A few years back, I attended Fakir Musafar’s Spirit + Flesh Ritual in San Francisco. I remember thinking to myself that I’d definitely have to write about it at some time or another. I eventually posted a picture of my third eye piercing, still intending to document the experience more fully.
In the introduction to the ritual, Fakir said we might need to talk with someone about our experiences. He said it might be days, weeks, or years. It’s now been almost three years and I’m still thinking about it. I often miss the third eye piercing. Having a corked needle stuck in your face is a really good way to remain mindful and present in the moment. Sometimes my mind repeatedly recalls a memory of large needles piercing the skin in my chest, followed by the swift, clean pain of hooks replacing the needles.
Lately, I’ve thought a lot about the look on Fakir’s face when he pierced my flesh, and how he forcefully thrust two knuckles against my sternum to center me after the first hook. How after the second hook, I felt the urge to curl up.
The hooks create wounds in your chest. Our instinct, as animals, is to hunch our shoulders and try to protect ourselves as we lick our wounds. Fakir said this is the opposite of what you should do for the ritual. Open your chest. Square your shoulders. Embrace the hurt.
I often feel vulnerable and fragile lately. I want to recede into myself for protection and comfort, to draw away from other people and try to recover. More often than not, though, I don’t have that option. There is important work to be done, and experience has taught me that isolation doesn’t help as much as I hope.
Instead, I lift my chin, square my shoulders, and feel my vulnerability brought to light. I feel a slight stretching, like the hooks pulling against my skin, growing taut and loosening to my proximity to the people tied at the other end. My skin didn’t break then, and neither will I, now. I touch the small circular scars that remain on my chest.