" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

August 1, 2016

Tattoos and Tokens of Hope and Hopelessness

Left click on image to make bigger to read
The second day that I visited the Port Arthur convict settlement it was a really miserably wet and cold day in contrast to the day before, where it only rained off and on, but was mostly fine.
I had done the ghost tour here the night before, as well as having had a good walk around the settlement, as I wrote about in this post -
The Conjuring, Too?
But I had missed the chance to take the 'Isle of the Dead' tour, so I had returned to brave the very trying elements that the heavens were throwing at me.
Waiting to be ferried to 'The Isle of the Dead' on June 21st, 2016
Landing on 'The Isle of the Dead' with my fellow shipmates
Our tour guide braving the cold rain and wind on 'The Isle of the Dead'
The weather was so bad this day that I bought a rain jacket from the souvenir shop before I went on the tour,  in an effort to keep warm and dry.

I hadn't realized it at the time, but June 21st was the winter solstice day for the southern half of the world, too.
So, this was the shortest day of the year in Australia.
2016 Winter Solstice, June Solstice
The Solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice, once in summer and once in winter, each year when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole. During Solstices the tilt of the axil of the Earth (with respect to the Sun) is the maximum at 23° 26'. Solstices occur on 20th or 21st June and 21st or 22nd December each year. During summer the day of the solstice is the longest day of the year and during winter the day of the solstice is the shortest day of the year. 
During June it is Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere and Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere. In other words on June Solstice it is summer time in the UK, the USA, Canada, Russia, India, and China and it is the longest day of the year while it is winter time in Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa and it is the shortest day of the year.
The grave of a suicide suspect buried away from the main graves
It sure is a creepy island
Anyway, before I went on the 'Isle of the Dead' tour I went downstairs to have a look at the exhibits that I didn't really want to see the day before, but because it was bucketing down outside and I had already walked around the settlement the day before I decided to see what I had missed yesterday. 

I couldn't help thinking how at MONA you had to descend into the the main attraction of the artworks and then work your way back to ground level where you came in and that at the Port Arthur visitor centre you had to walk down stairs, or descend to get to the convict settlement also.
MONA: Sex X and Death +
I came across the sign pictured right at the top of this post that I found fascinating.
It was about the tattoos and tokens the convicts made as signs of hope ... or hopelessness.  
I was intrigued  as to the reasons these convicts tattooed themselves and what symbols that they tattooed on their skin and why, since tattoos are such a pop-cultural craze today, also.
I even have a couple I got way before it was fashionable to get them, so I was very interested in the symbols these convicts put on their skin.  
Me, trying the chains of marriage on again at Port Arthur;-)
It seems that anchors were the "in thing" at the time, with the anchor being a symbol of hope ... or hopelessness.
An anchor as a symbol of hope? 
To me an anchor is a symbol of sinking into the depths of despair in a murky black ocean.
I wouldn't want one of these on my wrist while swimming :-)
I'd rather have a balloon tattooed on my skin as a sign of hope personally. 

Anchor? Hope/hopelessness?
A modern anchor tattoo of hope ... or hopelessness?-)
I guess these shorts must represent hope, too?-)
This tattoo I find amusing. Go the Sharkies!!!
I found this information about anchor tattoos at a tattoo site in the red link below -
Anchor Tattoos, Sailors and Early Christian History
A modern anchor tattoo
"This is most definitely an interesting mix of history, symbolism and best of all tattoos. Tattoos picturing symbolic ship anchors have been a huge part of tattooing in the western world for over two centuries. 
You have probably seen these tattoos on a lot of elderly men. For example my grandfather has an anchor tattoo on his forearm. 
Originally sailors, navy servicemen, and other maritime workers would get anchor tattoos. These anchor tattoos have become known the world over and associated very closely with maritime activities.
There are regional variations as to the meanings of certain colors, and other adorning symbols that go with anchor tattoos but most often an anchor tattoo is meant to be a symbol of holding one steadfast and strong. 
Also many sailors would get an anchor tattoo after their first crossing of the Atlantic. 
Much like a real anchor these tattoos symbolize keeping a person in place or grounded despite what might be happening around them. 
The amazing thing is the connection with anchors as a symbol goes all the way back to the early Christians. 
The early Christians of course were persecuted for their religious beliefs and often had to meet in secret. 
They developed symbols that would mark a house as a meeting place for Christians. 
Much like the fish that many Christians put on their car today the anchor was a symbol the early Christians used for these purposes.
More recently however there has been a revival in anchor tattoos and there are many new designs that are full of brilliant colors and new design motifs for anchor tattoos. 
There has been a revival in more traditional tattoos.
As always history, symbolism and meaning provide an interesting overlap of cultures and times.
Well to make it really simple and so as to not mislead you there are no clear cut meanings nor symbolism for these tattoos. 
The problem is tattoos grow in popularity organically in multiple places at a time. 
The reason behind one person getting a tattoo is different then another person getting that same tattoo. 
The symbolism behind a certain tattoo might be agreed upon by a group of people for example sailors on the East Coast.
A modern sailor tattoo with an anchor on the cartoon sailor's arm:-)
That does not mean Sailors in England would agree. 
Couple that confusion fact with history and time and in the end you have multiple versions of what the tattoo might have symbolized in the past and no clear cut answer which is the right one. 
So stop the debate once and for all, enjoy your tattoo and feel confident that you won and it means whatever you want it to me for you.
I am what I am?
With that said the bulk of evidence and conglomeration of facts, lies and fiction one can make out a shady idea of what the symbols probably meant back in time and are a good indicator of what they can symbolism today. 
That way you are not ascribing a meaning to a certain design that is way different then it was meant to be.
All three of these tattoo designs are old school tattoo designs that were worn by sailors originally. 
Just look at Sailor Jerry’s tattoos or a little more contemporary Ed Hardy and you will see anchors, nautical stars and swallow throughout their designs. 
In the past few years their has been a real rebirth and celebration of the art of tattooing and many of the designs from these greats have come back into fashion be it Ed Hardy Clothing or the website and possible movie dedicated to Sailor Jerry.
I y'am what I y'am
In the farthest back history that one can go the Anchor as a symbol was used by Christians. 

The Christians used the anchor as a hidden secret cross. 
While they were under the persecution by the Romans they lived in hiding and used the anchor to as a symbol for the cross for a signal to other Christians. 
The anchor much later showed up in tattoo designs worn by sailors. 
At that time it was a symbol for being grounded or even tied down to a significant other be it a girlfriend or a wife but in a relationship either way. 
This is the most common meaning of an anchor tattoo in the modern world of tattooing.
True North (Star)?
Nautical stars are a symbol of the North Star. Sailors would use the North Star to find their way home and the nautical star became a popular tattoo among sailors and was worn as a good luck symbol and one that would promise a safe return home from a long voyage at sea. 
There is also some debate the nautical stars of certain colors would be earned for making certain voyages or sailing a certain amount of miles. 
For example a blue nautical star on the left forearm might symbolize someone who has sailed across the Pacific Ocean for example. 
The exact meanings and colors have been lost in history for the most part. "
But according to the sign at Port Arthur, an upside down anchor is a sign of losing all hope.
As for the love tokens couples would exchange, I remember having exchanged a similar token over 25 years ago, and like the anchor is made for, it now rests on the bottom of the sea, as well.
My old wedding ring is now anchored off Cape Byron somewhere:-)
Love on the Rocks ... A Fool's Journey?
I like the idea of a coin as a token of love much better than giving a wedding ring as a token of love, as I feel it is more symbolic.
These days you have statistically a 50/50 chance of staying together, so that is pretty much a head, or tail chance really, much like throwing a coin and hoping for a win;-)
Head or Tails?-)
This post is just a penny for your thoughts really.  

Pick a card, the 10 of hearts and a Tasmanian Tiger?
The blue doorway?
Real love, like the Tasmanian Tiger (the Tassie Tiger is extinct...or at least hasn't been seen for quite a while) seems to be coming a thing of the past in this modern day and age of the "ME" generation.
The game of life is just a gamble the way I see it anyway, win, lose, or draw
I never did find out what was behind the "blue doorway" for poor old Isaac Bennett, but I guessed that he would be dealt some pretty bad cards by the sound of it, so I just went back to my motel room up the road and had a nice meal at the Fox and Hounds restaurant, near a warm fire and prepared (probably unlike Issac Bennett) to leave Port Arthur the next day.
A nice warm feeling alone at The Fox and Hounds bar
The key to room #10
Henry the Eighth? Are you kidding me? Time to eat and head off I think ;-)
I'd thought it was rather ironic that I was seated opposite a chair that belonged to an idiot who had eight wives ... what a fool he was.

There really is no nope for some fools in this life, it seems ;-)    


  1. Your mind and your synchros are labyrinths. Anchors, Popeye,!

  2. I'd prefer it if you said my mind and synchros are a-maze-ing Trish, but what I really think you are saying is that you feel lost when trying to follow what I'm writing about.
    I admit that they can be rabbit holes sometimes, which is why I put in the red links to previous posts they tend to branch off, rather than making them longer posts, but like John Travolta in the more 'Phenomenon', who gets frustrated when he finds a rabbit in his fenced off vegetable patch and can't understand how it got there as he dug the wire a foot and a half under the ground, because he doesn't realize that rabbits holes run much deeper than that, which means I think, that you have to be prepared to dig much deeper to stop that rabbit from appearing, but how far are you prepared to dig is the real question posed in that scene.
    Labyrinths are designed to confuse those who enter, but you have to be very, very quiet around here, as Elmer Fudd might say, because I'm hunting rabbits ;-)
    Yes, my posts can be real rabbit holes, but I think this one doesn't really take that much digging. ;-)

  3. That should read,"like John Travolta in the movie 'Phenomenon', in the above comment.
    I'm not trying to confuse you further with my poor writing and editing skills. :-)