All Tied Up, Part 1: Chastity or Bondage?

“Next and lastly I present the cords. They are of use to bind the sigils of the art, also the material basis. Also they are necessary in the oath.” –Gardnerian Book of Shadows, 1st degree initiation

The Cingulum, which is Latin for “girdle”, is a piece of clothing/tool that in our present day is rarely seen on Pagans.  It is typically a rope of some fiber and color that is worn around the waist.  Sure, Gardnerians still proudly wear them, but most Pagans are not even in traditions that bestow them any more.  This is a shame, because cingulums, also sometimes called “witch’s cords”, can be a lot of fun and quite useful.

Praecinge me, Domine, cingulo puritatis, et exstingue in lumbis meis humorem libidinis; ut maneat in me virtus continentia et castitatis.

Gird me, O Lord, with the girdle of purity, and extinguish in me all evil desires, that the virtue of chastity may abide in me. –Catholic Vestment Prayer

Wiccans are not the only ones to wear cingulums.  Originally the word was used to describe the belt that Roman soldiers wore.

Then it was tied on by the Catholic Church to describe the rope that monks wear around their waists.  I called and emailed a variety of different monks at Belmont Abbey, a local monastery, and no one would ever respond to my requests for an interview.

I guess my soul just isn’t worth saving.  It’s a pity because I can really rock a Catholic school girl outfit!  According to several different Internet sources, the Catholic cingulum is supposed to remind the monks of their vow of chastity and aid them in remaining pure and celibate.  Not exactly how a cingulum is used Wicca.

“Learn of the spirit that goeth with burdens that have not honour, for ’tis the spirit that stoopeth the shoulders and not the weight. Armour is heavy, yet it is a proud burden and a man standeth upright in it. Limiting and constraining any of the senses serves to increase the concentration of another. Shutting the eyes aids the hearing. So the binding of the initiate’s hands increases the mental perception, while the scourge increaseth the inner vision. So the initiate goeth through it proudly, like a princess, knowing it but serves to increase her glory. But this can only be done by the aid of another intelligence and in a circle, to prevent the power thus generated being lost. Priests attempt to do the same with their scourgings and mortifications of the flesh. But lacking the aid of bonds and their attention being distracted by their scourging themselves and what little power they do produce being dissipated, as they do not usually work within a circle, it is little wonder that they oft fail. Monks and hermits do better, as they are apt to work in tiny cells and coves, which in some way act as circles. The Knights of the Temple, who used mutually to scourge each other in an octagon, did better still; but they apparently did not know the virtue of bonds and did evil, man to man. But perhaps some did know? What of the Church’s charge that they wore girdles or cords?” –Gardnerian Book of Shadows, Of the Ordeal of the Magical Art

Sometimes the cord is the length of the person’s measure, which is the person’s height.  This practice is more symbolic than practical, and it refers to the myth of the Fates who would measure out a person’s life span and then cut it for death.  When the cord is a person’s measure, it is usually used in some version of an initiation, and the initiate is usually tied up in some form.   Sometimes the cord is 9 feet in length, which serves the practical purpose of aiding a witch in being able to cast a circle in the traditional circumference.  Cingulums can also denote a group member’s status or rank, or recognize an achievement or rite of passage.

Cingulums can be a lot of fun.  It’s an interesting mind fuck to be tied up with your measure during ritualistic sex or binding magic.  If you don’t have a cingulum, or if you want to create a cingulum for you or somebody else for a particular purpose, here’s how:

Materials

Yarn of various colors

Scissors

Tape (optional)

Unsharpened pencil or stick

Extra set of hands

Procedure

First decide the number of strands and colors that you want in your cingulum and whether your cingulum will be 9 feet or the length of your measure.  For a 9-foot cingulum, cut 19 feet strands of yarn.  For a cingulum that is the length of your measure, cut your yarn so that it is your height doubled plus a few extra inches.  Tie one end of your yarn strands to something sturdy and stationary, like a chair, and tie the other ends to a pencil or stick.  You can also tape the ends instead of tying them.  Now slowly back away from the stationary point until your yarn strands are pulled taunt.  Twist the strands deosil (clockwise) until the strands are wound tight.  If it starts to kink, then it’s time for the next step.  Now have your extra set of hands hold your cord in the middle while you bring your end of the cord to the end tied to the stationary point.  While the middle is still being held by the extra set of hands, slide the ends off of the pencil and untie the ends from the stationary point.  Tie both sets of ends together.  Now have the extra set of hands let go of the cord.  Your cord should be twisted around itself like a piece of rope and ready to wear.

Have fun, and remember that bondage should be tight but not so tight that it cuts off circulation, and bondage should never be done on anyone under the legal age of consent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These folks caught the irony of the post:

Mystic Artisanshttps://www.facebook.com/mysticartisans

Passion And Soulhttp://passionandsoul.com/

Knotjokin Rope Floggershttp://www.knotjokin.etsy.com

Tonia Brown:  www.thebackseatwriter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.
Juno
     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.

Sadomasochism, Pain, and Wicca/Paganism

Beardsley’s Frontispiece to “A Full and True Account….”
If you’re reading this blog, then I assume that you at least know what S&M or BDSM is.  If you are looking for a how-to in terms of technique, some of the following books may be helpful:
Sensuous Magic 2 Ed: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couples by Patrick Califia
SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman
Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism   by Philip Miller and Molly Devon
There are tons of books out there on the topic of basic S&M and S&M from all angles, but just like books on Paganism, some are good and some are fluff. 

 When the idea for this blog originally came to me, I, of course like most folks, felt sure that my ideas were fresh and original.  Well, there are few fresh and original ideas out there.  As I come across other people’s take on my “fresh and original” ideas, I’ll post and review them.

            S&M and the pain that is its intended purpose and by product can be related to Pagan/Wiccan practices, ideas, and motifs in many different ways:

·        Sadomasochism as a mystery tradition

·        Pain as an initiatory ordeal

·        Pain as sacrifice

·        Pain as meditation

·        Pain as a drug

·        Sadomasochism as “all acts of love and pleasure”

·        Sadomasochism as ritual

·        Sadomasochism as a vehicle for enacting the drama of myths

·        Sadomasochism as a healing vehicle

·        Sadomasochism as sympathetic magic

·        Pain as a purifier

All of these things, of course, bring us closer to our deities and our understanding of them.  I believe that when we orgasm we may be the closest to the pure energy force of the divine that we can experience here on Earth.  Using S&M in conjunction with sex and magic can enhance that feeling.