Monday, July 8, 2019

Ask for help

Ask for help

I learned that real, effective help in traditional shamanism can only emerge after the client asks for it. Even just in the mind. In addition, that unrequested help, even with best intensions can lead to worsening the situation. A look in the future, for example or any kind of divination would not reflect the affairs of the client in any kind, but would be only the reflection of the asking individual.
Explaining this, I heard a story once from old Siberia. Unfortunately I forgot the name of the tribe.
A man is sick and the family asks the shaman to come over and help. But as soon as the spirit helper wants to enter the room, the sick man, a good christian, yells at him, curses him and wants him to leave.
Quiet the shaman leaves.
As the disease of the man progresses, the family again requests the help of the spirit helper, so he comes to the sick mans bedchamber, only to hear him wishing the shaman to hell.
Quiet the shaman leaves.
The story repeats on more time, with the desperate family returning to the shaman, begging for his help in bitter tears. One more time the spirit helper approaches the sick man, just to hear him whisper in weak hasps that the shaman should leave.
The shaman leaves and the man dies from his disease.
Now the widow in sorrow and anger cries out to the spirit helper: “Why didn’t you help my husband? You would have had the power to do so easily!”
“No, I would have not, he didn’t t want me to.” Is his answer and he leaves quiet.
Here we recognise in the answer of the shaman, that the power of healing would have emerged from the client itself, not from the helper.
Just like in trance journey drumming it s not about to just hit the drum, but pulling the sound repeatedly out of the drum ;)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Fresh works

The tree of life,another personal  interpretation with the cosmic couple as trunk

The Hammer of Thor, crusher of giants and the ultimate weapon of the gods. When Thor dies, his sons inherit the hammer and its powers in the new world.

Here the client is of wiccan background and an artist herself, so this is just my tattoo, but her very own design, representing spirit animals and was done in a ceremonial context.

The bear- also for the native europeans a centrally important animal, that was hunted and worshipped before Christianity stroke with great respect and awe.

Here we see fresh interpretations of two styles from the viking age: The Borre-style (around 900 A.D.) and the Urnes-style (after 1000 A.D.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Something very special: These inner thigh tattoos have a long tradition among the arctic first nations. The to be mothers received these tattoos so the first thing, the baby would see would be something beautiful. The background of the bearer is greenlandic, tattoo handpoked with reconstructed tools of the region and in a ritualistic context.

Spiral movement...

One of the most amazing performances in front of the camara ever :)
Some of the work on the model is done by the retired Erik Reime.

Of Northern Darkness...

Midsommer ritual

Early missionaries, arriving in the north, describe shocking rituals, where the norsemen were hanging animals and people in the trees in order to honour their demonic gods...

The big dragon

The deer...

The design is based on a children s drawing of the client. It is her first and only tattoo

Yoga and ink

The backpiece is not my work. The tattoo on the leg represents a sanskrit mantra, the Iboga plant and other relevant symbols for the bearer.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Shamanism, Christianity and Syncretism or how to rule the world

Let us start with contemplating about three things:

-Nomadic cultures seemed to have favoured some kind of shamanic spirituality, with earth and sky as main entities and independent figures as facilitators.

-Peripheral organised settling cultures show structures of an animistic concept, with a cast of priests, taking care for local entities and the rituals in the cycle of the year.

-Centrally organised empires need a regulated, concentric cult with a main entity and dogma.

The journey is for the nomads a main part of their life, only logical the spiritual caretaker is a wanderer in between the worlds. Earth and Sky rule the everyday life, so do their powers on the other side. The Thunderstorm and the Wind generally are of great influence, also as the connecting element between earth and sky, so their blessing is always wanted. The believe, that the soul wanders on in the afterlife is common.

The settlers are much more interested in the well being of their crops and cattle, so the contact to the very earth they want to remain on is important for them. Also, that that very place is blessed with the right amount of sun and rain to the right time. These people don´t need anyone to go out and tell them where to find the big rendeer herds anymore, they need someone to call the rain to their field, someone holding an eye on the movement of the sun for time measurement. The believe, that the souls of the deceased remain “living” in their graves, is not unknown. Fully furnitured grave chambers go along with that believe. 

To rule large amounts of people and land is the focus for a monotheistic cult, already early egyptian pharaohs demand solitary worship, worth mentioning also the emperor cult of Ancient Rome. The central cult also collects the donations and offerings centrally and is so holding the economical control. The spiritual or even physical disadvantage not following the dogma is of great importance to keep up mind control and homogeneous behaviour. Rome, ruling big parts of Europe with massive military force first managed to remain in power and expand global after all with the turn to Christianity.

As a connecting element, we have syncretism, usually appearing, when cultures undergo a change in cult and culture. It means that religions blend and exist parallel to each other without a regulating element.
In the viking age we see in Scandinavia very clear signs of christianity slowly sinking in in a spirituality of settlers, wich still bears marks of the old, nomadic roots of the early eurasian cultures. Like the nomad tribes of the Siberian Steppe 500 BC, the Vikings still bring great horse sacrifices with their dead nearly 1500 years later. At the same time they already embrace the new religion from the south. We know cast forms, where with one melting pot a Thors Hammer and a cross can be cast. Christ is mentioned among the older gods in the majority of full rune line poems we know today. A big number of rune inscriptions is of christian nature. Even the highest god, wide worshipped Odin, undergoes a change. The angry Wotan, raging in the sky as dark ruler of souls but living under the grave mounds moves up to heavenly realms while his name slightly changes northwards.

copyright: @sarikatainenphotography

On many Shaman and Udugan coats we still to this very day find crosses, none of these healers would be shy to use blessed water, if it helps.
Traditional Shaman burials are also found containing crosses and other christian symbolism.
In the Americas some of the First Nation churches even practice consumption of trance inducing hallucinogens during Sunday service. 

Since shamanism technically is not a religion, it mixes very well with all other spiritual lines. It is the oldest way of seeking answers to the unanswerable, always open and always curious, since we are all wanderers on the wide open plains by nature, where it is space for everyone. The nomadic hunter and gatherer period is the longest form of existence for mankind. Nothing else left deeper traces in us. The nomad, a permanent guest, has no reason to see a foreign cult as hostile. The settler, living on the mountain couldn’t care less about the maritime religion of his fishing cousins at the sea. 
The evidence shows us that christianity in the very beginning in the north was tolerated and loosely embraced. Christianity at that time also had no problem to adapt to local habits and absorb some cults, turning them in their own.

The people we see as the old pagans today had space in their temples for the newly arriving Crucifix, just the other way around it turned out to be a little bit difficult.

A monotheistic minority can be enriching, a monotheistic majority historically seen strives to Absolutism.

From the dephts...

On the darkest of all days and the longest of all nights 
When all worlds crumbled, all trees fell
When entrails emerged from bodies and there was no joy
The worlds spat out a dark coat, made from skin and bone
                                                                  Born in blackness just to greet the light…

Traditional designs from Greenland

Here we see designs, that are in use for centuries among the people of Greenland and other arctic first nations. The bearer is of partly greenlandic blood, we used a reconstructed needle from the region and the spirits of the ancestors were invited before we started inking.

100% handmade dotwork

Here you see this extraordinary piece still in progress, it is 100 handmade, no machine was used.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The fox with nine tails...

Like most of the tattoos we do at Kunsten på Kroppen, also this one contains very personal stories, history and symbols, a nine tailed fox and the power of the sun and Thor is part of it...


Designs are directly transcribed from a picture stone in Gotland, Sweden 7th century and shows the so called Ormkvinna (snake woman)

Cover up

Elements inspired by celtic La Tené style and contemporary flower of life

Bronze age sun symbols

Iduna- goddess of eternal youth

Iduna takes care for the golden apples, that give the gods eternal life in nordic mythology.

Yggdrasil Tattoo

Can the shaman become sick?/ Shamanic healing basics

Yes. It is an important part of the path.
 Seen from the shamans point of view, the disease can be an initiation or a rite of passage.
It starts out with the so called Shamans Disease. It is the call of the spirits to bring the shaman on the way. It usually happens in young years and can be a severe physical condition of nearly any kind. Significant of the Shamans Disease is, that the regular medicine doesn’t t heal it. First the contact to his or her spiritual path leads to healing and at the same time to a very close and intimate contact to the other worlds and its entities.
From there on the shaman usually remains blessed with a good health and an exceptional stamina, which is visible during the exhausting trance inducing dances, beating a heavy drum and bearing the coat, which can be of weight no less than an average battle armour.
Still the shaman will go down sick during his worklife several times, due to multiple reasons. There is several cases known, where these spiritual workers gain new healing methods during these periods. So the tribe benefits from the suffering of the shamans in the end, which is anyway a great part of their purpose of existence.
As a common circumpolar point of view the shaman is seen not to be able to heal himself or his family. Generally the traditional shaman has no healing power. All power comes from the spirits, the Shaman is just the channel, the connecter or networker. So the sick shaman usually then calls in another Shaman or Udugan from another tribe. In the old belief, Shamans from other or even far away tribes are seen as stronger and more efficient than the local. 
Why is that? As a good channel you are supposed to be completely open and relaxed, free of judgement. It means, that everything you know about your client is actually more hindering than helping. The foreign shaman will so always be more objective, more likely to transmit pure information, not influenced by local habits or iconography.

In the end every sickness upgrades compassion. Compassion is a central point and topic of the Shamans path. As a sign of submission to the traditional path is a life for the good of all, a permanent desire and action to keep up harmony in between and inside the people of the physical and invisible worlds. 

A very old shamanic technique and an ultimate act of compassion is also to simply absorb the sickening spirit or disease, the very awe inspiring “take one for the team” self-sacrifice.

Nevertheless a sickness is also a very effective teaching tool of the spirits, a proven way of adjusting habits, attitude and general course of the shamanic learner.

Last but not least it is also a journey to the world of hurt, valuable and receivable with gratitude.

And sometimes it is just a flu, exercise for the immune system with no spiritual relevance ;)

But let s come to the dark side: There are and always were people, who used shamanic techniques to gain personal energy and upgrade their physical existence out of purely self centred interest.
Locking in spirits and even keeping other humans in (mental) capture to ensure the supply of energy is not unknown, the pre-buddhist Tibetan rite is worth mentioning here.
Luckily it is very easy to separate the “good” shaman from the “evil” one:

Those who follow the traditional path are always people who help those around them upgrade their life and gain health and strength. They are ready and willing to go long ways for that as a gift to the clients soul. In fact, even to other, not always beautiful worlds. They leave a trail of happiness and health behind. Although some healing methods are rough and for sure not always pleasant, the final result is usually reconnecting, a help to move on or even complete recovery. Their approach is led by the desire to contribute.

Those who loosely collect the easiest and effective methods to gain self-focussed personal energy instead of transmitting it are usually individuals that in some or another way are involved in the downfall or hurt of those surrounding them. For some reason bad luck strikes as soon as they are around. They tell you they love you, that they care for you but their actions are free of compassion or humility, malicious and in best case careless. The general approach here is led by the desire to get the maximum out of it all and their path is framed with hurt and disappointed people. It is hard to have the dark shamans do something for you and they ask for huge amounts of offerings or money. While the tribe is suffering and looses energy, the shamanic acting individual is over average strong, prosperous and of formidable health.
But while the traditional healing is usually of permanent or long term effect, the high priced help of the shadow wears off quick.
In the end the spirits, always interested in win-win situations, will withdraw their blessing from the self centred acting Shaman or Udugan and his or her path usually comes to a devastating end, which can still be used as a learning process unless the failure was so great that it resulted in physical death.
Circles close as a multiversal law, so the attempt of healing will always bring health to the individual, like a magnet is always attracted to the iron. On the other hand the attempt to destroy or bring disease will also reconnect with its source- the sending individual.

We all live in paradise and there is a point in every persons life where we decide to become gardeners in the garden of the middle or a parasite…

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sound offering, voice sacrifice and Galdr chanting

Early roman historians write about the Germanic tribes that they storm into battle like a force of nature and battle songs on their lips that remind more on animals than people. A later Arabian traveller uses nearly the same words, when he describes the music of the people that live in Hedeby, german North Sea coast today.

Nearly all spiritual movements on this planet know the sound offering, meaning a song to honour gods, spirits or other entities. It means bringing a gift of sound to the invisible world.
These offerings are as valid as the dance, the incense, the food, wine or blood. In the north, according to what we can extract from the sources, the term voice sacrifice is more matching in my opinion. 
As an offering or sacrifice you always bring the best you have. Very simply because you also want to receive from the invisible world the best possible, or not? So where is the point in bringing sick cattle to honour the entities? No matter what you believe in, you kneel down on your finest carpet, you wear your best clothes for service, a cup of the best wine goes on the altar.
Same goes for the songs, you sing with full heart, full voice disregarding all fears, all obstacles or shyness. Let it all out in order to be able to take the energy in. Your throat is suppose to hurt afterwards.

Especially in the pre christian spiritualities of the north it is clearly not about submitting or prostrate smoothly and humble to the gods. It is about standing up, showing strength, pride and love, hoping to be found worthy. You don´t choose to be part of Wotan s army, you apply giving all you have during lifetime and maybe his one eye smiles on you when you die…

So where should be the point of a half-hearted song? Why holding back? 

If you don t mean it, don t sing it.

Thank you for the nice picture #terjedokken :)

LP´s, CD´s books and other merch here:

Attempt to recreate an iron age Scandinavian battle chant:

Keep it up .-)