I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for years. (Yeah. I know. Who hasn’t at this point?) I am not an early adopter of anything cultural or technological. I wait and ponder and wait and ponder some more. This means I am always years behind the “cool curve”. It also means that when I finally do something new, I love it.
(No, I don’t think a tattoo is something I am going to regret when I’m older. Nor do I think it is going to prevent me from getting a good job.)
When I told Daughter #1 what I finally decided on for my ink, she thought it was such a good idea, she wanted to get a matching one. We went to Phoenix Rising in North Syracuse together on Saturday, where Kim (whom I adore) did the honors.
And now you are asking yourself, what the hell does that mean? Why would someone tattoo Hwæt into their right wrist?
It is a word from Old English, aka Anglo-Saxon, which was spoken from roughly the mid 400s- 1200s. (Although scholars disagree about this a little. Scholars never seem to agree on anything, do they?) The first letter is an H. The second letter is not a P. It is a Wynn. That is a letter in Anglo-Saxon that we don’t have in modern English. It makes a sound like a W. The next letter looks like an A and an E smushed together. And the last letter is T.
It is pronounced “hwet”. And I think it is a very, very important word.
Hwæt is the first word of the oldest piece of Anglo-Saxon poetry we have, Beowulf. Scholars argue about this too, but most would say the story was probably first told around the year 600 and written down around the year 1000. Hwaet is the bard calling to the audience to listen to him/her. The storyteller, with this word, is basically saying “Yo. Have a seat. Lend me your ears. ” Here is the rest of the poem.
To me, it means everything. It connects me to the roots of my language and to my calling as a storyteller. Hi, my name is Laurie and I’ll be your bard this evening. Would you like to look at our mead list?
So that is the story of my ink. It has nothing to do with any of my books and everything to do with all of my writing.
Do you tattoo too?