C.O.P.E. and Raven and Spirituality

19 Sep

This is a “Raven says” post, from his class at C.O.P.E. with his boy, Joshua.  It’s going to be sort of like a book report for about two or three parts, I think.  

So I won’t say “Raven says” every time I say something he said.  I’ll more likely say “i think” if it’s me speaking.  Here is his website again:


And here we go.  Raven says:

There are three ways that the BDSM lifestyle and spirituality can connect.  These are:

1.  Sacred Pain

2.  Ritual Catharsis

3.  The Path of Service and Mastery

We know of lots of examples of “sacred pain,” Native American and African rituals often have an element of this, as does Catholicism with its self-flagellation for monks and nuns.  But they don’t typically mix sexuality with the pain.  {At least, not overtly.}

There are four ways that you can experience sacred pain mixed with sexuality that lead to growth.

A.  Altered States ~ this is not {i think} the same as subspace.  This may be what Sweet Girl was talking about though ~ when the experience of pain moves you into an altered state of mind.

How can you tell it’s spiritual? If it’s spiritual it transforms you, it becomes a tool that you use ~ the experience changes how you act or feel or what you believe.

Note:  this is not the same as dissociation ~ at least, i don’t think it is.   When you “go away in your head,” you’re not present for the experience, and, maybe more importantly, when you dissociate you are not transformed.  You escape the experience instead.

i’m assuming that Raven doesn’t think they’re the same either, since when he realized that Joshua was dissociating during pain play, he quit the practice with him.

B.  Bringing you back from an altered state.  So, the pain that creates an altered state is rhythmic and repetitive. Pain that brings you back is sharp, sudden, and usually unexpected.  It’s the BDSM equivalent of smacking someone when they’re hysterical.

C.  Offering to a Deity – pain can be an expression of sacrifice, with the Master acting as a stand-in for the deity, passing the energy on into the universe.

Raven talked a bit about what that means, for the Master to be a stand-in for the deity, but it ties in nicely with the thoughts i’ve had, that in some ways, our Doms and Masters are always stand-in’s for God.  

Of course, then that takes me to the belief that God is within each of us, so it’s just a matter of how we’re expressing our interactions with God… but then it gets too complex for me to sort out very well.  

Anyhow, the idea that God requires sacrifice and pain is clearly a part of Catholicism and some other traditions.  Back in the old days, when i was young, if you had some kind of pain the traditional advice was to “offer it up,” to offer up your own suffering to relieve the pain of others, mostly i think, of souls in purgatory.  {That wasn’t actually part of my personal traditions, not that explicitly, but i’ve read about it.}  

As i write this, i’m thinking that it’s almost like the opposite of healing touch ~ not because it’s anti-healing, but it works in an opposite way.

Instead of energy passing from the universe through the healer into the person receiving it, it passes from the person in pain, through the stand-in for the deity, and into the universe.   

D.  Breaks down walls, gets emotions out.  This makes me think of all the blogs i’ve read where the beating leads the sub to break down crying, and the sense of relief that goes with that.

i’ve never actually experienced that, but it’s an occasional fantasy.

So, going back a moment to the idea of a transfer of energy through pain, Raven says there are two ways this can work.

1.  Doer as magician ~ the one inflicting the pain senses and sends the energy.  So, if i understand Raven and my notes right, the person on the M side of the paddle is passing energy from the universe to the s side.

2.  “Done to” as the magician ~ the person on the receiving end of the paddle transforms the energy and sends it back into the universe.  The Master or Dom is the technician that drives that, that makes it happen, but the receiving person actually transforms the energy.

Whew.  That’s page one of my notes, and if it doesn’t make sense, i’m probably not remembering it right.

Whether you agree with it all or not, i appreciate the nice outline of ways to look at it.  For me, structuring my thinking helps bring clarity.  i can play with ideas better if they’re laid out cleanly in a form i understand.  And it makes it easier to discuss them.

Tomorrow, i’ll do BDSM as Ritual Catharsis ~ well, unless something happens in RL that is more important to me in the moment…

7 Responses to “C.O.P.E. and Raven and Spirituality”

  1. vanillamom September 19, 2011 at 8:19 am #


    laid out like that, it’s very understandable…broke down i guess…and i’m way more about feeling it than about exploring the deeper pathways…and that makes each of us perfectly fine…

    Can i say i’ve never had a transformative experience with D/s…hell no…every time i am with Master, i am transformed, and i dont’ just mean the experience of changing my clothing, donning slutwear.

    Someplace in my head is …moved…whether, like in one of your recent posts, you sit on your mat and feel your submission cloak you? sometimes it is like that…and sometimes…its like a door being flung wide, and stuff pours out and i’m an empty vessel waiting for Him to fill it.

    and sometimes…waiting for Him to “fix it”…sometimes pain is about just letting go and breathing.
    not sure where i’m going with this, just kind of floating with it.


    who didn’t mean to write a book for a response!!

    • aisha September 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      Dear ‘Nilla,

      You can write a book for a response anytime; I love reading your thoughts on things.

      And I can tell from your stories and from your writing about your real life that you are transformed, regularly. I think it’s lovely, reading it.

      And I love the idea of you floating with it…


  2. sin September 19, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I’m not sure if it’s spiritual at all for me – maybe that’s simply not something I’m looking for in pain. However I do know that it’s a huge emotional thing in many ways. It creates attachment and cahtartic relief and some other things too.

    But it’s always interesting to have another perspective to think about. And I don’t just dismiss this one. I’m going to have to go away and think about it though.


    • aisha September 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm #


      Yes. It’s definitely emotional, and when I read you, I believe there is soul and spirit involved in your experience.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here,


  3. angel September 19, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Reading this, i suppose i do think of the “altered state” as being subspace itself. Or, maybe, subspace in its highest, purest form.
    This could well come from the fact that i think of ttwd as, for me, less about a Power exchange and more about an Energy Exchange.

    When i cannot tell any longer what is me, or you, or us, or the tool you are using and we are all one…then its a spiritual act…because we are all One.

    Time stands still.

    i am a part of the light in the room, the cross i am bound to, the people watching, the glint in her eyes, the pride he feels. i am all of these things….the polar opposite of disassociation.

    Disassociation says i am none of these things and that i am not me, not present.

    Subspace says i am all of these things and am fully open and fully present.

    Sometimes, indeed–often–i am just a willing vessel, no more and no less.

    • aisha September 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #


      You brought tears to my eyes with this… I thought this might speak to you, and you describe it soooo beautifully.

      I appreciate especially your distinction between subspace and dissociating. I think you’re exactly right. Thank you.



  4. vanillamom September 19, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    beautifully said, angel….just so perfectly *right*


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