May 15th, 2000

So many friends, so many lovers, so much chosen family, and such a gift from the Goddess to have them.

I slept well, and if I dreamt, the dreams were left at the door of my consciousness when I awoke. I ate a small amount and showered well. Dr Bronner's peppermint and a big mesh scrubber and I scoured the bod. I needed to present a clean and respectful body to the day. Somewhere around 2-3pm Kevin came over. We packed the car, all the everything I'd been getting together last night, the platter of corned beef, and my ritual items and a change of clothes and every bit of anxiety I could muster. Of course I left knowing I'd forgotten something - it turned out to be the videos of Al's I'd borrowed, no biggie.

Kevin drove and we arrived to find Steph and Al home. Al was working on business cards for the new apprentice he's taken on []. Over the next couple of hours quite a few friends arrived. We cooked the rocks out back and ate the food up standing around the kitchen and ran according to the clock of no clock.

Lobo arrived - he delayed his return trip to Canada on our behalf - and unexpectedly brought me a keepsake from a mutual friend, a memento from her late partner, a man of great strength and love [Tom Finch]. I was so touched I had to sit down, and tears almost overwhelmed me. Moreover, Steph leaned over and told me that she wanted me to wear an amulet she had on, containing a vial of blood drawn the day last winter that she and Al had ripped flesh dancing against the rope. I made a small leather bag to wear the stone from Gale and Tom in. I already had the beaver-tooth necklace Al had gifted me several years ago when he found out that beaver was a spirit guide for the both of us. Such strength from so many - it was comforting.

Half a dozen of us sweat. Panther, my dancing partner today, & her husband. Lobo. James and his lovely partner. The rocks really held and released a lot of steam and I found exactly the headspace I needed to be in to continue to the rest of the ritual. Each and every person who came out of lodge was pink, perky, cleansed, and beaming.

We arrived at the Wet Spot right about 10pm, just as the group who had the space for the earlier evening was leaving. Several other friends who joined us only for the piercing portion of the ritual arrived, including the artist I've been negotiating with. Several people were taking still or video. James got right to work on the overhead rigging. Al took over an entire massage table to lay out his sterile field for the piercing. One and all basically made nervous conversation and everyone that didn't know the others got to know each other.

Watching Al lay out his implements in such a professional manner was a comfort. Watching James work and rework his rope and knotwork until he was satisfied was a comfort. Panther and I shed our clothes and worked our way closer and closer to the moment.

James was done. A hard point installed in the ceiling, pulley system under it and a hemp rope about 20' long through the pulley with a carabiner on either end, and a loop of parachute line on either 'biner.

Native American drumming on the CD player and half a dozen drums in the hands of our friends started to set the mood.

Al smudged and Steph cast a circle. Al prepped the skin, marked placement, and the first needle, about 10 gauge, bit flesh. I let the beast out. Loud. Very loud. Next needle was in Panther's chest, back to me, and then her again. The needles were followed by the fishhooks, also around 10ga - about 1/8" in diameter and around 3" long. The parachute line was tied through the fishhooks and we were thus tied to opposite ends of the rope.

Face to face, stepping back slowly to the limits of the rope. We pulled back and forth, sawed the line through the pulley one way and the next. Leaned back, side to side, tension coming and going between us. It all had to be a cooperative effort. At some times we were fighting each other, at others helping each other, always connected and always on fire. We laughed, we cried, we yelled. The skin tented up - later Al said that he could see daylight through the skinhole. Most of the pain was when the initial piercing went through. Now it just burned when I pulled back just so, felt wonderful when I pulled back just thus, but never just 'hurt'.

We danced and tranced and were gone wherever we went - she and I haven't had a chance to chat about the trips yet - for about half an hour or so. I didn't know five minutes or an hour but friends said it was around 30 minutes.

When we stopped dancing and came together under the pulley Panther was still gone, deep gone. When I thought she was back I told her "We're back"... but she shook her head and pointed at her partner. He came over and she touched him and she was immediately grounded and back.

We disengaged in roughly the same sequence and it was over. Al pulled the hooks - presented each of us with ours to place on our altars - and we started to emerge into our group of friends.

This is a weak attempt at recounting an overwhelming ritual, and one which won't finish percolating inside for days, weeks, or years. For me, for her, for our friends. Each of us involved will have a different experience. A linear narrative is a poor offering, but it puts my thoughts of the moment - now just a few hours after coming home - where I can come back to them.

For the moment, the anxiety of the past few days is gone. My faith in myself and those I've chosen to have close to me is stronger. And the day went well.

Tomorrow, back to the other world. I'm sure the colors and odors and sounds and all will be the same as last week and last year; I'm curious what I'll be.

Life is indeed good. And evolving.

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