The Vegvísir: Tattoo Me A Viking’s Compass

“if this sign is carried, one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known”.

A leather kilt comes in handy in more situations than you might imagine. Today, I found myself at Okey Doke Tattoo on College. My favourite artist, Kyle Hollindrake, had time for me to have my latest tattoo inked into my right thigh: The Vegvísir. The Vegvísir is a type of viking compass metaphorically used to guide one’s way when the way is lost. Ironically, perhaps the vikings did not care where they were going because they just were going places – it was who they were and what they did that mattered to them.

For this particular design I decided to add colour for the first time to my body. I went with a black circle of Nordic runes encircling the actual compass, which I decided should be red. The actual size of the entire tattoo is about six full inches across.

The entire process took about an hour and a half of steady work. Kyle always works deftly and my only job is to not complain about the pain once he starts. I will admit that this hurts like a bad, bad sunburn that a cat has etched into my flesh with her claw, but I am certain that by morning I will feel fine. During the inking, the pain was steady, but the beauty of tattoos is learning how to zone out of the pain and panic. Frankly, it is one of the most sacred surrenders that I can experience.

In the end, I know this to be a turning point tattoo. All of my tattoos are symbolic.  Each one carries a meaning, a memory and a reflective caution: perhaps this is the first one where I am celebrating myself and the influences that have changed my life for the best in the past few weeks. It is a statement that I am ready for the great adventure, and that I know who I am now.

Tonight has me preparing to shoot two products for Paderno Cookware. My work has been pretty steady from this client since September, and that extra coin has allowed me to head to Montreal for the next three days. Montreal is one of my sacred places. It is where I feel I became the man I am now, and it is where I always return to when I have questions or doubts. I suppose that, like The Vegvísir, it acts to guide me in my next steps forward. My plan is to eat lightly, but well, to walk my mind clear, and to ask the questions that I cannot ask of myself when I am surrounded by the familiar.

Last night found me at The Cameron House. The Jump Devils were pounding out some pretty hip jump and jive music. My night ended at The Velvet Underground where I danced deeply and let go of the week’s early stresses. I should also note that Graeme Cameron of Base Camp X dropped off what has to be the sickest collection of tools that I could ever hope to own. The upcoming photo series I have been planning for months will feature this new weaponry. Like the tattoo, this series will continue the path that I began in my BCX work last month; think sexy, dangerous and beautiful.

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4 responses to “The Vegvísir: Tattoo Me A Viking’s Compass

  1. was at cameron house last friday and met a few pretty cool people. the “this is paradise” sign is true. keep up the blog.

  2. What do the Nordic runes encircling the compass mean?

  3. I wanted a tattoo of the runes without the compass – can ANYONE tell me what it means?

  4. The runes are the 24 characters of the Elder Futhark or Rune Alphabet

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