-giving. Her hands are embracing of letting go within the power of knowing all is within to work alchemy as the magician, shaman and medicine woman that she is.

I see the depictions of all the elements here of earth, fire, air, water and spirit in symbolism.

This sacred tattoo was seen as energetically most supportive on the back – in that upper back area of the heart, higher heart chakra, just below the base of neck to really open and deepen those energies being shared in service and emanating at heart and soul.

I like to let the image reflect to each person what they receive from it, as there is so much more that unveils over time and to different eyes and open hearts than what I could possible share or see. I am in sort of channel trance of receiving when creating so I don’t always piece it all together until it actually manifests. I merely hold the essence and visions at heart until then. My service is to be a conduit for the image to come through and to integrate and weave it into its symbolic form as Spiritual Skin.

This piece of course is hugely rooted in shamanism, centeredness, balance, groundedness, empowerment, expansion, opening, releasing and honoring, as well as deepening emergence. Always so many layers that are much “more than skin deep” images.

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

Some people have preferred to read my book, Spiritual Skin ~ Sacred Tattoos: More than Skin Deep, especially if they are new to sacred tattoo designs, before embarking on this journey.

If you are drawn to learn more about sacred tattoos you can order a copy of the book here: Spiritual Skin

It is also available in Kindle and PDF formats here: Spiritual Skin

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