Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 7: Dancing on Kristallnacht

Dancing is used all over the world to induce pleasure.  Pleasure for the spectators and pleasure for the dancers.  Dance is a social act but also a religious act.  Dance in a religious context is often employed to induce ecstasy.  The physical exertion releases pleasure chemicals in the brain which often makes the dancer feel jubilant and closer to Divinity. To heighten these feelings and to stimulate the brain to release even more pleasure chemicals, some groups, like the Fakirs, add an element of pain to the dance ritual.  Most famous and most often portrayed in popular culture is the fire walk or dance.  However, equally employed is glass walking and dancing.  Glass walking and dancing is moving out of the realm of exotic religious practices and side shows to find its way to Fetish events and even main stream belly dancing shows.



Glass is a unique medium to use in ritual dance because it encompasses all of the elements:  sand to make it with, fire to transform it, air to give it shape, and water to cool it.  The website “Life Events”  makes all kinds of health claims about glass walking/dancing and about napping on a bed of glass (which I imagine would be similar to sleeping on a bed of nails).  According the the website’s author, walking on glass acts as reflexology and improves your internal health (I would surmise that walking on anything bumpy would have the same effect).  The glass from wine bottles is what is recommended for the healing bed.
The juice of grapes are like tears form Earth….Preparing the Bottles: 40 to 50 wine (or champagne) bottles should be soaked in water to remove any paper labels. Use fairly large bottles so that the pieces are not so breakable once they are in small pieces. Heat the bottles in an oven (at 400 degrees) for 15 to 20 minutes. Place them in a canvas sack and use a hammer (iron skillet) to break them into small pieces. Wear gloves and eye protection. Remove the bottle necks.
Making and Using the Bed: Use a wood frame or place the glass on a tarp with an old blanket to give a little cushion. Spread the glass to about a 8 cm (3 inch) depth. Use a folded hand towel for a pillow and a sheet for a bed cover. Use a separate towel to brush off glass that sticks to the skin. Be careful not to step on the splinters that appear at the edge of the glass.
We ask our spiritual teacher(s) to bless the glass, use a smudge stick and recite healing mantras to energize it before first use.”
The author suggests this chant as an appropriate healing mantra or opening blessing: “I have a key.  I may do anything I want.  My body is elastic and flexible. I give all of my pain, illness and discomfort to the glass.”

Martina, who graciously shared her story in a previous post, uses glass dancing in Wiccan purification rituals.

“Coven members bring bottles and break them before the dance (wine and beer bottles) and spread them out on a tarp. I lay down with bare back on the broken glass, and each of the coven girls puts one of their feet somewhere on my body, so that the glass can pull anything impure from their bodies into mine. I then stand on the glass and each of them adorns me with something that will assist in pushing or driving all impurities out of me and into the glass through bare feet as I dance. (nipple clamps, added weighs or brass bells, or a thorny wrap around waist, hips, ankles, something that adds an element of pain to the dance) Then I dance on the glass while they drum and chant until they tell me to stop.”


While glass dancing isn’t for everyone, nor is it necessarily safe, but other materials can be substituted for glass if you wanted to give it a try.  Obsidian or volcanic glass is a good substitute, as is lightening glass, pumice, gravel, and wood chips.  Depending on why the dance is being performed, different gemstones with the appropriate correspondences can be used as well.

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.