Damn it, Lupercus, I’m knotjokin!


Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.
The first time that I encountered the festival of Lupercalia, and the ritual races and fertility beatings that accompanied them, was in 10th grade English class.  Since I was already exploring a different path to sexual bliss than most of my classmates, I was really intrigued by the opening scenes of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  If you’re not familiar with the holiday of Lupercalia, you’re really missing out.  It’s our favorite holiday here at The Barbed Pentacle!  In honor of that, Dr. David Hillman–of past Barbed Pentacle appearances and the author of The Chemical Muse and Original Sin–has written a guest post explaining the holiday (just in case you were ignorant!).

The Lupercalia: Rome’s BDSM Holiday

by Dr. David Hillman http://roninpub.com/orisin.html

It’s February again….Release the naked guys with their whips!  And good luck ladies; if you are fortunate this year, a crazed group of muscle-bound, oiled, pagan teenage boys will catch you in the streets and stripe your bleeding back with strips of leather while you clutch your bare breasts and scream in painful ecstasy.  Congratulations, you are now no longer just girls, wives and mothers; your titillation, screaming and wounds make you  the purified devotees of nymph-chasing Pan, and Lupa, the great Roman She-Wolf.
And don’t worry, the randy youths will be accompanied–as they always are–by the leading holy men of the city; priests of Faunus, artists and statesmen, with their rugged George Clooneyesque good looks…guys the likes of Mark Antony himself; a little sanctified eye-candy for everyone involved.

And yes, the Lupercalia was indeed one of Rome’s oldest and most distinguished high holidays.  It was a time of sexual fervor, when nubile young men cavorted at a public banquet, worked themselves into a drunken mania, and then shed themselves of their clothing, oiled each other up, and ran around the streets of Rome in a mob, chasing ladies while wielding nothing more than whips and hard-ons.
And what was the purpose?   Enlightenment!  Yes, that’s right.  The purpose was cosmic enlightenment…an understanding of the musical harmony of Nature.  The screaming girls formed the chorus of existence, and the pain was a religious tool used to acquire wisdom.  After all, as the Orphics taught, Pan was a primal manifestation of Apollo, the sun-god who brings light into the world–of course he also brought his youthful good looks and divine rock-star talent along with his wisdom.  Yep, you got it; the take home message was that pain-induced sexual ecstasy brings self-knowledge.  I knew you’d get it.
Oh….and I’m not making up the screaming part; the vocalization of orgasmic ecstasy, like the shout of a warrior about to give his life in battle, or the cries of a woman giving birth, were considered to be forms of worship in antiquity.  So getting a woman to bare her skin and shout while you whip her is…well…sort of a sacred act.
Obviously, the Roman Lupercalia mystifies modern classical scholars, who are happy to “live” in a monotheistic universe; we proud academics neither understand the purpose nor the spirit of these festivities.  Modern educators will tell you in a puzzled manner that they really don’t know the ins and outs of the Lupercalia.  Of course, their ignorance is part Christian prudery and part comedic irony–for the god worshiped at the Lupercalia, Pan, was called Inuus by the Romans.  And what’s so ironic about that?  “Inuus” in Latin means “the penetrator,” something the Christian world would rather forget–unless you happen to be a Catholic priest in the rectory with a nervous young boy, who according to long-established Church tradition, requires a form of sodomy-induced “sexual cleansing” to save his soul–a practice that esteemed early church fathers like Cyril, the archbishop of Jerusalem, instituted in order to purge the world of festivals like the Lupercalia.  Wow, that is ironic!  (FYI, Cyril preferred his pre-pubertal boys to be dressed up like girls when they were escorted to see him.)
Try not to make sense of why the Christians banned the celebration of the Lupercalia…just roll with the historic moral irony.  What’s really the point? The god pair Pan/Apollo were protectors of pre-pubertal kids, and the purification ceremonies performed in the Lupercalia were celebrations that preserved the ancient world’s focus on child safety by means of natural, adult sexual enlightenment; so the early Christians ended up prohibiting a festival meant to protect innocent children, while simultaneously adopting the ritual rape of young boys by their own priests.  Don’t read it again, you read that right.
And yes, it kind of makes twisted ironic sense that a Pope who sheltered so many pedophiles would pick this week–the week of the Lupercalia–to shed his own holy garments.
For any decent Lupercalia celebration, you need a good scourge.  While traditionally the scourge would have been made from a bloody goat skin, modern celebrants can be much more hygienic and order a toy from Knotjokin Rope Floggers.
How long have you been making rope floggers and other toys?  How long have you been in business?
I made my first Rope Mace Flogger in the summer of 2009 and gave it to a friend who pimped it out at the parties she hosted, leading to a bit of a local craze.
Soon after that, I was asked to vend at an APEX (Arizona Power Exchange) event which was quite a success, as their events usually are.
Don’t let any “professional” appearance fool you. I am still transforming from hobbyist to small business and have only been selling online for a few months. Though I’ve made a handful of online sales, “business” is slow, and my pricing doesn’t leave much room for profit (especially considering labor) just occasional gas money, or a nicer meal than I had planned.
Hardly a business, but I welcome change.
What gave you the idea for making toys out of rope?
I didn’t set out to make floggers (emphasizing plural), honestly.
I learned the monkey fist knot as a challenge to myself; the flogger part was almost an accident. Being generous and single on purpose, I gave it to a friend versus letting it collect dust. The other flogger styles were and still are my way of not being a one trick pony. Honestly, I loathe making Boney 9 Tails and Meat Grinders, but it’s not about me.  It’s about the consumer. Ask Joe Dirt.
What kind of rope do you use for the toys?  How long does it take you to make the toys?
Though I prefer natural fibers for rope bondage, for toys, I only use synthetic rope –for too many reasons to list, including the fact that a 5 ounce bird cannot carry a coconut no matter how it grips it.
It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours to make a flogger depending on the style. Happy Pants Floggers are quick but rough on my hands. Meat Grinders and Boney 9 Tails take forever and are even rougher on my hands.
You make more than just floggers.  Where do you draw your inspiration for creating the other toys?
I wasn’t sure how to answer this at first. To me, everything is a flogger…even one of my straight laced size 11 Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars will do in a pinch. Then I remembered all the people who hold my toys and say “what’s this for?”
A piece of rope can be a flogger, but it could fray if you didn’t knot it. Adding knots to high quality rope and finishing it the way I do just makes for a more attractive, reliable, reusable, sanitary, durable, fun toy than a knotted piece of rope or a dog toy.
What I’m doing may be a little different, but it’s not necessarily new per se. Pardon my French.
How many different types of toys do you make?
I lost count, honestly. I experiment often, and there are quite a few “one of a kind” pieces floating around out there.
Currently, I sell:
Rope Mace Floggers
Happy Pants Floggers
Boney 9 Tails Floggers (named for the human skeleton I tie into the design, not the number of falls)
and several other multi-fall floggers including my newest creations:
Meat Grinder Floggers ~multi-fall floggers with metal beads on the ends of the falls. My most recent Meat Grinders have 9 beads on 10 falls, plus some extras on the “hands” of the Boney 9 Tails “body”, making for 96 metal bits of pleasing punishment on a 2 way flogger.
(As with all of my floggers, the handle is also an implement and will fit inside a condom.)
I also have a small line of Glow-In-The-Dark toys including Happy Pants, Maces, and Multi-Mace pieces. They’ve been quite a hit since I introduced them a few months ago. That’s right; I said hit.
What tips do you have for people who are interested in selecting one of your toys for purchase?
My toys provide a plethora of sensations, but I do not have your superior intellect and education.
(See: Three Amigos. Really, see it. It’s a funny movie! *The fact that I just dated myself does not make this masturbation.* (Wait, yes it does. You like that?)
To answer your question by Knotjokin; I mean not joking, it really depends on the sensation you prefer. If you like: *THUD* -
There is no better toy than a Rope Mace Flogger. Nope. None.
If you like: *THUD+STING* -
Happy Pants Floggers are the way to go. The thinner/the stingy-er, er. A heavy hitting sadistic friend calls the thinner Happy Pants Floggers “little bastards” for their pain inflicting potential.
If you like: *STING* -
Boney 9 Tails and Meat Grinders are where it’s at. Ouch. Man, oh man; ouch.
Maces and Happy Pants will leave bruises if used heavily.
Both Boney 9 Tails and Meat Grinders will leave welts and even draw blood (especially Meat Grinders) if used heavily.
Rope Mace Floggers are surprisingly therapeutic on tight or sore muscles when used lightly. You don’t have to use the handle; you can choke up on them and use short, slow swings. I love the “ahh” look people make when they feel them like that…especially on their backs. I do it with almost every piece I finish, to be completely honest. Ahhh!
I also love hearing my name screamed from a sub in another room at a party ~after being struck by a sadist holding a Rope Mace Flogger…preceded by “fuckin”, of course.
(True story, sorta. I was outside and didn’t actually hear it, but I sure heard about it later!)
Do you take custom orders?  And if so, how do people/groups go about placing a custom order?
I welcome custom orders and have made a few recently, including a pink Meat Grinder purchased by a female dominant as a gift to her submissive husband for Valentine’s Day. I’m still flattered and proud to be a part of their celebration of love. Pretty cool.
You can hardly throw a rock without hitting a site where I can be contacted nowadays. Aside from www.knotjokin.com and my store www.knotjokin.etsy.com, I’m on Facebook, Fetlife, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Copious, etc…
Though my ETSY store is the best way to contact me, all of the above will work.
What is your favorite toy to use that you make?  And do you use it as a dom, sub, or switch?
It would take an incredible woman to make me consider any role other than dominant, with sadistic tendencies. Absolutely incredible.
With that said; I prefer Rope Mace Floggers. They’re just fun to wield, ya know?
Facebook “like/share”
Facebook friend (I’ll accept any legitimate friend requests)

The Ardanes: a supplemental reference

In my previous blog, one of the people interview referenced the “Ardanes”, an ungodly long list of rules that some Wiccan covens use as a basis for their practices.  Gardner claimed that they came to him, unbroken of course, from knowledge passed down from Medieval covens.  I highly doubt that, and so do many other people, even folks who were in Gardner’s inner circle.  I think that they were a Gardnerian concoction pieced together from fragments from witch trail transcripts, rules that fin de siecle covens had in place (such as the New Forest Coven), and his own fancy.  Like everything in Wicca, Gardner’s original list was taken and “improved” upon by others along the way.  There are several versions of the Ardanes out there.  This is Lady Sheba’s version.  Because of the extreme length of the text, I’ve highlighted in red the section that pertains to the previous blog.  Feel free to skip the stuff in white.  I certainly would.

1. The Law was made and ardane of old by those whom art called, The Old Ones.
2. The Law was made for the Wicce, to advise and help comfort in their  troubles.
3. The Wicca should give due worship to the Gods and obey Their will, which they ardane, for it was made for the good of Wicce, as the worship of the Wicce is good for the gods. For the Gods love the brethren of the Wicce, and it is from this love that cometh the Power.
4. As a man loveth a woman by mastering her,
5.  So should the Wicce love the Gods by mastering them.
6. And it  is necessary that the Magick Circle, which is the temple of the Gods, should be duly cast and purified that it may be a fit place for the Gods to enter and dwell.
7. And the Wicce should be properly purified and prepared in heart to enter into the presence of the Gods.
8. With love and  worship in their hearts, they shall raise power from their bodies to give power to the Gods.  And in so doing the complete Circle is formed.
9. As has been taught of old.
10. For in this  way only may man have communication with the Gods, for the gods cannot  help men without the help of man.

11. And the High Priestess shall rule Her Coven as the representative of the Goddess.
12. And the High Priest shall support and protect Her as the representative of the God.
13. And the High Priestess shall choose whom She will, if he have sufficient rank, to be Her High Priest.
14. For, as the God Himself kissed Her feet in the Five-fold salute, laying His power at the feet of the Goddess, because of Her youth and beauty, Her sweetness and kindness, Her wisdom and Her justice, Her humility and gentleness and generosity,
15. So He resigned all His power to Her.
16. But the High Priestess should ever mind that the power comes from Him.
17. It is only lent, to be used wisely and justly.
18. And the greatest virtue of a High Priestess be that She recognizes that youth is necessary to the representative of the eternal Goddess.
19. So she will gracefully retire in favour of a younger woman should the Coven so decide in council.
20. For the true High Priestess realizes that gracefully and humbly surrendering pride of place is one of the greatest virtues.
21. And it shal be that She thereby return to that pride of place in another life, with greater power and beauty.

22. In the old days, when Witches extended far, we were truly free and joyfully worshipped in all the greatest temples.
23. But, in these unhappy times of woe, we must celebrate our Sacred Mysteries in secret.
24. So be it ardane, that none but the Wicce may see our Mysteries, for our enemies are many and torture loosens the tongue of men.
25. So be it ardane, that no Coven may know where the next Coven bide.
26. Or who its members be, save only the Priest and Priestess and Messenger.
27. And there shall be no communication between them, save only by the Messenger of the Gods, or the Summoner.
28. And only if it be safe may the Covens meet in some safe and secret place for the Great Festivals.
29. And while there, none shall say whence they came, nor give their true names.
30. To this end, that if any be tortured, in their agony, they may not tell if they do not know.
31. So be it ardane, that no one shall tell anyone, not of the Craft, who be of the Wicce, nor give any names, or where any abide, or in any way tell anything which can betray any of us to our foes.
32. Nor may he tell where the Covendom be.
33. Nor the Covenstead.
34. Nor where the meetings be.
35. And if any break these Laws, without express permission, even under torture, the curse of the Goddess shall be upon them, so they may never be reborn on earth, and may remain where they belong, in the hell of the christians.

36. Let each High Priestess govern Her Coven with justice and love, and with the help and advice of the High Priest and the Elders, always heeding the advice of the Messenger of the Gods, if he cometh.
37. She  will heed all complaints of all Brothers and strive to settle all differences among them in reason and justice.
38. But it must be recognized that there will  always be people who will ever strive to force others to do as they  will.
39. These are not necessarily evil.
40. And they oft have good ideas, and such ideas should be talked over and decided in council.
41. But, if they  will not agree with their Brothers, or if they say,
42. “I will not work under this High Priestess,”
43. It hath ever been the Old Law, to  be convenient to the Brethren, and to avoid disputes.
44. Any of the third may claim to found a new Coven, because they live over a league away from the Covenstead or are about to do so.
45. Anyone living within the Covendom and wishing to form a new Coven shall tell the Elders of their intentions and on the instant avoid their dwelling and remove to the new Covendom.
46. Members of the old  Coven may join the new one when it is formed, but if they do so, they  must utterly, unless otherwise so bidden, avoid the old Coven.
47. The Elders of the new and old Covens shall meet in peace and brotherly love to decide the new  boundaries.
48. Those of the craft who live outside both Covens may join either indifferently, but certainly not both.
49. Though all may, if the Elders be in agreement, meet for the Great Festivals, if it be truly in peace and brotherly love,
50. But it is known that the splitting the Coven often means strife, so for this reason these Laws were made of old, and may the Curse of the Goddess be on any who disregard or take these Laws lightly!!


51. If ye would keep a Black Book, let it be in your own hand of write, let all Brothers and Sisters copy what they will, but never shall ye let the book out of your hands, and ys shall never keep the writings of another.
52. For if it be found in their hand of write, they may be taken and engained.
53. And let each guard his own writings, and destroy them whenever danger threatens.
54. Learn as much as you may by heart, and when danger is past, rewrite your book an it be safe.
55. For this reason, if any die, destroy their book, an they have not been able to.
56. For an it be found, ’tis clear proof against them.
57. And our oppressors know well “Ye may not be a Witch alone”.
58. So all their kin and friends be in danger of torture.
59. So destroy everything not necessary.
60. If your book be found on you, ’tis clear proof against you alone.  You may be engained. 

61. Under torture keep all thoughts of the Craft from your mind.
62. If the torture be too great to bear, say “I will confess.  I cannot bear this torture.  What would you have me to say?”
63. If they try to make you talk of the Brotherhood, do not.
64. But if they try to make you speak of impossibilities such as flying through the air, consorting with the christian devil, or sacrificing children or eating men’s flesh,
65. To obtain relief from the torture, say, “I hold an evil dream, I was beside myself, I was crazed.”
66. Not all the magistrates are cruel;  if there be any excuse, they may show mercy.
67. If you have confessed ought, deny it afterwards.  Say you babbled under the torture, say you know not what you said.
68. If you are condemned, fear not.
69. Fear not, the Brotherhood is powerful, they will help you to escape if you, but stand steadfast in trust.
70. But if you betray any Secrets, and Bretheren, there is no hope for you in this life or any that is to come.
71. Be sure, if steadfast you go to the pyre, drugs will reach you, you will feel naught. You go but to death and that peace which lies beyond.

72. To avoid discovery, let the working tools be as ordinary things that any may have in their houses.
73. Let the Pentacles be of wax so that they may be broken at once or melted should danger threaten.
74. Have no sword, unless your rank allows you one.
75. Have no names or signs on anything.
76. Write the names or signs on them in ink immediately before consecrating them and wash it off immediately after all rites have ended.
77. Do not engrave them lest they cause discovery.
78. Let the color of the hilts tell which is which.
79. Ever remember, ye are the “Hidden Children of the Goddess”, so never do anything to disgrace them or Her.
80. Never threaten, never boast, never say you would wish ill of anyone.
81. If any person, not in the Magick Circle, speak of the Craft, say, “Speak not to me of such, it frightens me.  ‘Tis evil luck speak of it.”

82. For this reason:  the christians have their spies everywhere. These speak as if they were well affected to us, as if they would come to our meetings saying, “My mother used to go to worship the Old Ones.  I would I could go myself.”
83. To such as these, ever deny all knowledge.
84. But to any others, ever say, “‘Tis foolish talk of Witches flying through the air. To do so they must be light as thistle-down.  And men say that Witches all be so blear-eyed, old crones, so what pleasure can there be at a Witch meeting such as folks talk on ?”
85. And say, “Many wise men now say there be no such creatures.”
86. Ever make it a jest and in some future time, perhaps the persecution may die and we may worship our Gods in peace and safety again.
87. Let us all pray for that happy day.
88. May the blessings of the Goddess and God be on all those who keep these Laws which are ardane.
89. If the craft have any Appenage, let all guard it, and help to keep it clear and good for the Craft.
90. And let all justly guard all monies of the Craft.
91. But if any Brother truly wrought it, ’tis right they have their pay, and it be just.  And this be not taking of monies for the Art, but for good and honest work.  For money cheapens the Arts.
92. And even the christians say, “The laborer is worthy of his hire,” but if any Brother work willingly for the good of the Craft without pay, ’tis to their greatest honor.


93.   If there be any dispute or quarrel among the Brethren, the High Priestess shall straightly convene the Elders and inquire into the matter and they shall hear both sides, first alone, then together.
94.   And they shall decide justly, not favouring the one side or the other.
95.   Ever recognizing there be always people who can never agree to work under any others.
96.   But at the same time, there be some people who cannot rule justly.
97.   To those who ever must be chief, there is but one answer.
98.   “‘Void the Coven, or seek another one, or make a Coven of your own, if ye be of the third, taking with you those who will go.”
99.   To those who cannot rule justly, the answer shall be, “Those who cannot bear your rule will leave you.”
100.   For none may come to meetings with those with whom they are at variance.  For to so so angers the Gods and hinders the Brotherhood.
101.  So, an either cannot agree, “Both get hence, for the Craft must ever survive.”


102.  In the olden days, when the Old Ones walked amoungst us and we were blessed with full powers, we could use the art against wind and fire and any of those who ill-treated the Brotherhood.  But in these evil days, we must not do so!  For our enemies have devised a burning pit of everlasting fire, into which they say their God casteth all the people who worship Him, except it be the very few who are released by their priest’s spells and masses.  And this be chiefly by giving monies and rich gifts to receive his favor, for their God is ever in need of money.
103.  But as our Gods need our aid to make fertility for man and crops, so it is the God of the christians that is ever in need of man’s help to search out and destroy us. Their priests ever tell them that any who get our help are damned to this hell forever, so men be mad with the terror of it.
104.  But they make men believe that they may escape this hell if they give up Witches to the tormentors.  So for this reason, all be forever spying, thinking, “An I catch but one of the Wicce, I will escape this fiery pit.”
105.  So for this reason, we have our hidels, and men searching long and not finding us say: “There be none, or if there be, they be in a far country.”
106.  But when one of our oppressors dies, or even be sick, ever is the cry, “This be Witches’ malice”, and the hunt is up again and though they slay ten of their own to one of ours, still they care not. They have countless thousands.
107.  While we are few indeed. 

108.  That none shall use the art in any way to do ill to any.
109.  However much they may injure us, HARM NONE  and now times there are many that believe we exist not.


110.  That this Law shall ever continue to help us in our plight, no one, however great an injury or injustice they receive, may use the art in any way to do ill or harm any.  But they may, after great consultations with all, use the art to restrain christians from harming us or tax others, but only to dismiss or to constrain them and never to punish.
111.  To this end, men will say: “Such an one is a mighty searcher out and a persecutor of old women whom they deemeth to be Witches, and none hath done him skith, so they be proof that they cannot, or more truly where be none.”
112.  For all know full well that so many folk have died because someone had a grudge against them, or were persecuted because they had money or goods to sieze or because they had none to bribe the searchers.  And many have died because they were scolding old women.  So much that men say “only old women are Witches.”
113.  And this be to our advantage, and turns suspicions away from us.
114.  In England and Scotland, ’tis now many a year since a Witch hath died the death. But misuse of the power might raise the persecution again.
115.  So never break this Law, however much you are tempted, and never consent to it being broken in the least.
116.  If you know it is being broken, you must work strongly against it.
117.  And any High Priestess who consents to its breach must immediately be deposed.  “For ’tis the blood of the Brethren they endanger.”
118.  Do good, an it be safe, and only if it be safe.
119.  And strictly keep to the Old Law.

120.  Never accept money for the use of the Art.  For money ever smeareth the taker.  ” ‘Tis sorcerors and conjurers and the priests of the christians who ever accept money for the use of their Arts.  And they sell dwale, and evil love spells and pardons, so letting men escape from their sins.
121.  Be not as these.   If you accept no money, you will be free from temptation to use the Art for evil causes.
122.  All may use the art for their own advantage, or for the advantage of the Craft, only if you are sure you harm none.
123.  But ever let the Coven debate this at length.  Only if all be satisfied and none be harmed in any way, may the Art be used.
124.  If it is not possible to achieve your ends one way, perchance the aim may be achieved by acting in a different way, so as to harm none.  May the Curse of the Goddess be on any who breaketh this law.


125.  ‘Tis judged lawful an any of the Craft need a house or land and none will sell, to incline the owners mind so as to  be willing to sell, provided it harmeth it not in any way and the full price is paid, without haggling.
126. Never bargain or cheapen anything whilst you live by the Art. 


127. “Tis the Old Law and the most important of all Laws that no one may do anything which will endanger any of the Craft, or bring them into contact with the law of the land, or any of our persecutors.
128. In any disputes between Brethren, no one may invoke any Laws but those of the Craft.
129. Or any tribunal but that of the Priestess, Priest and Elders.  And may the Curse of the Goddess be on any who do so.


130.  It is not forbidden to say as christians do: “There be Witchcraft in the land,”  because our oppressors of old make it heresy not to believe in Witchcraft, and so a crime to deny it, which thereby puts you under suspicion.
131. But ever say, “I know not of it here, perchance there may be, but afar off– I know not where.”
132. But ever speak of them as old crones, consorting with the devil and riding through the air.
133. And ever say: “But how may men may ride through the air an they be not as light as thistledown?”
134. But the Curse of the Goddess be on any who cast suspicion on any of the Brotherhood.
135. Or speaks of any real meeting place where any abide.


136. Let the Craft keep books with the names of all herbs which are good for men, and all cures, so all may learn.
137. But keep another book with all the Bales and Apies and let only the Elders and other trustworthy people have this  knowledge. 


138. Remember the Art is the secret of the Gods and may only be used in earnest and never for show or pride, or vainglory.
139. Magicians and christians may taunt us saying, “You have no power.  Do magick before our eyes. Then only will we believe.”  seeking to cause us to betray our Art before them.
140. Heed them not.  For the Art is a Holy Gift, and may only be used in need.  And the Curse of the Gods be on any who break this Law.


141. It ever be the way with women, and with men also that they ever seek new love.
142. Nor should we reprove them for this.
143. But it may be found to the disadvantage of the Craft.
144. And so many a time it has happened that a High Priest or a High Priestess impelled by love, hath departed with their love, that is they have left the Coven.
145. Now if a High Priestess wishes to resign, they may do so in full Coven.
146. And this resignation is valid.
147. But if they should run off without resigning, who may know if they may not return within a few months time?
148. So the Law is:  If a High Priestess leaves her Coven, but returns within the space of a year and a day, then she shall be taken back and all shall be as before.
149. Meanwhile, if she has a deputy, that deputy shall act as High Priestess for as long as the High Priestess is away.
150. If she returns not at the end of a year and a day, then shall the Coven elect a new High Priestess,
151. Unless there is a good reason to the contrary, the person who has done the work of the High Priestess should reap the benefit of the reward.
152. If somebody else is elected, the deputy is made maiden and deputy of the High Priestess.


153. It hath been found that practicing the Art doth cause a fondness between aspirant and tutor, and it is the cause of better results if this be so.
154. But if for any reason this be undesireable, it can easily be avoided by both persons from the outset firmly resolving in their minds that if any such ensure, it shall be that of brother and sister, or parent and child.
155. And it is for this reason that a man may be taught by a woman and a woman by a man and that woman and woman and man and man should never attempt these practices together.
156.  And may the Curses of the Mighty Ones be on any who make such an attempt.


157. Order and discipline must be kept.
158. A High Priestess or a High Priest may and should punish all faults.
159. To this end:  all the Craft must receive their correction willingly.  If not from the hands of the Representative of the  God and Goddess, how then from the Gods Themselves if you are so blessed with Their presence?
160. All properly prepared, the culprit kneeling, should be told his fault, and his sentence pronounced.
161. Punishment should be the $  followed by something amusing such as several SSSS, or something of this nature.
162. The culprit must acknowledge the justice of the punishment by kissing the hand of the Priestess and by kissing the $ on receiving sentence; and again thanking for punishment received.

The Scourge: Part 4–How does it strike modern groups?


The scourge of a British Traditional Wicca coven in Georgia, made by Black Wing Arts.
The Lupercalia Tradition: a Strega vignette
     The fire flickers off of the participants’ faces as they wait in a silent line.  One by one they step up, most in a light trance from the setting and the previous events in the ritual.  The silence and wait add to the anticipation of the ritual’s end:  the scourging.  The female participants are anointed and scourged by a priest in the aspect of Lupercus and the males by a priestess in the aspect of Juno.
     The participants contemplate the things they want to purge from their lives, the things they regret from the previous year from which they want purification.  Earlier, the high priestess extolled the participants to be mindful that even loving deities punish their children when they step out of bounds.
     The scourge itself looks like many other scourges, made of suede with a stiff handle and flat falls.  A chain mail scourge that was made visible earlier in the ritual added a bit of unease to the proceedings and heightened everyone’s awareness.  The next participant removes her coat to receive the lash.  She takes a deep breath of acceptance in the chill night air.  She stands facing the priest with her arms outstretched, welcoming the lash.  He swings and brings the scourge lightly across her breast to purify her soul and heart.  He brings it down again gently across her lower stomach to impart fertility.  The priest places the third and final stroke across her back as a proxy punishment for perceived misdeeds known only to her and her gods.  The stronger stroke makes her gasp softly.  She bows slightly to Lupercus and Juno and moves out of the circle.  The ritual ends as the priest and priestess scourge each other and the participants howl at the moon with lupine enthusiasm.
The participants of the above ritual that I spoke to said that they enjoy this level of scourging.  It’s an annual event and is the only time that all the participants (who choose so) are scourged. [A representative of the Goddess is symbolically scourged during "The Descent" at Shadowfest.]  The participants said that this level of scourging is a level that is more comfortable than what some groups practice.  One participant said that the Lupercalia scourging seems sweet compared to the random punitive scourgings that a previous high priestess of his would dole out.
For this section I emailed 25 groups of all manner of traditions, paths, and nature religions in North Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey.  Many groups did not respond. (Perhaps they don’t scourge or perhaps my email disgusted them.)  However, 13 groups responded, enough to get a snap shot of what’s currently being practiced with the scourge.  Five groups responded that they do not use the scourge in ritual.  Out of these five, one was a Heathen/Asatru group, one was a Reclaiming group, and the other three were Wiccan groups of various traditions.  One Wiccan group, who says that they practice Congregational Wicca, said that they use the scourge in initiation, but that they don’t strike folks.  Instead, they swish it around in the dark for sound effect and to set a tone of dread before the initiates set out for their rebirth.
Seven groups responded that they do indeed use the scourge in their rituals.  The Strega group above and another group that describes themselves as Scoriada (another Italian Witchcraft tradition) only use the scourge for purification rites.  One Wiccan coven, that describes themselves as “closed,” confirmed that they scourge, but declined to say for what reasons because of their vows of secrecy (I guess it’s like spies and the Mafia!)  The Alexandrian group that responded said that they mainly scourge in ritual to raise energy.  However, they added, “The scourge is meant as a tool of purification, but most people see purification as a sort of cleansing and that’s not how we use it. In ceremony where we’d want to purify or “scourge” something, meaning cleanse it, my clan most often uses an alternate purification substance, salt, instead. In fact our actual ritual scourge is rarely even present on the altar because of that fact.”  It’s interesting to note how similar the word “scour”, what one would do with salt, is to “scourge”.
     Their priestess continued,”In the ceremonies where our actual scourge is used, it is used basically to “excite” the energy of the physical body, snap the person firmly into the physical by awakening their physical energy. This is its capacity as the magical tool of the sephiroth Geburah on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. So basically its a tool which purifies the body of its sluggishness, not something we use to “punish” or “cleanse” incorrect ways or thoughts.”
 The British Traditional Witch Coven that said they follow the New Forest tradition, said that they scourge during initiations and for purification and to raise energy. “There is a good portion of the Mysteries we interact with and experience whose symbolism finds a strong home in the scourge – in my opinion, those who practice the Craft as derived from the New Forest Wicca could never eliminate it and still be practicing that same Craft.”

The Golden Dawn group said that they scourge for the same reasons, but that they also scourge to help with “Godform assumption.”  They use what would be considered a flail instead of a scourge.  There are many pictures of these in the BDSM Rituals section.

The Gardnerian coven that responded to my email offered a wealth of anecdotal evidence for my study.  They use the scourge to:
  • “To purify ritual participants prior to ritual
  • To raise physical energy, and
  • To administer discipline if a student or Initiate makes a magical mistake *during* circle”

The priestess clarified, “Beyond raising “physical” energy prior to rites, it can and typically *does* induce trance helpful during immanent rites.  The scourge equates with “severity” as manifested in the athame’ — one of each side of the double-sided blade connoting “mercy”, the other, “severity”, which represents the fact that Witches don’t *start* trouble, but if met with it, WILL finish it. ;-)

Yes, I know the concept of using the scourge to discipline students is “controversial”, but it need not be, as it’s akin to “beating the bounds” of one’s property to ward off negativity, or doing other things to impress an idea or point on someone.
Using the scourge in this way is specifically allowed in The Ardanes. I’d rather impress someone so they don’t forget and repeat magical mistakes, than risk Initiates becoming “slack”" about sacred matters ;-) Mostly the discipline is good-natured, even funny — but my Initiates know that I can and will wield the scourge in this way if I choose to.
Scourges are also sometimes used to “whip” dancers during a Cone of Power, so they’ll dance faster and faster. And it may be used during certain bawdy Craft games as well.
Of course, we’re precise about how many strokes everyone gets. We use a Witch’s Ladder to count them so we don’t exceed the traditional limits (40, 80, or 160 tops), and note when 3, 7, 9, 21, and 40 strokes have been meted out.
My Initiates “bow” at each Quarter when calling the Guardians of the Watchtowers, and when we bid them adieu when our ritual is done (i.e., when dismissing the Guardians at circle’s end).”
Thank you to everyone who bravely responded to my emails and questions about scourging.  You helped keep the old ways alive.
Just to recap about scourging:


The Scourge Part 3: Gardner and the scourge’s falls

Gerald Gardner

In case you didn’t know, Gerald Gardner created the religion of Wicca based on other world religions, his travels in the East, Victorian ceremonial magic, the scholarship and pseudo-scholarship of others, and the knowledge of English witches.  I’m sorry to burst your bubble if you think Wicca is an unbroken lineage from ancient times until now.
In the Gardnerian tradition, and in many other traditions, the scourge is number 7 in the list of the Eightfold Path that leads one in the ways of worship and magic.  In his books “Witchcraft Today” and “Meaning of Witchcraft”, Gardner mentions using a scourge in ritual, primarily in initiations as an ordeal and for purification and energy raising. In “The Gardnerian Book of Shadows” he discusses scourging a magical partner to bind a spell and using scourging for maintain coven discipline.  He also goes on in great detail about using number magic and scourging as a way of giving an offering to the Goddess.  According to Gardner, “It is not meet to make offerings [scourgings] of less than two score to the Goddess, for here be a mystery.”  3, 2, 5, 7, 9, and 21 are also acceptable numbers and number multiples to use in a scourging ritual.
Since Gardner created Wicca, why would the use of a scourge be included in ritual?  From what we know, Gardner possessed a vast knowledge of myth, so we can assume that he knew about the Greeks and Romans using the scourge in their various rites.  He would have also known about various Hindu sects using scourging and other methods of pain to cause enlightenment from his time in India (the tradition of sky clad and indeed the term itself was something that Gardner borrowed from the Hindus).  Gardner was also a product of his times.  He was most likely influenced by different Victorian flagellant clubs as well as different scourging rituals that occult societies like Crowley’s OTO practiced.  Gardner also borrowed heavily from, and sometimes outright plagiarized, Charles Leland’s books about Strega and Italian witchcraft.  It is also believed that the Traditional British Coven that Gardner studied with used the scourge as a way to maintain discipline and secrecy, although there are some sources that dispute this.  The most compelling reason why Gardner included scourging as a tradition in Wicca is that people went along with his addition of the practice.  If his original coven had balked at the practice, it would have fallen by the wayside, as we’ll see later.

Alex Sanders and scourging during an initiation
                                      As time went on, Gerald Gardner taught others about Wicca and the “secrets” of the faith.  These other folks went on to start their own covens, and in some cases Pagan traditions.  One such person was Alex Sanders, who started Alexandrian Wicca.  Although he eventually broke from Gardner and claimed to come from a family tradition, a good many of his practices mirror Gardnerian Wicca, including the use of the scourge in initiations and other rituals and magic.  Raymond Buckland, another student of Gardner’s, discusses initiatory bondage (another Gardnerian practice), sensory deprivation, and scourging in his “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.”  Doreen Valiente and Janet and Stewart Farrar all discuss the ritual use of scourging in their writings.  Of course, Valiente had direct dealings with Gardner and the Farrars were students of Alex Sanders.
So when did the scourge fall out of favor?  The easy answer is “when folks started to object”.  More seriously, however, I suspect it started to happen when Wicca came to America.  Americans have always been into eclectic modes of worship, and the practice of Wicca by Americans has been no different.  The further Wicca got away from the strict rules of Gardnerian Wicca and its offshoots, the less you see “unpleasant” things like scourges and secrecy.  If you look at the books published by American authors, most of them don’t mention the use of the scourge, even in initiations.  In fact, in most “beginner” books, you’re lucky if the scourge is even mentioned as a ritual tool.  Gavin and Yvonne Frost, well known for their views on sex magic, don’t even mention the scourge in their writings.
Another reason why scourging is no longer widely practiced in Wicca is Starhawk and the feminist/Dianic Pagan movement.  If you’re advocating for women’s rights and women’s mysteries, chances are you are not going to take the time to reconcile a religious practice that could be perceived by the outside world as physical abuse and patriarchy with your political views.   From the 1970′s onward there is a marked decline in the use and mention of the scourge.  Many groups today either don’t own a scourge, or have one that is only used as a witch prop.
Part 4 will be a survey of current groups and their use of the scourge.

Some points to consider as we travel along this section

This comparative list certainly doesn’t cover everything that it could.  I thought I would include it to spark some thoughts on how scourging in the BDSM tradition can be compatible with scourging in  Pagan and Wiccan traditions and how the traditions can merge to become a new tradition.

Frogs represent fertility in a lot of magic traditions–so does scourging.
  • You hit, tickle, and use a scourge for sound effects
  • The person being scourged is often bound
  • The act of scourging is used for tactile exploration, pain, sexual stimulation, to alter consciousness, punishment, fear, relaxation, building bonds, transformation, and pushing limits
  • There may be certain rituals proceeding the scourging or it may be spur-of-the-moment
  • Scourging can be dramatic or done in a mundane manner
  • Scourging can be utilized with role playing
  • Scourging may be private or public
Ritual Use
  • You hit, tickle, and use a scourge for sound effects
  • The person being scourged is often bound
  • The act of scourging is used for rhythmic meditation, to alter consciousness, fear, transformation, light pain, initiation, symbolism, and building energy
  • The purpose of scourging is usually not to cause pain–so light to moderate strokes are usually used
  • Scourging occurs in ritual
  • Scourging is almost always done in a dramatic fashion
  • Scourging can be utilized with aspecting
  • Scourging is almost never private

The Scourge–Part 2

     In my last blog about scourging, I discussed the tradition of Lupercalia, where runners flogged women to impart fertility (sort of like a drive-by—but on foot!).  Another Roman tradition related to fertility scourging and purification is the legend of the rape of the Sabine women.
The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna

When Rome was first founded, there were more men than women, as is often the case in new colonies and settlements.  To bring in potential mates, the Romans invited the Sabines to a festival, and then they raped the women and held them hostage.  The Sabine men, of course, took offense, attacked Rome and recaptured their ravished womenfolk.  There was a catch. The women were now infertile.
     The Sabine women appealed to Juno, who told them that if they made love to a sacred billy goat or a ram (we’re not sure because the leaves were rustling) that they would regain their fertility.  They found this remedy unappealing.  An oracle was consulted, and the dilemma was solved.  Instead of sleeping with the goat, they would kill the goat and make a scourge out of it.  By submitting to the goat scourge and by extension Juno, the women were being purified from the scourge of infertility.
     The whip served a duel purpose here: fertility and purification.  It’s been recently explained to me that in some traditions the handle of the scourge represents the feminine while the falls of the scourge represent the masculine.  Some scholars have linked the story of the Sabine women to Lupercalia, but others dispute that claim. Spring fertility/purification festivals using scourges and scourge-like implements still continue today all over the world, particularly in Eastern Europe and South Korea.  Evidently it’s not just a Roman notion.
     The scourge has also been used in many cultures as a tool for initiation.  Pain can be the ordeal that many folks are looking for when seeking a “real” initiation (ie fraternity paddlings) because it does prove something, if not to the outside world then at least to the initiate.  The rhythm of the blows and the brain chemicals released when the body is in pain can also lead to deep meditative states that are necessary to a good initiation experience.  Many of the Greek mystery cults realized this and utilized the scourge in this way.
This is Nemisis but pretend that it’s Telete
The goddess Telete, Dionysus’ daughter and the goddess in charge of initiations, was often portrayed holding a whip or a scourge.
     The scourge also makes an appearance in the myth of Inanna, in her descent into the Underworld.  This myth is seen by many to represent initiation at its best and is used as the basis for many Wiccan and Pagan initiation rites today.
There are many versions of the Descent myth and they give different reasons for her descent, but in all of them, Inanna must give up seven symbols of power as she proceeds through the seven gates of the underworld.  Eventually she arrives in the underworld naked and seemingly powerless.  In the ancient myths she dies at the hands of her sister Ereskigal and is hung on a hook (sounds a lot like suspension).  In Wiccan interpretations that some suspect to be Gardner’s embroidery on the fabric of older myths, she is scourged by Death as a punishment, perhaps, for refusing his advances.
Death and his scourge


The Inanna descent, regardless of which version you go by, represents for many people facing their inner demons and fears–which is one of the aims of initiation.  The myth also symbolizes not only death and rebirth but purification of soul and spirit by being broken down and built back up.  This is another aim of initiation and is a continuing cycle within life.

The Scourge Part 1

“The Goddess’ scourge is light—usually.”

           A scourge by any other name is still a scourge.  A scourge is the name given to what is basically a many-tailed whip used in Wicca.  People in the scene often call it a flogger, or if it has knots, a cat, and to outsiders it’s a whip, but all these boil down to a scourge.  According to Merriam-Webster, the word first appears in its current form in the 13th century and is originally derived from the Latin word corrigia, which means “thong” or “whip”.    It’s a ritual tool that many Wiccans either don’t own, don’t use, don’t understand, or have purely for show.
            Scourges and other whip like implements have been associated with religion forever. 
In Ancient Egypt, Osiris was often depicted with a crook and a flail, symbols of authority but also symbols of agriculture.  These symbols of agriculture could sympathetically translate to virility symbols.  There is more about the flail (which looks an awful lot like a scourge) in the “Ritual” section of this blog.
The Ancient Romans used scourges, whips, and switches sympathetically in their magic and rituals. These implements were seen as being phallic and were used in fertility rites, primarily Lupercalia.  According to a Hellenic expert, while Lupercalia is primarily a Roman festival, it has its origins in Ancient Greece. Originally male adolescents in Arkadia would reenact the feast of Lycaon every year. At the original feast, Lycaon prepared a feast for the Olympian gods that included some human flesh, perhaps from one of Lycaon’s male relatives. This so enraged Zeus, that he struck Lycaon’s house
with a thunderbolt and Lycaon turned into a wolf.
At the Arkadian reenactment, the teenagers would gather on a mountaintop and
partake of a meal of animal entrails. However, among the animal guts was hidden one piece of human intestine. If a participant ate this juicy morsel, he would turn into a wolf and was only able to become human again if he refrained from eating human meat for nine years. Another way that the boys could achieve this lupine transformation was to swim across a special mountain pool. Once again, after nine years, they could regain their human form.  


This tradition traveled to Rome via Hermes’ son, Euandros, who exported the cult of Pan Lykaios and the festival of Lykaia to Italy. This festival later became the festival of Lupercalia, which is described in the opening lines of Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar.

Once the wolf festival was transported to Rome and became Lupercalia, many
different stories and deities became associated with the celebration.  To honor Pan, two goats and a dog were annually sacrificed. The dog was sacrificed because they were sacred for their ability to protect flocks and because Pan raised hounds.
           Skin from the sacrificed goats was used for the flails that the Lupercalia runners would whip the female spectators with. It was believed that through this aggressive behavior Pan would bless the ladies with fertility. 



In Julius Caesar, Caesar tells Antony:
Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.
Act I, Scene 2