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Author Topic: Kink and Spirituality - Special Topic Discussion  (Read 23797 times)
Aster Breo
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« Reply #15: March 23, 2010, 11:37:53 am »

I would note that my comment about chronic pain was perhaps slightly tangential: because pain is for me an inescapable part of living, I fundamentally don't get the cultural aversion to it that is dominant in able-bodied discourse.  "Ooh pain pain pain bad" is out there a lot, in ways that come across to me as very ... immature, I guess is the best word for it - this idea that if something ever hurts that means one has to go to extra-special justification to do it.

Yes.

I've been living with pain for literally my entire life, and it's only in the last year or two that it's gotten to the point where I really can't handle it any more.  I long ago gave up the hope of ever being actually pain-free.  My hope at this point is simply to find ways of coping.  Which I'm not doing very well at the moment.  Undecided

But the correlation to the idea that pain isn't always bad is that sometimes it might be good.  I think that's what I'm most interested in exploring.  I know what a certain kind of pain feels like and what it does to me, but I don't know about other kinds.  F'ex, I found the pain when I got my tattoos to be completely different (not more intense, just different) than my chronic pain.  The idea of using pain as a tool makes sense to me.  It's part of life, why not use it?

Back in magical theory land, I used to use deliberate pain as an energy-raising technique to dull migraines (though it worked better on my joint pain, as that is far less acute).  Whether it was just raising endorphins to take the edge off or also functional in an energy work context, it was a tool that got me notably more functional.

I can definitely see this -- I've done much the same thing.  However, I think there is a point of diminishing returns.  Or maybe it's just that the endorphins themselves cause more migraine pain in my particular case.
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« Reply #16: March 23, 2010, 01:30:50 pm »

I would note that my comment about chronic pain was perhaps slightly tangential: because pain is for me an inescapable part of living, I fundamentally don't get the cultural aversion to it that is dominant in able-bodied discourse.  "Ooh pain pain pain bad" is out there a lot, in ways that come across to me as very ... immature, I guess is the best word for it - this idea that if something ever hurts that means one has to go to extra-special justification to do it.

Back in magical theory land, I used to use deliberate pain as an energy-raising technique to dull migraines (though it worked better on my joint pain, as that is far less acute).  Whether it was just raising endorphins to take the edge off or also functional in an energy work context, it was a tool that got me notably more functional.

I think we have fundamentally different ways of handling pain.  Because it often turns me into a whiny brat - hardly spiritual!  That could absolutely explain why I have such a hard time grokking this concept - I can't see how whiny-bratdom is good for ANYTHING!

The idea that it gets you somewhere /else/ instead .. I think correlating that to my knitting again makes sense.  Because sometimes when I'm knitting I can go *elsewhere* ... hrm.

A lot to chew on.  (while I knit?)  I'm not sure if this is making sense or if I'm just off in crazy-Shadow-land.  Or .. both .........
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« Reply #17: March 23, 2010, 01:37:00 pm »

I think we have fundamentally different ways of handling pain.  Because it often turns me into a whiny brat - hardly spiritual!  That could absolutely explain why I have such a hard time grokking this concept - I can't see how whiny-bratdom is good for ANYTHING!

The idea that it gets you somewhere /else/ instead .. I think correlating that to my knitting again makes sense.  Because sometimes when I'm knitting I can go *elsewhere* ... hrm.

My average headaches put me square into whiny-brat-land.  But the REALLY BAD ones take me totally past brat-land and out of myself.  Those are the ones that hurt so much, it almost isn't *pain* anymore, but it's something else that's past physical sensation.  Very hard to explain.
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« Reply #18: March 23, 2010, 02:00:33 pm »

My average headaches put me square into whiny-brat-land.  But the REALLY BAD ones take me totally past brat-land and out of myself.  Those are the ones that hurt so much, it almost isn't *pain* anymore, but it's something else that's past physical sensation.  Very hard to explain.

A friend of mine commented at one point that when she was on painkillers for a broken hip, it didn't make the pain go away.  It just ... turned it blue.  So her hip was really, really blue.
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« Reply #19: March 23, 2010, 02:04:31 pm »

A friend of mine commented at one point that when she was on painkillers for a broken hip, it didn't make the pain go away.  It just ... turned it blue.  So her hip was really, really blue.

 Cheesy

Yeah, the painkillers add another dimension to the whole thing.  I've been on narcotics (specifically morphine) for so long that I'm sometimes not sure whether I'm experiencing the pain or the morphine.  Although, to be honest, I don't really seem to react to the morphine much any more.  There's certainly no pleasant buzz, anyway -- which my doctor says is normal.  Apparently, when people take narcotics for actual pain, they don't tend to get the buzz that people who take it recreationally get.

For me, when they work, painkillers don't make the pain go away, they just make me not care that it hurts.

Blue would be interesting, though.
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« Reply #20: March 23, 2010, 02:53:10 pm »


What role does various kink play in your religion?  Is pain something sometimes to be courted, or always a bad thing?  Do your gods approve of things that aren't necessarily mainstream?  Why/why not?

If your gods are interested in things that are not mainstream, what sorts of things are they?  Why?  What do you/the gods/whatnot get out of this?

If your gods don't like these things, why is that?  Are they simply disinterested, or actively disapproving?  Why?


Three of the deities I work with definitely appreciate sex as an offering. They have made that abundantly clear. when my husband and I first got together we had one god and a goddess that frequently liked to get in on the action. They weren't even from the same pantheon which was strange to me. When you are looking at your husbands face and his eyes are not his eyes it can be a little scary. I'm still not sure why that level of involvement was necessary but we didn't really mind. This lessened as time went on, but I'm starting to see these influences in our lives again.

on the topic of pain - Of the four deities I regularly work with, only one could possibly enjoy pain as offering. He has never asked me for an offering of pain. Since this has come up in other threads I have been thinking about it a lot. I would not be asked for that. As a former abused child a god asking me to do something to hurt myself would damage that relationship at this point. Too many bad associations. I used to cut myself because I was depressed and that always started a spiral downward. So While I am recovering from these things from my past to be asked to do anything like that would not be ok. In fact the other god and two goddesses would really rather I didn't cause myself physical pain while I am trying to heal. I think if my situation were different they wouldn't care one way or another.

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« Reply #21: March 23, 2010, 06:29:05 pm »

I think we have fundamentally different ways of handling pain.  Because it often turns me into a whiny brat - hardly spiritual!  That could absolutely explain why I have such a hard time grokking this concept - I can't see how whiny-bratdom is good for ANYTHING!

The idea that it gets you somewhere /else/ instead .. I think correlating that to my knitting again makes sense.  Because sometimes when I'm knitting I can go *elsewhere* ... hrm.

There's also lots of different kinds of pain, as I'm sure you know - the pain of stubbing your toe is not the same as the pain of a migraine, is not the same as the pain of constant joint pain, is not the same as muscle pain, is not the same as BDSM play of various kinds. There's certainly places there's crossover or similarity - but plenty of BDSM folk cheerfully admit to getting whiny about the kinds of pain that aren't their thing, just like most folks. Just that there's some categories of pain that either do other things for them, or that are worth dealing with for the other enjoyable sensations involved.

I am currently cranky about my body, and my legs hurt, and my shoulders are tense, and I'm tired. And yet, if someone offered me the right range of sensation play right now? I'd be *so* there, because it'd help me refocus the sensation into something more useful, or at least less-cranky-making. (instead, I shall have to make do. Fortunately, am on vacation at a B&B with a massage tub.)
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« Reply #22: March 24, 2010, 07:47:57 pm »

BDSM is a compound anacronym: Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, Sadism/Masochism. Many people who are interested in some subset of these are not interested in the others. My own two leanings are toward the first two pairs in various formats - but straight sadism and masocism hold very little interest for me. (inflicting pain, or receiving it.) There are plenty of people who are only interested in one or two of those six things, not all six, and 'kink' as a term covers all of that, plus a bit more (like sensation play, which isn't really explicitly in there - things like floggers designed for sensation, not pain, hot wax play, ice cubes, etc.)
<snip>
All of those involve pain, but they're all pains that would also have some interest for me - not pain for pain's sake alone.

But that said, there are some people whose wiring tangles pain and pleasure. That even while they feel the pain, they get other sensations that they enjoy. Most of us have *some* experience of this: the feeling of pins and needles (that hurt, but is also sort of cool). The ache of wiggling a loose tooth when we're children, or peeling off a scab, or pushing on a bruise.
Since I'm also trying to get caught up on TC-reading after my trip, I'll be responding a bit at a time.  This post of Jenett's, being something of a primer for those who don't know a lot about it, is a useful place to hang a general outline of my POV.

Me, I'm not all that interested in the Domination/Submission subset - at least, not in the more typical BDSM framings, and not in a directly sexual way; I do have a more intellectual interest in power:  what it is, how it can be classed into different sorts of power, the different balances it can have, how it flows, etc.  That part, for me, has less to do with sexual kink, and far more to do with witchcraft/magic/spirituality and with feminism/social justice.  Well, and there's a sexual angle to it; I don't kink on the power-over of D/S, but I do kink on the flow of power, back and forth and in and around and intertwined, of power-with.

But (to quote JFP) "the other letters can be quite fun".  Jenett and others have framed the "bondage" part in terms of restricted movement, with implications of very specific restrictions for specific purposes, which is both closer to my own tastes, and IMO more broadly applicable to spiritual work, than the "restricted as much as possible, and helpless" model - I see a distinct difference between enjoying being physically bound in some particular way, and enjoying feeling helpless, though they certainly can overlap (and I'm acquainted with people whose bondage kink also includes bondage that doesn't actually restrict movement - the texture of the rope or other bondage material, and the sensation of being held/hugged by the material, is also a factor.)

I'm not particularly into discipline as discipline; what I like there is the sensations - and that's the thing for me with the S/M as well (well, that's how my M works; my S is about the energy - the taste of someone's pain-energy when they're being hurt in ways they really like being hurt is delicious and intoxicating).  The core of my kink is sensation-play, ranging from the gentle and sensual right on up to high-intensity sensation that pushes against the pleasure/pain boundary.  The pain ("good pain" as compared to "bad pain" which is just ouch - more on that in my next post) is central to high-intensity boundary-pushing, but it's not "for pain's sake alone", it's for the sensation and such that surrounds it.

I've a few other kinks/fetishes that I won't elaborate on now, but that's the basic outline.  I've expressed it almost entirely in a sex/kink framework, with little mention of the "spirituality" angle, to keep it simple; how the spiritual part works is that a) for me, sex, magic, and religion are naturally intertwined; I can focus on one or another aspect and not be directly applying the others in the short term and for a specific purpose (not all my magic is sex magic; not all my rituals turn into orgies; I can enjoy a good tumble in the hay in its own right without it being a rite Cheesy), but on a broader level I can't really separate them, and have an outright need for my religion/spirituality to not just honor sexuality but actively include it; and b) if it's part of my set of kinks, it's part of my spiritual sexuality.

And then there's the matter of deities - my primary patron is Coyote, about whom there are many, many stories of his (often norm-defiant) rampant sexuality, and even more that illustrate his greedy joy in physical pleasures of many kinds, and with whom I have a sexual/romantic relationship (it was, in fact, discovering those sexual stories - which aren't the most readily-available ones - that led to that development in the relationship).  Several of the other deities I work with have distinct connections of some kind to sex, sexuality, non-conformity, boundaries and the liminal, etc.  So even the worship/honoring part of my spirituality is often sexually-infused - I've frequently made an offering of sex, or of the energy of my sexual response, to deities.

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« Reply #23: March 24, 2010, 08:10:29 pm »

I think we have fundamentally different ways of handling pain.  Because it often turns me into a whiny brat - hardly spiritual!  That could absolutely explain why I have such a hard time grokking this concept - I can't see how whiny-bratdom is good for ANYTHING!
Heh - that's a whole 'nother sort of pain, and I agree that its usefulness is limited at best.  Childbirth, while also the not-fun kind of pain, was a lot more useful, both practically (rhythm, breathing, when to push, that stuff) and spiritually.  But my own - thankfully easily-resolvable - recent experience with chronic pain, from gallbladder attacks... yep, I whined a whole lot, I was sometimes bratty with it, it was utterly non-sexual (and inimical to any sort of desire other than "I want this to !go away!"), and not at all spiritual.  Heck, I can't even force it into a "rite of passage" frame; the closest I can come is to make vaguely-animist jokes about "irritated bag of rocks".

I think the distinction others have drawn between chronic and acute pain has some relevance here, though it's not a clear-cut distinction nor the whole picture.  Having an unhealthy gallbladder that acts up is chronic, a fullblown attack is acute - and OTOH, I can imagine some sorts of chronic pain (depending where and how it manifests and other details about its nature, and on the individual) being more potentially usable.

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« Reply #24: March 24, 2010, 08:48:21 pm »

I think the distinction others have drawn between chronic and acute pain has some relevance here, though it's not a clear-cut distinction nor the whole picture.  Having an unhealthy gallbladder that acts up is chronic, a fullblown attack is acute - and OTOH, I can imagine some sorts of chronic pain (depending where and how it manifests and other details about its nature, and on the individual) being more potentially usable.

Sunflower

I think I envy people that can use pain - AT ALL.  I can deal with pain, ignore pain, get wiped out by pain .. but use it?  Other than the basic "ow that hurts, maybe I shouldn't do that again" about the closest I can get to using anything in that respect AT ALL is a certain respect for scratchy yarn - sometimes I want the scratchier texture.

Dat's IT.
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« Reply #25: March 25, 2010, 03:43:30 am »

I think I envy people that can use pain - AT ALL.  I can deal with pain, ignore pain, get wiped out by pain .. but use it?  Other than the basic "ow that hurts, maybe I shouldn't do that again" about the closest I can get to using anything in that respect AT ALL is a certain respect for scratchy yarn - sometimes I want the scratchier texture.

Dat's IT.

I can deal with pain and live with it (probably because I have no chioce) but I can also use it if I want/need/have to. It can be a brilliant focus and also a great anchor.
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« Reply #26: March 26, 2010, 01:03:27 pm »

What role does various kink play in your religion?  Is pain something sometimes to be courted, or always a bad thing?  Do your gods approve of things that aren't necessarily mainstream?  Why/why not?

If your gods are interested in things that are not mainstream, what sorts of things are they?  Why?  What do you/the gods/whatnot get out of this?

If your gods don't like these things, why is that?  Are they simply disinterested, or actively disapproving?  Why?


I'm what you might call kinky  Grin
this is something I share with my partner.
however, for us it's not just about pain, in fact most of the time it's not about pain at all.
it's more about control, and the dynamic between us.
Pain is not always a bad thing, it depends how it is used.  for us it has to be consensual.
I don't have a patron god/dess and I dont think my partner does either (although he is Pagan, on the 'eclectic Wiccan' spectrum somewhere) therefore cannot say if they specifically 'approve' or 'disapprove'.
however, I personally have never had any sense of any of the gods/goddesses disproving of any of our bdsm practice (whether or not involving pain).
we conduct ourselves ethically and morally to the best of our knowledge and do not engage in abuse.
my opinion is, the gods/goddesses are largely disinterested in our sex life and the power dynamics of our relationship.
they would only be disapproving if one of us was to misuse that dynamic in some way or misuse their power.
(although I suppose, being a female-dominated partnership, some of the more 'militant' goddesses may actively approve of such... I don't know!  Roll Eyes )
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« Reply #27: March 26, 2010, 03:11:10 pm »

(note: I'm not an expert in the language.  If I screw up, please take it as ignorance and not malice)

Since the subject's come up a few times, I think a thread on the subject where we can talk about it explicitly might be a good idea.

What role does various kink play in your religion?  Is pain something sometimes to be courted, or always a bad thing?  Do your gods approve of things that aren't necessarily mainstream?  Why/why not?

If your gods are interested in things that are not mainstream, what sorts of things are they?  Why?  What do you/the gods/whatnot get out of this?

If your gods don't like these things, why is that?  Are they simply disinterested, or actively disapproving?  Why?

*moderator note* This is not a place for "oh but that's icky" discussions.  No one's saying you have to like it - if the entire concept freaks you out, please, don't read the thread.  If you really think your gods find something appalling, that belongs here.  If YOU find it appalling, that's not the purpose of the thread.  If you have questions on this, please, PM me.

My thoughts on kink in spirituality specifically are mostly limited to the theoretical for the very simple reason that I've only been in one relationship and, though kinky (both pain and domination/submission), it didn't ever really involve a spiritual aspect beyond that which is present in pretty much everything I do. When I get in a relationship with the requisite level of trust I will be more than happy to experiment. I suspect that the inclusion of a second (third, etc) person will add an interesting dimension to the spiritual aspect of pain, restriction, etc. But for now I'll leave the commenting on that particular topic to others better equipped to do so.

On the topic of pain (in non-sexual settings) in spiritual practice I do have a few comments, both as someone who uses it and someone who experiences relatively frequent bouts of non-voluntary pain (darn migraines...).

I definitely agree with what others have said about different types of pain. I am lucky enough that my migraines never develop to the level some here have cited where they get past the whiny brat stage and into the transcendence stage. My migraines are less whiny brat and more "I'm going to go bury myself somewhere cold and dark now. Don't bother me". Nevertheless, they're about as far as you can get from spiritual.

Where I do find pain constructive is when it is both prolonged and sharp (not really the right descriptor, but the best opposite to achy that I can come up with).

Most frequently I use pain as a means of inducing or deepening meditation. Extreme physical exertion (think the sort that leaves you physically trembling afterwards, unable to continue, occasionally bleeding and always aching for days) both helps me to clear my mind for meditation and adds a whole new level of sensation to the experience. I also tend to do this barefoot which adds new sensations ranging from very painful to pleasurable depending on the surface and what I'm doing (running, hiking, climbing, etc). These sensations make meditation, for lack of a better word, a more alive experience. Similarly, I have never been able to replicate the level of meditation I reached while getting my tattoo. For several hours straight I was able to let go of thinking and just focus on feeling. I can understand why people go back for more and I do intend to do so but that has more to do with the following paragraph than this one.

I also find pain (and frequently an associated marking) useful as a marker of the end or the beginning of a period of growth. My tattoo actually marked the realization that I had finally reached the end of a period in my life in which I was prone to self-inflict pain for far from constructive reasons (as well as a new beginning after that stage). Consequently, being able to constructively use the pain of actually getting the tattoo was quite important to me. Piercings play a similar (though more frequent and less momentous) role in the chronology of my life.
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« Reply #28: March 27, 2010, 01:25:12 am »


I also find pain (and frequently an associated marking) useful as a marker of the end or the beginning of a period of growth. My tattoo actually marked the realization that I had finally reached the end of a period in my life in which I was prone to self-inflict pain for far from constructive reasons (as well as a new beginning after that stage). Consequently, being able to constructively use the pain of actually getting the tattoo was quite important to me. Piercings play a similar (though more frequent and less momentous) role in the chronology of my life.

I also use tattoos and to a lesser degree piercings as a constructive form of pain. What really gets me though is the thought of it before hand. The actual pain during the process doesn't mean so much but the thought of what I'm doing and why, and that it is going to hurt is almost meditative.

My piercings were all to assert that I was a separate adult entity and not under my parents rule (which may seem juvenile but it was extremely important to me)

my one tattoo is a friendship tattoo, my friend and I got the same tattoo at the same time with symbols important to both of us. we have been best friends since we were 5.

the other tattoo is a pentacle, that was the closest I ever got to a dedication ritual. It was me dedicating myself to following a pagan path.

My last tattoo is a butterfly, the symbolism spoke to me. I survived my childhood. It was important. It was also fitting as a tattoo. Out of pain came something beautiful. And that was on my mind the entire time.

So I guess in that sense I can use pain in a constructive way.
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« Reply #29: April 01, 2010, 09:45:47 pm »

... I'll be responding a bit at a time.
And here's a bit that I didn't say anything about, but wanted to get to at some point.  I didn't think the Asatru & Heathen SIG was an ideal place for even this much detail, and even less so if it were to generate discussion, so I'm adding it here.

What I said there:
Well, at any rate, we've been given a demo of what I described as "a truly spectacular ignorance of BDSM".

I'd read the link that Thorsmadr provided, when I was doing the earlier digging.  I have to admit, even I (a kinkster myself) found it a bit hair-raising - definitely of the "risk-aware consensual kink" stance, rather than the "safe, sane, and consensual" one (I'll say more on that in the "BDSM and Spirituality" special discussion shortly; I don't think this thread is the place to go into it in detail).

I prefer the RACK framing over the SSC framing myself, not because what I'm into is particularly "extreme" as a rule, but because very little in kink - or in life generally - is so completely safe that risk-awareness is unnecessary.  IMO, "safe, sane, and consensual" is too easily parsed as implying that, as long as one follows certain safety-oriented rules, it's risk-free.  Also, there's the inherent ablism of "sane" - it suggests that particular desires are inherently problematic in themselves (even the DSM-IV, for all its many flaws, doesn't identify such things as "disorders" unless they pose a threat to others or are seen as problematic/unwanted by the person themselves), and opens the door to "My kink is normal, yours means you're bad."

All of this is doubly relevant to spiritual kink - spirituality gets very much the same kind of "mine is normal, yours is weird and there's probably something wrong with you" judgementalism, and there's a strong correlation between kink in a spiritual context, and ecstatic/"shamanistic" spiritual practice.

Sunflower
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