Part I of this article is an overview of the traditional collaring practices in the BDSM lifestyle.
Part II will be addressed to newbie subs who are uncollared.
Part III will be BaadMaster’s “Seven Levels of Collaring” – a unique and modern take on how to integrate old guard traditions with new era needs.
PART I – THE COLLAR
One of the most enduring traditions in the world of BDSM is that of the “formal — or slave — collar.” It is the spiritual descendent of the old Roman slave collar, the one that was welded shut around the slave’s neck. (I am Spartacus!) Although there were many variations on this theme over the years, collaring one’s slave was codified by the legendary Old Guard Leather Societies years ago. The Old Guard custom (rapidly disappearing in our short attention span world) called for a series of three distinct collars, all of different materials – the “Collar of Consideration,” the “Training Collar” and, ultimately, the “Slave Collar.”
The Old Guard Leather Societies treated the last of these collars – the “formal or slave collar” — as similar in both spirit and commitment to a vanilla marriage. (As this predated gay marriages, and the Leathermen were primarily gay, it fulfilled a very practical need in this community.) And although it lacked the enforcement of law, “collared couples” were respected in the leather community in the same way as married couples were respected in the vanilla world.
One of the big criticisms of “Fifty Shades” (there I go again!) is that, in the movie, Christian proposed a slave contract and did not even mention collaring. Surely, at the very least, a “collar of consideration” would have been proposed simultaneously to the slave contract. Kink Weekly is here to correct this oversight. Obviously, in our fast paced world, most couples skip the first two stages and proceed to the formal slave collar. (Honestly, I did too!) But for historical correctness, let’s discuss the three stages of collaring as set down by the Leather Societies. (If Kink Weekly doesn’t honor traditions, who will?)
The first collar in this series is called the ‘Collar of Consideration’ which is given at the start of a potential relationship. Although usually made of leather, it is like an engagement ring — if at any time the relationship is unsatisfactory to either side, the collar is returned to the Dominant with no further obligations on either party’s part.
The ‘Training Collar’ is the second stage. Again, this collar will be one that the Dominant chooses; it is usually made of base metal and is a bit more elegant than the consideration collar. It represents a “graduation” of sorts; with the presentation of the Training Collar, the Dominant will move into areas of training and discipline which are much more demanding, severe and strict.
If this second stage works out, then it is time for the actual collaring with the ‘Slave Collar.’ This is the actual collar – it is this stage that is generally assumed when someone says they are “collared.” This represents true commitment between the Dominant and his submissive. In the tradition of the old guard, this collar is to be treated with the same respect that marriage is treated in the vanilla world. Indeed, it is rather common to have simultaneous collaring and wedding ceremonies.
Of the three collars, typically the slave collar is made of gold or silver and can be quite beautiful. The design can be unique to satisfy the Dominant’s taste; most times – as it usually worn 24/7 – it can be locked or even welded for permanence. With the recent popularity of BDSM, the variety of collars is impressive and the ideal collar is relatively easy to find – especially those that can pass in the vanilla world. (Note: the collar should always be purchased by the Dominant and always remains His/Her’s property. It is returned to the Dominant at the end of the relationship – no matter when the relationship ends.)
As it is the analogue of the vanilla marriage, this collaring is often done at a party/celebration, in front of invited guests, with vows exchanged or a slave contract signed. Depending on the nature of the relationship, there can be permanent markings done — such as tattoos, piercings, brandings, cuttings etc. The markings can be done in a scene – and if the couple happens to enjoy public scening, this is an awesome sight to behold. Other traditions can come into play here – the presentation of a gift made by the submissive (typically a flogger) to the Dominant is one European ritual that comes to mind.
Make no mistake about it, this old guard, traditional collaring ceremony is intended – unless otherwise negotiated – to signify a lifelong partnership. If you are invited to one, think of it as you would a wedding. Arrive with an attitude of wanting to have fun but keep a proper respect and decorum.
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.