Tag Archives: spirituality and pain

One More Thought on “Being Broken”

13 Jun

In the comments on my last post on this, Joyce asked a question and i wanted to make sure i’m being really clear on this one.

Joyce seems to bring what the Buddhists call a “beginner’s mind” to the blog world and this isn’t the first time one of her questions has sparked a whole post.  This time she asks:

“Do you effect changes in behavior (pushing the limits) or “break” and completely restructure the basic personality of self to suit the Dom?”

So, i don’t know how one would completely restructure someone’s basic personality to suit the Dom, or to suit anyone.   “Basic personality” {not a technical term} is a combination of temperament and early experiences.  While you could damage someone so much that they no longer seemed like the same person, i can’t imagine that being anything positive.  i think Mouse and Jade both make that point in their comments.  

Mouse says:

We come here with our personal baggage, mouse’s baggage includes being broken and damaged by an uncaring dominant type.

i’m glad she says “dominant type” because i would argue that someone who abuses another is not “dominant” but simply abusive.

Jade says:

i have been broken in ways that destroyed my sense of joy, peace, excitement until i felt less than human

but then she goes on to say:

And that–has absolutely nothing– to do with what i think a slave is truly seeking when they are walking the path you speak of.

i was relieved to hear her say that, because it’s essential to recognize that when we’re talking about “being broken.”  Even in the extremes of TTWD, there is a difference between M/s and abuse.

Getting back to Joyce’s question, LM asks for the experience of “being broken.”   She says, “i want you to break me.”

Later, she goes back and defines that as:

Breaking me is pushing me past my boundaries, exploring my limits, making me cry, pushing me to painslut sub space where I completely rely on him to be everything in that moment, my tormentor and my savior, simultaneously.  When I am there all the noise in my head stops and He rules…. a very simple, visceral place, that moment..

It reminds me of The Teachings of Don Juan, where the seeker finds oneness with universe through peyote. Some people may even reach their version of “that moment” through mindfulness.

But the key factor here is that LM wants this.  Yes, her Dom originally says the words, but she wants it.  

Joyce, i think you’re thinking about some kind of intense training in which a Dom might teach the slave to behave in certain ways.  i would still argue that “basic personality” is not going to change, but i could be trained in ways that are pleasing to my Master.

“Being broken,” in my mind, is part of a spiritual journey of the submissive or slave, not for the benefit of the Master or Dominant.  So the experience is not really about Him or Her, it’s about the slave.   

This is only one of the ways that BDSM crosses paths with spirituality.  Back when i saw Raven Kaldera’s workshop at Cope last year, i became more aware of and more comfortable with that concept.

And i’ve been thinking about it as we talking about “breaking,” so i was delighted to see that my friend, Ms. Constance, has blogged about the connection.  

{Yes, ‘Nilla ~ our Ms. Constance has her blog up and running, isn’t that cool?}

You can read what she says here.  i’m curious to see what youall think about what she says.  And i’m glad to have the chance to introduce you to Ms. Constance.  She’s interesting and funny and wise.   i think you’ll like her.

In baby news ~ we have contractions, ~ well, my daughter does, not i, thank goodness ~ but they’re not regular yet.  Maybe today…  🙂


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.

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…