Piercing the Veil, a Body Mod Ritual
Sacred Mark Sanctuary is a Body Spirituality group that does ritual tattoos, piercings, and other pagan-identified acts at various festivals throughout the year. For the last two years, they have also offered their own Samhain (end of the celtic year, on Halloween) ritual called Piercing the Veil.
This year, I was a member of the ritual writing and production team. Our theme centered around the greek myth of Persephone's kidnapping and being held in the Underworld by Hades. I was aspecting Demeter, Persephone's mother.
This is my experience.
I stood on the stage, letting the words flow from my mouth as we enacted a ritual theater piece. Zeus made a flimsy deal with Hades that "when she was old enough" he could have Persephone as a wife. Hades, in turn, decided she was old enough NOW, and decided to try to woo her away from the Earth to come be the Queen of the Underworld.
There was my daughter, Persephone, allowing herself to be romanced away by our modern-day Hades (bedecked in studded leather), and I was left to grieve her departure. I circled the rest of the ritual participants and led them on a search.
We were stopped by the Sun, which told us that she was being held in the Underworld. It was a dangerous journey and everyone who went had to be sure that they were prepared to enter the land of the dead. It gave the participants one last chance to back out if they were getting too nervous or didn't want to participate after all.
When we arrived, I as Demeter was greeted by Hades, who threw me onto a table and pierced my heart (chest) with two hooks. Upon these hooks he placed strings, so that he could cause me even more "pain" by pulling on them. I wore the marks of my sacrifice as I led the rest of the participants into deep meditative chambers so that they, too, could prepare for their entry. Meanwhile, Hades sewed six bells onto Persephone - one for each month she would be his wife.
As people were welcomed into the Underworld, I hung from my altar by the two hooks attached to the wall, there to symbolize that which is outside of our control, that we must learn to accept. People came and mediated at the altar, some pulling on the strings, some attaching their own pulls to the same wall and pulling with me.
As for the biochemical feeling of the pull, this was my third time with hooks, and it was almost calming. I was able to lean back and put the majority of my (not small) weight on the hooks, and allow them to support me. It brought me to a different state of conciousness, very similar to hallucinogens. I felt detached and yet very present.
There were times that I felt I had reached a point where the hooks were "gone", in that I was going to fall if I continued to rely upon them for support. It's a feeling I plan to revisit the next time I do an energy pull - I was part of the ritual team this time, so I wouldn't let myself go that deep a meditative trance.
I don't find hooks painful at all. Once I get over the initial insertion, the endorphins take off and I don't feel much of anything but a general sense of euphoria. But it is scary, each and every time I lay down to get those hooks inserted under my skin! It's as if your genetic heritage is saying "RUN AWAY"!
There were several others who received hooks or bells that day. It was gratifying to see my friend with hooks in her back, pulling away from a wall as though she were flying. Another strong memory was finding people going back into the meditation chambers on their own, hooking into the walls and hanging there on their own.
There was a lot of symbolic communication at this level - at one point, Persephone was the one who came and led me by my hooks, showing that she was independent of her mother's whim. Another time, it was Hades, show me off like a trophy.
After we were "released" from the Underworld, we went back to Earth where they were removing the piercings. Here was a place of ecstatic dance and joyousness at the earth's renewal. I danced while my friend held and pulled on my hooks even more, and the rush was amazing. I have found that I enjoy the experience so much more in that kind of atmosphere, rather than a quiet meditative one. We danced and chanted and released lots of ritual energy into the cosmos until finally, I was the last one to have her hooks removed.
The ritual was over, and I was all the better for it.
It was an incredible experience.
submitted by: Del
on: 11 April 2006