The Control Book - Ritual

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The following is an extract from The Control Book by Peter Masters, pp. 143 - 147:

OED. Ritual. n. A prescribed order of performing religious or other devotional service.

Rituals are about symbols. Some rituals are completely symbolic---such as when a submissive bows their head as their dominant enters the room, or when they kneel at the feet of their dominant---or they can add flavour to useful duties and tasks---such as how a submissive addresses their dominant, or how they serve food or drinks to their dominant.

While tasks and duties have, almost by definition, a certain amount of usefulness involved, rituals---or the ritualistic components of tasks and duties---are not particularly useful at all... at least, not in a physical sense. Kneeling and grovelling, while possibly psychologically rewarding for both the submissive who performs it, and for the dominant at whose feet the submissive grovels, is not of any physical benefit. On the contrary, the submissive might even get the dominant's shoes dirty or leave lip marks on them which would have to be cleaned off later.

The work involved in cleaning a dominant's house is also not inherently ritualistic, but can have ritualistic components, e.g. kneeling at the foot of the dominant's bed for a moment before changing the sheets. And some work can be hard to ritualise---mopping the floor might be an example of one such.

Two of the characteristics of a ritual, are that it is performed more than once, and that it has a well-defined (or prescribed) way of being done.

Ritual is a vital part of the relationship between a dominant and their submissive. One of the roles which rituals play is that they allow the nature of the submissive's relationship to the dominant to be expressed. Just standing around knowing that they are submissive, is usually not enough to satisfy any need or desire the submissive might have. Being able to feel it and being able to express it both to themselves and to their dominant can, on the other hand, be very satisfying indeed. A ritual can directly satisfy the need for a submissive to express their submissive nature[1].

A submissive will create their own rituals as part of the way they naturally express their feelings towards their dominant or towards their relationship. Exactly what form these self-created rituals will have will vary from submissive to submissive. They will still be---as all rituals are---actions performed the same way each time, and could be things like attitudes or postures adopted in relation to the dominant, devotional or respectful behaviour towards objects belonging to the dominant, or certain ways of performing regular tasks given by the dominant.

Rituals mandated by the dominant are different to rituals created by the submissive themselves. Physically they might look like something the submissive could have created for themselves, but because they are given to the submissive by the dominant they have extra potency:

  1. They are a gift from the dominant to the submissive in that they give the submissive an extra way of feeling satisfied or rewarded for their behaviour. Just by giving the submissive a ritual to perform, the dominant has, at the same time, created a new way for the submissive to express themselves,
  2. Because the rituals come from the dominant, the submissive knows and feels first-hand that performing these rituals will be pleasing to the dominant. As distinct from self-created rituals, rituals from the dominant have an aspect of direct service involved in them.
  3. A ritual imposed by the dominant is also a form of control imposed by the dominant.


Many rituals have an important feedback component. What I mean here is that part of the reward or satisfaction which the submissive gets from a ritual, comes from the dominant's reaction to the ritual. For example, the reward for kneeling at the dominant's feet might include, as well as the inner feeling coming from the submissive's own expression of rank, that of getting the “ownership smile” from the dominant, or stroking of the submissive's hair. The dominant's reaction thus reinforces the awareness of the submissive's station expressed by the kneeling.

There isn't always such direct feedback from the dominant, or indeed any at all. Kneeling at the foot of the dominant's bed before changing the sheets is likely to be purely an internal experience for the submissive. The reward here comes purely from the devotional and expressive nature of the ritual, and nothing else.


Doing the same sequence of actions doesn't mean that it is a ritual each time; there is also the context in which the actions are performed to consider. Bowing the head when serving one particular individual might be a ritual, while for other people it is a simply a sign of measured respect. Certain actions might also be rituals at certain times of day or in certain places, but then at other times are just actions. For example, pouring a drink for their dominant at a particular time of day (e.g. evening) might be a ritual, while at other times it is simply respectful. As another example, some religious rituals include a washing of hands. This doesn't mean that every time someone washes their hands that they are partaking in a religious ritual.


You can't be doing dominant things to your submissive all the time, nor can they be doing submissive things to you all the time. Rituals give both you and your submissive ways to express and even reinforce the relationship between you, by means of symbolic acts or symbolic ways of doing ordinary tasks. Feedback, or reacting to the rituals the submissive performs, can be an important way of feeding the submissive's needs.

Lastly, rituals dictated by the dominant are symbols of control.

Things to think about

  1. What rituals do dominants have in general? What rituals do you personally, as a dominant, have?
  2. What rituals does your submissive have or perform? Which ones came from you? Which ones did your submissive create themselves? In what contexts are they rituals, and in what contexts are they just actions?
  3. From a control point of view, what sort of rituals do you think your submissive should be allowed to create for themselves? Is control over this something which you feel is appropriate for you to have or assert? Is creating their own rituals a way for a submissive to express control over themselves? Is this a good thing?
  4. A ritual can also become a comfortable rut. Should a submissive experience a ritual as something comfortable? Or should a ritual always be at least a little bit of a burden? Does being comfortable affect how well a ritual works?


  1. Rituals exist in very many forms. Consider a “good” Catholic, for example. They might go to church every Sunday, but the fact that they go to church doesn’t inherently make them into a better human-being. They could be just as moral, or just as kind-hearted and generous if they stayed at home, but the regular ritual of going to church is a way of expressing that they are a good and enthusiastic catholic.