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Solar Brand: A truly intense experience

This past weekend I drove from my home in Austin, Texas, to Phoenix, Arizona to visit a friend. I needed to get away from all of the madness, and sadness, that was lingering here.

When I first talked to Rome about the possibility of visiting, he asked if he could brand me. I didn’t know much about it, only seen about two videos (one of them his) and read a short article on ModBlog once about it, but I said yes anyway.

Of course, I did what research I could before I left. However, there’s not a lot out there on this practice because 1) Very few people are doing it (see: Neeko and Andrew S) and 2) It’s still very new in the world of Body Modification (a few years, at most.) At least, this is as much information that I could find. If you have more, or I'm wrong, please let me know.

Now, I have roughly 85 hours of tattoo work on me, random piercings, microdermals, a scarification, and an implant in my hand, but I have never experienced the kind of emotion I did while getting solar branded. Let me start from the beginning. I drove 15 hours to get to Phoenix starting on Thursday afternoon and arrived around 6am on Friday. I hadn’t been sleeping these last few weeks (four, maybe five hours, at most) and dealing with endless annoyances and grievances. Reeling in my own head over things that seem so petty now. Anyway, I fell asleep at Rome’s probably around 8. He woke up early and went to school, and I woke up around noon. I got up, made some coffee, did my normal morning routine and laid back down with my Kindle and fell asleep again probably around 2 in the afternoon. Rome got back around 6pm and I was shocked I had slept so much! Eight hours of sleep, almost consecutively? Ridiculous. Later that night we started talking about ideas for the brand.

Over the years, and sort of by accident, I’ve done all land based mods on my right side, and water based on the left. (Desert tattoo, snail scar, wasp implant on the right. Sea creature tattoos on the left) We started talking about the elements, and symbols representing these elements. Hydrogen and helium, mainly. The next day, and through the powers of the internet and Wikipedia searches, we found alchemy symbols for the four basic elements. Another night gone by, another night where I slept for longer than five hours, and on Sunday we decided on two symbols that represent land and water. Upside down triangles, mainly, and decided on placement on the back of my arms, on each side respectively.

It was around 2:30 in the afternoon, in 105* Phoenix, when Rome showed me his beautiful crystal balls that would mark my skin permanently. We went outside around 2:50 and before I laid down I remember saying, “I’m only a little nervous."

That was a lie.

I was very nervous.

Rome covered my bare back in a towel, and exposed my right arm first. He asked the question all tattooers, piercers, and modification artists ask before they begin that always, always, takes my breath away, “Are you ready?" I took a deep breath in, and exhaled a soft, “Yes."

It hurt. A lot. All I remember doing is taking deep breaths in and reminding myself to exhale slowly. It didn’t take longer than five minutes to do the right arm, and I could hear the popping noises, feeling the pain all the way in my throat.

And then he covered my right arm, switched sides, and started the left. The left side hurt more, almost to the point where I wanted to yell stop. Somewhere halfway through the left side, I put my head face down on the blanket under me and as I was exhaling I started crying.

I wasn’t crying because of the pain. The pain was still there, but it was as if I had let go of all of the pain, heartache, loss, and sadness that’s been with me the last few months, and crying was my body’s way of reacting. I could hear the popping of the crystal ball and I could feel the burn of the brand, but it was almost an afterthought. I don’t remember what was going through my head. I don’t remember what I was thinking, if anything, in those two minutes. All I know, is that I’ve never felt anything like that before. I’ve never really let go during any tattoo or procedure otherwise, and simply taken it for what it was. I don’t know if it was really a “release" or if it was a mental block of some sorts, to block out the pain.

Regardless, I didn’t even realize he was done until about a solid minute afterwards. He had taken the blanket off my back and I was still laying there, crying. I remember I sat up into child’s pose for a moment and finally rose to my feet. I covered my face with my hands and Rome hugged me. He said something to me, and I don’t remember what. I remember saying “It hurts but that’s not why I’m crying."

I didn’t even look at my arms. I put my shirt on, drank some water, had a cigarette and a conversation about relationships and learning lessons with Rome right afterwards. It wasn’t until hours later when I was in the bathroom that I turned to look at my arms. I could feel the sting, as if I had been scratched by a cat or something, and it felt irritated, like a rug burn.

I slept that night again. I woke up early and drove home. It feels like a burn. Seriously. But I can’t stop thinking about the reaction I had. How I’ve never felt that way before. Even during my long, 15 hour drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the way it made me feel. The way my body reacted with tears. The way the sun, the mother fucking sun, “kissed" my skin. How the elements are so powerful, and so strong, and we are so small in comparison. How I took something from the elements and have it with me forever. How I feel so much better than I did last week, last month, and last year. Even after all of the work I’ve had in the last year, nothing will compare to this one experience. I’m excited to watch them change, and develop, and heal.


submitted by: Polareyez
on: 16 July 2013
in Misc. Brands, Misc. Modern Branding

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