If you could reach around my back…
Would you feel stumps or cracks?
If you could reach around my back…
And pull the fucking skin back
It’s quiet – there is a stillness and everyone is silent and waiting. Air is cold on my skin. I’m shivering, leg twitching uncontrollably as the anticipation blends with the cold.
He stands behind me, an intense figure – black mask on, black gloves holding the implements – the familiar become surreal, mystical. Serene precision of the hooks in his steady hands. The sacrament for which we’ve gathered here today.
The voice is steady. The voice is calm.
My heart is racing. I breathe in.
The bright pain pierces my back, my mind, steel punching through the skins. The moment escapes time – I am frozen in a an eternity of sweet, piercing pain. Face contorting as I exhale and scream in silence. Breath flows out of me. Thought flows out of me.
The spike tunnels out the other side, another bright point marking the exit to this moment.
I gasp softly as the white pain becomes spreading warmth. Time has stabilized – the hook is a small presence that hangs silently on my back – a small consistent point of of ache.
The other side now.
The voice is right next to me but a long way away.
It’s somehow worse the second time, the pain is more intense as if it had gathered strength from the first entry. Breath is pushed out of me even as the piercing pushes through me. When the ring is secured there is a sharper ache to remind me of it, like a jealous sibling calling attention to itself.
Funny, the right side of me always has the harder time being punctured.
The hooks are a glinting ache in my back and I walk slowly over to the suspension point, two metal cables hanging down thirty feet or so from the stone bridge above.
He walks behind me and secures the hooks to the rings, to the cords. I look up, and a thrill of anticipation rides the throbbing of pain – a skip in a heartbeat. The clinking of the metal behind me like the sound of tiny bells.
“Do you need me there?” She asks, a calm and comforting presence, the Priestess to his Priest.
I don’t know. I’ll try without. I walk forward and back. The pain is intense when it pulls.
I am shaking – I am afraid. I know it will be ok, know it – my intellect has seen the others go up, seen the skin stay on their backs, seen the joy on their faces. My intellect KNOWS that it will be ok. But the animal is screaming. It screams “you will die, the pain will be beyond imagining, you cannot survive this.”
And it’s right, in a way.
I look up and she’s standing in front of me. My hands are in hers. Her eyes are calm, serene. “It’s ok, I’m here.” I rest my hands on her shoulders. I’m almost sobbing. Part of me wants to run. Instead I say
“Pull me up”
The pulling starts. And the pain gets worse, the pressure builds. I want to scream. I want to cry. I don’t know where the pain will end – there is no ceiling for it in my mind, no expectation – I have no context for this. My animal mind is screaming and gibbering that the skin is going to rip out my back. The pain is elongating, stretching with me. Will it keep going? I’m terrified that it will keep going. But I won’t turn back.
The animal struggles and claws at me in terror.
I have passed through.
The pain recedes. No, that’s not entirely true – the pain levels out, nowhere near the fevered heights of my fear of it. I’m lifted, my full weight on the hooks. The pain fades into the background with the fear, until the fear has passed through me, the pain has passed with it. I look up. I smile. I’m in the air. The animal now asleep in my arms, wrapped close and breathing easily.
Tentatively, I move.
I want to laugh. I feel serene. My small cheer is misread as a lack of enthusiasm – but I am so far away in this moment from registering an external reaction – this small cry is the most heartfelt sound I have made, free of the daily necessity of amplification – this is me, speaking in whispers, bombed out of my brain on the chemical cocktail that my own body has produced, on the intensity of the journey I’ve just made, blinking newly awakened – new set of eyes, wet wings on my back unfurling.
This experience – it is a feeling, it is mine, it is internal. I am here, centered – a floating rock in the flow of experience and sensation. It is everyone’s, they cry out my joy for me, we are all in this together, we’ve all shared this moment.
She grabs my legs and starts me swinging. It’s so peaceful. No need to hold onto anything, I am the thing itself, held on to the world. I am swinging, a pendulum of flesh, blood and thought. I kick and spin, dancing in midair.
It’s so peaceful up here.
I am hoisted up, so high off the ground. No fear of falling.
Level with the trees. Everyone is far away. I have passed through now, and the others smile knowingly. Soft breeze passes through me. This feeling so at odds with the blood, pain and terror of mere moments ago, like a lifetime lived in minutes. Altered, losing and finding myself again – literally connected to the earth, to the ground, but swinging from it – it’s holding me up and anchoring me at the same time.
Gravity pulls at me. Sky holds me. Hooks connect me.
It is so peaceful.
I don’t want to come down, I am loving just being here in amongst the trees. Looking down and seeing air below my feet. Floating. Dancing in the air.
Eventually I am brought down.
Now the emotions bubble up and I want to whoop. I hug those around me. I’ve passed through.
A day later.
I am lying in bed, unable to get up. The moment is far away. The piercing of my skins, has let out a flood of infection, and I need this time in my cocoon, unthinking, uncaring, unable to. In this moment I am nothing, and the world is overwhelming and meaningless, a chaos of input and anxieties, survival terrors, everything demands my attention, all perspective lost – the dust has equal meaning to the heavens. The light is too bright. The sounds are too loud. The people are too present, too demanding, too many points of connections needing to be made, and my tendrils are tender and tired. They have been broken and are being reset. The touch of others is agony.
Two days later.
I wake up.
The serenity is there again. The pendulum swing completes, metamorphosis.
The dust has equal meaning to the heavens.
I arise, eager to see where I have awoken.
My eternal thanks and love to Hebari (Priest) and Whippet_ (Priestess) for this experience, PorcelainX for being inspiring and everyone for sharing the experience and bringing the energies that you all did to the moment. It was beautiful and I hope to share more of these moments with you all. <3