Every move on the board - A diagram of responses to power

Every move on the board - A diagram of responses to power

I have been ruminating on a line which may have seemed to many insignificant, in the Preface to the Venus School-Mistress.

At its ending, Mary Wilson notes that "little calipiga Jones, who used to take such a severe flogging at Berkley's [as a submissive and trainee apprentice of Dominatrix Governess Theresa Berkley] is now an accomplished governess, and up to every move on the board, under the name of Griffiths."

The term "calipiga" means "beautiful buttocks", which was (and is) a highly valued trait for submissives receiving flagellation. It references Venus Callipige, or Venus of the beautiful buttocks.

  Venus Callipige

Marble sculpture of Venus Callipige from National Archaeological Museum of Naples, 1st or 2nd Century CE. 

I have had for a while now an ongoing - what-would-one-call-it - debate, exchange, friction - with CARAS that the experts and canon on BDSM should not be all the male historical psychologists and authors (Kraft Ebing, Freud, Foucault etc), but the professionals who spend their life engaging in all manner of activities - the professional Dominatrices, switches and subs and workers. They who have numerous years of experience, understanding of psychology, activities and so forth. And what they had to say about their craft, its nature, its motives, its knowledge.

I have been absorbed by this idea of mapping the "power board"; from my knowledge of BDSM; the same field work that "calipiga Jones" who became (Dominatrix) Governess Griffiths in the 19th Century made her moves around.

It would provide something that academics could use to "test" against if they wished; those that are inclined to do research data. And would stand long after my death if it as accurate as I believe it is, could provide a useful resource.

Here is an early draft made on the inner cover of a scrapbook....

Rough draft


After months of refinements, with input of symbolist Joannah Reilly who helped me develop the symbols (and also has background in Ancient Culture studies and archaeology), I had it rendered by a graphic designer. 

This is my Ki symbolist diagram; dedicated to the mid 19th Century (Dominatrix) Governess Griffiths and the board I imagined she knew the moves of. This is original work, months in the process, and not taken from anyone else, and it has come from the work, the years of lived embodied experience.

Ki symbolist diagram

Ki symbolist diagram of responses to Force Power. 1st September 2023.

High power is at top, low power at bottom - so it's in essence a power hierarchy.

Dominance responses in top section. In the centre is "freeze" as "Angust" - to constrict, compress, unsure what to do and awaiting on future / other. (The word "anxiety" comes from the same linguistic PIE root "angh".)

On the left side is more pro-social; and on the right side more self-interested.

Those who identify as "submissive" tend towards the equator left side with cascade downwards. Those who identify as "slave" tend towards the below equator centre, with cascade downwards. Those who identify as "masochist" tend towards the right side equator and downwards. Towards the bottom are the surrender states.

I'll put out another diagram with the titles and words in the near future. For those reading this blog presently, many can refer to my penned scrapbook early draft above to work out most of the response domain names in Latin verbs and English equivalence. (With just a few symbols altered or added from the early draft.) But for now I'm really enjoying this diagram with just symbols. It is very satisfying.

These are also a more elaborate version of Fight-Flight-Freeze-Fawn-Flop responses; and with the "missing" domain response of Dr W.H.R Rivers' 1920 "manipulative activity" (which accords with my "Detoquere" twist-bend to manipulate). And psychologists will see correlation with their "Psychological Defences" - there's Denial, Deflect; Avoid, and Constare which has strong relationship to stone-walling. There's also responses similar to notion of "Stages of Grief" - there's bearing pain, plea-ing and praying for mercy, conceding loss, weeping and wailing in lamentation, and admitting of the force power. However to psychologists - this diagram will look very "foreign" as it's not come from their internal frameworks, but wholly from our own domain of embodied field work with its own knowledge and insight. 

It is also from these differing responses to force power that the class and caste system emerge; feudal system, Indian caste system, prison hierarchy, and so on.

This is 14 years of my work bottled into a diagram for my students, of the power board and moves we are playing, in the dungeon and in life encounters with power.

I am teaching an online 10 week course beginning 7th September on this new body of work, focused on the Ki of Dominance responses - beyond (merely) "fight".

And I raise my glass to you - little calipiga Jones who took severe floggings as a submissive at Theresa Berkley's and apprenticed under her - and who later became Governess Griffith, accomplished mid-19th Century Governess Dominatrix. And I suspect it was you who authored the Preface of Venus School-Mistress under "Mary Wilson" more than 150 years ago. 

I am involved in collective of major figures in the domain of sexuality who have some of the leading ideas of their generation, and whose knowledge has been developed from years of field work and embodiment in their work.

x Anne O Nomis

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