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Shamanic Alchemy

ummer, at a festival including the Drepung Loseling monks, I was invited to share their chanting. Having studied harmonic singing, multiphonics, Tuvan throat-singing, I was aware of how it was done. It is a means of masking the fundamental note sung and singing on the overtones, the natural harmonics. But before then I had been unaware of how the focus on living and breathing a sound that requires both utter focus and utter relaxation can affect state of mind, state of being. I began exploring my voice not as a fledgling Diva or performance artist, but as a spiritual being aligning itself with the vibrations in the world around me. The night I am speaking of, the night of the blazing door that even now floods me with relief and joy and amazement and perfect balance and belief, we listened to a CD aptly titled "Fly, Fly My Sadness." it combines the talents of the Bulgarian Women's Chorus, whose harmonies are unearthly, and Huun-Huur-Tu, a group of Mongolian musicians who excel at Tuvan throat singing. We swam in sound. We bathed in the thrumming harmonics that made the very air alive. The most powerful "tool" employed that night was touch. Energy. Conscious touch. And conscious exchange. To speak of that night and the days surrounding, here were my thoughts: ~~~~~~~~ I am stricken with shamanic alchemy. Shivering and shaking and sniffling. My throat has been swollen up for several days. I am weak, sick, but so centered. I am told in connection with this whole 'finding my voice' process I am undergoing. My body went down and my dreams became visions, places I walked more solidly than the mundane world-- places where my footsteps echoed to heaven. And now I am swallowing blood. Physically drained and down, and mentally exulting. Last Saturday night, I celebrated something specific. I celebrated crossing a threshold a "transformation in progress" as my friend and partner in crime puts it. It was a Christening without the Christ to muddy the waters. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say, with the Christ energy in the exact balance with all the other powers that be merging into the infinite spectrum of energetic possibility and experience. I had a mystical experience and I admit I had a few delirious moments wondering if death would be the price. The soft cloth spread on the floor and surrounded by candles. The posture collar traded for the lighter play collar. The votive candles in glass, illuminating pictures of saints and angels and the immaculate heart of Christ, the emblazoned corazon, surrounding, in red and white and blue and green and yellow. My velvet dress is placed beneath my head as I lie, spread-eagle and held open only by will. I cannot quite tell if it is the air cooling my body or the anticipation preceding the long, deep breaths that become my focus. It is the greenery first that falls. From his hands a shower of leaves outlined my form and fell in cool, wide pats across my skin. Then the tickle and tease of daisy petals in pinks and oranges and white spilled across my skin. Other assorted petals, silken and vivid in their dying, from orchids and chrysanthemums followed. The wider, heavier fall of rose petals almost the colour of my skin trembled and cascaded down, along with deepest reds. The final placement he knelt for. Coming down close, his hands brushing my skin in no accidental fashion, the rich purple of orchid blossoms placed carefully across my labia, over my battered womb, my solar plexus, my heart, my lips, and finally over my eyes. I drank his delight in surveying me strewn in a mantle of life. Those hands, so aware, snaked across my flesh, carving sweetly a wide path over limbs and torso. And one simple question, "Are you ready?" The snap of latex is the sound I have come to associate with such a crucial part of my own rediscovery, of the burning away of my false selves to the blazing core of my soul fire. His capable hands, firm and gentle, held snugly in thin latex. I was to become a human mandala. After the two surgeries, my diagnosis and partial cure, my steps in healing body and mind, had drawn me to the realization that I have been undergoing a return from death's door: a rebirth. I had a choice. And like every birth, I felt it deserved a Christening. An initiation. A celebration of the crossing of the threshold. I was altered irrevocably my chanting with the monks, and by the sight of their sand mandala created and prayed over then carried to the sea to be carried away by sea mists and rolling waves. I wanted to be a mandala; I wanted to cast off the illusions of external authority over my inner life. My heart was the core and center of this wheel, this radial asymmetrical star. And from there he began. His hands, those hands, conducting energy, guiding flow, drawing me out. the chill of alcohol. The first awareness of metal through flesh. needle fans built across my breasts, cradling my heart. I began to shiver slightly. The heat of his hands calming and delicious, unearthly. My arms. The deep tantric breaths, from my nose and filling my chest cavity as my ribs opened and intercostals stretched. And releasing through relaxed lips when the needle slid through. A pinch, pressure, the brief, unmistakable bite of flesh skewered on surgically sweet steel. Again and again, hollow needles licked through me like vicious, mindless tongues. I could feel my body examining each site, the momentary shock then reluctant surrender. The metal is like a presence, a constant, low statement of possession. Each needle grounded me, centered me, yet pushed my mind out of its flimsy case, as if to say, "come out, come here, rise, excel, exceed, flow, burst." to be needles again and again is like being filled to popping, yet constrained against it, so there is simply the overwhelming sense that one must pop, must explode, must let go, must void this energy that is too big to be conceived of, and yet the insane pressure of holding it within. It was building, growing. At my side there was a stop. Resistance. I wasn't ready. My body just refused, and no amount of pressure could make the needle even begin to penetrate my skin. I heard his voice, snaking out of the colours beginning to dance, my vision undulating as mirage genesis in high desert. His voice came from far away, urging me to breathe, and I started to see the needle sliding through just like butter, to see it slipping cleanly in. I could feel my body opening. Soon every piercing was without pain sensation at the site; there was only the intense rush. With every piercing my vision went dim and my hearing waned, but there were new voices. There was a descant that was not part of the songs being played. So I sang it. My vision wavered and danced like flame when he crouched at my head and pulled energy through the star of needles, through my limbs. I was shivering violently, his hands hot over my chest. Finally my legs, my inner thighs. He worked from my left side, at my heart, all the way around, over arms, sides, legs, groin, and up the other side. He was conducting pure fire through me. No pain, only flight. Ecstasy. Lines wavered but colours became vibrations. I began to hear colour. Needled, drawn out, bathed in a chorus of voices inside and out, grounded then made to fly, covered in colourful dying silk of flower petals and the firmer edges of their greenery, I drank and swam and played and finally walked through fire. One after another he picked up the votive candles, now containing liquid, melted wax, and poured them almost directly against my flesh. First a long line from collarbone to mons, waxing my clit and then waxing closed my labia. Then three lines. Above my breasts, at my navel, and over my ovaries. A psychic cross, a conductor. Then wax was trailed in lines from hip to ankle. With the psychic cross poured in long wax lines, fluid hardening to my exposed flesh, I laughed. Laughter began to roll through me in no resemblance of hysteria. Beginning at the top of my head, my crown of light and laughter, the sound was light. Almost a giggle. When my breath was exorcised and I was empty, then next breath and the next wave of laughter came from my third eye, and my forehead, feverish, tingled with its resounding soprano roundness. Aural ecstasy, folks, are you following me on this? The next round came straight through my throat. It brushed aside the singer-ly notion that the throat must do no work and was centered there, as my body shivered and my head tingled. From my heart chakra, from the center, from the central point of the human mandala I was being made into, I stopped questioning. The laughter from there made my body rise from the waist up and my head fall back. I laughed beyond silver and gold and the soprano range then, laughing from my heart, as if laughter were light and I were blazing. I was ecstatic but it was not over. My solar plexus then filled with this wild song, where wax had so recently been painted in a long, thick stripe. Each breath expelling death from my body. I laughed myself into a brief corner of immortality. I was one chakra away from my root chakra when I let go. Then I did. The laughter, a song of light made audible, came through the soles of my feet and rushed through my body, pouring out of my hands, still held in black satin gloves, pouring from parted lips, pouring through the top of my head. I laughed, the rolling boil of ecstatic laughter lifting me in a mystic's impossible arc. His fingers passed over needles, places I had no recollection of them being placed. Each fingertip like a mouth, caressing and commanding, coercing. A seduction of the spirit through the flesh. It is an amazing thing when the soul inhabits the body without the battle of the mind. With the wax removed and the needles, we moved together, a tight hug, breathing. We moved to the St. Andrew's cross. To the pulsing sensuality of Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" he flogged me. An hour, or a bit more. Finally, having bitten me to tears, striking against the cross in helplessness, in cathartic struggle finally unraveling into release, he stopped and came forward to hug me. If there was anyone else alive in the world, I did not know it. I knew only that the world was alive with sounds and energy and color and Joy. Life. And for all the needles, the intense flogging, I walked away without a single mark.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 08 Oct. 2000
in Ritual

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Artist: friend+who+wishes+to+remain+anonymous
Studio: Purgatory+%28a+private+club%29
Location: Vancouver%2C+BC%2C+Canada

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