Lane Wilcken is the author of “Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern.” He is also an artisan of ancient technology and art, an independant researcher and scholar and private practitioner. Lane is the second oldest child from a family of eight children of mixed cultural heritage. His mother is a native Ilokana blend from the both Ilocos regions in the Philippines and his father is an American of English and Scandinavian descent. On Lane’s maternal side, his family is well acquainted in the traditional spiritual beliefs of the Philippines, his grandmother being a mangngilut (midwife and healer) whose healing practices were given via communication with ancestral spirits. His great-great grandmother was a mangnganito or spirit medium. His grandfather was well versed in the oral tradtions and practices of the past. From an early age Lane has been interested in mythology and different cultural practices.
In his childhood Lane was taught by his parents through metaphors and analogies. His related interest in symbolism was expanded while attending Southern Utah University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a focus in Symbolic Interactionism and a Minor in Communications. Lane’s unique heritage, upbringing and schooling have given him an uncommon insight into various aspects of his ancestry, such as oral traditions, spiritual communication and tattoos.
Lane has been researching the indigenous past of the Philippines and the Pacific Islands for nearly two decades. His methodology incorporates oral tradition; written history, linguistics, personal experience and cross-cultural analysis with other Austronesian peoples to bring a fuller understanding of the origins and culture of the peoples of the Philippines. His interest in cultural tattooing was borne out of a desire to strengthen cultural pride among Filipinos and to reunite Filipinos symbolically and spiritually with their estranged ancestors. Lane has given presentations and lectures on the tattooing and other cultural traditions of the Philippines at several universities and private forums. His audience has included social clubs, university professors, students, and scholars.
Lane resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife, Rebekah, and their six children.
Although this organizaton is named the Center for Babaylan Studies, we use the term “babaylan” to encompass the many variations of the ancient spiritual leaders of our islands whether they were baglan, mangngallag, mumbaki, mambunong, manganito, katalonan, etc. They served as intermediators with the spiritual realm and brought about balance and communication between mortals and the eternal.
Many of us have been disconnected from our ancestral world view whether it is by dwelling in a foreign land or by modernization in the homeland. This ancestral world view that all things are inherantly spiritual in nature has largely been lost. Without this perspective many of the people of our islands have been swallowed up in the hollowness of selfish and destructive pursuits.
I was blessed to be raised in a family that sought inspiration from the spirit world as a way to understand events and gain wisdom. My parents taught me how to be spiritually sensitive and to discern between heavenly influences and anitos (ancestor spirits) and deceptive mangmangkik (evil spirits). I have learned through my own experience that there is a discernable spiritual realm where there is knowledge, light and loving wisdom. I believe that through teaching others how to access the spiritual world and increase their individual spirituality, that many of the destructive flaws in our cultural psyche can be healed. We will be able to accept the past, forgive the mistakes of others and move forward in united strength with our ancestors and posterity.