Last year, I wrote about my first experience getting a stick and poke tattoo from Maia of Navarra, first of her name. I saw on her Instagram page that she was going to be back in town, and based on the strength of our first encounter, I knew I had to contact her and get tattooed by her again. I had exactly what I wanted in mind when I approached her house to talk about my next tattoo.
Fast forward a week, I stood with body erect, arms at my sides and closed my eyes. I tried to clear my mind of all chatter. Just like last time, Maia began by whispering encantations while placing her hands on different points of my body. She rubbed Agua Florida and gently placed her hands near my face so that I could breathe in the vapors.
I lay on the comfy massage table covered by a bright multicolor serape, staring up at the tin ceiling of her patio. Like the last time, there was a steady, light pitter-patter of rain amplified by the sheet of metal. I had shaved my chest the night before, and felt a bit naked and colder because of it. She donned a headlamp to help her see clear in the grey, diffused light of the rainy day. She brandished a thin object, like a chopstick with a needle fastened to the end, dipped it in black ink, and started etching away.
First the outline, a sharp stinging pain. I could hear each loud plop of the needle puncturing the first layer of skin. It sounded a lot like punching holes in rubber. Sometimes she held the needle at a 45-degree angle, digging under my skin which made me wince. Vipassana taught me to try to not let my physical pain become a mental one. I got to know her ceiling very well, reading the patterns of the grain of the wood beams that held up the sheet metal roof.
The middle of the chest, my sternum, was the zenith. I felt my nerves playing tricks on me. When she poked at the top of my sternum, I felt the sensation as if she was digging into the soft spot in the center where the neck meets the chest. While she was on the fleshy part of my left pectoral, I could have sworn she was tapping away at my clavicle. Such tricks our senses play. She started the dotted shading. I felt relieved because shading involved less intense digging motions. My skin felt afire. We talked about many subjects, Atlantis, the Basque people, places we’ve traveled to. Conversation took my mind off the needle, and Maia was a lovely conversationalist.
The end result: A symbolic representation of my spirit animal, the hawk. The piece blends elements of Huichol and other North American indigenous artistic styles. She said that the tattoo was about owning my power, finding freedom, and that it would give me protection. I went home to relax for while, physically and energetically exhausted from the experience. She had invited me to a small ceremony she was having later that evening to celebrate the Luna Rosa, the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Thus, I returned a few hours later. I was introduced four other people who were there for the gathering. I snapped a few photos of the ceremony before we meditated. Later we ate mangos. I took my leave just before dark.