Rituals are something that the BDSM community has in common with many cultures, religions, and even athletes. Some rituals are formal and grand, kneeling and crossing oneself for communion. Others are less ceremonious, an athlete crossing himself before a game or always wearing some cherished object. For cultures and religions, they are a fundamental part of life. For others, they are emotionally significant. It’s a basic part of human nature that connects us to something considerable outside our own feeling or skill. We may do this thing to bring us luck, when we talk to God, or when we just want to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.
For many of us, the rituals we practice in the BDSM community are significant to us and our partners. Our rituals may have pieces that are similar, but unlike religious ceremonies, we tailor things to what works for us as individuals. There is a commonality many Power Exchange relationships share with religion; we kneel to the one who holds power over us. It is a form of respect, a way to connect us to that person or entity. In this simple act of supplication, we are defining that we give up control.
It isn’t necessary to define why we give up control, only to recognize that we do. We allow this exchange of power freely; it is not taken from us. By performing a ritual that acknowledges our yielding of control we give ourselves power over the unseen demons of this life.
Kneeling is so simple for some, painful for others. I kneel every night at Dr. Payne’s feet as he removes my day collar, and we say goodnight. This daily ritual acknowledges our Power Exchange, our commitment to the collar, and our love for each other. This act is almost like evening prayers. It is an act that we use to reconnect that bond at the end of the day; to say thank you for the continued support, to acknowledge that we survived a particularly trying day, or for a brief reminiscence of what a great day it was.
When we are able to practice that thing that we do, there are rituals before a scene. The moment Dr. Payne tells me to strip and present for binding and the actions before we begin a scene are reminders of my place as His submissive, a reminder that I have surrendered. The last movement as I stand naked and bound, we share a moment of quiet as our breathing syncs and I am reminded I am His.
Even the end of the scene has significant meaning as I am unbound, wrapped in a blanket, and held as I shiver and cry: He reminds me, “I’ve got you.” I belong to Him and I am protected.
There are moments in my life that a specific ritual feels so necessary as if I might collapse from mental torment without it. At other times, these specific acts are a quiet reminder that I am whole.
Whatever that ritual is for you, allow it to be yours and move you in a healthy stable direction. Our rituals should be that thing that reminds us we are made whole by something outside ourselves.