When I was a little girl I loved to decorate everything, including myself. I guess you could say that I just never stopped. By the age of 11, I was painting faces at school fairs, and soon after I was behind the scenes of the school plays doing makeup and set design. As a student in art school, I began using makeup and body painting in my photography and film making. In 1986 I earned my B. F. A. in visual art from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University. In 1989 I began the massive project of creating a living Tarot deck. Nearly nine years later, with a hiatus for graduate school where I received my M. A. in Psychology and Religion from Andover Newton Theological School, my deck the Healing Tarot was complete and published on Halloween in 1997.
In addition my academic degrees I have trained extensively as a healer and practioner of positive magic. In 2015 I completed a comprehensive process to become an Accredited Certified Advanced EFT Practitioner through the International Organization AAMET you can learn more about working with me beyond tattooing on my website Modern Medicine Lady. I have also been trained as a Reiki Master by Senior Reiki Master/Teacher: Jessica Miller through the Center for Reiki Training. I am certified as a Transformational breath facilitator through the Transformational Breath Foundation . I am a graduate of Rev Sylvia Brallier’s School for Body Centered Spiritual Healing which provided an extensive training in energy healing for a whole year during 13 weekends falling on or closest to each full moon. To deepen my skills even further, I also completed Spirit Passage’s 2 year Shamanic Apprenticeship Program with teachers Evelyn C. Rysdyk & C. Allie Knowlton, MSW. Since I am forever hungry to learn: where Spirit guides me next on this journey as is an adventure yet to unfold.
By integrating all these skills, I consider tattooing one of the forms of healing I offer. Some people have mused at my progression from art school, to psychic healer, to seminarian at the oldest Protestant Seminary in the country, to medicine tattooer. It may seem unusual, but the whole process makes sense to me as these first experiences gave me not only technical abilities as an artist, but also a sensitivity to people and the skills to facilitate the transformational experiences that can happen in the process of tattooing. My spiritual awareness deeply informs my work as a tattooer. I believe that well chosen images have the power to transform, empower and heal a person who chooses to wear them.
Learning to tattoo is a process to say the least. I will be forever thankful to the many artists and friends with willing flesh who have helped me to develop my skills as a tattooer. Upon gradutation from Seminary in 1997, I began my formal training with Jon Devries of Dramatic Pawz Tattoos in Cobbleskill NY. I received additional training during a nearly year long apprenticeship with Juli Moon at her studio then in Seabrook New Hampshire. I also benefited from the talent and wisdom of artists Chris Dingwell, Cory Kruger and Tim Wallace. In August 1999 Chris and I decided to open Sanctuary Tattoo in Portland, Maine. In hindsight, I am humbled and amazed that as a brand new baby tattooer I was profoundly blessed to have the opportunity to co-own a custom tattoo studio with Mr Dingwell who just happens to be one of the world’s leading tattooers. I am deeply grateful for the knowledge and skills Chris so willingly shared with me for more than 12 years as my colleague and business partner. Today Sanctuary is a thriving art gallery and tattoo studio that I share with my wonderful colleagues Wilhelm Scherer, Ryan Fleming, Scott Bruns, Aaron Burns and Jeff Clark where we are cared for by our own Hand of Sanctuary Melissa Rivera.