As much turmoil as may exist in my relationship with BDSM, there is a practice in the old guard of the leather community that I wish those in the spirituality sector would adopt:

In historical BDSM, there was a great deal of respect given to interactions between Dominants and submissives regarding the boundaries of ownership. A submissive wearing a collar was flagged as taken; a Dominant who attempted to order around a submissive who did not belong to him/her was immediately deemed to be acting out of line. In fact, it was considered improper for another person to even ADDRESS a collared submissive without first obtaining the permission of his/her owner. A Dominant who treated submissives who didn’t belong to him as though they did was considered not only to be inappropriate but to also have little regard for the gift of his dominance if he bestowed it on anyone around him without first determining if they qualified for (and consented to) his guidance.

Guys. At this moment on my personal growth journey, I have an energy healer (Katherine Gerardi), a bodyworker (Yerasimos Stilianessis), and a shaman (who wishes to remain nameless). If you are not my energy healer, not my bodyworker, and not my shaman, that means you are NOT MY ENERGY HEALER, NOT MY BODYWORKER, AND NOT MY SHAMAN. That means that I have not consented to be instructed by you. And as my shaman says, “It is the way of the darkness to act without permission. Not ours.”

There is a reason that in shamanic and craft-based traditions a potential dedicant had to knock three times before a teacher would consider taking them on. This was considered proof of the initiate’s free will in signing up to be guided – because to assert guruship over someone who has not given you their disciplehood is to belie your wisdom, devalue your offerings, and show your ass as a false prophet.

I can’t imagine I haven’t made this mistake myself in the past, but in my deepening self-accountability I have become deeply cognizant of the way I approach things – I will answer questions that are asked of me or asked publicly, I will share my personal experiences in the spirit of offering ideas, I will ask if a person wants my hot takes before sharing them indiscriminately. But I will not tell someone what to do, because it’s not my place.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this. Enforcing my personal boundaries on my Facebook feed often feels a Sisyphean task; each day there are new people joining the discussion and the posts I’ve made asserting the kinds of behaviors I will and will not tolerate fall further and further down my feed.

It is one thing to relate similar experiences, to share personal stories of things you’ve gone through that you think might inspire the conversation, to share interesting perspectives and resources in a communal spirit. These acts have, in the past, led to interesting discussions and ideas, and I am grateful for those exchanges. I like having inspiring conversations on my threads.

But Do. Not. Instruct. Me. Unless I have signed up for it from you.

There is integrity in my pupilhood precisely because I am selective in whom I give it to. My practice of discernment in choosing my teachers is, in my estimation thus far, flawless. Consent extends beyond the realm of the sexual.

(Also you’re an idiot if you think my shaman taught me the word “haux” without telling me what it means, and I’m insulted for both of us.)