So. There has been some talk lately about Ordeal Work, possibly because the Dark Oddessey folks now have an entire programming track based on Ordeal Work – how to facilitate it, how to handle it, how to go through it. This facinates and excites me, but it also scares the shit out of me.
Granted, maybe that’s part of the point.
Going by what various Ordeal-Dancer/Facilitator types have said, I’m going to guess that there are a LOT of people who look at Ordeal work and go “Dude… you’ve *got* be a masochist to do that stuff”. I’m guessing this because I keep seeing people who are invovled in this work going “No, that’s not the case at all! It can actually be really counter-productive if this stuff turns you on!” and you generally don’t get people protesting unless someone is Gettin’ It Rong somewhere.
And yet. Because, while masochism is definitely a thing that transmutes pain into pleasure, it isn’t (from what I hear) nearly as 1:1 as all that. Someone I know IDs as a “dark masochist” and, the way she describes what she does and what she craves, sounds a lot like she’s the kind of person who could actually get something out of an Ordeal Ritual.
I think that one of the reasons – besides the routine (I think?) use of SM tools (floggers, whips, flesh hooks, bondage) in a fair number of these rituals – that it’s assumed by outsiders that an Ordeal Dancer needs to be a masochist to get anything out of the ritual is because masochists are wired to be able to get Somewhere Else via pain. In a lot of cases, that Somewhere Else is sexual ecstasy/pleasure. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only Somewhere Else available to someone who is wired to be able to walk through that particular door.
Does that make sense?
The reason an Ordeal Track scares the shit out of me is that, while I would love to know how to craft and facilitate ordeal rituals for others, I have zero interest in undergoing them myself.
Sure, I’ve been through Life Changes that, in retrospect, I could probably classify as ordeals.
Certainly my divorce and subsequent year-and-a-half of terrifying and unpredictable changes-a-go-go was clearly (a) a case of My Lady Of Change flinging bowling balls at me until I got the hang of surfing on unpredictability, but in that regard it was also (b) useful.
Therapy, if you go into it actually wanting to Fix Yourself, is (a) pure hell in a hand cart, but also (b) useful.
That’s an important word.
I once had a professor say that the difference between “nut case” and “shaman” was whether or not the person’s trip to Crazy Town brought back useful information.
To put that another way: Is someone going into the Inner World or the Other World in a way that they can (usually?) control and (and/or?), while they’re there, are they able to learn and/or find stuff that’s needed in the Awake World and bring it back? Or are they being dragged into it in a way that they can’t control or defend against, or even possibly understand, and just have to ride out until it’s over? I think that you probably start out as one and learn how to be the other, granted, although Del would be the right one to ask about that. (Hey, Del, do you want to weigh in on this one?)
Anyway. “Useful” was the key term there, too.
I don’t think I would bring back anything useful from undergoing a ritual based in physical pain. I think I’d just be broken and damaged. And what the hell use is that?
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