The Malu is the female Samoan tattoo and it is something very special in our culture, when I was young I promised my Grandfather that I would keep this tradition and not let it disappear with western religious ideas that tattoos were no longer appropriate! Samoa like many countries lost its own traditional faith as Western culture said “theirs was the only true faith”. How religion and governments have sometimes worked together to impose ideas on other cultures is that age old power game.
So keeping my “Traditional Samoan Faith” is important to me. We are a peaceful people, that has always been passed down through generations. The Malu word means protected, sheltered this is a simplified understanding. For me as it was for my Grandmother my Malu represents my responsibility to be an honest part of society, to represent my family and community, to serve and protect them. To be connected to the environment and always protect nature and only take what we need, the Malu symbols have always been images of the natural world.
I had my Malu done at my families house in Samoa, lying down looking at my Grandparents graves and then to spirit you go and connect with your ancestors. They took me to spirit and held me while the tattoo artist placed our sacred marks on my skin. I felt the wind, the heat, the ocean, the sky, my Grandparents hands. I felt the love of mother earth holding me to ground so I would not float too far away. I felt my brother John who died when I was seven pass above me like a bird watching the sacred marks be placed on legs, the legs that would walk me to a more soulful, spiritual and meaningful life. This is a very personal and family journey of healing, it truly is different for everyone. My Malu has given me a softer spirit, a gentler walk, I now know my ancestors walk with me when I require strength, I know they walk with me when I need to be reminded to do better and I know they let me walk alone to learn, experience and grow everyday. My Malu will walk me to my final resting place so I too may sit with my ancestors and become apart of the living universe.
“My song of freedom can not be heard it can only be felt, it is the vibration within the spirit and it carries me home”. – What all my grandparents taught me, all four of them.
Have a beautiful day everyone Love Elena