Christian Churches of God

Tattooing (No. 5)

(Edition 1.0 20000513-20000513)

Tatuing or Tattooing is of great antiquity and has specific spiritual meaning. The Bible for good reason forbids it.


Christian Churches of God




(Copyright ã 2000 Wade Cox)

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Tatuing or Tattooing is a word that is of Polynesian origin and was introduced by Captain Cook after his visit there. Tatu means to mark or puncture the skin and is derived from the Tahitian word tatau, which is a reduplicated form of the word ta meaning to strike (Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (ERE), Vol. 12, article Tatuing, pp. 208 ff).

The practice is of great antiquity being found among the Australian Aboriginals who adorn their body with cicatrices, and among the Polynesians and Japanese, where it is a fine art form.

In predynastic Egypt tattoos were found on mummified remains, for example of the woman at Tukh (ERE ibid., p. 208b). In the Theban empire the Egyptians tattooed themselves on the breasts with the names, or symbols, of deities (ERE ibid.). By the classical period decorative tattoos were rare on Egyptian remains.

The ERE makes the observation regarding the Biblical injunction that:

The prohibition of Lv. 19:28, ‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you’ indicates that the Jews had seen these practices carried on by the heathen nations among whom their lot was cast, and perhaps had themselves adopted them (ERE, ibid).

The ERE goes on to note the general distribution of the practice. The very fact of its distribution and themes might also indicate a common origin in the thoughts and purposes for which it was used. There is no doubt that such practice was used to denote totemic clan systems in Australia. The ERE continues:

There are many classical allusions to tatu in Europe. Herodotus writes of the Thracian women being tatued as a sign of nobility. Pliny says that the men of the Dacians and Sarmatians marked their bodies (‘corpora sua inscribunt’). That tatu was known to the Pictones and other tribes of Gaul is shown by the evidence of coins. Chinese tradition says that the great Chinese hero Tschaipe found tatu among the Ainus of Japan who indeed practice it to this day. In China it ceased at a very early time to be a desirable mode of decoration and survives only as a method of imposing a distinctive mark. A. T. Sinclair says that among the ancient natives in the West Indies, Mexico and Central America tattooing was general if not almost universal. It was practiced by the early inhabitants of S. America, as notable among the coastal tribes of Ecuador and ancient Peru (ibid).

We note that it showed such a distribution that it was spread among the coastal peoples or perhaps simply by them.

G. Elliot Smith finds it along the coastlines of a great part of the world and includes it in the culture complex of the ‘heliolithic’ track.

(ERE ibid.).

This quote is of significance. The term heliolithic means pertaining to the age of the artefact and in this case the sun age and the routes the sun worshippers took on the dispersions or migrations. Their associations with the coastlands show that they were associated with coastal traffic. We can deduce from this and the antiquity of the activities that we are dealing with the periods of the ancient sea kings prior to the development of the great continental empires of the Babylonians and the Medes and Persians and then the Greeks and Romans.

Darwin in his studies said that it was so widespread that not one great country can be named in which the aboriginals did not tattoo themselves (ERE ibid.).

We have established that it was endemic among the early Egyptians and among the Thracians, the Picts and the South Americans. In North America it is also found among the Indians especially the Iriquois, the Pricked Pawnees, the Delawares and others (ibid.).

Basically the darker skinned peoples practiced cicatrice, while the lighter skinned peoples practiced tattooing.

The relationship of the ancient practices can be found even today and we can establish the nature of the tattoos prohibited by the Bible in Leviticus 19:28.

Flinders Petrie has drawn attention to the resemblance between the Algerian patterns described by Lucien Jacquot and those on the female figure found at Tukh (referred to above) and on the Libyans in the tomb of Seti 1. This Pharaoh Seti 1 was of the XIXth Dynasty, 1300 BCE and associated with the Exodus by scholars following the Manetho time scale. Thus we see a line of patterns in Egypt from the time of the Patriarchs to the present in North Africa.

However, we can also establish a precise religious origin for it among the great Assyro-Babylonian system, that was condemned by God, through the Angel of the Presence and Moses. We have seen that it was endemic in ancient Egypt to represent deities, especially among the Theban period. This is especially important as the structure of worship extended from Phrygia to Egypt and on into Europe with the Celts and the Picts.

We also now have fairly conclusive evidence of the international continental trade and contact from 1000 BCE between the Middle East and South America. It is fairly safe to assume that the coastal spread of this practice went with the traders and the sun worshipping system they held.

The dominating designs in Algeria are

a cross and a figure resembling a fly, which are thought to be degenerate forms of the swastika - a device widely distributed in Africa and elsewhere, and of great antiquity, as is shown by its appearance on a leaden figure in the second city of Troy (about (2500-2000 BC) and by its prevalence in ancient Crete (ERE, ibid, p. 210).

It is easy to see from these references and dates and symbols, we are dealing with the ancient system as it came from the Assyro-Babylonians in the Middle East. It involved the ancient mysteries and sun cults symbolised by the cross, and its stylised Swastika, and the symbol of Baal-Zeebub the Lord of the Flies, the god of Ekron (see the papers The Cross: Its Origin and Significance (No. 39) and David and Goliath (No .126)).

We are looking at the religion of the Philistines, the sea people who came to Canaan and Egypt by way of the islands of the Middle East and whose system was spread among all the adherents of Baal and Ashtoreth or Astarte, Istar or Easter. This was the religion of the Trojans. These people left the Middle East and settled in Europe. We see their descendents naming a city after their hero Paris and another after ancient Troy. They, and the Hittites, the Hatti or Kalti, the Keltoi, generally moved into Europe along with the Assyrians and the major part of the Israelites at the fall of the Parthian Empire and became known to history as the Aryans (see also the paper The Unitarian/Trinitarian Wars (No. 268)).

The system is seen within the Easter and Christmas system, especially with the followers of what was to enter Christianity as the Easter system, stemming from the worship of the god Attis. The Mystery and Sun Cults had these rites and we find them in the Orphic cults, the Dionysian, those of Attis and also those of Adonis.

The eunuch priests of Attis adorned themselves with tattoos of the ivy plant which was sacred in all the Druidic mysteries and the Sun Cults generally. Attis means father. The term Papes also means father. Thus the term Pape or pope is derived from the mystery cults. The term father is also a rank of the Mithras system and hence general to the Sun and Mystery Cults.

James George Frazer places this in perspective in his work The Golden Bough (third edition, Macmillan, 1976 print, v. p. 277).

The original character of Attis as a tree spirit is brought out plainly by the part which the pine-tree plays in his legend, his ritual and his monuments. The story that he was a human being transformed into a pine-tree is only one of those transparent attempts at rationalising old beliefs which meet us so frequently in mythology. The bringing in of the pine-tree from the woods decked with violets and woollen bands, is like bringing in the May-tree or Summer-tree in modern folk custom; and the effigy which was attached to the pine-tree was only a duplicate representative of the tree-spirit Attis. After being fastened to the tree, the effigy was kept for a year and then burned…. (p. 277)

This system has been examined at length in the paper The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235). The concept of the tree spirit and the Triune God was developed from the paper The Doctrine of Original Sin Part I The Garden of Eden (No. 246).

The commonality of the belief system was because it was the same original system. It stemmed from the early Assyro-Babylonians who came down to us as Aryans and their system spread with the dispersions of the Hittites and the Assyrians and the Ten Tribes of Israel from the Middle East and the central steppes into Europe and into India.

Frazer was of the view that the original intention of the customs described above and for the Pine being sacred to Attis, was to retain the spirit of vegetation in life throughout the year. This constant desire to retain the spirit of life and immortality was endemic among the Aryans as was the whole concept of thou shalt not surely die.

Frazer adds:

For the same reasons perhaps Ivy was sacred to Attis; at all events we read that his eunuch priests were tattooed with the pattern of ivy leaves (ibid. p. 278).

The ERE states:

Many races believe that the efficacy of tatu marks extends beyond the present life to that of the next world, where they serve as marks of identification – e.g., Nagas of Manipur, Kayans of Borneo, N. American Indians, and many others, or as a guide or as currency enabling a traveller to accomplish his journey.

Thus it might be simply stated, that the purpose of a tattoo anciently was as an identifying mark, placing the person tattooed in the cult of the deity or daemon that was being invoked. This was done so that the deity or god or daemon would take the spirit of the deceased and reincarnate that spirit within the system of after-life, based on the structure of the soul or ka. This was done within the explanation of eternal life provided by the ancients within the worship of the Triune God, who was himself associated as the deity in the tree. The triune god within the tree is seen from our records as early as the settlement of the Indus basin at Harappa and Mohenjo Daro from ancient Sumer ca 2000 BCE. (see also The Doctrine of Original Sin Part I The Garden of Eden (No. 246)).

This Triune God appeared as the system in Rome as Jupiter Juno and Minerva and also in the form of the goddess Hecate, the three-faced deity at the crossroads.

Thus we see the real purpose is to identify the adherents of the system and especially the eunuch priest devotees of the system, so they are identified in the after life.

It is an extension of the belief system of the demons and was set up to promote the doctrine of the immortal soul and the idea and fundamental lie at Eden: You shall not surely die.

For this reason God has condemned it, because it is idolatrous.