Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 5: Salvation for Your Sole-- Ceromancy, Falaqa, and Bastinado

He, sir, that must marry this woman. Therefore, you 
    clown, abandon,--which is in the vulgar leave,--the 
    society,--which in the boorish is company,--of this 
    female,--which in the common is woman; which 
    together is, abandon the society of this female, or, 
    clown, thou perishest; or, to thy better 
    understanding, diest; or, to wit I kill thee, make 
    thee away, translate thy life into death, thy 
    liberty into bondage: I will deal in poison with 
    thee, or in bastinado, or in steel; I will bandy 
    with thee in faction; I will o'errun thee with 
    policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways: 
    therefore tremble and depart.  (As You Like It (1599); Act V, Scene 1, 45-56)

From Merriam Webster's online dictionary:

a blow with a stick or cudgel; a beating especially with a stick; a punishment consisting of beating the soles of the feet with a stick; stick, cudgel
According to the entry, the word is Spanish, but originally from Latin, and it was first used in 1572.  I suspect, however, that the date may not be entirely correct.  The custom of punishing the soles of a person's feet has been around far longer than that, especially in the Middle East.  If bastinado was not in Spain before the Moorish Invasion, it definitely was after 711 AD.  The practice is also know as falanga and falaqa (the Persian word for it).  Falaqa refers to the board, which looks like an English foot stock, that is often used to immobilize a person's feet for whipping.

 Bastinado is a delicate subject, not only because it's administered on a part of the body that is both tough and delicate at the same time, but because most instances of bastinado aren't for "love and pleasure".  It often falls into the dark side of the light and dark dichotomy.  Historically and in modern times, it was used in religious schools as punishment, by the military as an interrogation and torture method, by governments as a sentence, and in seraglios as a way to keep order. 
Bahá'u'lláh of the Baha'i' faith under went Falaqa in Iran.
Political dissidents and religious minorities are often the ones to suffer bastinado.  The insidious thing about bastinado is that it's a lot like being beaten by a phone book: it can inflict ungodly pain and physical damage but it doesn't usually leave marks.  People tend to fold quicker under bastinado than they do with other types of torture.
So, if there is so much pain and horrid misery associated with bastinado, why am I covering it?  For one thing, a reader requested that I cover it.  I try to be a pleaser, when I can.  For another thing, it's a perfectly valid thing to discuss within the context of this blog.  Lots and lots of people have a bastinado fetish: giving, receiving, and watching.  More than you might think.  Type anything in this blog into You Tube and your mouth will drop and your eyes will bulge.  
It has been awhile since I've been around any bastinado, and even then, it wasn't something I was around very much.  In doing research for this blog, I came across a series of videos by Barefootcecilia on Youtube, which gave me a lot of ideas.  However, just now when I went to link her channel to this blog, I received: "This account has been terminated due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines and/or claims of copyright infringement."  Sorry, darling.  Guess you were just too hot for You Tube (and she was hot!)

 Before I go further, the standard warning statement should be made: All things should be safe, sane, and consensual.  As with any sort of S&M and/ or sex ritual, be responsible.  Use safe words and condoms and respect boundaries.  No under aged participants or spectators.  Outdoor sex should be on private property.  Bondage should allow for blood flow.  If you break skin, use first aid to treat it and clean your equipment properly.  And with foot whipping, don't over do it.  The object is to lightly stimulate nerves, not break bones (and break bones you can very easily).

There are several options for integrating bastinado into Pagan worship. Some ideas have been mentioned in the The Many Textures of Deity section and in the Cut Me a Switch, Bitch section that is under BDSM Rituals. Another idea is to have one person offer their feet up as a ritual object.  In this case, the person's feet would be used for several different things.  Their feet could be used as a drum, an incense holder for stick incense, a candle holder for small tapers, and if they're talented, a flat surface to hold a chalice or a bowl of water.  If the person is really good at being still and completely zoning out, their whole body could be used as an altar.
Feet as a drum:  Since most people don't regularly undergo bastinado, I would advise only using your hands, like with bongos.  If you'd like to use drumsticks but want to play it safe, super thin plastic rulers are good implements for bastinado.  They have a loud "slap" but a fleeting sharp sting that won't do any damage.
Feet as an incense holder:  Unless the person has extremely calloused feet (which I'm not covering here), only use stick incense tucked in between the toes.  For added sound effects that will make the "incense burner" squirm, you can periodically wet the foot down.  As the ash drops, it will sizzle.
Feet as a candle holder: You can implement this idea in much the same way you would do with the incense, even down to the water.  However, everybody involved should be aware that candle wax will get on the person's soles and aloe should be available for possible burns.  After all the wax has dripped, ceromancy can be practiced on the images left on the person's sole.  Ceromancy is traditionally the practice of divining meanings from the images of wax dripped into water, it can easily be applied to flesh as  well.  As with other types of divination that deal with formed images (like tea leaf reading), different shapes mean different things.   After becoming familiar with the with the meaning of the shapes, use your own intuition to divine what they really mean to your situation or that of your sub's.  This is a well honored method of divination among those of the kinkier sort.  According to, the Italian courtesan Veronica Franco faced the Inquisition on charges related to ceromancy.  I wonder if she underwent bastinado as part of the inquest?

As a nice way to wind down after circle, don't forget to tickle your "altar's" feet.  According to Mistress Marmot, who started out as a sub, "When I was a sub, my Doms would tickle my feet, except I wasn't ticklish there.  Instead, it would make me want to scratch my feet.  It would bother me."  So, tickling might not be the pleasure you intended!