D/s Rituals: Facts and Fantasies
(Original article from http://kinktoychest.com/index.php/castle-realm-archives/137)
Here are some thoughts on the subject of RITUALS, as they pertain to the D/s lifestyle. As a form of enhancement, there are few things that are quite as effective as a ritual that has been incorporated into a D/s relationship. For those of you who might not be familiar with the term, here are a few definitions that may or may not help define the word.
A MECHANISM existing within a social SYSTEM that (a) engages a set of individual members in coordinated and complementary activities which are (b) recognized by these members in terms of purpose, often supernatural, ideological or ritual but have (c) certain regulatory consequences in the sense of affecting or keeping constant variables within or outside (in the ENVIRONMENT of) that social system. (Krippendorff)
1 : the established form for a ceremony; specifically : the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony
2 : a ritual observance; specifically : a system of rites b : a ceremonial act or action c : a customarily repeated often formal act or series of acts (American Standard-1994)
Now, what does all that mean? A ritual is a sort of ceremony or rite that is usually formal and follows the same pattern each time. Simply, it's something you do over and over for a purpose. Rituals are intended to be repeated. They set a mood or build an expectation. There are no "surprise" endings or hidden agendas. They are intended to be the same each time, within normal limits.
A very simple example of a ritual might be the routine you go through each night to put a child to bed. You have a goal in mind...getting the child to bed with as little effort as possible. You want the child to recognize this goal as well. When it is done well, a series of events will begin each evening that the child recognizes and accepts as part of his/her nightly routine. An announcement might be made at the SAME time each evening: "It's bedtime." This is immediately followed by a bath, putting on pajamas, being tucked into bed, a story read and then the lights turned off. There are no variations in the routine. We want the child to understand what is happening and expect a set of actions that lead up to going to sleep.
In time the child will begin to prepare for this "ritual" mentally and physically. At the usual time each evening the child will begin to expect to be put to bed, his/her mind kicks in and they become sleepy. If this routine is not varied, never allowed to be interrupted, and is followed to completion each evening, you will find that this chore becomes less a chore and more of an expected event to both parent and child. It's pleasant for both, considering the alternatives of screaming, pleading, crying, and eventual punishment that might be otherwise be required to accomplish the same goal.
Two Main Ingredients
The important elements of a ritual are that it should serve a purpose and be pleasant for everyone involved. Remove those factors and it becomes a meaningless repetition of acts that are dreaded instead of anticipated. One of the biggest fantasies about rituals is that they are something mysterious and feared. That kind of ritual has little or no place in this lifestyle. Those blood-letting, hair-raising things are best left to cheap horror movies and Satanists.
Applying This To D/s
Now, if you're like most people, you're wondering just how this is going to work in a D/s relationship. I'll use an example of a simple ritual that is very common in our own relationship. This could be titled "The Greeting Ritual" and is done each morning upon rising and at the end of the work day when we have returned to each other's presence.
The submissive assumes the standard position that is pleasing to the dominant, in our case it is the position of surrender: kneeling, chest pressed to the floor, hands extended and crossed, the forehead pressed to the back of the hands. (In other words, face down, hips up.) The dominant must speak before the submissive moves into an upright kneeling position. Only now may the submissive speak and it should be words that indicate a warm welcome or the fact that they have missed being with the dominant. (eg. Welcome home, Master. I've missed You, Master.)
The eyes are kept lowered until the dominant touches the head or collar of the submissive. Only then may they raise their eyes and speak directly to their Master/Mistress. Again, it should be words of devotion, love and joy at being together again. (eg. I love You, Master. I'm so happy to be with You again.) The dominant shows signs of affection, such as bending to kiss or caress the submissive. This can be followed with any number of variations that please the couple. Everyone's rituals will have their own personal touches.
This simple ritual fulfills the two requirements: It has a purpose and it is enjoyable for both participants. The purpose is to set into play the feelings of dominance and submission after being away from each other taking care of our responsibilities. It allows a submissive, who may have a "Power" job, to slip out of that career role and back into the role of devoted slave/submissive. It prepares the dominant to assume his/her role of Master/Mistress of the house once again.
It is enjoyable because of the routine and warm feelings it evokes in both parties. The greeting, touching and affection are the rewards for observing the ritual correctly. It can take an otherwise awkward time for a D/s couple and turn it into a well organized series of acts that accomplish a goal. That goal is to move quickly and effortless into your normal, daily routine as dominant/submissive.
What are some other kinds of rituals that our lifestyle encompasses?
There are literally thousands of them. Every couple will learn to adapt their own needs and goals into something that works for them. There are a few standard things that seems to be tailor-made for a ritualistic approach and I'll suggest just a few.
Shaving: It's very common for a submissive to be required to shave the hair from parts of their bodies, usually the genitals. One of the most intimate rituals shared in a relationship can be a shaving ritual. This can be done with little fanfare or be made into a grand spectacle. It all depends on the individual's needs. Laying out the necessary tools, setting the mood, assuming the position, bound or otherwise, blindfolded for a little added anticipation and you have the makings for your own special time.
Bedtime: Another very common event that is just dying for a ritual. It can involve the submissive preparing their body by bathing and other hygienic actions, preparing the bed for the dominant, presenting their body for a nightly inspection, kneeling to ask permission to enter the bed, etc. Again, this is all a matter of individual tastes and should be personalized to fit your needs.
Serving: Now here's a wide open category. There are dozens of times when a beautiful serving ritual would be a great enhancement to a relationship. Perhaps it's after dinner when you are ready to relax in each other's company. The submissive can develop his/her own style of serving coffee, tea or other drinks into a beautiful serving ritual. One example is the Japanese Tea Ceremony, one of the most beautiful rituals I know of.
Pre-Sexual: Again, one of the times that really invites a ritual. The dominant usually has a position that they have established that indicates they are desirous of sexual activity. Upon a signal from them, the submissive begins a standard routine for presenting his/herself for the preliminaries of sexual intimacy. This may involve the submissive exposing themselves in a certain way, to dress or undress in an expected manner, to offer their bodies in any number of ways. It's a matter of personal preference on how this is accomplished.
Are rituals necessary?
No, I can't say that everyone HAS to have them. But they are an important part of our life together. We enjoy the formal, ceremonial type of lifestyle. The beauty of some rituals is very appealing but most of all it is the comfort they give. There's a peaceful feeling that follows when a ritual begins. A sameness, an expectation, a goal and guidelines that lead to that goal.
We use them to make duties more meaningful and keep from falling into the boredom that often accompanies an often repeated chore such as shaving. How many times have you heard of dominants who no longer take part in the shaving duties of their submissive? It didn't start out that way, but in time it became a half-hearted act that was finally discarded and left up to the submissive to do alone.
In time the submissive feels little excitement or desire to continue the practice and falls into neglecting this duty as well. It ends up a constant source of frustration or confrontation. "You have not shaved again? What's up with this?" The reply: "Who cares? I'm sick of it." Don't laugh folks, 'cause this is a very common event in lots of D/s homes. When shaving is made into a ritual there is an anticipation of pleasure and intimacy. There is time allotted for it to be accomplished and both dominant and submissive benefit from it.
How do we make our own rituals?
All it takes is a little creativity and a pen and paper. Sit down and discuss an area where you'd like to begin. Perhaps it will be the "Greeting" ritual. The dominant needs to express their desire in how they want to be greeted, what position, what might be said, how it will end. WRITE IT DOWN. Don't expect to remember tomorrow that wonderful routine you mapped out last night. When he enters the door you're going to forgot what you'd agreed to do. Keep a record of it. Work on it. Make changes to make it fit your relationship.
Most of all, don't stop it because you feel silly or "just don't feel like it today." Rituals are repetitious, that's what makes them rituals. The benefits come from getting past the reluctance and resistance, and learning to let your mind and body accept the expected result, just as the child will begin to anticipate sleeping after hearing their story each night.
Keep it Real
One of the most common failures of ritual practice in a relationship is trying to develop a complicated, useless fantasy instead of a purposeful goal. Fantasies should remain fantasies. A ritual that tries to mimic one of the Amazing Randy's stage productions with swirling capes and mysterious smoke is not going to work. Keep the smoke, lightning and eerie music for Halloween or the PTA Talent Night.
A ritual does not resemble an scene from the "Cyberslutssubs From Hell Meet SatanDom" either. D/s is not about human sacrifices or ritualistic torture and combining the two ideas is a sure prelude to disaster. There is a BIG difference between "sceneing" and rituals. Don't confuse the two when trying to establish your own rites and ceremonies. If it's a fantasy scene you're after, create one. Don't expect it to be something you'll want to do everyday or several times a week.
Keeping the excitement and enjoyment in a relationship, even a D/s based one, takes work. Sitting on your duff in front of the T.V. and looking up as your partner enters the door at the end of the day is NOT going to keep the flames burning brightly. Developing rituals, following routines that encourage the feelings of dominance and submission will keep you growing and lead you deeper into one of the most wonderful journeys two people can take together.
A note from Master's lovely - Master and I have incorporated quite a few rituals into our relationship. We have a morning photo and message, deep throat training rituals, exercise rituals, find a video to show him and masturbate day, and find an article about BDSM that I like. I get really excited when I get to the time of day where I will be doing one of my little rituals! love having them because I love feeling like I am doing something for Master even when I am not physically with him. They are also things that I really look forward to doing and on the odd occasion that I have forgotten one, I feel really out of sorts until I apologise and catch up on it!