Why I love needles: guest post by Violet Rose

I am excited to publish this beautiful article about needleplay by my good friend Violet Rose, an old-school courtesan with thoroughly modern values.

Ahhhh, needleplay. I dream about playing with tiny sharp pieces of metal the way that other people dream they soar like birds or gallop like wild horses. So it’s sad that I so rarely see needleplay being practiced on the various BDSM scenes and when I do, I generally feel totally ambivalent about the practice. I have just once read a description of the kind of needleplay I want to discuss here (as related by Barbara Carellas) and I only know by actual experience less than a handful of other practitioners actually practising it this way.

Needleplay as a top
If there is something better than the feeling when my needle effortlessly enters the skin, that unrelentingly physical barrier between person and world, and makes of that barrier a tiny bridge between souls, I am yet to experience it. From the first second the edge of my first needle sliced the top layer of epidermis, I fell wholly in love with needling. Hard, dense layers of meat and flesh become as butter under a warm knife. I have never experienced any bodily resistance to a needle given from a totally concentrated practitioner to a totally present receiver. DK Leather said of needleplay “I am making another hole in you. And I am going to fuck you with my needle in that hole.” Probably anyone who has ever met DK will now need to go for a short personal interlude but the meaning should be clear even if you haven’t had that great pleasure. The intense intimacy formed from the gift of your flesh to my needles is incomparable: it is literally ecstacy. One of the quietest, gentlest kinds of ecstasy I know, which is perhaps at odds with how it must seem to people who have never experienced it.

Needleplay as a bottom
To further speak to people who haven’t experienced it, I should first say that receiving the needles doesn’t actually hurt. Ok, well, it doesn’t hurt the way an injection hurts, or having blood taken hurts, or even the commonly pleasurable tattoo pain. When the needle enters me, if done well and I am ready for it, it is a delicious orgasm, simultaneously small enough to be happening solely at the head of the needle, and large enough to envelope me in its totality. I often see blue light during good needling, and experience the wave of energy, head-rolling back warmth and joy of a good drug experience or an intense erotic peak. I have already mentioned the importance of intention but good needling will be as much or more about the intention than the action, and the intention may be more strongly or earlier felt than the needle itself.
-“I haven’t put the needle in yet. But I have /thought/ about it.”

This exchange happened between a first-time needle recipient and an experienced practitioner and demonstrates perfectly how strong the intention can be: perceptible before penetration. Which is a phrase that appeals to me because I enjoy consensually applying it to other kinds of penetration. After all, the mind is a great sex organ. The other reason for attention and intention is that of course, needplay, like many BDSM practices, is not without risk. Giving my trust to keep me safe during a needle scene is the warm comfort blanket of childhood, nestling in the warm hands of a knowledgeable and responsible top.

What pisses me off so much about needleplay is that it’s so often subsumed under the heading of ‘medical play’ both by providers and by the fetish scene in general. To me, there’s nothing in common between a carry-on style naughty nurse themed roleplay and a needleplay ritual. I am not at ALL dismissing medical play in general, nor roleplay: Kinky Alex, a foremost provider of roleplay services, is a good friend of mine and I have witnessed the transformative power of role-playing with her. At the top end of medical play provision, there are exclusive dommes with museum-quality collections of historical medical artefacts and Harley Street practice addresses. I am sure there are also plenty of very enjoyable naughty nurse interactions between providers and clients –but it still isn’t the same thing as needleplay as I mean it.

I also feel alienated from needleplay that is done just because it’s pretty. I actually feel this way about all BDSM done for the way it looks, just as I am not into having social interactions seemingly just to document them on Facebook. Needleplay often is very beautiful, as are bruises or any other kind of bodily interaction. For me, thinking about whether my positioning is perfect enough for a photo detracts from how I interact with my body. I also don’t believe the impact of an experience on the people involved can in any meaningful way be evaluated by external viewers, which is what the endless Fetlife photo parade seems to involve. A needle scene is NOT “better” the more needles you use and the more scary places they are inserted.

I hope I have given you some insights into why I adore needleplay. One of the great sadnesses of my working life is that I have been advised that needleplay is a legal grey area with my clients and so I err on the side of caution and rarely discuss my love of it and so share it less regularly than I would like. If you feel called to learn this beautiful practice and/or experience it for yourself, Faerie and I are teaching a workshop on needleplay (and fabulous fireplay the day following) in Berlin next week. Both of us offer solo coaching and rituals in this discipline and where possible can offer recommendations to other local providers should find yourself out of the reach of our tiny sharp implements.

Would you like to join us for classes and rituals in needles and fireplay? We are in Berlin next week and would be delighted for you to attend. Find out more >>


Interview by Cate Mackenzie

Earlier this year, gorgeous love coach Cate Mackenzie did an in-depth interview with me. We talked about many things: how I came to do this work, what it means to surrender, non-monogamy and more.

The interview is in 4 parts so you’ll need to click on the next part once a section is complete.

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The heart-opening potential of collared submission

I have been thinking a lot recently about the way Ecstatic BDSM works with people’s energy, and the role of the collar in this.

Often in this practice energy moves upwards from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd chakras. There is something insistent and intense about BDSM that causes this to happen: often in sessionsthe build-up of energy from below becomes so strong that it bursts through the whole of the client’s energy system. This often feels like something popping or bursting, and takes the form of an emotional release: intense pleasure, rage, grief, sometimes even hysterical laughter. This is much-talked-about catharsis: the process of something that was held in being brought to the surface so it can be expressed and released.

When this is about rage, grief, shame or other ‘survival’ emotions, it relates and connects with the 1st chakra. When it is about arousal and pleasure, it relates and connects with the 2nd chakra. When it is about personal power and control, it relates and connects with the 3rd chakra. And very often it is a curious, surprising combination of two or all three of these things, which is why the release often feels both inexplicable and intense.

In terms of the movement of energy this release has an upward quality: from the lower chakras up through the body and out at the throat. This is why Claire and I encourage our clients to express what they are feeling: a good cry or a good scream is what makes the experience becomes cathartic and transformative.

This upward motion is very important in Ecstatic BDSM. As this intense energy is pushed up through the client’s system and out through their throat, a great deal of energetic ‘gunk’ is cleared: clients report feeling cleaner, lighter and more free after a cathartic session.

Catharsis is often the result of impact play and the more sexual aspects of BDSM: being spanked and stimulated while bound frequently causes this upward motion in the person’s energy that brings about the cathartic effect. Often this is the desired effect.

Whereas catharsis invites self-expression and emotional release, collaring invites discipline and self-control. When a dominant collars a submissive, they expect the sub to master him or herself as fully as they can. This reflects in many aspects of ‘slave training’: the taking and holding of specific positions; the demure lack of expression even when highly aroused or in intense pain; and of course orgasm control. This self-mastery has a different quality to the potentially-explosive ‘upward’ movement of cathartic work: it demands containment, creating a downward pressure on the person’s energy.

What is really interesting here is the way the downward pressure from D/s and the upward pressure from SM meet in the middle: at the heart. This so often causes a kind of ‘implosion’, where the heart is blown open by the meeting of these two forces.

This implosion has the potential to open the submissive’s heart wider. The example below makes this clearer.

The Dominant (Lucy) asks her submissive (peter) to receive something he doesn’t like for her pleasure: a slap across the face. Lucy knows that this is one of peter’s soft limits: something he finds challenging but has consented to for Her pleasure.

Lucy looks deeply into peter’s eyes and tells him that he’s going to receive a slap across the face. A glimmer of panic and fear crosses peter’s face; Lucy immediately notices this. “Control yourself and show no emotion when I do this to you,” She says. Then She quickly and forcefully slap peter’s face with a cruel smile. he experiences two intense feelings from the lower chakras: arousal and rage. Unable to express these feelings in movement, sound or facial expression, peter’s feelings moves up to his heart and forces it open wider. he experiences this as waves of sensation within his body, expansive yet contained. he feels yet more of these waves when She reminds him that “this one was purely for My pleasure.”

Being a collared sub is certainly not for everyone. For many people it is simply not possible to master themselves enough to control their responses in this way. For others it is not desirable – for example, the type of person who has spent their whole life controlling their responses benefits from learning to express their feelings during BDSM. However for a certain type of person there is a profound allure to this type of play, because the combination of upward and downward pressure causes their hearts to open more and more.

I am currently seeking someone to become my collared submissive client. This is someone who feels drawn to expand their potential for love and devotion through the path of service. Unlike regular client sessions this is an ongoing commitment involving ongoing training, remote instructions and service at events and private parties.

If you feel drawn to do this deep work with Me, please get in touch for an initial conversation.

Dealing with the drop

One of my Domme School students recently asked me how to deal with the drop that often comes after doing BDSM. In response to this question I have  good news and bad news. The good news is that it is possible to accept and integrate the drop as part of the experience; and the even better news is, that learning to do this is part of the journey towards being more whole. The bad news is that the capitalist-sanctioned version of dealing with this is not the way. My student correctly identifies this, when she writes:

I feel really good about the fact that I am so much more present with everything at the moment. I am not having an issue of ‘disappearing’ or not feeling grounded during a scene or in moments that are intense for whatever reason. But WOW am I having a come-down afterwards. And I find it really hard to just sit with whatever emotions are arising rather than say, drink, eat biscuits, exercise like a maniac, take Night Nurse and sleep it off, go to the pictures – basically I find myself feeling quite down and ‘wigging out’ for want of a better word and I want to do any activity available to distract myself from whatever it is that I’m feeling. Which doesn’t feel like a very healthy way to approach it.

She has really captured the heart of the issue here: by being more present with everything, we experience more of the difficult emotions as well as more of the joyful ones. It simply can’t be another way – by opening ourselves up to feeling more, we have to take the downs with the ups. Brene Brown describes this beautifully in her famous TED talk on vulnerability; and it is described even more clearly in this stunning article by Jeannette Leblanc:

We all have moments of brilliance – experiences that wake us up to the sheer beauty of the universe and chip away at our cynicism and distrust. Interactions that feed our souls, open our hearts and convince us that just possibly-maybe-perhaps life really is inherently good. And those moments, my sweet friends, only occur under certain circumstances. When we are safe, or brave, or distracted, or bad-ass-crazy-enough to lower the veils, dismantle the walls, and blast the hell through that numbness into a place of deep feeling.

Brilliance never settles for superficial. Brilliance only happens when we let ourselves be moved. And brilliance rarely feels entirely gentle. Yes, it can be transcendent and awe-inspiring and all kinds of fabulous. But it can also be utterly terrifying. (Read the full article here >>)

The question is, how can we make it safe for us to feel the downs as well as the ups, whether it’s the comedown from a BDSM session or leaving a beautiful festival of conscious clubbing like Puravida? This is a subject that’s dear to my heart, as I experience a lot of separation anxiety when I come away from a highly-connected space.

An important starting-point is to understand what is happening at a deeper level. When we open ourselves up and truly let ourselves be moved, we connect with All That Is. Often we experience this through a profound connection with one other person, but it is actually much deeper than this. By truly connecting with another we are connecting to what I call ‘the grid’ – the network of universal energy from which we are made. Through conscious sexuality (and a host of other practices) we can connect with the very source of our Being.

One big aspect of being human is our separateness. At a soul level we may know that we are always connected, but the experience of being human is to feel the separateness more keenly than the connection. And this hurts.

When we enter a magical space, we reconnect. It is no coincidence that any teacher worth their salt talks about ‘lowering our borders’ and ‘letting down our guard’ as the key to entering this connected space. Energetically we are dropping the things that keep us separate, and allowing ourselves to connect with others, and beyond them to everything. It takes courage to enter this space, and it hurts to leave it.

Yet in learning to enter and leave that deeply-connected space again and again, we become more whole and more free. It’s as if we’re rehearsing for the final surrender, the moment when Death taps us on the shoulder and tells us our time is up. Each time we surrender into a magical space and let go of our separateness, we are learning how to surrender a little more. And each time we are forced back to our individuated sense of self, we are learning to experience the transition more fully. For me this is the essence of being human.

Once we understand what is happening at a deeper level, there are some practical things that can help us stay just on the edge of our comfort zone and not go into terror. (More on this important concept here >>)

Time & space: it is said that nothing heals but time, and this is definitely true for these transitions. Going straight from an amazing BDSM scene to a busy job is a bad idea. Putting space around the experience so we can feel the comedown is a good idea. By removing as many external pressures as possible, we can integrate quicker and with less pain.

Ease and comfort: after we open ourselves up it is important to be gentle with ourselves. Going straight from an incredible workshop to a house full of kids needing our attention may sometimes be necessary, but it’s better if we can avoid any challenging situations when we’re this open. For me a soft warm bed and a close friend I can cuddle up with is a necessity after leading a weekend workshop. For others it may be a long walk in the country or a relaxed drift through a favourite museum. Each of us knows the things that feel easeful, safe and comfortable for us: lining these lovely things up at the end of an intense experience is an excellent way to nurture ourselves through the comedown.

Acceptance: everything in our culture teaches us to chase pleasure and avoid pain. This simply doesn’t work, in fact it does the opposite: it’s the path to feeling worse or feeling less. (Without wishing to get too political, that is the purpose of the message: to keep us craven and unhappy so we spend more money on useless shit we don’t need.) By contrast, accepting the comedown as part of the experience is the quickest way to integrate it. The fastest way through is through: there’s no value in dodging this part of the experience. If we repeatedly shut down the discomfort, we reduce our capacity for joy too. So accepting pain as part of pleasure is the same as accepting death as part of life. Again, this is an opportunity to become more whole and to rehearse for the ultimate surrender.

Osho expresses this beautifully when he says:

Watch the waves in the ocean. The higher the wave goes, the deeper is the wake that follows it. One moment you are the wave, another moment you are the hollow wake that follows. Enjoy both – don’t get addicted to one. Don’t say: ‘I would always like to be on the peak.’ It is not possible … what is wrong with being low? It is a relaxation. A peak is an excitement, and nobody can exist continuously in an excitement.

Practice: the more times we go in and out of magical spaces, the better we get at it. The first few times hurt the most, just as the muscles ache after the first few runs when we begin training. Over time the muscles become more supple and we can push ourselves further, do things with less effort. So it is with moving in and out of deep connectedness.

And with practice we develop our own strategies for moving in and out of these spaces. One of my favourite ones is the protracted goodbye, which much dismays whoever is giving me a ride home after a big weekend. For me, saying goodbye is difficult and painful; so rather than avoiding or rushing it, I draw it out and feel the pain inherent in the separation right there in the moment. Often I cry a little as I look into the eyes of my beloved friends and bid them farewell. Very often I cry even more when I’m on the way home, as I feel the separation move through my entire system. By the next morning it’s generally done, and I’m ready to rest before the next adventure.

This is my strategy and it works for me, but it’s not for everyone. (My dear friend Claire still mocks me for how long it takes me to leave a magical space. She has her own way, which is quite different, but equally valid.) With practice you will develop strategies that work for you, and make the transition more bearable.

Reconnecting practices: the illusion about a magical space is that the connection is with the other person or people in that space. The reality is that the connection is deeper – it is with All That Is. So anything we do to gently reconnect with source in the days that follow helps a lot. Examples of this are any form of still or active meditation, dancing, singing or taking a long walk in nature. There are many other examples. it’s highly personal and most of us know what makes us feel connected. By acknowledging that we have connected with something beyond ourselves we can seek out the things that gently reconnect us to that place within ourselves. As well as soothing the pain it reminds us that we don’t need others to connect.

Acknowledging our importance: one of the ways in which we stay in our egos is to pretend that we don’t matter. This is called ‘playing small’. Often this return to an egoic state is a way to shut down the power we felt in the expansive space of connectedness. The tonic to this is to acknowledge our importance, and the fact that we are a valued and important part of everything. Once we do this we take the comedown more seriously, because we honour our own process including the difficult bits. This also helps us to grow and stop being falsely humble. Playing small is just as egoic as falsely bigging ourselves up.

So these are my tips for dealing with the drop, whether this comes after BDSM, lovemaking, an intense workshop or a beautiful festival. What have you found working for you to deal with the fallout? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please post then in the box below and share them with our beloved readers.

At the edge of our comfort zone

At the edge of our comfort zone is a place of expansion. When we find that edge and play on it, we increase our capacity for life.

It’s a delicate balance. When we stay in our comfort zone and seek only safe options, we don’t expand. This is OK for a while: it’s important for us to feel safe in the world and not to get overwhelmed. This is particularly true when we’re young and we’re discovering what feels right for us. However if we spend most or all of our time in our comfort zone, not only do we not grow as people but our comfort zone shrinks. As we get older the range of ‘safe’ options narrows and we limit our capacity.

Going too far out of our comfort zone is equally dangerous. When we dive into things that feel unsafe without awareness of where our edge is, we go into the ‘terror zone’ – a place where we’re easily overwhelmed, quickly lost and often hurt. This also affects our capacity: by going too far beyond our edge we retreat back to our comfort zone and it shrinks.

This diagram illustrates the range of movement in a simple way:

At the edge of our comfort zone
(Thanks to Dakini Kimaya for this marvellous diagram, which helped me to understand this question deeply.)

Just beyond the edge of our comfort zone is the ‘magic zone’: a place of expansion and transformation. If we keep ‘daring greatly‘ into this zone, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and take the right amount of risk, amazing things happen. This is the place where we expand our capacity, stretch ourselves and become bigger, bolder people. This is the place where the magic happens. By spending time in this zone we expand our comfort zone, so that we are able to do, feel and experience more.

So how do we find the magic zone? First we need to discover and honour our boundaries. One of the biggest misconceptions among personal growth seekers is that throwing boundaries out the window is the way to expand. It is not. When we overlook our emotional and spiritual safety we quickly go into terror, and this causes us to contract not expand. Knowing our boundaries is absolutely essential for safe exploration beyond our comfort zone.

Knowing our boundaries is an important step but it’s not the final destination. When we find our boundaries and play within them, it helps us build trust and confidence in ourselves and in our relationships with others. There is a close correlation between boundaries and our comfort zone: too tight and we don’t grow, too loose and we lose any benefit. As with most things in life, it’s the exquisite edge that we are looking for.

Some people are natural ‘no’ people and others are natural ‘yes’ people. The challenge for ‘no’ people is to let their boundaries be a little more permeable; the challenge for ‘yes’ people is to define and hold their boundaries. Knowing what kind of person you are is a great starting-point.

Once we know our boundaries and we feel safe, we can venture to our edge. The edge is different for each person, and also different in different situations. The kind of openness that’s right when making love or doing BDSM is very different from the kind of openness that’s right when we’re on the Underground. Our boundaries change from situation to situation and sometimes from moment to moment; the better we get at knowing and honouring them, the better our chance of finding the edge of our comfort zone.

With boundaries in place to create a safe container we can venture beyond our comfort zone to the place where magic happens. By bringing awareness to this process and getting support from people who love us, we can do this safely over and over again. And it’s wonderful to see what happens when we do: each time we venture into the magic zone our comfort zone expands a little more. By risking it we allow a little more life in.

Nothing is assured and there’s risk inherent in this process. For this reason we also need to be gentle and forgiving with ourselves and others when we venture beyond our comfort zone. Knowing and stating our boundaries helps a lot. It also helps to know that the people we are exploring our edge with love and respect us. When we are outside our comfort zone we are vulnerable and exposed, and it doesn’t take much to push us from here to terror. For many people this is an excuse not to go there, to avoid risk at all costs. But to do this is to deny ourselves the possibility of expansion and growth, and in time our comfort zone shrinks and shrinks. I saw my dad and stepmother do this as they got older, with the result that their world became painfully narrow and their feeling of unsafety grew and grew.

We must continue to be brave and play on our edge to keep growing, and this is particularly important as we grow older. Naturally the body slows down and stiffens as we get older, yet some older people seem vibrant and full of life while others feel old and tired. Our society supports the idea that ageing equals contraction, but I don’t believe it’s necessary. I believe that if we keep venturing beyond our comfort zone to the place where magic happens, we can stay young and flexible in spite of our ageing bodies.

Often it’s hard at first to know our boundaries, to know how to find the edge and to expand our comfort zone. For this reason it’s great to have the support of someone who’s experienced in this work. A lot of my work as a Personal Growth Coach and Ecstatic BDSM practitioner is about helping my clients to find their exquisite edge and explore it safely. I do this by placing a great emphasis on boundaries and safety when inviting people outside their comfort zone. The combination of being safely held and being taken to scary places is hugely expansive.

Whether you choose to work on this with me, another practitioner or friends and lovers, I encourage you to find your edge and play on it as often as you can. You’ll be amazed at what is possible when you allow yourself just beyond your comfort zone.

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