I had seen my husband go through the branding process a week before. My head was full of speculation of what it would truly be like for me. I had burnt myself over the years but nevertheless, after seeing my husbands clean crisp lines, I visualised the feeling to be more of a incision than a burn.. Time would tell and speaking to my husband was not helping me at all. What if I got to the stage where I could not carry on, I'd end up with half a design and I would be so let down by myself. I tried to put all of these thoughts to the back of my mind but even that was difficult to do. Ok, so there I was helping my husband to understand his experience, and cut off the odd scab from his back. There was no way I could forget about what I was about to face up to. I decided to look at it from a different viewpoint, putting these thoughts and images out of my mind would mean that I was burying my head in the sand, where as, being scared showed that I understood and had respect for the challenge that lay ahead of me. The time had come for me to head off. I remember feeling very nervous and my heart racing. The train was very empty and the guard was pleasant. I found the seat for me and sat down, made myself comfortable and tried to appreciate the ride. People slowly began to fill the train. I found myself thinking about how I was here, on this train, about to change my body's appearance for the rest of my life. It wasn't a concept that frightened me. I found it exhilarating, almost amusing. Getting off the train and walking to the studio was almost obscure. It happened swiftly, the journey to the piercing studio had become a common walk over the past few months and one that I normally enjoyed but today was by no means a normal day. I arrived at the studio, in what seemed like seconds, opened the outer door to find a note saying "Back in five minutes", now the nerves kicked in again. Before long Warren arrived and opened the studio. We sat and talked about what was going to happen. The design was going to be drawn onto my back, we'd take a quick breather and then the branding with the pyrography pen would begin. I was told that I could take as many breaks as I wanted but that we needed to be sympathetic towards the time. He told me to put my husbands experience out of my head and to taste it for myself. The nerves and tension vanished, or turned into amazement, I'm not sure which. For the first time in a week I felt totally at ease. We went downstairs to the green room. The first thing to be done was to transfer the design from paper onto my back. It seemed to take a long time. I drifted into my thoughts and back again. My back started to hurt from just the amount of time I'd been sat there. In the back of my mind I knew I had a good few hours to go. Once the design was in place and looked good, I had a chance to stretch my back A few pictures were taken and then I went back upstairs for one last cigarette. I surprised myself with how calm I was feeling. I headed back down the stairs and into the green room. This was something I was so looking forward to and I had no nerves at all. I got myself comfortable on the couch. Warren heated up the pen. How was this going to feel? I was going to find out. At first it felt like a hot tattoo, endurable and quite easy. I had been told by my husband that I should not be taken in by this and boy was he right. The build up of heat was astounding. I tried hard to relax and focused on my breathing. Soon the first outline was finished A couple of photographs were taken I took a cigarette break and gathered my thoughts. As the cool air hit my back it felt sore but at the same time soothing. By the time I had finished my cigarette the build up of heat had almost died out. I went back and got myself settled on the couch. We talked over the next place to be branded and Warren set to work again. No tattoo sensation this time, just a very hot scalpelling feeling. Concentrating on my breathing was proving to be a little more of a challenge this time but eventually I managed to regain my composure, at least for a while anyway. My mind wandered through various past experiences, both pleasant and horrific. I felt no sadness though. As the pyrography pen moved towards my spine the intensity became greater, it was everything I could do not to move away from the pen, a few times I could not help but move. I wanted to mould myself into the couch and become a part of it. That line was finished and work on the final outline of the head began. Again the pain hit me pretty quick, probably because the heat had already built up in that area of my back before. The hot cutting was turning into a ripping sensation, the pain became immense and began to eat away at me. Warren has an amazing manner and remains so calm, he helped to ease the tension but the outline seemed to go on and on forever. Eventually that part was over and done with, a few more photos and then I was back outside in the courtyard for my next cigarette. My back was not so forgiving this time to the cold air but there was no way I was going to let that stop me. That cigarette was probably the most satisfying smoke I'd had in a long time. I was not at all looking forward to stepping into that room again but it was just something that I had to do. Now for the second line of the mane to be done. I was finding it very difficult to relax but somehow managed to get myself comfortable. The work soon began again. Curiously the beginning of this line was not too unfavorable, yes it hurt, it hurt like hell but the pain wasn't eating my brain away. I discovered that breathing out on the actual burn made the whole ordeal far more tolerable, the only strain was not knowing when the burn was going to strike. As the tool approached my spine I jerked and jumped back onto the hot tip! Thankfully, Warren's reaction was quick and no damage had been done. I recall that I knew there was a reason I trusted this guy with everything. The pain grew really strong and became intense. It was all I could do to keep myself stationary but somehow or other the pain became practically sensual. I was intuitively aware of ecstasy and anguish all at the same time, at last the line was completed. A few more pictures and then time for another break or getaway as I was beginning to see it. After my break we talked over the next area to be created, the features on the head. Warren illustrated that he wished to dimple the small circles, in the hope they would not blend together once they were healed. The outline of the eye was to be the first part to be branded. The heat built up unbelievably fast but it was bearable, the pupil on the otherhand was torturous, then the eyebrow and finally the three circles. The dimpling was not pleasurable but soon over with. Warren enquired as to whether or not we should crack on to the last section of the mane. The scheme was not amusing but it was the last piece of the puzzle and it all began to make perfect sense. The sooner it was complete, the quicker it would ALL be over. Breathing through the pain became impossible from pretty much, the start of this line. I was beginning to believe I had made a very bad decision, perhaps I should have had that break after all. The determination to get to the end was extremely strong.. The skin on my whole torso became hyper sensitive, like it knew where the heat was going to be, and my whole back began to move with me having no control of it. The acquaintance of the pyrography tool on my skin became very sensual again, almost pleasing but then not. I went through the sensations of ecstasy, near-orgasmic to agonizing torment and back again, many many times. As the brand became closer to my spine the whole experience became very surreal. I could only just hear Warren's voice requesting me to keep still, my feet went numb and I became light headed. Almost instantly I heard Warren telling me to breathe, it was all I could do to draw breath. No wonder I felt so strange. Only an inch to go and the design, distress, misery and torture would be over. That last inch went on for an eternity. I packed my head with concepts of how joyful and alleviated I would be once it was completed. The pain and heat were immense, yet I was cold, colder than I had ever been when I had been standing outside in the damp courtyard, smoking my cigarette like it was my life-line. I felt Warren's hand on my side, I heard his voice but not his words and finally the click of the switch. It was over, finished, complete. I wanted to whoop and yell, shout it from the roof tops but nothing came out. I just grabbed his hand. The feeling inside me was of intense relief and gratitude. For a split second I could have given this man my mind, body and soul. As I came back down to earth more photographs were taken. I found it hard to stand still because my body was shattered but my mind was racing. Soon the pictures were taken and Warren began to pack up. We went upstairs and I relaxed with a cigarette for a while before we began the journey home. The world had changed but people continued about their business and I think this is what finally grounded me. My Celtic dog was born! The weeks that followed were far worse than anything I had experienced on that day. My husband's experience had come no-where in preparing me for the next week. He had soldiered through his first week without so much as a wince. I on the otherhand was ready to kill all unknown predators that came within a twenty foot radius of me. Of course the lack of sleep I experienced didn't help. The first few days brought tightness and puckering like you wouldn't believe. The stench of my burning flesh was firmly embedded in my brain. The brand felt like cooked pig fat. Week two and three were by far the worst. The constant cracking of the scabs, the feeling that the healthy skin would give up and tear too and the itching, itching like you wouldn't imagine. If only someone could gently stroke or blow the brand all day and night! Week four and the back was on the mend. I remember the children being shocked to see their Mum and Dad walking without a stoop, doing the housework and shopping for real food! By now the itchiness was nothing, no more than a light sun burn. The scabs had pretty much gone but the lymph remained across the top of my back. There were some concerns with the spread, for some reason my husbands had spread very evenly but mine had not. Now the only area that maybe a problem is the lower tooth, the rest has spread nicely. People ask me if I would ever have another brand. The answer is of course yes but never that large. Nothing could have prepared me for what I went through and although reading through my experience it may seem somewhat harrowing, I can assure it wasn't. I feel extremely honoured and privileged to have been given such a wonderful gift.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 May 2001