Nun's Discipline

by Theresa

One of my favorite [true] stories was related by a woman in Louisiana who had been a nun in a very old European order for about six years before deciding to leave. This order practiced self-flagellation as part of their penitential rites and one very scrupulous, and naive, young nun went to her superior and reported that she was experiencing strange feelings when she used the little flogger--which is called a *discipline*--designed for this purpose.

The nun's superior questioned her further to ascertain what she mean by strange feelings. She asked her if the flogging hurt and the girl said, no, it actually feels nice. The superior told her not to do it anymore, which, since it felt nice, was probably the superior's idea of penance. BTW, I questioned the ex-nun about what the discipline looked like and she described it well enough for me to be able to make one. If anyone wants some realism for a *nun scene* I can tell you how to make one.

I was surprised at how much interest there was in making a Discipline. It's really quite easy and although this does not look like a traditional flogger, I assure you it is quite authentic. A Discipline is used for self-flagellation so the tails must be long enough to reach across your back. That's obviously different for everyone.

First, get a metal ring you can hold comfortably when you slip your fingers though. Again, this varies because of hand size. I just walked around the hardware section of Home Depot until I found these metal rings; sorry I can't remember if they had a name but they were around the hinges and screws and stuff like that.

Decide how long you need the tail to be and cut your tails twice that length. I use something as narrow as leather ties for a boot.

Use a simple larkshead knot to attach the tail to the ring. A traditional Discipline has six or eight tails. You can shape the ends of the tails to make them string more or tie knots in the end. I have read that sometimes to increase the pain nuns would attach wooden or metal beads at the end of the tails.

A Discipline is used standing upright and is swung across the body, over the shoulder onto the back, striking the flesh on the same side of the body as the hand used to strike. A shorter Discipline will strike on the side of the back opposite the striking hand.

After several strokes you change hands to flog the opposite side of your back. Traditionally the Discipline is used while reciting one of the psalms. Some kind of rhythmic prose or mantra would add to the mood of the scene. What I do to keep the larksheads from slipping on the ring is to wet them after they are tied and tighten them as the leather dries. I have also thought that a D ring large enough for the fingers to fit through would make an excellent basis for tying off the tails since they could be tied to the flat side of the D ring and slipping would not be a problem.

Also, the Discipline is traditionally kept in a little leather sack, although I have read where some nuns used to keep it on a hook on the wall of their cell so they could anticipate the next session. It was customary to use the Discipline on Friday night.

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