Minister Application for Ryan Emans
What do you see as your major strengths or talents?
I am a patient and calm person, able to reflect on myself and the world around me. I consider myself kind, understanding and empathetic which, along with being rather resilient and robust, are skills I employ in my work as a mental health nurse for individuals with severe personality disorder.I also like to think I’m intelligent and eloquent, and was rather kindly described as ‘the most reasonable man I know’ by a friend!
What do you feel are your major weaknesses?
If I do not find a task or subject engaging I can be prone to laziness.I also like to express my thoughts and reflect with others to gain understanding, but am aware this can appear forceful or be perceived as arrogant, which is something I am now very mindful about.
What previous experience do you have that relates to being a minister in the CoBM?
I feel my own spiritual journey serves as my example of how others may seek enlightenment, and I feel I have a good understanding and respect for many faiths. As a teenager I searched for meaning in a variety of spiritual paths (as many do) as the Christianity taught in school did not seem to connect with how I felt about myself or the world. After couple of years of researching different faiths, notably Buddhism, I was introduced to Wicca, which seemed right for me. As a Wiccan I was a member of a small coven, as well as taking part in and helping to run teaching circles, exploring faith and assisting others develop. After some time I began to become more solitary in my explorations, and introduced more shamanistic elements into my work, continuing to explore my own understanding and faith in an individual way. I have also become an avid student and admirer of Hindu philosophy and much of it’s world view, continuing to develop my own personal view of the divine. This active process of spiritual seeking and growth has been going for about 17 years now, and is showing no signs of stopping as yet! In parallel to my spiritual journey, being a nurse has become my vocation. Since I was a child I seem to have an innate urge to care for others, and when I found a job in mental health services I realised I had a future there. The essence of my job is to facilitate understanding of the self, and find ways to aid healthy growth and development for individuals who are often enduring a very dark and difficult time in their lives. In my current role I work with individuals with high damaged senses of self and identity, and their relation to others. I help them make their own journey and hopefully find some peace with themselves and the world. As a professional it has not always been easy being heavily modified, and have been challenged at times as I have undergone that journey. Whilst I have been interested in and getting body modifications for 15 years, I have become much more visibly ‘different’ in the last five years or so. I feel passionately about the positive impact modification can have, and am keenly aware that a negative stigma may be attached to it. As a result it has been important to me to act as a role model, showing that some with heavy modification can be a valued professional and good person, challenging prejudice through my daily actions. I feel proud that I am accepted by the hospital I work for, and hope to continue to challenge prejudice as a modified professional.
In your own words, what do you know about the CoBM and being a minister in it?
The CoBM is a collective of individuals who have found that the divine, the world, themselves and the relationship between these things can be explored and developed through the process of body modification. These individuals are bonded by this fact, knowing the power and value that such practices can have. Ministers, as well as some others in the Church, seek to support those who wish to take this path, and educate others to promote understanding and challenge prejudice.
Why do you want to be a minister in the CoBM?
I have found great benefit from my own journey of spiritual and mental development via body modification. I would like to be able to share some of what I have learned with others who may wish to take their own path of spiritual exploration.As well as this, my propensity to nurture means I enjoy teaching and helping others, and I feel in the role of minister I could further the ways in which I can do this, in an area in which I am passionate.I hope I could develop my role as an ambassador for the modified community (simply by my visibility and answering questions in a tolerant pleasant manner.). As a minister I think I may have more confidence in broaching the subject of the spiritual, a greater awareness of my role representing the Church, and perhaps reach a wider ‘audience’.
What do you think you can contribute as a minister?
I feel to an extent I have ‘made it’ as a modified person with a profession which is often considered responsible and caring. I hope I can share this example with others to educate about the modified community.My skills from my working life, such a listening and reflecting are also things which I feel would be very useful in the role of minister. Other skills and knowledge, such as other spiritual paths, and also of the practicalities of body modification and after-care, I’m sure will also help me make a contribution.Being in the UK I hope that perhaps, were I to be accepted, I could help promote and develop the CoBM in the UK and Europe (as others are all in North America as yet!).
What have you contributed thus far as a member?
Primarily I feel this has been as an ‘ambassador’, being visibly heavily modified and making the effort to help others understand, as well as being a role model of a nice, modified person. I get frequent questions, which whilst not the reason I have practised body modification, is understandable, and an opportunity to connect with people.I have also been a regular poster on the old Tribe site, and more recently the CoBM forum, where I enjoy discussing issues around the Church and modification, and helping people where I can.
Where would you like to see the CoBM 5 years from now?
I would like to see the great work in reforming the CoBM into a serious organisation continue in raising it’s profile and educating others about our path. I’d particularly like to see the wider modified community grow to accept us, and realise that ’Church’ doesn’t mean telling people what to think or do, and that the CoBM has changed since the early days.
Aside from the CoBM, what are your personal goals for the next 5 years?
I keep considering going for promotion at work, but am unsure as to whether this is an ambition or not as I enjoy the time I get having patient contact in my current post. We’ll see what happens!I am a keen amateur wood turner, and would like keep improving and maybe to have some of my work published or achieve recognition. I also keep bees, so getting a bit more honey and stung less often would be nice!Lastly, my wife and I are also planning to buy our first house soon, so in 5 years I hope we’ll be well settled there!
What would you do if you overheard someone speaking negatively about the CoBM?
I have been in this situation, and I think the key is communication. Prejudice is by it’s nature based on ignorance. Listening, understanding and showing your viewpoint in a considerate manner allows people to consider their views more fully. Not everyone is going to agree with us, and that’s all part of the rich tapestry of life. What we can do though is try to understand others, and in turn help them understand us.
The CoBM has evolved greatly since inception. As a minister, you will be expected to be knowledgeable about the various evolutionary steps the CoBM has taken. If someone asked you about the current status and goals of the Church, how would you compare and contrast the Church’s current state against previous years and under previous management?
I have always been attracted to the idea of the CoBM since it began, and thus have followed it’s development. Early on the group was a loose collective of individuals with widely different ideas of what the Church was, and what it could be. Unfortunately this included those who did not respect the ideals of the CoBM and sought personal gain, and thus created negative publicity. As a loose collective this was able to occur, as those with genuine beliefs and ideals did not use or have influence to change things. However the good ideas from the inception persisted. It is a truism for many that body modification is a path to growth and enlightenment. As the modified community has grown, some who have always held these ideals, and more who discovered this path, have looked to renew the CoBM. The Church now has a structure and community which promotes a set of broad ideals and does not seek to gain or mislead. It’s been that way for a few years now, and is growing and gaining more respect.
List all of your modifications, past and present. Then choose one of those mods and describe what spiritual significance it has for you.
Present modification – 2” lobes, 12mm outer conch, 2.4mm rook, 9mm tragus, two helixes, bridge, 10mm septum, 2.4mm nostrils, philtrum, 8mm labret, two lowbrets, two vertical lowbrets, two wide spaced vertical lowbrets (no proper name for these yet, I’ve not seen them before!), lorum, two central hafadas, split tongue, chin tattoo, tragus CoBM bars tattoo, Aum behind ear, pentagram over throat, abstract skull on chest, crow on left shoulder, labyrinth on right shoulder, right arm Hindu calligraphy, bass clef, tree of life, bear paw print, adrinka moon and star symbol, golden ratio geometry, lotus on right hand, left forearm heavy blackwork, branded circles design, left palm white spiral, finger ogham rune brand, thumb branded rings and lines, right thigh Polynesian style tattoo, right calf various Froud geometry, left calf mushrooms, octopus, left foot acorns. Past modifications – Vertical and horizontal nipple piercings on several occasions up to 5mm, several eyebrow piercings in different placements, tongue piercing stretched to 10mm, frenum, foreskin, ampallang at 4mm, guiche at 10mm, helix piercings, hand-web piercing, bridge piercings, microdermal on throat, second lobe at 14mm.I have found it very hard to pick a single example as every modification has a spiritual significance for me, in a variety of different ways, but I’ll mention my chin tattoo. I hope it doesn’t sound too grand or melodramatic, but it’s the best way I can try and express these feelings!At this time I was becoming more aware of some of the challenges that presenting as openly different to the cultural norm may bring in terms of prejudice and stigma. I knew the path I was on would require a certain personal strength. I had fantasised about having a chin tattoo for many years, even drawing the design on when going out sometimes, but had never thought I’d have the bravery to really do it. I reflected on this and wondered what I was scared of, why I questioned my own ability to express who I was publicly. I found no good reason, and vowed I did not ever wish to turn back on the path I was forging. By having the tattoo I was true to myself, and could show the world the face I had chosen. I had chosen never to turn back, not to be scared, to believe in myself and by doing so place my faith in whatever life would have in store for me.
What do you think the differences are between a person who modifies their body with piercings, tattoos, etc. and a person who never explores body modification?
The differences needn’t be large as there are many paths which lead to the same place. We do not have a monopoly on developing identity or learning one’s limits, . However it would be hard to learn some specific things about your physicality, those nerve responses and healing processes modification can illuminate, in other acts.There is also something unique about a physical trial undertaken with the intent to change one’s appearance, the reasons to face that fear or undergo potential hardship with that specific outcome.
Can a person with only a navel or ear piercing claim to be as spiritually modified as someone with brandings and a split tongue?
Of course, it is about the journey not the destination.
Describe what spiritually modified means to you.
Spiritual modified is a phrase which indicates the deliberate act of exploring and developing one’s spiritual identity, with the understanding it may be permanently altered in this process. Of course it is also something of a play on words which suggests the link between body modification and one’s sense of the divine. To use it is to lay claim to having undergone a trial or process under which one has earned the right to use such a title.