Few instruments of corporal punishment carry more mystique and history than the beloved birch rod, the favorite disciplinary instrument of the Old World, indeed the very symbol of physical correction from remote antiquity to rather recent times. It is an instrument reserved for those occasions when severe correction is warranted. Superficially cruel, a well-made birch is in fact a merciful instrument. The lightness of each individual switch means that its penetrative power is small, and only in company and harmony with a number of other switches of approximately equal length, size and weight can it do its work at all. Then by its unique combination of penetration and ‘spread’, it punishes like no other instrument: not deeply – a birch leaves no lasting bruises though its stripes can sustain for days – but sharply, as a good rod should.
A birching is always administered on the bare bottom. The birch is one instrument that can only be applied to a bare bottom. Any clothing at all, even the lightest, would render the birch useless.
The choice on the right birch
The birch I use is about 28 inches long and made up of approximately a dozen fine birch branches bound tightly with ribbon. Most rods are constructed by the students themselves, having learned the fine art of birch construction under Miss Davidson’s expert instruction on the subject. The birch is usually cut fresh from the birch trees on the Academy grounds and soaked in water overnight to soften and increase its flexibility before use.
In the punishment room, the culprit to be birched is required to kneel on the birching bench and lift her skirt and lower knickers before bending over. I then announce the number of strokes to be applied, no less than two dozen, and proceed to administer the birching. Cries and pleadings are common after only a few strokes, since the sting produced is so intense, but the number of strokes awarded is the number administered without exception. The visual result of a birching is an extremely red bottom covered with a tracery of fine red lines, punctuated by numerous darker specks where the tips and buds have bit in. Do not be dismayed by the apparently severe physical effects: the flush will quickly fade, and even the worst of the weals will be gone within a few days.
Following a birching, the culprit is required to kneel and kiss the rod which is in keeping with the ritual attached to its use.
I hope you found this essay on birching helpful. A birching is one of the oldest and most profound of corrections. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. I love hearing from you all.