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Scars that heal the spirit

ntly went through the first part of my scarification experience.

There are many reasons for leaving the world of "clean skins" behind, mine are intensly personal and have to do with dealing with a number of abusive situations at the hands of other people. One, a family member, was the most horrific. But I write to you today to tell of the actual ritual and not my reasons for undertaking said ritual. The process itself began on a Friday and took a total of three days to complete. On the first day I began the process of physical and mental ordeal that would culminate in the actual cuts. It began with the first day of a three day fast, no food, just water; no intoxicants of any kind,no cigarettes of any kind,no alcohol or other drugs. I also began the fast with a day of hard physical labour in the garden and a 12km walk into the local village. By that night I had definitely begun to feel the effects of the lack of sustainance. As I crawled into my tent I remember feeling a little dizzy, but was mostly terrified of what was to come. The woman who was to perform the ritual, with the help of her husband, had told me I would experience an emotional roller-coaster before the day came, and not to be ashamed of wanting to run away and never come back. So when I told them both the next day that I was having doubts, they both laughed and said "At least you're a little normal". I had been through the ritual with them a number of times leading up to the day and had designed my scars myself. My scarifiers husband has been through many such rituals, far more extreme than the one I was planning, so he was a wonderful source of Knowledge and inspiration, making me feel totally at ease with the amount of pain I was obviously to endure. The second day was the hardest to endure physically. Not only did the fast continue, but the physical ordeal began in earnest. Weakened from no sustainance, I imposed upon myself what some would describe as an act of self torture. I decided the previos days walk wasn't enough, so I did it twice, with bare feet on a gravel road and with a loaded pack of clothes weighing about 30kg; as fast as possible. Every stone bruise and cut on my feet was by now a badge of honour to me. The wounds stood as a testement to my determination to keep travelling toward my destiny, no matter the cost. Needless to say, I slept long and deep thet night. The third and final day arrived. I rose at about 6am and realised that by this time tonight I would be almost there. That day the fast continued and I imposed a day of rest and zero communication. I was not allowed to speak for the first half of the day, no mean feat considering we visited the local village markets. But i took along my trusty pen and paper, and was pleasantly surprised to find that no-one thought me wierd at all! In fact most people seemed to approve of my decision not to communicate in the conventional way. The time had arrived, I was to become a marked man. The feeling I had as I was being marked with ink is indescribable, except to say I felt more frightened than I have ever been. But at the same time, knowing that I was here entirely voluntarily, and that I had designed the process of physical ordeal that had lead to this moment. As I lay down on the cow skin rug in the middle of their one room log cabin, my two hosts bagan by opening the ceremonial circle, then my scarifier took on her magical persona. She changed in that instant from the un-assuming hippie-girl I had grown to love, to the ritualistic scarifier, about to perform her magical skill. I was told that I was to take three deep breaths. In then out; in then out; then on the third breath in, to hold it and the first incision would be made. So I did. And the thord breath I held, and the cut was made. It was a deep cut, almost a centimetre deep, running from between my collar-bones to between my nipples. The pain was so intense i thought i was going to black out. But it soon subsided as the shock kicked in. Sweet merciful shock! I was so proud of myself!! But at the same time, I knew I was not going to make it all the way through the ten cuts we had planned. Before I knew it I was being told there was nothing for me to do now but breathe. Breathe in and then out, in and then out in and hold.... This cut ran a little deeper and went from my left nipple to the middle of my chest. I didn't feel this one as much, I think, because there is more flesh here than the previous cut. O.K., it was definitely time to break my 24 hour silence. "I think I can make it to four" I managed to say. I was surprised how lucid I was considering the position I was in. My scarifiers husband said "It is a wise man who knows when to pause, and it is a wise man who knows when to stop". I repeated that I could make it to four, and we continued. The third cut was the last one that i was spiritually there for. I t ran from the middle of my chest to about 5cms above my navel. I didn't feel it at all. On to the fourth cut, which was to prove the most difficult to endure. By this time I was in an out of body state and feeling pretty good about the whole affair. But, once again I was told to breathe in and then out. At that time I could remember there being a point to breathing in and out, and that there was to be three breaths and then something was supposed to happen, but my spirit had conveniently let me forget what. Breathe in and then out. Oh yes, now i remember, the last cut! Well i had a choice at that time to breathe in and hold, or to speak know and not finish the four cuts, the four directions, the four elements of life, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. I breathed in and held, now fully back in my body and ready to face the last challenge. I held, the knife came and went, and I sit here now with the deepest, straightest and truest cuts i have ever seen. I thank my scarifiers for the chance to reclaim my body for my self and reclaim my spirit from the past that was holding me back. Since the ritual I have grown spiritually and emotionally. I am now a professional Fire dancer, which has been a long time goal but I always lacked the confidence to do it. The scars were packed with volcanic ochre from a local extinct volcano, so now I feel like I am a part of my homeland, and have a deeper respect for the land and the people who have lived here for ever... I have also recently learnt a lesson in humility from my scars when I fell out of a 5 year relationship, and straight into love with a goddess, who was in love with aanother person. Thanks to my scars I was able to get over my infatuation and move on with little or no emotional scarring. Kind of ironic, huh?


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 July 2000
in Scarification

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Artist: A+wonderful+woman%28not+to+be+identified%29
Studio: A+small+country+town+in+the+hills+of+northern+NSW%2C+Australia
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