Body modifications take on new spiritual meaning

This past September, a 14-year-old North Carolina high school student was suspended from school for refusing to remove a small piercing stud in her nose, a violation of the school’s dress code policy.

Theresa Pfister, a&l editor

It seems simple – remove the stud and continue to attend school – but for Ariana Lacona, she said that it was her first amendment right to practice her religion.

Lacona and her mother belong to the Church of Body Modification, which calls itself a non-theistic religion in which members express their faith through body modifications.

In a Washington Post interview, Lacona said that her piercing makes her feel whole and is a physical manifestation of her faith.

I wish I was that clever when I was in high school.

I definitely went through my own piercing stint when I was in my early, wannabe-angsty teen years, but I blame it on boredom, not creed.

The Church of Body Modification actually does exist, though.

It has around 3,500 members nationwide, according to the Associated Press.

It’s a group of people who experience their spirituality through modifying their bodies – piercings, tattoos, scarifications and beyond.

This could include any sort of body suspension and hook pulling, play piercing, binding, corsetry, firewalking and other rituals that test and push the limits of the flesh and spirit.

Body suspension is when hooks are pierced through the different parts of the body, and you swing like a pendulum while attempting to enter a condition of ecstasy.

During this time, the body slips into a state of shock, allowing the suspender to achieve spiritual enlightenment and an intense adrenaline rush.

 There are different methods of suspension, too, my personal favorites being the scarecrow and the Superman positions.

The scarecrow is achieved through hooks pierced into the upper back and in the arms in order to hang horizontally, much like a scarecrow in a field surrounded by crops.

In the Superman, the body faces down horizontally and hooks are placed in the back of the body.

This is one of the simplest and probably most fun suspensions; everyone wants to be a superhero at some point, and now it’s possible, unless the total shock of vacillating through the air as your flesh is ripping impedes on play time, which brings me to my next point: play piercings.

This is done exclusively for the ‘sensation’ of the piercing rather than any permanent piercing that could result. I’ll leave it at that.

I truly do respect the art of piercings and tattoos, especially since I’ve divulged in them myself for the past eight years.

At one point, around maybe my freshman year of high school, I wanted to be professional piercing artist.

I suppose in a dream world I wouldn’t be opposed to that profession; I’ll welcome any opportunity to be creative.

Even though I have taken most of my piercings out, except for a few on my ears, I understand why someone wouldn’t want to; they become like a part of your own body.

When my piercing mania started, I was around 13 years old, and my parents just said, “At least it’s not permanent, like a tattoo.”

Alas, here I am, almost eight years later with three tattoos and more to come.

But I have come to learn that my tattoos are about as permanent as I am.

THERESA PFISTER

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