The part of the festival that most people know about, and from which many draw these conclusions, is that after sacrificing a goat and a dog (along with some other rituals, to be detailed further below), the young Luperci priests run a race around the old boundaries of the city of Rome, flogging passers-by (particularly women) with goat skins from the sacrifice. Some modern Pagans, particularly Gardnerian Wiccans, have often seen a connection between this particular practice and the use of flogging and flagellation in their rituals. And, while there is a connection in terms of similar tools being used for ritual purposes, the actual practices aren’t comparable at all. The floggings that Roman men and women hoped to receive on the day were not harsh and tortuous, and were not some form of BDSM within a ritual context (though, I would note, I have no problem with BDSM generally, nor its usage in rituals in particular!); neither was it a technique to induce an altered state of consciousness. It was a token slap on the palms of the hands, in fact, if we are to believe some ancient sources on this matter–one “whack!” and then the Lupercus concerned ran a bit further to give his blessings to someone else along the road. If marks were left, they were doing it wrong!