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  • Devin Gackle

My Tattoos and Their Meanings

When you get a tattoo, a common question you'll get is, "What does it mean?" Obviously, tattoos can have lots of meanings, in general, and to the person they belong to.

Since I could probably give an explanation long enough to be a blog post about my tattoos, that's just what I'm going to do.

The Tree

I got my first tattoo in September 2016. On my right shoulder, you'll find a beautiful tree, half its branches bare, the other half blooming with leaves; floating away (instead of leaves) are music notes.

Now, I first thought of getting a tree tattoo because I love trees, and they're super cool. But when I researched all the meanings tree tattoos can have, I realized how perfect a fit for me it was. Each part of a tree has significance, so I chose the elements of mine to reflect myself and my experiences.

When I tell people I have a tree tattoo, I sometimes get asked what kind of tree. But when I got the tattoo, I wasn't really thinking about what kind of tree it was; I didn't request a specific one. All I know for sure is that when the artist drew up the vision I had explained to him, I loved it. But I think it actually resembles an oak tree, which turned out to be rather fitting (in more ways than one.) Oak trees often stand for wisdom, durability, and strength.

Trees in general are symbols of strength, growth, rebirth, changes, and weathering those changes -- to trees, each season is just part of the cycle. My tree is not a tree of life, but it certainly represents my life. I wanted the contradiction of the bare and bountiful branches.

On one side my branches are bare because I've weathered a lot of storms. For me those storms are emotional; I suffer from depression, I've been emotionally and verbally abused, and made to feel like I don't matter. I've been broken and scarred.

But on the other side, life finds a way. My leaves grow again, little by little, and I may not be whole, but I am new. They are strong -- trees may bend and sway, but it's really hard to break them. And both sides are intertwined, connected at the trunk, because both are a part of me, as are my roots.

The music notes come from the tree because music is part of what gives me strength, keeps me sane, and gives my life meaning. Music is how I express myself.

In a nutshell: My tree is a reminder of how strong I can be, to embrace all the parts of me, and to weather and thrive through the changes. The tree isn't me, but I suppose it represents my soul, or my spirit.

The Compass Rows

I got this ink in March 2018 on my left wrist. I love it for its simple beauty.

That's actually why I just wanted the rows instead of a full on compass. I wanted simple but meaningful, and I wanted it in a place I could easily look at.

On a more obvious, literal level, it represents travel, because I love travel. And since I believe travel brings opportunity, growth, reflection, and peace, for me the symbol embodies those things as well, and is a reminder my need to wander is natural.

On a deeper note, I have North pointing toward my fingers as a reminder to follow my "True North." To listen to my intuition, and trust it -- trust myself. "Trust your gut," is the more common phrase these days, but since intuition for me is more of a tingling sensation on the back of my neck, or a lurch of my heart, the word intuition itself means more to me.

Since the rows also form a sort of cross, it's also a reminder to me that no matter what direction I go in, God has a plan for me that's better than anything I can come up with, and he'll find a way to get me on the right path; He's my True North, too.

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