Domina: The Goddess in the BDSM Scene

There is a Kali temple in California that has put forth the theory that Kali is reasserting herself in our time and culture by manifesting in human women who display the desire to sexually dominate men. This temple sells a variety of manuscripts and materials via their web site, and include both links to "British style discipline" sites and a warning that Kali deals harshly with dillentantes who venture into her temple without the proper seriousness. As I ventured further into their site, I found a glut of information about the church's theology and philosophy, which led to a more general enquiry into the presence, or lack thereof, of the Goddess in the BDSM (bondage & discipline, domination & submission and sadism & masochism) scene.

The Essemian Church
The church/temple in question calls itself alternately "The Essemian Sanctuary of the Darkside Goddess " and the "SM/Essemian Church" and is based in California (where else). In addition to descriptions of the rituals of domination practiced in the Sanctuary, the website provides a rather detailed description of the group's purpose and theology:
"We are interested in historical research of many ancient Goddess-based, matriarchal cultures to the extent of simulating the existence of such a society in our present time..."

"Since we believe that the worship of a male gender God has resulted in a rationalization for the legitimacy of a male dominant society, it then becomes apparent that the practice of Goddess worship could also have a similar effect upon gender dominance presumptions. If such an effect were to result in an inversion of the present societal paradigm (whereby the female becomes the dominant gender rather than the male), it may be concluded that such an inversion of gender dominance is an essential element of Goddess worship."

Despite appearances to the contrary, the Sanctuary founders do appear to be quite serious about their quest, and have discussed the outline of their practice and beliefs quite clearly:

"According to the website, the S/M in the church's name stands for "Shakti Mysticism" rather than for Sadism/Masochism. The Sanctuary defines this practice as "a unique form of worship of the Mahavidya Goddesses" rooted in Tantric ritual and as "a situation where one may experience a deep, psychically intense spiritual fulfillment by participating in orchestrated rituals of surrender to iconographic forms of the darkside Mahavidya Goddesses."

Clearly *something* is going on, though perhaps not on quite the same scale that the Essemian founders appear to detect:

"...why is it that leather clad women with whips are perceived as "goddesses?" Is there a spiritual reason why more and more women are beginning to believe it is their destiny to control men? Is there a spiritual reason why more and more men are surrendering themselves to these women?"

The Goddess & the Dominatrix
The Goddess & the Fringe
In addition to the question of power and domintation as Goddess worship, there is a relationship between the kind of space that surrounds the Goddess and the kind of social destabilization that accompanies both the mainstream of the BDSM scene and, more obviously, the outer fringes. Copyright 1995 Service of Mankind Church, Sanctuary of the Darkside Goddess.