I apologise for the truly awful puns in the title, but I’m thinking of getting a tattoo done of a variation on the astrological symbol for Taurus.
I’m a Taurus myself, being dedicated and headstrong while affectionate and sensuous, prone to bouts of procrastination and stubbornness, governed by my vocal chords with a strong, thick neck.
I’m also a Virgo because I plan for the future and love statistics, and a Sagittarius because I have good hips and strong quadriceps. I’m every fucking star sign because their traits and characteristics are universally applicable and will fit every single person on the planet twelve times over.
This is just where I am and what I believe. Besides, I’ve found that the people the most genuinely interested in horoscopes tend to be those who discount their genuine relevance or accuracy. Of course star signs are popular. You get to chose a fucking animal, like you’re in Power Rangers or Beast Wars, or that awful 90s kid’s TV show based on a not so awful series of books. Animorphs? Yeah, that one. Just because an idea is tenacious doesn’t make it worthy.
So, why the tattoo?
Well… without theism, be it mono or pan, you can’t blame your failures or the failings of the world on some outside entity or deity. When bad things happen to you, you can’t claim some god is testing you, when there is suffering in the world you can’t claim it as a punishment for some greater sin, and you can’t assure yourself that no matter how hard it gets, some kind of Edenic reward is waiting for you at the end, filled with all your dead pets.
Without a God or Gods, we’re drawn to blame other things- karma, fate, destiny etc. It’s okay to fuck up the presentation at work, because Venus was in ascendance, so it wasn’t even you that fucked up, it was Venus. It’s okay to have our hearts broken by bastards because they’ll get theirs down the line, and we’re bound to win the lottery because we have a “good feeling” that it’s our turn.
I can’t get behind this. My heart sinks when I see athletes who have trained for decades praising fate and destiny for getting them across the finish line, when their own will, determination and persistence has played such a significant part. Families or patients who struggle against the odds to be safe and happy only to claim that someone up there was looking out for them or that they were born under a lucky star completely sell short their courageousness and the genuine work that happiness and security can sometimes take.
Perhaps we tend to shun wholly accepting our own achievements because we fear the burden of wholly accepting our defeats. if you don’t have gods, fate, a wheel of twelve animals or a burning ball of hydrogen looking out for you, all you have is yourself. When you fail, you fail.
This urge to blame ourselves or anything else for our failings is tied in with this idea of the grand narrative, the belief that everything has a purpose or a reason, so blame has to fall somewhere. But it doesn’t. Sometimes, bad things happen. Nations go to war over issues that don’t involve us. Loving and affectionate partners break up with us for no fathomable reason. Entire populations starve miles outside of our circle of effect. We stub our toes. Events and occasions are sometimes just that, events and occasions.
All my tattoos have significance. My Stormtrooper insignia (very specifically not the Clone Trooper insignia) reminds me that even under a common banner, I am still a variant, as are all my friends and coworkers beneath that banner, whatever it may be. My (pre-Ryan Reynolds!) Green Lantern tattoo serves as a reminder of my moving hundreds of miles from home with no plan or support structure, and the presence of willpower that such a task took, and how that strength of will is always within me.
Having a Taurus tattoo, something that represents an idea I don’t believe in, something that I see as part of a system designed to take blame and credit for actions and behaviours, would serve as a constant reminder that I don’t need something to take that blame or credit, that I shouldn’t shoulder that burden myself because it is an imagined burden.
But to be fair, I’m resistant to actually getting this ink done. The above can’t be explained expediently when someone asks “Nice tattoo, what’s it mean?” and a larger percentage of the world will look upon the tattoo, judge me as a devout astrologist, then say no more.
I’d fall over myself trying to explain exactly what the meaning and intention was. I’d get muddled and confused and wind up sounding offensive, then frustrate myself that I was being misunderstood, before stubbornly raging and collapsing in mental exhaustion.