Our Tribal Piercing Ceremony

Here are the gory, bloody details of our piercing ceremony, set against ancient stones on the island of Orkney, with tribal passion and primal screaming. Those of you with iron stomachs can read on at your own peril.

As i mentioned in my last blog post, i wanted to get my ear pierced to commemorate the passing of my father, and the passage of change that i have just journeyed through. Doug also lost his dad and wanted his ear pierced for the same reason. Mark had some other significant reason for his piercing since his dad is still living.
This was our idea. We would pierce each others ears at the Ring of Brodgar, a 5000 year old public meeting place, outlined by ancient standing stones.
What better place to pierce our ears? We would soak the earings in whisky and nail them through our ears against the stones.
It would be a mystical experience, shrouded in historical memory, infused with spiritual power, tribal and primal, natural and ancient, raw and real. We would be bonded as brothers, united in our bloody experience of pain.
Piercings are serious business. One does not just get a piercing out of boredom or simply for a fashion statement. Ear and nose piercings in Bible times were meaningful rituals – the slave’s earlobe nailed on the door as a sign of commitment to his owner, Rebecca’s nose piercing to make her presentable to Issac (Gen. 24), the nation of Israel getting pierced by God to make her truly beautiful (Ez. 16) and so on. Thats why we gave so much thought this week to our piercings and their significance.
As it turned out, we were discussing the details of our primal piercing ceremony with a piercing artist in Aberdeen. She strongly advised us against trying to do it ourselves, since the earing itself was exceedingly difficult to pierce through the ear without a gun.
And the upper ear is a little harder than the ear lobe. And it would be dark. And much force is needed. Doug suggested some rusty pliers, but we were envisioning ourselves groping around in the dark, stabbing ourselves multiple times without success, and making mincemeat of our ears.
After much deliberation, we decided to let her use her gun on our ears. We then sailed to Orkney and went out to the Ring of Brodgar, endured the freezing wind and responded with gutteral screaming, and then Doug and Mark sailed off the following day.
As for the rumor that the shop’s name was "Claires", a sissy-girls retail outlet for pink and purple bracelets and little-girly earings, I can only vehemently deny it, with every primal breath within me. And i am hoping that Mark and Doug will deny it also.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • tony sheng says:

    sooo funny…
    its also funny to see how many suburban fathers of girls know all the details about Claires (including me…)

  • Jon Reid says:

    I got my ear pierced last year to commemorate a powerful time of prayer and wrestling with God. Over a year later, I still occasionally grab my ear to feel the stud, and it reminds me. May your new pierces keep the moment fresh. Howlaaargh!
    (I went to the local mall, where pre-teen girls get pierced, and got a lollipop for being brave.)

  • will says:

    Wow, that’s interesting, because I was chatting with a girl in Aberdeen who said she was a clerk at a shop named “Claires”, a girly shop, and she said these two yanks and a kiwi came in for piercings. Are you sure that wasn’t you guys?
    Just joking. Sounds positively primal, guys.

  • timsamoff says:

    This is the best post I’ve read in a while. Thanks!
    (By the way, piercing ears is not all that difficult — I’ve done it to myself on many occasions.) 🙂

  • John Sloas says:

    my ears are jealous

  • bobbie says:

    ah yes, better than i even hoped! amazing images andrew – thanks for sharing the event with us!

  • nanochurch. says:

    it ain’t easy being a man

    Here are the gory, bloody details of our piercing ceremony, set against ancient stones on the island of Orkney, with tribal passion and primal screaming. Those of you with iron stomachs can read on at your own peril.—TallSkinnyKiwi: Our Tribal…

  • si says:

    Judging by the 3 sheep in Mark’s Chinese laundry bag as they left us this morning, ear piercing wasn’t the only adventure y’all had?? So, is it true that Doug was almost greetin (crying)?

  • robby777 says:

    I laved so hard – piercing in a …shop, no no body would that!!! My piercings are strange to some christians around here in germany – its a sinn they say, but how can it be sinn if its (the first) at my conversion, and (the second) at a very special decision vor a way I am going from now on – his way in my style –
    you guys did a great job

  • Dan says:

    Dear Real Live Preacher:
    (This is from an old friend so be sure to read carefully)
    For months now I have been reading Real Live Preacher. It has been an interesting experience. From my reading, I decided it was written by a famous preacher in Texas writing this because the number of hits he was getting was tremendous.
    The ground even felt uneven as I read of his exploits, his musings with the hope that his congregation was not reading his blog, the exploits of raccoons when I myself was struggling with a mouse army about to devour me, and the story of his wife – an overworked Hospital Chaplain. Which, by the way, I certainly identified with since I am the only chaplain of a 600 plus bed hospital and am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    But, I could never quite determine who the persona for this thing was. Such fame is amazing, THEN SOMETHING FANTASTIC HAPPENED.
    Read More

  • Sally says:

    You guys are great, I think its really cool that you look at piercing as a sacred thing cause I see it the same way. I’m actually doing a paper on the topic of body piercing and tattooing for my Health class and your guys site came up on my search so you guys are awesome and keep up the crazy as experiences.

  • John says:

    I did the opposite, Andrew, when I was a teenager: my friend convinced me to let him pierce my ear for no good reason, and he actually did it. It got infected within a week. If I were to do it all over again, I’d exercise the same wisdom you modeled and go to Claire’s, er, a piercing artist, and for symbolic reasons. I posted on the experience and it’s by far the most popular of all my writing: http://johnohara.wordpress.com/2007/10/21/pierced/

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