I put the "s" in parentheses on purpose. Because looking back I kinda think that I have just one tattoo. It just started out smaller and grew bigger and became like a Storyteller Ring - Motifs that connect to tell a tale or two. About cultures, believes, history and sagas. You might see some stories, I might have others. Some today, some tomorrow - It is not finite - Inspiration and fantasy should have no limits,
So this is not a chronological listing - Just some background information.
The Eagle and the Salmon - Air and Water
A Haida shield I saw on an exhibition on native art in Toronto, Canada triggered this whole thing. It depicted an eagle flying over a salmon. And the Eagle was the first ink to be imprinted on me. I gave a small sketch I made to Colin to work from and got an appointment for 15 June 2000.
When I arrived Colin presented his drawing for the tattoo. I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the size - I hadn't imagined that it was to be that big, but as soon as Colin had placed the outlines for the tattoo on my left shoulder I realised that it was just the right size. The Eagle is a symbol of power and prestige, but its down is also a symbol of peace and friendship.
At this first step the salmon - represented in many of the tales of the Northwest Nations as a symbol of dependability and renewal - was still in scope. But in 2002 it was added beneath the Eagle
The Bear - Earth
Once the Eagle was tattooed I soon realised that I couldn't leave it withjust that
So about a year later it was time for the next tattoo. I first thought about having the salmon added, but decided to have a tattoo added to my right shoulder. For that the motif was to be a bear. In the mythology of the Northwest American Native Nations the Bear is considered the "Elder Kinsman" due to its power and human-like qualities.
I tried doing a few sketches, but none of them really seemed to be close to what I had in my mind - Bears are hard to draw! So Colin and I talked and we decided it should "just" be the face of the bear, and we could then later expand on that. Then in June 2001 I had the face of the bear on my right shoulder. And in the spring of 2003 the bear got its front paws added.
The Back Piece - A tale of Light
Already before the bear was done I also knew that I wanted a back piece. And the theme was to be "The Raven Steals the Light" - an story from Haida mythology.
It is the tale of how the Raven - the trickster, creator, transformer and magician in Haida mythology - stole the Light from an old man that kept it in a box. And in doing so the Raven ended up helping placing the Sun, the Moon and the Stars in the sky for all to enjoy. You can read the story here as told by Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst.
In June 2001 I brought a sketch to Colin, so he could get an idea of what was looking for and he started working on the design. My original idea was a very symmetrical design, but Colin came up with an asymmetrical design with so much more power and dynamics.
We started in early July 2001 and ended September 2001 (Actually on THAT day in September).
Then in august 2003 I had the star constellation Cassiopeia added to the left of the Ravens head. It represents the numerous small pieces of the Light that bounced back into the sky to become the stars, when the Raven dropped half the light during his mid-air encounter with the Eagle - If you haven't already read the whole tale use this link.
I chose Cassiopeia because it has always been one of my favourite star constellations and the W-shape would represent my first name.
It was my first machinefree tattoo. Colin tattooed it while he and Erik Reime were at Sagnlandet (Land of Legends) near Roskilde. Even if it wasn't a major job it was still a great experience. Not only having the tattoo done by hand, but also having it done in Lejre.
The upper Armbands
In 2004 the tattoos on both my arms were supplemented with a graphical design beneath spanning all the way around the arms. Colin also did these by hand. At that time my ideas was that they would create a "tattoo boundary" on my arms. Needless to say that I have now long abandoned such limits.
The Chest and down - A Tree combining two Worlds...
With the back piece done another thought emerged… A chest tattoo. And perhaps time to combine the Haida and the Norse. When I took some time to read the Haida and Norse tales and saga’s there was little - surprising - resemblance which inspired me:
The stars on my back piece in the form of the star constellation Cassiopeia was in Norse tradition in known as Ratatosk - the Squirrel who runs up and down the Norse world tree Yggdrasil - so my idea was to have a Haida Yggdrasil on my chest.
I wasn’t an easy task for Colin to design, since the Haida really never depicted trees, despite their much esteemed tree carvings and totem poles. So it took a while to get get design right. Sketches where made, drawn up and dismissed a few times (Colin it a very nerdy Tattoo Artist - That is also why I trust him completely.)
The Haida Yggdrasil was done from late 2016 until mid 2017 stretching from the top of my lest chest right down to the buttock.
Is it finished?
I think not - I've long since reached a point where my tattoo tale has no ending as long as I have room on my skin.
I'm sure new and old thoughts, ideas and stories to jot down in ink will continue to emerge and get uncovered on my skin.