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Tattoo as journey, part 2

06/11/2010

Last week, I wrote about my friend Yonit and her dove tattoo, how her decision to get inked reflected a particular set of (momentous) decisions at a particular time in her life. This week: the story of a hamsa tattoo at the base of her spine, a kind of prayer centered on her sacral chakra.

Let’s start with some terms.

Hamsa: palm-shaped amulet popular throughout North Africa & the Middle East. Keeps away the evil eye. From the word for “five,” it is also known as the Hand of Fatima (the daughter of Muhammad) or the Hand of Miriam. It is a really good thing to hang above a baby’s crib, around one’s neck, or on the walls of the house.

Sacral chakra: In traditional Indian medicine, the chakras are energy vortices in the human body. The sacral chakra stems from the sacrum area of the spine and governs the lower back, hips, abdomen, and genitals, i.e., sex, emotions, and creativity. (Here’s my related posting about the “luz bone” here and the connections drawn by several readers.)

Yonit loves hamsas. She has them all over her house. To her, the hand is something that nurtures and protects. Think about body workers (massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists): how they heal with their touch. Think about harpsichordists (of which Yonit is one) and pianists (ditto) and so many musicians & artists: how they create such beauty with their hands. Or think about the hand of God, the power of that image in a time of need. Now combine this sense of nurturing protection with the hamsa itself and the (pro)creative properties of the sacrum —

And you can begin to understand why Yonit decided on a hamsa with a Jewish star on the base of her spine in 2000, at a time when she wished for a child with her then-sweetheart and now life-partner Vlad. Love, creation, connection, possibility. It worked: daughter Talia, conceived (and she said I could share this) in Sefat, city of mystics.

Two loose ends: Yonit would love to have her hamsa further decorated. It’s a bit plain at the moment — but really, with 3 kids, who has time for such things? Also, if you’re ever at a loss as what to get as a gift for Yonit, a hamsa is it. She wants a house filled with the curved hands. You can never have too much protection against the evil eye.

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