Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Hanged Man

When I see a man hanging from a tree, with that look on his face, I recognized it. As a man who has made many sacrifices, my first thought is *...I don't ever know where to start...* So I guess I'll just go in order.

Pipe Carriers of some traditions are required to live a rather strict lifestyle in some aspects. There are social, dietary and religious taboos in place to maintain a certain concept of purity.

They sacrifice daily indulgences, to provide a public service.

This purity is required for some who are keepers of a sacred object, used to communicate with the divine, on behalf of the people. To achieve and maintain the purity was one of my greatest challenges, because I took it as seriously as a heart attack. The object is a Chanupa, the sacred pipe. The stone pipe bowl represents our mother earth and the long wooden phallic pipe stem of father sky. They are mated and smoked in an act of communion, the same way Wiccans place the Blade into the Chalice and then drink from it and for the same reasons.

Do you see a pattern forming here?

Each year this priest hood of public service gathers for the Sun Dance, *right around summer solstice. Pipe Carriers become Sun Dances, for four days and nights, for some, without food, water or sleep. Dancing inside a huge circular arbor, facing the phallic tree in the center. This tree of life if used as an antenna for talking to the creator. They dance and prey for their people.

The tree was selected, ritually cut down, but never touching the ground, it is carried by the dancers to the arbor where a hole has been prepared for it's reception. So just to draw some of you a birds eye picture... *big skating arena size circle, big hole in the middle... big long tree moves into circle and enters, "erected" into hole...*

Do you see a pattern forming here?

At some point the dancers chest is pierced, two small vertical cuts a made and a small wooden peg is threaded through the flesh like a belt loop. A leather thong or rope that was tied to the tree before it was erected, so you can tie the loop around the wooden peg, to lean back and relax a bit after dancing for so long. This is why it's a serious as a heart attack.

They physically tie them selves with an *umbilical cord* to the antenna. Leaning back, stretching the skin, pain purifies the mind beyond comprehension...

This is a sacred space.

And like birth, it's painful because you don't get to cut the cord, the only way out is through. You just gatta lean back and break loose. Hows that for a right of passage?

So, when I see a man hanging from a tree, with that look on his face, I recognized it.

I'd like to show you my scars, but I can't, I never pierced. The Army had strict policy against it at the time, and I'm am lucking I was allowed to attend at all. I have mixed feeling about it, my pride wishes I could say it did it, and I wanted to *prove* myself to myself, that I could do it.

And I wanted that sacred space.

I still have the Pipe, it was an unconditionally permanent commitment. But I don't "carry" it anymore, I lost that purity in Iraq.

But I have earned my scars from that Sun Dance.

So when I see a man hanging from a tree, with that look on his face, I recognized it.


My Gal said...

Beautiful imagery. Though OUCH! Seriously ouch!

Hanging from a tree has a whole new meaning here. The concept of carrying a tree is pretty amazing.

quincidence said...

and now I get why the hanging man was not a sick violent suicide or murder as so many interpret and I tolerate no so well.

I have attending flesh piercing and hangings of this type and now I get it. I have always respected and stood in aw of those that pierce with hanging purpose, and NOW... I finally get it. Thanks you.