When I was younger, a friend of mine lent me a book series called the Death Gate Cycle. It features a race of powerful wizards that access their power by activating runes tattooed across their bodies. The idea has always intrigued me, and I have always carefully pondered what runes or glyphs of power would make potent tattoos (and where they would go).
It was with this mindset that I read Taylor Ellwood’s essay on using magic to enhance your body.
Taylor describes three techniques:
1) Using magic to enhance muscle strength while working a physically demanding job.
What I did before the shift was to run my hands over my legs and arms, putting energy into the muscles so that I could warm them up ahead of time, as well as help them heal. This allowed me to condition my muscles during the first couple of weeks so that I wasn’t as sore as I would’ve been otherwise.
2) Using magic to facilitate more rapid healing.
When I get tattoos, I tend to heal fairly quick because what I do is communicate with my cells and direct energy toward the metabolism functions in order to improve the speed of healing. I’ve also used this for other injuries. While it doesn’t provide instantaneous healing, I have noticed that healing occurs quicker than it normally would.
3) Pairing magical work with physical exercises to enhance eyesight.
One of the activities I do on a regular basis are eye exercises, which include bringing my sight into and out of focus as well as rolling my eyes and looking up or down or to the side for more than a second. Doing these exercises help to enhance my sight, but I’ve also done some inner alchemical work with the rods and cones as well as the natural chemicals in my eyes, focusing on cell regeneration, so that I can keep my eyesight at its current performance.
I have used similar techniques. My efforts to sustain muscle strength tend to be less focused: I radiate the energy from within rather than “apply” it from without. The healing techniques I have had the most success with are those discussed by Mike Sententia via his Direct Magic system, and it involves directly communicating instruction to the body to adjust its energy signatures to induce healing. The vision thing I haven’t done, and I may give it a shot at some point, because my eyesight sucks low swinging old man scrotum.
My specialty is maintaining alertness. One trick I stole from a Dune novel, and it involves a focused meditation (nap?) for 500 heartbeats. As in seriously focusing on your heartbeats and counting off 500 of them, all while breathing deeply and clearly. It is kind of a nap, but it’s a bit more somehow, and can add a few hours of alertness. I’m also really good at drawing in magical energy to keep myself alert or energized, and in fact keep certain pieces of jewelry charged for this purpose. (I have a ring that can hold about 4 “charges,” each good enough to jolt me for a few hours more.) I am capable of drawing energy straight from the environment, but I am more cautious with that, ever since the time I established a direct magical link to the Sun and couldn’t sleep for several days.
I’ve played with the jewelry idea a lot, and have different pieces for different purposes, each storing different types of energy or having spells enchanted into them. I’ve also done this with clothing before, especially coats and hats.
But my interest is in direct body modification.
I have no tattoos. (If I ever get one, I’m sure pictures will appear here.) I have no piercings. But my talent with enchanting talismans and other objects — especially in the ways described — inspire me to ponder how piercings or tattoos could impart permanent or semi-permanent magical effects. Enchanting shields or wards onto an earring or nose piercing would be easy-peasy (perhaps a belly-button ring might work better — nearer the solar plexus). Sigil tattoos should work very effectively on theory, and the notion of protective or magic enhancing tattoos has intrigued me ever since I read the book series mentioned above. My own ideas for potential tattoos have included the Rose Cross Lamen, the Octogram, and a variant of my family crest.
One of the concerns I have had regarding tattoos is the claim I have heard from some chiropractors and acupuncturists that tattoos read as scar tissue to the body, and can disrupt the flow of chi. But this just interests me more, for it may be possible to construct and place tattoos so that they actually help enhance the flow of chi through the body.
To my knowledge, there has not been must serious discussion of these ideas, but I’m sure that someone somewhere has thought of them before and played with them. I’d love to heard any experiences from the tattooed out there, as well as from anyone else who has worked along these lines of thought.