Slightly out of the blue this time, but there was inspiration…

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150x magnification

The mushroom people of the Polynesian island of Pilani are unique amongst the whole of the human race as they exist symbiotically with a fungus which they voluntarily introduce into their bodies. When the islanders come of age, they are tattooed by the elders of the community with a special ink derived from a type of mushroom which only grows on the tiny island. The actual tattooing process can be extremely distressing for the youths as not only does the ritual consist of several hours under the tattooist’s sharks-tooth needle, but also psychoactive chemicals within the mushroom based ink induce severe hallucinations for the recipient. Other islanders are invariably needed to hold down the person receiving the tattoo as they are racked with nightmarish visions and ‘bad trips’. The tattoos themselves are made up of a series of lines and spirals, blue in colour, which document the family lineage of the recipient, their date of birth, and what the weather was like when they were born. Although this seems strange, to a community on a small island at the mercy of the winds and tides, their relationship with the elements is keenly felt.

This in itself is unremarkable in Polynesia as a whole, many of the region’s islanders have similar tattooing rituals. What stands the Pilani apart is what happens to them after they have received the tattoo. Despite being boiled in the process of making the ink, an element of the mushroom remains alive. Once under the skin, it uses the dermis as a substrate and gradually begins to spread over the skin in organic swirls, whorls and curlicues, a tattoo constantly evolving and spreading as the wearer ages. Also remarkable is the age the islanders reach before shuffling off their mushroom coils. The average life expectancy on the island of Pilani is 255. The mesh of mycoprotein under their skin protects them from all forms of illness and disease, so barring famine, accident or natural disaster, they can all enjoy long and healthy lives. Literally a fungal injection. Of course they’re always completely blue by the time they die of old age.

When a member of the Pilani community eventually does pass away, they are buried in a shallow grave. The mushrooms that grow there the following year will be harvested and made into ink to be once more used in the tattooing ritual, passing the fungus absorbed spirits of the islanders down through the generations.

Immortality in the form of a mushroom…

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Thanks to @Wrong_Triangle for the inspiration, and also for the photo. It’s a gardening update next time I’m afraid, but it won’t be long, there’s not too much to report.

Until then… ses x