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Hook Pull Rituals
In some cultures, spirituality and worship are expressed through the body. This is often a marked contrast to much of what people in Western culture are familiar with, as a lot of Judeo-Christian theology sees the body as a vessel that is often not "owned" by the residing spirit. However in a variety of polytheistic and native/tribal groups, this perception of the body didn't exist.
Flesh hook pulls, which are related to hook suspensions, evolved in some societies as a way of honoring the gods, and making an offering using the body. Endurance rites and body tension are long-known and reliable methods for inducing trance, triggering out-of-body experiences and having spiritual revelations.
The most well-known hook pull rituals came from India or Indonesia. The celebrants would pierce the skin of their chests, arms or backs with large metal hooks. These hooks could then be either weighted with attached bells, fruits or balls, or tied to cords against which the devotee would tug and pull. Often pilgrimage walks to specific temples or religious sites would be done while in a hooked state.
A modern version of this type of ritual has been formulated and taught by Fakir Musafar for the last few decades. He's introduced such necessary elements as proper sterile piercing technique and frames the experience in a contemporary and multiple-denominational spiritual context so that it can be presented to a group assembled from different backgrounds and experience levels. There are several hours of lecture preparation, some warm up exercises, and then the actual ritual will take place.
On Saturday, April 10, 2010, Your Humble Body Art Editor, will be taking part in just such a workshop and ritual. This was something I'd always wanted to do when I lived in SF, and I actually flew down from Seattle to take part. Back in 2001, Fakir did a complex branding on my left thigh, and I felt taking the opportunity to do this ritual with him when I had the chance was something I just had to do.
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