Archive for The Story of O

BDSM Symbols

Posted in Opinions and Articles with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2010 by ladyadumalevil

Since I’m such a romantic and a sucker for RULES,  PROTOCOLS,  SYMBOLISM and the like, this article is dedicated to all the control-freaks Dominant persons out there (such as myself). Enjoy!

We rarely get to read something about BDSM Safety without actually getting to hear “BDSM Etiquette”  at least once every two articles. Not to be an exception from this rule, I will also mention some aspects of this etiquette, but I will not focus on it, since my main priority is not the whole code of rules, but just the symbolism of this “obscure” society.

The BDSM Etiquette is a code, a collection of common-sense rules for meeting and interacting with people from the scene in a safe, sane and consensual way, but also acknowledging and applying RAWK (risk-aware consensual kink).  It states that, above all, we are human beings, free of slavery in its basic, dictionary sense and that we are free to choose any role we’d like in the scene, free to say no, free from any type of constraint regarding our decisions. One can enter the game and leave it at his or her own free will.

Now, on to symbolism and symbols. Again, not news to anybody with the slightest interest in BDSM that the novel “The Story of O” by Pauline Reage and the 1975 movie are milestones to what the society represents, how it is portrayed and how it is kept from the curious eye.  Long story short, the novel is the story of a submissive young woman, O, taken by her lover to the Roissy castle for training. You have to discover the rest for yourself, but mind you, don’t hesitate to read the book or at least to watch the movie; it’s worth it.




Now, as the book described an the movie depicted, after a person’s training was over, they were to wear a specific type of ring, which was viewed as some sort of a recognition symbol for those involved in BDSM. I simply adore this idea of having to or choosing to wear a well-known symbol  so as to signal the others that you are different.  Imagine this, you are wearing a ring inspired by the Story of O and go to an office party, the very boring, but mandatory kind. The nigh is slow and you are dazing off with a glass of wine in front of you when, suddenly, a mysterious, dark, enchanting male/female brushes by you and slowly whispers in your ear “I know who you are and what you need”, leaving you confused while walking away with a sly smile. You take a sip of wine and realize you’re wearing the ring. Voila, and let the games begin!

Now, stepping away from fantasy, let us return to symbols. These are two supposed versions of the Roissy ring, out of which the first one was actually used in the movie.


Now, you might notice something strange on the design of the second ring. That is a triskele (or triskelion), a symbol often used by the Celts to depict constant motion originating from a single central point, force. The Celts used this symbol to portray:

  • personal growth
  • human development
  • spiritual expansion

Because of the three “legs”, according to different eras, it was given new meanings:

  • Spirit, Mind, Body
  • Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  • Mother, Father, Child
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Power, Intellect, Love
  • Creator, Destroyer, Sustainer
  • Creation, Preservation, Destruction

Now, am I just being overly romantic or do some of these go hand in hand with the BDSM world?  Creator, destroyer, sustainer screams Master/Mistress at me, while power, intellect, love underlines the necessary traits for a functional SM-relationship, in my view. And the list of perceived meanings could go on and on…

The Celtic triskele was adapted for the BDSM world in this form (copyrighted by Steve Quagmyr, but which can be used for non-profit purposes). He explains it to be the communion of Safe, Sane and Consensual, but also the interdependency of BD, DS and SM as well as that of Tops, Bottoms and Switches; it is supposed to be a discreet way for people of the scene to recognize each other, even in a vanilla environment, without negative consequences that sometimes occur when one is discovered to be part of an Alternative Lifestyle.


A non-copyrighted version of the BDSM symbol is:



Other well known visual symbols are:

The Ownership Flags – Different images for those who are Owners or owned:

– general Ownership Flag


Male/Female Owners, Masters/Mistresses:



Submissive Males/Females, Owned/Collared:


Submissive male/female, Unowned/Not collared:


This concludes my view for today on BDSM visual symbols. Till next time!