How Does Your Light Shine?

wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame

Wicked Wednesday Prompt #266: Bubbles

Life comes upon us like we are driving at dusk without headlights.  We may know the road behind us, but the road ahead is never clear.  Sometimes turning points come and go without notice, there’s no signpost to say the road has changed, that the path is different.

That’s a real problem if you are the lead wheel, if your position is to provide direction down the path.  What happens when the direction is unclear?  What happens when you peer ahead and see no path, only darkness?

I was sitting in a jacuzzi tub, filled with bubbles.  Joyous and carefree.  As Shakespeare once said – the world was my oyster.

I didn’t see the darkness ahead.  I thought the path was clear.

What lay ahead was loss.

Pain.

Shattered dreams.

The stuff nightmares are made from . . .

The images bring back memories.  Feelings that are more than just bittersweet.  Packed with emotion.  Raw.

I can feel my skin crawl.  Is it anxiety?  Anger?  Hurt?

I have to remind myself that it was a beautiful weekend.  The bubbles were real.  The hugs and smiles were real too.

Could things ever have been so simple?  Joyous?  Bubbly?

What can I choose to remember?  What can I choose to forget?

I have to admit, some things are hard to remember.  Some things are even harder to forget.  Dreams slipped from my grasp.

Admitting that to myself is difficult.  Having to say it here, worse.

But I’ll always have the bubbles.  While bubbles can never protect, they do surround me, envelop me, warm me.

The bubbles are my cocoon. I’ll disappear into them, take shelter there for a time.

The bubbles will wash away the pain, they will wash away the shame.  They will not consume me.

I will reemerge.  My light will shine again.

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala

How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala

Three Dog Night

Shambala

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Happy Independence Day – Please Be Safe and Sane

holiday or not - always keep it consensual

It’s the 4th of July, which equates to Independence Day here in the USA.

The 1st of July was Canada Day. That’s a similar celebration without an armed revolution to motivate the festivities.

Fireworks are stunning displays.  Parades can be great fun.  Backyard barbecues are my favorite way to entertain, not just on holidays.

But, my thinking today is less about the holiday itself, and more about the tradition of telling folks to have a “safe and sane” 4th of July.  Yes, the BDSM community motto has been taken over by the holiday safety police.  Or perhaps, it’s vice versa.

My own memory seems to indicate that wishing folks a safe and sane 4th of July predated our community’s adaptation of the safe and sane motto.  But, I’m also aware of the frailties of human memory.  It’s easy to convince ourselves something happened a certain way, especially when it’s convenient for our own psyche and worldview.

On the topic of safe and sane, I personally believe that Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC) is just as good a motto as Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK).  I tend to say I go by the latter, but it’s really a case of macht nichts, a German expression my Dad taught me that translates to mean – it doesn’t really matter.  One’s as good as the next.

Sanity and safety are both relative things.  So is responsibility.

Personally, I find fire play, knife play, suspension, and other edge play activities to be quite sane.  I’ve studied and practiced, those are techniques I am quite comfortable using.

But, you wouldn’t find me becoming a snake handler.

Snakes bite.  Some of them include poison as a part of that bargain. To me, handling snakes is neither safe, nor is it really a sane activity.  At least not to my way of thinking.

Obviously, though, your mileage may vary.

Awareness is a relative thing too. What I consider to be informed and aware may, or may not, meet your personal standards.  Your standards may not meet mine.  Who’s to say?

The one word in both definitions that should be without room for interpretation is consent.

Sadly, the human condition is full of frailties and greed.  Even a concept like consent is full of attempted interpretations designed to justify what is really nothing more than thinly disguised rape.  Like I said before, it’s easy for some to convince themselves that events happened a certain way, especially when it’s convenient for their psyche and worldview.

It’s rare to met a submissive woman in our community who’s consent has not be violated.  It’s a tragedy that stories of consent violations are rife within our community.

So please, have a safe and sane 4th of July.

And always remember – Consent Matters!

NOTE – A version of this post was originally from a previous date, July 4, 2014, on a version of MichaelSamadhi.com that no longer exists.  It’s been edited and amended for 2017.  The material may be rewritten, but the message is just as valid today as it was 3 years ago when the original was posted.

 

TMI Tuesday | July 4, 2017

what if you were not judged?

1. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
I’d certainly “come out” as a person who’s active in the BDSM lifestyle sooner. In the end, the more authentic life I live, the happier I am. The primary thing that keeps a person from coming out is fear of judgment. Lacking anyone else’s judgment, everyone could live their authentic self, myself included.

"TMI

2. Most recently how did you openly express love?

a concrete answer
I held my partner, my consensual slave, throughout the night after her weekly shot of methotrexate.  The drug gives her terrible side effects, but it’s one of the essential treatments needed for her rheumatoid arthritis.

a more abstract answer
I’m an empathetic individual, I believe in living life as an expression of love. That sounds corny perhaps, but it’s a joyous way approaching life.  I sit and cry with clients when they need to cry, I laugh with them when they need to laugh.  If I make a mistake, it’s sometimes caring too much.

3. When is the last time you took a sexual risk? What was it?

On one hand, I’m not much of a risk taker, if it comes to potential STDs etc.  For my generation, coming on the heels of the sexual revolution, the first generation that had to consider the risk of HIV, sexual risk meant STDs.

On the other hand, as a BDSM Master, a lot of what I do has potential risk.  Some of the edges we play with in the BDSM community have the potential to cause physical (or mental) harm.  With the right amount of education, perhaps an equal measure of dedication to practice, the risk can be significantly reduced, almost to the point of elimination.

I practice RACK, which is shorthand for Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

4. What sexual acts bring you the most pleasure?
There’s a special dance between a dominant and submissive, a sadist and masochist.  An exchange of physical, emotional, and spiritual energies.

It is sublime.

5. Is there a belief or attitude that interferes with you creating or pursuing your sexual fantasy?

My beliefs and attitudes are in alignment with my desires.  The only thing that interferes with pursuing any sexual fantasy I might have are real life circumstance.  I am a truly fortunate man.

Bonus: Tell us something you need to stop wasting time doing.

Playing Facebook games.  A dictionary perfect example of a true time waster.

 

TMI Tuesday blog

The Lead Wheel

a power exchange relationship is like a bicycle

My name is Michael Samadhi.  I am the lead wheel.

My blog, Michael’s Way, will detail some life’s journey, document topics of interest, discuss interesting news, and share some quotes.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to share a little bit of knowledge too. I’ve accrued my share of knowledge in the 53 years I’ve inhabited this mortal coil.  I’d like to think at least a small portion is actually useful.

I’m a dominant, a Master, a consensual slave owner.  For anyone that might be confused by that “slave” designation, and for those who might be confused by the terminology, or who’s familiarity with slavery is only with forced (or non-consensual) slavery, I assure what I practice is nothing at all like that.

Everything I do is consensual, with the sober and informed consent of my partner(s).  That’s the most basic and universally observed principle of conduct for those of us who live a BDSM lifestyle.

I’m nothing like Christian Grey (Of 50 Shades of Grey fame) either.  I’m not rich, certainly.  But, more importantly, I’m in control of myself.  I don’t chase unwilling young ladies, I can control my emotions, and my sexuality too.  In order to Master others, you must first Master yourself.

the bicycle

The most simple analogy I can offer is that my relationship style is a lot like a bicycle.

I am the lead wheel of the bicycle.  It’s my responsibility to steer our relationship.  It’s my job to direct and lead in a way to assure we both reach our desired destinations.  That’s true whether the encounter with my partner lasts an hour, a night, or a lifetime.  My relationships are power exchange relationships by design.

Obviously then, any partner with whom I may have a relationship will (by definition) fulfill the role of the rear wheel.  My partner’s submission, service, and surrender are the forces that provide drive.  They power the relationship with their submission.

Make no mistake, regardless of who ultimately makes the decisions, even power exchange relationships are true partnerships.  At least that’s my ideal. A bicycle loses it’s identity – ceases to exist – without a rear wheel.  Instead, it becomes a unicycle.

So a Dominant needs a submissive, a Master must have a slave, in order to be complete, in order to be worthy of the title.  Just as a bicycle needs two wheels.

yin and yang

Another analogy for my relationships is Yin-Yang symbol and it’s meaning.

There are two poles of cosmic energy that are yang (positive) and yin (negative). Yin and Yang are associated respectively with the masculine and the feminine, the strong and the weak, the light and the dark, the firm and the yielding.  

At the root of Yin’s existence is Yang; at the root of Yang’s is Yin.

At the root of being a Master is having a slave.  At the root of being a slave is having a Master.  

The same is true for sadism and masochism.  If there is such a thing as God, I can’t believe he would create a sadist, if it were not to satisfy another’s masochistic needs.

tantra

I also see a parallel in Tantric teachings . . .

“The entire universe is a manifestation of pure consciousness. In manifesting the universe, this pure consciousness seems to become divided into two poles or aspects, neither of which can exist without the other. One aspect retains a static quality and remains identified with unmanifest consciousness. In Tantra this quality is called Shiva, and is conceptualized as masculine… The other part of this polarity is a dynamic, energetic, or creative aspect that is called Shakti, the great mother of the universe, for it is from her that all is born.”

     Swami Rama

In my mind Tantra and BDSM are intertwined. Although some Tantric “purists” would say that BDSM activities and Tantra are mutually exclusive, I’d disagree.  Strongly.

More than 15 years ago, when I first started studying Tantra, I found direct similarities in the altered states of consciousness that BDSM and Tantric practices can create.  Using the word “similarities” is probably a terrific understatement.

I’m convinced that some fairly well-known altered states of consciousness created by BDSM (sub-space and top-space are two commonly used names for this phenomena) are exactly the same as the headspace created by Tantric practices and rituals. So it’s simple for me to transmute the archetypes of Shiva and Shakti into the roles my partner and I play for each other.

back to the bike

Yes, I’m the lead wheel.

The bicycle analogy is likely the strongest of all that I’ve offered.  It’s simple and straightforward. It’s by far the most universally understood.

I should probably also mention that there is more than a little personal history with the bicycle analogy.

But, that is a story for another time . . .

Disney Kills Pirate Fantasy

yo-ho-ho pirate's wench auction must go

It’s said to be a world class amusement.  Purported to be one of the most spectacular attractions ever created for a theme park.  Walt Disney World advertises their Pirates of the Caribbean ride as something very special.

“Set sail on a swashbuckling voyage to a long-forgotten time and place when pirates and privateers ruled the seas.”

It all sounds very good.  Pirates are a great draw for all ages, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (at least the first one) are great entertainment.  It’s great synergy.

Disney may be family fare, but real pirates are truly not family entertainment, not in any way.  Pirates were rough creatures.

They could be crass, ruthless individuals who lived their desperate lives as if there was no tomorrow.  They fought for their lives and partied for them too.  They asked for no quarter and gave none in return. Considering that piracy was a capital offense, that’s not exactly unreasonable.  Likely as not, their breath would eventually expire at the end of a hangman’s noose.

Pirates even make for great erotic fantasy material.

arrrr, pirates be sexy

Yes. I went there.  Some find pirates, at least the concept/fantasy of them, to be quite erotic.

Somewhere in here, it needs to be noted that something about a pirate’s devil-may-care attitude carries with it a good measure of sexual allure, at least for some individuals.  The allure of pirates is such that they are a staple of Harlequin-type romances, a genre of books I’ve always categorized as “bodice rippers”.

Pirate role-play is also a staple of books I’ve read about erotic fantasy.  I’ve read wonderful descriptions about how to turn a bedroom into a “Captain’s cabin” on the cheap, how to alter clothing for pirate cosplay.

And yes, there are even folks who fantasize about being put on the auction block.  Granted, it’s not the most common fantasy in the world, but it’s not completely unknown among submissive individuals either.  I’ve read more than one BDSM-themed novel featuring the auction block for individuals captured or enslaved.

bodice ripper

A historical romance where the heroine has lots of non-consensual sex, which becomes consensual. The book needs to have a gaudy cover with a woman with an extraordinarily long neck, heaving bosoms, and flowing hair, and a brooding man.

Urban Dictionary

the Marketplace

Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series is entirely based around the idea of slaves consensually putting themselves on the auction block.

Essentially, the Marketplace is about erotic indentured servitude.

It’s based on the concept that there are individuals in society that desire servitude so greatly that they are willing to consensually agree to be auctioned to wealthy strangers.  The auction winner will own the slave, and their services (sexual and nonsexual) for a defined number of years.

Marketplace candidates want that fate so badly they are willing to undergo weeks of arduous training to meet the standards set for slaves in that world.

Antoniou is one of the most serious, respected, and successful authors of her genre.  She has a sizable fanbase, all based upon the quality of her writing, and the concept that there is an extended international secret society entirely based on slavery and the auction block.

True, there are no pirates in the Marketplace, it’s set in the modern day.  And yes, the Marketplace books go far beyond the bodice rippers, that’s all part of my point.  For the folks who have these kinds of slavery fantasies, their desires run very deep indeed.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Will Stop Selling Women, and It’s Long Overdue

Beth Elderkin

Gizmodo headline

selling women is misongnistic

Obviously, despite the folks who are turned on by the thought of erotic slavery, there are plenty who are offended by the concept of a woman being sold.  Even if it’s just one small portion of a Disney ride about pirates.

Beth Elderkin of Gizmodo opens her story on Disney’s ride revamp by saying:

Pirates of the Caribbean, the Disney Parks ride that later became Johnny Depp’s regular paycheck, is finally getting rid of the intensely creepy moment that is the Wench Auction, and the only real issue is why it didn’t happen sooner.

Kathryn Lindsay at Refinery29 expresses a similar sentiment in her story – Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride Will No Longer Depict Selling Women.

It’s disturbing that as a kid, I went to Disney World, rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, watched a bride auction, and then continued with my childhood. I don’t even remember this part of the ride, but guess what, it’s been there this whole time, and it took until the year 2017 for the park to do something about it. According to ABC, Disney will remove the “bride auction” scene from the attraction at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland sometime in the next year.

 

For those who don’t remember, who may have innocently absorbed this misogyny as children like I did, the scene is announced with a giant banner reading “Auction: Take a Wench for a Bride.” In front of it stands a line of women, a redhead, and an auctioneer. The redhead was the prize — or, in my opinion, victim — of the auction at hand, but the whole scene will be no more.

I’m intelligent enough to see both sides of this argument.  I can understand where Beth, Kathryn, and folks like them, are coming from on this issue.

Misogyny is abhorrent (see the ONYX Pledge.)   Human trafficking is a terrible crime, a human rights violation.  Exploitation of our fellow human beings is just plain wrong, no matter what context.

sorting out the controversy

If I can understand the arguments behind why this one small part of Disney’s flagship ride must change, why am I lamenting it’s loss?

Like so many things in life, it’s complex.

Newsweek sums up two major sides of this argument well:

Since 1967, that scene has been part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland in California. But Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Disney’s amusement parks in California, Florida and France will soon be rid of their bride auction scenes, which have long been criticized as sexist by some while considered an integral part of a half-century-old attraction by others.

While this part of the attraction has long been criticized, it’s long been part of the ride as well.   The scene has been up for 50 years.  That’s older than many of the folks who will read this.

Pirates, as I’ve already observed, were not generally nice people.  Without a doubt, they were cutthroats, robbers, and thieves.  Many of them did take part in human trafficking.  The bride auction scene may not be completely historically inaccurate.

From my perspective, the strongest argument for removing the scene is that it may somehow accidentally warp children’s perspective towards misogyny or trafficking humans.  That it could affect their attitude towards women.  I don’t see any compelling evidence that’s happening.  Kathryn Lindsay confessed that she didn’t even really notice, or remember, the auction scene she witnessed as a child.

I tend to give most children enough credit to believe that they can separate a pirate display from modern realities.  If they actually notice the scene, that is.  It’s just one small part of an attraction.  Amongst all the spectacle, it’s much more likely they’ll remember the talking skeletons.

Michael’s way

I’ve been spared personal exposure to the wench auction scene on their Pirates of the Carribean ride.  I’ve never been to any Disney World or Disneyland.  My parents always maintained we were too poor to afford such a trip.  And, I never had children of my own to necessitate a visit as an adult.  My feelings about this issue are free from any personal nostalgia.

If I ran Disney, the ride would remain unchanged.

I enjoy the idea of erotic pirate fantasies.  I own an erotic pirate movie. (I also own one about the Inquisition, but that’s another story entirely.)  I’ve never actually taken part in a pirate role play scene, but I certainly would not turn one down if that was a partner’s kink.

Obviously, I also enjoy the concept/fantasy of a slave auction.  It’s a frequent enough fantasy that “slave auctions” (with lots of limitations on how the slave may be used) are a common way for kink organizations to raise funds.  Antoniou’s Marketplace series are some of my most favorite erotica.

Being part of the Master/slave community, the slave auction concept isn’t exactly foreign to me.  Consensual erotic slavery is a fantasy I live, it’s my lifestyle.  If I’d had the opportunity to visit Disney, this scene is one I would have certainly remembered.

Add to that, nods to sexuality are not completely unheard of in Disney cartoons and movies.  Captain Jack is a rake, he’s bawdy and overtly sexist in his approach to women.  It could be argued that his character is totally misogynistic.

When it comes to children, I believe in parenting.  If a child is somehow upset by the bride auction scene on a Disney ride, it’s a parent’s place to explain that pirates were not nice people.  It’s certainly not beyond a child’s comprehension to understand that pirates did many things that are criminal, both in their world and in today’s world as well.

With all of that said, the loss of this scene isn’t the kind of thing that will keep me up at night.  I’ll lament the loss and move on.  This is just one symptom of the movement towards political correctness and avoidance of all potential “triggers” within modern society.  As such, I’m more concerned about the epidemic of sanitizing displays and traditions in the name of political correctness.

While I can intellectually understand the arguments behind changing the scene, it’s a shame I’ll never get to enjoy the original.

Artists’ rendering of the new ride scene. Image: Disney Imagineering