Human branding is the process in which a symbol or ornamental pattern is burned into the skin of a person, with the intention that the resulting scar makes it permanent. This is done by using a hot or very cold branding iron; alternatively a design may be stencilled on to one’s skin and thereafter burned using a hot, thin piece of steel. It therefore uses the physical techniques of animal branding on a human, either with consent as a form of body modification; as punishment or imposing masterly rights over an enslaved or otherwise oppressed person. It may also be practiced as a “rite of passage” such as within a tribe.
Why a brand?
Two weeks ago, my psychologist asked me to complete this sentence:
‘In life I have the potential to be…’
Before I could answer he added that I might want to think about something which in my opinion would require more than one lifetime to achieve.
“In life I have the potential to be a revolution.”
He then proceeded to tell me that there was an error in my sentence as one person cannot be a revolution… one person can (according to him) only be a part of a revolution or be a revolutionary. He teasingly mocked me for the bad sentence construction and I waited for him to finish off before trying to clarify my reply to him.
It went something like this.
“You asked me to describe my potentially achieving something which may take more than one lifetime to get to… being a single revolution is exactly that. The things that are done behind closed doors stay there for the most part, but what if we were brave enough to show even those things? What if we made a point of not doing anything that we would not feel free to share with the rest of the world? A revolution in my sense of the word means – a world without secrets. I do not mean the physical world, but a single world (my world) for example. It would take more than one life time for me to learn how to love myself enough to freely admit my wrongs along with my rights and to stop covering up the things that I am afraid of exposing. It would take more than a lifetime to speak without holding back or wonder how many people think me stupid for the things I do and say. So my answer remains. In life I have the potential to be a revolution.”
So far most of what history has to offer us in terms of branding or body modification is mostly negative… Anabaptists got crosses branded on their foreheads… and A was given to men and women who’d committed adultery… criminals and animals alike.
I prefer branding because in my opinion it is more personal. My first brand was of a bio hazardous symbol… it represented the chaos I had overcome, the chaos to come… the challenges and ‘hazards’. It’s not like a tattoo (don’t get me wrong I love tattoos as well) where you’re having to add-on to your body in order to create a form of art, but it is your own body creating its own form of art through healing.
Coming to appreciate a certain symbol or drawing to such a great extent that one would like to literally have it as a part of them must mean that it gave them hope throughout the bad times and made them smile broader when things were good… Branding is my form of art… a part of my Dada and also a part of my Druidry. Sometimes while the burn is still fresh, the artist stops to moisten the brand and then to air it out; those are probably my favourite moments, when I can literally feel the heat, air and water playing along almost literally under my skin slowly forming a part of who I am… who I am yet to become; Many professionals will tell you that attempting to doctor this wound will either cause infection or it will just prolong the healing process. The sun, the air, water while showering etc. And the earthly bacteria and germs… all those things help speed up the healing process.
I may not be a revolution in this lifetime, but I am striving to have as little secrets as possible.
So if branding is wrong according to everyone else, that’s alright with me because I am not ashamed of it and ‘If flowers want to grow right out of concrete sidewalk cracks. I’m going to bend down and smell them.’
The Philosopher’s Stone