A Beginner's Guide to Being Birched
Because the Victorian Spanking Anthology makes frequent reference to the historical use of The Birch Rod as the preferred choice of implement for corporal punishment, I thought that some of you might feel sufficiently intrigued to sample this stingy little toy.
Before I go too far down the dismissive road, let me assure you that a Birch is not an item to be taken lightly. A great deal depends on the weight, length and constituent thickness of the individual 'twigs', before an accurate estimation of severity can be made. Victorian courts in the UK listed 'A Birching' as a potential punishment for adults brought before them, and for both men and women. And this was no 'token embarrassment' punishment! Offenders would be stripped to the waist, tied face down to a sturdy wooden bench and flogged across their naked backs until, and beyond, the blood ran. Severe sentences could be measured, not in the number of strokes to be applied, but in the number of birches worn out on the culprit.
The small island, off the western English coast, famous for annual holidays and TT motorbike racing, The Isle of Man, notoriously maintained The Birch as an official judical punishment for young offenders right up until its use was finally outlawed in 1976. Drunkenness and hooliganism were the typical crimes for which a birching might be considered suitable punishment. This form of discipline was considered most suitable for youths visiting from the mainland for a drunken weekend away, as the sentence could be carried out within a day or two of the crime, thus allowing the miscreant to return home more or less on schedule, if a little wiser.
However, the potential for 'a taste of the birch' among CP devotees lies in the type more commonly used in the schools and upper class homes of Victorian England (the lower classes made do with Father's razor strop, or a stick). Forgive me if you know of the birch being used in other European countries, or even in the States, as I do not claim to be a world authority on this subject (or any other for that matter!), merely someone who has tested and enjoyed using it as a 'change toy'.
If you are still reading by this point, this would indicate to me that the idea has at least perked your interest, so let's answer the first burning question:
How can I buy one? You can't (feel free to correct me if you happen to know different!).
Can I make one? And how hard is it? Yes! Quite easily. There are two main choices. You could go stomping off into the woods (or down to your local park) armed with your Penguin Book of Trees and a sharp knife. Beware tree-huggers and the local Park Attendant! Or, since the last decade saw us decorating our living rooms with bunches of dried shrubbery, you could take yourself off to your local trendy 'home furnishings' store where a suitable bunch of sticks can be had in exchange for a bag of beans or two.
Which twigs are best? Well, classic Victorian erotica nearly always makes reference to 'a fresh-cut birch rod'. Which, to me at least, indicates that one had one's groundsman sally forth (probably with a smirk on his face because he would know what, and to whom, his crop was to be applied), in order to gather a suitable bundle, from a suitable tree (usually, although not necessarily a Birch, more on that in a minute). It is akin to being sent to cut a switch, but more so. The advantage of 'fresh' is that they will be green and consequently nicely pliant and whippy. However, the important point is that the sticks need to be the same length (18″ to 24″, erm, 40cm to 60cm -ish?). The stems need to be relatively straight, although mother nature is not especially compliant in this regard. Any leaves, or out-thrust buds, need to be stripped off, leaving nice clean stems that will be less inclined to break the skin.
A number of different tree types will produce suitably straight shoots. Dog-woods are good, Hazel, Alder maybe? Just use your judgement, and experiment a bit.
Assembly. (In fact, one 'prepares' one's birch) Your chosen twigs (that doesn't feel like quite the right description but I can't think of anything better) all need to be aligned with the thick ends together. And now the fiddly bit, you must rotate them individually until they all curve in towards the middle so that there are no loose bits sticking out, without dropping the entire bundle. An elastic band could prove useful here. That last bit is important, because the stroke of the birch as a whole lands with a springy cushioned (by its own mass) and evenly distributed impact, but any stray ends will whip and slash into intimate or undesirable areas. Take your time with that last bit. Finally, the 'handle' is formed by binding the thick ends tightly (and I mean tightly) together. The binding would traditionally be 'string', for want of a better word, but in these modern times a spiral of 'gaffer tape', or 'duct tape', or 'electricians tape' functions perfectly well. You are making a hand grip, and so the binding only needs to be long enough for that purpose. However, the longer the binding, the better controlled your stroke will be, and the tighter the business end will be packed together. The handle could be anything up to half of the total length.
The thickness of your implement should be dictated by your particular variety of twig thickness, the specific type of impact effect you want, and the size of your hands. Half a dozen twigs will sting like a multi-stick switch, while 20 or 30 twigs will have what feels like a 'soft' impact, with air resistance having a part to play, balanced against the increased weight. The only option here is to experiment, and check the comparative effects on one's willing 'victim'. If your finished article could function as a broom, then it should definitely make an effective swisher.
Speaking of which, what should we expect by way of impact? The first thing to bear in mind is that no two birches are ever the same. Add in the variations of twig thickness, twig quantity, bundle compactness, and length, and the impact is almost infinitely variable. But generally speaking, one may well find that one's recalcitrant subbie is distinctly underwhelmed by the first few strokes, not much more than a little bit of minor stinging from stray ends. And unlike other implements, like paddle or hairbrush, there is no major point of impact. However, by the time 20, and then 30 strokes have been vigorously applied, you will observe some uncomfortable twisting and turning going on. From first-hand experience (I always make it a rule to test implements personally), the first few swishes are just like being whisked, nothing much to report, but a subtle warmth develops. And as the swishing continues, that warmth sneaks up on you until it is hot, and then burning. And those minor little stings that you cheerfully ignored a few moments ago are landing on hotly tenderized skin. Now you will be paying attention!
And now a few words of caution. Never, ever, attempt birching without a fully functional vacuum cleaner on hot standby! Little bits of bark, bud and twig-end fly absolutely everywhere! And while our darling subbie only has the occasional impact on her rump to contend with, the health & safety police would insist that us domly types wear protective goggles, high vis vests, hard hats and all manner of other safety equipment. And subbikins will be picking little woody bits out of the darker recesses of her nether regions for hours afterwards.
General safety. After a dozen or so strokes, the buttocks will be criss-crossed with tiny pink welts, and taking on an overall pale pink hue. Little red spots appear all over the skin, and although these begin as red spots (not skin breaks) where the twig-ends have landed, over-enthusiastic application will, in time, cause the skin to break, in a minor and eventually major way. And while we may indeed threaten that we are 'going to take the hide off her', I think we will all agree that this eventuality is less than desirable. I recommend having antiseptic cream on standby, and look at all the fun you can have as 'that' takes effect!
Care of your birch. Fresh-cut twigs look after themselves, they just need careful stripping before assembly. But the 'home decoration' version are pre-dried, by definition. Used 'right out of the vase', they will disintegrate in minutes. Historically, birch rods were stored in a tall jar of water in order to keep them supple. More than that, it was common for the storage jar to contain 'brine' (salty water), as this had the fortunate effect of applying antiseptic as well as chastisement ~grin~ (we all like to save effort, don't we?). What the Swedish like to refer to as 'astringent benefits' will surely add a certain 'je ne sais quoi' to any disciplinary session.