Tuesday, November 29, 2011

exemplary actions

We've started discussing some of the side issues regarding personal health and BDSM in previous posts here at the SpiritualBDSM blog.  Issues our community faces include but are not limited to: the common use of hazardous chemicals such as phylates in dildos and vibrators, the unsafe nature of leather toys for internal use, the many problems inherent in products made in China, as well as the age old issue that all non-monogamous humans must face - sexually transmitted disease.

Although I always do my best to make blog entries here interesting, these aren't especially engaging topics.  None of these are sexy to think about.  For sure, nobody is going to masturbate to thoughts on these topics.  Not to mention that they are not very likely to draw new readers to our blog.  In fact, these topics are likely to alienate readers looking for more titillating postings about the very exciting aspects of BDSM.

So why write these kind of posts?  Why not just write about the fun and exciting aspects of BDSM?  Don't we want more readers?

Obviously, Serafina and I think they are important topics for discussion or contemplation.  They get written despite being a little uncomfortable and potentially uninteresting for some readers.  They get written because they are very necessary to our mission of not just entertaining, but also educating.

Thankfully, we are not alone. There is little or no regulation in the sex toy industry, but there are manufacturers who "self-regulate" and go out of their way to provide quality products that are not only safe, but are made here in the USA.  Manufacturers of this sort are not only providing safe toys for adult fun, they are also providing jobs and contributing to our country's economy.

With that in mind, I'd like to give one domestic toy maker a tip of my cap, a nod of serious recognition, for their policies and products.

That company is Tantus.
We don't want to go on at too great a length about Tantus products in this posting.  We have a good number of their toys in our collection, and they all deserve their own reviews.  We made most of our Tantus toy purchases direct from the manufacturer, so Tantus also deserves their own vendor review.

For now we'll just say that Tantus has been making silicone toys here in the US since 1998.  And, as the tag line of the entertaining videos that accompany their product listings usually says: "Tantus Toys are hypoallergenic, hygienic, phthalate free, odorless, tasteless, boilable, bleachable and even dishwasher safe."

Tantus seems to have a great company philosophy, which we applaud.  Here's a verbatim re-posting of fairly brief note from the Tantus website about the meaning of being both health and green as a manufacturer.
What does it mean to make toys healthy for the body and to be a green manufacturer?
Green has become the new tagline of just about every industry, especially in sex toys. And everything it seems is now silicone. Is it all safe? Is it all the same?
Tantus takes pride in the fact that all our products are healthy for the body and made using processes that are healthy for the earth. We’ve been around since 1998 advocating for safer products and responsible retailing and it hasn’t been an easy ride.
So now that so much silicone is around- what makes silicone made in China different from the more expensive products (without as many whistles and bells) which are made in North America or even Germany. What difference is there in a company whose sole product line is silicone or healthy materials from factories who have it made for them in third world countries?
As a responsible manufacturer I want to know the process is clean as well as the materials. I want to know my customers are safe. I want to know that each portion of the process here at Tantus is under my control.
In 2006 the Dutch EPA did a study where they randomly chose 16 adult toys from a store. Out of those 16 tested 3 had arsenic, 6 had antimony, 12 had lead and 7 had cadmium. Cadmium is a heavy metal. Every time you expose yourself to those toys your cadmium level increases. One of the cadmium toys had levels so high that the EU would have required a radioactive sticker on the product had it known this had been imported into the continent. So what was it? The radioactive sex toy was a Chinese made Slimline vibrator made of safe ABS. The issue wasn’t what the toy was made of but what it was pigmented with. This toy was yellow and cadmium was its pigment.
When you smell a Tantus product there is no scent of chemicals— and when you walk into our shop you’ll have the same experience. We manufacture everything here in the US so we can make certain that the materials we use are safe; the solvents we use are safe and the quality is superior.
Solvents are used to clean machines, there is no way getting around it. At Tantus we use an FDA approved mineral spirit that we recycle. We pay a little more for this solvent, but it’s worth it. I didn’t mention the toluene in the Dutch EPA study but 14 or 16 products had it and what is it used for… to clean machines.
But let’s talk about silicone. Silicone is made by refining silica. Yup sand. Sand is heated and refined and heated again, etc until it becomes a liquid. There are no milk proteins here. It’s vegan as vegan can be.
And while 100% Ultra-Premium Silicone does not break down, it is completely inert. As waste it builds land mass but doesn’t pollute the land. And all silicones are not the same. There are as many different grades of silicone as there are raw silicones that are made.
But Buyer Beware— adult novelties isn’t a regulated industry.
For years products have been labeled silicone that had either negligible amounts of silicone or no silicone at all. This summer I heard a horror story of a very responsible vendor going to China to look at what was available and being asked do you want the package that says silicone or the generic one. When they ask what the toy is actually made of they were told, “No. Do you want the package that says it’s silicone or not?”
But one of the most crucial parts of being green, I think is economic sustainability. I think when someone talks about “green” they have to talk about sustainable wages. At Tantus no one who makes our products makes just $2.00 a day. We pay livable wages in a very livable city. We sustain the economy by making all of our products right here in the USA.
Green sex toys make good press. But we at Tantus are proud of our stewardship: we live responsive to our passions. We take care to make sexual products that work for the body and work for the earth.
While advertising yourself as being "green" is good marketing in some circles, there aren't many companies willing to make the kind of total commitment we see from Tantus.

Commitment to providing a green product for adults is outstanding.  That's also true for a similar commitment to a green manufacturing process.  Providing jobs at home and contributing to our shared economy is both commendable and worthy of imitation.

Which brings us back to the post's title:
ex·em·pla·ry  (g-zmpl-radj.1. Worthy of imitation; commendable: exemplary behavior.2. Serving as a model.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

affiliate link - JT's Stockroom - vendor review

Stockroom Spiritual BDSM is now a proud affiliate of JT's Stockroom!

Purchases made after clicking the banner/link to your right (or below) won't cost you anything more, but Serafina and I will get a little commission from your purchase.  What a nice way to show your appreciation for the information and resources we provide!

We consider lovemaking and BDSM to be aspects of our own spiritual practice and journey.  That makes our choice of affiliates a matter of significant personal importance.  We aren't about to mix commerce and our spirituality in a manner that could reflect poorly on our practice, or ourselves.

Serafina and I aren't the kind of people who will add an affiliate link without having first hand experience with the vendor's products and service.  That's a matter of personal pride for me, as well as being a practice which guarantees readers we aren't simply flogging products (excuse the pun) for personal gain.

We are very familiar with stockroom.com's products and customer service, having made multiple purchases there over the years.  Taking a moment to look at our order history, Serafina and I have made several purchases there within the last year, a testament itself to our satisfaction with the Stockroom's sales and service.

Like Captain Renault in the movie Casablanca, the Stockroom can, "Round up the usual suspects!"  They offer a great array of standard BDSM toys: collars and cuffs; vibrators, butt-plugs and dildos; as well as paddles, whips and floggers.

The quality of those basic BDSM products seems to range from average to outstanding.  As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so it's still important to carefully read descriptions and study product pictures if you want really great gear, but it's certainly there to be found at stockroom.com.

But, believe it or not, those basic/standard BDSM devices are not why we usually shop at JT's Stockroom.  Before I'd even met Serafina, I'd already collected a great supply of leather gear.  We have more collars and cuffs here than we should ever realistically need or use.  Certainly none of that gear should ever be in danger of wearing out during our lifetime.

Instead, what makes the Stockroom.com special for us is the more unique products they offer.  Earlier this year, at the start of our summer, we purchased a nice selection of PES electrical toys from stockroom.com.  Late summer found us purchasing a "Pig Sling with Stirrups," a wonderful sex sling constructed from 42oz black vinyl-coated polyester fabric.

The Stockroom is also having a huge Thanksgiving and Black Friday sale which goes on through the rest of this weekend.  Meaning, I couldn't resist purchasing another order of goodies to go under the tree at Christmas.

Some of the items in the order are intended as a surprise for Serafina, she may not know what they are until I unveil them during play.  But, for sizing purposes, one of the items required the use of a tape measure this morning.

With that in mind, there's no surprise to ruin when I tell you Serafina's going to be wearing a Bolero Straitjacket like the one worn by the model in both banners featured in this post.

I didn't need Santa to tell me she's been a very good girl this year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

it's big and it's black - must be Friday - SALE! SALE! SALE!

I'm not sure if the phenomena occurs in the rest of the world, but here in the USA the Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, and it's called Black Friday.  Retail stores all across the land usually reserve this day for their biggest sales events, opening their doors in the middle of the night, hoping to attract as many customers as possible for themselves.  It sounds like a cliche, but in this case it is also true - the tough economy this year has made the competition even more fierce than normal.

That is a very good thing for shoppers.

Although the majority of sex toy purchases are made online, rather than from a brick and mortar retail locations, adult toy makers are certainly getting in on the Black Friday frenzy in a big way.  All week long my email in-box has been inundated with sales announcements, and most of the sales include the biggest discounts I've seen this year.

Here is a brief sampling of great savings opportunities from vendors we frequent:

Tantus, maker of fine Silicone sex toys is offering 40% off everything - coupon code PREHOLIDAY40.
The Black Friday sale at Liberator is a site wide 25% discount - use the coupon code LOVE.
The discount at For Your Nymphomation is also 25% - coupon code BlackFriday.
Over at Eden Fantasies everything is 20% off - code HOLIDAY.

SheVibe is offering a slightly different sale, their's is for Cyber Monday.  On November 28th customers purchasing more than $200 in merchandise can get an extra 10% discount on SheVibe's rock bottom prices by using the code CYBER10.

There are also some discounts that are more generic holiday sales type events.  For instance, Mr S Leather is offering free shipping on all orders over $50 made by December 19th.
Happy Thanksgiving image from email to MR-S-Leather customers.
DISCLAIMER - We do not currently associated with, and are not affiliates of, the vendors or websites listed in this posting. We have not received any compensation for this post.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

happy Thanksgiving . . .

I wish I could say that the picture was an original, but it's something I found on tumblr . . . 
Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends, both new and old, near and far.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not In Your Mouth

If you haven't already seen it, we've embedded a YouTube video that we consider a must view!  Sexologist Ducky Doolittle is featured in a monologue - "Not In Your Butt" - her listing of amazing objects people have had removed from their rectums.  The video is sponsored by Tantus, so there's a short plug (pardon the pun) for some Tantus butt objects at the end of the video.

It's a pretty amazing list, including a vast array of food items including apple, zucchini, onion, turnip, potato, and salami.   Also making Ducky's list were a number of bottled objects: Mrs Butterworth's syrup, peanut butter, deodorant, vaseline, and cold cream.  Perhaps the strangest item was a collectable action figure.

Today, inspired by Ms Doolittle's video, we are doing a variation of her theme.  Ours is called, "Not In Your Mouth."  Our version isn't going to feature any outrageous foreign objects.  Instead, we are going to feature a common BDSM toy designed for a submissive's mouth that is inherently unsafe . . .
The picture is from a tumblr blog called Don't Move which was recently featured on BondageBlog.com's Friday Bondage Links Cornucopia.  The image appears to originally be from FetishClub.com.  We are reproducing it here, not to pick on any photographer, site, or toymaker, but instead as an educational illustration.

We are using the picture to illustrate a common BDSM toy we consider to be inherently unsafe - the leather wrapped o-ring gag.  While the ring gag on this model looks pretty, it is far from ideal. I would never use it on Serafina.  In fact, that holds true for all leather gags.

For starters, it's very obviously a simple metal o-ring wrapped in leather. That's an effective enough design in terms of appearance and utility.  It's also very cost effective - ie cheap to make.  But, it has serious flaws in terms of health and safety for my submissive.

The leather wrapping itself is less than ideal for a number of reasons, it is also the primary reason I'd personally reject this design.  Left unwrapped, the steel o-ring is hard enough to chip tooth enamel.  The leather wrapping is used as padding to protect the submissive's teeth, so it's an essential part of the design, but it comes with it's own critical flaws.

Leather is inherently flawed as a gag material.  It cannot be be sterilized, or even effectively cleaned, after use.  Because leather is an animal hide, it is inherently porous.  Bacteria that are normally harbored in the mouth can be absorbed into the surface of the leather.

Using an alcohol wipe might eliminate some of the surface bacteria, but it's never guaranteed to get them all.  Bleach isn't an option for sterilizing a leather wrapped mouthpiece, again the porous nature of leather would leave your submissive sucking on sodium hypochlorite the next time the gag is used.  Boiling isn't exactly an option either.  In fact, any sterilizing agent or method I can imagine is likely to either destroy the leather or endanger my submissive's health.  For that reason alone . . .

It's not going into Serafina's mouth!

Leather tanning in Marrakech
The second flaw is inherent in how leather is made.  There are a number of different methods for creating leather, a process known as tanning, and all of them use chemicals I'd not personally want to suck on for any length of time. Chrome-tanned leather, for instance, is created by using chromium sulfate and other similar chromate salts. In case you weren't aware, chromium is a potentially toxic substance.  It's also a known carcinogen.

For some folks, chromium is also a pretty serious allergen. Chromates can lead to rather unpleasant skin conditions like contact dermatitis and irritant dermatitis. The worst case for these allergic reactions? They can cause skin ulceration that are sometimes referred to as "chrome ulcers."  In the absence of any other reason, the problems with chromates in the leather wrapping would be enough to make me say . . .

It's not going into Serafina's mouth!

Selection of Fiebing's Leather Dyes
Then there is the issue of dyes used to make the leather wrapping black.  Leather dyes can be water based or solvent based, and I'm not particularly thrilled at the prospect of putting an organic hide stained with solvent based dye into my submissive's mouth.

I haven't done as much research here, but I do also know that the dyes used in a number of black leathers can transfer to other objects.  Rubbery sex toys are notorious for being stained when they come in contact with black leather, and that's even true for some silicone products.  This speaks highly to the potential for some stain transfer onto my wife's mouth and tongue.  Just another reason I'd say . . .

It's not going into Serafina's mouth!

Please note that I'm not a vegan or animal activist, I have no problems with the making, or use, of leather.  Serafina and I have a number of pairs of leather wrist and ankle cuffs that we use and enjoy on a fairly regular basis.  I also enjoy leather collars and leather jackets, and we both wear leather shoes.

I've even used leather gags in past times.  I used them without a care or concern for health issues.  I own a lovely black leather gag that has a padded leather tongue that inserts into the mouth.  That gag was a favorite of mine during the 1990's, and it was used on a number of previous partners and playmates.

To the best of my recollection and knowledge, nobody ever got sick from using that gag.  But, that doesn't mean nothing bad happened, or that something bad couldn't have happened, I'll never know about that.

I wasn't armed with the same knowledge then as I have today.  And, I didn't have the same level of concern for my own or my partners health back in those days either.  I'm not proud that I used sex toys without thinking about chromates or phylates, but I'm not ashamed either.  We just didn't know any better.  That's no excuse today.  I do know better now.

Our bodies truly are our temples.  Yes, I deliberately bind and torment my darling Serafina before I worship at her temple, so to speak.  But, that doesn't mean I revere her any less,  And, I certainly have great regard for the health of my slave/goddess/wife.

One of these days, somewhere in my collection of toys, I'll find that old leather gag.  I suppose I'll hold on to it for sentimental reasons, as an educational piece, and as a bit of history.  I'll also add a picture of it here for our readers.  But, one thing for sure, now that I do know better . . .

It's not going into Serafina's mouth!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

what is hepatitis? . REALLY??

Today's topic is not a comfortable one for general conversation.  Perhaps that makes the post even more important in the educational sense, even if it's not especially fun or sexy to write.  It's time to tackle a growing health threat that might not commonly be considered a sexually transmitted disease, although it certainly can be spread through sexual activity.  The topic is viral hepatitis.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone
STDs are a subject that carry a certain personal poignancy.  Back in the 1930's, my paternal Grandfather suffered from the same sexually transmitted disease as infamous mobster Al Capone.  Grandpa Eugene had Neurosyphilis, an infection of the brain or spinal cord that occurs in people who have had untreated syphilis for many years. Eugene died in a sanatorium from the disease, an unpleasant reminder that modern illnesses like HIV aren't the first sexually transmitted diseases that can become life threatening.

Let us start with a disclaimer of sorts - This post is about communicable diseases that can be life threatening.  While we are educated individuals who have worked in health care and related fields, we don't wish to present ourselves as medical experts.  We are simply individuals who have done our "homework" on this topic, and the quotes we will share from expert sources are a few of the fruits of that labor.

As we've stated, we are NOT physicians, and the contents of this post should NOT be used to replace a frank discussion of this subject with your own health care provider.  It's extremely important to be open and honest with your health care provider about sex, even more important if you are not monogamous, or if you live an alternate lifestyle including BDSM activities.

Ok, ready?

Let's start with the basics as told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
"Hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver and also refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver . The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.  Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. An estimated 4.4million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. About 80,000 new infections occur each year.
One of the most disturbing aspects of viral hepatitis is the fact that many of the individuals who carry the disease have not been diagnosed and are simply not aware they are sick.  Responsible individuals who might otherwise protect future partners with simple measures like wearing condoms and using disposable gloves for fisting and serious anal play, are still likely to spread the virus if they are unaware they are infected.  Thinking about that, I am very much reminded of the earlier stages of the AIDS epidemic.

Here are some more specific facts about hepatitis as an STD from the CDC:
STDs and Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis A
Transmission of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) during sexual activity occurs due to fecal-oral contact or contamination. Measures typically used to prevent the transmission of other STDs (e.g., use of condoms) do not prevent HAV transmission. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing HAV transmission among persons at risk for infection.
Hepatitis B
Among adults seeking treatment in STD clinics, as many as 10%–40% have evidence of past or current Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Many of these infections could have been prevented through universal vaccination during delivery of STD prevention or treatment services. A study of adults diagnosed with acute Hepatitis B found that 39% had sought care or been screened for an STD before they were infected with HBV, indicating a significant missed opportunity to vaccinate at-risk persons when they first access STD prevention or treatment services.
Hepatitis C
Although not common, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be transmitted through sexual activity. The factors found to be associated with sexual transmission of HCV are sex with multiple partners, presence of other STDs, or sex with trauma. Case-control studies have reported an association between acquiring HCV infection and exposure to a sex contact with HCV infection or exposure to multiple sex partners. Surveillance data also indicate that 15%–20% of persons reported with acute HCV infection have a history of sexual exposure in the absence of other risk factors.

Leave it to a Government agency to make important information more than a little difficult to understand.  Not only is that embarrassingly dry to read, it includes really odd language like "surveillance data". 

To put all that into more easily understood language, here's a nice summation of current knowledge regarding hepatitis as an STD, courtesy of the ubiquitous Wikipedia:
Studies show the risk of sexual transmission in heterosexual, monogamous relationships is extremely rare or even nil.  The government does not recommend condom use to prevent hepatitis C transmission in long-term mutually monogamous relationships. However, for not well understood reasons, the risk of transmission is higher if one has multiple sex partners and condom use is recommended. Vaginal penetrative sex is believed to have a lower risk of transmission than sexual practices that involve higher levels of trauma to anogenital mucosa (anal penetrative sex, fisting, or use of sex toys).  For these reasons, condom use is highly recommended for those who engage in anal sex play or other sex acts likely to cause bleeding or damage mucosal linings.
Like it or not, it's always good to be properly armed with information . . .

Pamela Anderson
One example of a celebrity who potentially contracted hepatitis from sexual activity is Pamela Anderson (aka Pamela Anderson Lee or Pamela Lee.)   Like my darling Serafina, Pamela is originally from Canada.

Anderson has publicly stated that she contracted the Hepatitis C virus from former spouse and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee.  The most likely source of Anderson's infection is from sharing tattoo needles, but it's not impossible to imagine that it could have just as easily been transmitted during sexual activity.

Let's be sure we are clear - fear of contracting hepatitis is no reason to become celibate or avoid sexual activities you enjoy.  Abstinence is no real answer.  With that in mind, please remember it's just necessary to play a little smarter.

Vaccinations are available for types A and B, and they appear to be a good choice for individuals who have multiple partners.  This is especially true for individuals who enjoy activities like rimming and anal sex that are more likely to spread this virus.  Condom use is suggested for at risk individuals, and dental dams should be considered for rimming.

For more information, or to get answers on any further questions you may have on this topic, we strongly suggest a frank discussion with your health care provider.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

vendor - Naturally Twisted Co

Shibari and Kinbaku are both words steeped in the history and customs of Japan.  On a more personal level, Japanese style rope bondage is a beautiful and satisfying art to practice.
The core of Kinbaku is the connection between the rigger and the model, the attitude of the rigger, the type of tie and a thousand little things all contribute to the sense of connection.
    -- NaturallyTwisted.co
While Naturally Twisted makes and sells premium jute rope for Shibari / Kinbaku, they really offer more than mere rope.

Naturally Twisted is also a resource for almost anyone learning or studying the wonderful art of Japanese style bondage.

For some folks, the rope is what matters, and we wrote Naturally Twisted's wonderful jute rope up a while back.  This post will be focused more on our experiences with the company as a vendor, although we certainly won't forget the rope.  We will also take a quick look at some of the many resources offered on the naturallytwisted.co site.

As a vendor, Naturally Twisted Co easily met or exceeded all of our expectations.  I need to admit upfront, we were a little hesitant about ordering from Australia, international shipping can be expensive and terribly slow.   Serafina corresponded with individuals from "down under" when she was living in Canada, so she knows letters can take a while to cross the Pacific Ocean.

Well, we sent an order to US Hemp rope maker Twisted Monk exactly one week before we placed an order with Naturally Twisted Co.  Both offer beautiful hand conditioned rope, but it wasn't exactly a fair test, since Monk's production facility is in Seattle, more than just a little bit closer to us than New South Wales.

The TwistedMonk.com order of 6mm hemp rope arrived first, no surprise there since it was placed first.  I expected the Naturally Twisted Co order to follow at least a few weeks later, accounting for the vagaries of international mail.  So, I was very pleasantly surprised to have my jute rope from Naturally Twisted arrive exactly one week later, perfectly matching the length of time it took to receive our other order.

(picture from NaturallyTwisted.co)
Having a vendor thousands of miles away on a different continent match the shipping turn-around time of a well known domestic rope maker is a pretty impressive feat!  After we received our order, the rope's maker contacted us at FetLife to make sure we were satisfied with the product. It's hard to stress enough how impressed we are with Naturally Twisted's service.

Not only is the service and shipping time impressive, so is the rope itself.  Here's a description of Naturally Twisted's product from Hebari, the rope's maker:
The jute I have is all hand made in individual sections, then hand treated, when it's new it is a little rougher and a bit springier. The rope is treated with a bees wax, camelia oil as part of the hand treatment so comes out smooth and pliable. Also it has a higher twist count than the Japanese ropes so doesn't come apart or slip out of alignment as easily.  It's what I use at home and for shoots, at last test a new treated piece breaks at just over 200kg per strand.
As we said up in the post's introduction, we've already done our own review of Naturally Twisted's rope here at Spiritual BDSM.  But, we also thought our readers might find it helpful to get a second opinion on that product.  So, with that in mind, we reached out to some individuals at FetLife who had previously commented on Naturally Twisted's rope, and got their permission to re-post their statements here at SpiritualBDSM.com.

Here's the comment made by 123avalon:
I am happy to vouch for Hebari's jute, I have rope from about many different sources & well known riggers from the US, Japan the UK and Australia.
I am always open to try new ropes and fibers but for the moment Hebari's hand made Jute is the rope of my choice.
I find it compact & crisp, as I like my ropes to be, it is very pleasant to tie with, it does not unravel and like all ropes it gets so much better with use.
I do have a soft spot for my coconut rope from MauiKink, its "Wicked" ......
That's a nice little testimonial that rings true to our experience.  At the risk of getting a little off topic, we also agree that Maui Kink's coconut rope is truly "wicked", but that's really a subject we should reserve for another time.

Here's another FetLife testimonial, this time from Nawa-Chou:
I can also vouch for Hebari's rope. I'm lucky to be tied with it on a regular basis and have three sets of my own- natural, charcoal and red.
I've been tied with rope endorsed by some if the world's best riggers and nothing compares. With use it becomes so soft and feels amazing. Its not as fluffy as some other ropes, and the oil and beeswax used for conditioning feeds it in the most beautiful way. Slides beautifully through the hands and the ties of the rigger as well. 
(picture from NaturallyTwisted.co)
If memory is correct, Nawa-Chou is Hebari's shibari bunny, so it could probably be argued that she's a bit prejudiced in favor of his rope making skills.  We're not going to make that argument here, as everything she says certainly holds true in our own experience, so we'll let our readers make their own decisions on how much weight to give any one individual testimonial.

So, we've established that Naturally Twisted Co makes outstanding rope, and that their customer service matches that excellent standard.  Everything else from here is like icing on the cake, it just sweetens the deal.

Well dear reader, this isn't like some tired piece of wedding cake with a thin crust of dried out frosting, Hebari has spread the Naturally Twisted icing nice and thick.  There's a nice mix of resources to be found on the Naturally Twisted Co site, including good information for basic and intermediate students of shibari.

The quick tour we are giving readers will begin with the News and Articles section.  Also included in this section is a short page about Love and Rope, a documentary exploring the emergence of Shibari in western culture and the growing group of western riggers and rope models dedicating themselves to this uniquely Japanese art form.  Another feature here is Nawa Chou's Bunny Blog, looking at things from the bondagette's side, a nice addition.

Within the Community section at Naturally Twisted Co you can find a very nice listing of Knots and Ties with their proper Japanese names.  This a wonderful addition for the more serious student who is looking for authenticity and greater understanding of this art form.

My personal favorite, the History of Shibari/Kinbaku section, is another great resource for the Shibari student who wants to know more than just knots and ties.  Here's Hebari's introduction to the section:
The history of Shibari/Kinbaku is to a very large degree the history of Japan itself. The very thing that makes rope bondage so powerful for the Japanese psyche is the racial memories and present day interconnections that surround both the rope and the act of Shibari/Kinbaku.  The following pages are largely a result of my research into Japanese history and the art of tying. 
(picture from NaturallyTwisted.co)
Although the provided history is already pretty satisfying, it's my understanding that this is a work in progress. I very much look forward to future growth here, and throughout the site.

Finally, it should be noted that there are a great number of links to other sites and safety resources for Shibari students.  Another great addition that demonstrates Hebari's love, not only for the art form of Shibari, but also for the Shibari community itself.

If you couldn't already tell from the strong positive tone of our review, we feel fortunate to have discovered the NaturallyTwisted.co site a few months back.  The Jute rope offered there is truly a premium natural fiber product we should be able to enjoy for years to come.  The company's service was very much up to the high standard set by their rope.  The additional resources offered on the site serve to further distance them from a good number of their competitors.

Those are all good things that might be assigned a value or price . . . Hebari's obvious love and passion for Shibari is priceless!
"When you learn, teach. When you get, give."     -- Maya Angelou
DISCLAIMER - SpiritualBDSM.com and it's owners (Michael Samadhi and Serafina Samadhi) are not associated or affiliated with Naturally Twisted Co or naturallytwisted.co in any manner.  We have not received any compensation or consideration in return for this posting.  

All images within this post are property of NaturallyTwisted.co

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yak it up . . .

I have a new love . . .

No, I'm not forsaking Serafina . . .

No, we haven't decided to join the rest of the BDSM and Tantric worlds and become polyamorists . . .

Actually, I have to confess, I'm in love with an inanimate object . . .

No, I'm not talking about a Fleshlight or Tenga Egg either . . .

Then - "What is my new love?" - you ask . . .  

I've discovered a tremendous affinity for something exotic.

Black Yak rope from Maui Kink.

It's a Tibetan Yak rope, made from the coarse outer hairs that the yak produces to keep warm at high altitude.

My love for this rope is not unlike Homer Simpson's feelings for bacon.  It elicits shudders of joy.  It starts my mouth watering.
Royal Yak Hair Rope & Black Tibetan Yak Hair Rope from Maui Kink (picture by Maui Kink)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

marriage, life, and the universe

A woman who has never been hit by a man has never been loved.

    -- Zsa Zsa Gabor
Back on the last day of October, we included a quote from Zsa Zsa Gabor here at SpiritualBDSM - "Personally I know nothing about sex because I have always been married."  Not exactly a flattering statement about those of us who wear rings on our fingers.

As I commented a few days back, in a brief little note called - "about all those quotes . . ." - the quotations we post here at our virtual home are not always intended to be taken at face value.  The quote about sexless marriages was included because Serafina was previously in that situation.  She divorced a partner who had little interest in anything at all, and an especially critical lack of interest in any kind of lovemaking.

With that said, anyone who knows Serafina and myself at all, knows that we have a good measure of respect for the institution of marriage.  And of course, they should know that we also have lots of sex.  Here in my 40's, I don't quite have the libido of 20 years ago, but it's not unheard of for Serafina and I to make love three times in a night.  I guess the real difference between now and then is I can't perform to that level on consecutive nights. As we get older it's more necessary to pick and choose when and where, but that also has it's own rewards.

Serafina is always and ever willing.  No, she's more than that, she's forever wanting!  My slave/wife is a marvel, without a doubt the most beautiful sexual creature I've ever have, or ever will know.  Given the choice between a night out dancing, or a night of being bound, tormented, and ultimately having my cock plunge in and out of her until she's nigh on delerious - she pick's my cock every time.

I am, indeed, a very lucky man.

And, returning to the quotes by Ms Gabor, I hope everyone also knows I would never strike Serafina in anger.  There's a very distinct line I see between BDSM and abuse, and that line is drawn so play can never involve any true anger.

Spankings and floggings, nipple and genitorture, strict bondage and even sensory deprivation are all good and fine, in the right place and time.   BDSM experiences can be cathartic, they have the potential to slay old demons. But, they are not tools for resolving differences between active partners.

You aren't going to read here about Serafina getting a spanking because she acted out, or upset me.  I believe in discipline not punishment.  I believe in starting instruction by saying the word "shall," rather than focusing on any kind of "shall not."  I prefer to direct by saying "thou will" instead of "thou will not."

Every dominant is unique, and every submissive is too.  What works for me may not work for you.  Like car commercials, there need to be disclaimers that "your mileage may vary" added on to any advice given about living a BDSM lifestyle.  But, if Serafina and I were faced with that iconic question - "How's that working for you?" - we can offer a hearty affirmation here, "It's all very good!"
Men have always liked me and I have always liked men. But I like a mannish man, a man who knows how to talk to and treat a woman—not just a man with muscles.
    -- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Sunday, November 6, 2011

preview of coming attractions - Maui Kink

Mohair Rope (picture from Maui Kink)
I've always known that Serafina was a bit of a "rope slut" but had never pictured myself as the type who'd become so very interested in collecting rope of varying exotic materials.  Up until a few years ago I was pretty well satisfied with just a few lengths of white nylon rope.  With that said, I can't imagine going back either, I'm loving the variety available in natural fiber ropes, and, I'm looking forward to adding more.

Not to be counting our chickens before they hatch, but it's hard to contain the excitement we are feeling for the impending delivery of some significant additions to our rope bag.  We're expecting to add a wide variety of interesting and exotic rope from the nice folks at Maui Kink.

We are actually expecting a combination of three orders, one that was lost by the US Postal Service, combined with two other orders we made in quick succession to take advantage of their recent Bondage & Shibari Rope Surplus Sale.

The purchase started with both sets of rope samples offered by Maui Kink, their Standard Rope Samples as well as the Luxury & Exotic Rope Samples.  If my memory is correct (this is the order lost by USPS) there are also couple nice lengths of 8mm Hemp Rope, filling a current void in my rope bag for anything thicker than 6mm.
detail of Yak Hair Rope (picture from Maui Kink)
Then, as the really nice Maui Kink folks started adding new exotic ropes to their surplus sale, I kept finding lengths of various kinds of their rope, varieties I really wanted to try, at absolutely irresistible prices.  I'm using the term "irresistible" not in the sense of being  - "lovable, especially calling forth feelings of protective love" - not even in the sense of - "enticing; tempting to possess" as the standard alternative definition of the word implies.  No, I mean irresistible - "not resistible; incapable of being resisted or withstood" - meaning I bought almost everything I saw.

Coconut Fiber Rope (Maui Kink picture)
One of the items Maui Kink is rightly famous for is it's unique, and very rough, Coconut Fiber Rope.  We picked up a couple nice lengths of this rope, for times when I'm feeling particularly nasty, or when I want my darling Serafina to be very much conscious of her bindings.

At this point, I feel a little bit like donning a black cape and top hat, then twirling my mustache like cartoon super villain Snidely Whiplash.  Everybody knows that sometimes it feels good to be bad, and the Coconut Rope should make capturing that feeling a little bit easier.

For moments when I'm not quite feeling sadistic, also from Maui Kink's line of exotic rope, we are expecting a nice length of a unique and special Linen Rope, as well as some shorter lengths of Mohair and Yak rope.  I remember jokes from my youth about masochists and Mohair sweaters, so their rope description sounds perfect:
"Our Mohair fiber rope is sensually soft, with a natural fuzz that is spun from the silky hair of the Angora goat." 
Sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it?  Even Serafina is intrigued, which I can't say is perfectly true about the Coconut rope, which she already fears just a little.  Eventually, she will read this and know that's exactly how I'd like her to feel about the rougher ropes!

glowing UV Hemp Rope (Maui Kink picture)
And finally, filling out the three orders is 100 feet of their UV/Black Light Hemp Rope, a natural Romanian Hemp rope given a special treatment to make it emit a; "Lasting vibrant glow under true LED UV light."  We purchased this selection the cheapest possible way, with taped ends, as Serafina intends to cut the rope and add whipped ends herself.

Yes, my dear readers, life really is good when your slave/wife is not only a rope slut, but also talented enough to help finish the very ropes I'll be using on her.  Now, when USPS gets my rope here from the State of Hawaii and the island of Maui (where it seems the ropes are just a little kinkier,) Serafina and I will be reporting back here with more details, as well as our own pictures and reviews.

Here's the sum total of our orders from Maui Kink . . .

1 x Rope Sample Pack, Standard & Luxury
1 x 5MM 30ft length of Linen Rope (Special)
1 x 6MM 100ft length of UV Hemp Rope, Taped Ends (Sale)
1 x 12ft length of Black Yak (Surplus)
1 x 8MM 16ft length of Black Hemp Rope (Surplus)
1 x 8MM 30ft length of Black Hemp Rope (Surplus)
1 x 6MM 25.5ft length of Natural Jute and Linen Blend Rope (Surplus)
1 x 7ft length of Natural Alpaca Rope (Surplus)
1 x 8.5ft length of Natural Alpaca Rope (Surplus)
1 x 8.5ft length of Natural Coconut Rope (Surplus)
1 x 9.5ft length of Natural Coconut Rope (Surplus)

DISCLAIMER - SpiritualBDSM.com and it's owners (Michael Samadhi and Serafina Samadhi) are not associated or affiliated with Maui Kink or MauiKink.com in any manner.  We have not received any compensation or consideration in return for this posting.  
All images within this post are property of Maui Kink, and are used here for review and demonstration purposes only.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Paul Collier - composer - scene music

Look after the internal environment, the external environment can do nothing but mirror it.

    --  Paul Collier (composer)
Serafina discovered Paul Collier a couple of years ago via a friend on Facebook who shared a link to his music.  She befriended Paul there on that social networking site, and began to explore his work.

My slave/wife should probably be the one writing this post, as she knows a lot more about Paul than I, but she's busy at work preparing this morning's breakfast to order, pancakes and eggs if you are interested.  Just know, she started the post and delivered the quote, and I stepped in just to complete the whole works.

I know for certain that Paul Collier is an outstanding musician/composer, his releases are excellent for meditation and ambient texture, not to mention Spiritual BDSM scenes.  Serafina tells me he's a brilliant and a visionary artist, not to mention being a good and decent man.

You can accuse me of being shallow, but the thing I find easiest to remember about Mr Collier is his hometown.  He hails from "Stoke on Trent" in the UK, a name guaranteed to generate smirks, snorts and/or giggles from adolescent minded individuals with juvenile senses of humor.  Meaning the guys who read this are likely smirking and some gals might be scowling just a bit . . .

Paul's music feels "ethereal" to me, if I had to choose a singe word descriptive.  He describes himself as:
An unsigned composer of relaxing instrumentals and emotional movie score type music.
Where Paul goes on to describe himself and his music, he says:
My only aim with my music is to help spread peace. Therefore monetary needs fall behind that purpose. You will never see anything upsetting/of an adult nature/violent with my music . . . 
While the personal association of his music with Spiritual BDSM might not be exactly to Paul's personal taste, and certainly what we discuss here is adult and could be upsetting to some individuals who misunderstand the context and goals of our practice, we want to be clear that we are anything but violent.

Bondage and discipline may appear to be "real violence" to the uninitiated, just as children might misinterpret a glance at adult lovemaking as an act of violence.  In both cases, the appearance and the reality of the situation are two completely different things.  I believe Mr Collier would be enlightened enough to understand the subtleties and differences in context, and we do certainly hope that he is not offended by the connection we find with his music and our personal practice of Spiritual BDSM.

As I've stated, Paul Collier's music is generally quieter, and more peaceful, than other scene music I usually recommend.  It's certainly always well suited to be used as a background for starting (warm up) or completing (cool down - aftercare) any kind of BDSM session.

It's also well suited for entire scenes when the intent is to create a peaceful or contemplative mood / environment, and I find it very effective in creating a calm and contemplative mood for a more solemn styles of play.  Paul Collier's music is perfect for those times when our blend of BDSM and Tantra is focused more strongly on the Tantric aspects.

If you prefer music with a hard driving beat to power your BDSM sessions, or if you are looking for something dark, then you likely won't find Collier's music to your taste.  It's never going to inspire visions of vampires, dark rituals, or Gothic dungeons.  His music isn't going to provide a strong rhythm for a flogging, or even a powerful fucking.

What Paul Collier's music is going to provide is soft, contemplative and often uplifting.  Looking to feel, or make your submissive feel, as though they are floating on a cloud in a dream?  Then look no further!  Want to hold your lover tight in your arms and drift off to sleep after an extended flogging, floating on the music and your own wave of endorphins?  This is the stuff.

Here are a number of links where our friends and readers can learn more about Paul and explore his music for themselves:

Paul Collier's Website
About Paul Collier
Paul Collier You Tube
Free Paul Collier Music
Paul Collier Downloads
Paul Collier Facebook

DISCLAIMER - SpiritualBDSM.com and it's owners (Michael Samadhi and Serafina Samadhi) are not associated or affiliated with Paul Collier in any manner.  We have not received any compensation or consideration in return for this posting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rocks Cry Out!

Here at the Samadhi home we invite you to join us in watching a series “How The Earth Was Made.” Like many others we have been finding ways to cut back the amount of spending and one way of doing that is to cut out the cable and watch Netflicks who offer a nice array of documentaries, comedy, movies, etc.

We carefully chose the name Spiritual BDSM for our blog. Spirituality , in fact encompasses our entire lifestyle and it colors and shades everything we do, all we are, and incorporates all aspects of thought and being. We see the Hand of The Divine in music, in weather and in nature and space alike. 
In this series we explore Iceland, the Grand Canyon, Swiss Alps, tsunami's, earthquakes, Yellowstone, and many other places. The one thing that connects them all is when they look for answers, they invariably look to the rocks for answers, and if the looker knows what they are seeing the answers lie there, clearly speaking.

This photo was taken by Serafina from a Mississippi Palisades lookout.  It is part of a drift-less area that the glaciers missed, and the rocks really tell us that.  Palisades is the word used to describe a line of lofty, steep cliffs usually seen along a river, and Mississippi Palisades, 3 miles north of Savanna, Illinois in Carroll County, handsomely lives up to its name. Caves are evident as are dangerous sink holes-limestone caves that go straight down. Erosion has carved intriguing rock formations, including Indian Head, with its aquiline characteristics, and Twin Sisters, a pair of humanoid figures on the bluff tops. The U.S. Interior Department recognized the remarkable nature of this area when in 1973 it designated acreage here as a national landmark.
There are over 50 forty-five minute clips and as we were watching I am reminded a passage from the Bible of Luke 19:40
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
This was during the Triumphal Entry when the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"' Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"' vs. 38-39

Jesus then makes this statement about the crowd voicing praise to God. That if they are silenced the stones will cry out.

When Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross, the earth shook and the rocks split. Matthew 27:50-51. In Mark 13:8 Jesus tells us there will be earthquakes in various places, these are the beginning of birth pains. Is this rock splitting in Matthew the stones crying out? Is it the same during the earthquakes during the end times...birth pains, crying out

The Greek word used here is krazo. I'm using the 2nd definition: to cry. Cry out aloud, speak with a loud voice. . In Nelspoort, South Africa there are ‘Gong rocks’ They are naturally-occurring dolerite (also known as ‘ironstone’) boulders that either rest on top of other such boulders or have a natural crack through them that acts as a natural resonator. Some of these boulders show signs of having been hammered by people with stones to produce a metallic-sounding noise. The eerie, elemental sound of the gong rocks would have traveled over the landscape.

The glaciers in the Alps, Iceland, and other places groan and make all kids of scraping noises as they push their weight against rocks. In the Grand Canyon Master has himself heard the thunder of water and rocks carving out the river bed.

All those sounds are sometimes referred to as the voice of the Creator, or God(s), and most are familiar, but who would have thought that the rocks would speak so clearly to us by what is contained in them? 
Master Samadhi looking out over the vast panorama at the Mississippi Palisades. (photo by Serafina Samadhi)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What is Forniphilia?

(image used with permission from BDSM-Gear.com)
Have you ever had a partner, or perhaps a friend, kneel on the floor while you use them as a footstool?  It's  not a terribly unusual behavior if you really stop and think about it.

For instance, I've observed children taking part in this activity in both a Doctor's and a Dentist's office.  The children were quite innocent in their play, and their own Mother's didn't even seem to take note in their unselfconscious child's play, at least not unless they notice me observing the kids at play.

It seems that if a stranger notices the kids using each other as footstools, it's suddenly a bit embarrassing for Mom.  The children are quickly scolded and put back into chairs.

Using someone as a footstool is a mild but pretty good example of a BDSM activity known as Forniphilia.

I'm not really surprised to find children playing games of this sort.  A good number of individuals who partake in bondage activities with their partners can recount childhood games of "Cowboys and Indians" or something very similar.  Activities where taking captives, or being taken captive, were a significant part of the game.

Why should something like Forniphilia be any different?

Here's the definition and etymology of the word as provided at House of Gord:
Forniphilia: the art of human furniture
forni- f. Old French furnir f.
Roman, fornire; to furnish -philia f.
Greek philos; love of, fondness for
According to the ubiquitous Wikipedia:
Human furniture (or Forniphilia) is a form of bondage and sexual objectification in which a person's body is incorporated into a chair, table, cabinet or other piece of furniture. The term was originally coined by Jeff Gord.
Forniphilia is an extreme form of bondage because the subject usually is tightly bound and expected to stay immobile for a prolonged period of time. They are often gagged (see Forniphilic gag) and/or placed in position where there is a danger of being smothered. Proper safety requires frequent checks of the submissive's well-being.
For the sake of clarity, and to be 100% correct, Forniphilia doesn't have to qualify as extreme in any manner.  Like a great number of BDSM activities, the intensity level of the play is easily determined by the participants, and options ranging from very mild to quite extreme are all available.

In my many years of perusing porn, I've seen a great number of examples of submissives being used as furniture, and only a relatively small percentage of them actually include bondage I'd classify as extreme.  Illustrations, usually pen or pencil drawings, depicting more extreme versions of human furniture, do seem to be more common in my experience, but often such illustrations are extreme to the point of being a bit unrealistic.

The most extreme depicted activities, whatever medium from which they were created, do tend to be very intense for the submissive, both physically and psychologically.  So, it needs to be said that caution, not to mention a slow and careful testing of limits, is always suggested before any BDSM activities advance to anything approaching a strong intensity.

If the sound of all this is exciting to you, but it's not anything you ever knew had a name, or you always thought you were the only one who had such demented desires, then you will want to learn more.  Here's a taste of what we've found researching it for ourselves here at Spiritual BDSM.com:

Getting started, www.forniphilia.info sounds like a good place for the uninitiated to begin.  Here's the site's introduction:
Welcome to forniphilia.info
We offer information and discussion relating to this new bondage fetish of Human Furniture.
The act of turning a woman into nothing more than a piece of functional furniture is the ultimate goal for many bondage enthusiast. Often completely immobile the woman finds that she is at least useful to her owner, perhaps performing the role of a table, chair or even hatstand.
Many find this type of sexual objectification highly erotic, especially if the subject is in someway vulnerable, perhaps her mouth or pussy are exposed. Knowing she cannot move she can only hope she will be of some use. Awaiting use, she is forced to wait and obey until needed.
(unknown source)
It's a good enough beginning, if you can ignore the sexism of the assumption that only women can be used as furniture, but unfortunately that's really all that's there.  The only other content is the obligatory warning about some forms of Forniphilia being dangerous, and a request that others share their forniphilia resources, images, and experiences.  For what it's worth, we will attempt to contact that site's webmaster to let them know about the resources we've gathered here on the topic.

Much more extensive and complete in it's content is what I call the - House of Gord Guide to Forniphilia.  It includes four nice pages of questions and answers in the form of a nice FAQ.  It's as good a resource as we've currently found on this topic.  Here's the table of contents for the Gord Forniphilia FAQ.

1. What is forniphilia?
2. What are some known forniphilic creations?
3. How do I find such a woman?
4. How do I get my wife interested? I love bondage but she doesn't want to know.
5. How long can a woman be left as an item of furniture?
6. What safety precautions should be taken in the design and production of human furniture?
7. Where can I discuss forniphilia with others?
8. My girlfriend has claustrophobia, but likes bondage, and wants to try forniphilia type bondage. How can I work around that?
9. What are the best type of gags, and how long can they be left on?
10. What sort of padding is best for these furniture items?
11. How may I contribute to this FAQ?
12. About this FAQ.
Pretty neat, and it is free content.  Just so you are aware, the House of Gord is itself a Pay site devoted to what they call "ultra bondage" which obviously can include human furniture content and much more.

And we'd be remiss if we didn't also inform our readers about another pay site called "Decorative Girls" where, as you might imagine, human furniture is a major theme.  If Forniphilia is what rocks your world, click the banner to be transported to what might just be some kind of heaven on earth . . .

And yes, we've been re-blogging a fair number of forniphilia themed photos over on Tumblr today.  We'll share links to those here too:

Floor Chair
Glass Table
Wine w/ Friends
Decorative Girls Mini Sampler
Shame and Ecstasy

Here are two links to media coverage of Forniphilia, although be warned they see and portray Forniphilia in a negative manner:

Forniphilia | Women As Doormats and Other Art Furniture
Is Forniphilia Essentially Women's Sex-Slave Work?