St. Andrew’s Cross: A dungeon staple.

So you can't go to any dungeon without finding a St Andrew's Cross. But who in the hell is St. Andrew?

crucifixion of st andrew - the original cross
WikiMedia Commons St Andrew Crucifixion

Well, St Andrew was one of the original 12 apostles of Jesus. Not a whole lot is known about him other than he was crucified. Unlike Jesus, he was not on a cross shaped like a T, but a cross shaped like an X. Additionally, he was not nailed to the cross, he was bound to it!

Of course, a lot of the world saw this cross as a symbol of a religious man and the cross was widely adapted to things like the flags of such as Scotland, Alabama and the Russian Navy. But kinky folks, they were like – HEY, That worked good. Less blood than nailing their hands, having an x shape can spread the legs of the person tied to it, thus exposing their genitals. There may be something to this cross thing.

So fast forward 2000 years and this lesser-known apostle is remembered by a mark on a few flags and the millions of people in the fetish world.

Berkley Horse - bondage equipment circa 1828
Wikimedia Commons Berkley Horse

I only hope I can be so lucky as to have a toy named after me that people still use in 4019. The only other thing I find even close is the Berkley Horse named after an 1828 dominatrix, but even that is not that common.

Modern BDSM Cross

From a design standpoint, not a lot has changed with the cross over the millenia. Why mess with a good thing right? But the one real change is the installation method. Crosses were typically outside and so they were just dug into the ground and free standing. The last time someone tried to tie their wife up naked to a cross in their front yard, cops were called, things escalated quickly and it got pretty ugly.

So the kinky folks moved indoors and now we have to content with things like floors and ceilings. Now there are 2 basic designs to get the cross to stand; wall mounted and free standing.

Wall Mounted Bondage Crosses

The wall-mounted cross is a simple sturdy option. A lot of people steer clear of this style because it usually involves screwing things permanently in the wall. Then what do you do when your mother in law comes over? It is the best option if you have the place to install it such as a dedicated dungeon room. When installing against a wall it can be installed completely verticle much like the original cross 2000 years ago and it can be much more study. Under rough play, nobody wants to have a cross fall over while your hands are strapped above your head and unable to break your fall.

Slave in a st andrews cross against wall
© Raimond Spekking via Wikimedia Commons

Freestanding Bondage Crosses

Not everyone can go with a wall mounted option, so there are also portable crosses. These crosses usually have an extra leg or two in the back to make it stand more like a tripod.

The clear advantage of this type of cross is that it is portable. For most of these, when your mother-in-law does visit, you can store it away. You can also take it to parties if you are into that scene.

Typically, because of the need for extra support, freestanding crosses are not vertical, but instead, lean at a slight angle. Some people like this, others do not, it is really just preference, but leaning back a little bit can make the sub feel like they have a little less control/balance.

On the downside, because these are not permanently attached, with enough thrashing, they can fall over. So to compensate and increase safety, manufacturers often add things such as step plates, extra stabilizer legs, or a lot of weight. All of these things make the portable swing heavier and less portable. So it is a challenge sometimes.

st andrews cross free standing
Wikimedia Commons

Buying A St Andrew's Cross

When it comes to buying a cross, there are many options. They come in so many types. So rather than telling you what you need to have, I will list the questions you need to ask.

  • Freestanding or Wall Mounted Cross? As discussed above.
  • What style do you want? This is furniture… for your dungeon. Do you want medieval, modern, steel, leather, etc?
  • Does it fold up well? A lot of people want portable options and sometimes “portable” is a term thrown around too loosely. If there are boards that are 8 feet long, is that portable? I recommend seeing a picture of the actual folded upsize.
  • What's the delivery time? A lot of bondage furniture, crosses included, are not stock items. Many places will require 4 to 8 weeks for manufacture time. Be away and look for other options.
  • How many mounting points? Obviously the goal of a St Andrews Cross is to tie someone too it. Some crosses do not have enough mounting points to get the job done, especially when considering different size submissives.
  • Does the cross include restraints? Some do and some do not. This can be an added cost if they are not included and you have to provide your own.