This post will touch on themes some readers may feel are uncomfortable. In particular the use of restraint for esoteric or erotic purposes – better known as bondage.
I will make it plain here that I have very little knowledge of bondage or any aspect of BDSM practices. The topic came up recently in a druid forum and I need to express some of my thoughts on the situation that resulted.
Essentially a member of a forum I am on brought up the topic of BDSM and bondage in particular in relation to a new practice he was developing that combined aspects of shamanic journeying with light bondage. He explained something of what he was trying to do and asked if anyone would be interested in learning more. He framed this topic in a manner that was familiar to him as someone who had been involved in aspects of BDSM for several years. He posted this in a forum space that was set up for heated discussion and on a board that prides itself on being a “safe” space for members to express their different forms of Druid practice. I presume he felt that he should be “safe” to introduce this topic and as it’s usually a quiet board leave it for a few days before coming back to see if there were any responses.
Sadly his post was not received well by several members. Reactions were heated and hostile with one of the worst responses accusing him of breaking the law and causing harm, while another severe response accusing him of trying to solicit sexual partners.
I was frankly shocked by the heat of the responses.
The original poster was asked to clarify his intentions with his opening post and when he didn’t immediately appear to do so there were further heated replies. This is a board where usual interactions are considered and thoughtful, where it is not unusual to have days between responses and yet there was an expectation that for this topic the poster should be there straight away to respond.
It wasn’t that long before the poster did respond and I felt he did so very well. He accepted people had been upset and apologised. He explained himself eloquently in my opinion but still the heated responses continued. He chose to remove his post as there were several responses on the thread saying it should be removed and that took the responses with it. Another member tried to start a thread for healing from the situation but that too became heated with members now expressing anger that the thread had been removed even though that was what they had said they wanted.
None of these individuals seemed to give the original poster the benefit of the doubt. He had been judged and found wanting merely because he had raised a controversial topic and perhaps not phrased things as carefully as he might have done at another time. But he probably thought he would be safe in this space to raise this without tiptoeing around the subject. And indeed why should he have to tiptoe around it anyway?
The conflict, and therefore the original poster as the start of the situation, were likened to Islamic radicals and white fundamentalists in one post, to a murderer in another, just because he had shocked some members of this space. Some stated they no longer felt “safe” there because of what he had raised. I’m not sure I feel safe there having witnessed all these heated reactions. Who will they turn on next and why?
And then there’s my own feelings of confusion over all this. Did I do enough by witnessing this the way I did? Did I speak up clearly enough? Should I have said more, done more, to defend this man? Did he need defending? Will he feel this space is “safe” for him to continue in.
I do know this person a bit and I know that he has a hard won strong sense of personal identity. This isn’t the first time he has experienced reactions like this from what I understand so hopefully he will weather the storm reasonably well.
Did I stand by my own principles well enough? I’m not sure. I didn’t let my anger and growing disgust at the responses I was reading get the better of me so that’s good. I did write something in support of the original poster so at least I spoke up to some extent. Should I have done more? Realistically could I have done more? I don’t really know.
I’m not upset by the thought of someone using BDSM practices as part of their own religious practice. I’m a self diagnosed autistic with sensory needs that mean I often seek really tight hugs and even being pinned down. It’s not that much of a stretch to go from the feelings of relaxation I get from deep pressure to accepting that bondage can lead to a change in consciousness especially when handled in a way to enhance that sort of effect. I don’t have a clue how that might look practically but that’s not the point, I can trust that this man knows what he is doing.
I accept other definitions of what it is to walk a Druid path. I listen to other points of view and think carefully before I respond. I expected those in the forum this took place in to do the same, to think carefully, to give the benefit of the doubt, to respect alternative practices and views. I am still upset that so many didn’t do that, that so many didn’t seem to take that step back and seek further information before reaction so strongly. And at the moment I am less likely to share my thoughts and practices in that space because of what happened.