Leather and Spirituality
a presentation by Officer Wes

Table of Contents

Opening. 2

Welcome! 2

Overview.. 2

Introductions. 2

Grounding ritual:  anointing of oil 2

Common understanding:  terms. 2

Leather 2

Psyche. 3

Ego. 3

Mind. 3

Spirituality. 3

Spiritual 3

Spirit 3

Mystical 3

Culture and socialization. 4

Culture. 4

Socialization. 4

Our personal lens. 5

Zodiac. 5

Myth. 5

Jung’s archetypes. 6

Our own collective consciousness contains current leather practices from history. 7

Projections. 7

Attachment 7

What does this all have to do with leather spirituality?. 7

Spiritual principles & practices / practical guideposts intended to be helpful for anyone’s personal spiritual path: 8

Principles. 8

Practices. 8

Some aspects of leather life where we can integrate spiritual intention. 10

Creating sacred space. 10

Relationships. 10

Activities. 11

Break. 12

Resources. 12

Online. 12

In person. 13

Wind-down. 15

Questions. 15

Thank you. 15

 

Opening

Welcome!

Overview

In this leather & spirituality talk a primary focus will be how our minds are socialized in ways that create blocks to being fully in the present and how leather provides us with powerful tools to focus the mind and help our spirits play.  We’ll:

touch on definitions to lay a common understanding of terms,

look at socialization and other items that influence our mind’s view,

move into spiritual principles and practices and incorporating them into our leather spirituality,

have a break about midway through,

return to resources for further exploration, and

have a question and answer period

Everything we’ll be touching on is already written down for you.  Just go to www.officerwes.com and follow the links to Leather and Spirituality.

Introductions

Grounding ritual:  anointing of oil

Common understanding:  terms

Leather

as used here, a catch-all phrase to describe a mindset for how we approach and incorporate our personal kinks into our life and relationships. Wearing "leather" is not required in order to be a leatherperson, but it is fairly common. We acknowledge our heart's desires and unleash our spirit to explore and celebrate.

Psyche

A young woman who loved and was loved by Eros (the Greek god of love and sexual desire) and was united with him after Aphrodite's (the goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture) jealousy was overcome. She subsequently became the personification of the soul.

Ego

2 : the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality —compare ID (the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives), SUPEREGO (the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that is only partly conscious, represents internalization of parental conscience and the rules of society, and functions to reward and punish through a system of moral attitudes, conscience, and a sense of guilt)

Mind

The human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination.

Spirituality

1. The state, quality, or fact of being spiritual.

Spiritual

1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material. 2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul. 3. Of, from, or pertaining to God; deific. 4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred. 5. Pertaining to or having the nature of spirits; supernatural.

Spirit

1. The vital principle or animating force traditionally believed to be within living human beings. 2. The soul, considered as departing from the body of a person at death.

Mystical

  1. Of or having a spiritual reality or import not apparent to the intelligence or senses.
  2. Of, relating to, or stemming from direct communion with ultimate reality or God: a mystical religion.

Culture and socialization

Culture

…the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thought, speech, action, and artifacts and depends upon the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations

 

In America, the colonies and later United States arose from Pilgrims & Puritans, two groups that were both adventurers & non-conformists.  Both groups wanted religious freedom.

Pilgrim

n.  One of the English Separatists who founded the colony of Plymouth in New England in 1620.  (These folks wanted to break with the Anglican church.)

Puritan

  1. n. A member of a group of English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries advocated strict religious discipline along with simplification of the ceremonies and creeds of the Church of England.  (These folks did not want a break with the church.)
  2. n. puritan One who lives in accordance with Protestant precepts, especially one who regards pleasure or luxury as sinful.  (The discipline of the “Protestant work ethic” and guilt over pleasure is their legacy to our culture.)

(More at The Puritan Tradition and American Memory http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/puritan/purmain.html and Pilgrims & Puritans http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/puritan/purhist.html )

Socialization

…the process of learning interpersonal and interactional skills that are in conformity with the values of one's society.  Some examples:

Secularism holds that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.  Fundamentalist ideology can hold just the opposite viewpoint.

In a matriarchal system women are the holders of power.  In a patriarchal system men are the holders of power.

Some teach a youngster that that person is connected to all of nature.  Each animal has a meaning.  Others teach that humans are above the animals.

Some teach their lineage is uniquely descended from god.  Others teach that every person is created equal.

Some teach that the planets influence our life map.

Where and how we are socialized influences our starting reference points.  Sometimes socialization is felt as pressure to conform and suppression of free spirits.

As noted above, our culture has a thread that regards pleasure as sinful.

Sometimes people respond to how they are socialized by noting differences.  Tonight we’re going to focus on similarities.

Our personal lens

Zodiac

…applying meaning through planetary relationships

Myth

In 1949 Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) made a big splash in the field of mythology with his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces.  This book built on the pioneering work of German anthropologist Adolph Bastian (1826-1905), who first proposed the idea that myths from all over the world seem to be built from the same "elementary ideas."  Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961) named these elementary ideas "archetypes," which he believed to be the building blocks not only of the unconscious mind, but of a collective unconscious.  In other words, Jung believed that everyone in the world is born with the same basic subconscious model of what a "hero" is, or a "mentor" or a "quest," and that's why people who don't even speak the same language can enjoy the same stories...  Campbell's contribution was to take this idea of archetypes and use it to map out the common underlying structure behind religion and myth.  He proposed this idea in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which provides examples from cultures throughout history and all over the world. Campbell eloquently argues that all stories are fundamentally the same story, which he named the ‘Hero's Journey,’ or the ‘monomyth.’  This sounds like a simple idea, but it suggests an incredible ramification, which Campbell summed up with his adage ‘All religions are true, but none are literal.’  That is, he concluded that all religions are really containers for the same essential truth, and the trick is to avoid mistaking the wrappings for the diamond…”  (Above was excerpted from www.spookybug.com/origins/myth.html , which also showed the Campbell structure in both Star Wars and The Matrix.)

Jung’s archetypes

...from www.thezodiac.com/archetypes.htm

Shadow (the dark side)

The Shadow is the personification of that part of human, psychic possibility that we deny in ourselves and project onto others. The goal of personality integration is to integrate the rejected, inferior side of our life into our total experience and to take responsibility for it.

Anima Or Animus -- our inner opposite

Males meet their Anima (feminine soul); females their Animus (masculine soul)

Syzygy (Divine Couple)

n. The intimately united and apparently fused condition of certain low organisms during conjugation.

Child

Self

For Jung this is the God image. Human self and divine self are incapable of distinction. All is Spirit.

Our own collective consciousness contains current leather practices from history

Bondage

Domination/submission

Flogging

Mastery/slavery

Polyamory

Piercing & body modification

Projections

"The attribution of one's own attitudes, feelings, or suppositions to others." Psychic wounds/baggage: By example, when I was 17 and would rage at my first partner he would respond with "I am not your mother." I didn’t understand it. But what he meant was my rage was not truly about the issue seemingly at hand, but rather that I was overreacting because I was projecting a traumatic past event onto the current moment.

Attachment

A basic Buddhist suggestion is that unhappiness is not caused by external people, places or things; but rather being attached to viewpoints and thoughts about them. For more on attachment see www.natureofspirit.com/attachments_buddhism.shtml

What does this all have to do with leather spirituality?

A great deal: When we’re raised in this culture we’re commonly conditioned to negative mind chatter around sexuality and pleasure. Our life experiences can create mind chatter. Thinking about the past or worrying about the future is a vexation of mind chatter. All of this chatter has one thing in common: It reduces our ability to be present and fully experience this moment. Some time-honored spiritual disciplines can help. Leather then potentially manifests even deeper power and connection; sometimes transcendent.

Spiritual principles & practices / practical guideposts intended to be helpful for anyone’s personal spiritual path:

Principles

Honesty

Trust

Obedience

Surrender

Love (& compassion, understanding, patience)

Practices

Introspection

Amends

Prayer

Focusing the mind

Meditation

Focusing type

A variation common in America: When Catholics focus on saying the rosary as they work rosary beads they can groom the mind to a peaceful focused state. See also the Loving Kindness Meditation at www.how-to-meditate.org

Emptying type

The discipline of sitting and emptying the mind to groom it to chatter less. For an example on how, see www.shambhala.org/meditation 

Breath work

How we breathe (long, relaxed; shallow and quick) will impact the mind. A concise overview Link Your Attention to Breath is at www.mindpub.com/art476.htm

Chants

Chants have been used through millennia as a means of focusing the mind and creating a peaceful state. We can create our own chants, or listen to others. For the latter, a good starting CD might be Chant: The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.

Staying present in this moment

When I allow my mind to move forward or backward in time it may fear the future or regret the past. Peace is available in the present. In this moment all is well.

More mind-focusing tips are at Helping a slaveboy focus www.officerwes.com/focus.htm

Service

Service is turning the self outward. As a practical matter, focusing the mind outward can reduce its inner chatter.

Intention / mindfulness / manifestation

Nurturing a clear attention to what we are doing helps being present in this moment.

The search for meaning / the search for truth / my special purpose

Strive to be consciously present in this moment with a loving heart.

The search for meaning / the search for truth / my slave’s standing orders

Strive to be consciously present in this moment with a loving heart.

Ritual as a form of mindfulness

Muslim 5x/day prayer

Kneeling in worship

Symbolism as a form of mindfulness

Yarmulke

Collar

Nature

Stepping into nature and knowing that there is more than self can have deeply grounding effects. Tall trees and beaches are powerful examples, but so too are very small things like a sprout of grass or a blossom forming.

Avoid HALT (getting too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired)

...to be more grounded. These physical and emotional states seem, for many, to distract the focus from being present with a loving heart.

Yoga

Yoga is a collection of practices designed to unify the body, mind and spirit; grooming the mind to chatter less. Two forms I’ve found particularly helpful in that respect are Kundalini (which moves and rebalances energy in the body) and Vinyasa [“a steady dynamic flow of connected yoga asanas/poses linked with breathwork in a continuous movement”] Hatha Flow (a form of moving meditation). I suspect Tantra would help as well but haven’t been mentored in this tradition yet.

Some aspects of leather life where we can integrate spiritual intention

Creating sacred space

Intention / purpose

For two+ people in a leather relationship, an intention might be deepening trust, obedience, and surrender.

Presenting/continuing is one example of being very aware of intention / purpose (see www.officerwes.com/protocol.htm#physical ).

Rituals

Being fully available in this moment

Relationships

Anyone who has been in one of these relationships knows that they provide powerful focusing opportunities:

Top/bottom

Daddy/boy

Master/slave

Activities

Remember there are at least five senses

Sight

Sound

Smell

Taste

Touch

Flogging

...with its repeated emphasis on NOW!

Bondage

...which enforces that there is nowhere else to go and nothing else to do in this moment but be fully present. It also can reduce the distraction of the sense of sight through blindfolds and hoods.

Fisting

Perhaps it’s the partners’ prolonged focus on coordinating breathing with movement, and tendency for eye contact, but fisting repeatedly gets mentioned for spiritual potential.

Ritual piercing

For example, when slave jeff’s spiritual path changed to one of slavery, I marked that transition by piercing him with a Prince Albert.

Shifting spirit consciousness out of the mind / going non-verbal

This bliss state can happen during any activity, but it is listed here separately to be addressed explicitly. When this Divine Union begins, avoiding engaging the mind seems to help this state continue. By example, when I am Topping and this happens to the bottom in my care, I shift to a state of bearing Witness. My duty at that point is to help the other person fully experience what is happening, to the extent I have any influence over it at all. Specifically, I strive to not ask questions or create other distractions, as these re-engage the mind. If required, a simple one-word "Okay?", which can be answered with a nod or shake of the head, may suffice.

Aftercare

...is one means of letting the spirit meander and flow.

Everything

When we view things through a spiritual framework, everything we do has the potential to be approached with spiritual intention.

Break

Resources

Online

Cathartic Flogging www.officerwes.com/cathartic_flogging.htm for its discussion of Intention, Surrender & Focus

Spirit and Leather www.officerwes.com/leatherspirit.htm for its resources; particularly the book listings

Spirituality in Slavehood by  J. Mikael Togneri www.leathernroses.com

SlaveMaster's essays, particularly Spirituality & SM, in the literature section of www.bornslaves.com

Masochism as a Spiritual Path www.waningmoon.com/darkpagan/lib/lib0025.shtml for its historical perspective. The last paragraph seems incongruent with the rest, but the essay as a whole is interesting

Sensuous Sadie’s rather extensive BDSM & Spirituality Articles 67.159.222.79/spiritualityarticles.htm and/or her book Spiritual Transformation through BDSM especially the interview of Joseph Bean for his philosophy that loving service, including by SM Tops, deepens connection

An Intimate Look at Ritual Pain www.waningmoon.com/darkpagan/lib/lib0039.shtml for sharing pagan body rituals / physical intensity as a means to focus the spirit

Observations on Fisting: A Personal View www.fetishalliance.net/Stories/SM_Learning/Anal_Play-Fisting/observationsonfisting.htm for its sharing on breath work, surrender, and connection

In person

Southwest Leather Conference www.southwestleather.org has an entire track of topics on leather spirituality

Body Electric www.thebodyelectricschool.com Power, Surrender & Intimacy:  Exploring Conscious S/M

Butchmanns Experience

P.L.A.Y., and some of its previous monthly topics

People of Leather Among You (PLAY) was a social and educational group for Southern California leatherfolk interested in the integration of radical sexuality and spirituality.  PLAY served as an educational forum for the spiritual aspects of BDSM, provided spiritual outreach to the leather /fetish community and fostered leather/fetish understanding within the larger spiritual community.  PLAY met the second Thursday evening of each month at a local church.  Some of the topics through the months and years covered:

LEATHER, SEX & SPIRIT: Living an Authentic Life

MYTH, MAGICK & MYSTAGOGUES: Paganism and BDSM

THE SERVANT MASTER: Part 2: A Communal Experience

MANY GENDERS, ONE SPIRIT: Confessions of Two Modern-Day Berdaches

THE SERVANT MASTER: From Control to Compassion

BEAT IT! Incorporating Sacred Drumming in BDSM

HEADSPACE: PLAYING IN THE ZONE: A Descent From Consciousness

LEATHER, SEX & SPIRIT: An Interactive Discussion

BEARING KAVADI: A Shamanic Pilgrimage

TANTRA & LEATHER: A Radical Encounter with the Divine

CENTAURIC CONSCIOUSNESS: "Ground Zero" for Merging Flesh and Spirit

SERVANT TO THE WORLD: The Spiritual Opening of a slave Heart (Part 2)

SEXUAL AND SPIRITUAL INTEGRITY: The Call to Lead an Authentic Life

THE MANA OF FETISH: Spiritual Power Made Tangible

IN SERVICE TO THE WORLD: The Spiritual Opening of a slave Heart

URBAN ABORIGINALS: A Celebration of Leathersexuality

THE CHAKRAS: Doorways to Erotic Enlightenment

PRIMAL AWAKENING IN LEATHER

Wind-down

Questions

Thank you

 


It is my great hope that this may be helpful on your own journey of heart and spirit in leather - and out!

Officer Wes
November 2004

 


 

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