SHAMANIC BDSM: RITUAL HUMILIATION OR KINKY SOUL CONNECTION?

‘Bondage Warriors.’ Photography Steven Klein, styling Nicola Formichetti for Vogue Hommes.

Spiritual BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) doesn’t even appear in Fifty Shades of Grey, but according to dominatrix Claire Black, customers are increasingly requesting it. Black, who “likes to explore dark and dirty sexuality and bring it into the light,” was giving a talk last Tuesday at South London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern (a gay cabaret pub where Princess Diana once sneaked in dressed as a boy in the 1990s).

Alongside the regular stuff about whips, welts, safe words and boundaries, Black mentioned that many of her clients are asking for “a kind of shamanistic BDSM”. She added, “Sometimes I’ll come up with a symbol that I’ll make on the person’s skin with alcohol and then set fire to. Other times I’ll set an intention and then light candles and make a circle of fire.”

I had to order another pint to make sure I was hearing this right. Everyone seems to be making “intentions” these days – but surely in the domain of the sexual underworld the intention is obvious? When I cornered Black after her talk though, she said she believed that S/M was very much part of  the new Age of Aquarius train of thought.

Her website www.ecstacyinagony.com alludes to “spiritual practices” and has a link to www.sacredpleasures.co.uk, a more niche BDSM site which she co-founded and whose tag line is: “We bring sex, kink, heart and soul together.” Sessions draw on, “aspects of Shamanism, Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and welcome all other traditions, then combine them with our sexual practices to create something ecstatic and transformative.”

Says Black, “the idea is that spiritual seekers get into guilt-free sexual pleasure and pleasure-seekers develop more awareness and presence.” She will be hosting a weekend in London called Smorgasbord on June 8 and 9 where she promises clothing-optional “openness, connection and authenticity.”

Claire Black by Jan Murphy.

Lead image via Homotography

Stephanie Theobald

Stephanie Theobald is a freelance writer based in London. 

Stephanie Theobald

MY MANTRA: You always have what you need // MY MISSION: Welcoming a new wave of sex-positive feminism into the twenty-first century with my new book, Sex Drive. // MY STYLE: Look poor, think rich // MY SIGN: Virgo // MY HEALING: masturbation
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