Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Demonic ink

A friend of mine sent me a link yesterday with the sinister message, "Dude, you are so screwed."  When I clicked it, it brought me to a webpage called "TATTOO: The Cup of Devils," wherein I learned that anyone with tattoos is doomed to the fiery pit for all eternity.

I have two tattoos, one of them that I got some years back, and the other one done only last month.  Little did I know that when I went under the needle gun, I was sealing my fate.

My one-way ticket to hell

Other things I learned on this page:
Throughout history the tattoo bears the mark of paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and just about every other pagan belief known. The tattoo has NEVER been associated with Bible Believing Christians. And whenever and wherever, in history Christianity appears – tattoos disappear. The only exception -- 20th century, lukewarm, carnal, disobedient, Laodicean Christians.
Yup, that's me.  A Baal-worshiping cannibal.  Caught red-handed.

The problem, the author (Terry Watkins) says, is that tattoos are not just decorative, they're portals for demonic entities:
The tattooist, shaman or the occult priest many times uses the tattoo as a point of contact, or inlets into the spiritual world. The tattoo is much more than just a body decoration. It’s more than just a layer of ink cut into the skin. In fact, the tattoo in every culture, in every country, up until the 20th century, was a vehicle for pagan spiritual and religious invocations. Even today, in many countries (including the United States), the tattoo is believed to be a bridge into the supernatural world... Tribal tattoos are designs that bear serious symbolic mystical and occult meanings. Tribal tattoos, especially, are possible channels into spiritual and demonic possession.
My designs aren't "tribal," they're Celtic, in honor of my Scottish and Breton ancestry, and also because they're cool-looking.  So I wonder if that counts?  It'd be kind of a shame if I went to all of that trouble and pain, and could have gotten myself a Demonic Portal, but chose the wrong design, and now all of your better demons are possessing guys with Maori tribal tattoos on their shoulders.

And if once wasn't bad enough, I went and did it again.

Some of the source material that Watkins takes out of context is downright funny, especially the stuff from Ronald Scutt's book Art, Sex, and Symbol.  This book, which is a scholarly look at ritual art (including tattoos) through the ages, is neither pro nor anti-tattoo, but to read the quotes that Watkins lifts from Scutt, you'd think that it was composed of hundreds of pages of biblically-based warnings.  My favorite is the quote alleging that tattoos are associated with "megalithic building, ear-piercing, and serpent worship."  To which I can only respond that I have yet to build a megalith, I have no piercings of any kind, and I like and respect serpents, but "worship" is a bit of an overstatement.  The quotes from Steve Gilbert's book Tattoo History: A Source Book also provide for some entertaining examples of how you can lift quotes from anywhere to prove anything, as long as you cherry-pick carefully:
When Cortez and his conquistadors arrived on the coast of Mexico in 1519, they were horrified to discover that natives not only worshipped devils in the form of status and idols, but also had somehow managed to imprint indelible images of these idols on their skin. The Spaniards, who had never heard of tattooing, recognized it at once as the work of Satan.
Of course, the Spanish thought lots of things were the works of Satan, including most of the art work, historical artifacts, and writings of damn near every civilization they ran into, so I'm not sure they're all that reliable a source on the subject.

Watkins goes on and on about how evil it all is, concluding with:
Throughout history tattoos have symbolized rebellion. There’s nothing normal about a tattoo. A tattoo screams of unabashed rebellion and sexual deviancy...  Is there any doubt about who the "master tattooist" is???
Which reminds me of the Saturday Night Live "Church Lady" sketch, that always ended with, "Could it be... SATAN?"

So, anyway, that's today's jaunt through the world of bizarre superstition.  I find it kind of curious that Watkins is this concerned about body art, frankly; you'd think that as a bible-toting Christian, he'd spend more time talking about rather more pressing issues, such as the fact that "Love thy neighbor as thyself" hasn't really sunk in all that well for a lot of people.  And as far as me, I suppose I was headed to hell long before I got my first ink, given that at that point I was already an atheist.  But reading Watkins' webpage does make me realize how neglectful I've been, as a tattooed person.  I still have a long way to go in the cannibalism, unabashed rebellion, and sexual deviancy departments, and I've got to get right on that serpent-worshiping thing.  Oh, and I wonder where I'm going to put the megalith I'm supposed to build?  I'm thinking the front yard.  That would certainly make a statement.


  1. You really aren't missing all that much with the cannibalism thing. And, I'd have said Celts were a tribe. One of the larger and more diffuse ones, granted.

    It could be this person's really trying to just be more consistent in their reading of Leviticus. You can't just hate gays, you know; if you're justifying it by pointing to the Bible, then you also have to be down on tattoos and pork and witches, and you must recognize that if a man can't get a child on his wife, it just makes sense to grab the nearest servant girl and get her pregnant.

  2. That's some awesome ink, Gordon. I dig it.

    Interesting how, in spite of the fact that God apparently knows everything, people go to places of worship and perform rituals. It has been said that the ritual is a re-affirmation, designed to solidify belief through somatic behavior. The prayer is ultimately for the individual's benefit, not God's.
    I also have 2 tattoos. The first was a gift from my mother... we went together.
    The second is a tattoo I share with 2 other people. We designed it together and got it at the same time. It was a ritual, designed to solidify taking each other as chosen family, brothers, for what will be the remainder of our lives.
    A bit ironic, but I will be damned if this ritual and indelible image carries with it any connotation of evil.
    Terry Watkins is just cutting cookies. Bland, uninspired cookies, full of dogma and projected guilt. While I'm not interested in parsing Christianity to the degree that Terry Watkins has, I somehow believe that this screed misses the mark to such an extent that, should God exist, there will be Hell to pay for this individual's attempt to cast a wide net over people's decisions and label them evil by default.

    Shame on you Terry Watkins. You are not an authority of God, nor do you speak for God. If a person's child is taken from this Earth too soon, and they choose to get that child's image permanently placed on their body, prescribing Satan to this scenario is despicable. You clearly haven't thought this through very well. You have the intelligence of a human and the wisdom of a gnat. Shame, shame, shame.

    1. I love the use of tattoos as a ritual bonding to another person, place, event, or (as in my case) ethnic heritage... it's so cool that you & your mom shared that, and also that the other is shared with two significant people in your life. Besides the beauty of the ink itself, the meaningfulness of the design adds depth -- and it is an intensely personal thing. That Watkins cheapens the whole thing by calling them all satanic is obnoxious.

    2. When you said you share a tattoo with two other people, for some reason my twisted brain initially envisioned not an image duplicated on three people, but one huge tattoo in three parts. With, I suppose, a small "Continued on next person." in small letters at the bottom.

  3. Hey I am sorry to disappoint you but tattoos will not get you too hell, even if you put satanic tattoos over your whole body. According to the bible, the only thing that will stop you from going to hell is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. PS: love Tyler Tork's comment

  4. Tattoos may look appealing to many this days like following the leaders of ocult religeous beliefs in Ancient History it takes us to Pre Ancient Egyptian culture which where use by women elites as goddesses as priests who have ownership on other females for different jobs rating from prostitution to dancers as well as offering to their God’s as protection amulets and sexual desires as far as to preventing prostitutes from getting sexual transmitted disease tattoo are being taken as far as to make deals with Lucy the Goat himself in order to deformed their human body perfect creation he whisper to the ears of the ones he turned to be rebellious to the creator and bowed down to Satan as mighty God better than the Heavenly Father
    Satan himself was so perfect so beautiful but his hatre gave birth to rebellious confrontations and cast down to hell with his followers he swearing to destroy humanity because his Father Chosen us so what a better way than disfiguring our perfect bodies with tattoos and piercings mutilation so as we see everyone is doing it because monkey see monkey do monkey pee in my shoe forbidding pleasures lust to pain and other Paganism beliefs