Sacred Masks: BDSM Archetypes

Reprinted from "Dark Moon Rising" (Buy at

Whether or not we have any conscious spiritual component to our BDSM scenes, we often end up acting out certain archetypal roles during them, especially if they are particularly dramatic. Sometimes we merely play out roles, but all too often -- especially with roles that we fall into again and again because they suit us psychologically -- we end up taking on something far deeper. We fall into the archetypal grooves, and it can be hard to climb out.

For the record, an archetype is much more than just a role, or even a link to the "collective unconscious". An archetype is like the shadow cast by a particular deity or spirit. When we become subsumed into the archetype -- when we lose ourselves in it, if only for a moment -- we touch the bare hem of their garments, so to speak. We do not become Athena, or Kwan Yin, or Dionysos, or Odhinn. We get pulled into their shadow, which covers and colors us. Working with archetypes can be amazingly magical if you're doing it consciously and mindfully, or it can be quite dangerous if you're in denial about how you're handling it.

Another metaphor that we've often used is referring to an archetype as a "hat", as in "she's putting on the sacred prostitute hat", or "he was wearing the king hat, that's why everyone listened to him". This is generally used to refer to a conscious use of that archetype, deliberately stepping into it in a way that lets it temporarily permeate you. Wearing one of these sacred "hats", if only for a little while, prompts people to respond to you as they would to that archetype. However, whether it's conscious or not, the hat can get stuck, and that can be a problem. Ideally, one ought to be able to find ways to take any given hat off, or it will eat your life, shrinking you to the bounds of that archetype. And as archetypes are less three-dimensional than the full complexity of a human being -- a persona is not as big as a person -- this can severely limit your life and your expression.

In the BDSM community where I occasionally hang out, there are repeated references made to "top's disease" and "bottom's disease". These refer to the problem when people who are ensconced in D/s relationships find the power dynamic leaking over into the rest of their lives, in inappropriate ways. Bottoms with this disease may let anyone walk on them, even co-workers who have no negotiated right to do so. Tops with this disease may act arrogant with everyone, yell at waiters, become impatient in lines, and generally feel vaguely as if the whole world ought to treat them as if they were special. One way to look at this is to see these banes of the BSDM community as people simply getting sucked unconsciously into very powerful archetypes. As with all such experiences, once you've identified the archetype that is attempting to eat your life, it's easier to get out from under it.


This is the archetypal pair sacred to the Hunter God in all His forms, including those where She is a goddess. Be it Herne, Ogoun, Artemis, Orion, or Skadi, or something far older, the Hunter goes back beyond our fur-wearing ancestors who painted the sacred hunt on the walls of their caves and reenacted it around the bonfire. Herne is older than that. He lives in every creature that runs for its life, or pursues another in order to survive. There are very few animals on this earth that do not take part in the predator/prey relationship to some extent, and that includes human beings.

The predator half of this couple is easy to find in SM story, and that's because he is so primal and so atavistic. Our hindbrains remember what it is like to kill our food with our own hands, and to do so because to do otherwise will result in our deaths. The predator hunts down those that he needs to feed his desires; at bottom, his prey is not actually his mate but his food.

He seeks to devour them on some level, and will not be satisfied until he has done so. Predators abound in such classic roles as vampire, stalker, serial killer, and so forth. He is fiery and hot on the chase, and then he goes completely cold when he strikes. Indeed, the chase may mean more to him than actually keeping the prey. After all, archetypally, prey is disposable, and there will be other prey tomorrow.

He is territorial, not jealous, and there's a definite difference between the two. Jealousy is based on insecurity and fear of loss; it's an emotional response. Territoriality comes out of the pre-human responses; it's the part of the brain that is programmed for survival at all costs, and remembers that bring driven off of your territory will result in starvation and death. It's an instinctive response, in the same category as fight-or-flight, and thus it is both more difficult to invoke and more difficult to get rid of. Unlike jealousy, becoming more secure, strong, and confident may worsen a territoriality response in someone buried deeply in this archetype.

Predators vary in their subtlety, just as predatory animals vary in their choice of attack. She may slink up like a big cat, or hypnotize you like a cobra, or snarl and pounce like a wolf, or swoop down from a great height and seize you up like a hawk. You've probably seen predatory tops who've utilized all of those attacks. Most people can somehow sense when someone has a strong predator within them, even when it's held tightly in check and they seem simply polite and outwardly benign. Somehow it leaks through, and people are vaguely uncomfortable, or vaguely respectful... or, if they are aggressive sorts themselves, they may want to challenge them for dominance. Someone with a prey archetype at work in them, however, will sense it strongly and immediately, and respond either with an urge to flee or an urge to fling themselves at the predator's feet. If the predator is also an "alpha" type, this can enhance the urgency of the response.

The clearest mark of the Prey archetype is that prey does not fight back or challenge a predator. It may lash out if cornered or fight defensively, but at that point its survival is unlikely. Evading capture is its primary, and in some cases only, defense. It's rather like the scene in the book Watership Down, where the Creator tells El-Ahrairah, the rabbit god, "If they catch you, they will kill you, but first they must catch you." Some prey-types may feel a strong urge to act in an atavistically submissive way in aggressive situations -- even when the aggression is not directed at them -- by literally playing dead or showing throat, although most have enough self-control not to act on these impulses.

Particularly bold prey can appear flirtatious toward the predator, inviting them and dodging them several times before its eventual capture or escape. Prey may take pride in skillfully evading unskilled predators. This pairing holds for any archetypal combination of human and animal predator and prey, although there are differences between the four combinations. When both predator and prey feel closer to animal, the chase is deadly serious; it may feel like a matter of survival on some level for the predator, and of submission to some greater force of sacrifice to the prey-creature. When the stalking predator feels "animal" but the prey feels "human", the predator may still be acting from a survival mode, but the prey may feel more confused, caught in an alien situation that they do not fully understand, and perhaps pained on some level by being "reduced" by a more "bestial" conqueror.

On the other hand, when the predator is archetypally human, the chase can be more about sport than survival. Certainly ancient human hunters tracked prey animals out of survival, and this pairing can have that sense of urgent desperation on both parts, but it can also be more about sport, especially for predators who were raised in this age of recreational hunting. When both sides are human, it's rarely about anything but sport.


This is another of the classic pairs. In general, the master is someone who is comfortable being in charge and supervising things, and the servant is someone who gets a great deal of satisfaction from rendering competent service to others. The word "master" (and its female counterpart "mistress") is thrown around a lot by various people in the leather community, as if all one had to do to become one was to don the name and a superior attitude. However, to do this as a spiritual path, one has to remember that the word "mastery" isn't just about power, but skill.

The master archetype, flatly, is about skillfully using other person(s) as tools. At its best, it gives the ability to discern what sort of a tool someone is -- are they a sword or a scalpel, or even a hammer? What are their skills and talents, including potential ones still untapped? What are areas in which they could improve with training, and what would they be wasted in attempting to do? How can this person be put to useful work that hones their edges, honors their talents, and betters both them and their environment? A poor utilization of the Master archetype will assign their underlings tasks regardless of whether they are suited for them, and then become angry when the result is not up to par. Good masters see their servants as resources, and a wise master does not waste resources.

One of the drawbacks of the Master archetype is that the Master does not love the servant. This doesn't mean that individual masters can't love their servants, only that in its purest form, there is only respect and perhaps some liking coming from the top direction. In order to sustain a love relationship with the bottom, a top will have to draw on another archetype as well. (Fortunately, most power-dynamic couples utilize multiple archetypal patterns in their interactions.) It is interesting to compare the somewhat detached and distant nature of the pure Master archetype with the Predator archetype, who is quite capable of loving their prey passionately -- perhaps even obsessively -- and still ripping them apart and killing them, without seeing that as a contradiction.

The servant role at its most classic is also not an archetype that lends itself strongly to being in love. Indeed, when two people get into a D/s relationship without romantic feelings for each other (and in some cases, without even sexual feelings) this is the most common archetype for them to fall into. There's a sense of this being a "professional" relationship, more than an intimate one.

A servant functions as a seamless extension of their master's will, assisting them in doing whatever it is they do, but making it better and easier. After assigning specific tasks or areas of responsibility, the master expects things to be accomplished promptly, efficiently, and to the desired standard without reminder or supervision. Specific instruction may be limited or sporadic, and the servant may need to rely heavily on their own judgment. For example, a gardener may only be told to "take care of the garden", along with the occasional instruction like "I saw the loveliest hedges at Mrs. So-and-So's place. I'd love some of those around the patio." The gardener would find out what those hedges were and where to get them (probably by asking Mrs. So-and-So's gardener), plan a pleasing layout that works with the rest of the landscaping, and either supervise their planting and care or do it entirely themselves.

Unlike the apprentice, the servant is not here for education, although they may receive education at their master's discretion. Ideally, they would know how to do their job before they arrive. The master may not have the time or inclination to train them, and may not know a thing about the servant's skillset beyond the basic results they expect. You don't need to know anything about cooking to hire a cook, for example, and you ought to be able to tell your cook to modify their dishes to suit your preference, making it more or less rich, more or less spicy, etc. even if it goes against their previous training or they don't think it tastes right that way. As an alternate example, a master or mistress may expect a servant to drive them places and maintain their car, and not care to know anything about the car so long as it looks nice and gets them where they want to go.

A servant is loyal to their master, but not so emotionally attached that they could not work elsewhere. A good servant is not emotionally invested in doing things in one particular way, and can readily adapt to different circumstances or methods. They genuinely like and respect their master, and this respect is evident in their behavior. They are not oblivious to their master's flaws, but may gracefully assist the master in ways that minimize their negative effect. In no way do they expect the master to change in order to suit them, or to live up to their ideal for them. A good servant does not leave without very good reason, and does everything in their power to find and train a replacement before they go.


The word "Master" is also used to cover an entirely different archetype: that of honored teacher on a path. This lack of appropriate words has caused some people to revert instead to martial-arts terms like "sensei" or even Star Wars terms like "padawan" to describe the nature of this relationship and differentiate it from the Master of Servants discussed above. This is a student-teacher relationship first and foremost, and one of the biggest differences from the last archetypal pairing is that both are on the same path, and ideally the apprentice will one day graduate to the Master's position. In that sense, it has something of an ephemeral quality to it; the goal is to eventually get the apprentice up to being the equal, and even potentially the superior, of the teacher.

This relationship is found directly and indirectly in the BDSM scene. Some tops will take on beginning would-be tops as apprentices, which can mean first serving as a bottom, and then as an intermediate subservient slave-handler or majordomo, and finally as a dominant themselves. This allows them to experience all parts of the chain of command, so that they will be both more competent at mastering and more compassionate to those under their direction. Also, some dominants have a direct teacher/pupil relationship with their bottoms, teaching them to be better people, or more competent at handling life skills, or guiding them through mind-expanding experiences.

One example of this might be the Daddy who teaches his "boy" how to change the oil in the car; another might be the master who regresses a female submissive back to being a schoolgirl in order to learn patience and discipline. It's not uncommon for the master/apprentice roles to be used in a context of ageplay, although that's not always necessary either.

The apprentice applies themselves to whatever tasks the master assigns, even if the immediate application to the discipline is not obvious. In some cases the relevance may become obvious after further training, and in others the apprentice may simply be doing their share of the necessary scut-work in exchange for their training. In many cases, the apprentice is expected to do tasks that reinforce their subservient position to the master, and show a very high level of respect and deference in exchange for their training. Generally, the master will discourage any attempt to skip ahead to more advanced lessons, even if the apprentice does not feel sufficiently challenged by the current lessons.Training may include study of the texts of the discipline, seemingly endless drill, or forcing the student into situations they do not feel ready to handle and expecting them to learn as they go.

In some cases, the master may be teaching the apprentice in methods of their own devising, and some may be passing on a lineage. The latter teach their apprentice what they learned themselves as an apprentice, both in respect of their own master's methods and in acknowledgement of their effectiveness.


I've chosen to pair the word "owner" with the word "slave", to differentiate them both from the master/servant pair. While masters can theoretically have slaves, the big difference between the slave and the servant is that the servant is not an owned being. He/she serves for reasons of honor; the slave serves because he/she has given up all choice to do otherwise. Being an owner is different from being a master, and not only in degree. To have sole and complete responsibility for the body, mind, heart, and soul of another competent adult is amazing and terrifying. It's not like children who will (ideally) grow up and leave, or a mentally disabled adult who would do so if it were possible. It is a level of possessiveness that can be intoxicating, and must be handled carefully.

As an archetype, the Owner hat pulls us to see our human property as things. How someone will respond to the Owner hat can often be determined by their attitude toward their other non-living possessions. Do they hoard roomsful, or are they uncomfortable with having too many? Do they take enjoyment in owning beautiful or valuable things, or do they prefer cheap and disposable, so that they don't care when the thing breaks? Do they use their things hard, or polish and condition them, or stick them on the shelves to gather cobwebs? How quickly do they tire of a new toy?

Having a relationship with a dominant who is primarily using the Owner archetype can be intimate or not, depending on their attitude towards possessions and possessing. You can see the traces of this archetype in the way that a dominant interacts physically with their submissive; do they touch them in a proprietary manner that says, "This is my thing, and I'm enjoying the fact that it's mine to touch and use as I will"? Or does their touch instead say, "This is a valuable thing that has been entrusted to me, and I'd better be terribly careful and handle it with kid gloves, or it might vanish"? Or, perhaps, "This is mine for the moment, but it's temporary, and I'm assuming it's sturdy and can take some knocking around"? Again, most dominants combine this with other archetypes, which affect the ways in which they feel about ownership. In particular, the Predator archetype can have an attitude about territory that may or may not mesh with the Owner's attitude about possessions.

Unlike the servant, the slave need not necessarily do anything but be owned. Some slaves are kept like pets, with little responsibility to the owner but to provide companionship, affection, and perhaps to gaze adoringly at them.Others may be expected to fill one or more other roles as well, and the ownership become an underlying assumption rather than the focus of the relationship.

Slaves can often love their owners, even if the owner does not return the feeling. More often, though, the feelings of the archetypal slave are more about adoration than love. While real love is a matter of seeing the beloved clearly and loving them in spite of their flaws, adoration is more about idealizing the beloved and ignoring their flaws. Someone who is totally ensconced in the slave archetype may try very hard to be oblivious to the flaws of their owner, as seeing them might ruin the perfect and all-powerful image of their master. In order to be able to love rather than merely adore their owner, the slave needs to have other archetypes playing as well.

The slave, as we touch on in the chapter "On Being Owned", can sometimes get into a mental situation where they find themselves so thoroughly owned that they can no longer leave. This can be a conscious collusion between the owner and slave, or it can come upon the slave entirely unawares. One day they may wake up and find that the idea of leaving is unthinkable. Obviously, if this was unexpected, it can be a shock (or not; some slaves simply settle contentedly into their permanent place). If it is unwelcome, one solution might be to formally and ritually reject the slave archetype, and hope that knocks you out of the cosmic groove. Of course, one would also hope that you would find yourself enslaved to an ethical master who would sympathize with your not wanting to be owned, and would help in getting that hat off your head, as it were.


The Trainer differs from the Owner in that there's a (covert or overt) assumption that the Trainer's care of the slave is temporary; that the slave is being prepared to serve someone else, generally another Owner. In some cases, a dominant may play both roles, training their own slave, but there's usually some thought somewhere that eventually the slave will be fully trained and the trainer archetype will no longer be needed in that interaction. Sometimes a D/s couple who are just starting out don't tend to look that far ahead; what happens when a trainer has done all he can with a submissive? He could sell/trade/give the slave to another Owner who doesn't utilize the Trainer archetype. She could give up on being a trainer, or turn her attentions to another slave, using the fully trained one as a model and aide, perhaps sending the "graduate" slave to a different trainer for more polish.

In fact, when a lifetime submissive ends up suddenly doing dominance work with another person, it's more likely to be in the role of trainer than any other of these archetypes. This is because, in many ways, the role of Trainer is so much more service-oriented. While they are unquestionably in charge, their entire attention is focused on the slave, creating a curriculum that will best bring out the slave's good qualities and polish their flaws. (The trainer-top is a favorite dream of many submissives for that reason; the archetype promises not only self-improvement but lots of attention.) Many tops whose only dominant role is that of Trainer tend to be bottoms in their personal lives, and see their Trainer role as a service, perfecting and turning out new and better slaves for the consumption of others. In fact, it's been said that the most demanding and rigorous Trainers are the submissives who've already been through the curriculum.

The Trainer/slave Pairing also has some qualities in common with the Master/apprentice pairing, in that the role is teacher/student. In the former case, however, the apprentice is ideally going to graduate to being a Master someday, whereas the slave is being trained to be a product, not a Trainer (if it were otherwise, it would simply be a Master/apprentice pairing). There is no pretence of future equality between the two.

Affection and romance between the two parties will vary depending on whether the Trainer is also the owner. If not, then they may not feel comfortable becoming emotionally attached to a slave who will eventually move on to someone else. In some cases, the submissive finds that emotional attachment gets in the way of their polish and their vocation, and prefers to keep the relationship at an emotional distance. Trainers also usually prefer not to fall in love with temporary property that they will eventually pass on to someone else.

The slave in this coupling is technically the same as the one in the Owner/slave coupling, but s/he responds differently to a trainer than to an owner. First of all, the slave is fully aware that the relationship is more about them than about the trainer's needs. Although they may be required to serve selflessly, even that service is centered on them in some way, as it is designed to teach them about better service. Ideally, the training will prepare them to go from a situation where "they do it all for you" to one where they are no longer the center of attention, except at the mistress's whim.

The slave also tends to have a steeper "learning curve" here, as more and more new things are thrown at them. A master/slave couple can get comfortable; the trainer is bound to keep the trainee on their toes. If the trainer is also the owner, they often go back and forth between the two until the slave has gone as far as the master can take them. Masters who find the trainer archetype very strong in them may have the problem of losing interest when this happens.


While ageplay is one of the more controversial contexts in D/s theater, its enduring pervasiveness and its legions of fans prove that it is far more popular than anyone likes to admit. After all, everyone started out as a child, and none of us are without strong baggage and preconceptions formed at that age. It's not surprising that many people want to work with a state that they spent a decade and a half enmeshed within. It's also not surprising for some tops to want to fill the role of the first powerful people that they knew -- parents -- if only for a short time, with another competent adult.

To play with the archetypes of Parent and child, one needs to walk a fine line between the teacher or mentor model and the owner. Parents have a lot more authority over their children than any adult has over any other competent adult, yet they don't own them, exactly. They are responsible for teaching them many life skills, but they aren't a formal teacher. They nurture their children, and are more physically affectionate with them, than the average master or mistress figure. Although they can punish and discipline, they also need to be a lap and a shoulder when times get tough....unless they are deliberately playing with the Bad Daddy or the Evil Stepmother, which are much more specific and two-dimensional bogeyman figures. Most importantly, they spend a lot more time caring for and doing for their charges than any other top archetype.

To be the child in this dynamic, considering that we're talking about adults here, is to allow yourself to temporarily regress to a younger and less sophisticated age. It's about letting yourself express your emotions more, recapturing your sense of wonder and spontaneity, and putting your trust in someone who has promised to take care of you. It's about letting go of all that adult dignity, and remembering a time when it didn't matter at all, when you thought a lot less about what people thought of you.

One of the big problems with this dynamic is that everyone has parental issues, no matter how great your parents were, and it's damn near impossible not to bring these over into this kind of relationship. The real gift, however, is that it's a great place to work out those issues, if the people involved are conscious, aware, careful, and communicative.

There is also that people have very different ideas about the proper role of a parent. Someone who had a fairly emotionally distant parent (or someone who felt smothered by a parent's insistence on emotional closeness) may want or expect the parent figure to practice "tough love" with the child figure. Someone who raised their own children in a very easygoing manner may not understand their partner's desire for a very strict parent figure. They may have very different ideas about what responsibilities and expectations are appropriate for both parties, or even what interactions feel "parental" or "childlike". Some people who want to take on a child role may want to be the child they were or wish they could have been, and some may want to be a very different child with a radically different temperament or life experience. Some may desire a parent figure very much like their own, or one very much the opposite their own, or one like the parent they wish they'd had, or one like the parent they'd someday like to be.


This archetypal pairing might also be called Priest/Monk, or some other situation where two people who share the same religious context are in a service relationship together. Generally, one of them serves the Gods and/or the religious community, and the other serves the first one as an assistant. The Priest, or Priestess, or Shaman, or Mystic, or other individual with heavy spiritual responsibilities, requires his assistant to do a good deal of the practical scut-work of his job for him. This might be setting up altars, maintaining and fetching religious equipment, interfacing with the public, and making sure that the Priestess has whatever they need.

One of the interesting things about this archetypal pairing is that it is extremely high-protocol. It tends to make both parties, while they are fully engaged in it, react in a very formal manner. Generally this protocol is not anything like classic BDSM protocol, but is dictated by the religious context. Both are involved in ritual, and as such these archetypes have a weightiness to them that is different from more playful masks. (This role, from the bottom's perspective, is wonderfully explored in Joshua T's chapter "Shaman's Boy: Serving A Greater Path".)

Initiator/Ordeal Dancer

This pairing is very similar to the one above, in that it is two people working to get one into whatever altered state they require for their spiritual work. The difference is that here the bottom is the mystic who goes through the spiritual gyrations, and the top is there to help them do that, generally by torturing them and forcing them (consensually) through ordeals until they come to the altered state that is their goal. In a sense, it's rather like having an implacable spiritual personal trainer.

One example of this is a couple we heard of where the top kept the bottom chained in a basement for weeks at a time, feeding her cold boiled lentils and only visiting her daily for impersonal sex and hosing her down. The trick was that the bottom had asked for this treatment, in order to get into a spiritual headspace that took her beyond her body and herself. The isolation, simplicity, meditativeness, and objectification allowed her this reach of consciousness. Another example is a couple where the bottom finds a great deal of spiritual fulfillment in extreme public humiliation; watching a scene with her and her top is like seeing Inanna walk into the underworld, where she was stripped and reduced to meat on a hook before being reborn. Her top has had to learn ways to implement this properly in order to satisfy her needs for this state of abject not-self. Yet another couple practices "forced" hook suspensions as part of ritual.

In this pairing, the top serves the bottom as much as, and in some cases more than, the bottom serves the top. After all, you don't get much work out of a bottom that's locked in the basement, and you have to make their cold boiled lentils. However, this archetype is vitally important, especially for many kinds of ritual S/M. If what you need to get to an altered state is an ordeal, whether of pain or isolation or some other thing, and you cannot (like an Indian fakir) inflict it on yourself, you need someone there to force you through it. Often the most important job of the Initiator top is simply to push (or pull or drag or force) the bottom through any bout of weak-willedness to the goal that they seek. To be the top in this pair is to be the psychopomp of the Underworld, who is often a fierce or cruel figure.


This archetype is almost the reverse of the last one, in the sense that here, the priest is the bottom. Of course, the only thing higher is the deity that they serve, and in this pairing the top takes on that role. It's both a terrifying and an intoxicating place to be in. Here the focus is on actually worshipping the top as a stand-in, a walking symbol, a living embodiment of Deity in whatever form the bottom has agreed to worship. One classic example of this is the dominatrix who demands to be worshipped as a goddess, so that the (usually male) bottom gets used to the idea of doing homage to a female rather than a male figure of Deity.

In Paganism, we often say that we revere the aspect of deity that we see within our lovers, but we are rarely comfortable with doing them the kind of worship that we might do for an actual noncorporeal deity. It might seem strange, or even wrong somehow, to let a mere human stand in for an actual god in a way that requires one to actually treat them that way. There is a general discomfort in the Pagan community about showing deep submission to the presence of an actual deity, let alone a human who is representing them. This seems to come from people who have had bad experiences with being brought up in religions that emphasized unthinking submission to deity with little or no actual contact with the divine forces. They may prefer to think of the Gods as friends and helpers, especially if the divine contact that they have experienced is more subtle and less intense, and may be very uncomfortable with the idea of kneeling to anyone.

However, in some pagan groups (including some Wiccan traditions) the person invoking and/or symbolizing the god or goddess is addressed as and treated as the god or goddess, at least nominally. Many pagans are perfectly comfortable directing their worship at a non-living representation of the deity, whether a human-like statue, an altar, a sacred place, or a sacred object. If the top needs a dose of humility to balance out the intoxication of recieving such worship, they can keep in mind that they are little more than a walking, talking sacred object.

Sometimes, in this situation, the top is an actual hierodule -- a slave and vessel of the Gods themselves. They may find that deities speak through them, or that they become physically possessed by the deity. In this case, the line between worshipping the human being and worshipping the actual deity can become thin and blurry, a situation that doesn't happen with most religions (although the Afro-Caribbean faiths do regular god-possession, and we could learn a lot from them). Tops who need more information on this subject can refer to the chapter "On Being A Hierodule".

For the bottom who is drawn to a physical, fleshly manifestation of the divine, the human top may be their permanent focus and their only connection to deity, or they may have an active connection to deity through other means or other tops. Some of these bottoms may need to learn reverence to a higher power in a very concrete way, by allowing a human to embody that higher power, rather than honoring what can be a fairly abstract and unresponsive idea of deity. Not everyone gets to talk directly to the Gods...or rather, the Gods do not speak clearly and directly to all people equally, for reasons that none of us understand fully. It may be that the individual needs a god/goddess who can give them direction, pats on the head, and ass-kickings, but none are stepping up to the plate personally. Often they are most drawn to tops whose personality and behavioral qualities reflect those of the deity whom they admire the most; the best top for this job is someone who can let themselves become a (even temporary) avatar of that divine archetype, and let their bottom bask in Kali energy, or Artemis energy, or Zeus energy, or Herne energy, or what-have-you.

Magician/Enchanted Object

This archetypal pair is similar to, and often interwoven with, the Trainer/Slave pair, but generally it occurs between permanent partners rather than a temporary training situation. This is usually because the amount of energy needed to magically "enchant" someone is more than most tops want to waste on something that they're going to get rid of, and besides, this work tends to create strong energy bonds between people. What's generally going on with this archetypal pairing is that the couple is doing training with hypnotic, subliminal, and/or energy-work techniques. (For more information on energy-work techniques, see the chapter "The Invisible Toybox".) They may work with Tantra, or sex magic, or other forms of sexual energy-play. The Magician top may use the bottom as a source of energy for other magical work, or the magical work may be concentrated on changing the bottom. For the bottom, these techniques can seem magical, in the sense that it's a way to play with their brain and consciousness, and get them to do things that they never thought they'd do.

One example of this was a top who decided to put his submissive in diapers, for no other reason than to demonstrate his power over her. He had her wearing diapers for every hour of the day except when she was working a job, and wouldn't let her use the toilet during that time. At the same time, he told her repeatedly that while she was in diapers, she wouldn't be able to control her bladder and bowels. After a while, the repeated suggestion took hold, and she discovered that she had become unable to control her bladder and bowels while the diapers were on, although her control magically returned as soon as they were off.

Another example might be a bottom who has trouble achieving orgasm, and a top who subtly trains him first to come easily, then to come with other stimulation, then to come on command. The "enchantment" part of this comes in if the early stages were subtle enough that the bottom doesn't notice how deeply he is being changed, only that things are somehow transforming in ways he had never imagined that they might.

Tops who fall into the Magician archetype may see their bottoms as objects to enchant, but they are wonderful and valuable objects, perhaps the Magician's most precious possessions, and the top may feel strongly protective and possessive of them, and unlikely to want to let them go. While there is a certain amount of objectification going on here, there can also be a lot of genuine love. Indeed, one of the most common "enchantments" for the Magician to lay on his property is the equivalent of a love spell (or a real love spell, if this is someone who does actual magic). Since that sort of magical work tends to act like electricity running back and forth along a wire, it affects both parties whether the Magician expects it to or not, and can create intense bonds between a couple who work with these archetypes.