Ritual Catharsis

20 Sep

Raven says the second spiritual path of BDSM is Ritual Catharsis.  That the TTWD can be used in a ritual way to create healing.

He talks about structuring the scene symbolically, and about using a prayer to the four directions.  This is one of my favorite ways to pray, or to begin  a ceremony ~ we use it at church occasionally, and in the couple of rituals that i’ve created, i started with that.

i use a Lakota version, and add Father Sky and Mother Earth to the four directions.

Raven uses a version with symbolism that i hadn’t heard before.

The north stood for earth ~ the warrior’s gate ~ the rite of passage.

The east was winds ~ air ~ trust~ the jumping off spot.

The south was fire ~ fear.

And the west was humiliation ~ being stripped to our deepest self.

In any case, that is a beginning that grounds me and opens me to the universe at the same time.

Raven talks about humiliation play as a way of stripping ourselves to our most basic, essential self.  That part of ourselves that remains when all the trappings we clothe ourselves in are gone.

i like that perspective.  i think there is always an element of humiliation in our play, but haven’t understood having that as a main fetish, particularly in the extremes some people take it to.

When i think of it as stripping away the layers of protection that make us who we are,  uncovering our deepest self in the process,  it makes more sense.

i think that Raven is talking about very specifically structured rituals that help us process the emotions we feel during BDSM activities.  and {laughing…} i can’t tell from my notes whether he’s only talking about planned rituals, or whether he also means the rituals that we create within relationships.

But i think that a big part of TTWD is an effort to heal ~ and to help our partner heal.  Doesn’t have to be past abuse we’re healing from, although many of us are. It doesn’t have to be the sub who needs healing, it may be the Master.  It may be both.

i think this is also true in vanilla relationships ~ i think we’re all trying to heal and grow all the time.  i think BDSM relationships are better designed for some types of healing.

One of the ways we try to heal is by “re-doing.”  So if you’re a man who had a bossy, domineering mother, you may marry a woman very much like that.   If you’re a woman with an abusive, controlling  father, you may marry a very controlling, abusive man.

We don’t do this by mistake, really, we do it because we’re trying to retell the story, with a different ending.  We believe, in a wordless, hidden way, that this relationship will be different.

The underlying message is “i couldn’t do it right with Mom/Dad, i couldn’t get my needs met, but with this person, i can.”

The problem, of course, is that it often doesn’t end differently.  Often, we still can’t get our needs met.  And so we repeat the process with someone else, looking for that different ending.

There’s a quote that labels that insanity, doing the same thing and expecting different results.  But it’s a lot easier to see that from the outside.

i think that TTWD gives us a chance to relive the experience AND process the feelings ~ which we don’t get to do in abusive situations.  One key element of abuse is that it’s not safe to feel your feelings.

So we dissociate, go away in our heads.  Yesterday, in a comment, Angel described the difference between dissociation and subspace.  She said:

“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 dissociation.

Dissociation 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.”

i love that description. 

So abuse says, “Don’t feel your feelings; don’t talk about it.”

BDSM says, “Feel it all, talk about it all.”

When you do that, you are living in a safe space, and you begin to heal.

Raven said that for a Master who had an abusive childhood, the healing may be about discovering that He can express that sadistic part of himself and still be loved and accepted.  That struck me as a powerful gift that subs can offer.

It made me think of Mouse and Omega, over at A Slave’s Tale.  i think that Mouse’s consistent love for Omega through all kinds of circumstances have had a powerful impact on him and on their relationship.  {Hoping you don’t mind me saying so, Mouse…}

And in a way, isn’t that a sub fantasy?  It’s one of mine anyhow, to bring love to the person i care about.  To transform our lives by what we create between us.


So if i make this personal ~ one of the things that i still struggle with is having been rejected by my Dad.   He rejected me on a couple of different levels, and sometimes it seems like all i ever do is frigging seek healing from that.

The real answer, of course, is that i have to find the “Dad” within myself.  That i have to learn to father myself.  But the road to that is through my relationships with other people, other men.

It is {i think} the reason it’s so difficult for me to tolerate periods of time without hearing from the Dom i’m interested in.  i think it’s what makes me feel so frigging needy in a relationship.

i learned to be ok without my Dad {really i did} and to not expect him to be there for me. He was sporadic enough that it took me a long time to figure it out.  But i learned that i was better of  without any hope for that relationship.  

i think one of the lessons TTWD has for me is that it’s ok to lean, ok to expect someone to be there.  i think that i reenact aspects of that relationship with the first man in my life, and i think about them and process them and heal.

But i might be wrong.

In any case, i am sure that it is about exposing the shadow side of our selves.  Uncovering the parts that we are ashamed of.   In the lifestyle, the parts we want to keep hidden are the ones that are revealed.

And there is a tremendous spiritual power in that experience.

12 Responses to “Ritual Catharsis”

  1. sin September 20, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Isn’t that interesting? The idea of humiliation as stripping ourselves to the most basic selves. I think that’s true.

    • aisha September 21, 2011 at 4:27 am #


      Yeah. It is interesting, I’m glad you’re thinking so too.


  2. Donna September 20, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    There are so many truths that touch my heart here, and that also meld with exactly what I learned at La Domaine!. I will be copying this and adding it to my daily re-read list. Thanks so much for doing this, for sharing this with us.


    • aisha September 21, 2011 at 4:27 am #


      Thank you so much ~ I’m glad it speaks to you.


  3. nilla September 20, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    For a vegetarian, there sure is a lot, a LOT of meat to chew here….*grin*….

    Let me leave it simply at this, today…ttwd heals both Dom and sub…




    • aisha September 21, 2011 at 4:28 am #



      Yeah, I think it does a lot of healing on both side. And in just two weeks, we can be talking about that in person!!!



  4. Sky September 20, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    So abuse says, “Don’t feel your feelings; don’t talk about it.”

    BDSM says, “Feel it all, talk about it all.”

    Aisha, this has really given me a lot to think about. I grew up being physically and emotionally abused and learned to keep my “feelings” to myself. In the rare event I expressed them, I was told they were “not real.”

    My Master encourages me to express my feelings, the good and the bad, and I am learning to do that with HIM.

    So many things in your post rang true for me and I especially liked, Raven’s comment “humiliation play as a way of stripping ourselves to our most basic, essential self. That part of ourselves that remains when all the trappings we clothe ourselves in are gone.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This really has given me something to think about.

    Take care,


    • aisha September 21, 2011 at 4:36 am #


      Cool ~ I’m glad that’s been helpful, and that it resonated with you.

      And more glad that you and your Master are learning and growing together.

      Thanks for sharing a piece of your experience here.



  5. K September 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Beautiful..so deep and touching. I kept thinking yes yes..this is all so true.. ttwd doesn’t always have to be fun and it doesn’t always have to be healing, but hopefully it’s at least one of the two at any given point. And for me its been both. The healing part can get ugly and painful, for both Doms and subs past wounds can go deep and often it is a lifetime healing process with no 100% cure. There’s no guarantee in ttwd or relationships in general, for me it is that spiritual piece, that faith beyond what i can see with my two eyes, which guides me towards what is best for Him and thus for me.

    Thanks aisha for sharing from your experiences…


    • aisha September 21, 2011 at 4:42 am #


      I love when you say:

      “ttwd doesn’t always have to be fun and it doesn’t always have to be healing, but hopefully it’s at least one of the two at any given point.”

      That’s so exactly right! Actually, I guess it could be fun AND healing too ~ maybe sometimes the fact that it’s so much fun is the healing part… but I digress.

      And there aren’t any guarantees ~ right ~ but faith can take us a long way.



  6. angel September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    A few thoughts:
    Eienstien is responsible for that definition of insanity.

    i remember reading, in my favorite book of poety,
    the dedication from the editor to her partner. She said,
    to ____, who calls love the healing art.”

    TTWD is a leap of faith in so many ways.
    We think of the physical faith often but really a solid framework does
    provide much opportunity for creating faith in ourselves
    and with the special people in our lives.

    i think that healing is a two way street.
    Its not just the abuse survivor that heals with what
    we do. If you think about it, really, its the epitome
    of power to use power to heal and create growth.

    Also, we are all recreating our stories with each other.
    Daily. Hourly.
    Hopefully, we do this with awareness and openness.

    We are drawn to each other for many reasons.
    In my case, a man who had a dominating but loving mother
    finds solace and acceptance with a girl who watched her
    mother eat away at the egos of insecure, abusive men.

    And a girl who had to be the parent learns to accept
    the soothing sounds of a woman gently but firmly pointing
    the direction on a map not yet written.

    It is very brave, what we do, all of us.

    i think the most loving action in the world is to simply
    meet a person where they are at. Even if they are feeling
    a little needy. 🙂

    • aisha September 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      @Angel ~

      Another lovely comment, thank you!!

      The quote though, I gotta say – sure, could be Einstein, I’ve heard it attributed to Socrates and W.L. Bateman, who ever that is, and Anthony Robbins, another unknown to me… and AA uses it as well as anyone could.

      The rest of what you say ~


      Beautifully put, and dead on target.

      That’s really all I can say. Well, and thank you for saying it.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: