Flogging: It's not just for kinksters. This "risque" practice finds its roots in ancient practice. Honestly, what doesn't. I'm sure I could pull out an analogy for the ancient version of the ipod. But I digress! Flogging! Ritual pain! How did it begin? Who knows. I assume it The first person who took a bad fall had a spiritual experience that everyone has been trying to recreate since.
Enough with the (bad) jokes! Here's a bit of history:
Ritual flogging happens as part of many ancient Pagan festival throughout the year including Lupercalia and Thargelia.
The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii depicts flogging on one of its walls.
Greek playwright Menander's quote became famous in its day: "A man who has not been flogged is not trained."
From The gymnasium of virtue: education & culture in ancient Sparta By Nigel M. Kennell:
"Laconians used to whip themselves in an initiation ritual"
At the biennial festival of Dionysus celebrated in Arcadia, called the Skiereia, women were flogged. This was allegedly in response to an oracle given at Delphi.
At the Feast of Artemis Orthia, Spartans would whip each other in a contest to see who was the last one standing.
What's the point of this? Sacrifice? Punishment? According to several sources, it was a form of purification. It resolved guilt, shame, and was the debt paid for past transgressions. "A good beating purifies the mind"
What I find especially interesting is that in almost all of the examples I have come across, the whipping, or purification, is done at the behest or under the auspices of Apollo. Apollon Lykaios is another form of Lupercus as per the above mentioned Lupercalia. The Thargelia is a celebration of His birthday.
I'm pausing here. I know, just after a very tiny introduction! I've been reading Kerenyi's Apollo: The Wind, the Spirit, and the God in my search for more information on Apollo as the God of Purification. I adore Kerenyi's work and highly recommend you read along with me!