This is the final post of a small group that all go together. If you haven’t read from the beginning, the first post is You Can’t Say No to the Universe. It will make much more sense if you read it from the beginning. Subsequent posts are linked to their predecessors, so they’re easily followed. 🙂
Previous post: SWLC post, the Final: And We Danced… Part One
I let the carabiner hang from the cord that attached my hooks to each other. I wasn’t ready to pull. I’d already decided that I was going to allow myself to experience this however I needed to. I would listen to my body and do what it wanted.
I’d also decided that this would be a lone journey for me this year. I was among friends, family, my tribe, for which I was grateful. Others had already asked friends to pull on their hooks, or hooked their carabiners together and pulled against each other. But I wanted this to be only about me for my first time.
I walked around the room, letting the carabiner dangle, occasionally picking it up and pulling a bit, testing how much it hurt. And it really didn’t hurt too badly.
One thing that I learned in my Year of Living Uncomfortably journey is that, when it comes to something we’re afraid of, the fear is actually much bigger than the pain of the experience. In the same way they say that the camera adds ten pounds, it’s also true that fear magnifies itself. I find that almost always, my level of fear is disproportionate to the reality of the thing.
After walking around for a bit and dancing some, I fetched my notebook and settled onto the floor. As I set about to write, I realized that I didn’t really have any sentences in me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have words; they just weren’t forming sentences. I found this very interesting. I think it would have been disconcerting had I been in a normal frame of mind. But then, if I’d been in a normal frame of mind, I’d probably have had my sentences 😉 But, regardless, it didn’t freak me out. It was just an interesting observation.
So I wrote words.
Three or four times throughout the Dance, I sat down with my notebook and wrote words. Any word that came into my head went onto the page. It wasn’t about making sense. It was about capturing the words. Ultimately, I wrote about 6 or 7 pages and I think I have one 3-word sentence in the entire mess.
These words showed up many, many times in my pages. Especially the word “echo.” I haven’t worked out what that might mean, if it even means anything. But it was strange and interesting.
I still haven’t gone through all of the pages I wrote at the Dance. I will. But it doesn’t seem to be time yet.
After the first writing session, I put my notebook back and wandered around more. I danced. I watched people.
One tall, lean man had gotten hooks in his back. He’d affixed himself to one of the points on a crossbeam of the Portal. And he was hanging from his hooks, parallel to the floor, about six or so inches above it, as if he were about to do push-ups. The only thing touching the ground were his toes. He was held up by those toes and the two hooks in his back.
In an earlier post, when I was talking about being a witness to Leather when I was just a wee kinkster, I said this:
I loved the integrity, honesty, honor, ferocity with which these people seemed to live their lives. I admired the courage they had to create their own paths to their own happiness.
That ferocity was here, in this room, at this Dance. I watched it all around me. I wanted to meld into that fierceness. I wanted to be that.
As I passed the horizontal man, I found that one of the points on the Portal column closest to him was open. In that moment I made another decision: If I had an opportunity to do a thing, within the parameters I’d set for myself, I would do that thing. I would say, “yes.”
So I hooked my carabiner onto the point on the column.
The carving of the earth mother was on the crossbeam above my head. That felt symbolic, somehow.
At first, I only stood there, not even far enough away to make the cord taut. I wanted to take it all in my own time. I watched the young woman on my left pulling against the connection point in the Earth Mother crossbeam as an older man played what looked like a bodhrán in front of her and chanted with her.
I closed my eyes. I listened to the heavy beating of the drums. The tribal sounds. The lighter thump of the bodhrán beside me; the thick, soul-impacting sound of the eight drummers on the wall. Random cheers went up as someone yelled out their pain. From a piercing? From a pull? It didn’t matter.
The togetherness, the celebration, the joy in the room was something I felt on my skin, like the soft and gentle touch of someone who loved me. I took a small step back. The cord connecting me to the Portal tightened until it was taut. I stayed that way for a little while, listening to my body, exploring the pressure and pain from the pull on the hooks.
The right hook hurt more sharply than the left. And that is how the pain felt — sharp. Not achy or dull. But it also wasn’t constant. The left hook only hurt when I first put pressure on it or when I added pressure. Once the pull was consistent, level, the pain went away and it was just a feeling, a sensation. I found this to be true as I leaned back farther, put more tension on the cord. It would hurt for a moment, then the pain would ease.
I spent some amount of time on the Portal. Ten minutes? Fifteen? I don’t know. I had no concept of time.
And that is how the entire afternoon went. All in all, I hooked to the Portal twice and to the drummers twice. I loved hooking to the drums. Not only was there the tension in pulling against the drum, but the vibration of the beat traveled down the cord and onto the hooks. It was a strange and unique feeling.
Throughout the entire Dance, I experienced my own journey and watched others. People attached their carabiner to the Portal or the drums, as I did. Others handed their carabiner to a friend or one of the people assisting with the ritual and pulled against them. Some attached their carabiner to someone else’s and they both pulled against each other. There was even a large group, perhaps eight or ten people, who all attached to what looked like a suspension ring (but not suspended, obviously), between them like spokes on a wheel, and the entire group pulled against each other.
Over and over, the Universe underlined what it had already told me. Again and again, I watched people stress their bodies in different ways, as I had been doing but often even more so, and rejoicing in their bodies’ resilience, in their own resilience. It spoke to me. They all spoke to me.
There was one that spoke very loudly and it felt like the capstone. Like the Universe saying, “Okay, if you don’t get it with this, you’re never gonna fucking get it.”
Two Men and a Woman Between
Over the course of the weekend, there was a lovely woman I’d seen several times. She’d been in a whips class I’d attended — she’d volunteered to be whipped — and I’d seen her once or twice in the course of my DM shifts. She was petite in body size, but a bit taller than me (I think). I never spoke with her at SWLC, but I always noticed her. And it wasn’t a sexual thing, though she is beautiful. It was something else. She had the most radiant and joyful smile. That was really what had struck me every time I saw her. How beautiful and genuine her smile was.
About halfway through the Dance, I caught sight of her. She’d had hooks placed on both her chest and her back. And when I saw her, I remember feeling a heaviness. Not bad, but the heaviness of anticipation. Like something was going to happen, like there was a plan. I don’t know whether there actually was a plan, but I remember thinking that I hoped I didn’t miss it, whatever it was.
A bit later, I was near the Portal when I saw her again and I just stopped in my tracks. I may have literally stopped mid-step. This time she wasn’t smiling. She was grimacing, occasionally yelling, but fiercely, fiercely beautiful.
One man, the larger of the two with her, had hold of the cord attached to her chest hooks. The other, an average size man, but very strong, had her back cord.
And they pulled.
They heaved. Both of them. Against each other. With her cords.
More than once, the smaller of the two men pulled so hard against the larger than his legs came parallel to the floor with his butt almost sitting on the carpet. They did not hold back; they were not competing. But they were not playing.
And this beautiful woman caught between them, striving, sustaining.
The skin of her chest and back pulled away from her in the same way wet cloth will pull away from a body if you grab it in the center, tightly, almost like there is suction beneath. She cried out more than once, but at the same time, always planted her feet, keeping herself steady, her face a study in determination and strength. She was stunning.
And as I watched, I understood.
Her body never gave in. The hooks did not tear through her skin.
Her body endured.
The mind is the weakest link.
I didn’t watch through til the end. It was hard for me to watch as I processed the message, which was, in itself, a part of the message.
As I said, this lovely woman and I never spoke to each other at SWLC, but we connected here on Fetlife afterward. And she wrote about it. If you are on Fet, you can read for yourself @PaigeGrace’s account of her first hook pull at Dance of Souls.
Barring anything catastrophic happening, I will be going to SWLC again next January. I doubt my accounting of that trip will take quite so many posts. 😉
Thank you for sticking with it. And if my experiences spoke to you in some way, I hope to see you at SWLC.
Crossposted to Fetlife.
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