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How the Tiger got it's stripes

In ancient times, when the world was still peopled not only with man, but

with spirits of nature, myth tells of a great war that was fought in China. The first Emperor of China had not yet risen to power, and the people lived in small villages, at peace with the spirits of the forest and the jungle. The war was raged between the corrupt spirit armies of the Yama Kings, and the forces of light. I have always been enchanted with tales of ancient times in Asia, and something about this tale caught my interest in particular. The Chinese believed that there were creatures who were neither man nor beast, but a union of the two. A human who had gained the favor of a jungle spirit and gained certain powers or favors from them. Among the more popular spirits were the Asian tigers. My interest in body modification, coupled with my interest in Asian spirituality brought me to wonder if such a union between human and animal could still exist today. After doing some research into neo-primitives and thier beliefs and culture, I decided on preforming a ritual scarification and branding on myself to attempt such a bond. I have always felt a close affinity to the Asian tiger, and had made attempts in the past to bring myself closer to the spirit of it.

The scarification itself was a central part of  the ritual, and entailed

me using a sterile pen knife razor to cut horizontal stripes down my arms and legs. The process was nearly painless, a perfectly sharp razor will cut the skin easily, but not deeply enough to strike muscle tissue or cause much pain unless unneciccary force is applied. The stripes are about 4-5 inches long each. After the scarification was complete, I spent several hours in meditation. I made sure previously that my work area was completely empty of any distractions, a small room with a small table, pillow to sit on, and several ritual candles. Able to clear my mind, I focused my thoughts on my reasons for the ritual. The tigers are nobles among the beasts of thier region, feared by all, predators, prey, even humans. They are silent in thier hunt, and ferocious when angered. These things are all traits that could be applied to modern life, a need to be noble in these days when honor is all but dead. One must be ferocious in one's dealings, for the city is quick to swallow those too weak to stand on thier own. I felt the spirit enter me as my meditation was completed, approving my reasons for calling it. The final stage of the ritual was the branding. I had previously prepared a length of metal wire to the shape of a tiger's hooked claw. The last rite was to heat the metal over the flames of the ritual candle, making sure to heat the metal only to near red hot. I have seen people attempt brandings before with a white hot brand, and this almost always turns out in disaster. If the metal is too hot, the flesh around the brand will melt as well, and cause the image to become distorted. Knowing this, I placed the blackend claw to my chest. This was the most painful part of the entire ritual, and I had to make sure I listend closely to make sure my skin was not gripping the metal of the brand. After only a few seconds, I was able to draw the brand away, the claw had been perfectly burned into my skin. The act of the branding had been the binding of the spirit into my body, the final symbol of the union. The healing only took a couple weeks. The first few days after the experiance were the hardest to deal with, the slashes on my arms and legs made movement a bit stiff, and I had to be sure to keep the branding very clean and well looked after. I found that using antibiotic ointment (you can get it at any drug store) worked well under a gauze bandage. When I washed it I was very careful to mind the scabbing, and used antibacteria soap. After the scabs came off, the scars and the brand were raised about 2mm from my skin, and bright red in color. All of the scars and the brand have since faded a bit, though for months they were raised and bright. I have always been an exceptionally fast healer, and I imagine that soon they will fade completely. I consider the ritual a complete success though, and should they fade, I will preform it again to re affirm my link with the spirit of the Tiger. I might modify the ritual for next time, I'd like to include another person in it next time. I think that having a very close friend to do the branding for me will strengthen the experiance, and I look foreward to exploring more rituals like this over the next few years.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 March 2001
in Scarification

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Artist: Myself
Studio: Freehold+Designs
Location: Upstate+NY

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