Sado-masochistic Ritual in a Thelemic Context
In Memorium: V.H.L.
(Reposted with the author's permission)
"Man, know thyself." "The slaves shall serve."
A large part of the effectiveness of ritual may be due to its ability to directly interact with the unconscious realms where our primal emotions, behavior programs from childhood, and the genetically inherited information of all our ancestors resides.
It has been postulated that the unconscious does not deal in verbiage, that it instead responds to more direct and less rational emotional and sensory stimuli.
To alter consciousness, to learn, to evolve, to effect change in conformity with Will we travel the dark perilous journey of Inanna and must confront our sister, Ereshkigal, who is the guardian of our deepest dreams, our most potent strengths, our most beloved and perverse madnesses and inspirations. In the cup that is Ereshkigal's black and bloody heart we may find a poison that consigns us seemingly forever to the Abyss or a drug that gives visions of our True Will; the difference being merely how openly we embrace the initiation.
To look upon our dark twin- our own secret face of shame, terror, and beauty- and to accept in Love all that we are is an act of courage and magick. From yourself have you kept your soul hidden, dare you reveal it now to another?
Ritual, which is as old as Man, and sex, which is as old as time, excite incredible emotional charge.
There are rituals of lust and joy and pain and fear. These, forced to extremes, meld in the mind, and in that melding they may make or dissolve our egos, bodies, or spirits. There is a secret school of initiates that practices these rituals. They know the alchemy of emotion whereby all dichotomies and opposites are unified in the Lust of the practitioner.
There are also many so-called false schools of the Initiations of Occult Passions. There are signs by which you may know them. Their priests and priestessess may despise the other gender, or they may enjoy pain without purpose, they may engage in humiliation of the supplicant, they may have little in the way of wisdom or grace, they may misuse their office, or lie for gain. Without insight or skill, either with intent or through misguided judgement they will exceed the boundaries of respect for both the supplicant and themselves, and that which would have flowered and borne fruit will be trampled and will wither.
Still, no school may be called false from which one has learned, even by the method of antimony.
In these rites the Supernals are invoked. The most ancient of dualities, each exists in a relationship of non-static tension with the other.
Here in Malkuth, while language may not define them it may convey some images pertinent to understanding them: Awareness and the Other, Spirit and Body, God(dess) and Man.
The pain of division has been with us since birth--the bittersweet longing that sometimes does not even know its object and that, when accepted as an aspect of ourselves equal to any other, becomes its own kind of joy. But so is there also not just the chance, but the actualization of union. Hadit and Nuit are but perspectives. As we are particles in a wave, so are we the wave.
In a sense, you will find that it does not matter what stance you take in bondage and discipline games. Either role done well transcends into the other, and to be done well both require trust. As Innana was stripped of eveything but her thelemic trust in self, so will each participant be left naked of all but Will.
Both dominance and submissiveness, to be effective, must be willed acts (hence of a dominent nature). Yes, the submissive makes a choice, a very brave one, to put hirself into the power of another. By doing so, SHe creates the illusion of helplessness that gives hir permission to be more vulnerable and open than SHe could normally allow hirself to be. The dominant is then compelled by the submissive, with respect for the submissive's limits, to explore and push against emotional blockages. Both parties are, in a way, submissive to each other's needs and desires, or the game playing will not be effective.
I have found alternating roles to yield the most intense results as this develops the dynamic of master and slave within. As within, so without. This mirroring between interior and exterior culminates in an orgasm of transcendance in which one is no longer defined by the limitations of an either/or neither/nor universe.
While this practice works for me, each must be goverened by hir own instict and follow hir own inclination.
The intimacy required for and created by these rituals is of a most intense nature, which may be part of the reason they are a taboo of this culture. The roles of God and Child which are enacted will undoubtedly bring up primal rages and longings, feelings and desires you have been too afraid to look at, childhood issues, and the pain and joy of relationships current and long dead. In other words, you will get to know yourself and your lover very well and you cannot always be prepared for what you will find.
The sexual aspect that for most is inherent in these explorations will be changed, even to the alchemy of the kalas, from what it was before so as to intensify both the sexual and magickal result.
If childhood sexual guilt, or the desire to be punished because of other varieties of guilt should arise, do not be alarmed. These are part of the religious and cultural heritage of most of us raised in this society. As with most other issues that may emerge from sado-masochistic practice, they may hopefully be talked about, worked through, made peace with, and let go with the aid of an attentive and caring partner.
The very act of sharing these rites with another speaks of a wish to accept and bring into the light those parts of us, that through self-hatred, fear, and misunderstanding we have buried.
No part of us is not of the gods.
The use of fear and pain in these rituals is up to the discretion of the participants. (It should be noted, since it is frequently ignored, that dominants have limits, too.) While fear and pain will likely arise, they are often signs of incompleteness if they are a result of the rites.
As a last note, I would mention that Chthonic and Qliphothic entities, in my experience, are particularly attracted to these workings. A gate or vortex may be opened and contact made (I have used offerings of chi made by hyperventilating, screaming, chanting, dancing, etc. and also of blood or pain inflicted by sadomasochistic elemental tools [cat-o-nine tails for air, etc.]). These entities are often willing to be of help in the processing of karma or emotions and in achieving atavistic resurgences that free greater flow of creative energies.
In the sacred robes of Geburahic majesty and Chesedic might may you reveal to yourself and your lover the dark splendor of your innermost self--your secret soul of desire and fear. May you know the serenity of letting go in helplessness and the joy of exercising control. In all Willed acts of acceptance and Love we find ourselves as gods.
Though this essay is now at least a decade old, I found little to alter in it. I am still very much involved in Sado-masochism as a technique to fuel my magickal endeavors (primarily as a bahkti to Shiva/Shakti and other godforms).
Those interested in corresponding with me on this subject are encouraged to do so. My email is email@example.com
For those seeking further information on this subject, I would recommend contacting Black Moon Archives, PO Box 622, Logan, OH 43133-0622 for "Bondage, Discipline, and Magick" by frater Pectus Scortius [manuscript PS-2, 5 pages, 12 cents per page plus postage].
Webmaster's Note: For another perspective on a related topic, read Feminism, Wicca, and D/s by Rowan Ste. Julian.