Few years back, I got to do my first hook pull. Large gauge needles are placed in the chest; it’s through enough tissue to hold them in place just fine. The hooks aren’t gonna pull out; the piercings are rich and deep. Once the piercings are in, a 3-4’ length of cord is tied to the loops at the ends of the hooks.
It was my first time. Fakir & CM Hurt (out of LA) were the piercers; I had some history with CM, so I went with her. Her modowrk is amazing, and her spirit is vibrant, full of dark humor and huge love. Cleo DuBois was a major ka-see-ka (‘experienced guide’) for the trip. I was ready. I have a history of doing intense things with my skinsuit, and I figured this to be right up my alley.
I waited in line, held by my lovers G&S, safe in the arms of blessed community. Some of my other Detroit peeps were there, and it felt tingly and scary and bubbling with potential. It was like filling up your gas tank right before you head out to Burning Man, your vehicle loaded with gear and tribe.
The piercings hurt—for about a minnit. Of course it hurts! You’re poking 10 gauge hooks into your chestmeat. But then…oh, but then. I fell more deeply in love with my endocrine system in that moment than I’d ever been before. The drum sounds rippled through my skin; it was as though the new holes, tight as they were wrapped around the metal of the hooks, had opened me to the rhythms. The drumbeats and low chanting danced right into my skin along with the hooks.
Each of us—there were about 20 participants in this ritual if I recall (all bets on recall are off after the hooks go in because of the sudden, immediate and dramatic priority shift that occurs when you break through the boundary that most people believe separates us from one another) moved gingerly, finding our places in the pain, in the sounds, in the room. I can’t tell you how many people were holding space or just watching; from here, it seems like lots but I admit, it could have simply been all the angels in the room. There was presence.
After everyone had been pierced, whatever it was bubbling and brewing in that circle spilled over. The holes in your chest don’t just let things in—they let things out, too. Maybe it was the leopard print sarong I was wearing, flavoring my experience, but I transformed. I was wild, feline, joyful, wounded, perilous and ecstatic. I learned by doing who it was that I wanted to hold my cord, who it was I wanted to trade cords with, who it was I might be willing to tug on.
When we had reached a certain level of transformation, of energy building, Cleo danced her way into the middle of the circle with a large metal ring, a rattle and a Hitachi. She beckoned us to her. We went. Using carabineers, Cleo hooked each of our cords to the large metal ring. We stood around the ring, unable to be more than 3-4’ from it. It got more and more crowded. We had no choice but to touch each other, to find a way to comfortably stand and sway without falling down or knocking someone else over. We cooperated instinctively; that was my first proof that humans can cooperate instinctively.
Then Cleo began to play with the center ring. It was a circus of sensation; she vibed the ring with the Hitachi, and we all sighed and hummed with one voice. She lifted up; we came to our toes, laughing, moaning. She crouched down; we bent towards the source of sensation, chuckling and crying.
And then everything stopped. It was like someone had hit the mute button on my experience. I didn’t hear drums or people or moaning or chuckling. All was still. In that stillness, that silence, I realized:
No matter what we did, we were connected. If one person took a deep breath, someone on the other side of the ring felt it. If someone moved sideways, we all went sideways. There was nothing--not a laugh, a sob, a twitch—NOTHING—that didn’t reverberate through the ring and into everyone else attached to it. It was undeniable, inescapable. We were all connected. Yeah, yeah, I know I said that. But dig it: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED. In that moment for me, there was no difference between that center ring and the whole of my world.
The hooks left my flesh later. I remember falling into a puppy pile of warmth, embrace, magical adoration. My puppy people left later, when I went back up to my room to bathe (this is also when I learned to never schedule a session for immediately after a hook pull. Silly me). The dried blood around the hooks left as I sank—slowly—into the warm water.
What never left, and still hasn’t, is that knowing of connectedness. For me, it took hooks to have that ah-HA. I don’t know what it’ll take for you, or for the rest of the world. But I do know that it is a knowing we must all come to. And soon. The illusion that something as fragile as a skinsuit somehow makes us *separate* from each other is ridiculous. It’d be downright funny, if that illusion didn’t cause so much fucking pain in the world. Even though we can’t always see it or feel it, we are, at all times, connected to each other that way. Not just the people we want to play with, or to family and tribe. Everyone. We’re all hooked into the web; someone thrums a string in Sri Lanka, and we feel the ripples of it in our own skin. We turn away from someone in anger, and we yank on other people’s spirits. We’re just too small-sighted to notice the depth, breadth and scope of our connectedness.
Hook in, people. Hook in. Find your own way of experientially knowing this Truth of connection. Choose wisely whose cords you tug on, and to whom you hand your own cord. And then come dance your truth with me. I’ll be waiting with the Hitachi.