His method of ascent is this. Looping a cord around himself and the pillar snugly, he goes up it, following a path of wooden toe-holds. As he climbs, he cinches the cord higher, flipping it upward like a pair of reins. (Those who have seen palm trunks scaled in Arabia, Egypt or anywhere else will be able to picture what I'm talking about.) On completing his ascent, he lets down a second, longer cord that he has with him, in order to haul up whatever he pleases in the way of lumber, blankets and other gear, out of which he fashions a nest-like hut in which to sit out the above-mentioned duration. When devotees visit, they cast coins of gold, silver, and sometimes coppers into a container, saying their names as they do so. A man stationed at the pillar's bottom announces them to the man at its top, who says a prayer on behalf of each person named, amplifying his prayer with a brass noise-maker that he rattles loudly.
The man atop the pillar is barred from sleep. If sleep overtakes him, a scorpion climbs up and rouses him with a nasty sting - or so it is said in pious legends of the cult, for whose strict truth I shall not vouch. To me, the fear of falling would seem to suffice as a sleep deterrent. And with that I conclude my account of the pillar-climbers.
Lucian, On the Syrian goddess 28-29.