And One to GROW On!

It’s just not a birthday celebration if at least one person doesn’t impersonate Marilyn singing “Happy Birthday.”

“One to grow on, one to live on, one to eat on, one to be happy on, and one to get married on!”

It’s also not a birthday if at least one person doesn’t try to swat your ass.  Ever wonder where that tradition came from?  No, it wasn’t just some sick fucker trying to ruin a little kid’s day nor was it some kinky person trying to please their partner.  It actually started with the nameless ancients, who believed that evil spirits surrounded people at all times, especially on their birthdays.  These evil spirits were devious enough to want to make a birthday a death day.  In order to get rid of the evil spirits, the birthday person was spanked to drive away the evil.  With each swat, a prayer or blessing was said for the coming year, hence, “One to grow on.”  This belief was wide spread enough that many cultures, not just European/North American, have traditions of folks being somewhat brutalized on their birthdays.  As time went on and Christianity took hold, it was said that if a person wasn’t spanked at least once a year, that the soul was being softened up for Hell and that the body was being softened up for the grave.

There’s many ways that this quaint tradition that many of us remember from childhood can be given a magical hit.  The easiest method is to make sure that as you deliver the swats, whether light and playful or hard enough to be remembered for a few days, that you say those blessings for the coming year.  It’s like cakes and ale: “May you never hunger” and “may you never thirst.”  With out those blessings, you’re just eating and drinking in circle.  With out these blessings, you’re just smacking some ass.  You could use the traditional blessings stated above, or you could be thoughtful and write blessings specific to the birthday person’s situation.

You can also, as your hand connects with the other person, send nice energy to them, to sustain them for the coming year.  This energy would ideally back up your blessings for an extra magical boost.  If you’re not familiar with sending energy, just imagine that as your hand connects, nice warm light is transferred from your body to the other person.  Or, you could go one step further and not only say the blessing and transfer energy, but imagine what that blessing is actually saying.  For example, you would say “One to grow on”, send that nice energy into the person, and imagine the person growing physically, spiritually, and mentally.  Because of the possible complexities of this magical working, don’t feel like you have to rush the birthday spanking.  Just let it be nice and leisurely (and it’s their birthday, after all, so it SHOULD be fun!).

Number magic is another natural choice for a magical birthday spanking.  Since birthday spankings traditionally consist of the number of swats plus a few extras, numerology, tarot card numbering, Kabbalah numbering, and the I Ching can all be used in the magical working.  There are lots of different ways these various divinatory systems can be employed.  The simplest is to look up what the number of the person’s age represents.  Then, if it is an auspicious meaning, that meaning can become part of your intent with the spell as you deliver the blows–literally beating it into the recipient.  If the meaning is inauspicious, then your intent would be to beat into them things that would counter act the meaning.  You may even want to beat out a protective astral shield for them, in much the same way a black smith would have hammered out a metal shield, except you would be working with skin.

Another way to integrate number magic and divination into the spanking is to pay attention to the recipient’s reactions to your licks and divine their future for the year from that.  For example, if the recipient is fairly quiet up until lick number 7, when he/she whimpers or cries out or laughs, then the meaning behind that number (from whatever system you are using) would indicate their fortune for the year.

Birthday spankings are traditionally done with a bare hand, but that doesn’t mean that implements can’t be used, or my favorite–a hand gloved in leather.  If you’re interested in magic dealing with switches, check out the “Cut Me A Switch, Bitch” section in BDSM rituals.

Have fun as you administer your birthday spankings and receive them.  Remember, birthday spankings should be a safe, sane, and consensual adult event.  Don’t do anything stupid that will land you in jail or bring bad karma.
So, in closing:  Happy Birthday Booker T. Washington!  May we all be able to cast down our buckets where we are and be content with what we draw up!
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Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 5: Salvation for Your Sole– Ceromancy, Falaqa, and Bastinado

He, sir, that must marry this woman. Therefore, you 
    clown, abandon,–which is in the vulgar leave,–the 
    society,–which in the boorish is company,–of this 
    female,–which in the common is woman; which 
    together is, abandon the society of this female, or, 
    clown, thou perishest; or, to thy better 
    understanding, diest; or, to wit I kill thee, make 
    thee away, translate thy life into death, thy 
    liberty into bondage: I will deal in poison with 
    thee, or in bastinado, or in steel; I will bandy 
    with thee in faction; I will o’errun thee with 
    policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways: 
    therefore tremble and depart.  (As You Like It (1599); Act V, Scene 1, 45-56)

From Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:

a blow with a stick or cudgel; a beating especially with a stick; a punishment consisting of beating the soles of the feet with a stick; stick, cudgel
According to the entry, the word is Spanish, but originally from Latin, and it was first used in 1572.  I suspect, however, that the date may not be entirely correct.  The custom of punishing the soles of a person’s feet has been around far longer than that, especially in the Middle East.  If bastinado was not in Spain before the Moorish Invasion, it definitely was after 711 AD.  The practice is also know as falanga and falaqa (the Persian word for it).  Falaqa refers to the board, which looks like an English foot stock, that is often used to immobilize a person’s feet for whipping.

 Bastinado is a delicate subject, not only because it’s administered on a part of the body that is both tough and delicate at the same time, but because most instances of bastinado aren’t for “love and pleasure”.  It often falls into the dark side of the light and dark dichotomy.  Historically and in modern times, it was used in religious schools as punishment, by the military as an interrogation and torture method, by governments as a sentence, and in seraglios as a way to keep order. 
Bahá’u'lláh of the Baha’i’ faith under went Falaqa in Iran.
Political dissidents and religious minorities are often the ones to suffer bastinado.  The insidious thing about bastinado is that it’s a lot like being beaten by a phone book: it can inflict ungodly pain and physical damage but it doesn’t usually leave marks.  People tend to fold quicker under bastinado than they do with other types of torture.
So, if there is so much pain and horrid misery associated with bastinado, why am I covering it?  For one thing, a reader requested that I cover it.  I try to be a pleaser, when I can.  For another thing, it’s a perfectly valid thing to discuss within the context of this blog.  Lots and lots of people have a bastinado fetish: giving, receiving, and watching.  More than you might think.  Type anything in this blog into You Tube and your mouth will drop and your eyes will bulge.  
It has been awhile since I’ve been around any bastinado, and even then, it wasn’t something I was around very much.  In doing research for this blog, I came across a series of videos by Barefootcecilia on Youtube, which gave me a lot of ideas.  However, just now when I went to link her channel to this blog, I received: “This account has been terminated due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines and/or claims of copyright infringement.”  Sorry, darling.  Guess you were just too hot for You Tube (and she was hot!)

 Before I go further, the standard warning statement should be made: All things should be safe, sane, and consensual.  As with any sort of S&M and/ or sex ritual, be responsible.  Use safe words and condoms and respect boundaries.  No under aged participants or spectators.  Outdoor sex should be on private property.  Bondage should allow for blood flow.  If you break skin, use first aid to treat it and clean your equipment properly.  And with foot whipping, don’t over do it.  The object is to lightly stimulate nerves, not break bones (and break bones you can very easily).

There are several options for integrating bastinado into Pagan worship. Some ideas have been mentioned in the The Many Textures of Deity section and in the Cut Me a Switch, Bitch section that is under BDSM Rituals. Another idea is to have one person offer their feet up as a ritual object.  In this case, the person’s feet would be used for several different things.  Their feet could be used as a drum, an incense holder for stick incense, a candle holder for small tapers, and if they’re talented, a flat surface to hold a chalice or a bowl of water.  If the person is really good at being still and completely zoning out, their whole body could be used as an altar.
Feet as a drum:  Since most people don’t regularly undergo bastinado, I would advise only using your hands, like with bongos.  If you’d like to use drumsticks but want to play it safe, super thin plastic rulers are good implements for bastinado.  They have a loud “slap” but a fleeting sharp sting that won’t do any damage.
Feet as an incense holder:  Unless the person has extremely calloused feet (which I’m not covering here), only use stick incense tucked in between the toes.  For added sound effects that will make the “incense burner” squirm, you can periodically wet the foot down.  As the ash drops, it will sizzle.
Feet as a candle holder: You can implement this idea in much the same way you would do with the incense, even down to the water.  However, everybody involved should be aware that candle wax will get on the person’s soles and aloe should be available for possible burns.  After all the wax has dripped, ceromancy can be practiced on the images left on the person’s sole.  Ceromancy is traditionally the practice of divining meanings from the images of wax dripped into water, it can easily be applied to flesh as  well.  As with other types of divination that deal with formed images (like tea leaf reading), different shapes mean different things.   After becoming familiar with the with the meaning of the shapes, use your own intuition to divine what they really mean to your situation or that of your sub’s.  This is a well honored method of divination among those of the kinkier sort.  According to, the Italian courtesan Veronica Franco faced the Inquisition on charges related to ceromancy.  I wonder if she underwent bastinado as part of the inquest?

As a nice way to wind down after circle, don’t forget to tickle your “altar’s” feet.  According to Mistress Marmot, who started out as a sub, “When I was a sub, my Doms would tickle my feet, except I wasn’t ticklish there.  Instead, it would make me want to scratch my feet.  It would bother me.”  So, tickling might not be the pleasure you intended! 

Blessed Be Thy Feet, Supplement A: My sole is bound to you

Shibari (and all its bastardize, alternate spellings) is Japanese rope bondage.  It is more properly know as kinbaku.  The art form is a true discipline, every bit as much as karate, and people who master it are true masters, not just in the S&M sense.  It can be done to any part of the body, including hair, and the designs range from simple to a level of complexity that takes hours to create.  Most shibari designs appear to be knotted but really are not.  That’s the beauty of it.

I love having shibari ropes on me.  It puts me in a most delicious head space, perfect for play or ritual.  Shibari makes me feel special and cherished–one of the nicest feelings you can convey to a partner.   While I love having the ropes on me, I, however, make a mess when I try to put the ropes on other people.  At the end of this blog, I’ve included two simple tutorials for foot shibari.  Also, if you decide to really get serious about the discipline, check out anything by Two Knotty Boys or try to see Nikki Nefarious.

Foot shibari is ideal in ritual situations because not only does it lend itself to several different uses, but it can be done in solitary, partner, or group ritual.  It can be done to help you reach a meditative state.  It can also be done to help with prayers in much the same way prayer beads are used.  For every knot or special loop, a line from a prayer can be said or a specific deity remembered.  The knots and loops can also be used in conjunction with number magic and knot magic.  If using knot magic, you may want to cut the ropes off instead of untying them so that the magic is not undone (unless, of course, that’s part of the ritual).

Probably the most intimate and meaningful way foot shibari can be used in circle is in binding rituals.  Usually when folks say “binding rituals”, they mean a ritual to bind someone, thing, or tendency up so that it/they can’t do any harm.  This isn’t that type of ritual.  What I mean by binding here is becoming bound to someone, a deity, or a group.  Think of it this way, whoever controls your feet controls you. Feet are your mobility and free will.  That’s why it’s worse to have a foot cut off than to have a hand cut off.  However, many of us would gladly give up our freewill to a god or goddess, which is why foot shibari makes a good addition to group or self dedication ceremonies.  If your deity has a sacred number, make sure to have that many knots or twists in your design.  If your deity has a sacred color, get the right color of rope.

As with any bondage, make sure all participants are of age and do consent.  Make sure that your bondage is not so tight that you lose blood flow.  Numbness isn’t really ideal.  Also, make sure that safety scissors are handy in case the bondage needs to be cut quickly.  Test cutting your rope with your scissors before you start.  Have fun being all tied up!