Collaring Ceremony and Ceremony of the Roses
(Original articles from http://kinktoychest.com/index.php/castle-realm-archives/88 and http://kinktoychest.com/index.php/castle-realm-archives/89)
The Collaring Ceremony
Very few things in our lifestyle are more significant than the collar worn by an "owned" submissive. It is the outward symbol of the commitment made by the dominant and submissive and marks her/him as the property of another, much the same way a wedding ring does for our vanilla counterparts. I'm asked from time to time about what a collaring ceremony consists of in the formal lifestyle. I'm sure no two are exactly the same but there are some standards that are found in almost all formal ceremonies. The following is some excerpts from what I learned and what my own collaring contained.
The submissive is usually accompanied by his/her trainer, mentor or another dominant who will speak on the submissive's behalf. This chosen dominant will give a testimony on the submissive's character and commitment to the D/s lifestyle. If this dominant is the trainer, mentor or protector of this submissive, they will be required to release the submissive from their care at the beginning of the ceremony.The submissive may have one or two "sisters" in attendance, who will stand by her as she awaits the beginning of the collaring. One collaring that I observed had the sisters prepare their sister's hair by braiding it and fastening it to the back of her head as she waited for her future Master to appear with his attendants.The dominant will usually be accompanied by one or two of his/her closest friends or those who helped him/her prepare for their role as "master or mistress." One of them usually carries the collar for the dominant who is about to claim their submissive.
Dress and Appearance
The Submissive.>>>>>The submissive usually wears a simple garment, often a tunic-type dress for females and a similar garment for males that may include trousers and resemble pajamas. The garb is plain but neat and attractive, signifying the submissive's role as a servant or handmaiden. The neckline of the garment is collarless and completely exposes the submissive's neck.The submissive may wear wrist, ankle and body jewelry but there is seldom any worn on the head, such as earrings, and never is there anything worn around the neck other than the submissive's training collar, if they had one. This training collar will be removed during the beginning of the ceremony. The reason of the lack of adornment of the head is to keep from diminishing the collar that will be placed around the submissive's neck during the actual collaring.If the female has long hair it should be worn off the neck and pinned securely to her head. Often it is braided into a plait and twisted at the back of the head. Small flowers may be worked into the hair if they are not overwhelming and are firmly secured.
The Dominant.>>>>>The dominant should be well dressed and often appears in formal or semi-formal attire. Fetish clothing is acceptable in some situations and the dominant might choose to wear leathers or other "costume" type articles of clothing. Most often the dominant will be seen dressed as a country gentleman or lady of breeding and position.
Both.>>>>>Everyone has their own style and personal tastes should be reflected in the way the couple presents themselves. Just keep in mind this is a very serious ceremony and good judgment should prevail when choosing the look for their own special day
The Submissive:>>>>The submissive usually carries only one item, the leash. I have seen a female submissive carry a single flower that she offers to the dominant, who then places it in his lapel. A male submissive may carry a small bouquet of flowers to present his soon-to-be Mistress as a gesture of his affection.
The Dominant:>>>>The dominant carries a crop or dressage whip as a symbol of his/her dominance in the lifestyle
.Both:>>>>If the couple has drafted a contract, each will carry a portion of this contract stating their obligations and responsibilities. These copies are to be unsigned and may be held by one of their attendants until they reach the part of the ceremony where they are needed.
The Beginning of the Ceremony
Once everyone is seated a bell is rung to signal the beginning of the ceremony. At this time the submissive and her attendants move to the front of the room, the trainer/mentor representing the submissive in the lead. If the submissive was under the care of another dominant, such as a protector, trainer or mentor, they give their testimony about the character of their charge and officially release the sub from their care and protection. If she/he wore a training collar, it is removed at this time and any contracts between the two are voided, dated, signed by each and a witness that will attest to the submissive's release from this contract. He/she is then declared to be a free submissive and may make their own choices from this point. The submissive is then attended to by her sisters and left to stand alone on to the left of the front area. A second bell sounds and the dominant with their attendants moves to the front of the room to the right. Any statement about the character or accomplishments of the dominant is made at this time by the person chosen to speak on his/her behalf. Any other submissives that are collared by this dominant are to be in attendance and seated near the front of the room on the right side, and remain silent in a respectful position.After the testimony is given, the submissive, with leash in hand, walks toward the dominant and attendants. She/he stops before each dominant in this line for a few seconds, as if contemplating a choice. Once she/he has stopped and considered each dominant in the line, she/he returns to the dominant of their choice and offers her/his leash with words similar to the follow:
"I offer this leash to you to guide me and lead me along my journey though life. It is my desire to belong to you and to follow you where ever you choose to take me."
At this time the dominant takes the leash from the submissive and states his/her acceptance of the submissive's offer of themselves with such words as:
"I accept this leash as a symbol of the offering of yourself and give my promise to carefully guide you and lead you safely in my footsteps. You will belong to me from this day on and I will do all within my power to protect you as you join me on my journey.
"The dominant then asks the submissive to kneel before them and takes the collar to place it around their neck.
"Will you kneel at my feet and take this symbol of my ownership to wear as a sign to us and those we meet on our journey?"
The submissive then kneels, head held straight but eyes looking to the floor. This will be the last time she/he is "asked" to kneel.
"I kneel as a sign of my submission to you and acceptance of the symbol of your ownership. I will wear it proudly for all of my days, Sir."
The dominant then places the collar around the submissive's neck and fastens it securely.
"You now belong to me." (spoken by the dominant)
"I now belong to you, Master." (or Mistress---spoken by the submissive.
This is the first time the dominant has been called Master or Mistress and is a very moving moment in the ceremony.)The dominant now hands his copy of the contract to the submissive and takes hers/his. They both read for a few moments and sign both copies, along with a witness for both. They signify their agreement on the stipulations of the contract by verbally stating their acceptance.
"I accept your desire to serve me and the secrets of your heart written on this paper. I will honor your feelings and needs. I will always put your best interests foremost in my dominance over you. You belong to me, thus you are now a part of my body and soul. Your happiness, health and well-being are in my care and I will thoughtfully tend to them because you are a part of me and my destiny."
"I accept the conditions of my service and respect the secrets of your heart written on this paper. I will honor and love you as I serve you to the best of my ability. I will open my heart, body and mind to your will, trusting that you have my best interests in your heart. My submission to you will be a gift freely given and shall never become a burden that I must bear. I am now a part of you and will respect you and your dominance over me as our lives and destinies have become one.
"The dominant now attaches the leash to the collar as his/her commitment to lead and guide the submissive from this day forward. The submissive presses her/his lips to the dominant's feet to symbolize their respect and submission and remains in this position until the dominant tugs gently at the leash and "commands" the submissive to raise their head.
(This act is a symbol of the new title of Master/Mistress and shows his/her new control over the submissive.)
The dominant then kisses his/her charge and tells them to stand. The bells are sounded several times to announce the newly formed bond.The couple embraces and shows signs of their affection for each other.
A token gift may be exchanged at this time. Sometimes the dominant's gift is a piece of jewelry that the submissive can wear when the collar is inappropriate. The submissive's gift is usually a personal item of her choice. If the dominant had other submissives who are collared by them this is the time their new sister or brother is introduced as part of the family.After a celebration of their commitment with their friends and family, the dominant leads the submissive off to spend time with her/him. It's a time of great joy in the community and the celebration is often a long, boisterous affair.
Collaring is never taken lightly by those who truly honor their love and respect for the D/s lifestyle and the significance of the collar is never forgotten. It's not a decision that's made quickly and tossed aside in a week or two. We see too much of that kind of thing online everyday and I hope that this will give you something to consider before you jump into one just because it seems like the thing to do. It's a commitment that should bind a couple together for a lifetime. Be sure you are ready to uphold the traditions behind that band of metal or leather before offering or accepting.
The Ceremony of Roses
The formal lifestyle is filled with traditions and ceremonies that are seldom witnessed by the outside world and perhaps one of the most moving and meaningful is the "bonding ritual" or Ceremony of the Roses. This ceremony is steeped in symbolism and mystique that dates back for centuries. Here is a brief description of what it involves and means.
An Eternal Bond
A couple who has decided to remain together for the duration of their lives and beyond will often opt for this ritual as a symbolic statement of their eternal commitment. It is sometimes used to renew a relationship that has gone through a difficult time and survived the test. There are many variations and couples often choose to add special touches to make it uniquely theirs.
The ceremony is never public.
Most often only the couple and one or two of their closest associates attend. The submissive carries a single white rose, not quite in full bloom. The Dominant holds a single red rose that is opened almost fully. Both roses must have thorns on their stems and be freshly cut. To perform two other parts of this ritual, a 6-8 foot length of light chain is also required along with several candles or an alcohol burner (or other liquid fuel , such as a good serving dish might use).
The couple, along with one or two of their closest friends, stand facing each other. The submissive, wearing a simple dress, holds her single white rose. Her Dominant, holding his red rose, removes her collar. He passes it quickly through the flames of a small burner and returns it to her neck. As he fastens it securely, he makes a declaration to her that he will protect and guide her for all of eternity. With a thorn on the stem of his red rose, he pricks her middle finger and lets two drops of blood fall on the white petals of her rose.
She then offers the thorns of her rose to him and he pricks his own finger. He lets two drops fall to her rose, one alone and one on top of a drop of hers. The two then press their fingers together and make their vows to be joined by blood.Their witnesses or friends take a length of light-weight chain and pass it quickly though the flame and wrap it around the couple. They again make their vows to be bound by their souls for eternity.
The roses are touched together, letting the blood from hers kiss his, and are then exchanged. The chain is removed and wrapped carefully in a cloth to be given to the couple when the ceremony has ended.
The roses are put into a single vase and will later be taken to their private chamber to remain as a reminder to them as they contemplate their new bond that night while joining their bodies.In the morning, they share their hopes and dreams of being together for eternity and pluck the petals from the roses to place them in a container together.
These petals are kept for the lifetime of the couple and a portion of them are buried with each in death. The chain is passed down in the family or given to an honored friend who will use it in their own bonding ceremony.
The Symbolism Revealed
The significance of the roses:
The white rose, still not in full bloom, symbolizes her submission.
The white color represents the purity of her gift, while the still slightly closed petals show that her submission has not come into full bloom. It never will. Submission is ever deepening, ever growing and the submissive will never reach a place where she cannot open a bit more for her Dominant.The red rose, almost fully open, signifies his dominance.
The red represents his passion and desire to posses and protect her at all costs, though it may require him to spill his blood to do so. The rose is almost in full bloom to symbolize that he is ready and mature enough to accept the responsibilities required of him.
The significance of passing the collar though the flames:
In older times, the collar would have been made of metal and heated to a glow and plunged into cold water to temper it after it was burned of all impurities.
This action symbolized the removing of all impurities from the circle of ownership provided by the Dominant. All outside influences are burned away in the heat of his desire to protect and defend his submissive.
The tempering of the metal that takes place when plunged into cold water shows the strengthening of their commitment by submersion into the waters of life.
Today we only symbolize this by passing the collar quickly though the flame, taking care not to damage it.
(Note: The use of an alcohol burner in place of a candle prevents any carbon residue from getting on the collar, although there will probably be none if the action is performed quickly enough.)
The significance of the blood:
Pricking the finger of the submissive is symbolic of taking her virginity. She has shed blood to give herself completely to him.
The drops on the white rose also speak of the same thing. In pricking his own finger, the dominant shows his willingness to shed his blood to protect and defend her by virtue of his ownership.
The drops on her rose show that vividly; the drop that falls on her blood covers it and blends with it, thus indicating their union.Pressing the wounds from the thorns together allows their blood to mix, joining them as stongly as their own family blood-lines.
They are now of the same flesh and blood. Exchanging the roses is symbolic of their gift of themselves to each other.
The significance of the chain:
The chain is a series of links that represent all the events that have led them to be joined. Each one interlocks with another to complete the chain. Passing it through the flame symbolizes the purification of all the events in their time together as well as their pasts. All bad things are burned away into forgetfulness and only the good remains.
Wrapping the chain around them gives a visual image of the binding together of two souls into one. This chain is never used for anything again, other than in a similar ceremony by the person who receives this chain as a gift. They are often passed down for decades or even centuries and are honored by those fortunate enough to receive such a gift.
The significance of the petals:
The mixture of the petals signifies the mixing and blending of their lives. Couples often keep them in a decorative jar, once the petals have dried completely. Upon death, a portion of those petals are placed with the body to show a bond that will extend beyond the grave. Many legends are told of roses that have sprung up on the graves of couples who have loved so strongly during their physical lifetime that even in death they sent back evidence of their everlasting love in the form of roses that bloom again on the graves.