Shibari is the art of Japanese rope bondage.

It’s something near and dear to my heart, and I love so much about it (if you haven’t noticed!), Shibari is a beautiful combination of mental and physical domination and submission. 

I could wax lyrical about rope all day, so I will!

That moment when someone is bound for the first time: Wondering whether you will take to it – do those shoulders relax, or tense? Does your breathing quicken or slow? Does that look in your eye, that quizzical furrow of a new sensation, bode well? Do you breathe that tell-tale sigh as I feel your body, mind and spirit submitting to the sensation of ropes and binding? Is it the wrapping or the release that pushes you into the depths? The moment where you wait, having surrendered your control, unsure of what the next move will be. Is that your pleasure or fear?

And what do we do with that?

The gasp, the ropes sliding across skin, the closeness, the touch of flesh to flesh, skin to skin. Teasing, smelling, tasting, dancing around you. The way the rope takes to your body, the way each tie is crafted to the one that is being tied. Tailoring the rope, reading flesh, bone, musculature and writing a poem on your skin. Reading deeper, the heart, mind, thoughts, and throwing a rope around the scattered pieces, drawing it tight and bringing you home.

Woven and bound into the form that sings out to be released from the raw material – rearranging you into the pattern that calls out to me, like the way a skilled sculptor sees the shape in the stone and, in carving, brings it forth.

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w/Kristen Jade; Photography: Mischief Lane

That moment when someone is lifted off the ground for the first time: The testing of the harness. The first bit of lift, of rope starting to remove them from the grasp of gravity. Watching you close, as in that final moment, the last limb connecting them to the earth is taken up, and you are floating, spinning, hanging – like a freeze frame, like a butterfly in amber. Immersed. Submerged.

Do you release a breath, sink deep into the ropes and float? Do you struggle, gasp for air and resurface? Do you seek the quiet bliss in stillness or the sound and fury of movement and sensation? The deliciously slow anticipation and infliction of that deep aching? A quick strike? A slow spin? The promise of the shape can be drawn out of you, coaxing, pulling and guiding into a new configuration… Will you suffer for me? Will you hang effortlessly? Do you form a graceful arc or a solid bold stroke?

Golden Monkey Shibari; w/Kristen Jade; Photography: Winbas Photography

The rope is a brush, a pen, a string, an instrument. Nothing more, nothing less. The intersection of will and spirit – the song, the letter, the poem, the picture, the dance.

And then, the unraveling. For some this is the point of ecstasy, the tension and restraint finding release. For some, it’s always too soon, and they wish that they could remain cocooned forever. But as we journey inward, so too must we find our way back home. And I strip the rope from you, pulling back more layers, feeling more naked than you were before – those lengths of jute that held you so tight and securely, slowly bringing you back from that private place where it is only us…and still is. 

Beltane Ritual – w/Awyn Raven, at Alter Space; Photography – Lindsay Cox

The unraveling, more than an appendix, is vital…I love that the ending of the rope takes its own arc, is every bit as essential to the experience to the beginning and middle. Sometimes we forget how important the way we end things is.

Sometimes it ends in silliness and giggles. Sometimes the tie ends early because of discomfort. Sometimes you say, no thank you, that wasn’t for me, but thank you for the experience. Sometimes we’re practicing, like walking through the steps of the dance, sometimes it’s like absentmindedly stroking someone’s hair as we watch the television. Sometimes it’s that moment of internal suspension, that deep bliss, and head trip. Sometimes it’s ecstatic, intense and an incredible release of pent up feelings that can result in tears and letting go. Sometimes it’s two people sitting under the stars content in the stillness of silent companionship. Sometimes like two friends laughing uproariously as they wrestle. Sometimes it’s something darker, (consensually) playing right on the edges with resistance, a call, and response of challenge and overcoming. Sometimes it’s like fucking with rope. Sometimes it’s fucking in rope. 

Every time is different, the second, third, fourth, twentieth, hundredth… a seduction that never ends, each time discovering anew.

Every time, everyone, every moment, something different, something changes.

And when it reaches deep, when it passes through the skin… The world tilts.

Article originally published at ManyVids – https://www.manyvids.com/Article/4479/Art-of-Shibari/