The last few weekends studying hook suspension with Evil Sensei (who shall remain temporarily nameless until our dynamic settles a bit) have been amazing. He is competence incarnate while at work. Off work he is like a satanic 15 year old boy, dick jokes included. We are very different but I like him and his family. I really hope this works. So far I have assisted in three events and I have learned so much in each one. Things that stick with me:
1. Facilitating hook suspensions feels profoundly right to me.
2. I can do this.
3. I have so much to learn.
Scenes that pop out to me:
1. An event in the woods. There is a huge fire in the center of a circle with mystical-seeming designs drawn in the sand around it. Drums make the air shiver. The sound of whale song plays in the background both oddly discordant and ineffably right. The scene is lit by firelight while the stars watch. Dozens of people surround the fire, watching, writhing, dancing, loving. Covered in sweat. Covered in body paint. Covered in tattoos. Off to the side there is a line of people who have decided to be suspended. Sensei, sempai, tetsudaite, and I arrive late from our previous engagement. Awesomenamelessperson is already there and has been piercing for a while. Sempai and I begin setting up to take the first seeker while Sensei and Tetsudaite get the lay of the land. There is a wildness in the air. It is the wildness I strive for. The air crackles and tastes like a place where I can activate the energetic cycle that my name bespeaks. My memories blur a bit at this point. We crewed for several seekers, each experience was unique. What stuck with me was the rawness, the sweat, the dark, the power, the beauty.
2. An event in studio in a big city. The space is tight. The crowd is packed together, watching the majesty of suspension. There are drummers, chanters, an electric drum in the background. The giant white walls catch the sound and the dim colored lights. Green laser lights move around like the movement of the stars in the cycle of the year. A seeker is suspended. He is flying but struggling, the spinning is difficult for him. You can see how hard this is for him. The pain, the nausea combating the amazing intensity of the experience. He requests water and I run to get it for him. Tetsudaite stills him and a friend gives it to him. He drinks it quickly, too quickly. A minute after he goes back up he needs to come down again to allow him to vomit the water. A quick breather and he wants to go back up again. Sweat pours from him, hinting at diaphoresis. To my (inexperienced) eyes it looks like he is riding an edge. Tetsudaite takes a hard look at him and pulls him up again. And he flies. He is in so much pain but also so much joy-intensity (there’s no word in English I’ve found to describe the experience). In that moment the words tattooed on The Poppy Daughter’s chest create the boundaries my world. I thought about the seekers agony, his joy in the experience, watching him vomit, and I felt profoundly and deeply at peace with where I was.
3. In the middle of a rural mid-Atlantic state park. I am helping sensei, he is short staffed and asks me to step up. I am very nervous but feel ready. My task is mostly set up and clean up. Primarily I am milking the air out of the seekers. For those who are unfamiliar with hook suspension this means that I am massaging their backs to move the air that gets trapped under their skin while they are flying to the surface. Some don’t bleed, some do. Frankly I appreciate the bleeders more. I can spread the blood over their backs and use it as lubricant in my massaging. I get lost in the task. I talk with the seeker, giving them what seems most appropriate, for some it’s listening, for some it’s praise, for some it’s encouragement. I also get lost in the ritual of staying hygienic. Even if sensei hadn’t made terrible horrific threats about avoiding cross-contamination my personal preference is to engage in the rituals. These rituals make my obsessive-compulsive tendencies purr. I find myself thinking, not for the first time, “I could do this forever.”
In reflecting on my activities of the past few weeks I have found an interesting thread connecting them with my past experiences in possessory work. As a member of Tashlin, active in the Church of Asphodel, and in private I have become familiar with horsings. For years a big part of my spooky work was spent ground crewing possessions. I just realized this evening that the set up of a hook suspension is similar to the set up of a horsing. Both experiences are designed to allow the seeker to experience an alterted state of consciousness so as to bring back lessons either to themselves or to the audience. In a horsing there is commonly a catalyzing event or person that begins the experience and allows the horse to open up to the deity. In a suspension there is a piercing. In a horsing there is often a handperson that helps the deity, provides for their needs, and talks with them. In a suspension there are riggers who hold the person up and do basically the same thing. Last but certainly not least in a horsing there is a deity. In a suspension there are hooks.