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"Nine nights I hung ... "

After my first suspension at Wings of Desire'08 I was incredibly happy and proud of myself. Almost right after my suspension our friends came over to Månefisken to pick Jacek and me up, so I missed the show scheduled for the evening. We spent a pretty cool evening at our Norwegian friend's apartment, though, and somehow ended up watching not only videos from our suspensions but also some weird Japanese TV clips on the web.

On our way 'home' Mariusz, a friend who was also supposed to do a suspension at the event, told us that he was not going to do that. I was in an enthusiastic haze then, all excited and happy, and we ended up with him giving me his suspension slot. Having suspended once and having had a great experience was one good thing; getting an opportunity to do it once more was even better!

Sunday morning did not turn out that sore and stiff as I expected. One of my chest piercing points bled slightly and one on the back as well, so I slapped some dressings on them. My friends were leaving for Poland later in the afternoon and I was staying in Norway for next few days, so we had to get packed and ready. Before we parted our ways, we went to Pascal Brasserie to celebrate our first suspensions with some delicious desserts. I was dropped off at the event and from then on I was entirely on my own which felt quite exciting (no matter how much I like traveling in good company, it's traveling on my own and relying on myself only that feels the most satisfying to me).

I made sure to speak to Håvve to let him know how things stood and that I was allowed to take Mariusz's suspension slot but Håvve was not very optimistic about it – many people have not suspended yet and all the crews were very busy. My name was put on the board with big question marks next to it and things looked rather grim. I was fine with that, cherishing the memory of this first great suspension of mine and leaving the rest in the hands of Fate.

The day was grey and rainy; I felt kind of burnt out after the first two days and wanted to self-focus before my next days in Oslo. I also got a headache and then stomachache, and then felt kind of sleepy, so I was not in top form. Everything seemed to be going slower around, too. When everyone headed for dinner, I just sat quietly in the corner of the hall and read some of The Stand which occupied me almost completely. Then Håvve approached me to tell me that he was really sorry but they would not be able to suspend me. It wasn't good news but I understood his reasons and was okay with that. My first suspension was amazing and maybe that was all I could get at this time and place.

And then, all of a sudden, Christiane approached me to tell me that the crews were willing to work a little longer and they could suspend me if I chose something simple. I knew I wanted to do crucifix (even though all people whom I told about it were kind of dismayed and made sure to inform me how strenuous on one's back this suspension is), so I was all for going for that. Christiane also made sure that I knew about this suspension putting most stress on the back (seeing as a day before I did a suicide) but I told her what I kept telling everyone else – I am a runner and I work out a lot which means that I am in more or less pain pretty much every day and that I was sure I would be fine.

Funny how a human can go from feeling rather down and tired to almost euphoric a state in a matter of seconds! Suddenly I was not tired and sleepy anymore; I felt invigorated and excited! The change was quick and great!

Bastian, iam: MrNoModifications, was scheduled to suspend after dinner and he asked me to take some photos of his suspension. Since he was very kind and took many pictures of my own suspension a day before, I wanted to return the favor. Right after taking a few first shots, however, I was told that it was my turn to have hooks thrown in and suspend, so I was at a loss at first (and it was not the best time to negotiate my new suspension). Desperately, I 'terrorized' a guy who stood next to me and handed him my camera. Later on my camera was passed to a girl who did a really great job at documenting Bastian's suspension (in fact, she was so good and diligent at taking pictures of him that she did not take even one picture of my own suspension, so my crucifix one is so much less documented; kind of absurd again)! Also, somehow I was not afraid of handing my camera to a total stranger and, turned out, my instinct was correct – the task I asked for was fulfilled and my camera ret urned to me which says a lot about people attending the event!

My hooks were thrown by Christiane and a Finnish guy named Jussi (whom I would not remember at all if we had not met at BBQ next day where we talked briefly about the suspensions that took place at the event). I was afraid of pain caused by hooks thrown in my back, so I asked for them as the very first. Since I have already had fresh wounds in my back, Christiane had to choose a little different placement for the new ones.

I was asked to lay down to get my back pierced but I found this position uncomfortable and thought that maybe I would not be able to control my physical reaction to pain while lying down, so I asked if they could pierce me in a different position. Neither of them minded, so I just sat down on the bed and felt much more in control right away. I was still afraid of pain but felt I could handle it better.

Piercing my back, despite my fear, proved to be very quick and quite painless – both Christiane and Jussi proved to be very skillful, efficient piercers and none of them had any problem with the job. My forearms were next and Christiane tried to find the best placement to not 'ruin' my tattoos. I assured her that I did not mind inserting hooks in the tattooed skin but we both knew that tattoo artists do not like seeing scars in their work.

Both forearms and wrists were pierced quickly and pretty much with no pain on my part and Christiane commented on how soft and easy to pierce my skin was (my obsession with body lotion finally paid off). A random girl who was watching the whole procedure said that I looked very relaxed. Good to know although the fact is that even though I joked and handled the procedure well, deep inside I was still quite scared of pain; it just did not show on the outside.

Upon entering the suspension 'chamber', I chatted with Bastian for a while (he also was ready for his suspension but the set-up for his would take way longer) and then approached the rig. Both Christiane and the second piercer made sure everything was even and as well adjusted as possible. My forearms bled slightly and a few droplets of blood fell on the ground (covered with plastic, of course) but I did not feel any pain. I was amazed by the red against my skin and the fact that soon I would be able to do the 'trick' again!

Now I could try to convince both myself and whoever will get to read this experience that I chose the crucifix suspension because of the obvious (religious) connotations or maybe because it is so visually pleasing (the Modify cover, anyone?) or from some other 'profound' reason. The truth, however, is that I made up my mind on this one a few hours after my first suspension, while still having in my memory this wonderful experience of 'flying' and feeling so active and free and I just thought that in case I did not like the crucifix, I would be able to switch to suicide again and then have some more fun. So I was about to be 'crucified' and yet already plotting how to get more fun out of it. No religion, no hopes for spirituality in this one wicked soul and certainly no attempt to come across as more 'profound' than I really am.

I asked to be pulled up quickly again; no reason to wait or ease into the 'elevated' state. And yet, even though I already knew that I was physically able to suspend and even though I knew that it does not hurt even a fraction of what I expected from it, this inner fear appeared deep inside of me again. A second or two before I got airborne, I again felt this light wave of panic and self-doubt. I got what I asked for, though, and there was no way back.

Suddenly I was in the air again and again, there was no pain at all! Even my sore back was just a pale memory of something that did not count at all. Mind over matter and I knew I could make it real and good.

I was still in the 'plotting for fun' mood, so I started to swing and swirl and it felt good to be more stretched than before; to have arms spread wide and to feel my body moving back and forth. I moved my legs and got more momentum. It felt good, it really did. I looked at my forearms and wrists where my skin was already stretched and the blood started trickling down again and falling to the ground. I was amazed not only by the way my skin stretched but also by the color of my blood, so bright red at first, and by the juxtaposition of blood and tattooed skin, my own skin. For a while it felt like discovering myself anew.

The atmosphere of this evening was different than a day before – there were way less people around, background music was slower and more relaxing and, somehow, it managed to influence my mood, too. I stopped swinging and decided that this time it should be less about fun and more about myself.

I closed my eyes and let my body slow down and then stop, let it just be suspended in the air. I focused on the way I felt physically – my back, my forearms, my wrists. There was no pain. When I stretched my body a little, I could feel the pressure of hooks on my back but it was a good feeling and there was nothing to conquer or suppress.

Darkness around me (closed eyes!) was pleasant and tangible. There was some chatter in the background, kind of annoying at times, but if I focused enough, I could feel how I was drifting away, both physically and mentally. I moved my legs a little and yet, when I opened my eyes, I could see that I did not move at all. My body seemed distant and giving me sensations that were not even there for me to feel.

I thought about this one fragment of Hávamál where Odin says: 'I hung on the wind-tossed tree of all nights nine, wounded by spear, bespoken to Odin, bespoken myself to myself ...' and I smiled slightly. Maybe this was the reason behind my choice – to play with the thought of suspending this way there and then and to play with my Anglo-Saxon wannabe feelings. I let the thought drift away, though, and tried to clear my mind instead; to be just body and mind combined, with no external influences and nothing to shape this experience in any way; to get something pure and mine only.

Two other crew members came over to make sure I was all right and then I suddenly was 'awaken' by a flash of camera in my face; I opened my eyes and saw Bena standing right in front and below me; I shook my head and heard him saying how relaxed and calm I looked. I said that that was exactly the way I felt and closed my eyes again.

Time was irrelevant and kept flowing without me being aware of it. I was just pressure in my back; I was my stretched skin; I was droplets of blood trickling down along leaves tattooed on my skin and along lines of the old poetry etched both onto and into me. I was the darkness behind my closed eyes and I was the distant chatter in my ears. I just was, motionless and yet drifting away. Nothing spiritual for me; just my body and mind kind of united and yet playing tricks on me.

I felt thirsty and decided not to ask for water at first. I just wanted to stay up for as long as possible to enjoy something totally different from the first suspension experience and to savor this difference and the way it made me feel. After a while a voice of reason got better of me and I asked for water. Someone gave it to me and then I got higher again and tried to get back to this weird state I was in before. It was a safe, calm state of mind and body and I enjoyed it a lot.

After a while I began to feel how my hands and forearms started going numb. I moved my fingers and stretched my arms a little to try to regain some of the blood circulation and it helped at first. It soon got back and, even though it never became really annoying or hard to deal with, I started to think about going down. I remembered how my forearms and arms felt after my elbow pull back in Sweden and how unreasonable it would be to feel kind of crippled during the rest of my stay in Norway. At first I fought the idea of calling it a night and ending the suspension because everything else felt just fine and I would love to be up there way longer but the light fear of afterpain took the upper hand and I decided to finish it.

Again, just like a day before, once down, I felt no dizziness or the weight of gravity upon my shoulders. The transition from air to ground felt a little different only because this time I spent so much time with my eyes closed and my brain needed to adjust itself to perceive the world the 'usual' way. I felt calm and satisfied. I felt that I was amazingly lucky to not only suspend at all but to suspend twice during a very short time and to experience two totally different suspensions and feelings both of them gave me. Nothing mind-shattering but enough to make me feel really great!

Removing the hooks, getting rid of the air and cleaning the 'wounds' up was not that pleasant but it was interesting as this time, due to placement of a few of the hooks, I could watch the whole procedure. It also helped to have two new crew members to take care of me and we were joking and having fun the whole time. The white dressings against my colorful arms (there are some upsides of slowly becoming 'heavier' tattooed) looked pretty cool.

I was quite drained with the whole experience (and I mean here the whole event, not this second suspension), so I just self-focused again and did not care much about the rest of people. It was great, however, to stay longer that night and witness Håvve suspending just for himself.

The next day did not bring me any extra pain or soreness, much to my dismay, as it meant that I could have suspended longer that I actually had. Since there was no reason to dwell upon it and let it ruin my experience, though, I just brushed it off and decided to keep my happy state of mind as long as possible.

Bleeding stopped the very first night and some of the 'wounds' started closing up the very next day. I decided to keep a dressing only on my right wrist (as this is my 'watch wrist') to keep it clean.

Three days later, when I was totally on my own in the city and when I was visiting the Historical Museum, I went to the section devoted to the Vikings and saw the very fragment of Hávamál I thought of while suspending. I smiled because I knew that I, just like Odin, 'hung on the wind-tossed tree' , that I also 'bespoke myself to myself' and - just like Odin - I gained something, even if it was not my intention.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Sept. 2008
in Ritual

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Artist: Christiane+and+Jussi
Studio: Wings+of+Desire+%2708
Location: Oslo%2C+Norway

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