27 Nov 2012

Trident/Trishul Piercing & Tattoos

Posted by Teapots Happen


The TV was on in the living room, playing interesting-looking and muted documentaries on Netflix, while music and conversation took over the audio.

First was an old documentary from the late 50s, scenes from Africa and India – animals both human and not, doing the things they do. Lions stalking, natives dancing, rhinos charging, all glimpsed briefly, in passing. Kristin drifted toward sleep on the couch, and our friend Jacque ate some of our leftovers and relaxed after getting out of work. We weren’t really watching the TV at all. But then something visceral caught our eyes and held them – a Hindu skewering his own tongue with a metal bar, topped with a trident.


It turned out that this was just the beginning … his skin was hooked through, all over his body, chains were strung between them, and at least one plump lemon dangling from each hook and every chain. And he pulled a giant-looking wagon through town – a 15-foot wedding cake contraption on wheels, dragged along by the hooks in his back. And his shoes were beds of nails.

And: through it all, the dude had his tongue sticking out, unretractable, thanks to the spike piercing it from top to bottom.

Eventually the filmmakers quit showing the tongue-pierced guy, and we lost interest in the screen again.

I found myself pondering not what the hooks and piercings felt like, but simply what it would feel like to have your tongue sticking out for that long. It seemed like it would be somehow more unpleasant than all the rest, frustrating, claustrophobic in a way rarely experienced. I stuck out my tongue experimentally and held it there. It wasn’t out long before Jacque looked over and thought I was making faces at her.

More imitation – and laughter – ensured, as we stuck out our tongues and held them there.

.  .  .

A few hours later: Jacque had gone home, Kristin was asleep on the couch, and I was puttering around, feeding the fish, browsing on the laptop, and relaxing. It had been an annoying and stressful day at work, but now I was feeling good, back in balance. The iPod was on shuffle, and I’d put on a random documentary I had no interest in, something about an unnamed selection of artists from the ’90s. Almost an hour in, I hadn’t watched more than four consecutive seconds of it, up until I glanced up from what I was reading and saw a scene from the movie ‘Gummo.’

That caught my eye, and I watched it play out in wonderful coordination with the random music. Then it cut to a shot of director Harmony Korine, talking. I couldn’t hear him with the sound off, but I watched his face as he spoke, measured his gaze. I wasn’t sure why I was paying attention, but I was. After a few minutes, Korine raised his hand to smoke, and I laughed – he had a symbol tattooed on his hand, and to my memory it was almost identical to the tongue trident with which the Hindu in the film had transfixed our attentions and inspired our impressions.


Harmony Korine's trident hand tattoo

Harmony Korine’s trident hand tattoo

Hmm. The kind of coincidence I probably only noticed because I’d been thinking about synchronicity just before I saw it happen. And not something to write home – or blog – about. I figured the tattoo probably wasn’t really identical or derived from the same symbols.

But … it was still interesting. So I paid it some attention.

I texted my friend Dan (a huge Harmony Korine fan, and probably the reason I even recognized Harmony and knew his name), taking the extra typing effort to ensure clear communication;

“What is harmony korines hand tattoo?”

I rewound the film to get a second look at the tattoo, pausing it when he smoked. Took a cellphone pic and sent it to Jacque, with the caption “is this tat the thing that dude had through his tongue?”

Jacque: “Yes.  what is that from”

And then Dan texted me back. And that’s when the chain of coincidences went from interesting to awesome:

Dan: “Holy fucking weird!!! I was just thinking of it 2 hours ago and actually drew it on my hand. I’m looking at it now.”

I burst out in laughter and wrote him back:

Me: “Take a pic for me please”

Dan's pen trident "tattoo"

Dan’s pen trident “tattoo”

Dan reported that he’d been bored in class, and found his thoughts wandering to Harmony Korine for no apparent reason. The tattoo Korine has on his hand came to mind, and for some reason he decided to draw it on himself. (This was probably around the same time that I was seeing the Hindu man pierce his tongue with a trident.) About two hours later, I saw Harmony’s trident tattoo for the first time, and decided to ask Dan about it.

I did a little bit of online research and found that there is an incredible amount of symbolism associated with the trident – when I researched it I kept running into familiar but unexpected connections (such as Ganesha, who I’ve had an attraction toward since the aftermath of the mystical experience on Point Reyes). But I don’t know that the meaning or message of this coincidence, if there was one, is in the meanings people assign the trident symbol.

I’d been pondering synchronicity and the teapot coincidences as I sat on the couch just before this happened, and I think this may have somehow occurred because of that – further continuation of the teapots, further confirmation that the boundaries between inner consciousness and the outside world are not nearly all that distinct after all.  That paying attention to coincidences leads to interesting results, and that irrational intuitions aren’t something to simply dismiss.

Or, maybe it something to do with the symbol itself, but I just can’t bring myself to dive down that rabbithole right now.

Maybe later.

For now, I’m happy to not know; it’s cool to live in a world with a little mystery to it, anyway.


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20 Responses to “Trident/Trishul Piercing & Tattoos”

  1. Kristin pointed out that while Dan had been imitating having a trident tattoo, I had been imitating having a trident piercing …


    Teapots Happen

  2. That’s my hand!



  3. Awesome. I usually try to decipher the symbolic meaning of the synchronicities I encounter but in this case you seemed to have solved the puzzle already. Maybe the symbols don’t mean so much as our relationships and conscious attention.

    I wonder…would your friend Dan have drawn the tattoo on his hand if you guys weren’t friends/had never met? For example, did other people in the vicinity of you (proximally) also respond to your strong emotional reaction by getting an image of a trident in their minds, a pain in their tongues, or a strange desire to stick out their tongue (it could take any form, whatever may be relevant to the mind of the receiver)? Or did other friends of yours (no matter the distance but through emotional ties) somehow tune into your mind’s thought patterns and somehow sense what you were thinking? What’s more important, physical proximity or emotional proximity?

    Imagine that strong emotional reactions to things–disturbing things for example (like you seeing the piercing) resonate out from us and into the minds of people who are tuned in.

    What is really cool is that you know enough people that are “tuned in” that you can discover the connections that would otherwise be considered impossible. My question is, how can you systematically uncover connections between people and thoughts if they don’t know each other or don’t acknowledge the strange things which sometimes flash into their minds (they can’t make sense of the out of place feeling/thought so they simply put it out of their mind)? I think their is research being done about this–a group of people think about a certain thing and see if they can influence the world in some measurable way.


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  4. ooh, just noticed a typo: *there* is research being done…


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  5. and another thing which strikes me as odd about this synchronicity which is not really explained by the resonating thought theory:

    what made you choose that particular documentary which you never could have guessed would have anything to do with the guy with a trident tattoo? Has your friend Dan watched this particular documentary? Or was there mention of Harmony Korine in the description of the documentary? Did you perhaps receive a return resonation of his thoughts which pointed you to choose that documentary?

    For example: Dan gets a flash of a trident in his mind, for some odd reason, but it makes him think of Harmony Korine. Then he ruminates on Harmony Korine which leads you to pick up on the director’s name in the description of the documentary and choose that movie?


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  6. I checked the description on Netflixs (“Beautiful Losers”), nope, says nothing about any specific artists, just “artists and musicians” or something like that,

    As far as resonating thought not being a possible cause – backwards causality can’t be ruled out once we get deep into the weirdness, eh? Of course, to the same extent I’m willing to entertain such things as resonating thoughts, I’m sure also willing to consider some kind of psychic ability being part of it all (which is your preferred theory right?)


    Teapots Happen

  7. Tonight I went to a concert (The Coup) and ran into just one person there I knew – my friend and former co-worker Kelly.

    (who had been with with me for these coincidences – https://teapotshappen.com/2009/05/15/chicago-breakfast-bum/ and https://teapotshappen.com/2009/06/02/kelly-sue/)

    Kelly was there with her husband, Joe – who I’d never met, in spite of working with Kelly for 7 years. I’d often joked that he was a myth that didn’t even really exist.

    So it was interesting to finally meet him – and I got a laugh when I noticed he was wearing a jacket that featured a trident on both the front and the back, the day after all the above happened, and hours after I posted the story, immediately before going to the show.

    trident jacket

    (I asked Kelly what that band on his jacket was, and she told me “Not a band – it’s a non profit organization … see Discovery channel’s “Whale Wars.” It’s the sea Shepherd – the name of a ship that hunts down Japanese whaling ships.” A case of Neptune’s trident, in this case anyway …)


    Teapots Happen

  8. wow! and also has there been any lying in the circle… i just got the connection with forked tounge…
    been having synchronicities on my mind lately and love the return of this in my inbox



  9. oh, I just realized what you meant in your comment above–the one at 1:52 AM about “backwards causality”. Sure why can’t our future selves influence our current selves to choose one thing over another. Of course, then you have to consider that there are an infinite number of possible future selves because there were an infinite number of things you could have done besides watch another movie. That would be saying that you only chose the Beautiful Loser movie because one of your future selves guided you towards it knowing that you would see another trident. But that is so far fetched sounding—if that were the case, why? You seeing the second trident (arguably) means absolutely nothing–it is only meaningful because of the web of other people seeing the same thing (which hints that there is some other form of connection going on). Yes, to open that can of worms is a mess.

    And why open it when there is a simpler explanation? (Occam’s razor–the simplest explanation is the correct). The explanation I propose above is much simpler. Perhaps there is a simpler one that doesn’t rely on telepathy. If we’re going to go to the most basic and simple level, I suppose you could say that it was just a coincidence, no more. (and I’ve again told a couple of people about it and they both responded, is this guy on a lot of drugs or what? UMMM, how do they use drugs to explain this??? Maybe I’m just telling it wrong.)
    Something else. You say you were thinking about the teapot thing right before this. What if you were thinking about it because you were in the same state of mind as you were when you had the first teapot experience? What if “being in the flow” is a distinct state of mind which allows you to receive and send “telepathic” messages. It has been studied and shown that people remember things better when they are in the same state of mind/location as they were when they learned it (this is Psych 101–for example, you are encouraged to study for an exam in the room where you’ll take it, in quiet (if the testing facility will be quiet), and highly caffeinated if you plan on being such on test day.) So just being in the same state of mind reminded you of other times you’ve felt like that.


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  10. heh, Occam’s razor can suck it. It’s useful but hardly a tool I find useful in these realms – similarly to most of the traditional tactics of Western analysis. Honestly I don’t really even believe that time, as we experience it, is ‘real’ … heh

    And as you pointed out, Occam’s Razor and reductive reasoning leads straight to “it’s just a coincidence” as the explanation for everything you consider synchronicity.

    All that said, I agree with your notion that “flow mind” may well facilitate unusual things. And I think you’re likely to be right that something very much like “psychic powers” is an underlying factor in many or most synchronicities.

    But – giving the phenomenon a name, such as ‘telepathy’, doesn’t actually really explain anything. What is it about consciousness or about reality that makes such things possible? And I don’t think you or me or anyone else is in a very good position to pretend to have a model that can answer that. I can come up with any of dozens of wildly different models of reality that would provide a basis for information leaking into and out of minds. “Sending and receiving messages” sounds simple and straightforward and is a familiar process form other domains, but is that really what happens? What if we’re all literally one consciousness at some level, and the apparent psychic knowledge is more about information getting past the filters/boundaries of illusionarily-discrete selves (this would be in line with the content of the mystical experience I had on Point Reyes, which led me to intuition and teapots, anyway) …

    While Western logic and philosophy did me very well in many areas, here, I would instead suggest studying the writings of mysticism, of the ‘Perennial philosophy,’ of non-dual Eastern thought. (Or, even if you stay on the Western side of things, you’ll find that serious physicists are talking about retrocausality, about the illusion of time’s arrow, etc etc) …



    Teapots Happen

  11. Are you suggesting I should be knocked in the head with a medicine ball?

    OK, I get it, you’ve been pondering these things for much longer than I, and started with a much broader philosophical and religious background to boot. You’ve been where I am, trying to find the explanation for synchronicity, right? Unlike you, it bothers me when magic exists–sure, I like it, but I want to find the answer to it. I want to read the scientific studies that attempt to explain it.

    But–hey, one of my comments is missing–I think it’s awaiting moderation because I added a URL to it. Turns out my hypothesis was confirmed–Harmony Korine’s name does appear in the Beautiful Loser splash page on Netflix. Proves nothing, but at least it keeps my explanation plausible.

    It’s true, I haven’t done enough reading into any of the realms you mentioned. Never heard of retrocausality even. But I appreciate the guidance. Still, for me, it’s more interesting to start with studying true phenomena–like your incredible synchronicities–and then building from there. If I start by reading a bunch of mysticism I fear that it will just drain me–as I will be constantly trying to maintain some modicum of rationality. I have to be able to conceptualize it, to say, yes, I have an example of that magical seeming phenomenon. Otherwise, why should I believe it any more than I believe in a simple myth? How do you define what is “wacky new age mumbo jumbo” and worthwhile models if you abandon the western framework of rationality?

    AND one more thing, are you suggesting that it is arrogant and/or naive to propose a model to explain a synchronicity? I mean, you say that using telepathy to explain your trident synch doesn’t really tell us why it happens. But you know, maybe we can’t really EXPLAIN anything in that way. Take basic physics–the laws of motion and gravity provide us with precise models to correctly predict how things will move. But still, I can’t really conceptualize WHY those laws exist or work in our reality. Why does matter have mass? Why do objects with larger mass exert gravity on objects of smaller mass?

    OK, I hope this all makes sense, because I probably shouldn’t hog more space on your message board.


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  12. lol not suggesting that no, I enjoy your perspective. The ball and the song are from the movie I Huckabees, which is also about people trying to make sense of the coincidences in life and to figure out the meaning of meaning.

    Not that it matters much, but I must be seeing a different splash screen that you on my Roku box – in ours there are no mentions of any specific artists (I can get a pic if you are skeptical 🙂 )

    >”Otherwise, why should I believe it any
    > more than I believe in a simple myth?

    If you don’t subscribe to a model, you don’t need to choose it over any other model. You can just remain open, recognizing that no matter how useful, any model of reality must inevitably conceal more than it reveals, and be more false than true. That there is no objective way to choose between high level meta-models, no framework outside of frameworks, no objectivity, no knowable Bedrock of Truth.

    > How do you define what is “wacky new age mumbo jumbo” and worthwhile models if you abandon the western framework of rationality? ”

    Aside form avoiding modelling as a method of seeking capital-T Truth, the short answer to your question is: intuition. And experience.

    Which is subtly but vitally different than ‘faith.’ You have to stop demanding black and white, and be ok living in the swirling greys. To have faith in your ability to know – without knowing how or why – which way is up, what direction is forward for you at any given time. That was a lesson of the mystical experience – that I could actually let go of my compulsive and irrational need to put things in boxes, to reduce the infinitely complex and messy reality to a neat and grok-able line-drawing map. Let go in my Faith that Science and Reason were on the cusp of figuring it all out, that we had most all the loose ends tied up or on the way there …. lol ok I am totally rambling now.

    I hear you about reading the works of mystics, though – I seriously couldn’t understand a word of any of it until I starting experiencing it for myself. Only then did it make sense to me. And while it doesn’t bother me when “Magic” exists, it sure used to. I was pretty heavily invested in my reductionist fundamentalist atheist paradigm, far more so than most. I totally understand the compulsion – hell, this whole blog is me working my way through it to the point where I can write things that are indistinguishable from wacky new-age mumbo-jumbo, lol


    Teapots Happen

  13. So you didn’t find my missing comment in line for moderation? Strange. I even submitted it twice and the second time it said “look’s like you’ve already said that”.

    OK, Beautiful Losers: the names of the artists aren’t in the text on the splash page–they are incorporated into the picture of the butterfly on the cover of the movie. Harmony Korine’s is on the lower right corner of the butterfly–right beside the play button.

    Something else which I described in my missing comment was Lynne McTaggart’s book/website The Intention Experiment. She has devised a way to scientifically test people’s ability to change physical “reality” with the power of their thoughts. On the website you can sign up to be part of the experiments (with a password from the book apparently) and read the results of previous experiments (no password needed). Very cool undertaking!

    Did you hear about Robert John and Brenda Dunn’s work–at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR)? They showed that random number generators could be affected by people’s thoughts. McTaggart is not a scientist but she worked with Robert & Brenda as well as many other researchers to set up her experiments.

    I like your answer about deciding what to believe and keeping your mind open. I agree. But I can’t set aside theorizing and putting things into boxes. Maybe that’s partly because I’ve never had a mystical experience as you describe.


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  14. I absolutely recommend having one!


    Teapots Happen

  15. So in addition to Neptune’s trident and all that, there’s this –


    “When looked upon as a weapon of Shiva, the trishula is said to destroy the three worlds: the physical world, the world of the forefathers (representing culture drawn from the past) and the world of the mind (representing the processes of sensing and acting). The three worlds are supposed to be destroyed by Shiva into a single non-dual plane of existence, that is bliss alone.”


    Teapots Happen

  16. PS – Elizabeth I wasn’t being flip when I recommended a mystical experience – you probably saw my links to the Johns Jopkins research that shows a reliable pathway to such, via mushrooms … which ties in well to our previous discussion of categorization of weird experiences / the numinous / synchronicity etc, and this interview with Dennis McKenna (who I am going to go see at a book event today, wooo!)


    ” … we have this reflexive tendency to seize control of it, defuse its numinous potency by stuffing it into some kind of conceptual or religious box. You have to have an attitude of humility and be able to say, I don’t know what the fuck is going on but it sure is interesting, you know?”


    Teapots Happen

  17. OK, just as soon as I find a shaman guide 😉

    This guy, Dennis McKenna sounds cool–have fun today!

    In addition to the one you quoted, I especially like these two quotes:

    “With an experience that actually ruptures the plain of ordinary reality or normality there is a natural tendency to try, in some ways, to own that experience or create a context around it, and then get other people to buy into that context. This is a way religions get started. Experiences like this are so difficult to integrate into normal everyday life we want to, in some ways, suppress the mystery, to own it, and separate people from it.”


    “I think that’s the other thing you have to kind of guard against when you come to the realization that we really don’t know very much. There’s a tendency to abandon your ability for critical thinking and critical evaluation of ideas. I think it’s important to keep your critical faculties open, I think skepticism is always a good place to start and at the same time be willing to acknowledge something that might come down the pipe that completely overturns your theories.”


    Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez

  18. I’ll be honest, I don’t have a history of ANY psychotropic drug use. Personally, I don’t condone it for any purpose. In fact, I rarely drink and never smoke (to the annoyance of many).

    I have a highly sensitive metabolism with extremely low tolerance levels for just about everything. In addition to a highly sensitive nervous system. I’m allergic to a handful of strange things. My husband is also college educated and well read, is straight in his consumption habits, and has no allergies to anything at all. We do share in common this trait: we are both thoughtfully intuitive and introverted, although to varying degrees. Which came first? It’s hard to say. My mother uncannily picks just the right gifts intuitively for her family and friends, and our mothers both know instinctively just when to call. Perhaps that is the common trait, in addition to the emotional bonds that we make which seem to trigger these symbolic and (sometimes) meaningful happenings.

    So my husband and I are both sober, and yet we have strong and frequent synchronicities. In Gabe’s case, perhaps your mystical experience did initially open a door for you, but I truly believe based on our shared experiences that your intelligence and thoughtful wisdom would have opened that door without chemical help.

    I was trained as a scientist, and raised as an atheist: but my viewpoint these days is agnostic (very shades of grey), thanks in part to these winks from the universe. When I became synchronistically aware, I found there was a wide gap in my knowledge to explain the phenomenon, ultimately shrugging them off as “coincidences.”

    What would have happened I wonder, if Dr. Jung had continued his experiments in this phenomenon, instead of shelving his work due to the untimely peer led discrediting of his theory? This topic deserves to be approached by science, but using a flexible interdisciplinary, global approach.
    If you’re looking for an attempt at a scientific viewpoint in the phenomenon, I highly recommend Dr. Victor Mansfield’s Synchronicity, Science and Soulmaking:


    It’s an attempt at an interdisciplinary approach to an extraordinary coincidence model that incorporates and struggles mightily to explain synchronicity from the realms of psychology, religious belief (Eastern-leaning, but also includes one fascinating Native American belief), and ties it all into discoveries in Western European physics as well as personal stories. It’s a shame that Dr. Mansfield wrote at a time of technological prematurity concerning the biological side of this phenomenon in his book.

    I’d personally love to know if there is a pattern of brain activity that’s traceable.
    Is it instinct or environment or another trigger? Is it strictly a human phenomenon? What proportion of humanity if not us all? Are we linked to some species groups, ALL life or just humanity?
    But that’s me.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. But trust me Gabe: you can have extraordinary coincidences au natural:
    no drugs required.

    Perhaps it’s the sensitivity that matters in the ultimate “tuning in” of the psyche?

    Incidentally Gabe, after reading your post, we went Xmas shopping! My atheist mother celebrates this holiday, but as a family we frequently got the date wrong! 🙂
    While shopping, my husband and I completely and independentally found, a Greek vase copy: Poseidon!
    Guess what he was carrying? 🙂


    sharon woods

  19. Thanks for the comment Sharon, and love the additional trident coincidences …

    I definitely agree that no drugs are necessary to experience synchronicity or to be awestruck by reality. When I recommended mushrooms, it was toward having a peak/mystical experience, which reveals all distinctions are arbitrary, all things are one, and both the divine and the meaningless aspect of all things. And science even backs me up on this :



    And as far as brain imaging gpes – I don’t think there is any study looking at it in conjunction with experiencing meaningful coincidence, but there IS such research on the psychedelic experience and meditation that you might be interested in:


    (which as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, may dovetail nicely with Huxley’s theory of “brain as a reducing valve” which actually limits our experience of reality …)

    For me, as a hardcore atheist and reductionist hyperrationalist, this is what it took to even get me top notice synchronicities – and the synchronicities in turn confirmed for me that the lessons of the psychedelic mystical experience were not merely wishful thinking, drug hallucinations, etc.

    I do believe that “drugs” can really help open stuck minds – the psychedelics especially, but even marijuana can play a powerful transformative role. That said, I don’t believe this is the only way, or the best way – just a way that has been useful to me. And I really, really doubt that I would have ever emerged from the ego-shell I had built up so carefully over the years to define myself within, had I not experimented with psychedelics. At the very least, it would have taken decades rather than months or a few years!

    (PS – I actually do own that book Mansfield wrote, although I don’t recall if I finished reading it or not, so I’ll try to locate it …)


    Teapots Happen

  20. So I don’t know how I stumbled onto this in this blog. I’m doing some research online about Satanic Cults. Nyways One of my xboyfriends from the 90’s was Harm’s(Harmony K) best friend from when they were kids and remained friends as they got older. So while I was with him we moved to NY in 1997 and lived with Harm in Grammercy. I become Harms assistant and roommate. I was there when they got those dumb tatts on their left hands. Harm, my boyfriend Bhagavan Das who used to be a Hari Krishna got those tatts on 7th street and St. Marx Place in lower east side manhattan. It’s a “friendship” thing only 4 people have it including Harm. It has nothing to do with anything Hindu it . It has everything to do with a brotherhood bond, an exclusive club!! There’s the tea…