Two years ago today, we lost a really special character in tattooing, and I lost a really cool friend, as did hundreds of other people around the world. Manwoman was a guy who worked for most of his life to spread knowledge about the swastika symbol, and its positive message. Most people still associate this symbol with racism and hatred, but its history reaches out much further than the Second World War, as it has been used for thousands of years to spread messages of peace, love, and good fortune. Each year, tattooers, artists, and other generally cool people pay tribute to Manwoman today, to help spread this knowledge just the way that Manny would have wanted.
A group of tattooers, artists, writers and Swastika educators called “Learn to Love the Swastika” put this together, and they encourage tattooers and body modifiers to give away tattoos or branding of swastikas, and give an opportunity for everyone to educate others on the origins of this sacred symbol. This isn’t about religion, or certain other beliefs, this is about cultural awareness.
The guys have put together a list of who will be participating, which you can see here– if there’s anyone near you, you might want to pop into their shop and say hello!
I interviewed Manny for a magazine a few years ago, and I like to share it whenever I have a chance, because I think whatever he had to say was important. Here’s a snippet:
You’re now known as the father of the swastika movement; how do you feel about that?
After championing the reclamation of the swastika as a sacred symbol for 40 years, it feels incredible to be acknowledged as the father of the movement. I wasn’t sure if anyone would join me during my lifetime but now it’s becoming a cause among the young and especially spreading among the tattoo community.
Why do you think it’s important to educate people as much as possible about the origins of the swastika symbol, or any other ancient symbols for that matter?
When as symbol falls into disfavor, such as what happened with the swastika unfortunately being chosen for the Nazi flag, it diminishes our vocabulary for expressing our relationship to the Great Mystery, the creative force that makes this universe so much of an adventure. People in the western, modern age are mostly oblivious to the fact that it is still a common everyday symbol for blessings in the Orient. Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains have never stopped using it.
You can read the full thing here.
However you choose to remember Manny, I hope you all have a really great day. We’ll be sharing any photos from the day afterwards, so please feel free to send them in!