I got a new tattoo on friday and it will be my last for awhile. My tattoo artist is leaving Ithaca and I had to get one before his farewell, a sorta good luck charm-for his journey and my continuous one. Tattoo ideas come to me in the same way ideas for photographs do-they seem random but are always cultivated from my experience, emotions and that exact time in place and space. Possibly a language for the words I have trouble expressing at times. My tattoos have been odes, fuck-you's-but this one seems particularly just for me. A small feather behind my ear. The next day I researched feathers-only to discover that my mind chose exactly what it should have, considering who I am and working towards becoming at this very moment. I have been meditating lately, imagining my soul as this perfect shape that fits neatly inside an imperfect body. Something that will someday be let free when my body is not longer useful at housing it.
A feather is synonymous with the soul, metaphorically speaking. They are light in weight and are the only means by which a bird is able to fly. Similarly, the soul is extremely lightweight in comparison to the dense physical body that houses it; when free from restrictions, a soul can fly uninhibited.
In Egyptian mythology, Ma’at was the goddess of truth, justice, and the underworld, and it was her job to evaluate and judge the souls of all those who had just died. She weighted each soul against a feather; if the soul was too heavy it was sent to the underworld, but if the soul was as light as a feather it was allowed to proceed upwards to the heavens. Ma’at was often portrayed wearing an ostrich feather on her head, a symbol of truth in Egypt.