My Alligator Tattoo

My Strong Center/Open Heart tattoo
My Strong Center/Open Heart tattoo

My new tattoo feels like an old friend.  Every time I see it there on my arm, I smile feeling like that alligator  and flower is right where they’re supposed to be. I guess I’ve been picturing it for some time, and the strange part is, is that even though I couldn’t see that exact alligator or flower in my mind, the moment I saw the drawing of it I knew it was perfect.  I searched on-line for the perfect alligator and couldn’t find it.  But Alex, at Mountain Tattoo, knew where to look when I told him what I wanted.  It took a while for him to find it,  but he was adamant about getting it right.  The flower was in one of his books of tattoo art, I changed the colors to pink with a yellow center.   Before seeing the purple and green  flower in the book, I hadn’t thought of what color is would be.  But on seeing it I also saw my colors.

The alligator with the flower is a personal symbol for me of a strong center and an open heart.  It came to me over a year ago after I did some soul retrieval work with Shaman Carol Tunney.  At one point during the ceremony I saw an alligator slide into my skin and take up space in my body.  If you’ve ever seen an alligator slide off a riverbank into the water, that’s exactly what it looked like, only my body was the river.  Once inside me, my body glowed with a greenish-yellow light.  When I looked up the symbolism of alligator I found it represented maternal protection, survival and primal energy.  For me it became a symbol of my own strength and ability to protect myself.  But the overall feeling from alligator wasn’t just about steely strength.  Just as important and balancing the strength, was the need for an open heart.  This idea came to me in the image of a flower.  The message was clear, a strong center and an open heart.  I stitched the picture I saw in my mind on my sewing machine, then hung it in the hallway of our house.

I imagined this image as a tattoo from the first time I imagined it.   Like it always knew what it wanted to be.   Now it’s as close to me as it could possibly get.  I carry it around like a friend reminding  me what I need to hear and what I am.

The symbol I stitched on my machine over a year ago.
The symbol of the alligator and flower I stitched on my machine over a year ago.

8 thoughts on “My Alligator Tattoo

  1. Hi Maria, I wanted to share my tattoo experience with you. For quite sometime, I had visions of the word “BELIEVE” in my head. At time,s when I was troubled, sad or felt hopeless this thought, this word, looking a very certain way would appear in my mind’s eye. For me, it is a very powerful word and concept. I have come to know in my heart and mind, that nothing happens if you do not believe. It can be a belief in a higher power, God, if you will. Or, it can be a belief in yourself, in your own abilities to succeed or persevere. I just know that without believing, nothing happens.

    As I said, I had seen this word in my head many, many times. I was reluctant to get a tattoo. They are permanent after all. And, I’m 50, and a professional, and a mother and on and on with all the reasons not to. But, I kept seeing it. So, I finally started asking around about a tattoo artists in my neighborhood (Sonoma County, CA). For various reason, I chose one. I went to see him, explained what I wanted. He turned me away. He said “you’re not ready.” “I can tell by listening to you that you are still ‘thinking’ about it. You need to KNOW you want to do this.” So, I went away and thought about it some more.

    I kept seeing that image, that word BELIEVE. So, I went back, and this time I met with the artist’s wife and we talked for a long time about why I wantsed this tatto, and what it meant to me. I had searched for hours on the internet to find just the right font, but had been unable to find it. I could only describe it and hope she got it right

    I made an appointment to come back on another day and she would have several designs for me to choose from. And, if I didn’t like any she would work with me to get it just right. A week later, I walked in and looked at her designs. There it was, the exact script font I had seen in my mind, but been unable to find. She nailed it!

    It is now in big beautiful script on my lower right leg. I see it every day and every day I remember to BELIEVE. if I could I’d attach a picture. I can email one if you like. But, my point is that sometimes we see things for so long, we just know what they look like. And, sometimes that is hard to convey. Your artist nailed it, just like mine. I’m happy you found the right artist who heard your description and gave you exactly what you wanted.

    Thanks for sharing you tattoo with us.

  2. Maria, your tattoo is very beautiful. I like what it means to you and how you chose it. I have two that I got back in the mid 80’s and they are special to me. My first was a fawn in the woods. I think my love of deer came from my great grandmother who gave me three fragile china deer statues when I was around five. I still have two of them 55 years later. They are glued together, but still hold so much meaning for me. My other is a nature scene with pine trees, cones and water with a sunset. A pine bough is on the side and wraps it. Tattoos are such a work of art and lovely to see.

  3. I really love the story behind the tattoo and the image itself. Too often nowadays I see people who are just one walking tattoo–and the images are all jumbled together and so… MUCH. Your tattoo, in contrast, is elegant, well thought out, and has such meaning. I wonder if other people who have a lot of them, think about a meaning for each.

    Like many things, tattoos are an opportunity for great beauty–or the contrary. I loved Jon’s story in his book about getting your name tattooed–and I love YOUR story of the spiritual strength and meaning in your JUST RIGHT tattoo. Thank you for sharing this. It’s beautiful!

  4. Kind of weird but whatever works for you. It’s too bad the tattoo guy didn’t use your alligator and flower art though; it’s so much more artistic than what he did.

    1. Susan, my stitched piece wouldn’t have translated well into a tattoo. Like making a book into a movie, you have to work with the medium and use it best. It wasn’t Alex’s decision to make the alligator the way it is in my tattoo, it was mine.

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