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Fetish & Magick by Ruth Ramsden

Fetish & Magick by Ruth Ramsden

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Published by Mogg Morgan
Sex has been used in religious practices since humans began the process of communicating with the weather. Whether it’s been joyfully embraced or desperately prohibited as part of the doctrine, depends very much on the mood of the godhead. In most conventional monotheistic religions, any kind of carnality is, by and large, regarded as a bad thing, simply because the definition of spiritual purity is equally prohibitive. Likewise, any kind of sexual activity outside nuptial lovemaking between heterosexual couples is only grudgingly acknowledged, if not actually frowned upon. So what of magickal practice and fetishism? Are these two outsiders to accepted belief and sexuality rude bedfellows and is there a dialogue between them?
Sex has been used in religious practices since humans began the process of communicating with the weather. Whether it’s been joyfully embraced or desperately prohibited as part of the doctrine, depends very much on the mood of the godhead. In most conventional monotheistic religions, any kind of carnality is, by and large, regarded as a bad thing, simply because the definition of spiritual purity is equally prohibitive. Likewise, any kind of sexual activity outside nuptial lovemaking between heterosexual couples is only grudgingly acknowledged, if not actually frowned upon. So what of magickal practice and fetishism? Are these two outsiders to accepted belief and sexuality rude bedfellows and is there a dialogue between them?

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Published by: Mogg Morgan on Sep 27, 2012
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FETISH & MAGICKRuth Ramsden
Sex has been used in religious practices since humans began theprocess of communicating with the weather. Whether it’s been joyfullyembraced or desperately prohibited as part of the doctrine, dependsvery much on the mood of the godhead. In most conventionalmonotheistic religions, any kind of carnality is, by and large, regardedas a bad thing, simply because the definition of spiritual purity isequally prohibitive. Likewise, any kind of sexual activity outside nuptiallovemaking between heterosexual couples is only grudginglyacknowledged, if not actually frowned upon. So what of magickalpractice and fetishism? Are these two outsiders to accepted belief andsexuality rude bedfellows and is there a dialogue between them?Fetishism is undoubtedly as old as the ‘C’ word. And by that I meancult – the demeaning little label that\s been applied to any nonconventional form of worship which utilizes practices relegated to theapocrypha along with the Gnostics. It seems odd that the same synodacknowledged the Song of Solomon, with all its talk of keys, as a thingof beauty - (“My beloved put his hand through the key hole, and mybowels were moved at his touch…” Quite so) - particularly when youremember that the Greek word for key comes from the same route asclitoris. The Greeks knew a thing or two but never mind. Setting asidethe kinky Mr. Crowley and a bit of eleventh degree anal, most paganbeliefs and their off shoots, even when they enthuse in the mostorgiastic terms about sex, still seem hidebound by the hetero-normative. But many so called cults, from antiquity to the modernprimitives, have also used pain as a way of reaching spiritual nirvana.Scourging, particularly, is a well known rite in magickal practice. Still,fetishism, though unquestionably lurking in the shadows, hasn’t beenout and proud in its modern form for very long at all. And it is a verybroad church indeed.Where the paths in magick and kink cross is, strangely enough, wherethey also diverge and that is the question of purpose. Many neophytesto the fetish scene are in the process of making their fantasy a reality.Whether it’s bondage, humiliation, impact play, age play (insert your choice here), it’s not always a straightforward journey and not withouthazards. The roleplay between a top (master or mistress) and abottom (submissive/slave) is a very complex and often very deep one.It is intuitive and based on personal dynamics. Experienced,responsible players will always do a lot of ground work and proceedwith a light touch. Trust and communication are issues not to be takenlightly. Especially when the reality of a scene involving pain andhumiliation can be a frightening departure from the fantasy.
 
Consent in fetish play is a golden rule that cannot be broken. Safe,sane and consensual is the mantra. As in any power based dynamic,abuse must be guarded against, even when it’s unintentional. For thesubmissive, the state of mind habituated by play, might make themfeel they can no longer opt out of situations that are dangerous or uncomfortable for them; when going against the will of their master or mistress has simply become impossible. Dialogue is essential and agood top will always be alive to this possibility. Sadly, there will alwaysbe some for whom consent is a word that can be whittled away to acollection of meaningless letters, or others that are just too dense to besensitive to the danger and something that seemed a like good idea atthe time can turn into a nightmare. Fortunately, in my experience, thisis pretty rare. The fetish scene is good humoured and open andmercifully free from the kind of inhibitions that make this kind of behaviour easy to conceal. You really will get a bad rep if you behavelike a pratt.The rewards, on the other hand, are without limits. Although fetish playby no means always involves penetrative sex, the purely physicalimpact of exploring your sensuality in this way can be astonishing. Anintense session, with or without orgasm, can induce a chemical high inthe body of exquisite transcendence, a euphoric physical collapse, aspiritual revelation. In the submissive partner this is known in scene jargon as ‘sub space’. From the point of view of the top, from my ownexperience at least, the sensation has as much to do with the duality of this ‘becoming’ as any physical exertion. The joy of holding someone,in your charge and care, in such a state of grace is profound. Therecan be a moment where, regardless of how deep your relationship withyour play partner is, you can touch love. Within a loving relationship it’san affirmation as well as a celebration. And aside from the purelyphysical, this is magick. From beatified nuns in orgasmic concordancewith their lord, to the conflated paradigms of Chaos Magick, that’s thespot you’re trying to hit, right there. And trust me, it goes beyondsimply getting your rocks off with a few accessories thrown in.The fetish scene works within no other framework than effectingpersonal revelation and fulfilment. That’s not to belittle its importance(it’s certainly been very important to me) but it has no other construct.Ritual magick of any kind has foundations and occasionally some quiteairy fairy scaffolding. Even Chaos Magick works within its ownNietzschean moebius strip. Still, I don’t suppose I’m risking much tosuggest that a journey resulting in fulfilment and revelation, especiallyin physical transcendence is the place where magick is at it’s mostpotent. Controlling this process to focus and channel anything beyondthe purely self indulgent is the difficulty. But there’s no reason why itcouldn’t be cultivated, just as concentrating on your partner, or a sigilor a vision at the point of orgasm can be cultivated. Similarly, there’sno reason why a fetish scene couldn’t be incorporated into anymagickal rite, for the benefit of all participants. Elements of fetishism

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