The Collar and Its Meaning, Pictures and Techniques


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The Collar and Its Meaning

A collar in BDSM symbolizes a commitment that has often been compared to a wedding ring. This type of commitment comes in other forms, such as a brand, a tattoo, a piercing.... Each symbolizing the pledge of the Dominant to their submissive to protect, love and cherish them. When the submissive accepts the collar, the submissive surrenders to the Dominant and makes a promise to be devoted and loyal. Some collars are made with no clasp to signify the never ending love of the relationship. Other collars have a ring to attach a leash and a place for an engraved tag or pendant to show ownership. The collar is to be worn in the presence of the Dominant at all times. When apart, all the submissive needs to do is touch it to be reminded of the bond they share. Each collaring is a unique symbol of love, respect and a bond between two people who care greatly for each other.

The Collar of Consideration

Collaring is the term commonly used by those in the D/s community to describe the commencement of a relationship between a Dominant and a submissive. It carries the same type of weight that a marriage ring does in it's final stage and denotes the same depth of commitment. In recent times (since the advent of the internet) we have seen a bastardizing of this ritual into something casual and transient. This attack on long standing traditions should be actively fought by educating those entering the lifestyle.


First I want to state clearly that in my opinion collaring is done ONLY in real life, between live people, ceremonially, joyously and celebrated. One does not get married online or on the phone and one does not collar online or on the phone.


The first collar offered is called the 'Collar of Consideration'. This identification comes from the Old Guard Leather community, the same source of the Safe, Sane and Consensual code. This Collar is traditionally given at the very beginning of a potential relationship. There are many variations on how a collar may be represented in actuality. It can be by a bracelet, waist chain, anklet or other choice. This is sometimes determined by the situation of the submissive such as job requirements etc. Sometimes it is dictated by the Dominant's personal taste. The traditional or customary representation of the 'Collar of Consideration' is a leather collar in some shade of blue. The actual shade of color is not as important as the color itself.


The Dominant by offering this collar to the submissive is expressing an interest in pursuing a potential furthering of a relationship with that submissive beyond the range of a casual acquaintance or even the relationship between a Top and bottom. This collar is offered seriously and with intent. The submissive in accepting this collar from the Dominant is equally serious in their understanding that their relationship has moved into a different stage. The existence of the Collar of Consideration indicates to other Dominant's and submissives that the Dominant and submissive are forming a potentially serious relationship. It's existence acts to openly present to other Dominant's that this submissive is 'off-limits' for the duration of the 'consideration' period and that honorable Dominant's should not pursue this submissive in any manner.
It is understood that new relationships are fragile and vulnerable to both parties involved. Respect for new relationships is shown by adhering to the presence of collars and their underlying meanings. The 'Collar of Consideration' does not indicate a lifelong commitment between the Dominant and submissive but might be better considered to be similar to a pre-engagement ring.
Should either Dominant or submissive decide after a period of time that the relationship or connection is not to their desire then either may politely withdraw from the offer or the acceptance with "NO FAULT" to either side. If a submissive is uncollared then it is considered important for that submissive to physically remove the collar and place it within the hands of the Dominant personally. If extensive attempts have been made to do so unsuccessfully then and ONLY then should the submissive retain the collar. In other words the collar is the property OF the Dominant. It should be purchased, acquired or made BY the Dominant, for the Dominant. Upon the severance of the relationship it should be rightfully returned to it's owner. Objects given as gifts TO the submissive should be CLEARLY defined as becoming the submissives property and not expected to be returned should the relationship end. To keep the collar is considered to be extremely disrespectful.
For any Dominant to 'actively' approach a collared submissive is considered an extreme breach of protocol and it should be noted that such action can have serious negative impact on that Dominant's real life reputation. The traditions of our community should be given the same honor, dignity and respect of any other. Those that actively diminish or devalue what is precious to us should be aware that such diminishment identifies you as being EXTERNAL to our community or a parasite upon it. If you are one of those then perhaps you should return to your sorry world where honor is non-existent, honesty impossible to find and trust just a word in the dictionary.


The Training Collar

Novice submissives often wear a plain leather collar, with one or more rings, during their training period. This collar does not indicate ownership or any special bond between the submissive and the trainer{4}. It isn't worn outside the "classroom", so to speak. The purpose of this collar is to allow the submissive to feel some of the control that she/he will surrender and to experience a taste of the emotions evoked when a power exchange takes place. Many of the typical disciplines and activities of the lifestyle involve using a collar for sending signals to the submissive when he/she is doing something incorrectly or to gain their attention. A slight jerk on a leash attached to a collar helps center the submissive or signals them of the dominant's expectations, much the way a collar is used to train a dog in obedience skills. In short, this kind of collar is a working tool and nothing more.

Training collars are typically unattractive and rather sturdy. They're going to be used to train, not be a fashion statement. Sometimes the training collar is kept by the submissive and later used for typical lifestyle activities when she/he is in a relationship with a dominant.



Formal or slave Collar

The Formal Collar (frequently called the Slave Collar) is the representation of the final stage of commitment between the Dominant and submissive. This collar is offered after the Dominant and submissive have progressed through the 'Collar of Consideration' and the 'Training Collar'. To read more on these prior collars and stages please refer to the articles titled "Collar of Consideration" and "Training Collar'. All three of these collars are given in real life, between live persons actively interacting in or forming serious BDSM relationships. In recent years we have seen the creation of what I can only call the 'cyber collar'. This creation attempts to mimic the real life collar but tends to be exchanged between those who are primarily BDSM cyber fetishers. It is MY personal opinion that cyber collars are made of pixel dust, fantasies and illusions. In addition, those using and exchanging these imaginary collars tend to appear and vanish like shadows in the mist, lacking the primary reality and substance that is so much a part of the BDSM world. The presence of the cyber collar and it's apparent implications for those newly exploring the lifestyle tend to diminish what is a serious exchange in the real world. If you are a new Dominant or submissive, recognize that the internet is a tool which augments and gives you access into a real world. If you wish to remain cyber that is your free choice but try to respect the world that you mimic.


The Formal Collar is offered by the Dominant with the intent to formalize the bond and attachment between themselves and their submissive. It is a recognition of commitment, deep emotional feelings, devotion, mutual respect and consideration. It expresses a belief that the Dominant and submissive share similar ideals and a genuine and growing desire to share each others lives over perhaps the rest of their lives. With many couples this collar is given in conjunction with a proposal of marriage. It's weight within the community is equivocal to the wedding ring. The acceptance of this collar by the submissive is an open, voluntary offering of their complete submission to the Dominant from that day forward.


The traditional appearance of the Slave Collar is a collar made of black leather or metal which is adorned by brass or silver objects or designs. This collar is created specifically FOR the individual submissive and is often an original design. The presentation of this collar often involves a joyous celebration including an exchange of vows, benediction by a minister, the singing of a mutually admired song etc. Many couples write their own poetry, vows and promises to each other which are exchanged publically as they dedicate themselves to each other. In addition, many people choose to engage in the placement of permanent body markings upon the submissive at this time. This can be via tattoo's, piercings, brandings, cuttings etc. Some ceremonies will include a carefully designed public scene so that the guests can visually enjoy and participate in this union and bond by watching the permanent marking in its application. This is a serious decision by both people often arrived at after years of searching and in many cases after living together for a long period of time to make sure that their choice is sound.


At this stage in the collaring process often the Dominant and submissive feel the same deep love that any vanilla couple might feel coupled to the trust, respect and commitment so crucial in the D/s lifestyle. To be invited to attend a D/s Formal Collaring is similar to being invited to a wedding. A gift is appropriate, attire as specified in the invitation should be followed and protocol should be observed regarding the manner in which other members of the community are addressed. If you are invited to a collaring but are not very familiar with the participants then be polite, courteous and respectful. Remember that different areas of the country and different groups have different rules of protocol. If you do not know them, politely ask. If there is a public scene then standard open dungeon rules generally apply, this is soft conversation when necessary, NEVER touch another person, Do NOT interrupt a scene with questions or commentary, wear dark clothing and be unobtrusive during the commencement of the scene.


Remember that some scenes can place the submissive at risk in unique ways. An example of this is a scene involving fire play. During such a scene a sudden draft such as the opening of a door or window can make the flames flare in a sudden and extremely dangerous fashion. Do not leave your position of observation, open doors, windows, turn on fans, lights, music or anything else without the prior consent of the Dominant, Dungeon Master/Mistress or person in charge of scene management. Wait until the completion of a scene to address the Dominant. It is often considered PROPER to congratulate the submissive independent of the Dominant after such a collaring AFTER you have congratulated the Dominant. If you are in doubt as to this protocol then take the opportunity to ask the Dominant when you are congratulating them if it is permissible to congratulate their submissive.


Remember that if the submissive has just scened, been pierced, branded or tattooed they may and probably will be in sub-space. Be gentle, friendly and kind and forgive them if they are wobbly, spacey and a bit out of it . By the way - the Dominant may be a bit shaken too, so a good hug or two is generally not unwelcome (this depends on the temperment of the Dominant of course!)


Often an open play party commences after such events. Do NOT drink if alcohol has been present if you intend to scene later. A final note - in many cases the Formal Collaring is recorded on video tape and in snapshots. If you are concerned about being in these shots choose seats outside the ones closest to the event. In most cases the photographers try very hard to capture just those officiating and personally involved but if it is a concern of yours then take the steps necessary yourself without disturbing the ceremony in any way.

What's Right For You?

Ultimately each one of us has to decide what we want to incorporate into our own relationships and lifestyle. Most are going to be living their lifestyle on an individual and personal basis. If the idea of a "collar of consideration" appeals to you, then you should embrace it as part of your own special way to express your dominance and submission.

Cyber collars are another phenomena that we've seen become an accepted standard to the online D/s community. Their validity is only as meaningful as the people involved so we see some pretty wide variations in the behavior and expectations of those using them. To some, they are as significant as one made of leather and steel and lovingly placed around the neck of the devoted submissive by a responsible dominant. To others, they're as disposable as toilet paper and mean little but a means of getting attention and some sure-score cybersex. Again, it's up to you to use it or abuse it.

You should ask yourself these questions about any idea or practice you are considering: Will it benefit me, my partner and our relationship? Does it feel "right" to us? Do we want/need this as part of our own traditions and beliefs? Does it make us happy and enrich our lives together as a D/s couple? Does it adhere to the Safe, Sane and Consensual credo? If you can answer yes to those questions, and it harms no one else in doing so, then by all means include it as part of your unique style. You do not need to justify your choices to anyone else nor do you need to prove it is part of some ancient tradition for it to have meaning. Do it because YOU enjoy it. The heck with what anyone else thinks.





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