My son let it slip the other day that my father did not approve of the tattoos I have gotten over the last decade, and said that I was poisoning myself. Typical comment from a concerned parent and I might feel the same way if my own child walked in the door decorated. What my dad doesn't know however, is that each of the marks I have permanently placed on my body have spiritual significance. The practice of marking the skin is not a recent phenomena. The oldest tattoo that has been identified carbon dates to 5,200 years ago. Tattoos have served many functions over the last 5,200 years, according to the Smithsonian, as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and forms of punishment. My reasons vary from design to design, but it comes down to one word, "connection." Connection to the past and my heritage (Celtic knot work,) connection to significant life experiences (the water lily,) and connection to God. The latter, is represented well! A Triskell adorns my arm, representing the Celtic female trilogy, and Great Blue Heron fly up my leg, bringing me into physical contact with the bird that represents my spirituality. This bird lives within all of the elements, water, air, land and, represented by its brilliant orange beak, fire. Last autumn I realized just how much I was connected to these magnificent birds when I felt their migration as a physical loss and they are now with me wherever I go. Today I join 40% of Americans between the age of 26 and 40 who have chosen to get a tattoo, and with that decision comes a connection to history and the Divine.