My "almost" suspension
I first learned about suspension when I was eight years old. My next door neighbor was a white guy who did a great deal of work with native groups, specifically the Blackfoot, and he'd been invited in as an honorary member of the tribe. As such, he was welcomed into their private rituals, and was able to do the Sundance with them. During the Sundance, a leather thong is pierced through the chest and this is run up to the top of a pole. The dancers dance for hours if not days in an ecstatic trance until the thong tears through the skin.
As life progressed I came in contact with suspension and ritual in various media -- National Geographics, various books in my parents' library, and Fakir's Body Play magazine. I also experimented with minor pain and body rituals on my own; everything from "cutting" to piercing to self-tattooing and branding (see footnote). In addition, I experimented heavily with psychedelic journeying, which I believe is very similar to the suspension experience. Then when I moved to Toronto and became involved with studios here, I was able to attend and assist in a huge outdoor ball-dance and kavadi ritual hosted by Urban Primitive, and then soon after, to a double suspension for my friends Blair and Olivier.
Five years or so passed before I had any personal contact with suspension, even though at that point it had become almost commonplace in the media and I'd actually slept through a suspension happening fifty feet away from me -- I literally had no interest in it at all. Then, on New Years 2001, we had a BME party at my house where we had play piercing and pullings in my basement (thanks to Delaney from TSD for assisting on that). After that, a number of people started discussing the possibility of forming a Canadian suspension group.
I did what I could to help that to happen, largely in offering webspace, physical space, and funding. The group "iWasCured" was formed and not long after began organizing ritual events. I should note that I was not a primary member of the group but acted more in a peripheral advisory fashion -- they get the credit for making the group happen. Anyway, fast forward to mid summer. At this point we've hosted probably around twenty-five suspensions and a whole slew of pulls. BME was having regular parties that iWasCured would always perform at, and assist strangers in being suspended.
Now, I want to interject that everything from this point on is highly irresponsible, and not how I would recommend to anyone. That said, it worked for me and I am not ashamed to tell you the honest truth.
I had always figured if I was to do a suspension, it would be in private, by myself. At one of the many parties (I think this one was August 12th, 2001) and I was talking -- probably loudly -- about wondering exactly how much weight one hook could hold. I said that I thought one hook would work. Rachel decided that I was just boasting and challenged me to do it. Having already put a few back that afternoon, I agreed, much to her surprise and dismay -- I suspect she was just trying to call my bluff. I decided that it would be easiest to suspend from my forearm.
I sat down at the table where we were piercing everyone and Rachel ran the 8ga (or maybe 10ga) needle through my forearm, about a third of the way from the elbow to the wrist. It was in an area that was tattooed solid black, since if it tore, I could just cover the scar with black ink. We followed that through with a big salmon hook and I had about half an hour to kill. Milling around the back yard I think it provided enormous amusement to the others, and there was some placing of wagers whether it would tear out or lift.
By the time we hooked me up to the rope, the hook had become quite sore and this whole thing was looking a whole lot less fun than I'd expected. Up until this point, the whole thing was basically just machismo. I was just being stupid. But suddenly, with the rope hooked up, and Jon and Orbax starting to put pressure on it, everything changed.
Even though I was surrounded by a large crowd, I couldn't hear them. They were all tiny and muted, almost as if they were far away. They became utterly insignificant, and faded out of my perception. As this was happening, I became acutely aware of myself. When I say that, I do not mean that I could feel my arm more than usual or anything like that. I mean that I became aware of myself as a sentient presence in the universe, and I became aware of where "I" ended and where the rest of the world began.
As if that wasn't profound enough, it didn't stop there. I then became aware of similar entities all over the universe -- everyone I knew, and everyone I would never knew was a part of this massive ocean of energy, and I could touch every one of them and we were all a part of each other. It was probably at that moment that I knew that, for lack of a better way of putting it, "it was all real".
The amazing thing is that all of that happened in probably two or three seconds -- this incredible vision and revelation happened outside of the boundaries time for me, as I'd stepped through a gateway where those rules simply did not apply. I felt Jon, the group's head rigger pulling me up. I told him that it felt like it was tearing and briefly described the sensation... It was something between skin being cut mixed with feeling the layers of flesh separating.
Both he and Orbax told me that their suspensions had all felt pretty much the same way and we assumed that it was working fine. I told them to pull me up and see what happened. They started to pull and the pain in my arm got a little worse, and then suddenly a huge POP and then the pain was gone. I looked up at Marty who was standing next to me, and saw he had some yellow-white balls on his face.
The hook had torn out, leaving an inch and a half ragged gash, and had torn out a fair sized piece of my forearm, spraying nodules of fat all over both me and Marty, and providing hours of laughter for the iWasCured crew. I was bleeding, but not that heavily -- for some reason, even though I'd been drinking, the blood was thick and syrupy. We cleaned it, and were left with a wide open would and bubbly fat cells as a base. There was no skin at all!
I wanted to just leave the wound open and heal into a monstrous scar, but both Blair and Rachel insisted that it would be best if it was closed properly. Luckily I keep sutures here and Blair volunteered to stitch me up. He did an excellent job, but unfortunately all I could find right then was dissolvable sutures, so they started popping out a few days later.
It's now healed into a slightly jagged scar, which of course has no ink. I'll have it tattooed over in six months or whenever it seems to be healed. Oh, and I almost forgot. I have no memory of even getting off the ground (not that this was the point), but Darren, who was being suspended after me, was on the piercing cot watching me. He was lying 18" off the ground and tells me that my feet were, momentarily, both off the ground... So I suppose this is a suspension (rather than just a ripping) experience.
The moral of the story is that even though I went into this as a numbskull, it didn't stop me from getting hit full force by the experience, nor did it affect my ability to appreciate was I was seeing. I recommend this to everyone. Everyone. Just make sure you stay open to the possibilities, and you accept whatever the experience offers you. As someone who's explored ecstatic states through a wide variety of mediums, I genuinely believe that this is the safest and most effective way to introduce yourself to the face of god.
FOOTNOTE As I mentioned when I was younger I pierced myself and tattooed myself. When I was a kid, there were no studios within at least five hundred miles of where I lived, but even if there were, I got a lot out of doing it myself. Sure, it might not have been the most responsible thing to do by myself, but if I'd gone to a pro, I don't think it would have "healed" me in the same way... and that is why I don't have a big problem with self-piercing stories being published on BME.
PS. My memory is horrible and I apologize if there are errors or ommissions in the above.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 12 Nov. 2001