Blessings of Sunlight

This past Alban Heruin (the Druid holy day of the summer solstice) I had the pleasure of attending the local ADF grove’s ritual to greet the sunrise — and though the rain and thunder put a bit of a damper on the event, our greeting the lightening dawn with offerings, song and prayer was inspiring all the same. Afterwards, I returned home and spent the day in meditation and creative work. Specifically, designing a tattoo in honor of my relationship with my goddess, Brighid, in her solar/stellar aspect.

The original plan was to design a small tattoo as a expansion for my shoulder where I have a older and very faded design in desperate need of being touched-up. On my other arm, the Celtic armband weaves in rolling waves in honor of my relationship with Manannan Mac Lir, as well as my ancestors who traveled “beyond the ninth wave” into diaspora on this new continent. As I designed this new tattoo, I wanted one that would not only honor Brighid, but also the realm of the sky and the celestial energies that compliment the sea and oceanic energies of my sea god and my beloved dead. The longer I worked, the more realized that this new design deserved a place of its own. (I will probably work on a different design as a touch-up for my shoulder in the near future, though not before the wedding.)

In the end, I settled on the design you see below.

This design incorporates both dynamic and static elements. The spirals on eight points of the sun evoke the turning of the year; within each pair, one spiral is slightly larger than the other, giving the whole design the appearance of turning or rotating. In the center is a four-pointed star, a symbol of my goddess, Brighid Star Fire, in her stellar aspect while evoking her connection with the stability of earth, and this pattern of dynamic and stable elements is echoed again in the spheres or “sundrops” around the outside of the sun, in four groups of three that effectively “square the circle” in their arrangement.The wave-like design on the inside of the sun and the blue color represent the “fire in the water/water in the fire” aspect of the Celtic goddess of inspiration, integration and transformation. As a special, personal touch, the spirals and dots along the outer rim of the sun add up to 28 in total, in honor of the fact that I designed the tattoo just before and had it done just after my twenty-eighth birthday.

Usually I’m pretty stuck up about doing all my own tattoo design work and keeping those designs to myself so that they will be unique and meaningfully connected with my own personal relationships with my gods. But one of the conditions of the work that Brighid put on me this time was that I would share the design with anyone who wanted to use it. So below is a black-and-white line drawing of the design.

Please feel free to use it, adapt it and share it with others. I’m sure many of you have far more talent for design than I do! My only request is that any adaptations or redesigns you do based on this tattoo also be shared online under Creative Commons for others to use or adapt for themselves.


Note: I have slight scoliosis, which means that even though the tattoo is technically centered on my back, the curve of my spine can often make the tattoo appear a little bit crooked unless I’m really concentrating on holding my shoulders exactly straight. That said, the design is meant to appear asymmetrical because of the uneven size of the spirals, so it’s important to keep that in mind and be comfortable with that choice before getting any permanent tattooing done. I think I’ve already gotten some odd looks from people who don’t realize it was intentional!

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.

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