“One dreary late October, I visited Sweden for the first time. I had been temporarily residing in Scandinavia at the time for school, but was having many difficulties, not the least of which was the emotional effects of disappearing sunlight in the fall.

Because of my interest in medieval history, Gotland was my main destination. When I arrived in Visby, I was struck by the fact that nearly everything seemed familiar to me despite never having been there before. My feeling of awe only increased when I entered Gotlands Museum. The picture stones were displayed in a dimly-lit hall with spotlighting on the individual stones. The sun whorls on the older of the picture stones are remnants of the Nordic Bronze Age sun cult, where these symbolized rebirth in the seasonal cycle of light and dark so prominent in higher northern latitudes. I had never seen anything like them before. The geometric whorls exuded a sense of calm, yet monumental timelessness that mesmerized me.

Something within me clicked and all of my troubles faded into the distance, leaving me in a zen-like state. Perhaps this was one of the effects these memorial stones were intended to have on the living – to serve as reminders that although the sun departs, it will also return and bring light back to the world again. They certainly succeeded in this, and long after I returned home, I decided to bear a sun whorl with me forever.”



Tattoo artist: Jennifer Untalan, Valkyrie Tattoo in Penngrove, California.

Photo: Colin Gioia Connors