'The kind of pain that works best as a tool of altered states is not the sort that is necessarily best for killing someone, or immobilising an enemy. To work properly, it should be sustained at the same level for a long period of time, or be adjustable as needed. It should not cause too much in the way of physical damage, because that might make you pass out and miss the entire experience. It's carefully controlled, carefully orchestrated pain, not random flailing, and the best way to work with it is to do it slowly and with attention to the reactions of one's body. This isn't just about safety ... It's that if things go wrong, you will lose the thread of altered consciousness that takes you There, wherever There is' - Raven Kaldera - Dark Moon Rising: Pagan BDSM and the Ordeal Path.
With exception to the bit about going slow I can really relate to this statement. Yes a slow build up, but I am often fast in my movement with impact play as well as slow and the many degrees in between. However what I am interested in is the altered consciousness that is called subspace. If one is to go deep into it, is it similar to the journeys of ancient cultures? The above book, that was given to me by the lovely Chilli_gal, and a recent experience made me ponder over the BDSM style that I have developed and my personal philosophy on sadism that has been developing over the years.
Kaldera works from a pagan perspective and therefore there is a lot of stuff about gods and pagan belief systems that I find hard to read in his book, but the principles of the Ordeal Path that ancient and some current non Christian based societal groups were/are practicing is something that I can relate to for personal growth through pain. Actually some earlier Christians were also into it such as the flagellates.
I absolutely think each to their own, whatever floats each other’s boats. I love that tops take so many different approaches etc, etc, but I have worked out what works for ME; and there seems to be a large number of playmates that enjoy what I do, so I am not alone in this. Some have even noticed a shift in their energy and an ability to do things that they could not do before. If the bottoms wish to consider my S/m play as just a bit of fun then that is great. However, if they wish to feel they are in touch with something deeper inside or outside of themselves through pain then that is even better.
I love taking people on journeys through pain. It does not have to go deep, but I certainly would like to explore that side with some. Through my actions I like to guide them along a path. I may jolt them a little when it feels right, but I do not like to jolt them out of subspace, because all that work we have just been through needs to start again if we are to reach a pain that they are truly capable of tolerating.
When I was a sub I knew that BDSM could be a journey of personal growth, but also each play is like a journey within itself. Perhaps it was similar to taking a trip on acid in the 70s (when the acid was good!) or peyote in the dessert, or skewering your mouth or back in a religious ritual, or flagellation in medieval times. When I subbed to my ex-dom I often would go deep into sub space. It would be like a meditative journey. One in which I once even visualised something that I would not see until the following week. I would go into this landscape that seemed so real, but if I tried to question where I was and what I was doing there I would be pulled back into consciousness. It is with this understanding of the altered consciousness that I approach my sadism.
I want to take people on journeys into an altered consciousness, i.e. subspace. So far I have only played with a few people that I feel are ready to go as far as I went myself, but I think there are many with such potential and a few that can go much further if they allow me – and most importantly allow themselves to go ‘there’. I think this is why I am not interested in the D/s thing when playing in an S/m way. I am their guide more than their dominator. The domination is just to set the scene, keep them in the space and for them to focus on my voice when necessary.
I consider it is a matter of not thinking, but feeling and then pushing through the pain barrier to float on the other side. To explore the other side without interference from your conscious self – and that is where trust is so important, otherwise you are still going back and forth and not able to explore. To let go and believe the top will guide you right is a big leap of faith, or in my case as a new sub it was my dominant putting me into a comfy position after play and allowing me to drift without interruption until I was ready to come out of it.
I am no pagan and as I said above what I have read and heard so far regarding the ordeal path is a bit off putting for me personally – but power to the people that it fits well with. My belief system is actually based in my contact with spiritualists a few years ago. Then I developed my own spiritual journey through meditation and the information that found me rather than I have found it. It was a matter of just knowing what to do and believing in me and those that guide me. I think the dear old mediums at the spiritualist church would probably not agree with me mixing BDSM with spiritualism, but when they reach the other side they may change their minds. It is just that they are not here for that reason, whereas I am increasingly aware that one of the reasons I am here and now is for that reason. I think it is in line with the pagan ordeal journey that Kaldera writes about – but for me there are no entities, just energies and guides.
For me it was a process of coming to the understanding that the modern world has left the sexual and recreational pain in a special bad/sacred box and therefore erotic and/or enjoyable pain is just wrong. To combine it with a spiritual journey seems sacrilege to many puritans, yet what I and many others are doing, whether it involves the sexual or not, is touching on areas of the body and mind that others consider dirty or weird or ‘just not right’.
At the same time for many in the BDSM community to use all that fun stuff in a spiritual way also is ‘just not right’, but I think anyone working with energy may have some understanding of what I am talking about on both sides of the fence. It is in working with the energy that is between and within the people in S/m sessions and remembering my own personal journeys as a bottom that I have gained insight into where I want to take my sadism and where I want to take my playmates.
I feel that it is perfectly natural to get a thrill in your head and/or in your genitals from giving and receiving pain. To match this up with a spiritual journey seems a natural thing to do. If the word spiritual does not fit well with you then please name that journey something that suits you (just as I have chosen to skim over Raven Kaldera’s rituals and gods). Make it your own!
I started writing this lengthy entry to process my thoughts and feelings on my style of play compared to others and the book I was reading about spiritual journeys through BDSM. Not only am I enjoying evil sadistic fun, but I love nurturing and guiding people on their journey through Sadomasochism and subspace.
I recognise that some do not understand it or wish to understand it and others do not believe in it. I also understand that some tops enjoy pulling people out of subspace to increase their pain and make it more difficult for them. However, I believe that a person can go much further on their pain journey in the present and into the future if they are allowed to work through subspace in a session – not be pulled out of it just as they are sinking into it. It is a case of different strokes for different folks, but for me the content and floaty looks on people’s faces after playing with them is equally a reward as the fun of inflicting my pain upon to them.
Enjoy the trip!