Names and labels: “Shamanic BDSM”

Over the last couple of years I’ve tried a few different names for the BDSM that I do – Sacred Kink, Conscious Kink, Tantric BDSM – but none of them have felt quite right. I’m currently using the term “Ecstatic BDSM”, which fits well, but I am also interested in another term which overlaps with this one: Shamanic BDSM.

Why Shamanic? This word gets thrown around a lot, and it means different things to different people and in different contexts. A quick look at the Wikipedia entry yields a simple definition and then a series of more complex ones. The simple one is this:

Shamanism = technique of ecstasy

I like this and it chimes with what I do. The BDSM I do is almost always ecstatic, which is why it’s been described by one of the UK’s leading Tantra teachers as “the same ecstasy that I have experienced in the highest of Tantric rituals.” Put simply, what I do makes people magnificently high, often opening up channels of bliss they weren’t aware of before.

In Shamanic practice the people ‘travelling’ often go into a trance through the rhythm of a drum. Rhythm and trance are key elements of what I do. Instead of beating a drum I beat your body – unsurprisingly, this works just as well, if not better, than dancing to a rhythm. I’ve seen people go into deep trances during a session with me, and travel just like people doing Trance Dance and other shamanic rituals.

Shamanic journeys are personal things. I don’t always know where people go when they travel. For some it’s simply a profound experience of the here-and-now, a moment of blissful experience free of the mind’s incessant chatter. Others leave their body and travel to spirit realms, have visions, hear things, receive wisdom and insight. Others trance out and experience sensation, colour, light and sound without any ‘meaning’. It’s highly personal, and as the person holding space my role is to make it safe for you to fly away, and to make sure you come back. I do so by keeping your body safe and keeping part of us both grounded, so it’s safe for other parts of you to soar.

A big part of the shaman’s role is to heal people by travelling to other realms. Shamans talk about ‘soul retrieval’, a journey to collect parts of yourself that were splintered off during a trauma. Although I came to it in a very different way, the Shadow Healing I do is very much like this. Through role-play and shared intention I take you back to the site of the original trauma, whether that be childhood abuse, sexual violence or something else. In this place you can reconnect with the part of yourself that got left behind in two ways. Firstly, you can speak to the person who hurt you, which you were unable to do the first time around. This releases the negative energy that is stuck in your body. Secondly, as soon as that negative energy is released we play out a new version of the story. This time you get to choose, to ask for what you want. Through this process the bits of yourself that got splintered off comes back to be integrated.

Contained within this is “magic”. I define magic as the use of focussed intention to make a change in yourself. This can be as clear as “I want to let go of my ex-husband” or “I want to welcome a special new person into my life.” Or it can be something as deep as “I no longer want to be a victim” or “I want to stand in my full power.” When your intention comes from an authentic place, magic happens.

As a Shamanic BDSM practitioner I assist this by bringing your full attention to your intention, and by doing something intense to your body to ‘commit’ you to that intention. This is similar to tribal rituals and ‘ordeals’ that have been carried out for thousands of years. It could takes the form of a fire ritual, where a shape symbolising your intention is drawn onto your body and set alight for a moment. Or it could be done through a needle mandala, where a series of needles are put under the flesh to create an opening for the magic to enter your body. These powerful and transformative rituals lets your system know that you are welcoming in a change. The change begins at that moment and often unfolds in the weeks (and sometimes months) that follow.

All of these things relate to my understanding of the word “shamanic”, and some or all of them come into play when I’m doing BDSM. Right now I find “Ecstatic BDSM” to be the best label – but I am also interested in the term “Shamanic BDSM” and am exploring how it might relate to my practice.

<< Find out more about Ecstatic BDSM >>


One comment

  • Seani

    Hey Faerie, this post caught my eye 🙂 I also use the term shamanic BDSM to describe the ritual work I do. I understand this to be the whole process of being a guide for people as they journey through different worlds and realms of existence; using BDSM as the primary vehicle for this travel and exploring places that are otherwise impossible to get to.

    There is much written about this in various forums if you’re interested; plus of course the Ordeal Mastery group here on FB and Raven Kaldera’s books on Pagan BDSM are exquisite. Learning how to serve someone as they go on these otherworldly journeys is such a blessing to be able to offer…

    For me personally, there is a lot of overlap with the work I did with the spirit world in Haiti, including full spirit possession for the first time plus much inspiration from journeying with many shamanic medicines combine together with ritual theatre. All this and more combine to create a holistic shamanic healing methodology.

    Best wishes to you working with this new label. I hope it fits you well. Love, Sean 🙂

    February 17, 2012

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