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28 September, 2007

Mortification of the Flesh

Daisy and I were talking last month about ecstasy and pain and sacredness and a variety of other things. And I'm working my way through the pain and blood that is my own calling to the divine, the things that it demands; the flogger I picked up at the Fetish Flea is still sitting by my bedside table. At some point it will be more than merely a pretty object.

The power of pain has always been something that I have known, down in my bones, something that spoke its own language. There was debilitating pain -- the headsplitting agony of the migraine with its warped vision effects, the sick wet pop of my hip missocketed, the way I could only do pushups with one hand on the knuckles so it wouldn't fail under me. And then there was the other pain.

There was the pain when I was so far gone into my own head, into the demons of the darkness lurking somewhere south of sanity, that I could grab, rake down my arms with my nails, dragging myself back into the world rather than fall into the abyss of going mad. There was the pain that took that stuff from inside and pulled it out, inverted it, made it something under my control, taming the beast. There was bringing myself back into reality, the sharpness and clear sparkling realness of it. There was tracing patterns in the back of my hand with the point of a knife, because I could see that doing something, and it hurt less than anything else I put my focus on. (That time my husband took the knife away from me.) There's the sharp immediacy of pain grabbed and put through alchemical transformations, my standard first step of the little energy work trick I learned in my teens: how to block pain.

(I don't know if any of my readers know the game Egyptian Rat Screw, but the relevant point is that if two cards of the same value are played in sequence, the first player to slap them wins the stack. I once slapped in on a pair of queens and won the game. My roommate one summer at camp was very good at it, and played some kid with a cast on his arm. At midnight, she was up plaintively complaining how much her hand hurt, so I got up, and I made it stop. Then, bloody rationalist, she whined that I had stopped it, until about two, when she exclaimed, "Yes! It hurts!" and went promptly to sleep. Occultists get no respect.)

I had scars, thin brown discolorations, down the outside of my left forearm for about eight years, from high school.

When I need, absolutely need, to keep control of my temper, my nails go into my palms, leaving little crescent arcs that last long after I let go. Or sometimes somewhere into my arms. Sometimes I've left bruises.

And I have this rigid wall between pain and sex, pain and ecstasy, and I'm suspecting it's going to come down.

The rigidity of that wall may be surprising to some, with the way I bite and sometimes scratch -- I've had a reasonably nippy evening, just that kind of mood, even without any sex being involved -- but none of that parses to me as working with pain. Physicality, sensation, a feral streak that has a large thread of sexual energy to it, sure, but not pain. That spot where the shoulder flows into the neck? Biting that doesn't hurt. Biting that is something else altogether.

Taking the wall down scares me.

(And yet, He said, fear is how we measure ourselves.)

It scares me because so much of the work with pain goes so deep, so intense, and so closely tied to madness and managing madness. And I refer to "Have you ever gone mad?" a few posts down because there's a seductiveness to madness, this sense of release, of freedom, and choosing to turn my face towards the abyss, to go to where that huge, deep wellspring of power is, that tremendous, transformational power, and beyond it the hungry Void ... scares me.

I know that siren song, the seductiveness of going completely unmoored.

So for a long time, I maintained this rigid, rigid wall. This is not me. I don't understand it. I don't go there.

It scares me, and it scares me deep and hard and hitting right around Swadhisthana.

There's an edge there, a sharp one, a delicate balance between madness and reality, that sharp erotic curve of the transformational line.

I have always met the gods at the edges of things.

1 comment:

Daisy Deadhead said...

There's an edge there, a sharp one, a delicate balance between madness and reality, that sharp erotic curve of the transformational line.

I have always met the gods at the edges of things.

Check out my post on St Therese! Even though she wrote about 'simple' things, she also experienced great pain in her life.

I often wonder if she knew where one ended and the other began?