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We've had some drama and are currently doing some internal housekeeping and rewriting here on Gypsy Magic.

It's going to take a while to get things set right here and I am really sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. I apologize for links to a "page not found" instead of something cool and magickal.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Swallow Tattoo

Because I have uploaded information on the Swallow as a totem, or power animal, I thought it might also be a good idea to post information about the swallow tattoo, and the significance of it.


Having a swallow tattoo is a creative way of expressing yourself. If you are going to get one, you may want to understand what it means first. The symbolism of the swallow tattoo is cause for controversy and confusion.

Possessing a swallow tattoo symbol used to be a sign of status among sailors. The meaning behind it was that swallows, supposedly, protected the sailors from harm on their journeys. However, a similar version of the story is that, if the sailors did die at sea, the swallow would protect their soul and carry them to heaven. Either way, the meaning is similar. It was a great comfort, as well as a status symbol, to sailors out at sea.

According to legend, after sailing for at least five thousand miles, a sailor could get a swallow tattoo symbol put on his chest, to mark the occasion. This gave him a great sense of honor and achievement. A longer version of the legend is that, when he had traveled over ten thousand miles, he was entitled to get a second swallow tattoo on the other side of his chest.

Getting a second tattoo gave sailors an enormous sense of pride and accomplishment. It also served as a sort of pictorial resume. Since traveling by ship was very dangerous during that time. Thus, it was a sign of an experienced sailor who could be counted on in a crisis. Sailors with two swallow tattoo symbols on their chests, instead of one, were especially sought after. It meant that they had weathered many storms and gotten through many challenges. Therefore, any captain looking for new crew members was always happy to see a sailor with two swallow tattoos on his chest.

Here is one story of the origin of the swallow tattoo: there was a ship named the swallow, the men had a mutiny and the original seven mutineers had swallows tattooed on them so that they could identify each other. Out of this, two things happened:
  1. The authorities heard of this identification and searched for the seven sailors who got swallows.
  2. Their friends got swallows tattooed on them and lied about being one of the original seven to throw the authorities off the right trail.

To a sailor the swallow means a "safe return home". Seeing a swallow is the "first tsign that land is near." Swallows are known to travel far distances out to sea during migration and would rest on boats close to shore which gave early mariners the first sign that land was indeed close by. The horizon is 12 miles from a boater's standpoint in the ocean (more if higher up) and swallows fly further then 12 miles out. The swallow is also known as a sparrow and was worn by the famous pirate "Jack Sparrows".

The story also goes that if a sailor with a swallow tattoo drowns; the swallows come down and lift his soul to the heavens.

The swallow is a noble bird, with a rich history. It is a symbol of honor, faith, love and hope. To sailors in olden days, it represented everything from luck to loyalty. It served as a reminder of family, friendship and honor.

In modern times, the sparrow has come to have many, sometimes quite different, meanings when worn as a tattoo. Here are some of them:

  • Swallow tattoos are associated with loyalty and fidelity - swallows choose a mate for life and will only nest with that bird and no other.
  • They carry a message of hope, when sailors saw a swallow they knew that land was near.
  • Freedom.
  • It's a symbol of good luck for adventurers and travelers who will always find their way home. The swallows return home to San Juan Capistrano every year. So the tattoos were used to say that you will always come home.
  • They are a sign of loyalty and pride.
  • The swallow tattoo is a sign of enduring life, love and hope. It represents enduring courage and happiness.

There also seems to be a small connection to music. Some people connected swallows with a love, respect and appreciation for music. Much like the swallows always returning to San Juan, their home. The tattoo can represent always being home when you're within the music.

Before you run out and get a swallow tattoo, you might want to consider the following. Here is what one person shared about his grandfather's swallow tattoos:

"I grew up in a bad area in Australia and a grandfather of a friend of mine came from England. He was a very hard man and the whole family was very tough and underworld related. I remember being a kid in their house when the grandfather was there and I asked him what his tattoos meant. He looked down on me with a hard face and said in a thick English accent (they moved to Australia in the 70's) "It means I can walk into any pub and put my hands on the bar and if anyone would want to fight, then I would fight them". He was a big guy and I had heard rumors of him tearing people apart. So I guess that they kind of mean courage, strength and loyalty. Oh yeah he was also a "Teddy Boy" in England, but I am not so sure what that is."

Depending on where you grew up, and the places you hang out, swallow tattoos can also mean:

  • "Live long and live hard".
  • Swallows on the back of the hands are supposed to give you faster hands, such as in a fight or at work.
  • The swallow tattoo in England means "these fists fly".
  • If they're on the backs of the hands, it means you'll be faster and stronger in a fight. it's mostly in Great Britain and Australia though.
  • In terms of jail house tattoos, the bluebirds, swallows or sparrows can stand for white supremacy or white power.
  • In Great Britain, the swallow tattoo on your hands means you've earned your 'wings' in a UK prison, i.e. you have been inititated into male-male sex rituals.
  • Swallow tattoos on a man's hands and neck originated in British prisons from the term 'jail-bird'. They indicate that you've gone to prison and done your 'bird'.
  • In Scotland it usually signifies a spell in the infamous Bar-L or Barlinnie prison in Glasgow.
  • The swallow's wings are so long that the bird never reaches the ground. It always flies high above everything else on earth. Prisoners are known to tattoo themselves with a swallow when they leave prison as a symbol of freedom.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hello Auntie Moss

Auntie Moss has come to stay with us here at Gypsy Magic. How cool is that?

Who is she and where did she come from? She is a wonderful little old village witch who got a really bad rap from Ursula LeGuin in her Earthsea book "Tehanu." The description in the book reads like this:

"Aunty Moss was a dour creature, unmarried, like most witches, and unwashed, with greying hair tied in curious charm-knots, and eyes red-rimmed from herb smoke." She was further described as, "unpredictable, unreliable, incomprehensible, passionate, ignorant, sly, and dirty."

The one thing said about her that was true is "she was following her heart, it was a dark, wild, queer heart, like a crow, going its own ways and on its own errands." What the book neglected to say was that she is a wise and wonderful witchy woman who has never steered me wrong.

Lucky for us, I was able to find an actual picture of her, and she did graciously agree to be of help to those of you who ask for advice and insight. You'll find her at the bottom of the page (here at Gypsy Magic). Go ahead, scroll down, ask her something, you know you want to!

Colors And Their Meanings


  • Black: The meaning of the color black is mystery and protection. It is the color of the clergy, and witches use it to cloak themselves and safeguard their mysteries.
  • White: White is a holy color, and it symbolizes purity, innocence, wholeness and completion.
  • Gray: The color gray is an unemotional color. It is detached, neutral, impartial and indecisive - the fence-sitter. Gray is reserved, quiet and conservative. It has a steadying effect on other colors around it.
  • Gold: Gold is the color of kings, gold symbolizes wealth, success, achievement and triumph and status. It is related to the sun.
  • Silver: Silver increases psychic vibrations. It has a feminine energy; and is related to the moon and the ebb and flow of the tides - it is fluid, emotional, sensitive, mysterious, soothing, calming and purifying.
  • Magenta: Magenta is a color of universal harmony and emotional balance. It is spiritual yet practical, encouraging common sense and a balanced outlook on life. It helps to release old and outdated patterns of behavior to inspire growth and personal development.
  • Pink: The color pink has a calming effect on the environment, and represents compassion, nurturing and love. It relates to unconditional love and understanding, and the giving and receiving of nurturing.
  • Turquoise: The meaning of the color turquoise is open communication and clarity of thought.
  • Purple:  This is the color of power, influence, prophecy, and wisdom. The color purple also relates to the imagination and spirituality. It stimulates the imagination and inspires high ideals.
  • Indigo: The color indigo is the color of intuition, perception, and the higher mind, and is helpful in opening the third eye. This deep dark blue color represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.
  • Blue: Sensitivity, intellect, protection, calmness, benevolence, and wisdom are all invoked through the color blue. This is the color of trust and responsibility. It is the color of the sky and of water, and so it also brings distance and a wider point of view.
  • Green: Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety and has great healing power. The most restful color for human eyes, Green is the color of balance, harmony and growth.
  • Yellow: The color yellow is the color of happiness and success, it stimulates the mind, the intellect, and creative thinking. Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy.
  • Orange: Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. It is the color of adventure and social communication. Orange offers emotional strength in difficult times.
  • Red: Red is a primal color of lust, passion, and deep abiding love. It is the color of blood and bonding. It means energy, passion and action. It is a warm and positive color associated with our most physical needs and our will to survive.
Note: This post was compiled for Gypsy Magic by Shirley Twofeathers using information from a variety of sources including Empower Yourself With Color Psychology. You may repost and share it only if you give credit and a links back to these websites. Blessed be.

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Ask any yes or no question, and Auntie Moss be givin' you an answer. This old witch woman is wiser than you think. Go ahead, give it a go.
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