What even is Moko Kauae?
About a year ago, I went to NZ to speak at a chiro seminar and the night before, all of the chick speakers formed a bit of a Facey Club, and chatted online over wine (or maybe that was just me) about our nerves, our planning and just generally had a laugh together. It was a nice ice-breaker, and although I know these chicks more online than IRL, our shared experience made me feel close to them. Connected. Maybe it was the pre-seminar adrenalin, or perhaps it was that strange fact that when people share their stories in cyberspace we receive them in our hands and our homes, and it creates a strange intimacy. The intimacy of the new millennium, I guess.
One of the chicks was Shelly Davies, and I liked her from the moment I met her. She's smart and sassy (Yes, I know, who calls another woman sassy? But when you meet her, you'll understand.) and she knows herself.
So, as is the way in this new-fangled world, we became virtual "friends" and life moved along, without any rufflings. Until a few weeks ago, when Shelly posted that she would be receiving a moko kauae (the traditional Maori chin tattoo), and she was going to share her insights and introspection in the countdown to mokoday (that's not what it's called, but it's what I've been calling it in my head, and by now you know I always try to share my truth).
When I first heard of this, I am (now) embarrassed to admit, I was repelled. The very idea of Shelly marking her gorgeous face, permanently (for some reason this was the most abhorrent part to me) was beyond my comprehension. Like rapid-fire, I thought up about eighteen reasons why this maiming, this disfigurement was a terrible idea. Of course I would never say that to Shelly, but my silence probably said it all. Not that Shelly was asking for my opinion or insight- as I said, the chick knows her own mind. But still, I was silent.
So like that person who slows down at the scene of the car crash, to gawp out of the window with grisly fascination, I followed her posts.
And what unfolded has been magical.
I have learned some of the significance and the importance of this ceremony. Through Shelly's FB posts and the careful comments of her generous friends, I've had a peep into a thoughtful and enchanting culture I knew nothing about. I've come to understand a little more about the pride and strength and beauty of this process. I think the thing that I love the most is that 'getting a design drawn on' is not the point or the reality of this celebration. From what I can gather, your moko kauae is not something done to you, but rather, a physical manifestation of your true reality. Your moko is already within you, and the artist will bring it forth.
Could I love this any more?
When I went through "The Menopause" at what is considered by some to be quite young, I made a decision that I would live my life precisely however I wanted. Starting right then. I blogged, posted online, and become more like myself. I started coaching other chiropractors, took to the stage and with Sam, created a seminar series to empower women. I stopped giving a fuck about what other people thought of me.
Just like Shelly is doing in receiving her moko kauae.
Perhaps all women, at some stage, go through this process. It's just that some cultures have an elegantly vivid way of celebrating the moment when women allow their true selves to shine through, for the rest of the world to finally see. (And in other cultures we just dress in bright floral, prints and start collecting cats.)
I found an app that shows what my moko kauae could look like. (It just happens that in the pic I'm also wearing a floral print. Perhaps I'm bridging the gap.) I hope by playing with that app and posting it here, I am rejoicing in connection. I think I'm jealous and in awe of Shelly in equal parts. I know she will be transformed tomorrow, for that is what she has chosen.
I'll be thinking of you tomorrow Shelly Davis, e te tuakana. Mana.
And because I'm more crazy cat lady than anything else: sending you all of the good juju. You are amazing and I thank you.