Monday, 19 May 2008

Ink & 'spirituality' (really)

My latest tattoo installment on Saturday: This time the stylised head of a beast, described variously as horse, dog, lion or otter, taken from a piece of 7th century Pictish silver found at Norrie Law in Fife.

Why? Well here’s one answer.

As an atheist I have absolutely no idea what religious people mean when they talk about ‘spirituality’. Nor I suspect do they. I could take the obvious cheap shot and say that their spirituality is nothing more than a kind of narcotic-like experience induced by singing, fasting, incense, being silent etc. Or any other stimuli depending on your particular brand of mumbo-jumbo on offer. If I were being more charitable I might say that spirituality is a sense of being part of something bigger or outside of yourself. Although passionate football fans could probably make the same claim.

Some atheists manage to take a kind of pseudo-spirituality from cosmology. For them contemplating the sheer scope of the universe puts the individual in perspective. Personally, to quote the classic line from Spinal Tap, for me that’s ‘a bit too much fucking perspective’.

Instead, I’ll settle for archaeology and tattoos to get my ‘spirituality’: I find the idea of wearing something on my arm that an ancestor carved 1,400 years ago gives me the same kick that others would get staring down a telescope at the stars. A simultaneous sense of connection and my place in the scheme of things.

Oh yeah and it looks the bollocks too. (Well I think so).

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