The Butchmanns history is a story of personal and organization development and evolution. My own history before becoming associated, the 20 participating years which followed, and the contribution of the dozens of people who influenced the evolution and supplied the benchmark changes to the organization are the story.
Butchmanns didn’t just climb out of the primordial ooze. It was intentionally, systematically, and iteratively improved and refined over the entire 20 years. The Butchmanns philosophy and its evolution were seriously influenced by my outside activities and associations. Personal discussions with people like Joseph Kramer, Mark Thompson, Carolyn Myss, Marianne Williamson, Lynch (Yaqui medicine man), Master Skip even before his official association with the organization, members of his family, my own slaves, and many others influenced what I brought to Butchmanns and which eventually defined the spiritual element of it. What might appear as merely personal history would discount the depth and resource that contributed to defining what Butchmanns became.
Butchmanns was, foremost, never a business venture. My motivation was the opportunity to integrate the benefit of experience into my personal life – a motivation I believe was shared by others. The founder, Master Steve, is known for his ability to entice others to join him in projects he is enthusiastic about. The “Tom Sawyer” style, for which he is famous, induced from others what was needed, when it was needed.
The initial Butchmanns effort consisted of an introduction to S/M devices and basic technique, with the opportunity to explore fantasies and fetishes. Ultimately, through all of its iterations, it defined a crucible within which to answer personal questions about how to apply individual interests and appetites in the pursuit of becoming authentic. That evolution represented, over time, a vast change in objective and methodology. The challenges that were presented and the resulting implemented solutions to each of the incremental steps is what defines the character of Butchmanns. It also describes the pride each contributor claimed from the effort and resource volunteered to produce such an effective result.
The full history includes what personally prepared me to contribute, the meeting with the creator of Butchmanns, the first formal steps to provide a Butchmanns experience in Palm Desert, the expanded Palm Springs adventure, the Thermal interlude, the Tucson development, the migration to Phoenix, the end of Butchmanns when the founder withdrew, developing a curriculum and additional instructors, the presentation of the new Butchmanns, and finally the unknown future. Collectively, these eleven phases describe my growth and the parallel development of Butchmanns.
PERSONAL HISTORY – A clear need for answers
A couple of years before Butchmanns existed, I reached a point in life where everything had been taken away and two traditional Master/slave relationships that spanned 14 years had ended because I didn’t know what to do next. I felt desperate for answers. With nothing to lose, I became open to every alternative. The depth of my desperation seemed like a necessary step for me to accept how life really works. My life-long conditioning about what to expect had totally failed me. I had believed that justice existed, and that only our actions counted toward the value with which others viewed us. I had believed that traditional religion had answers that I could successfully apply to my life. I believed that the truth would always win out over lies. I was forced to accept what I had believed was not true. I was ready for a new starting place.
The only answer that worked was to live in obedience to an internalized un-seeable guide, I call my “BOSS,” in a spiritually-directed, non-religious life. I didn’t find an alternative spiritual philosophy. I accepted a “rules of life” framework that explicitly combined physical S/M, fetishes, slave ownership, and my non-physical, “Spiritual,” life into an integrated whole. “SlaveMaster” was the name I inherited through inspiration as I began to live this new non-fractured life. I felt I had surrendered my life to inherit an understanding of what I was meant to do with it. For the first time, I felt centered, and for the first time felt a moral certainty and clarity in every decision.
My contribution to Butchmanns was a direct result of my craving to share these very expensive lessons with others so that they might find easier alternatives than mine to improve their own lives. The lessons learned made it clear to me that each person, individually, has to find their own unique solution. No one is allowed to share another’s methods. What works for one of us, only works for one of us. It followed naturally that life isn’t about us, but is about using every created skill and ability to develop others, while happiness becomes the by-product of living uniquely authentic. My hope was then, and continues to be, that without accepting anyone else’s moral framework, we can pick and chose from what others have discovered to create our own.
This belief in uniqueness presented a challenge for Butchmanns. It is easy to describe and sell any singular philosophy. Every day, churches, companies, individuals, and cults do exactly that. It is extremely difficult to provide methods, concepts, and an environment in which each can form his own. Very similar to slave development, unqualified support in a trusted environment, empowered by physical processes that yield discovery seem to provide the best potential for significant individual insight. How to perform this feat reliably is my conscious search, and is the agenda that drove all my influences on Butchmanns.
Mastery and slavery depends upon developing the responsibilities to fulfill each role, and the skills to obey what we are given to do. Here, all authority to demand obedience from others requires accepting an equal responsibility for the consequences. These two qualities – developing responsibility and obeying what life gives us to do -- quintessentially describe the basic qualifications that every conscious self-actualizing creature needs. My success in developing others –both as a manager in the work world and as a Master in my private life -- provided me with sufficient confidence to encourage these roles for focus, framework, and efficiency during the Butchmanns Experience.
MEETING THE BUTCHMANNS CREATOR
Master Steve is the creator of Butchmanns. In 1994, I moved to Palm Desert, unknowingly within walking distance of where he lived. I finally had a facility in which I could develop slaves from the “spiritual” perspective I had learned. My experiences began confirming my conclusions and insight. I had found the dedicated time and space to host and conduct the development of my multiple slave connections, some of whom visited periodically, while as many as nine lived with me. While making a living, I was busy developing and managing the lives of many others.
Armed with the fresh clarity and conviction that had come from my developmental and renewed slave-development experiences, I earnestly began to record the conclusions, insights, and inspirations that were valuable to me. What I had learned was different from anything I had ever heard of while being active in the Master/slave community since 1980. My “philosophy,” therefore, felt very private and valuable. It also felt vulnerable because I felt alone in what I believed.
The first public exposure of my thoughts was through publication in 1995 of “Slaves are Born to Slavery” in Metropolitan Slave magazine. I later followed that by another article named “Dipped in Yellow Die.” Recently, those and other explanations of what I had learned were published in my book Beyond Obedience (CreateSpace, April 2016).
I had concluded my life activity was one of identifying and developing those whom I considered “slaves of destiny.” My job -- to discover, claim, empower this intimate process, and support the growth of those who obey me -- was different from that in the general community where the term “Master/slave” was regularly used and discussed as a relationship, different from the “Owner/slave” paradigm that I had come to know and understand. I wasn’t interested in exposing myself to the potential conflict and confrontation that the dissimilar beliefs of others could inevitably bring. I wanted my activities, beliefs, practices and understanding to remain behind my own doors in an environment that I felt I could control.
However, also in 1995, a mutual friend in Pasadena, CA told both me and Master Steve that we should meet each other because we lived in the same area and had similar interests. Two conditions delayed our meeting. First, my professional schedule and deadlines, added to the obligations of slave development, left little emotional or physical energy to pursue any additional unknown commitments that could require even more resource. Second, the high price I had personally paid for what I know made my knowledge precious to me, and created a fear that it could be taken away. Back then, I didn’t have sufficient confidence that I could withstand the rigors of public exposure and debate without compromising my hard-earned beliefs.
One day a formidable man, Master Steve, knocked on my door, introduced himself, and explained he was the one that our mutual friend had mentioned to each of us. I invited him in, temporarily putting aside my professional work that was on a deadline, to determine the potential this man could contribute to my primary purpose and effort, which was to develop slaves. Upon learning that he was neither interested in slave development himself, nor in providing anyone who was interested, I excused myself, showed him to the door, and went back to work. I didn’t see the point.
Fortunately, Master Steve wasn’t so easily discouraged. He returned with a 3-ring binder which he described as the curriculum of an event he was calling Butchmanns, with an unusual spelling he explained as being different from one that had already been claimed. I again showed little interest, but he convinced me to find a few minutes when I could to review what he had drafted, and invited me to make comments.
Eventually, I did find the time to go through the documentation and make a few notes. Soon, I received an invitation from Master Steve to come talk about it at his home. I accepted, and with the three-ring document in hand, I learned of the vision that he had formed. He pointed out that in these mid-90's, there were few organizations to explain the 101 basics of safe S/M practice. There were even fewer opportunities to safely explore an interest in Mastery or slavery without commitment or risk. The plan he described to me was to invite S/M players from within the Master/slave and S/M communities who already had experience to share what they knew with those who were willing to travel in to learn enough about S/M to develop their own skills and arrive at conclusions about whether or not any of the activities were something they wanted to pursue.
It was explained to me that thousands would be spent on marketing to invite and inform others that there was a place where they could “satisfy their hard dick,” in a sane and organized environment. There was a strong desire to turn fantasies into reality. The initial events would be held in his home which had a shower room and group sleeping quarters where those from out-of-town were to be hosted. A dedicated space was planned for later. I was convinced he was committed to this.
My S/M practice was exclusively used to perform slave development, instead of for its own joy and pleasure derived from the S/M play. My intention was to replace fantasy with reality, rather than implement it. I was very reluctant to commit my time and energy to what, for me, was activity I used only as a means to an end rather than being, itself, the primary purpose. After a lot of persuasion -- a strength of Master Steve -- I agreed to dedicate a part of a day at the next scheduled formal Butchmanns event. I had an out-of-town commitment on that same weekend, so only a few hours were available.
PALM DESERT – A Formal Beginning
Master Steve referred to all extended interactions in which he hosted a Master, slave, or S/M player as a “Butchmanns.” So, there existed both formal and informal Butchmanns, distinguished by whether or not those in attendance were there as paid attendees or were visiting as guests. I was personally involved only with the formal, advertised, fee-collected events and wasn’t present at any of the informal Butchmanns gatherings.
I attended my first formal gathering inside Master Steve’s home. I was given the floor, and for the first time was given the opportunity to talk about slavery from my renewed perspective. There were slaves in attendance. Some were local to the area, some had traveled in for the weekend, and at least one was from Europe on an extended stay with Master Steve. I stumbled for words to express what I was feeling. I had too much to say, and didn’t know what would be important to them.
What I did discover, however, was that my solar plexus tightened when it was my time to speak. When I talked on certain areas of slavery, it would loosen, and it finally released completely. I had discovered a visceral feedback that was intended to direct
That short initial visit was worth my investment in time. In less than 4 hours I discovered that slaves would come together to learn how to be better slaves, found slaves to be a very attentive audience and therefore very easy to speak to, learned I had something to say that they cared about, and most important, that I had a body feedback mechanism to direct the subjects discussed. I left feeling satisfied.
Master Steve invited me back for the next Butchmanns weekend, my schedule was clear, and the promise of the addition of a dedicated space at the inside opening of the garage was described to induce my interest. I committed to be there.
When the weekend arrived, I was shown the initial enclosure in which we would be holding the weekend. It wasn’t ready, but slave beau was busy finishing up as the attendees arrived, and by the start time for the event we had a formal Butchmanns space for the first time. This gave me the feeling this was going to be a serious venture. Until then it felt like an informal interest that I was invited to join in on, along with the other local Masters and S/M players who dropped by during the weekend to contribute to it as they felt so moved. By the time we met on the following formal weekend, the enclosure had been professionally constructed to code and it felt like a permanent structure that signified the reality of Butchmanns.
I found that at most events I was typically the only contributor who stayed the whole weekend. Some would come in for casual conversation by the pool for a time. Others would present a single topic and leave. Others would stay an afternoon or a day. This triggered the idea of bringing my own slaves in development to these weekends. Master Steve readily agreed.
When my slaves began to attend, I enforced my usual protocol during the weekend, and the other slaves joined in. I witnessed the thrill that the attendees felt from being seen and treated differently, and as they really are. I also saw the value of having my own slaves spend 2 ½ days in an environment where they were respected and accepted for who they were. The protocol burden was on the Masters who were commonly overwhelmed with the structure. Except for those contributing to the weekend, only one or two Masters were present as attendees, so the real education and enforcement rested mostly on Master Steve and myself.
I recognized this new benefit to my slaves, continued to refine my “listening” to the solar plexus for direction and emphasis, and recognized the gracious opportunity that exposing my thoughts to others had on my own development and articulation of beliefs. I felt I had found a place to find my voice.
Master Steve spent some considerable time to convince me that making my thoughts public had value. Additionally, he was a regular contributor to the local periodical and had named me the “Zealot of the Desert” and in so doing “outed” me to our community. That resulted in doing flogging demos in the local bars, participating through workshops in local events, and placing me where I could be seen. Without his encouragement, logistic maneuvering, and the making of commitments on my behalf, I wouldn’t have taken what I was doing privately out of my own home.
The most dramatic commitment he made for me was to speak before what was reported to be around 110 people in Phoenix, at an organization called the Arizona Power Exchange (APEX). Master Steve traveled with me and slave peter who later became my 4th born, and delivered me to Mistress Catrina, the co-founder of APEX. I felt like I was being introduced to the movers and shakers of the Master/slave, leather, and S/M world. At the beginning of the event I was introduced to Master Bert, the other co-founder, who as a videographer had prepared to videotape the event.
On that Monday evening, May 12, 1997, Mistress Carina introduced Master Steve. Master Steve introduced me. I introduced slave peter. I discovered that people in the community were interested in hearing what we had to say about Mastery and slavery. The spiritual aspects that I spoke on -- and that slave peter amplified through his formal pursuit of spiritual practices --resonated with people who hadn’t been vetted by Master Steve through his event marketing and application processes. I realized that Butchmanns could have a broader influence than male Masters and slaves. Both my language and beliefs expanded afterwards. Mistress Catrina was a significant influence, even before the evening event, as I spent the day in her home engaged in conversation. The world was much bigger than I had imagined it to be.
In the Butchmanns events which followed, I began to include small references to what the techniques we were discussing had to do with their lives. It was never the subject, but was used only to provide some context. I saw interest, and knew that what was said didn’t need to have any immediate feedback. One of the attendees at the APEX event later reported to me that a single sentence I had expressed, which I didn’t even remember saying, had changed her life by changing her relationship, profession, friends, and where she lived. I knew from that I didn’t need nor should expect feedback on anything that was ever said or done. That clarified that all I was responsible for doing was speaking honestly and without agenda, and until the Solar Plexus quieted. I declared to myself that honest speech cannot have rules that limit, exaggerate, avoid the truth, or carry any agenda.
The Palm Desert Butchmanns events were informal, both instructors and guests flowed in and out, and private interactions and scenes occurred outside the agenda. Our discussions and demonstrations included the difference between real restraints and fetish wear meant to look like restraints, which end of a flogger to hold and which end to use on the one being flogged, and how to use TENS units. We reviewed flogging, bondage, genital torture, whips, gags, stretchers, tit clamps, urethral sounds, pumping, immobilization, mummification, electric play, piercing, tattoos, hoods, cuffs, restraints, and defined personal roles. The subjects varied based on who was available to present them. For many attendees, this was the initial exposure to the concepts and equipment. The freedom with which everything was talked about openly and without apology seemed to be refreshing and inspiring to them.
Casual time was normally provided on Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon after the event was officially over. The time was sometimes used to practice what had been discussed, based on individual interest to either offer or be the subject of the activity. The weekends included local bars and socialization, fireside chats, and personal activity. During this time, slave beau held a leather title for one year. Showing support for him at the bar modeled a Master’s responsibility to his slave. Being in a gay bar was especially satisfying for attendees who lived in small, conservative communities where there were none.
Over time my observations led to conclusions that changed how I presented Butchmanns. First, slaves seem to inherently recognize that the more they know, and the better they can perform at being a slave, the better their lives will be. They are drawn to any and every opportunity to improve themselves and their skills. Masters, by comparison, expressed reluctance to put themselves into an environment to “learn” for fear it would acknowledge they didn’t already know it all. This threatened their self image, most importantly in front of their slaves. I remember no more than two Master attendees at any event, and they commonly came with slaves with which they already had a relationship. Butchmanns often provided the only opportunity available to interact as Master and slave together.
Another significant discovery was the danger of conducting serious S/M on anyone who wasn’t drug and alcohol free. On one memorable occasion, an attendee brought his own beer, and without our knowledge had consumed one before a flogging demonstration. He went into shock without warning, and was treated medically by Master Steve. I did professional work and sometimes met socially with members of the Keith Medical Group of Los Angeles, an HIV and AIDS-exclusive staff of 17 doctors who worked mostly with gay men. When relating this incident, I was advised that from their experience, in S/M in which the bottom is encouraged to “let go,” parts of the brain that are more subject to chemical interference are used, making shock possible, along with more serious effects, all without prior symptom or warning. I never conducted another S/M practice privately or at Butchmanns without personal assurance of the participants being chemical-free.
The presentation of the Butchmanns event was always my focus, consistent with my managerial and educational background. I found Master Steve’s casual, freewheeling methods out of my comfort zone but the benefits the attendees reported receiving more than compensated for my personal reactions. I had no control over the invitation, agenda, curriculum, format, qualification of instructors, or schedule. slave beau appeared to magically take care of the logistics in the background, handling the food preparation and delivery, and everything else that must occur to host dozens of weekend guests. I didn’t have the time nor interest to get involved in the behind-the-scenes activities, so it was a gift to me that someone else was willing to perform them. I was simply grateful that it was all taken care of.
One of Master Steve’s development techniques was to provide disorienting, spur-of-the-moment challenges that forced the refocus and examination of personal feelings and reactions. Presenters were therefore sometimes called upon without warning or preparation, assigned with an unexpected point of the finger. Expressions like “This is what it would do if it were working,” or “It would look like this if we had all of it.” could result. A good sense of humor and a real appreciation for our intentions always amazingly seemed to make every presentation worthwhile no matter what happened.
Another technique was to “throw slaves off balance” by including in the curriculum having slaves sit at the table for breakfast on Sunday morning, to be served by the “Tops” in attendance. Often, that included only Master Steve and myself. Since I don’t “do” kitchen, slave beau would tell us what needed to be done, and in Masterly fashion, we would execute the need. For me to cook would be going too far! The slave-sitting practice lasted only a short time, however. The self-identified slaves expressed an extreme discomfort from being served by us. Witnessing the loud and consistent objection provided a valuable insight into the mind and behavior of slaves. This was another unexpected gift and insight that changed how Butchmanns was presented in the future.
The 3-ring binder that I had originally been asked to review became a handout. It included a section on Schedule, Leather (including the protocol I eventually published here at www.Bornslaves.com/principles.html), Reading (a reference list of magazines and books), Butchmanns (articles explaining logistics and definitions), and ETC (where administrative documents were filed). Each attendee was presented with his own copy upon arrival.
I personally gained a lot from the Palm Desert Experience. The occasional question about slavery gave me a rare, and unprecedented, opportunity to find my words and give voice to how I experience slavery and to describe the legitimacy of slavery as an alternative destiny. In those early days it took me a long time, and a lot of searching, to answer each question because of the effort needed to hunt around to discover words that were accurate enough to describe what our language is so poor at supplying. That gained me the reputation for being long-winded -- a reputation that persisted long after it was true, and became a permanent source of humor.
There are few places in the world where being “slave” is cherished, respected, and embraced as normal. Being at Butchmanns empowered my slaves with additional confidence and provided an environment where positive attitude adjustments occurred along with the satisfaction of having contributed by modeling slavery for others exploring it. This benefit became a major motivation for continuing.
The greatest gift that Butchmanns, and Master Steve explicitly, gave me was the encouragement and venue to take my knowledge of slave-development out of my personal space and out into the light of public day. Collectively, I’ve come to recognize these benefits as having been crucial, and seriously life-changing.
PALM SPRINGS – A bigger venue
Master Steve’s relocation to a larger home with a larger open garage space provided a much needed and improved opportunity for everyone to practice the activities that were discussed during the workshop portion of the weekends. Previously, only the most interested could individually arrange to experience the practices discussed after finding someone willing to provide them. The expanded space removed that limitation but simultaneously presented the logistic challenge of supplying adequate equipment, time, and skill to include the dozens of attendees who could now attend.
More space also made it easier to host out-of-town visiting instructors who could be hosted inside the main house in a guest room, while the attendees shared their own space in the separate “dungeon/barracks” building. Some instructors provided added insight and skills. Others took advantage of the opportunity to recruit new slaves or tricks. Some did both. Contributors dropping by became more common because the Palm Springs location was more convenient to local presenters. Private activities could still be conducted before the official start, and without the benefit of any context, some attendees would withdraw prior to the event beginning, after observing those activities.
The Friday evening bar runs were now less convenient in this location and were removed from the curriculum. The interest and expertise of the available guest instructors appropriately remained the greatest determining factor of agenda, even while some routine developed.
slave david stein took my published protocol and filtered it down to a much simpler list. The extensive protocol that I had established for my personal slave development and training was impossible to teach and implement in a single weekend. The shorter slave protocol was less daunting and easier to explain, practice and enforce. A version of that protocol continued through future iterations of Butchmanns, as a one-page reference, finally with pictures.
Arranging my schedule to attend each of the formal events became more problematic. The momentum Master Steve had started in Palm Desert continued with my slaves joining me to present workshops for individual organizations, Leatherfests, and other leather events. I also published in 1998 most of what I had written starting in 1994, including the protocol, on this website, www.Bornslaves.com Additionally, I was active in the development of the slaves that became my #4, #5, and #6.
The first time I coherently spoke in a linear fashion about the full range of slave-development considerations -- from the the various stages of slave training, and nature of slave life, all the way to the expected conclusions -- was at a Pantheon of Leather event that David Rhodes presented in New Orleans. Over the years I had “fleshed out” most of my thinking about the individual concepts of slave development in response to specific questions and when preparing the various presentations. However, until I had been assigned the workshop topic for pantheon, there had never been a need to discuss the whole range of concerns, techniques, use of S/M, evolutionary steps, or objectives of developing a slave. Before a small group of about 25, I found myself articulating my integrated thoughts on spirituality, destiny, S/M, growth phases, development challenges, egotistic roadblocks, commitment, and obedience.
Thereafter, it became increasingly difficult to speak on S/M subjects, in any venue, without putting it into the context of my primary life interest, slave development. At Butchmanns events I felt compelled to put each subject I presented into a framework that also contained its purpose and meaning in our life. I didn’t specifically think of what I was discussing as being “spiritual,” but some did.
Butchmanns had never been marketed as a “spiritual” event so Master Steve became concerned that the potential existed for my slave development discussions and the related techniques to be seen as spiritual in nature. I was advised that the result produced an “ambush” of the attendees with an unexpected agenda. It was presumed that the participants had registered and traveled, sometimes from foreign countries, for purposes that were different from what I was exposed them to. The solution was for me to present my topics without other instructors in the room to effectively show that my view was not officially endorsed.
Master Steve’s visiting slaves continued to provide the magic that occurred seamlessly in the background. Some of those slaves were professional chefs who prepared what was always served as a common meal for everyone present, presenters and attendees alike. Part of the experience was giving slaves the option of eating out of a dog bowl, while the rest of us ate the same food from a table.
The size and nature of the space was a significant factor affecting how many could participate. When flogging, which also become offered routinely, the most who could be flogged was half the attendees because the other half were doing the flogging. The most challenging group activity we added was mummification. With the space to provide it, mummification become part of the curriculum and was normally scheduled on Sunday, during the time that Master Steve prepared the attendance certificates that were presented to each paid attendee at the end of the weekend. Everyone who attended had the opportunity to be mummified.
Mummifying everyone at the same time became like a war-zone triage as the number of attendees grew. The challenge compelled me to develop what became the “Butchmanns style” of mummification. It was not elegant, not totally restrictive, but efficient to apply, and physically accommodating without intimate knowledge of the physiology of each who was wrapped. My gay gene always quivered at the lack of style that was necessarily omitted, but the logistical value won out over the aesthetics.
The mummification method became a Butchmanns standard. The crowning achievement with the use of the technique was declared later at an on-the-road event in Los Angeles when 30 people were mummified in 22 minutes. By comparison, at an earlier event, it took 1 ½ hours to perform only six. The constant challenge of mummification was so great that it was celebrated when it went smoothly.
A significant shift occurred after Master Skip, who eventually became an instructor, attended an event. At the end of his weekend, he remarked to Master Steve and me that what we were practicing was a “ministry.” His acknowledgment allowed the word “spiritual” to be used unapologetically and his observation gave us permission to relate both slave and other personal development to the weekend activities. The curriculum and presentations didn’t change, but we no longer intentionally avoided anything spiritual.
Another change was the application revision to include an optional fantasy experience. The fantasies were conducted on Saturday evenings after the rest of the staff had either gone to bed or returned home. Sometimes, most of the night was consumed satisfying those fantasies which could last until 4:00 in the morning. I was seldom available, after the 1 ½-hour round-trip travel time to and from Palm Desert where I lived, to join in the 7:00 A.M. health walk that Master Steve always conducted. It was normal for me to drag in just in time to begin the official start of day on Sunday. As rewarding as the fantasy fulfillment was for the participants, it was exhausting for me and the slaves I brought with me to the weekend.
The personal drive to intentionally integrate personal development and physical S/M (that I had discovered at Pantheon) also provided the impetus to create the Path of the Obedience Heart. In 1997, along with my slaves #3, #4, #5, & #6, we brainstormed what resulted in one-evening events at locations around Los Angeles that included the Metropolitan Community Church, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and that eventually developed into full weekend workshops at places like Chicago in 1998, and New York in 1999. The quarterly events were held locally at Nature Friends near Los Angeles with the help and cooperation of Master Skip and his family, while the remote events were hosted through the local Masters and slave Together (MAsT) organization. The Path events were focused on the use of physical S/M for spiritual development, and were not Master/slave events even though some who attended were. It attracted authors, ministers, professionals, and especially those whose lifework drained their energy in service to the community and clients to whom they were committed. The qualification for attendance was a conscious commitment to personal development.
What I learned was easily translated and applied to the flogging and mummification practices at Butchmanns, which also had never been limited to only those who self-identify as either Master or slave. However, the regular practice of using physical S/M during the “Path” events, without reference to Master, Owner, or slave contributed experience and understanding that had a very direct application to the Butchmanns activities. It became clear that flogging and mummification could be used as a tool for growth. Dialog with those who had attended the Path events introduced me to language and concepts that addressed spirituality, personal evolution, and physical S/M as coexistent purposes, confirming my conclusions that I had made and recorded before having any knowledge of Butchmanns. My desire to discuss slavery more explicitly increased with my ability to do so and the internal need to associate S/M activity with growth and authenticity increasingly became a requirement.
During the late ‘90's, the Internet was becoming more available. Information, including that on my own website, and many of the subjects we discussed at Butchmanns were available Online. Local organizations developed across the country in sufficient numbers that it was no longer necessary for attendees to travel great distances to find play and practice. This prompted Master Steve to ask me on two separate occasions if I wanted the Butchmanns name and activity, and each time I declined his offer because the resources and logistics required were too great for me to justify the benefits. I had been able to get everything I needed from Butchmanns without having to concern myself with the administration, logistics, marketing, transportation, housing, printing, feeding, laundry, shopping, cooking, serving, heating, cooling, and other accommodations -- all needed to accomplish a worthwhile event.
Master Steve occasionally mentioned “Butchmanns” that occurred between the formal, scheduled events and sometimes reported that the weekend guests were women who had come to visit him. It was jokingly hinted -- but there was no serious discussion – of creating female-only events or of including them in the regular official events. I believe, however, that the developing friendship between Master Steve and Mistress Catrina of APEX, began to cause some interest in applying the Gay Male Butchmanns to other demographic populations, which created a renewed interest for him.
The activities in Palm Desert began to fall into a pattern. I had developed a lot more confidence and certainty in my command of the language of discovery, evolution, and authenticity that had been catalyzed and precipitated, as well as empowered, through the use of physical S/M in the variety of formal workshops and public venues.
THERMAL - Interlude
There were no formal Butchmanns events during the time Master Steve was located in Thermal. It was necessary to discontinue without a facility in which to hold an event. Master Steve had collared slave kirk, and used the time to visit Europe while deciding whether to relocate, pick somewhere else to live, and determine if there was interest and motivation to continue Butchmanns, and if so, in what manner. Thousands had been invested in marketing, but there was the continuing expense and commitment to consider. More resource was needed as the event continued to grow in attendees and in the offering of additional processes that required space, equipment and skill. After spending time in Thermal at Master Steve’s during their European travel, I moved to Nevada.
A lot of effort, success, and criticism had been accumulated over the years. It was a wise use of time to rethink our lives, and our future commitment to Butchmanns.
TUCSON – Expansive Venue & Core Instructors
The new home for Master Steve in Tucson had acreage, privacy, and a new 4-car garage. The space and seclusion provided an opportunity for pony play, with a cart, a harness and trails on the property. The processes and events that had become routine were abandoned to explore new experiences. Some attendees found the change profound, and the venue was certainly conducive to an exploration of self.
After moving to Nevada without any slaves in development, I commuted to Tucson alone. Without my own slaves, I had no personal need to enforce protocol, and it disappeared from the curriculum. The renewed free structure made it easy to forget the need for it, while the focus moved on to exploring other activities. Some prior attendees found the shift challenging while others embraced the new opportunities to explore.
The first Tucson male event somewhat followed the patterns that had been established in Palm Springs, with the notable addition of puppy play. Before the next event in Tucson, a new structure was completed with the space of a 6-car garage, a built in jail cell, a separate kitchen, spa, and pool, along with separate guest quarters and barracks area, all secured with a privacy fence that surrounded it. slave kirk was now the magic behind the curtain.
New options were considered, and Master Skip was invited to a conversation regarding going forward. Sitting in the new “dungeon” space felt like the right place to talk about the future.
Including Master Skip was clearly a significant addition. His background and ability to articulate his concepts took the lid off any restraint from using the language and philosophy of spirituality. The Butchmanns discussions moved away from technical training to using our fetish interests to guide our personal self development.
Adding female-only and pansexual events caused me some pause. My expressed concern for the all-female events was for Butchmanns’ “brand.” From my management background, it was important to know what might be presented at an event with no connection to the ones that had been conducted for the past 5 years. No woman had ever been present at a Butchmanns because they were all male-only events. Master Steve expressed that the women who had showed interest had communicated that to have a male present was unacceptable. Therefore, there was no opportunity for any exposure to anything that had occurred or been presented in the past, and no way to understand our purpose or philosophy. No cross-fertilization, discussion, or training was available to qualify any women who might present the event. It seemed there was a liability to giving our name to an event with no control over, nor knowledge of what was planned or presented in the name of Butchmanns.
When considering whether to hold pansexual events, from my exposure to hundreds of gay men over the years, I was concerned that the presence of women could cause the gay men to retreat from the self-acceptance they had struggled so hard and for so many years to find.
It was finally agreed that it was worth taking the risks by providing one all-male event each year for the men who felt more comfortable with that, and despite my concerns, we would present one female-only event. We decided to offer mostly male-female combined events in the future, which I felt would provide the opportunity for men with reservations about female authority to discover their strength in preserving their own interests in the presence of women. Future experience showed us that some men did successfully attend a pansexual event after having a positive experience at a male-only event.
At this point in time I noted the encroachment of therapy – the focusing on one individual to work through their stuff, to the exclusion of the other participants. An event called “Advanced Butchmanns” was added, as a fund-raiser, in which previous attendees were invited to attend. At those events, there wasn’t a prescribed curriculum and what happened varied dramatically from one such event to the other. Sometimes hook suspension was performed, sometimes pony play, sometimes puppy play, and sometimes alternative rituals.
It was normal for each of the three of us instructors to arrive for each scheduled weekend independently. Without prior discussion or coordination, we’d each present our different experiences and discoveries to the attendees. Master Steve, Master Skip, and I had come to our own conclusions about personal development, and life in general, via different routes. The variety of perspectives, and the freedom to express our personal path and the resulting conclusions without concern for agreement with the other instructors formed an unstated characteristic of this version of Butchmanns.
Exposing attendees to the distinct differences we expressed through the variety of our unique personal experiences, paths, paradigms, and conclusions was considered an asset. As instructors, we recognized that no two people see the world the same way or come from the same background. No one was told there was any one “right” path and each attendee was encouraged to discover what might apply to them. This facilitated recognizing a “next step” in personal development, different for each who attended. Butchmanns events were the opportunity to discover how our differences define us, as an alternative to spending our life trying to find how we “fit in.”
PHOENIX – Hosted by APEX
A series of events made producing Butchmanns on the Tucson acreage less attractive, and a new partnership with the Arizona Power Exchange (APEX) organization was formed. The power of a lie showed itself again, as it had in my own life, when Master Steve became the target of a false accusation that showed the vulnerability and liability of offering Butchmanns privately. APEX, the organization that had hosted the 1997 speaking event that had such a dramatic impact on me, offered its facility and organization to host our events.
This changed the event location and also transferred the logistics from a private to an organizational venue. The move significantly expanded the resources available. Particularly, there were dozens dedicated to the logistics and administration that previously had been performed by a slave that was in service to Master Steve or otherwise available for the task.
The biggest impact on the attendees, however, was that the lodging became separated from the experience. The APEX volunteer staff performed the kitchen duties and the transportation needs not provided by the hotel shuttles. Participant slaves lost the opportunity for round-the-clock service, and there was far less socialization and opportunity for bonding during the weekend.
Removing the on-site lodging component also drastically reduced the opportunity for personal hookup among those present for the weekend. Anything intimate was beyond the purview of the event and had to be arranged separately, outside the knowledge of the organization. The Friday evening introduction now routinely discouraged sexually explicit activity as a way to gain the most from the weekend.
APEX separately provided training in S/M 101 which replaced the skills education that had originally defined the purpose of Butchmanns -- another pivotal change. Now most of the attendees were arriving for a development weekend with some background and experience so that the connection between our physical S/M interest and who we are authentically became an expressed purpose for the weekend. We were able to focus on why S/M is practiced, instead of on how it is practiced. As core instructors, we shared the same objectives.
New influence, fresh perspective, and having taken the lid off of spiritual language, made it easier to provide the opportunities and context needed for attendees, regardless of gender or self-identification to discover their next step needed for growth as a result of the weekend activities.
Master Skip is recognized for being literate and articulate. He clarified and expanded the physical definitions of top/bottom and the mental definitions of dominant/submissive and he added the spiritual definition of authentic self to include Master and slave. He forged the resulting “Butchmanns definitions.” Within the general S/M community bottom, submissive and slave tended to be used interchangeably. Top, dominant, and Master were similarly slurred together into a common meaning. The separate physical, mental, and spiritual definitions were used at Butchmanns to clarify thinking that could aid self-discovery and were found to be very effective at doing so.
Master Skip also made a regular point of quoting, “What you think of me is none of my business.” His regular assertion provided a mental freedom to more easily explore new, unconventional, or uncomfortable concepts that had been dismissed in the past because of the fear of criticism from others.
Slave robert, from APEX, became the “face” of Butchmanns. He processed the applications, performed orientation, and took care of all the details not already assigned to the logistics and kitchen staffs. His methods modeled what later became the operating guidelines for the organization as others followed him. From my perspective, this all still magically happened behind the curtain, leaving me to concentrate on the presentation part of the weekend, which was, as always, my primary interest.
Through the multiple weekends spent discovering which self-development processes were effective, it eventually became common for every Butchmanns to include flogging, piercing, and mummification. Slave robert, having observed that commonality, named these events the “three pillars” of Butchmanns. Flogging had always been a part of every event since the formal beginning. Piercing had often been offered in a different manner at each event; now it had a recurring context. Mummification historically appeared as adequate space, time and wrapping staff showed up, along with enough interest among the attendees: now it served a purpose in the self-development process. Over time, other weekend patterns of discussion, presentations and activities also developed, but these three processes were performed dependably each weekend.
This consistency made it easier to describe Butchmanns to potential and new attendees. The practice of having everyone begin each weekend wherever they currently are in their personal journey, while being free to decide their own next step without a map, made every individual experience different. Even the same attendee who returned for another weekend had a different internal experience at the following event. Having at least three activities that could be promised dependably provided a talking point from which the individual uniqueness of the experience could be better explained.
This helped dissolve the reputation that Butchmanns had a “mystery formula” that we weren’t willing to share with others. In fact, we couldn’t predict what experience anyone would have, nor what insights might be discovered. Each of us was reluctant to give a description of the weekend that would create an expectation that couldn’t be delivered. When asked, “What happens at a Butchmanns?,” the lack of a definitive answer gave the impression we were hiding something. Slave robert’s observation of the “three pillars” took some of the mystery out of our answer.
Master Steve printed out a check-sheet that contained the things that he “hoped” would happen during the weekend, and shared the list with Master Skip and me at the beginning of each Butchmanns. This added additional structure to the weekend and was intended more to keep us on schedule and provide clues to the kitchen staff about when to prepare and schedule meals than to control what happened.
The transition from fantasy and S/M play to discovery and growth dramatically redefined the purpose of Butchmanns. The activities themselves no longer contained sexually explicit stimulation, neither during flogging nor mummification. It was a new, more stable, more professional era.
The formalized fantasy requests were no longer offered, and I had no firm late-night Saturday obligations that depleted the energy I needed for the Sunday events. APEX personnel hosted the Saturday evening optional free play. Occasionally, I still stayed on into Saturday evening at the request of an attendee who specifically requested that I do so.
With the APEX support, Butchmanns weekends could now more easily be scheduled away from the home location in Phoenix. The Desert Dominion, in Tucson, became an annual host. The staff also made it possible to offer out-of-town “Advanced” Butchmanns” fund raisers for the organization in which even the instructor staff paid the attendance fee.
At the last Butchmanns in Phoenix, there were only four paid attendees. Without the explicit focus and requirement of examining roles through the lens of the obedience and responsibilities of Master and slave, the interest in self-development had diminished. Other programs provided alternatives and were readily available both inside and outside the community. Butchmanns reached the point that there was more staff than attendees at a weekend.
BUTCHMANNS END – Founder resigns
The last event Master Steve participated in was an Advanced Butchmanns offered in San Jose in November 2007. During that weekend it was noted that up to two-and-a-quarter hours were being dedicated to singing childhood songs -- more time than was being allocated to any other single activity. Master Skip asked for a meeting of the triumvirate, core instructors.
After the event had ended, on the afternoon of November 18, 2007, the three of us met privately in the hosting hotel bar. Master Skip turned to Master Steve and asked if he was still committed to Butchmanns. A long pause ensued. Finally, Master Steve expressed a feeling of desire to go a different direction in his life that he had been postponing because of his continuing desire for Butchmanns to survive. Master Skip reminded us that the loss of Master Steve’s commitment ended his own commitment, as had been agreed in Tucson. After a mutual deep breath, and silence, there emerged the recognition that the end of the Butchmanns Experience had been declared.
BUTCHMANNS HAD ENDED!
We each sat silently to ingest and accept the significance of what had just happened. My mind raced through all the consequences and potential impact the decision implied. I considered the 12-year investment I had made. I thought about the potential benefit for others that wouldn’t be realized. I reviewed the myriad of ways that I had learned and grown from my participation. I felt the failure of commitment to all those who had unselfishly provided their own time and resource. I reminded myself of the belief that everything happens for a reason and then listed the potential responsibilities and obligations that I would assume if I were to continue independently or use the same organization. I also felt the freedom that a “clean sheet” to create something new would provide to apply everything I’d learned from offering the Path and Butchmanns events. I acknowledged how quickly things can disappear, and how temporary all efforts are.
After a time, Master Skip read the look on my face and asked, “You’re not over this yet, are you?” My response was that I was not. His next question was whether or not I would proceed alone or with others, to which I responded that I would prefer to do it with others. He asked, “Who would you do it with?” I instinctively answered “Master Bert and Master Z.” When later reflecting on why I might have named them without any thought, I remembered that each of them had been coming to Butchmanns events for many years, almost always with a slave, and had articulated interest and benefit from doing so.
Master Skip’s follow-on questions were naturally, “Have you talked to them about this?” and “Will they do it?” My answer was that there had never been a need to discuss their involvement and that I had no idea whether or not they would do it. I explained to Master Skip that I trust my instincts, including naming – without conscious thought -- the two of them to proceed. Master Skip understood, and asked how I would proceed, to which I responded that I would invite them to my home to determine their interest. Master Skip briefly described an alternative interest that he felt called to, we wished each other well on pursuing our separate paths, and the conversation was ended.
The staff was notified that Butchmanns had ended, and were told further that I personally had interest in determining if a replacement could be created.
NEW BUTCHMANNS – Constructing a replacement
The Butchmanns schedule of events had already been published for the following year, with the first one being offered in April. Master Bert and Master Z weren’t available to meet with me until after the beginning of the year, which was several months after Butchmanns had been declared finished. I felt a lot of pressure after the staff put everything on hold, but hadn’t closed shop because of my expressed interest in finding a way to move forward. Everyone needed to know whether or not to honor the 2008 calendar, or cancel everything outright.
I had the time from November to January to think about what was important if a viable replacement could be constructed. With 20 years of managerial background, experience with forming and presenting the Path of the Obedient Heart, and a 12-year association with Butchmanns, certain requirements seemed imperative to me.
First and foremost, I didn’t want the replacement to be about me, or reflect any one individual’s philosophy of life. I had Master Skip’s words repeating in my head that warned that as anything gets organized it becomes corrupt, and that when rules are instituted, any belief becomes a church. My challenge was to capture what works without eliminating what could be better.
I considered it essential that structural and organizational methods would be implemented to identify and train new instructors who could present future events, to assure continuing relevance and existence. Again, Master Skip’s words about receiving “transmission” resonated in my consciousness. Very basically, the concept describes “getting it” before trying to share “it” with others. Transmission is a very difficult to define quality, but easy to recognize when it is present. Whatever went forward had to be carried forward by those with transmission, different from presenting a learned script. All I could do in developing a new event was to prevent a script from coming into existence.
The reluctance that Master Steve had expressed in admitting his desire to go in a different direction left a lasting impression, and I identified that as compromise. Every regret I’ve had in my own life has come from compromise. I didn’t want anyone going forward to feel any obligation greater than their interest. That need was reflected by putting a one-year limit on all staff and instructor commitments.
To improve the viability I thought it necessary to document all the activities that supported the experience so that no one became indispensable, and to provide a means to honor the one-year commitment. I knew that everything done well came from incremental improvement provided by detailed review of what did and didn’t work each time an activity was performed. Documented debriefing would be necessary because too much resource had been wasted “reinventing the wheel” each time an event was offered.
With all those objectives in mind, I met with Masters Bert and Z, at my home in Nevada for four days. The initial time was dedicated to our most important tasks, making a “go, no go” decision on future events. That was accomplished by describing our personal interests and passions, for hours and hours, to mutually determine if they could be applied to a uniform self-development activity, and whether or not we could support each other in a collective effort.
After a lot of truth telling, and vulnerable exposure to each other, agreement to proceed was reached. The remaining days were dedicated next to documenting our first curriculum in a one-page-per-day format. We carefully constructed it to be free of individual personality, preferences, or philosophies. It was created to provide the maximum range of opportunities for a variety of unknown individuals who would in the future present alternative voices and experiences while still presenting the intention of what was documented.
Another criteria was to exclude therapy from the curriculum which we felt confused the purpose and excluded instructors who did not have those skills. Focus on a single individual, at length, also excluded the other attendees.
We noted how easy it would be to produce a curriculum if any of us felt there was a single formula for personal development. Our collective growing official recognition that everyone is different prevented a one-size-fits-all solution. The overwhelming challenge we faced was to create in 2 ½ days an environment that allowed and encouraged self discovery without ever defining a “right” path.
Some components of the curriculum included a dedication of the first evening to establishing trust, gaining commitment, defining the semantics, describing the administrative and cultural environment, and covering methods to maximize the benefits of the weekend. Master Bert categorized everything that would occur into only three distinct activities: processes, heart talks, and sharing. This made it easier to announce and describe what would happen throughout the weekend, and to better define the purpose of each individual activity, without repetition.
We spent the remainder of our time developing a one-page, simplified protocol. None had been used for several years. We considered having a protocol valuable because it allowed slaves to know they were being seen differently, it provided a mechanism that helped enforce mindfulness for both those giving and receiving orders, and provided a device through which obedience and responsibility could be practiced, independent of how anyone was self-identified during the weekend, or in life. Self development through the exercise of Mastery and slavery skills also provided a unique mechanism that distinguished us from others in the vast self-development industry, giving us a marketing niche that no one else was known to offer.
Four days and two documents later (protocol and curriculum), we notified the staff they could begin to accept registrations and start planning for the next scheduled Butchmanns event.
PHOENIX - Butchmanns Revival
With the creation of this new version of Butchmanns, a shorthand was developed to refer to each iteration. Following the naming conventions used for software, Version 1.0 was applied to the events prior to Master Skip’s joining. Version 2.0 names the time Masters Steve, Skip and myself were the core instructors, and Version 3.0 refers to the 2008 version which started with me inheriting Butchmanns when Masters Steve and Skip stepped away. Version 4.0 names what happened after my departure.
The Two-and-a-half days of a typical Butchmanns is a very short period of time in which to accomplish any significant personal shifts. We searched for, experimented with, and implemented any tool, process, or sequence that we could identify to consciously improve what could be accomplished in this time-frame. To reflect the changes, the “curriculum” became a living, dynamic document that not only changed between almost every Butchmanns event but also during each staff meeting and training session.
For unexplained reasons, the number of registrants willing to take the role of Master more closely matched the numbers for role of slaves for each weekend, different from previous versions. Since we used the Master/slave dynamic as a learning tool, having a balance of those willing to take each of the roles reduced the need for staff to fill complementary roles for attendees.
We became better at articulating the purpose of the weekend on the first evening and asked for explicit commitments, by show-of-hands, to build an atmosphere that discouraged attendance of those who wanted to only “audit” instead of participate. This process helped people to self-select out of the weekend if their intention was other than the stated purpose.
The Butchmanns 3.0 curriculum provided a tool from which planning and coordination could be constructed and communicated. Support staff was formally recognized with defined lines of communication and responsibility to more efficiently coordinate and schedule efforts.
Briefings were scheduled before each event, and incremental reviews were added during event break times as any of the staff requested them to communicate any issues that arose. Instructors had met for a final review of curriculum processes and experiences, and later a logistics staff review was conducted at the end of each weekend. Assignments were made, as needed, to review, document, or explore alternative solutions to the challenges that came up. A mechanism was in place to make incremental changes to improve the event over time.
The formal curriculum also facilitated having on-the-road events where the local support team wasn’t available. On-the-road events enabled people in other regions to attend a local event instead of requiring everyone to travel to Phoenix; this expanded the potential for more attendees to benefit from the experience. Butchmanns staff provided phone and e-mail support to the remote producers to help prepare space, supplies and accommodations that were suitable. We found it helpful for at least one logistics staff to travel to the events. Based on the curriculum, a written schedule was prepared for remote producers to better plan meal times.
After presenting on-the-road events, we discovered an unexpected challenge. It was noted, there are always leaders in the hosting communities who hold the local, prevailing philosophies regarding personal growth and who define what is appropriate in Master/slave relationships. Since the purpose of personal development is change, it was normal to experience a conflict between those locally-held beliefs and the alternatives Butchmanns presented for the purpose of examining other belief systems that might be found to be more effective. This schism allowed us to look at a distinction with Phoenix events, where there consistently was a mix of in-town and out-of-town participants such that there was no local lore to project a “right way”.
The greatest benefit of the curriculum was in its use for new instructors. Women were selected to offer a female-only event. Those selected dedicated hours and hours of their time and effort to put voice to their own experiences within the framework of the curriculum to present a series of consistently effective events that were successful regardless of who presented it. The women found the freedom to operate from each one’s own personal strength, exactly as the curriculum was intended. There was now an environment where others could be trained to offer the weekend.
Begun in 2012, our staff training sessions were effectively organized around learning to present this living curriculum and devoting resources to practicing more than once to discover authentic individual expression. The hope and plan was that it could be a place to discover “transmission.”
The three one-week training events and other weekend and one-day events had two objectives. One was to identify and prepare potential instructors. The other was to provide orientation and language for all other support staff who often had the best opportunity through casual conversation with the attendees to answer questions and concerns that would otherwise be missed.
We discovered, however, that it was also profound as a way of making the nature and strength of our passions visible to us, making conscious our own experiences that could be applied to presenting the curriculum, identifying our own beliefs that support or hinder us, measuring our actual level of personal confidence, identifying the level of our courage and our willingness to expose ourselves for the potential benefit of our own evolution and that of others.
Without a crucible within which to truly discover ourselves, it was easy to make self-assumptions that weren’t true, or that we hadn’t admitted to ourselves. It was a unique opportunity to expose ourselves in the company of caring, accepting, and supportive others who shared a mutual and deep interest in self-improvement. The process resulted in sufficient reflection, examination, and exposure to make a decision either to effectively contribute to an event or to place their efforts elsewhere.
This experiential training felt like the real “Advanced Butchmanns,” that went beyond what is offered during the regular events – its specific focus was personal growth and acknowledging that growth is not always a comfortable pursuit and that we all share a natural resistance to change in the face of the emotional cost of doing so
I was very optimistic about the future of the Butchmanns Experience. The original intentions, expectations and requirements I had identified as conditions for producing a new Butchmanns event seemed to have been satisfied. There was a means to identify potential new talent, provide a path to becoming involved and contribute to the process, and eventually supplement the leadership of the organization to assure its continued health and viability. All the essential elements were being put into place.
In 2007 when Butchmanns was declared finished and then revived, I had operated on the belief that I was voluntarily sharing my vision and authority with others to produce a stronger organization than I could on my own. Along the way in Version 3.0, there were some path-questioning moments for me.
When the women instructors were selected, a unilateral decision was made about how to announce the successful candidates, a method which violated my instincts, judgment, and managerial experience. I had a hard decision to make about losing the freedom to operate as intended or to step away. I concluded so long as the primary objectives of offering a worthwhile event continued I would dismiss my concerns and stay.
My decision was tested again when two of the Corporate Board members requested that the Master/slave element of the Butchmanns Experience be eliminated to appeal to a wider range of attendees. The corporate emphasis appeared to be shifting from the effectiveness and long-term viability of the existing event to the quantity of attendees who might be exposed to the self-development concepts. Although that request did not have a deadline, I heard they had a different objective than my own.
When a rule was given me that constrained truth, I responded that I would step away and gave notice of how and when it would occur. The rule was withdrawn, so I remained until it became obvious that the commitments that had been made to staff couldn’t be fulfilled because of the unilateral decisions that began to permeate our processes.
The objective of the Butchmanns Experience had evolved to one of providing conscious self-awareness, both for the staff and for the attendees. Staff, including the instructors, found their personal growth through the process of providing others who came to Butchmanns with their own opportunity for growth. Our evolution created a collective and individual mindfulness of that purpose.
The result of self-awareness is that we come to recognize our real needs and the steps to achieve them. That naturally resulted in an internal desire for some to keep doing what they had been doing, and for others to gain clarity about what served them individually in different ways than had been practiced in the past.
The double-edged sword of personal clarity is that each of us determines what he or she should or shouldn’t be doing, and its implementation then creates change. The current version of Butchmanns is the inevitable result of the divergence of paths precipitated by the very processes that had been developed over 20 years, which then produced the specific intended results of identifying our next individual steps in life.
My personal path is found in the explicit focus on the processes and effects of developing an intimate connection through obedience, what could be called an alignment of the will. Others have discovered a similar interest, while some have discovered more traditional religion provides the most opportunities, and there are some who still find satisfaction from continuing the directions that were established with the development of Version 3.0
There doesn’t exist a “lose” outcome. Life is the continuing process of saying “yes” or “no” to what is immediately in front of us, one decision at a time. I’ve discovered there can be no wrong step and that no matter what direction is taken, it is a “win.” The development and evolution of Butchmanns is a life lesson in how that works, and has been a dramatic influence in my life and dozens of others that I know of. I don’t expect to ever become aware of the most significant impacts that all of this has had. That’s how life seems to work!