Universal Transportation: Flight 2
In Penang, Malaysia on a hot humid afternoon Fakir and I entered a little Kali temple. Overwhelmed by the energy, the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention! I belonged there. Philosophically, I have always been interested in which Archetypes run through us. To feel it directly and so suddenly was electrifying! The Kali priest approached me, marked my forehead with a red kumkum dot. I was entranced. He told us the piercings with hooks for Thaipusam would take place in the parking lot of the Hindu soccer field the next day.
I didn’t wake up early enough to witness the women getting pierced on their third eye, cheeks and tongues. They had already made their way to Murugan’s Temple. It was now the men’s turn. Encircled by their entire families, little hooks and cheeks spears were inserted directly into their skin. Only holy ashes were used for skin prep and no sharp needles for piercing! Yet the energy was incredible.
We joined the procession of many tandem devotees pulling on their hooks, mouths silenced by Shiva spears. Altar stations, each decorated with gaudy images, garlands of mylar and plastic flowers, graced the way to the Waterfall temple (not unlike my first ball dance). The pungent aroma of sweet incense filled the air. Loud music and drumming added to the joyous atmosphere.
Torture Festival or celebration? Sound familiar? We were ecstatic!
When we got home, Fakir felt compelled to share this ritual with others. The Hook Pull combined with a Ball Dance became part of our 1996 summer Gathering. Every year more and more folks wanted to have the experience. We brought these body rituals to leather conferences, honoring the archetypes these ancient ceremonies came from. As word got out, it “went viral” and led to suspension rites all over the Americas and beyond.
Pulling on hooks is topping and bottoming to yourself and stepping out of your own way. How precious to be in a safe place where you can roar like a wild cat, sob a river full of tears, travel through time and open up to love as essential energy. Flesh to Spirit, embrace your self, soar!
In kink and leather pride, with heart,
This is an edited version of my chapter in Lee Harrington’s “Spirit of Desire.”