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Background: I'd always had a curiosity about suspension, but my curiosity grew into a desire after my Intro to Religion course. My presentation group was able to find a wonderful guest speaker from the Lakota tribe to come in and talk about the Lakota beliefs, and he also spent about 15 minutes talking about the Sun Dance and his personal experience. If you're not familiar with this ritual, I suggest reading up on it. Part of the ceremony may include a chest energy pull ending in ripping lose from the hook/rope. Themes of rebirth had been running through my head ever since.

This past summer I stopped in at Visual Addiction to say hi to Verno, and I asked him about doing a suspension. It was perfect timing- he was in the process of planning a late-summer suspension event. I wanted in! We decided that since it would be my first time going up, a six-point suicide would be a good bet. A week or two later, I came back with my money and once I handed it to him I knew there was no turning back. The anticipation overwhelmed any feelings of fright I may have had.

Saturday Sept 23: My friend and I arrived in the early afternoon. Two people went up a little after we arrived – B did a superman and C did a superman after that. Verno and his assistants took a break for dinner at the campfire. I had lost my appetite because I was starting to get nervous, but I ate some chicken and drank some Powerade just to get something in my stomach. Might I mention that it was cold and rainy... So I migrated back up to the barn where they had a space heater and chilled for awhile. Verno came up to me and said, you ready? This was it.

I sat down crosslegged on the table while Verno marked me with a Magic Marker. I was really starting to get tense but I kept smiling because I was so pumped! Verno and his friend (I wish I hadn't forgotten his name – nice guy) were going to each throw a hook at the same time. They each grabbed my back, readied the hooks, and had me breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe.... Whoa! It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was a sharp sensation but nothing untolerable. I did the breathing exercise two more times and then all six hooks were in. They stung kind of like a bee sting, and I could feel my back getting warm, so I stood up and rolled my shoulders to get them worked into my skin which really helped. I could already feel the endorphins rushing through my system and it seems like I floated to the rig. They hooked me up and gave it some tension. It was the strangest feeling; it wasn't pain, but it wasn't something I've ever experienced before. They pulled me up so that I was just standing on the tips of my toes. I'd read in other experiences that some people would walk back and forth as they went up and that's what I planned on doing, but once I was hanging there standing on my tiptoes I thought to myself, fuck it! I told Verno, just get me off the ground! They pulled the chains and the next thing I knew I was looking down at my feet swaying below me.

I think I stayed at that level for a couple minutes. I was having an amazing rush but at the same time I was getting dizzy and had to close my eyes. I could feel my back cracking and almost imagined it stretching. The cool thing about the rig they set up is that there was one pulley to lift people maybe a foot off the ground, and another pulley above that one that could bring someone high into the ceiling of the barn. Verno asked me if I wanted to go higher and I said yes, so they pulled the chains some more and I floated up into the rafters of the barn! I was only maybe 6 feet off the ground but it felt like 20. I honestly don't know how long I was up there. My mind was going nuts, trying to subdue the dizziness and take in the experience all at once. I never felt pain while I was up there. I felt like a kitten being carried by the scruff of my neck.

I decided to come back down, and right as my feet hit the ground and weight was put onto my back I felt a horrible pain. It seemed like someone swung a sledgehammer into my lower back! I wasn't expecting that but now that I look back I should have, since I've had back problems all my life. Several people helped brace me, and if it wasn't for the hooks in my back still connected to the rig I might have just fallen over because my back was seriously but temporarily out of commission. Slowly the pain went away, and I sat down to have the hooks taken out. They came out smooth as butter! I lit a cigarette and started to reflect on what the hell just happened. I loved it. I'd do it again and again. Maybe next time with a back brace...


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 22 Nov. 2006
in Ritual

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Artist: El+Verno
Studio: Barn
Location: near+Faribault+MN

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