Aphrodite is a heavy-handed MILF!

This was posted on Facebook by Church Militant.  I liked it because it’s true.  I’ve seen a lot of bitching this year on Facebook by Pagans bemoaning all the commercialism attached to Valentine’s Day and the fact that they feel left out because they did not properly budget for this year.  Those aren’t really their words, but that’s the basic gist.  What they said was “Whine, whine, whine, bitch, bitch, bitch, moan, moan, moan.”  If you’re a Pagan, you really shouldn’t care about celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Instead, you should be focused on celebrating Lupercalia!  All you need to do on Lupercalia is fuck and fuck and fuck some more!  If you’re really going to be fun, get out your play toys and beat some fertility into each other.  Which brings us to the lovely Aphrodite, one of the patronesses here at the Barbed Pentacle.

Evidently, Cupid is a very bad boy and Aphrodite is a heavy-handed MILF, at least according to classical art.

This picture is like a reverse pinata–blindfold the kid and beat him with a stick.

The greeting card companies never market cards with Cupid on it that say, “Pray that Cupid isn’t mischievous this year and sets you up with a psychopath” because that’s one of the fucked up things that Cupid likes to do for fun.

Often Ares or Mars, Aphrodite’s long-time lover, gets in on the action.

Sometimes, though, Aphrodite and Cupid gang-up on Ares.

It’s like if Rapunzel were in to flagellation! Ares looks like he’s smiling.

However, the MILF always gets what she deserves in the end.

The ways of exploring the relationship between Aphrodite, Cupid, and Ares are endless. If you want to go the S&M route, roses are a good choice to use as an implement, as are arrows.  Field arrows aren’t very expensive and offer lots of options.   The shaft can be used like a rod or cane on a willing sacrifice, the fletching is nice for tickling, and the point, well, it has all kinds of possibilities.  If Love hasn’t been kind to you, you can always beat it.  The ancients were fond of creating sculptures and such to represent deities and ideas.  If the harvest was poor or some sort of natural disaster occurred, the sculptural representative received the physical brunt of the supplicants’ displeasure.  There’s no reason not to continue this tradition.  At the very least, it’ll be fun and make you feel better.

What will I be doing for Lupercalia?  I’m going to wear red and let the Big Bad Wolf eat me up!

My theory is that the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is a vague carry over from ancient Lupercalian celebrations.  I haven’t done any research toward substantiating my theory yet, but maybe one day.

Looking for something to read on Lupercalia?  Try Tonia Brown’s Devouring Milo.  I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten very far in the book yet because I’ve been thankfully too busy blessedly spreading my fingers as a sexy word whore, but what I read was fantastically gory.

http://www.amazon.com/Devouring-Milo-Tonia-Brown-ebook/dp/B00DWZYWKO

These folks know how to suck your titties:

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

Passion And Soulhttp://passionandsoul.com/

Help with the project: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/more-shibari-you-can-use

Tonia Brown:  www.thebackseatwriter.com

https://www.facebook.com/events/442022209256634/

Quadrivium Supplies:  http://www.quadrivium-supplies.com/  

Hyperdreams Interactive Storieshttp://www.hyperdreams.com/

 

 

Damn it, Lupercus, I’m knotjokin!

CAESAR

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.
Finally:
*THERAPY*-
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!
Really.
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?
ETSY
Facebook “like/share”
Facebook friend (I’ll accept any legitimate friend requests)
Fetlife

Dogs and Bitches: Happy Lupercalia! (oh and that other holiday too……)

As many of you may remember from the Scourge series of blogs, Lupercalia is typically celebrated on February 15th.  Lupercalia is all about scourging for fertility, wolves, Pan, and fucking!
“I said bite my neck!”

Many scholars suspect that most of our Valentine’s Day traditions are derived from Roman Lupercalia practices.  Over the years, the original practices, which included racing around naked, killing dogs and goats, showering in blood, and lots of sex, has been toned down.  Thank the Victorians.  It’s all their fault.

Then there’s the St. Valentine issue………..

According to the best source for information on the web, Wikipedia, Valentine “was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.”

However, which Valentine was it?  There are many different records from that time for many different churchmen named Valentine (and all the different variations) and very little is know about any of them.  Why did the Emperor Claudius make it illegal for folks to get married?  Because he didn’t have saltpeter.  He felt that if his soldiers had wives at home, instead of just fun-time girls, that they would be distracted and lose their desire to fight his wars.  So, to make sure that this didn’t happen, he outlawed marriage.  (Evidently, just like always in those early days, the Christians just couldn’t follow the rules.  No wonder they lost their heads!)

So where does this leave us?  Personally, I say fuck Valentine!  Headless corpses can’t tell you to stop!

The Sacred Marriage

But seriously, as Pagans, Valentine’s Day can be turned into a celebration of the Sacred Marriage between the Lord and Lady.  At this time in the wheel of the year, the Goddess is about to make her ascent up from the Underworld as the Maiden and the Lord is transforming from a child to a young man–ready to sow his oats! There’s no reason why you and your chosen partner shouldn’t do the same.

Whether you’re bound to someone…..

Or footloose and fancy free to do as you please.
If you have a partner, something fun to do for them is to wrap yourself up as their present.

It lends itself to endless possibilities.  Or, if you’re solo this year, try reconnecting to the sexual side of your chosen deities.

You could reconnect with your Goddess…..

Your God…..

Or be adventurous and bi-curious and go for a Ménage à trois.

So, what do I want from my partner on Lupercalia/Valentine’s Day?

I’m thinking about some knife play………or maybe a tattoo…….

But most of all, I just want him to

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 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.

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