Pankiv-Greene, L. (2021). Are tattoos symbols of transformation? An intuitive inquiry [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

The remarkable interest in tattoos over the past four decades led me to my research question “Are Tattoos Symbols of Transformation?” I consider the historical literature on tattoos to understand their origins in today’s context. Examining the process of tattoo as a rite of passage, I explore the possibilities of tattooing as a transformative symbol between the mundane and transpersonal realms of existence. Examining both current and historical literature generated an understanding of indigenous knowledge and why its revival is important in today’s world. Inspired by the excitement and enthusiasm of my research participants to talk about their tattoo experiences, I embarked on an Intuitive Inquiry (Anderson,1998,2004) into the essence of this phenomenon. Ten participants, selected intuitively, shared their life stories with me in the context of their tattoo experiences. My participant sample were selected on the basis of diversity from a race, age and gender perspective. My participants from indigenous backgrounds shed light on the connection between tattooing today and in its conception, which was invaluable. Through analysing the in-depth interviews over a six month period, with the help of Thematic Content Analysis(Anderson,2007) revealed the prospect of transformative states through the portal of pain comparable, to peak experiences and mystical states. This facilitated the possibility of an alteration of perception, applicable to daily worldview. My participants revealed how transformative and healing the tattoo process was for them.

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