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An Inside Look At One Soul’s Sacred Tattoo Experience – Mari’s Journey with “Spiritual Skin”

mari braveheart-dancesSo, you’ve heard a lot from me about my own tattoos and my insights on the sacred designs I am blessed to be able to partner in co-creating, but other than some of the testimonials you can find at my website, we have yet to hear a personal story shared from the other side of this collaborative process.

Today, will fill that missing link, as I bring to you one of my beautiful clients – turned dear friend – who truly embodies her own unique expression of sacred body art. I love that designing these sacred pieces brings me into collaboration with souls across the globe, from every walk of life and age, and allows me to be a vehicle of support, as I am humbled to work so intimately with each soul.

I have made many life-long friends and reconnected with soul family because of this work and I am grateful to witness the blossoming and shifts that each individual journeys, as they so graciously invite me to walk along with them for a brief, but powerful part of that path.

mari3Today, I am excited and honored to share with you one of my dear clients and friends, Mari Braveheart-Dances. She and I, along with her gifted tattoo artist, Bethrah Szumski, have created already 4 sacred tattoo designs and are in process of 3 more. She is an incredibly courageous woman – just as her name reflects – who dances with symbolism and understands this process in reflective resonance to my own journey.

Mari’s experiences have created huge shifts in her life, that I’ve been grateful to be a part of, hear about, and witness. She has recently made a huge transition, during the time we have known each other, which has her courageously following her dream to empower and support herself. This has involved a physical move and soon to find her transitioning across the states to a special area in California so that she can pursue her intents and gifts. I’m so excited for her.

If you’ve seen my own sacred body art, you can see how she and I are walking expressions of our unique souls made visible through our skin, as you explore her photos shared here. It’s definitely not the path for everyone, but for many it is one tool and way that we have chosen to embody our self-expression and create integrative healing portals via the vehicle of our bodies as artistic and cosmic temples. Some people may never be drawn to tattoos, some may wear one, and others may find that several speak their individual language wanting expression.

Then there are people who will be triggered by the sight of tattoos, which will bring up their own individual processes to explore (or not), as well as people who are daily experiencing their own shifts in judgments, perspectives, and ideas surrounding tattoos.

You may find these two articles to be of interest if you are considering this path:

The Essence of You – Do Tattoos Support Or Hinder Your Personal Expression?

Sacred Tattoos – Personal Portals To Genetic Rewiring 

mari finishedThe most recent piece Mari and I worked together on was her Shaman’s Necklace, which was the first piece I had created as a neck and chest ornamentation. It was quite the undertaking on many levels, but I have to say, when I saw it completed, I was incredibly moved by the way it not only had come to life, but how Mari radiated in wearing this like the true Goddess that she is.

I’ve shared photos of Mari, her sacred tattoos, and the designs we have worked together on, throughout this article, to explore as you read her personal thoughts on the process we have embarked on. I look forward to the continued journey with her and hope that you find her experiences to be insightful and inspiring.

Here’s Mari Braveheart-Dances as she shares from her heart about her “Spiritual Skin

Mari’s Thoughts on sacred tattoo designs:

Mari handMy Tattoos are my Intentions.  They are my heart and my soul.  You put an energy into your body, your mind, your being, your skin – and you are changed.  But the change for a truly energetic/spiritual experience of course comes from within yourself first.

Putting permanent ink on your body is a huge decision.  It is not simply ink on skin.  As a creator, you have the creative license to adorn your naked body if you wish to.  This is no cause for shame.  This is something to be proud of.  When you take it to the level of interconnecting your inner world and intentions or whatever way you view it, with the outer world:  energetic as well as physical – you engage a level of existence for yourself that heretofore was unheard of.

Make no mistake about it.  Inking oneself is huge.  In a perfect world, it would not ever be taken lightly.  It’s serious business, at least in my opinion.  I care about body, and I care about my being myself.  I love the absolute beauty and creative genius that goes into my Spiritual Skin!  Why is it huge?

mari-tattooBecause Spiritual Skin shifts things.  Tania can explain all that, but I am simple about it.  My world has shifted as if the tectonic plates had mis-aligned in the past some-odd years.  My Spiritual Skin journey has been a part of my waking up from a bad dream, and coming closer and closer to the light I wanted in my life.

My Tattoos are Incredibly Beautiful.  To see them is to know beauty and symmetry, true love, anam cara, transformation, warrior-ness, phoenix, Powerful Woman, Wolf, Raven, and The Sea, among others.  All this is beautiful.  It is a small part of me, Mari Braveheart-Dances.  I am grateful to my co-creatrixes:  Tania Marie who designed most of my tattoos through a beautiful process of weaving our energies back and forth in an infinity pattern of connection.  She is not only an artist in the physical realm of being, but also and equally importantly in the spiritual/energetic realms —  and Bethrah Szumski (Bethrah doesn’t have a tattoo website, as she no longer tattoos except for long-held clients) who as an artist transferred Tania’s designs onto my skin.  With a true tattoo artist – one who inks you – I insist on them being both artist and tattoo artist.  Bethrah is both.  She made everything flourish together in one living, breathing, intentional work of art.  Not only that, but Bethrah added the beauty and meaning that tied it all together.  All three of us are certainly co-creatrixes of my beautiful Spiritual Skin!

mari2Since Tattoos are much more than ink on skin, hence the experience “Spiritual or Sacred Skin,” you have to expect your life to change.  If you do tattoos like I do them, as intentions, your life will change.  You must trust the universe to bless you with the beauty of your intentions.  Also understand that you will have to hold on to your seat, as it may be a bumpy ride in terms of adjustment.  If your family is as conservative as mine, you may not fare so well.  I would say to be aware, always, of energy from yourself and others.  Tattoos call people’s energy.  They call your energy.  They are, in my opinion, a bid for power.  I speak of Spiritual Skin.

It’s very important to believe in yourself, and to feel proud of your work.  Tattoos are, to me, a work of art and art being life itself – equivalent to life.  Tattoos = Art = Life!

And there you have it – a fragment of this wonderful and wondrous, and very beautiful – energetic and spiritual and physical journey of Spiritual Skin.

~ Peace and Love, Mari Braveheart-Dances ~

Mari’s personal process with the inking and her thoughts on how to approach and understand the unique journey that will be your own, relative to you and the energy you are integrating: 

sunflowerIt was a shock to me to experience being tattooed for the first time.  I was not prepared at all for the pain.  But as I have had many tattooes, I’ve learned that my own state of mind is the most important factor in the experience.  I think, too, that it is essential to have an excellent relationship with your tattoo artist as this encourages the healing process as well.  It’s helpful to me, in fact essential, to focus on very deep breathing both before, and during the inking process.  Also, I personally don’t schedule too much around a tattoo session, as I find that it takes away from the relaxation I need in the healing process.

I always go into a session with the knowing that I will heal perfectly, and I am vigilant about aftercare.  My tattoo artist at first refused to do my hands, for various reasons – not the least of which is that hands are known to heal poorly.  But I “knew” that this would not be the case for me.  It was painful, of course, but not unbearable – it actually went incredibly well, and I have a pretty big tattoo on one hand.  Healing was unbelievably perfect.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such excellent healing as my hand tattoos!

For my large chest piece, which was done over about five or six sessions, I experienced the greatest learning curve being inked.  The chest is a pretty difficult place to be tattooed, and on the third time I was the most peaceful I’ve ever been on a tattoo.  It was the only time I experienced some ability to step outside the pain and find my way to experiencing it as less-pain, and I was able to continue longer than both my tattoo artist and I expected me to.

mari neck completed (1)The last section of this chest piece, which is actually a sort of “necklace” that goes from one side of my neck, across my chest, and to the other side of my neck, was unexpectedly the most difficult tattoo experience I’ve ever had.  I realized that it had much to do with the energetic intensity of this particular part of my tattoo – and for the first time I experienced severe bruising.  I’d had the same sort of work done on the other side of my neck, and that was not the case there.  In other words, often the experience of being tattooed is related to the type of animal or symbolic design that is being inked.  As I looked in the mirror at my neck, I saw that Raven stood in the shadow of “the great bruise,” and I understood on an energetic and personal level why that had to be.

There is almost always some sort of “opening” into new experiences as I’m being inked, but I find that the main opening takes place over time, as I become more and more open to the shifting taking place within me, and in my life, as a result of living with my Spiritual Skin.

Mari on her experiences with me and what it has meant to her to work with the process of tattoos as “Spiritual Skin”:

mari neck completed (4)To me, getting tattoos has always been about the spiritual meaning of them.  I would get to a point in my life when I would want to have a design that would signify an important accomplishment or change in my life.  

I have searched through many different means, ways to transform my life.  I have never experienced anything as powerful and life-altering in a positive way as the experience of tattoos as Sacred and Spiritual.  

I began to try to find out if anyone else had these same experiences, if anyone else cared about the Sacred and Spiritual Energetic shifts that can occur with Tattoos.  In my searching, I found Tania Marie who wrote a beautiful book called Spiritual Skin – Sacred Tattoos More Than Skin Deep.  I was drawn to her book by the title, and it enhanced my experience even more.

Mari shaman necklaceEventually, I was compelled to email Tania and discuss the possibility of having her work with me to design some Sacred Tattoos for me.

It is almost impossible to put into words what this experience has meant and continues to mean to me in my personal life.  The process of co-creating with Tania, Sacred Skin that is meaningful and life-changing, is so much more than just designing a beautiful tattoo.  So much more than mere ink on skin.  Any good artist can create a beautiful design.  But I know of no one who does the kind of work that Tania does.

mari neck completedWorking with Tania is like working with someone on a different plane – someone who takes what you say about who you are, and listens to the energy behind your words.  Tania has the beautiful ability and gift of being able to read a client’s energy and also to read the energy that is coming through from the universe that is most needed for the journey of wholeness to be made complete in the sacred tattoo design.

My heart and soul trusts this woman with complete openness and faith in her incredible ability to truly listen.  This is a rare, rare gift, and it shows in the designs she creates for me.

My life has changed, and continues to change, in miraculous ways due to the Spiritual Skin designed by Tania Marie especially for me.  These Sacred Designs are so much more than beautiful ink on skin – they truly are portals to different depths of experience of the fullness and wholeness of life.

I am blessed and honored beyond measure to be a part of such a Sacred and Transformative Process – working with this beautiful human being to bring in the healing designs that are what I need at that time.

May you be blessed with your choice to work with this truly gifted and spiritual woman.  You will never regret one second of this choice.


mariIf you would like to partner in co-creating your own sacred visionary piece of artwork or tattoo design to embody the empowerment you desire, you can contact me at

You can easily make your deposit at the link provided to embark on this journey in partnership with me. There is currently a waiting list, so deposits are needed to hold your place, since the designs are created on a first come, first served basis.

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

mari-womanTo enjoy a visual journey of some of the sacred tattoo designs I’ve had the honor and privilege of co-creating, please visit: Spiritual Skin for my YouTube video. You can also explore some of the tattoo designs I have helped create, along with completed images as “Spiritual Skin” here: Tattoo Design Gallery

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 format here: Spiritual Skin

You can also order your personal copy here: Signed and Inscribed Copy of Spiritual Skin 

The Essence of You – Do Tattoos Support or Hinder Your Personal Essence?

Spiritual Skin

Since putting out my book, Spiritual Skin, I get an influx of questions from readers, clients and curious enthusiasts and I notice themes and their energetic timing. One such theme I’ve wanted to address for a while and got another nudge recently to do so, is on the topic of inner confliction and how tattooing hinders or supports one’s personal essence.

Questions emerge when people have been facing the prospect of getting their first tattoo and then an inner and outer dialogue begins that comes to the surface to process and integrate. Many then begin to feel unclear about their decisions and start questioning if this is the path for them, wondering…Does it really mirror who I am? How does something seemingly harsh or “non-organic” translate into the essence of what I and others see myself as, in being more pure? Will this change how others see me? Will it change who I know myself to be? Is this really aligned with what I am trying to create and embody in my life? Is this really the right expression for me or should I choose something less permanent? How will others feel about me after I do this? Will I be ostracized or judged and if so, does that matter?

All of these are valid and valuable questions and in my opinion, very normal, when faced with what I’ve come to see as a huge step in the journey of self-empowerment and ultimately, collective awakening. Does this mean this path is for everyone? No. Does it mean it may not be the right timing or there may be a more suitable personal channel? Yes, potentially. Does it mean there are shadow aspects and potential unauthentic and conditioned beliefs and fears you are weeding through still? Yes, most likely. Does it mean you are remembering and empowering who you really are. Yes, definitely.

What I’ve come to see is that when someone in question begins the journey to find answers to those questions and seeks those answers out from others, the plot seems to thicken. I have found that others mirror you and your own inner dialogue and will play that out for you in the way that you need. So you will always find the answers you want or need to hear and they are accurately sharing based on what is coming through. However, the question is, to which voice are they answering and mirroring? Others are always a good and timely sounding board to ourselves and will reflect what you need to hear and play out the shadow aspects for you that will best serve your personal growth, path and the choices you make along it.

The key then is practicing wise discernment as to which voice is of your heart of hearts.

I wanted to write a blog on this for a while and when I recently answered this theme again for someone, I felt rather than piece together a long drawn out dissertation, (I’ll leave that for my book when that comes to be and address all these aspects specifically then) I’d share my response and allow that to speak as it may to each of you that may have similar questions and experiences. It doesn’t address each point specifically, but in essence covers this theme through my own story. Here is a version of what I shared:

The best way for me to share this is through personal experience.

Everyone throughout my life has held a very pure and ethereal feeling of what I portray, both physically and energetically. In some ways that may have at times felt like a lot to live up to in terms of other’s expectations and what they deemed those definitions to translate as. They would never have thought that my getting tattoos would be part of their observational idea of what that translates into as, or looks like to them. The key being, when they share an opinion, it is based on their observational viewpoint separate from the object (me) being viewed. It is channeled through that person’s conditioned funneling system and interpretative ability to formulate what someone/thing (I) energetically manifests as through their personal experience of me. This observation and conclusion is also based on what I have revealed, or allowed to be revealed to them, that they go by, coupled with that personal interpretation of how they see me to be through their filtering system that is unique to them.

When I first got my tattoo there were levels of depth I needed to penetrate within me to understand how all of this translates and where “my” desires stemmed from outside of what others shared or even how I might have bought into thinking, based on the constant mirroring of what people would share and how that “should” relate and translate to “them.” Seeing where I may have attachments to their concepts and definitions, because of the emotional acceptance bought into and felt comforting not to diverge from, and how those varied or conflicted with my own personal beliefs and feelings that made more sense in my heart and soul, was key.

This was a continued process that went deeper and deeper with each tattoo experience. So many things to transcend and break as patterns and conditioning and even sabotaging within myself or hiding from myself because as a Pisces I was, and could be, so vulnerable to taking on what others feel and think (having no boundaries and being collectively ultra-sensitive and mutable) and could easily misinterpret it as me, when in fact it wasn’t at all. That discovery was an unfolding process of taking very courageous steps in challenging myself to discover me and learn how to discern, understand the energetic nuances of what was real and authentic to me and what was not, and to still yet maintain my collective connection while empowering self.

My serpent tattoo

This especially was so when I got my serpent on my hand that at first I found myself subconsciously hiding and pulling sleeves over because of the connotation of serpents and how others have come to view (misinformedly) the serpent symbolism. Once I integrated the understanding of this beautiful and powerful symbolism and shadow aspect that I had come to know and resonate with, then I saw the direct and beautiful mirroring of my integrated embodiment of it in other’s experience of it as well.

Stories could go on, however, in the end, I STILL have the same mirrored feelings from others about how my energy is pure, faery, ethereal, otherworldly, earth goddess, nature connected, how vibrant or healthy they see me as, despite AND because OF my tattoos.

The reason why? Authenticity and because I have learned how to transcend all of it and connect within me as to who I am and putting out the vibration of that through my heart. And that emanates through anything that may or may not be on my body, as well as shifts perceptions, helps transcend judgments, and has helped others to expand their definitions of what pure looks like. Every time I may take things up another notch with tattoos or anything in general, as I like to challenge myself to greater expansion, there can be that time period of integration, which now is much swifter and more natural than black and white.

Everything is energy and the energy is what comes through my tattoos and is what they are made of – magick. Not separate, not defining, and not altering of who I am at the core, but are an extension of my energy expressed through me so that others can feel who I am and see with new eyes a whole picture that exists. They also help to activate and empower more of who I am at the core in the power of their intentful symbolism and ability to assist in DNA shifting/aligning and accessing portal experiences, which in turn collectively has healing benefits and openings.

Who I am at heart and how I embody that, reflects how anything I do, say, or wear translates. Everything stems from me and when the truth within is embraced and honored, it shifts everything outwardly as a direct mirror.

This is why I have experienced others being very drawn to the tattoos I have as sacred body art, not simply because they think the designs are cool or are done in a way that aesthetically resonates, but because they emanate an energy that alone they could not do, but they have because of what is emanating through them FROM me and the intentful and heartfelt energy I’m connecting with when I share myself with others. The deeper I go with myself, the more energy exudes. I have been stopped by the most arbitrary people, including those who aren’t normally attracted to tattoos, and even mothers with children in stores who show their kids my tattoos, who in turn are fascinated. Kids are connected with more purity and this is not a usual behavior of a mom to share.

I may be unique in my experiences and my path is not everyone’s, but for me this is how I have seen the process play out.

It’s all a beautiful process into ourselves. It’s valuable to ask these very important questions to go deeper within so that you come to honor that place within “you” most heartfully.

If interested in reading more on this topic you may find resonation with my book, Spiritual Skin. If you would like assistance in co-creating your own sacred tattoo design, you can email me at

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