Many years ago, I learned about various tradition and reasons of collaring a submissive or slave and that there were more than one type of collar to give. They represented steps in a D/s relationship that everyone who saw it, knew the status of the pair automatically, without having to say a word. As each collar was replaced, the community looked on at the depth of the relationship, smiled, and it gave people something to strive for. You worked hard and you were mine.
Today, those tradition showing love, adoration, training and dedication (among many other reasons) to one another is severely lacking. One way I feel it has changed is that the collar is now nothing but a fashion accessory, with absolutely no meaning. They are randomly given without thought, to just show that so and so is with me, so keep away. More of a warning to others based out of insecurity, than of actual caring.
Has honor been lost on it for those that chose it as an honour?
Many are wearing dog collars, to represent puppy play or other pet play aspects of their lives. Yes, it is easy to keep them in line when they get excited by putting them on a leash, but those that know of the tradition look at it sadly.
Even in the vanilla world, collars are simply blinged out and part of what the younger generation put on as part of their wardrobe. Submissives are even wearing them even though they are unowned or unpartnered. I understand that it looks cool, but do they understand why some of us stand back and avoid play with them?
There were a few collars that would be worn in the BDSM world for a variety of reasons, and websites wrote about them. One site that I found that I particularly liked for descriptions and purposes was the following:
Collar of Consideration or Protection - this was only temporary. During a play party, the collar would be placed on the slave by the Dominant that gave their protection in full view of everyone around. A very simple collar, with no lock and key, no D-ring to put a lock on and very plain. The submissive would follow and act accordingly as to the Master or Mistress's wishes (of course this would have been discussed for expectations, protocols, etc prior to the play party). It was a sign to others of hands off, only the one who placed the collar was to be served for the evening. In some ways, it was an easy way for the submissive to not be asked for play by others they did not want to play with, kind of like a scapegoat method of getting out of saying no to someone else less appealing to them. The collar was probably removed at the end of the night and everyone went their separate ways until next time..
In the vanilla world, it would be considered a first date, to see if the two people meshed, and would show their friends that they are together for now and interest has been shown for each other. A promise ring would no doubt be given after many dates together.
Collar of Training - much like in the dog training world, a submissive would belong to an owner for a set period of time. No contract has been made, however training has begun on what to do, how to act and behave, routines established with preferences outlined. You both have agreed to take things up a notch and 'get serious' about the relationship. Actions now carry consequences and this is usually the breaking point for the pair. Time periods vary, but usually it used to be a minimum of 2 years. Yeah, that's a long time folks, but those that stuck by it, are still together today. This collar would represent an engagement ring. If after the agreed upon time period is up, and both are happy with the results of training, the next step would usually be a Collaring Ceremony.
The Slave Collar - This is what most strive to achieve in the D/s world. A contract is drawn up (signing a marriage certificate), a ceremony performed in which the contract is spoken aloud to all present making it known of both their rights and responsibilities to each other. The slave collar was typically presented in a 24/7 M/s relationship and most times they are living together. A lock and key typically is placed on the collar and maybe a special scribed tag attached to the D-Ring. Each couple would agree to what is on the collar itself, much like picking out wedding bands.
Most times, the Slave Collar is the last collar worn, and worn proudly by the submissive. It represents hard work, communication, love, respect, patience and understanding, but sometimes one takes it a step further in the ever growing relationship, and that is to have an Ownership Collar.
Although some feel that the Slave and Ownership Collar are the same, there are those that have been together for many, many years in the lifestyle that have been given an Ownership Collar.
The Ownership Collar - At this point in the relationship, the slave pretty much understands that they are in it for the long haul, that they are no longer your own person, but someone's property. They still have the legal right to do or not do anything they don't want to do, but they willingly give that up for their Owner. This dedication was the greatest honour for both partners. If it failed, the submissive could never be owned again, such is the deep connection between the two. Much like those that have been married for 50 years and one dies, there would never be a replacement. Now that, represents the truest of devotion to one another.
After my initial post in which I could only think of two paricular couples that have Ownership Collars, and several that have Slave Collars, I had more coming out of the woodwork of friends (drunken hazes tend to make you forgetful). Their love for each other, the devotion, loyalty to their partner always brings a smile to my face, knowing that there love is actually eternal. It saddened me that evening as well, knowing that so few in our community will ever experience it.
Sadly, I had only ever given out a Consideration Collar, and it is now tucked away with other memorabilia of my life. A testament to taking things slowly in future so there are never any regrets later on. A twinge of jealousy perhaps? Absolutely. But their love always leaves me with the hope of seeing more of that tradition continue once people are made aware of some of the many traditions of collaring. I do occasionally place a play collar on a submissive, but they are always returned at the end of a scene.