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Flesh Pulling – On having no head.

Having been fascinated by Suspensions, Kavadi, and all things ritual/ordeal related since I first came across them in back issues of National Geographic when I was about 6, already I had started my career of ordeals with self-piercings, self-sewings and other ordeals from about the age of 10.

I found the peace and deep states I could reach from within these choices to be a natural place to be. They later also proved a good antidote to the natural turmoils of the teenage mind.

As time passed I also had tattoos and various piercings, helped to set up a piercing studio, and continued my career of regular ordeals. (Now also adding long distance running). After an encounter with pain that I would wish upon noone – in the form of a dislocated kneecap that occurred in a remote location a therefore remained that way for over an hour – I realized that I was able to progress to more difficult things. The experience had shown me that extreme and prolonged pain was not the end of the world and has formed a backdrop (and my backbone) for the more recent works.

This year I carried out a lip sewing, (perhaps for another article) and a flesh pulling. It is about the flesh pulling that I will write here.

The materials that were needed proved not entirely straightforward to get here in Belgium. Over time I had learned that customs has an unpleasant habit of impounding anything they feel is shiny and interesting.

So I worked on various piercers in the region to see if I would be able to acquire the piercing blades from them. I have always preferred using blades as opposed to the UK tradition of using Medicut needles. Certainly for the larger gauges the blades are much less traumatic. This I know from using a 3.2mm Medicut for my outer labia.

The European piercers I spoke to either ordered their materials from abroad or were very staunchly cannula orientated and so I ended up ordering some 8ga and 10ga piercing needles from BME Shop and had them shipped to a colleague in the UK, from whence I was able to pick them up.

More difficult yet were the Mustad SeaDeamon 7732 Stainless steel hooks I wanted.

Since I only wanted a few I did not want to pay over 40$ to have them sent from the USA so I contacted various sea fishing stores in Europe but to no avail. I contacted Mustad directly, but they only manufacture large batches to order. With no luck working through their distributors and various shops I ended up paying the shipping costs and ordered them from Melton Tackle.

Once arrived I set about very carefully and diligently filing off the barbs and polishing the shafts until I had 6 lovely shiny hooks ready to be sterilized.

WARNING – Get your gear AUTOCLAVED - Ah yes. Not working in a professional piercing studio anymore, I do not have an autoclave. However, 30 mins at 230degrees at 15 psi in the pressure cooker, followed by 30mins in the oven at 350degrees is considered a reasonable alternative. Hooks and forceps all clean and ready. The needles were pre-autoclaved and sealed.

So on the evening in question I set out the pulling equipment. My goal was to see how it would feel to pull at least the equivalent of what those two hooks would bear if I was to do a superman suspension. (64kg / 12 hooks = approx 5.5kg) I lifted the two 6 kilo weights with cords just with my hands and laughed. The cords cut into my hands and hurt. I didn't think I'd be able to pull that much to start with in any case and decided to work up from 2 kilos on each hook.

The pressure cooked and oven baked equipment was sat in its little paper baggies on the procedure table, together with some Iso-betadine to clean the skin, some Neosporin for needle/hook lube, and gloves, kitchen towel, marking pens etc. I got onto the massage table we use for this stuff and was marked, clamped and pierced. We chose to use 8ga needle blades and the same size hooks to make the transition easy although you can very easily use a 10g needle and transition up a tiny bit to the hook.

The hook tips were located into the back of the needle and fed through and soon I had two nice deeply seated hooks. This felt very strange.

We added the cord, about 45kg breaking strain. Something I felt would be more than enough but later came to question. Being a rigger I had chosen a rope approximately 4 times the expected strain but I was in for a surprise.

Now I backed up to the heavy solid oak table we used as an anchor for the weights. A loop of cord ran between my hooks, then via a carabiner to the weight rope. I was attached and started to move forward. This was a very odd sensation. Not really painful but very odd. I moved forward and the skin took up the strain pulling out from my back. Again, weird. Not like being pinched and having the skin pulled back at all, but that is the closest physical approximation.

I started to surge forward gently and then more powerfully. But as soon as I started to feel it become interesting I was jerked to a sudden stop. I had lifted the weight to the top of its play already. I backed up and we added more, and then more, and more and more. Eventually I could not get a really satisfactory pull going before we put on 14kgs. (7 for each hook). Then I really leaned into it and tilted forward, hanging out at an angle. The most sore things were my calves.

Then suddenly something moved. I thought it was perhaps a knot slipping, but actually I had moved the table. The table which had 140kg worth of people sat on it. The floor was porous tile so there was some friction but this was still somewhat surprising. Eventually we tied off the table to a fixed point on the floor so I could really hang out forward without moving the table around to me.

Now the wild part started. At certain points I was only a head and arms/wings – I could feel my legs and torso but they just somehow weren't a part of me. Then I lost all sensation of having a head at all. Then back to head and arms again. There were certainly fleeting moments of flying and I wondered what it would be like to suspend fully. At this point I was hanging about 45 degrees forward, making sure that my feet didn't slip was the major concern.

Eventually, I asked one of the table-sitters – almost like charioteers – to play with the strings. She was given a thin bamboo skewer and started to beat out a rhythm in tune to the music that was playing.

Oh fantastic feeling. The string was stretched so tight that it really was very musical and the vibration carried deep into my body. This was bliss.

We carried on like this for some while, but I then became concerned over the breaking strain of the rope, and it became clear that it was time to back down.

Hooks were taken out, air burped from the channels and wounds patched up.

Next day, no sore calves, no sore back, nothing. Just nice!


submitted by: Helasdottir
on: 22 April 2004
in Ritual

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