Tuesday, March 07, 2006
belief or bull?
Body piercing has been performed for centuries with many recorded meanings to accompany the practice at each location and stage of its use. The most common response one gets to the question of why body piercing is performed in contemporary western society is that it is a vehicle for the expression of one’s individuality, or that the piercing is aesthetically pleasing to the wearer. Past justifications for the use of piercings and other body modifications in a variety of cultures have been class/status-related, fashion-related, or had to do with the supposed spiritual power that some forms of modification are believed to possess. I have recently become inadvertently interested in the latter purpose through some research on the concept of using piercing and scarification as way of boosting the immune system.
The majority of information that I found regarding piercing and health was closely related to acupuncture. It was on a suspicious website that I first encountered the concept of energy meridians, and how some people believe that body piercing and tattooing disrupts these meridians, leading to a variety of unfavorable consequences. I don’t quite trust the original source, as other articles from the main site were extreme and some seemed strongly biased, so I continued my search. The next site I came upon that addressed the energy meridian issue was a collection of articles and reports compiled by some guy with a Ph.D. Good enough for me! His research seems to suggest that energy meridians do indeed exist, but even if this is true, I still couldn't find any proof that body piercings would prevent these pathways from operating properly.
After a bit more research on energy and body piercing, I found that many modern suspension rituals are connected to energy flow within the body. I also found some information that challeneges the claim that piercing disrupts enery meridians. Reputable One Tribe’s website responds to this issue with the following example: “if you cut your leg off and it's sewn back on the meridians still work because the body realizes it’s a wound and re-routes the energy accordingly. A piercing is a wound and therefore it doesn't affect the flow of energy.”
As a result of the many varying attitudes I observed, I get the feeling that I will not uncover the truth about bodily energy as it relates to body modification by any means short of intensive research and experimentation in the subject. At least the information currently available gives me a new and interesting perspective on the art of body modification, and furthers my awareness of its dual simplicity and complexity. Ah, modification - it's such a beautiful thing :o)