Interested in an exciting new spiritual experience? Well then how about Body Suspension. I know I know, I can already hear the words “are you freaking crazy?” Body Suspension might not be for everybody but it certainly has a growing following among many of the worlds spiritual thrill seekers. Even to the point that commercially operated businesses are popping up in popular tourist destinations all over the world.
But for this to be really classed as a spiritual experience and not just some freaked out thing your mum won’t be happy with, it needs some old precedent to back it up, right? Well this, it certainly does have!
In the area we now refer to as North Dakota in the United States, a tribe of Native Americans called the Mandan lived around the banks of the Missouri River. There they engaged in an act they referred to as the O-Kee-Pa. This was documented by the American painter George Catlin during his stay with the Mandan in 1832. According to his book on the topic “O-Ki-Pa: A religious ceremony; and other customs of the Mandan” published in 1867 he described,
“The young men reclining around the sides of the medicine lodge who had now reached the middle of the fourth day without eating, drinking or sleeping and consequently weakened and emancipated commenced to submit to the operation of the knife and other instruments of torture.
These two men apparently crawled up to the individuals called Medicine Men and,
“submitted to the knife which was passed under and through the integuments and flesh taken up and between the thumb and forefinger of the operator”
they were then hoisted up into the air and turned repeatedly
“at which point they began crying in the most heartrending tones to the Great Spirit imploring him to enable them to bear and survive the painful ordeal they were entering on. This piteous prayer, the sounds of which no imagination can ever reach, and of which I could get no translation, seemed to be an established form, ejaculated alike by all, and continued until fainting commenced, when it gradually ceased.”
Obviously these days it’s done a little less primitively and with better sanitation, but as far as I can gather anyone that has the balls to put themselves through this has the right to be seen as genuine spiritual journeyman. But what are the modern reason for these folk to fish hook there skin and hang around like they do? Suspension.org tells us the following,
“There are many different reasons to suspend, from pure adrenaline or endorphin rush, to conquering ones fears, to trying to reach a new level of spiritual consciousness and everything in between. In general, people suspend to attain some sort of “experience”.
Some people are seeking the opportunity to discover a deeper sense of themselves and to challenge pre-determined belief systems which may not be true. Some are seeking a rite of passage or a spiritual encounter to let go of the fear of not being whole or complete inside their body.
Others are looking for control over their body, or seek to prove to themselves that they are more than their bodies, or are not their bodies at all. Others simply seek to explore the unknown.”
Suku Suku Tatau in Bali are just one of these commercial business that specialise in (among other things) body suspension. We spoke with Altar Tikam, one of the founders and a professional Body Art Artist that also does piercing, implants, scarification and body suspension. His feeling on body suspension where that it is is
“Very incredible and nice. Especially for your soul, because for me body suspension is part of the spiritual realm also.”
One of the people that has been doing body suspension with Altar Tikam recently and the man in the photos is an Australian named Taylor Pullen. He told Circus Bazaar,
“My first suspension was on the 27of November 2013 at my good friends studio in Seminyak Bali Indonesia. I wanted to see if I was tough enough to do it. It came down to a challenge to myself and a test of strength. If I could put hooks in my 85 kg body and suspend, then there’s nothing I can’t do. I thought it was going to hurt. I thought it was going to be excruciating. I imagined it was going to be the most traumatising experience of my life. So, I go in and I’m ready to go through it, and once I got into the air, it was the most peaceful, serene, experience I’ve ever had. Throughout life, you tend to take on negative energy. By energy I could mean stress, and this was just the ultimate stress release. Everything bad that had built up, it was just resetting it back to zero. The actual feeling of hanging suspended off the ground by nothing but your skin is actually intoxicating, the amount of adrenaline and endorphins going through your body is amazing, a feeling I still find hard to describe.”