Interview with Raven Kaldera about Shamanism, BDSM Among the Disabled and Fifty Shades of Gray

Raven Kaldera from ravenkaldera.org

Raven Kaldera from ravenkaldera.org

What does being a Shaman mean to you?

It means that I am a spirit-worker – I work with the spirits of earth, fire, water, air, plants, animals, the Dead, and various Gods of my tradition. These are not archetypes or metaphors to me, they are People who are my allies, friends, and sometimes masters. Among spirit-workers in my tradition, a shaman is one who is chosen to devote their life to this work, and can’t ever go back.

My Gods use me as a tool to make change in the world, and one of the ways I am being so used is to give aid to people in the BDSM demographic (and especially Dominant/submissive and Master/slave subgroup).

How would you define BDSM and the BDSM community?

BDSM is a collective acronym for kinky sex – you know what words make it up. It’s about sex and not so much about alternative relationships, although there is a lot of crossover between BDSM and M/s, D/s, and polyamory. There is no “BDSM community”. There are a number of small communities, some overlapping, some isolated. Each may have a different culture and values around such things as appropriate activities, group protocols, safety, and being out.

Share a little bit about your book “Kneeling in Spirit: Disabled Submissives” and “Hell on Wheels: Disabled Dominants”

I’m very proud of our Disability Series. The ones you mentioned are actually the first two; the second two – “Broken Toys: Submissives With Mental Illness and Neurological Disorders”, and “Mastering Mind: Dominants With Mental Illness and Neurological Disorders” – are coming out next month! I felt that the head problems deserved their own two books.

I’m a disabled dominant – I have lupus and a lot of chronic pain, fatigue, and walking disability from that – and I don’t feel that it takes away from my mastery. It does, however, mean that I need a special kind of s-type. At its best, a power dynamic relationship can be an exoskeleton to help the members better cope with their disabilities – that’s what these books are for. The porn is full of “perfect” masters and slaves – real life isn’t like that. These books talk about how to cope with what real life hands us, and use your power dynamic relationship for smoother sailing. They are also wonderful stories of “how it worked” from a number of very brave people whose stories are inspiring.

The books are available, as are many other great books on power dynamic relationships, at Alfred Press.

Share what it’s like to live on Cauldron Farm and the people you live there with.

I currently live with my egalitarian wife Bella of 22 years, my slaveboy Joshua whom I’ve had for 12 years, and my sub boy Brandon who’s only been around for 2 years. All four of us are transgendered – I’m an FTM intersexual, the boys are FTM transsexuals, and my wife is a MTF transsexual. We all also struggle with various disabilities, so our house motto is “We are patient with one another.” We have to be. Our poly family has other outliers as well – Bella has a boyfriend with whom she shares a love of bondage, and I have a part-time sub who is married to her wife, both of whom plan to move to the farm eventually.

We have sheep, goats, chickens, and a vegetable and herb garden, but we’re primarily a homestead, not a commercial farm. While the boys do answer to me, and do a lot of work around here, it’s not like a fantasy BDSM Farm or anything. In fact, the work – writing, publishing, traveling, teaching, taking care of animals, activist work, shamanic work, church work – often gets in the way of kinky fun. We have to try hard to find ways and times to fit it in. So not really all that sexy, I’m afraid.


What is your opinion and what you’ve heard from others in your community about Fifty Shades of Gray?

Everyone seems to agree that it is a terribly written book. Many people are upset about how it seems to associate BDSM with being screwed up by childhood abuse (which is not correlated by the studies that have been done). There are also complaints about how the dominant character stalks the potential submissive (who is an ignorant virgin with no experience in judging his behavior and demands), and pressures her with wealth. For that matter, the fantasy of the dominant being a 27-year-old CEO with amassed wealth who never seems to spend much time at work … that’s drawn some sneers. Basically, the complaints seem to center around the book being little more than a Harlequin romance with a bit of kink, about which the author repeatedly expresses her own ambivalence.

However, one friend who runs a sex store says that the book has one redeeming feature – it’s a “gateway drug”. It has brought people to her store who would not otherwise have gone, and they have acquired real information there to counteract the nonsense. So perhaps it’s good for something. But imagine if we had a best-seller like that which actually had a non-fantastical plot and described BDSM in realistic terms? Someone ought to write that, hey?

 

For more information about Raven Kaldera, visit his website.

About Tara "Masery" Miller

Tara "Masery" Miller is a Neo-Pagan panentheist Gaian mage living in the Ozarks with her husband and pets. She's also a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. She is the editor of Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul which you can find at Immanion press. www.immanion-press.com/info/books.asp She has a minor is religion from Southeast Missouri State Missouri State University with an emphasis in mysticism. Masery has lead various groups over the years and organized Pagan Pride Day events. Her magic and author page is at www.taramaserymiller.com


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