Flogger History

The flogger, in various forms, has played a suprisingly vital role in shaping the history of mankind. Throughout the centuries, our ancestors have incorporated it not only into their sexual practices, but into their spiritual, judicial and even medical practices as well.

Flagellation in the name of a god is far from being a rare thing. Nearly all of the mother religions, the ancient mystery cults of the great Mediterranean civilizations of Greece, Egypt, Rome and Persia, and even the religions of Islam and Christianity have, at some point in history, incorporated flagellation into their spiritual rites and practices.

In pagan Sparta, for instance, each year, during a festival called 'Day of Flagellations', young men were brought before an altar dedicated to the goddess Diana where they were whipped for from dusk to dawn. People would turn out from all over the countryside to view the whippings and to cheer and encourage the boys to 'bear the pain with fortitude.' Priests, who would bear witness to the entire ceremony, would, at the end of the day, examine the wounds on each of the boys, and, according to the sizes and shapes of the wounds, would predict the young men's futures. I might also mention, that it was not uncommon for some of the boys to die from the terrible wounds inflicted upon them during this ceremony, often without ever having uttered a sound.

Syrian priest, like countless other religious leaders, believed that the gods could be appeased by the use of scourges and would spend hours whipping themselves profusely with an instrument made of twisted woollen cords armed with small bones. And, even today, Shiite Muslims indulge in the practice of public self-flagellation.

The Church adopted it's use of the scourge from a tribe of monastics who settled in small communities in the Egyptian Desert in the year 381 AD. These 'desert fathers', who believed that any sort of physical pleasure was sinful, were avid practitioners of self-flagellation. They were of the opinion that pain and discomfort blunted cravings for the sensual pleasures of the flesh and proved the insignificance of the body. Following their lead, the Church, even in it's earliests ages embraced the practice of flagellation, both self inflicted and otherwise. Indeed, the tales of flogging within the church are numerous.

By the eleventh century, the Church had even begun promoting flagellation as a form of penitence for it's parishioners, much like the modern day 'Hail Mary' (and doled out equally as often). In the twelfth century, St. Dominic Loricatus (who carried his scourge with him everywhere and flogged himself every night at bedtime, where ever he might be) even established a scale of equivalents, 1,000 lashes being considered as the equivalent of the reciting of ten penitential psalms. The priests would usually do the whipping themselves, in a place attached to the church, with the penitent, more often than not, being entirely nude. There are a great number of tales of confessors making use of their powers of absolution to force their parishioners to beat 'them'.

The Church neither promoted nor regarded flogging as a sensual act, though the numerous stories of and the zeal in which these floggings were given and received causes one to believe that the participants derived at least some pleasure from the act.

In Spain, young men imparted a tone of gallantry to their discipline, by flogging themselves beneath their beloved's window. The young lady would then reward her suitor by lifting her veil for a brief moment.

Flagellation for punishment's sake has been practiced throughout the world. In ancient Rome, judges would decorate the walls of their courtrooms with various types of scourges in order to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, many of whom would be ordered to endure whippings of such severity that more than just a few of them died from the wounds inflicted upon them; Austrian soldiers who misbehaved were made to run the terrible gauntlet; Russia has the knout; China still has the great bamboo; Turkey governs with the stick; the Siamese have their nightly birches; and, in Africa, there is 'mumbo jumbo'.

Flogging has also been reputed to have a good amount of medicinal value as well. At various times throughout history, it has been promoted as a way of 'stirring up the body's stagnating juices, dissolving the precipitating salts, purifying the coagulating humours of the body, clearing the brain, purging the belly, circulating the blood and bracing the nerves.' It has been used as a treatment for insanity, laziness, depression, obstruction of the bowels and even for lockjaw and choking. And, during the years 1348-1349, when the Black Death was sweeping through Western Europe, it was promoted as both a preventative and a cure for the plague.

Though sexual sado-masochism has been practiced since ancient times, the first known written account was published, in the fifteenth century, by an Italian man named Pico della Mirandola. He told of a man who could only enjoy sex if he had first been beaten to the point of bleeding with a whip which had first been soaked in vinegar. (Ouch!)

The first overtly pornographic work on the subject of flagellation was published in the year 1718, and was entitled 'A Treatise on the Use of Flogging'. With the appearance of this book, flagellation became a passion throughout Europe, so much so that the French soon dubbed it 'le vice anglais,' the English vice, a nickname which would stick for centuries.

By the late 1700's, dozens of brothels, dedicated exclusively to the practice of flagellation, were erected throughout Europe, and, I might mention, enjoyed a huge success. In fact, one of these establishments, owned by a Mrs. Colet, was so popular that even King George IV made a well-known royal visit. Another madam, Mrs. Theresa Berkley (who, in the year 1828, invented a spanking bench known as the Berkley Horse or Chavelet), made the equivalent of $20,000 American dollars during the eight years in which she operated her flagellatory brothel, quite a substantial amount for her time.

There is little doubt that the scourge has played, and continues to play, more than just a passing role in the shaping of the history, and the future, of mankind. Even today, many people still find pleasure at the business end of the scourge. It is regarded among practitioners of BDSM to be a tool of sensuality...an intrument of passion and affection. Just know that present day D&Ser's use their whips with the safety and well being of their partner in the forefront of their mind. We have developed safewords to let us know when our partners limits have been reached and have educated ourselves in 'safeplay' practices so that we might be skilled in our whipping and thereby be able to to so without serious injury to our partner(s).