Sacred Toys; Holy Tools

Reprinted from "Dark Moon Rising" (Buy at

Most BDSM folk refer to their tools as "toys", just as they refer to some very serious sensation work as "play", largely because they want to minimize the "scary" aspect of these practices, and make them seem light and fun, so that outsiders will not be frightened. Most Neo-Pagans refer to their various magical chotchkas as "tools", even when they don't actually use them for any purpose except decoration and showing off. Personally, I'd like to see people in both communities being a lot more clear about what's a toy and what's a tool. Certainly those of us who cross both have no excuse.

Like any magical or spiritual tools, BDSM tools can be (and should be, if you are using them in ritual) charged with energy and intent. You can charge them before use, or you can use them as a way of charging them. Don't think that people on the other end of those tools can't tell; many's the time where a casual play partner who didn't know anything about magic or spirits gravitated straight to my most charged toys, or remarked on my charged whip, saying something like, "When you hit me with that, it really feels like you're using your hands!"

The most powerful and magical toys are the ones that you make yourself. However, if you just aren't crafty at all, the next best thing is a toy that was given to you as a gift by someone you actually care about and respect. It doesn't have to be a gift from a lover; in fact, sex toys from disgruntled ex-lovers often have the ambivalent mental association of the breakup turmoil. Of course, even something that you bought at a flea market can become laden with energy and intent over time.

East Quarter: Tools of Air

In West African drumming tradition, different kinds of rhythm instruments are associated with different elements. Large, booming drums that are used for keeping a beat are Earth; smaller finger drums that play complex rhythms are Fire. Bells and metal strikers are Air, and rattles or shakers are Water. One can easily think of hitting the body in a rhythmic pattern as very similar to drumming, and both can be used for purposes of religious ritual and creating altered states. In fact, when I've been lucky enough to have a scene by a campfire to actual live drumming, I've discovered that synchronizing the blows to the drumbeat in some way was very good for the person that I was hitting.

Similarly, different striking objects can have different elemental similarities. Single-tail whips are associated with the element of Air, and they can be used in any spell, with or without a BDSM context, that calls upon the spirits of Air. Cracking a bullwhip over graves was a legendary technique used by Haitian sorcerers to raise the dead into obedient zombies; at that time and culture, a bullwhip had a long-standing association with slavery and being forced to do someone's bidding.

Other air striking implements are thin, whippy canes and crops. (The more it whistles through the air, the more likely it is to partake of the symbolic nature of that element.) Thin canes are especially good for making sigils in the air with long hissing strokes, perhaps to ward and purify a space.

Whip Invocation

May the spear of my breath flow through you,
May the blade of my thought flow through you,
May the arrow on my intent flow through you,
May you part air and stroke skin
And bring the gasp of indrawn breath
And bring renewed knowledge of the flesh
As relentless as the hurricane
That rips us out of our lives
And teaches us to value being alive.

As the athame is the classic tool of the East, so knives are also Air -- its cutting edge, its ability to separate things as the mind analyzes. The most obvious use of knives is for doing cuttings and bloodplay, and even disposable razor blades can be consecrated and serve as symbolic tools of the East. However, many if not most tops don't do actual cuttings; many simply keep the knife around as a safety tool for cuttings ropes in emergencies, or for running up and down the body of the bottom and threatening them for a psychological scare, or at most making small cat-scratches that don't actually bleed.

One caveat: Knives, when consecrated and "ensouled", may have a tendency to bloodthirstiness. This may especially be true if the knife was ritually consecrated by being used to draw a few drops of blood, which is the quickest and most potent way to charge any blade - pure life force combined with pure intent. Some knives are merely content to be tools; others will subtly communicate their desire for blood to the top while in use, or even when only being held. If the top is not aware of what's going on, that communication might affect their judgment, and what started out as a cat-scratch might become a bit more serious, with or without prior negotation. Be sure that you get to know the temperament of each blade that you use, and be fully aware of what that blade wants.

One lesbian D/s couple that I know consecrates their blades by inserting them into the vagina of the bottom during a ritual scene. The top says, "Blunter ones can go in bare-bladed, usually after a heavy fucking or fisting scene so that her cunt is open and relaxed. Really sharp ones, or ones where I don't want the bodily fluids to actually mess up the blade, go in with a sheath on. If the sheath is leather, I wrap it in Saran Wrap to protect it. The vagina itself is a form of sheath for a blade of flesh, and it's that energy that goes into the knife and awakens it. And by doing it this way, no blood is shed." I would add that you could do the same thing with an anus, but only with a blade in a smooth, well-wrapped sheath -- the sphincter muscle is too tricky and spasmodic to risk peritonitis with even a blunt knife blade.

Once consecrated, knives should be kept clean and sheathed for protection. Letting a ritual knife get rusty and dinged-up is bad juju. If you do end up with a bloodthirsty one, and your partner is not willing to engage in bloodplay (or the two of you can't do it for body fluid reasons) then you'd better keep it happy by occasionally giving it your own blood, or finding it a new home where folks engage in those practices.

Knife Blessing

Steel from the nerve center of the Earth,
Cutting edge of my mind,
Be partnered with my hand!
By the power of Fire that forged you, I give you spirit!
(Run the blade quickly through a flame from a candle or lighter.)
By the power of Breath that cooled you, I give you spirit!
(Run the blade through incense, or just breathe onto it.)
By the power of Earth from whence you were torn, I give you spirit!
(Hold the blade against your bare flesh for a moment, giving it warmth.)
By the power of all the Waters of the world, I give you spirit!
(Here you can dip it in water, or give it a few drops of your blood, or place it into your own or your lover's orifice, or what you will.)
By the power of the Dawning Light, be one with my will!
(Hold the blade up to the light, so you can see it flash. Kiss it, and sheathe it, and put it away.)

North Quarter: Tools of Earth

Dildoes are the single sex toy that it's easiest to enchant....although if they're made of rubber or silicone, they will hold a charge only for a short time. Natural materials hold magical charges longer; the best long-term ritual phalli that don't have to be periodically recharged are made of polished wood, bone, horn, or leather stuffed with some organic material. The problem with the first three is that they're expensive to get or have made, and can be limited in size due to materials (especially with horn). The first three materials are also very hard and don't "give" like rubber; some folks manage by getting one of the realistic soft rubber "penis sleeves" that go over dildoes, and covering the charged cock with it.

Leather is softer, but much more difficult to keep clean, and may degrade over time with moisture and rough use. Leather cocks can be works of art if done properly, but make sure you sew it together very firmly, because leather rots first at the seams. It will also rot if metal rivets or snaps are attached to it and then allowed to get moist and rust. Clean it with saddle soap, not bleach. Use condoms with it if it's going into or on someone whose body fluids you are not sharing. If you do choose to use leather, however, you can fill it with things like hair clippings from the people using it, magical herbs and spices (patchouli and pine are sacred to the Horned God), or pieces of towel or rag with body fluids on them. One butch dyke that I know who kept a spinning flock filled her leather cock with cashmere hair from a Kashmir stud billy goat who was particularly handsome and virile.

You'll notice by now that all the materials used for dildoes, including ancient historical ones (clay, stone, glass, leather) show that these tools are dedicated to the element of Earth. Even silicone is made from a mineral extracted from sand, as is glass; rubber is from a tree, and leather and horn are from animals. Dildoes are earthy, whether we are talking about someone's favorite and much used latex toy, a chrome-and-glass phallic sculpture, a Maypole, or the great stone obelisks built by the ancient Egyptians as penises for Geb, the earth god, to be able to penetrate his wife Nuit, the starry-bellied sky goddess. If you place your sex toys on an altar, they go in the north, or whatever direction you associate with Earth. One witch that I know actually digs a hole and thrusts her (cleanable) phalluses into it, to bless them with that grounded, root chakra sexual vibration.

If you do use man-made materials, they will still charge; you'll just have to keep redoing it regularly. (Oh, such a chore!) The best way to charge them, of course, is to have sex with them, even if only masturbatory sex. Before and during the sex, the person using it should visualize their astral cock filling the dildo. (If you don't have an astral cock, don't do ritual fucking with a strap-on until you can pull that cock energy out of your astral body and create one, at least temporarily. Non-ritual fucking can help with practice.) The wearer should stroke it, play with it, think of it as theirs. Even if they can't feel it, they can pull their energy into it. Then, if at all possible, the phallus should go into a flesh hole, your own or someone else's, and sexual energy should be raised, and ideally orgasm should happen. When all is said and done, the best way to charge a cock is by fucking with it.

Another tool of Earth is bondage equipment, such as ropes and chains. Earth is the most stationary element, and the closer to Earth a being is, the less it moves. Trees have more Earth energy than animals, and stones more than trees. Bondage is a way of making someone move less, bringing them closer to being a tree or a stone. As such, one very good way to charge ropes or chains or other restraints is to literally tie or fasten them around tree trunks, tree branches, or standing stones.

If you want to charge the ropes or chains with specific energies, it's relatively simple to pull them through your hands, sending energy out through your palms. Just visualize yourself impregnating them with a particular "flavor", such as "safety" or "sensuality" or "hard and unyielding", which is particularly good for soft ropes used on someone who can't physically deal with heavy bondage, but who wants to feel secure.

One of the most common magical folk spells is the knot spell, and bondage is a great way to use knot spells on a human body. One of the ones that I like is the traditional nine-knot spell, which can be done by tying ropes around the bottom that end with exactly nine knots. Ideally, once the energy of the spell has been gathered and tied up around them, this should be followed by either pain or sexual release or both, in order to feed the spell. Then the knots are untied in the reverse order that they were made, and the spell is free to work or not, as the Universe decrees.

Nine-Knot Spell

By knot of one, the spell's begun.
By knot of two, I make it true.
By knot of three, so mote it be.
By knot of four, the open door.
By knot of five, the spell's alive.
By knot of six, the spell is fixed.
By knot of seven, the earth and heaven.
By knot of eight, the stroke of fate.
By knot of nine, the thing is mine.

Regardless of how many knots you make, the idea is that intent is tied into every one. Another way to run this is to make the knots symbolize obstacles, and as they are untied the bottom concentrates on feeling freed from these restraints. This is reminiscent of the ancient practice of untying everything in the house when a pregnant woman's labor stalled, so as to spread unbinding energy throughout the area and facilitate the baby's birth. For this sort of spell, each obstacle should be named aloud, by top or bottom, as the knot is untied. As an alternative to this practice -- and one that is good for couples where the bottom is the bondage aficionado and the top can barely do a square knot -- the bottom can create a "web" of rope, tying the symbolic obstacles into it, perhaps with actual small objects knotted in. The top then wraps them up in the web and ties the final knots, trapping them. They can then take a knife and cut them out of the web, freeing them from the ensnarement.

Bondage can be used for suspension as well as restraint. One friend of mine who is an accomplished bondage top has one ritual which people ask for over and over. It consists of tying them up and then suspending them in a rope net from a tree, between heaven and earth, to meditate. When they come down, they are told to feel the first step of their foot on the earth as if it is the first time, binding them closer to the planet that they live on.

Bondage Invocation

I bind your feet, as the tree is bound to the Earth,
So firmly that even the hurricane cannot move it.
May you always remember what it is to be rooted.

I bind your knees, that you may know humility,
And the life of the animals who are your brothers.
May you always remember not to ignore what is beneath you.

I bind your thighs, taking you from the walking world,
As the serpent crawls upon the belly of the Earth Mother.
May you always remember what it is to be close to Her body.

I bind your genitals, givers of joy and desire,
For desire is coupled with choice and responsibility.
May you always judge well when to say yes or no to that joy.

I bind your belly, center of your survival,
For neither gorging nor starving does honor to your nourishment.
May you find balance between judgment and appetite.

I bind your hands, makers and doers in the world,
With the hope that they shall do only good work.
May you always remember the power in these tools.

I bind your arms, which reach for the heavens,
For limitation is part of the nature of Life.
May you always see your own limits with open eyes.

I bind your breast, formed in strength and beauty,
For the passions of the heart cannot go completely unchained.
May you learn loyalty in your commitments of love.

I bind your shoulders, which bear your burdens for you,
And I take from them all burdens, for the moment.
May these bonds bear you up in safety and lightness.

I bind your eyes, casting you into darkness,
The place of fears and pain, and of rebirth and regeneration.
May you never fear the touch of the shadows.

I bind your head, the center of your thought,
And in doing so I cast your thought inward,
Like the caterpillar bound in its cocoon.
May you dream in safety and in comfort
Until the time when I release you again into Life.

Gags are an Earth item, stopping the flow of words and the breath (Air). A gag can be used magically to symbolize the necessity of silence, or as part of magic to prevent someone from saying something unwise. One bottom that I know had trouble saying certain things, even when it meant that she didn't get what she wanted. Her top had her write them on piece of paper, crumpled them up and stuffed them into a hollow rubber gag, which was then stuffed into her mouth. It had a straw in the middle to drink liquid through, so that she could take in food and water, but until she decided to spit out the gag herself -- and thus magically commit herself to always saying what needed to be said -- she was robbed of all speech. It took her two days to nerve herself up to making the commitment. As soon as she removed the gag, she and her top sat down and had a processing session about the issues she had kept to herself.

Gags are also extremely useful for painplay, when the bottom needs something hard to bite down on. In this case, the gag can be inscribed with a rune or sigil of strength and endurance (my own personal choice would be a bind rune of the Futhorc runes Ur and Ac) so that it might be transferred into their body as they grit their teeth on it.

Gag Invocation

I take away your speech,
That you may understand silence.
I take away your words,
That you may understand that which cannot be spoken.
I take away that which most makes you human,
That you may learn to listen to your animal flesh,
And speak with your animal flesh,
And understand that which is older than any human blood.

Paddles, sticks, and other solid, short thuddy striking implements are also associated with Earth. When they hit you, it's like a rock, and you know you've been hit. The flat side of any paddle can be carved with a sigil and charged, and then used to "push" the energy of that sigil into the flesh of the bottom. (If you carve it in a distinct enough relief, and hit them in a nice cushiony place such as the buttocks, it can leave the sigil welted into their skin for a while as well, which helps to carry the magic.)

West Quarter: Tools of Water

One obvious sensation tool that is linked to the element of Water is ice. This can be used as a sensation tool for binding or "freeze" spells, where the bottom wants to force themselves to stop doing a certain activity. It's usually set up as an ordeal; have them lie as still as possible while ice is run over their body, and have the top say things like, "At first it's going to be this uncomfortable to stop, but slowly, slowly, the urge to do it will cool, and then you'll get used to it...just like you're getting used to this ice."

One form of purification that is linked to the element of Water is enema usage. This is especially good as a ritual cleansing before any kind of sex magic that involves anal play, but it can also be used as a ritual purification by itself. One couple that we know turns off the lights in the bathroom, lights a lot of candles, and incenses the room first. Then the one undergoing the enema kneels in the tub and prays for a few moments, and the one administering it asks a series of ritual questions, which are answered. The enema goes in, accompanied with some manual sexual stimulation to make it more pleasurable, and then when the recipient goes to the toilet, they visualize all their worries and confusions exiting their body, leaving them empty and clean and ready for spiritual work.

You can add a cup of herbal brew to the hot water in the enema bag in order to encourage a certain effect. Be very careful to strain it through a coffee filter or fine cloth first; there should be no particulate matter in the liquid that you add to the bag. Remember, also, that you don't want a very strong tea, and you don't want any herb that you couldn't safely consume orally in large quantities. The lining of the colon absorbs things a lot better and faster than the mouth, so be careful what you put into it. Here are a few recipes for different sorts of teas:

Love Tea
2 parts rose hips
1 part basil
1 part coriander
1 part bee balm

Bonding Tea
2 parts lemon balm
1 part yarrow
1 part calendula flowers
1 part thyme

Psychic Opening Tea
1 part rosemary
1 part anise seed
1 part chicory root

The tool of "water" that is most frequently used -- and generally ignored -- is sexual lubricant. More aware lovers may make an effort to find lube that is safe for latex, or non-allergenic, or less likely to unbalance inner flora, but few think about the spiritual qualities of what you're stuffing into yourself. The bowl of lubricant is the equivalent of the symbolic chalice of water on the altar, that which smooths the way of connection between two people.

Magical Lubricant Recipes

If you're going to be using this lube with latex, use a water-based lubricant as a base. If you're only going to use it with bare flesh or with non-latex gloves, you can use vegetable shortening. I'm allergic to soy, so I don't use Crisco; I buy palm kernel oil shortening, which has a nicer consistency anyway. Warm it just enough to mix the essential oils through. (Don't use a lot of any essential oil, and don't use any essential oil that it isn't safe to eat, such as pennyroyal oil. Check aromatherapy books to find out what is safe for bodily consumption.) For each quart of base material, use the following amounts of essential oils:

Love Lube
2 drops rose oil (try to find the real thing)
1 drop apple blossom oil
1 drop violet oil
1 drop ylang-ylang oil

Pleasure Lube
1 drop lemon oil
1 drop orange oil
1 drop bergamot oil

Sex Magic Lube
2 drops musk oil
1 drop ambergris oil
1 drop patchouli oil

Psychic Opening Lube
2 drops rosemary oil
1 drop cypress oil
1 drop sandalwood oil

Ordeal By Torture Lube
1 drop cinnamon oil
1 drop peppermint oil
Sprinkle of cayenne powder

Lubricant Blessing

Blessed be this fluid
Which will mingle with the sexual fluids
Of this our sacred flesh.
Blessed be the grease
Upon the wheel of the universe,
Upon the wheel of time,
Blessed be the shaft in the hub
And the spinning rim
Upon which we turn in turn.
Blessed be our sacred flesh
That shall bring forth rivers of ecstasy
With the aid of this sacred spring.

South Quarter: Tools of Fire

Many-tailed whips are referred to as "cats" in the BDSM community, after the infamous cat o'nine tails. Real cats are traditionally associated with the element of Fire, and tool cats can resemble a flickering, flying torch, so this is a Fire tool. I've found that the best way to charge a cat with Fire energy is to swing it, a lot. You can light a flame, and hold your hand close to it, just close enough for discomfort but not enough for injury. Let the flame's energy pour into your hand, through your body, and out your other hand into the cat as you swing it (in the opposite direction from the flame, please).

Cat Invocation

May my hand lay fire to your body
That the flame inside you may leap high.
May my hand lay fire to your ass
That you may rise and reach for the sky.
May my hand lay fire to your shoulders
That you may grow red wings and fly.

The most common form of fire play is wax-play, and every Pagan has candles sitting around, and probably uses them for most rituals. Make absolutely sure that you use stearin candles for SM-play and not beeswax, which melts at a higher temperature and will severely burn human skin. Stearin candles may create some light pink sunburn-like areas if the candle is held very close to the body; pouring from a height lets the wax cool on the way down, and creates enough heat to startle but not enough for serious pain. Still, some people may find even slightly cooled wax fairly intense, and may have pinkened skin from the heat. It goes without saying that this should be experimented with outside of scene, as should all fire play. Fire is dangerous stuff, and the top does not dare to screw up with these tools.

The article "Masters of the Underworld" describes a ritual for using fire in the four directions, which can be done with pillar candles in four different colors. Pillar candles, in general, are the best sort to use for this kind of play because they create a nice little pond of melted wax to be splashed on, rather than taper candles which can only drip one drop at a time. They can also be carved with symbols for magical use, and/or charged with symbolic essential oils or someone's bodily fluids. If you use the kind in glass jars, make sure that the flame doesn't lean too much against the rim of the jar, or the edge may crack. Also, don't touch the bottom's body (or the top's hand) with hot glass.

Methyl alcohol -- rubbing alcohol -- is sometimes used as a scene toy by some folks as a safe form of fire play. It's a technique that should be practiced carefully, and preferably taught to you by another human being. Pure methyl alcohol burns with a (comparatively) cool blue flame that won't damage skin too much, although it will singe off body hair, and it goes without saying that flames should stay away from the face and all mucous membranes (which includes genitalia). Magically, one could draw a symbol of some obstacle on the body in alcohol, and then set it aflame and "burn it out". One could also use a symbol of something that is useful, and "burn it in".

Fire Play Invocation

From my heart to my hand,
Fire flow through me.
From my hand to the flame,
Fire flow through me.
From the flame to your body,
Fire flow through you.
From your body to my hand,
Fire flow again.