Leather and Spirituality
a presentation by Officer Wes
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 wi
th 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 abou
return to resources for further exploration, and
have a question and answer period
Everything we’ll be
touching on is already wri t ten down for you. Jus tgo to www.officerwes.com and follow the links to Lea ther and Spiri tuali ty.
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.
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.
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)
The human consciousness
tha torigina tes in the brain and is manifes ted especially in though t, percep tion, emo tion, will, memory, and imagina tion.
1. The state, quality, or fact of being 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.
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.
- Of or having a spiritual reality or import not apparent to the intelligence or senses.
- Of, relating to, or stemming from direct communion with ultimate reality or God: a mystical religion.
tegra ted pa t tern of human behavior tha tincludes though t, speech, ac tion, and ar tifac ts and depends upon the human capaci ty for learning and transmi t ting knowledge to succeeding generations
, the colonies and later America arose from Pilgrims & Puritans, two groups that were both adventurers & non-conformists. Both groups wanted religious freedom. United States
n. One of the English Separatists who founded the colony of
in Plymouth New Englandin 1620. (These folks wanted to break with the Anglican church.)
- 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.)
- 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 Puri
tan Tradi tion and American Memory http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/puritan/purmain.html and Pilgrims & Puritans http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/puritan/purhist.html )
…the process of learning in
terpersonal and in terac tional skills tha tare in conformi ty wi th the values of one's socie ty. 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.
Where and how we are socialized influences our starting reference points. Sometimes socialization is felt as pressure to conform and suppression of free spirits.
Sometimes people respond to how they are socialized by noting differences. Tonight we’re going to focus on similarities.
…applying meaning through planetary relationships
“In 1949 Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) made a big splash in
the field of my thology wi th his book The Hero Wi th a Thousand Faces. This book buil ton the pioneering work of German an thropologis tAdolph Bas tian (1826-1905), who firs tproposed the idea tha tmy ths from all over the world seem to be buil tfrom the same "elemen tary ideas." Swiss psychia tris tCarl Jung (1875-1961) named these elemen tary ideas "arche types," which he believed to be the building blocks no tonly of the unconscious mind, bu tof a collec tive unconscious. In o ther words, Jung believed tha teveryone in the world is born wi th the same basic subconscious model of wha ta "hero" is, or a "men tor" or a "ques t," and tha t's why people who don' teven speak the same language can enjoy the same s tories... 's con Campbell tribu tion was to take this idea of arche types and use i t to map ou t the common underlying s truc ture behind religion and my th. He proposed this idea in The Hero Wi th a Thousand Faces, which provides examples from cul tures throughou this tory and all over the world. eloquen Campbell tly argues tha tall s tories are fundamen tally the same s tory, which he named the ‘Hero's Journey,’ or the ‘monomy th.’ This sounds like a simple idea, bu ti tsugges ts an incredible ramifica tion, which summed up wi Campbell th his adage ‘All religions are true, bu tnone are li teral.’ Tha tis, he concluded tha tall religions are really con tainers for the same essen tial tru th, and the trick is to avoid mis taking the wrappings for the diamond…” (Above was excerp ted from www.spookybug.com/origins/myth.html , which also showed the structure in both Star Wars and The Matrix.) Campbell
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.
Males meet their Anima (feminine soul); females their Animus (masculine soul)
n. The intimately united and apparently fused condition of certain low organisms during conjugation.
For Jung this is the God image. Human self and divine self are incapable of distinction. All is Spirit.
"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.
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
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:
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
The discipline of sitting and emptying the mind to groom it to chatter less. For an example on how, see www.shambhala.org/meditation
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 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 is turning the self outward. As a practical matter, focusing the mind outward can reduce its inner chatter.
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.
Muslim 5x/day prayer
Kneeling in worship
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.
...to be more grounded. These physical and emotional states seem, for many, to distract the focus from being present with a loving heart..
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.
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 ).
...with its repeated emphasis on NOW!
...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.
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.
For example, when slave jeff’s spiritual path changed to one of slavery, I marked that transition by piercing him with a Prince Albert.
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.
When we view things through a spiritual framework, everything we do has the potential to be approached with spiritual intention.
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
SlaveMaster's essays, particularly Spirituality & SM, in the literature section of www.bornslaves.com
Masochism as a Spiritual Path www. withinthepentacle.com/KnowledgeBase/SacredSexualityArticles/MasochismasaSpiritualPath/tabid/122/Default.aspx 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 www.sensuoussadie.com/spiritualityarticles.htm especially the interview of Joseph Bean www.sensuoussadie.com/interviews/josephbeaninterview.htm 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
Creative Rituals from www.uark.edu/studorg/stpa/creative.ritual.html for anyone desiring more mindful ritual
Observations on Fisting: A Personal View www.gmsma.org/newslink/fisting.html for its sharing on breath work, surrender, and connection
Southwest Leather Conference www.southwestleather.org has an entire track of topics on leather spirituality
People of Leather Among You (PLAY) is a social and educational group for Southern California leatherfolk interested in the integration of radical sexuality and spirituality. PLAY serves as an educational forum for the spiritual aspects of BDSM, provides spiritual outreach to the leather /fetish community and fosters leather/fetish understanding within the larger spiritual community.
PLAY meets the second Thursday evening of each month at Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles (MCCLA), 8714 Santa Monica Boulevard, next to the "665" leather store in West Hollywood. Public parking at the church is limited, however there are several parking garages within easy walking distance, and street parking is also available.
PLAY is open to all adults without regard to gender, age, race, religious/spiritual affiliation or sexual orientation. For further information send an e-mail request to MCCLAPLAY on hotmail.com, or call the MCCLA office at (310) 854-9110.
COME JOIN US--IT'S TIME FOR PLAY!
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
Arizona Power Exchange ("APEX") Academy www.arizonapowerexchange.org
Body Electric www.bodyelectric.org Power, Surrender & Intimacy: Exploring Conscious S/M
It is my great hope that this may be helpful on your own journey of heart and spirit in leather - and out!
© 2003-2009 by Officer Wes