PDC Homepage

Home » Products » Purchase

Journal of Religion and Violence

ONLINE FIRST

published on August 11, 2015

Marie A. Pagliarini
DOI: 10.5840/jrv201581012

Spiritual Tattooing
Pain, Materialization, and Transformation

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.

Not yet a subscriber? Subscribe here
Already a subscriber? Login here

This document is only accessible with a subscription