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Tattoos As Religious Objects
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Tattoos As Religious Objects

What tattoos symbolize

Tattoos have always been associated with life in varying ways of expressing it. Bikers, for example exhibit tattoos that support their cause and that means for them the freedom to be different from others to act in a rather audacious manner in their movements.

The tattoo in this example cannot mean to represent other things like a dog or pet or something. There is always a philosophical meaning to it which is about human activities.

Religious tattoos

Tattoos have also been found to express freedom of religion. What this means is that believers regard tattoos as religious objects. This is a little bit unusual because people commonly practice religious worship in a church or chapel. And for some of them, they use images or statues that represent saints or exemplary figures during earthly life, for Roman Catholics for the most part. These icons are usually found inside the church or place of worship.

But when the religious images are painted as tattoos on the human body it seems that the idea is not to practice religious worship inside the temple but outside of it, with the images carried by the worshipper on his body anywhere he goes. Thus religious tattoos become spiritual objects similar to a talisman.

Religiosity in the Philippines

In the Philippines there are people who deeply believe in the magical qualities of tattoos. They pray on them as they would in church. It makes you think that it's not art anymore and the fun that goes with it. Instead, it's serious business with tattoos being planted on the skin and prayed over to ward off evil befalling upon the wearer.

With religion as mindset, and with a permanent tattoo, it's like virtually setting the prayers in stone although it seems an entirely different matter if tattoos are approved by the church of the believer. And I haven't seen any bishops, priests or pastors displaying tattoos on their own skin as a badge of honor or distinction of whatever form.

In the Visayas which is a whole area located in the middle part of the Philippines and particularly in the waray speaking towns or municipios and especially in the remote villages of Leyte and Samar provinces, believers devote whole time and trouble in designs that show prayers painfully drawn and spread on the whole human torso virtually turning the human body into a veritable altar on which to pray to the deity.

The prayer is locally called "orasyun" which is a term that goes all the way back to when Fernando De Magallanes a.k.a. Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator set foot on the rain-soaked beaches of Limasawa island in Cebu, held the first Roman Catholic Mass there and set the Philippines on the road to unquestioning obedience to the Roman Church for three hundred years.

Tattoo as talisman

Significantly, the religious tattoo evokes traditional thoughts of good and bad which is a dizzying hangover from the concept of good and evil in Zoroastrianism. It was Zoroaster the emperor of ancient Persia who came out with an oversimplified theme of creation as simply being a matter of things divided between good and evil. This in turn has spawned a plethora of doctrines that have revolved around the concept of good and evil which is now the standard belief in mainstream religious thought.

As religious icons that have morphed into a talisman, tattoos are apparently understood by Filipinos as esoteric objects that they think could amplify the power of the human mind to infuse mental force into mundane objects like wands or swords (the athame in Wicca and Rosicrucianism) and turn it into an object of power that assists the worker accomplish magical operations like defending one's self from specified types of evil or harm.

What this means is that Filipino dudes can go around town (in motorbikes or on foot) assured more or less that their tattoos can protect them from evil as they see it..


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