What’s Pain Got to Do With It?
The Church of Pain views pain as a multifaceted aspect of a person’s spiritual and physical experience. Understanding pain and the roles that it plays in our lives is fundamental to our belief.
As a functional mechanism, alerting us to dangers both external and internal, it is a sense that should not be ignored. Its purpose in the purely physical sense is primal, hardwired, and essential. Our very survival hinges on the ability to recognize and respond to pain. With the rarest of exceptions, pain is also something that all humans share.
From a social standpoint, pain is something that every human has in common. We believe that the social role of pain has existed since the beginning of human community and may have roots in pre-human community as well. While one social aspect of pain is working together to avoid it, we believe that another is enduring pain together to build and maintain bonds of community. The communal experience of pain, as a group ritual or a rite of passage, creates a shared experience that can act as a touchstone for group identity. When that experience leaves an indelible mark shared by the participants, it becomes a symbol not only of the experience but also of the community. This can be readily observed in industrial and pre-industrial cultures. Due to its shared and relatable nature, pain is often viewed as a sacrifice—be it pain endured in athletic pursuits, in the service of others, in practices such as body modification and body suspension, etc. Pain is a sacrifice that we can provide completely from within ourselves and, as such, is a uniquely valuable and personal offering.
The spiritual aspect of pain stems from the understanding of pain as a sacrifice. We believe that it can be much more than a simple offering. Pain can be a portal. The concept of a spirit journey or crossing over to another plane has existed since pre-historic times and continues in many cultures up to this day. We believe that using pain as a catalyst in shamanic journeys, spirit quests, astral travel, and communion with a higher power is based in an intrinsic and intuitive understanding that Nature exists in a state of plurality—of which most humans only experience a tiny sliver. The extreme sensation of pain can push our consciousness out of the framework in which we have trained ourselves to exist, opening our minds to dimensions beyond our normally limited perception, and give us a glimpse—however fleeting—of the divine that we can take back with us. The Church of Pain recognizes that pain is just one of the mediums that can offer this type of transcendence but prefers pain for its fundamental immediacy, purity, and honesty.
If you want to participate in a suspension ritual with Church of Pain, you have a couple of options. Our current setup allows for all kinds of suspensions ranging from the simple to postures with more intricate rigging. There are currently two different points to choose from. Our tripod made from 12 meter (39 ft.) long pine poles cut at Vestrønningen is placed down close to one of our fields and provides a secluded, yet open feeling of hanging in the middle of nature. The second point is closer to the house, hanging in the midst of seven trees, with a forest backdrop and a view of our garden. Both of these points can be used for basically any kind of suspension. We can offer almost any style but do reserve the right to not facilitate suspensions we believe to be unsafe.
We can also offer a pulling ritual. Either between two or more people, or just one pulling against a tree or other natural (or not) objects. This ritual can be adapted fully to your needs and desires, the placements of the hooks are many and there are a range of different places around the property where we could perform it.
Our preferred ritual days are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Please sign up around 2 weeks in advance to allow us to make the necessary preparations. On a ritual day you are welcome to arrive from 8 AM and we’d love it if you were here before 11 AM. Since we need to get up very early on our regular workdays, we finish at 8 PM at the latest on Wednesdays and Sundays. Other than that, we invite you to take the time you want and need, it’s lovely to spend some time in advance to walk around the property, pet the cat, listen to the birds, and just soak up the vibes in preparation for your ritual. Maybe you want to have a look around and cut down a small tree to use as a rig for your suspension?
Food and Accommodation
As a general rule, we do not offer any meals unless you spend the night. We will have some fruit or snacks available, but please bring your own if you want something special. It is recommended to pack a lunch for the day. If needed and so desired, we can provide a small meal.
If you travel from afar, or you feel you want to stay in the ritual space for a whole day, we have a guest room with a queen sized bed, and some additional sleeping spaces available. There are also many different options for setting up your tent or hammock around the property. If you want to spend the night, we will invite you to join us for meals which often include our own home grown and locally foraged ingredients. If you have any diet restrictions or preferences, or any allergies, please let us know!
NOK 2200 Ritual
NOK 3000 Ritual and overnight stay
Prices per person. If you would like to organize a group event, please contact us.
You may pay via bank transfer or Vipps number 632147.
If you get sick, the weather turns really bad, or any other unforeseen circumstances arise, we will of course reschedule your ritual. Because of the cost associated with preparing for the suspension whether it happens at the scheduled time or not, we’re afraid we will not be able to refund you.
What About the Weather?
Since we are in the beautiful Norwegian countryside, it is always a good idea (even during the summer) to have a sweater, some thick socks, and a layer or two to keep you cozy if there is a chill in the air. We are considering a more weather-protected suspension spot in the future, but all our suspension points are currently outside. While suspending outside in not perfect weather can seem intimidating to some, we believe that being pushed around by the wind, feeling the sun come and go as it filters through the clouds, and even experiencing a bit of precipitation can really enhance a person’s experience of Nature!
We will not insist that you hang in freezing temperatures with driving sleet but want to emphasize that it is perfectly possible to have an incredible experience suspending even over the snow. We will discuss this with you when you sign up if you want to come during colder times of the year.
If we get a freak snowstorm or heavy rain on the day that you are scheduled to suspend, we will be happy to reschedule your suspension.
You can see an occasionally accurate weather forecast for our farm on yr.no.
Your health and safety are of utmost importance and we need to know if you have any underlying health concerns. There are very few health issues that prevent a person from taking part in a suspension or pulling ritual but, if you have a serious health condition, you must inform us. Depending on the condition, we may ask you to consult with your doctor beforehand.
We also need to know if you have a blood-borne illness (such as HIV, Hepatitis, etc.), are taking blood-thinning medication, or have any muscular/skeletal issues that we should be aware of. We do not suspend people during pregnancy.
How to Get Here
The address is Øgardshøgda 382, 2332 Åsvang. If you come by car, your smart phone should easily lead the way. If you want directions from E6, you may follow these: take exit 65 (Rv 3) at the big white bridge toward Tynset/Elverum/Trysil Exit to Fv 24 toward Kongsvinger. At a big, white building and a church, turn onto Tomtvegen toward Åsvang and follow this until a four-way intersection where you will turn right onto Åsvangvegen. Then, turn right onto Øgardshøgda toward Amundrud and go 0.9 km until you see a bright pink mailbox on the right. Follow the road and stay right at the Y and you will arrive at our lovely farm.
If you come by train, get off at Stange station. Train R10 will take you there. The train runs for the most part once an hour, between Drammen and Lillehammer (or Dombås), be sure to check the schedule for Sunday or holiday travel. Oslo Airport Gardermoen is one of the stops. We will pick you up from the station (max 4 people in the car). There is also a taxi service located at the train station.
If you need to call us, you will reach us here:
Alan Louis Belardinelli +47 9095 9251
June Ailin Bonsaksen +47 9849 4933
So, You’re Going to Suspend
There are about as many opinions on how one should prepare oneself for a pain ritual as there are people who participate in them (if not more, as people with no experience are also likely to be eager to give advice on the subject). One suspension is never the same as another but before you do your first one, there is no exact reference on what to expect, how it will feel, and what you will experience physically and mentally when you’re hanging there by own skin.
We believe that there is no single ‘right way’ to prepare yourself but we can suggest some strategies that might work for you based on what we have seen throughout the years. It is up to you to find out what works best for you.
Make a list of anything that you want to talk about with the facilitator before the ritual begins. If something is important to communicate, it is best to talk about it before beginning the ritual. Maybe you have some questions about the technical aspects of the ritual or some specific preferences or wishes?
Remember that the ritual is for you and that the facilitator is there to open and maintain the space—but that the ritual belongs to you. Some people desperately want a hand to hold and some people would rather not have anyone in their space at all. If you have a preference towards one of these, the best time to communicate that is before you begin.
If this is your first suspension and you do not know how you want to suspend, we will gladly help you find a suspension that suits your intention. Usually, people start with two hooks in their upper back because it's a style that gives you a lot of freedom of movement. You can stand upright and get the feel of the hooks at your own pace; maybe walk a bit back and forth or lift your legs when you are ready. The position also allows you to easily sit down if needed, and the piercing and rigging does not take a lot of time which leaves most of your energy for getting into, and being in, the air. If you want to do something else feel free to do so, but we feel it’s best to wait with the overly complicated or hard-core stuff until you have a little experience.
You should be able to comfortably assume the posture that you wish to hang in without hooks or supports. This is especially important for postures such as scorpion and the splits.
If you have an idea for your own ritual, feel free to do it. We will not judge you. We do reserve our right to not suspend you in exactly the way you want if we feel it will not be safe. If you want to do an inverted suspension, you must wear a harness.
Wear something that is comfortable for you. If you want to wear nothing that is perfectly fine as well. We need access to the area around where your hooks will go, keep that in mind for your outfit and choose something appropriate (e.g., with an open back, a pair of shorts, underwear, leggings that we can cut holes in, etc.). Bring something that will keep you warm, sometimes people get a bit chilled if their body has been working hard to accept the pain.
If your hair is long, bring a hair-tie for it or braid it so that it will be easy to get out of the way of your hooks.
Bring an extra shirt/outfit for after the suspension in case you get blood on the one you use.
Bring your own music if you would like. We do, however, recommend the sounds of nature.
Bring a water bottle and your favorite snacks. It’s optimal to keep your blood sugar levels up before you suspend.
Try not to think too much about what will happen during the ritual. Especially if it is one of your first, thinking too hard and creating expectations about what your experience will be like is often a path to disappointment.
Keep an open mind and let that open mindedness extend to the prospect that your experience will not be what you imagined. Try not to imagine that it will be one way or another but rather expect nothing and everything. Let the experience happen, allow yourself to be in the moment without trying to guide it.
Remember that there is no such thing as an unsuccessful ritual. Even rituals where a participant withdraws immediately after the ritual space is established can be opportunities for insight and growth. Rather than focus on ‘success’ or ‘failure’ try to think about what you can learn.
Do not sabotage your own success. Do not stay up partying all night and expect your experience to be the same as if you had properly rested before the ritual.
Be ready for it to hurt, but there is no need to be afraid. A big part of getting into the air is letting go of the fear of the pain and accepting that you are in control of your feelings.
Be sure that you are participating in the ritual for yourself.
Breathe (and keep breathing).
Post Suspension Care
Unless your bandages are soaked with blood, we recommend that you keep them on when you go to bed and remove them the next day when you take a shower. Keep in mind that you might leak a bit on the sheets and mattress, wear a shirt or sleep on a towel to prevent this. Wash your suspension wounds gently with mild antiseptic soap or just mild, non-perfumed regular soap, and pat them gently dry with a clean towel. If the wounds are still open, put clean bandages on. If they are already closing, then just put clean clothes on after they have had a little time to dry properly. There is no need to treat them with anything, just let them be, keep them clean, and let them heal on their own.
Please do not touch, scratch or pick at your wounds while they are healing. Let the scabs develop and fall of by themselves, otherwise you may end up with a lot of scar tissue that will make your skin harder and harder to pierce, and potentially weaker and more prone to tearing during your next suspension. Picking at your wounds can also lead to infections. We recommend that you not go swimming, especially in fresh-water lakes or other bodies of water with little circulation, until your wounds are healed. If you do get a bad infection, please go see your doctor.
During a suspension, it is common for some air to enter under the skin through the entry and exit wounds of the hooks, especially if you hang for a long time and/or swing around a lot. This is not dangerous and nothing to be alarmed about. We massage most of the air out during aftercare, and the rest gets reabsorbed by the body in the course of a few days. In the meantime, the skin around where you had the hooks may feel a bit puffy, tender and ‘crackly‘ (often referred to as ‘Rice Crispies‘ because of the ‘crackle and pop‘ sounds the tiny air bubbles can make). More rarely, some blood may congeal under the skin where the hooks were and cause swelling and tenderness in that area—this will also be gradually cleaned up and healed by the body.
A suspension can be an intense experience on many different levels and affects different people in different ways. If you have any concerns or questions about aftercare in the days following your suspension, or you feel the need to talk to someone non-judgmental and experienced with suspension about your feelings, thoughts, and reactions—joyful or sad—please do not hesitate to contact us. We will do our best to answer your questions, share potentially useful perspectives, and point you at forums in which you can discuss, explore, and process your experience.