things – that all came together in the form of witches and we burned them! St Patrick chased snakes out of Ireland – the snakes were the pagans for crying out loud! They were in tune with nature and the ecosystems and they used herbs.
Rebecca: Why did the body become such a taboo?
Fakir: Well, to take the ownership of one’s body away from oneself can give power to another. It was stricly a power game. When Jehovah was invented the power game started in western culture and it’s never stopped since. The priests said, “I am the only one who can speak to God and you can’t get any blessings or absolutions unless you go through me.” There was a hierarchy and it was all set up, property rights and the oppression of women, just so one person could have control over another.
Rebecca: Reichian therapy is a lot about drawing emotions out of the body and releasing memories. Is this similar to what goes on in the practices you describe as “body-play”?
Fakir: Very much. People think you’re only doing mechanical things with the body when you pierce it, tattoo it, sculpt it, but you’re doing more than that. It’s the process of creating the change of body-state that’s transformative, more so than the physical stuff that you see. It also helps you define the boundaries between body and spirit.
Rebecca: How do you define those boundaries?
Fakir: Well, you push the body as far as you can. By pushing and doing something deliberately to the body you finally reach a point where you realize there are two things coexisting here at the same time. To find out where the body starts and stops and where the spirit that lives in the body starts and stops is a really important discovery.
Rebecca: So you believe that there is a definite point at which body and spirit are divided?
Fakir: I’ve found that there’s a very distinct point when you want to go into a shamanic state of consciousness. There is a strong physical and emotional experience and you do finally reach a disconnection point where you go into the underworld, you go into the cosmos – you go someplace. You have to reach the end of body and get into spirit totally in order to have these shamanic states.
The experience of being aware of the distinction I call the `ecstasy state’; you know your body, you can feel everything there is in the body but you also know you’re not the body. You can be totally spirit and just be an observer. You know you’re outside your body because you can travel in time and space.
I had the beginnings of ecstasy states and altered states when I was four or five years old. First I had ongoing recurring nightmares once or twice a week about being crushed to death. It took about forty years before I really found out what that was all about. It was my death in a previous life, from which I had gone into this life and it was unfinished business, so to speak.
Rebecca: What are some of the incarnations which you believe Fakir Musafar has lived?
Fakir: There is only what I feel and my experience, but the best I can figure out at this time is I’ve been a double walk-in. I feel I probably was the original Fakir Musafar who lived in 11th century Persia. My heart stopped when I first saw him, it was just a little cartoon in Ripley’s Believe it or Not . He had daggers thrust through his body and he had the idea that you could use the body to explore spirituality. Supposedly he died heartbroken after eighteen years of this – no one got the message.
So he went to a culture where they did understand this, as a walk-in after he died. This was the tail end of the Plains Indian culture in America, a fusion of Indian tribes. There was a young boy who was trying to learn the medicine way and was having a very hard time with it. He was very near death because of the hard tasks put forward, so he gave up his body voluntarily and the original Fakir thought, “here is a chance for me to do what I know how to do with people who understand it.” But that was a very short life. This was a man called Tiso or Tuten Mekina in Mandan language. I had wondered why I had this need for holes in my chest and this name means literally means `man with holes in his chest.’ I heard the name in a vision, a lot of what I learn comes in visions.
The nightmare I had as a child was the death of Tiso. He lived only into his early twenties, within ninety miles of where I was born. I actually found the place where Tiso died his death, on the Yellowbank River. The Chippewah nation was always at war with the Plains people and Tiso had been sent on a pony to scout where the main forces of the Indians were. On the way back he was going down this ravine and the warring forces had set a trap with logs and debris and big rocks, which fell and crushed him.
Rebecca: What, in your view, is the advantage of a body-first approach to higher consciousness as opposed to one that’s mind-first or spirit-first?
Fakir: But you can’t find the spirit, you don’t even know what the spirit is! It’s not to say that the heart and the head aren’t involved in this transformation – they are, but it’s just that you go body-first and you drag the feelings and the mind with you.
Rebecca: So it’s using the body and extreme physical sensation, in order to transcend the experience of physicality altogether.
Fakir: Yes. The only way you can step aside from the body is through the body. You’re always going to be saddled and strapped with body needs and body problems with the other approaches. You have to be in tune with the body to do the body-first approach, you have to have a great love for it. I’ve got a good rapport with my body.
Rebecca: Have you experienced healings through the kinds of rituals you’re describing?
Fakir: From the experiences I’ve had working with people, I would say tremendous healings, and this isn’t necessarily physical. There can be emotional and psychic healings. Grief, guilt, sorrow, all kinds of things can be dealt with better in the shamanic state than they can be in the non-shamanic state.
Rebecca: The practices of body modification have come from places where they’re used within a very traditional setting and if an individual doesn’t comply with the ritual they’re in danger of being ostracized by the tribe. What is considered alternative over here has already been dogmatized in many social situations.
Fakir: Well I can’t speak too authentically on what goes on and what went on in these so-called “primitive” cultures. Remember, there aren’t many left and most of the things that I used as role-models didn’t even exist when I found them.
Rebecca: But in those places body modification is about belonging, merging the individual with the culture, it’s not about rebelling or being a maverick.
Fakir: But the thing that I seem to have intuited, even though I wasn’t able to go back – well, there’s such a thing as time travel so I feel I’ve kind of been in some of those cultures, but I won’t talk about it because it’s hard to believe – is that there was, in general, a feeling of inclusiveness. In other words maverickness was accepted, not rejected. It was worshipped rather than cast out or locked away and I really don’t feel that it was that dogmatic.
Ritual is a way of getting from point A to point B, getting from this consciousness to a shamanic state of consciousness, and really all that’s important is to know that you’re in this consciousness and that there is another consciousness. What happens between here and there can be different every time. The magic got lost in Western culture mainly because everything got dogmatized. Originally the mystics probably had ways to transcend the ordinary state of consciousness, but people saw that and started to formulize it. They said, “now you do this and you put this object here and then you say these words,” and so on, and when people did it – nothing happened. The magic went away. They missed the message entirely.
My idea of live ritual is really wonderful stuff. Someone who’s had the experience of being able to transcend ordinary states of consciousness is the one who establishes a ritual in the first place. They do it again and oh! it happened again. Then other people say, “can I do this too?” But it’s not the literal physical things that you do step after step that makes this happen. There’s something behind this that makes it happen. But after a while, as it gets more popular, it starts getting ritualized in a dogmatic way and there’s no room for spontaneity. The western mind is process-orientated, but you lose the spirit in the process.
Rebecca: The repercussions of getting body-modification rituals wrong can probably be pretty nasty.
Fakir: We have kids who want to go out of their body. They see a picture in Modern Primitives and they try to do the same things. They don’t come and talk to me about it and things go wrong. They try to hang by flesh-hooks, for example, and they tear lose and get bloody. They need a Kaseeka. That’s a Mandan word used to describe an elder, an initiate, a medicine man in some cases, who has been on the trip before, who has used some kind of technique to get from ordinary states of consciousness to a shamanic state of consciousness. When young men were initiated, usually each one had a Kaseeka.
I liken that to SM. We have a sadist and a masochist, we have a top and a bottom. Under the best conditions this gets to be a shamanic trip and the top is a Kaseeka and the bottom, or the masochist, is the one who takes the trip. But unlike the way some people practice SM, to really be a Kaseeka, you’re not just an operator, you’re not just the manipulator, you have to go on the trip too. So the kids that pick up some of these things and try to do them have no Kaseeka, no guidance.
Rebecca: Isn’t that indicative of the whole mentality of underground western culture – the tendency to mistrust authority?
Fakir: Well that’s why we need the new tribes. To have a tribe