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  • Writer's picturebelardinelli

What Is This Talk About Ritual?

These days, we see a lot of people talking about the ritual aspect of suspension and pulling. We love that people are thinking this way and want to write a bit here about what ritual means to us and how we think it can be a powerful way to frame the experiences that we facilitate.

Whether or not an individual chooses to view their suspension in terms of ritual is up to them. Smertekirken’s practice is to view every suspension or pull that we facilitate as a ritual that we perform:

  • Cleaning, preparing, and setting up the items and spaces that we use for piercing and rigging

  • Speaking with and preparing the participant

  • Piercing and rigging

  • Holding the space open for the participant

  • Removing hooks and applying bandages

  • Cleaning the items and spaces and putting everything back in its place

Smertekirken’s ritual is one that has grown out of practice. It is a circular ritual, designed to finish at the start, that gives focus to—and reminds us of—our responsibility for the people for whom we facilitate and our commitment to continuous improvement in the way that we facilitate. Ours is a ritual that grounds and guides us in our desire for personal growth and aims to provide participants with the best possible experience.

We do not ask that participants follow any specific ritual, or any ritual at all for that matter. We do, however, feel that taking a ritual approach to the experience can provide a framework for and focus on one’s intentions. As Smertekirken takes a broadly universalist approach to spirituality, we place few limits on individuals' ritual practice or the types of ritual that participants would like to do (so long as they do not conflict with Smertekirken’s bylaws).

There is no wrong way to construct your own ritual and we have been privileged to see some beautiful, thoughtful, and powerful rituals over the years. People have brought items and totems to work with (as both items of focus and sacrifice), pinned notes to the legs of our tripod, consecrated their own ritual space to work in, and so on.

While there are endless variations to how a ritual can be constructed, we do have one suggestion on where to start a ritual here at Smertekirken. Because we have a good-sized forest and many trees, we like to suggest that participants go out with a hand saw and cut down a small tree to use as the rig for their suspension. Going into a stand of trees and choosing one of them to cut down may seem like a small action but, in choosing a life to sacrifice at the beginning of the ritual, the person becomes the central, active participant in their own ritual. Some people choose a tree quickly, others contemplate and consider many trees. Regardless of the time it takes to choose the tree, the sacrifice is an expression of personal agency that can give a greater focus to the ritual from the very start.

Where it goes from there is up to the individual. People vary in the type and number of elements that they include in their rituals, and we are open to a wide variety of expressions and interpretations. The important thing is that the ritual is meaningful for the participant. We love discussing people’s ideas with them and helping them to structure a ritual that matches their intention. We also like to know a bit about the ritual that a person wants to perform because that allows us to make any special preparations that might be necessary.

So, what happens to the tree? Once the ritual is complete, people who have elected to sacrifice a tree often take a piece of it with them. The rest of the tree is added to the collection of all the trees that have been sacrificed that year and used to start our New Year’s Eve bonfire.

If you have an idea for a ritual that you would like to perform with us, please get in touch!

Most images are taken by us, three of them are taken by Katarsis Foto.

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