Visioning the Perfect “First Time”

7b40a55cb568d838c70ca7b2091ae8c0We all remember our first kiss, who we first made love to, the first time we discovered self-pleasuring, perhaps the first time we were sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted…  When we have a first time experience a new neural pathway is made in the brain and body. Unconsciously, this becomes the default. Consciously, it is a reference point we can return to to either re-create or to re-pattern. Reviewing my firsts in life, I began to desire something more, more ceremony, more invitation of the sacred, more consciousness. I began to wonder of ceremonies that could be created, meaningful beautiful rituals for our first times… what would these ceremonies look like to honor a first kiss, or the first time we shared a lovers touch? And how would we create ceremonies to heal from negative first time experiences?

In the world I want to live in, I envision beautiful, healing, empowering ceremonies where women taught their daughters to love and pleasure their bodies and embrace their beauty and that their sexuality was a precious gift… where men taught their sons about integrating their sexual energy with a heart-based connection.

When I let myself dream and vision my perfect time, it would begin by consciously visiting the town’s sexual priestess who would initiate me in the feminine mysteries of the pleasure my body was capable of and later a second ceremony that would introduce me to the pleasure and delights of sharing this experience with a first time beloved of my choosing. In each ceremony, I imagine a sexual priestess holding space and guiding the initiation of pleasure and teaching me the art of love beginning with my own body and then sharing and exploring a lovers. I would want this ceremony for myself around the age of 16, after the initial shock of puberty was over and I was grounded in my new woman’s body. I would love my imaginary parents to be totally on board with this ceremony like a sweet sixteen only it’s where a young woman comes to know her body and pleasure and how to pleasure and honor another.

That would be my perfect first time… What’s the vision of your perfect first time?

 

 

“Stretching Her Wings” Isis in Florida

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Private Sessions at Sacred Haven, Orlando, FL. Feb 2-10, Feb 16-28.

MidWinter Naturist Festival @ Sunsport Gardens. Loxahatchee, FL Feb 11-14  – workshops ~ Pelvic Heart Integration, Nude Partner Yoga, Naked Church.

Pelvic Heart Integration Workshop @ Sacred Haven, Orlando, FL Feb 25 7-10pm.

Email Isis: sensualshaman@gmail.com or call 646-460-9397.

 

 

New Possibilities After a Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction

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When I met Peter, he, like many older men, was struggling to embrace a new sexual identity. He had been referred to me by a sexuality therapist who felt that he needed a direct, interactive, hands-on approach to assist him in his quest to create an initiation into this new sexual identity.

Peter was in his sixties, a twice-divorced veteran recovering from a brain injury that had left him clinically diagnosed as impotent. Over the decade prior to his injury, his erections had become infrequent, and when he did have them they lacked the gusto of those of his twenties and thirties. After a cerebral hemorrhage in 2011, his erections ceased altogether. In spite of this, he remained optimistic that it was possible to recreate what sex was and could be for him. He was ready to empower his sexuality, rather than to see himself as diminished or victimized by circumstance. Inspiringly, he viewed his situation as an opportunity to create a sexual renaissance for himself  – a new golden age as he entered his golden years.

He confessed to me that, over the course of his life, he had never truly enjoyed sex. To some extent, he had seen it as a responsibility or a duty, one more thing he had to perform or achieve in a certain way to prove himself. As a result of this pressure, sex had been unsatisfying and he was uncertain whether he had ever been fully present for it. Sex had been angry and rage-filled at times. A military veteran, he held close the experience of war in his body and suffered from emotional, physical and spiritual numbness and PTSD for decades. Peter mentioned that anger felt like the only emotion he had been truly in touch with until his brain hemorrhage in 2011.

“Early trauma and war left me angry all the time. Anger was safe. I knew anger. It was almost a friend,” he told me. “But when I had my brain bleed, my entire life changed. Something shifted for me in my brain chemistry that affected my emotional body. I was able to access the places of emotion I used to have as a boy before trauma set in. Places of freedom, joy, wonder, curiosity, happiness.”

As he spoke, the excited young boy who had been lost since his early youth began to emerge, playful, curious and ready to engage.

From a place inside of him that had seen too much war and trauma, he told me: “Part of me for years was ‘Missing in Action’. I believe this brain injury has actually brought me into a state of grace. It gave me access to parts of myself and a wholeness that before was completely inaccessible. The brain injury also left me without access to the direct flow of energy to my genitals that make erections possible.”

“What a gift,” I said. “It looks like you’ll have the opportunity to expand your pleasure to your entire body. Most people never make it that far and their pleasure often stays trapped only in their genitals.”

His eyes twinkled.

“That’s why I’m here,” he said with a big smile.

“How do you want to feel in your sexual expressions, play and experiences?” I asked him.

“Free, connected, expressed … present. Like I don’t have to work. I want to play,” Peter told me sincerely.

Peter’s brain bleed had also apparently bled right out the angry warrior energy that had previously filled him. I suspected that this inner warrior had finally gotten so angry he just exploded, perhaps on an actual physical level causing the bleed itself. This was a classic opportunity for a shamanic reset in the system – an injury, ailment or illness that becomes an ally and offers us medicine that we need on in the deepest levels of our being.

I escorted Peter over to my floor palette futon and we began with a simple sitting meditation, noticing where sensation was present in our bodies and speaking out loud the sensations we were experiencing. Next we checked in with our body’s desires and made requests to each other on how our bodies would like to be touched in a non-genital focused way for one-minute increments. The body’s desires are always changing so the minute-long increments gave a contained space to explore both immediate and changing desires. Because the genital focus in our interaction was off the table to create a new form of sensual relating, it opened up a world of new possibilities for touch, intimacy and sexual self-expression.

Each of us took turns making requests and unfolding the true desires of the body now that direct genital contact wasn’t hogging the primary focus. The body revealed all of these beautiful subtleties and we had the opportunity to explore not just where we would like to be touched, but how, what pressure, what quality of touch – like feathers, kneading, delicate fingernails, squeezing massage, deep or right on the surface.

We then explored the intention of how we desired to be touched – with love, with curiosity, with tenderness, with passion, with pure carnal desire.

This progressed to a gentle, “as if” role-playing game: touch me as if you were a mother cradling her newborn; touch me as if you were molding my body out of clay; touch me as if this was the first woman’s body you had ever seen; touch me as if the burning desire of the whole universe resided in your fingertips. Each ‘as if’ experience created a new and profound opening for both of us.

Next we stood up and disrobed in front of each other. I went first and asked Peter to simply be present and hold space for me while I did. I took off one piece of clothing at a time and we paused to breathe in between each one to notice what sensations we were feeling in our bodies and to speak on them. Then I invited him to disrobe as well. We stood and breathed. I then spoke what I observed about the story of his body in that moment, where my eyes were drawn to see and what they saw. Silver hair, warm twinkling eyes, hands that had held guns and babies, a stray hair here, a special freckle there, a long lean body trained both as an athlete and a warrior.  I asked him to mirror back to me what he saw, where his eyes were drawn to my body so that we could fully take each other in. Long brown hair, softness, rosy cheeks, large nipples, femininity. He did a beautiful job recounting what he saw. I received a new perspective for myself on being witnessed through his eyes.

We took turns now in longer increments sharing touch, only this time we focused on how we desired to touch each other. We asked permission with each touch and there was space to say no if it didn’t feel in alignment for us. We rolled around and played and laughed together for several hours as we explored how desire and sexual energy wanted to move through us.

As our sacred space came to a close, Peter confessed to me: “This is the most present I have ever truly been with a woman. I can actually feel the desire in my body and it can be expressed without the pressure to perform. I can’t recall ever feeling this free before. So much has just become possible.”

When the effort to move past scripts and ingrained patterns of touch and relating was presented, a new form of relating that is based on presence and authenticity has permission to unfold in the space shared between bodies. Our bodies are always changing and transforming and so are our desires and how they want to express themselves. When we work with the body’s true desire, we can be present to the possibility of expanding the pleasure palette within the body and its capacity for sensual self-expression.

Peter told me he is ready to actively pursue dating with renewed gusto and to explore the possibility of physical intimacy based on the new possibilities in sexual self-expression available to him. He is also complementing our experience with Western medicine, exploring possibilities for assisting his erections but also freeing himself from the imprisoning mind-set that erection with ejaculatory orgasm is the apex of sexual experience. There is a wide scope of supportive allopathic ways to just about guarantee an erection. What they can’t guarantee is any happiness from it. With Western medicine and the explorations into the possibilities of returning full erectile function, Peter now has a new space to play in – a penis that can maintain an erection with a template for presence and authentic connection.

The path of self-discovery Peter is on is one of enthusiasm and wonder rather than a quest to fix a part of himself that might be considered broken. Peter knows he can have new and deeply fulfilling sensual and sexual experiences and now erections can become a part of that experience with the support of western medicine and compassionate and caring health professionals. It was his commitment to creating a template to break scripts and old ways of being and to move into his authenticity that allowed for this to unfold. Peter wrote me a few weeks ago saying that he is having a marvelous time exploring penis pumps, injections and supplements to increase his erectile possibilities. He reports that they work and that every part of this journey continues to be a learning experience. He’s excited to explore all of these possibilities with his next partner from a place of presence and authentic connection when the right relationship comes along.

I wish for him presence, play, powerful penis pumps and new possibilities for relating as he steps confidently into this new identity of sexual self-expression!

Here is a closing piece of advice and comment from Peter:

Something I believe in so strongly is the act of getting support. Getting support from caring and loving sources. It is remarkable just how lonely and debilitating it is, processing the realities of impotence. What men need to know and understand is what I learned and frankly am still learning – unless you want to remain stuck in the world of feeling badly about yourself, you MUST reach out and trust. Men who are already in a loving relationship with a caring partner have in this regard a great advantage. Presumably that partner will be there for them and process with them the oftentimes painful truths that impotence brings to light. It is men such as me not in any such loving relationship who need to be reminded of this. Men who find themselves twisting slowly in the breezes, with not a clue, and nowhere immediately to turn. It is these men who need great comfort, and these men who need to know that the worst thing that they can do is to do nothing.  It is never easy and never over.

To those men reading this who might be embarking on a journey like mine, I’d like to say that there are no magical endings. There is much experimenting, much unknown to be explored, many turns along the way that will not be fulfilling. At its essence comes the willingness to commit to the process of healing and becoming whole.

 

 

Re-thinking Impotence

“Re-thinking impotence”

ImageA lovely seventy-something man named Ralph visited me for a session in New Orleans. It was the second time I had seen him, the first a few weeks ago when I was visiting the area. Ralph was making sensual massage a regular part of his lifestyle and was seeing a practitioner in the area once a week. Despite being familiar with sensual bodywork, he was tentative, however, when he saw me. When I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me about his body, he told me he was recovering from radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Then I witnessed what appeared to be a wave of shame wash over him. “I’m impotent,” he quietly confessed. I sat quietly with him while he spoke.

“I rarely get an erection and don’t ejaculate, but I very much enjoy sensual touch and please don’t feel disappointed if I don’t get an erection while I’m with you… and please don’t laugh at me…” there was silence in the session room. I could feel the deeply tender and vulnerable place from where he spoke. I simply held space for him to express what felt like the most vulnerable part of him… I smiled warmly at him “I’m so glad you’re here,” I said. When I said that I noticed his shoulders soften and a bit of relief come over him where anxiety had previously existed.  “I have no expectations in our time together. And I invite you to release any you are holding too. I am simply here to support you in how your body and spirit want to express themselves.” I also asked him what he would like to get out of our time together.

He mentioned to me that he enjoyed being sensual though he was impotent and wanted to receive touch though he knew he could never satisfy a woman again. His belief of never being able to ‘satisfy a woman’ hung in the air like a dense cloud of oppression.  He explained to me his nerves were fried from radiation but that the area of his pelvis and genitals were still very sensitive. “How wonderful you can still experience pleasure there,” I said. “Did you know your entire body is capable of experiencing pleasure and also orgasm?” He patted my hand as if I was a child telling him… did you know the Easter Bunny is real and I’ve met him…

He undressed and got on the table lying face up. We started slowly with gentle touch and cradling each part of his body, letting it know it was loved. His face softened and spread into a wide smile.

I told him there was so much more to a woman’s sexual sensual happiness and pleasure than penetrative sex from a hard penis and also so many different ways of experiencing pleasure for differently-abled people but for now let’s focus on him and being present with the sensations of pleasure that wanted to unfold in his body… He patted my hand again as if to say “Yes Isis, I know you, you’ve told about your experience of meeting the Easter bunny before…”

The simplest and most basic need people come to me with is desiring acceptance and love. It is our absolute most basic emotional and spiritual need. When love is present we rest deeper into our own becoming and the pieces of ourselves that feel unlove-able come up to be reframed and integrated in a new way. When there is a space of love held, a new model for self-love can emerge. Generally after that need is met, there is another intention that enters into session space, which is the desire to deepen the individual experience and self-expression of pleasure and intimacy.

Ralph lay on my table. We worked gently, almost in slow motion with touch and energy, focusing much on cradling and holding different parts of his body, resting in dynamic stillness and deep breathing and moving energy through his body with breath and sound. After his body felt held and all parts of him present, I stretched him this way and that with different Thai yoga positions.  He sighed, moaned and groaned on the table and thanked me for being so kind and good to him… the Easter bunny story was becoming real. He relished the attention but mostly because it gave him a new dimension of experiencing pleasure in his body, not only isolated in his genitals which were now experiencing pleasure and sexual energy in a different way post radiation therapy, but his entire body had a new experience of pleasure – a whole body experience.

After about 2 hours into our session, we began a Tantric breathing exercise that moved sexual energy through Ralph’s pelvis and up his spine – the energy that unlocked in him was so powerful he trembled and his legs shook. The awakening from this breathing exercise started in his genitals and shot up his spine and his hands clenched and face contorted. It then moved through his spine out from his body in what energetically to me felt like a bubbling volcano. He soared through this energy orgasm that erupted for at least 2 straight minutes, energy moving and rolling through him, subsequently through me and what felt like through the entire French Quarter of New Orleans.

When we looked at each other after the experience subsided we both looked like we had just been blasted up through the cosmos, twisted round in a whirlwind, pummeled by the ocean and plopped back down on the massage table in New Orleans. “Wow Ralph… wow” I said. “I think it’s time you rethought calling yourself ‘an impotent old man…’

“I didn’t know that was possible with what had happened to me…” he said, sounding a bit dumbstruck.

“Something tells me Ralph that in your seventies, your sex life has only just begun…” His eyes twinkled and his mouth gaped a bit at the notion. I gave him a list of resources to look into – from my sexual shamanic teacher Kenneth Ray Stubbs to resources for sexual energy work for ‘differently abled’ people.

Good sex really unfolds from embodiment, presence and self-expression. After cancer and radiation, Ralph’s body works differently. Ralph’s first step in reclaiming his sexuality was to accept that his body works differently now, but in working differently there are different energies and experiences to him available that could possibly be even more pleasurable and bring him into deeper levels of ecstasy and connection than were previously available.

With Ralph’s declaration that he was impotent, I began to think about what that word actually means. The word itself implies a lacking or absence of potency. Ralph was certainly not short in this area – he was fun, light hearted and playful in our session and the potency from his orgasm was surely felt through all of New Orleans that day. He was anything but im-potent. His potency however required a different route of expression while his body healed itself after cancer and radiation. He booked a 3 hour session with me the following week. “I need to know this is actual possible,” he confided in me.

“Each experience of your sexuality will be unique,” I told Ralph, “but I think it’s safe to say, you can release calling yourself impotent,”

“Next week, let’s shoot for the stars!” We laughed and embraced and he exited with a potent stride and a pep in his step.

Sacred Haven: A Sensual Monastic Life

Orlando deserves it’s own blog post. I’ve been here since February 1st and the processes and deep soul conversations unfolding around me are ones that have left me truly transformed and in a state of tremendous gratitude. I am staying in the beautiful sanctuary of Sacred Haven which is set up as a church here in Orlando, Florida.

Bishop EveLynn MaurineThe Bishop here is EveLynn Maurine, a long time friend and colleague over my years in sacred sexual healing work.  EveLynn was the previous president of ASEP (Association of Sexual Energy Professionals) and has earned her title as the Pope-ess of sacred sexuality among her community.  Her soul energy holds the polarities of deep spiritual reverence like that of Mary Magdalene with the bawdiness and irreverence of the vamp Mae West. She is the spiritual grandmother to many sexual healers nationally and in the local community and it has been an absolute blessing to be in residence at her temple space in Florida.

Morning Sadhana PracticesI am living here in Orlando what at times feels like a sensual monastic life. I awake and have a glass of herbal infusion with lemon and apple cider vinegar and begin my morning Taoist and yogic practices and meditation. Roman, EveLynn’s beloved makes us coffee and I then cook us breakfast and set up my schedule for the day managing clients and noting errands that need running. There are simple things to do here that require tending that lead to a deeper contemplative life, composting, tending to the livestock – two terriers and a beagle, housekeeping and gardening, session work, taking calls from fellow practitioners seeking mentoring and counsel, writing in the evening and soul conversations over good home cooked food, watching a film on history or practice of sexual education evening Taoist jade egg practices followed with a dip in the pool or hot tub and following up with beloveds before bed. Rise, Rinse, Repeat.

Flora and Fauna of Florida

Flora and Fauna of Florida

As I am here, there has been a quiet settling in my bones. Florida moves much slower than New York and my mind, body and spirit seem to be going through a deep and profound healing here because there is time and space to do so. The sanctuary of Sacred Haven has a deep healing energy and as I was reading over EveLynn’s mission statement for it, I was struck – that exactly what she has said in her statement, she has created. Sacred Haven is a sanctuary for the senses and sacred space where people can visit and find ‘peace and reverence, teach and learn, write and read, play and pray, heal and be healed.’ When sessions are slow, EveLynn and I sit and talk for hours. Roman, her beloved, listens and holds space. She is a fount of information and wisdom in regards to sacred sexuality, tantra, sexological bodywork and sex and disabilities as well as transformational ceremonies. For women and select men seeking mentoring in the area of stepping into erotic education work professionally, I HIGHLY recommend her mentoring program.

I had the extraordinary gift of receiving a session from EveLynn and her beloved Roman while I was here. I realized this is the first time I’ve received a session from a couple. I’ve had women, men and multiple women facilitate session work for me, but have never received it from a pair-bonded couple. I must say it was extraordinary. We lay on the bed and I was spooned on both sides and held in a loving embrace before we began so that I felt like I was enfolded in a cocoon of unconditional love. EveLynn took me through energetic breathing practices to stir my sexual energy and raise it up through my body for healing and release. She then led me over to the table and I laughed and cried and trembled for an hour under their touch. So much released from my body and my being that I didn’t even know I was holding onto. Tears over my transitioning relationship with my beloved husband, the anger I felt at myself over staying in New York long past my soul’s expiration date there, the conflict of feeling at the same time grief about leaving New York, all of this stuck energy that had caused me massive almost debilitating backpain for months moved up my spine and out through tears, laughter and the release of primal energy. In closing ceremony, both Isis OrlandoEveLynn and Roman laid a hand over my heart chakra and womb center in perfect balance at the end of the session and smiled lovingly at me. My entire being was washed clean after this experience, like a great dam had opened and everything pent up inside had flooded out. It was a truly profound intiation and healing and opened my eyes to the power of a couple offering this work together.

The highlight of my time, there have really been so many, was EveLynn’s women’s naked church that fell this past Sunday. It was essentially a church for women who identify as working or being called to work in some capacity as a sexuality professional or erotic educator. We gathered on Sunday and shared our stories, laughed and swam naked in the Sacred Haven heated pool and hot tub. At 3pm, we gathered in the pool and EveLynn ordained me into the Madonna  Ministry, something she and I had spoken about for years but only now on this day did it feel right to take that step. I emailed my father about my ordination and received an email from him which I have pasted below.

Dad,

Tomorrow I will be ordained into the Madonna Ministry by Bishop EveLynn Maurine. Molly and I have been staying in her Sacred Haven Sanctuary here in Orlando, FL with her and her two dogs and her beloved Roman. While my ordination will not change how I’m doing things in my work now, it will give me something to rest my spine against where my work can feel more contained and supported. http://www.madonnaministry.net/

Orlando is an interesting place. It’s warm here and I’m glad to have missed the snow storm in NY. I’m having a good time and Molly is a poolside chillin’ dog. Miss you!

Love,

Missa

Missa,

So happy for you. I think that your work is very powerful and if this helps support your vision then I am very pleased. I believe that

you are already are in tune with the Cosmic Consciousness and will be directed the ways you need to go. Just remember if something

doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t and if you feel a ‘warm glow’ flowing from your heart out then it is.

Miss you too. Please keep me up to date.

Love you.

Dad

ImageI think we found the warm glow feeling. Here is my ordination pic.

My father, despite the controversial nature and cutting edge of this work, particularly as it is viewed from the Bible belt, has been quietly supportive of my chosen path. It is more than I could have ever hoped for. My mother and I have had a different journey as I have stepped into my dharma and becoming.

I will continue to take sessions here at Sacred Haven with EveLynn through February 18th.  Then I fly back to New York for a few days and then sojourn again in New Orleans where I will celebrate my birthday and bask in the energy of Mardi Gras with dear friends.

I’m so incredibly grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met and the deeply nourishing journey since the beginning of the year.

In Deep Gratitude,

Isis

Aside

Isis Phoenix Sensual Shaman Tour “Stories from the Road”

ImageHail and Welcome to the New Year!

What a delicious first month it has been. The Isis Phoenix Sensual Shaman U.S. & Canada Tour is well under way. I touched down in New Orleans on January 6th with my beloved beagle Molly Brown accompanying the travels. Our journey getting there, however, was a bit harried. We were waylaid with the aftermath of delayed flights circa the New Years winter storm that blew through a few days prior and inundated with security lines that snaked around all of LaGuardia. After a fashionably late arrival, we touched down in the Big Easy where we were picked up at the airport by our dear friend Audrey of Madison Holistic New Orleans and ushered to our flat where Molly and I set up our transformational temple through January 15th. I arrived just late enough to miss the Joan of Arc parade but was grateful that this sacred feminine icon was honored just before I got there.

ImageMolly and I got to know the city taking long walks through the French Quarter and the museum arts district grabbing some chicory coffee for our strolls and spending some time in the local art galleries.

We had a long line of enthusiastic people come in for naked yoga and sensual shamanic bodywork and we generally enjoyed everyone we met. Every client I saw in New Orleans was a man, which was unusual for me as my practice is generally fifty percent men fifty percent women these days. The masculine clearly longs for the divine feminine here.

I was blessed with meeting wonderful new friends and traveling the ins and outs of the city accompanied by my sweet beagle. There are good southern values in New Orleans  – a town of southern hospitality and sweet sounds of jazz.  I had a great chaperone, an old-fashioned southern gentleman named Greg who was introduced to me by my mutual friends Lisa Kazmer and Eric Finkelman. Greg is one of those charming old southern-ers that sport old-fashioned values and know how to show a traveling lady a good time. I lovingly called him the Mayor of Bourbon Street as he seemed to know EVERYONE. We dined at Galatoire’s and had a private balcony set up for us at a little champagne bar off Bourbon Street, I think called French 74. Greg got the flu the next day, I think my Shakti was too much for him 😉

ImageOn my day off, with new friends I enjoyed traditional coffee and beignets at Café DuMonde, took photos by the steam boats on the Mississippi and visited the famous tree of life right next to the New Orleans zoo. I watched the sunset over the river, did lots of impromptu yoga and had some incredible conversations on everything from  sound healing, metaphysics, relationships and spirituality.

My one downside to this incredible experience in New Orleans was that Molly had a really hard time when I would leave her alone to go out at night. The place where we were staying was quite haunted and Molly would lay her ears back and stare into the dark night for hours. Sometimes curtain rods would fall off the windows or we would wake to strange pools of water in places in the flat and in the session room. This past full moon is called the Wolf Moon which is just asking for a baying beagle to howl at it and howl she did with fear and anxiety when I would leave at night to explore the town. We got a noise complaint for a neighbor that gave us a bit of a scare. I’m open to hearing feedback around suggestions if anyone has tips and techniques for elevating dog anxiety that is triggered around abandonment. I won’t be taking Molly to Mardi Gras in February and March but she’ll be coming to Orlando to stay with our dear friend EveLynn who has two fabulous pups of her own.

We departed New Orleans on the evening of the 15th and touched down late in New York City under heavy fog conditions. We had a day here and then left to go offer bodywork at women’s weekend held by the fabulous Dr. Tammy Nelson. I find it is always such a gift when women ask for and claim their right to receive nourishing, healing sensual touch. I offered yoni steams, shamanic clearings, uterine alignment ceremonies and sensual bodywork to a powerhouse of diverse Shakti-fied women. The Shakti was so powerful that weekend the phones and internet and hot tub all short circuited where we were staying at some point. On Saturday night, after completing session work, I joined the women for a glorious dinner and then loaded up my massage table and drove back to New York City to catch the final third of Dzieci’s 24 hour Maraton Intensive. They are a group I’ve worked intensely with for the past two years whose quality and commitment to their work is unparalleled. If you ever dare to take a true shamanic journey into the paratheatrical, this is the one to take. Dzieci does it once a year – look for it next January. I joined this beloved theatre company during the midnight drum circle and just before the peyote chant – (no actual peyote is used). We danced, drummed and until about 7am.

ImageI then crashed for a few hours and rose refreshed and took Molly and drove to Leominster, Massachusetts to spend a few days with our dear friend Lloyd, a perfect retreat after much work and a tired body from facilitating so many pleasure filled rituals. The three of us had adventures in the snow. There were times where I would look around and think… I can’t believe this is my life… how glorious… what a wonderful creation. I am so blessed, so very, very blessed.

I’ll be in New York City until February 1st and then off to Orlando through the 18th. Look for Molly and I under the Florida sunshine. EveLynn and I will offer some double sessions while I am down there and have a clothing optional spiritual gathering at her abode, details to come!

Save the Dates Feb 25-March 6th Isis in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and her Birthday!

March 15th-19th Isis in Phoenix / Tucson

April 1st-7th Isis in Toronto with Tricia

“Bonobos: Make Love Not War” Guest blog by Britta Love

Britta is taking the 8 week Sensual Shaman Immersion I offer and recently discovered on a shamanic journey that the Bonobo was her sexual power animal. Her research on this beloved creature has made its way into her Masters Research.

Enjoy!
Isis

Bonobos: Make Love Not War by Britta Love Bonobos

Bonobos are our peace-loving cousins, a little known and only recently discovered species of monkey. Previously thought to be ‘small chimps’, they’re actually an entirely different species. As opposed to chimp society, which is a ‘dominator’ culture, bonobo cultures demonstrate remarkable cooperation and peacemaking capacity.

The bonbobo is an omnivorous frugivore. The majority of its diet is fruit, but it supplements its diet with leaves, meat from small vertebrates such as flying squirrels, and invertebrates. They nest high up in the trees of their jungle, which is swamp jungle (there’s half a mile of swamp inland from the river before you hit the ground, tough terrain.)

In 20+ years of research, there has yet to be one instance intergroup killing by bonobos (complete opposite of chimps.) In fact, when two different groups come across each other, the males do stand and posture, waving sticks and baring their teeth. But the females from both groups immediately gather together and start sharing food or grooming each other. Now bonded, the men can do nothing but acquiesce to the new peace. In fact, groups of bonobos have been known to then integrate and travel together for a week or more.

There is also no infanticide in bonobo groups. This is because there is no way of discerning paternity due to bonobos’ nonstop sexual exploits! So killing a baby could be killing your own baby. In fact, male bonobos are known to babysit and interact with little ones even though they don’t know that it is ‘theirs’. Overall, bonobos are more sensitive and emotionally aware than chimps. Bonobos are known to show empathy and help other species too. Young bonobos stay with their mothers for five years in a prolonged childhood. In fact, sons basically never leave their mothers, staying always by her side. This differs from chimps who leave their mothers to bond with other males.

Bonobos live in a kind of ‘matriarchal’ society. The females are the first who have access to food and resources and they decide who gets what. Females form strong bonds by sharing food and through sexual activity like tribadism (rubbing genitals with/on each other for a period of 10-20 seconds, which females do every two hours on average!!!) While the males are physically stronger, they lack the bonded group that females form, and therefore their occasional attempts to dominate fall flat on their face. From the PBS documentary: “Males want to muscle in but if females stand united the males remain under their collective thumb.” (!!!) The sons of powerful females in the group have higher social status – but once their powerful momma passes away, they immediately lose their status.

When there is tension, sex is used to diffuse the situation. There was AMAZING footage in one documentary I watched. A male bonobo is running, clearly aggressively, large stick in hand. Mid-run he realizes he’s approaching a female bonobo and drops his stick for a quick shag. Anger forgotten!

In fact, sex has all number of social functions. It is like a handshake or greeting, it’s used to bond/create intimacy, to resolve issues and for reconciliation. They have all kinds of sex as well – gay, straight, masturbation, tongue kissing, oral sex, and they have sex face to face which is rare in the animal kingdom. They have much gentler sex compared to chimps. In a group, female will have sex with all the males. This constant sexual interaction creates calm in bonobo life. Intimacy makes it hard to stay angry!

Bonobos give us insight into our lineage of cooperation and partnership societies, that likely existed farther back in hunter-gatherer (pre-agricultural) times. They share the DNA we have that is correlated to affiliation/bonding, which chimps lack. It is interesting to realize that a lot of what we think is ‘natural’ about ourselves comes from our knowledge of chimpanzee culture – when actually we are equally related to bonobos, and in fact, resemble them more physically (more distinct faces, longer legs, pronounced breasts, larger penises). Although on a side note – a female bonobo weighing perhaps half that of a human teenager, “has a clitoris that is three times bigger than the human equivalent – and visible enough to waggle unmistakably as she walks”! (Wikipedia)

Unfortunately bonobos are very difficult to study. They are an endangered species, there are only about 30,000 of them left, all in the jungles of the Congo – where they are hunted for bush meat as well as the pet trade. Researchers have barely had a chance to study them because of the constant warfare and uncertainty in the region and it’s a very difficult place to be a scientist! But there seems to be so much hope in this cute cousin of ours. Interestingly, the translation of ‘bonobo’ in their language is ‘ancestor’.

After watching a few documentaries, I thought I’d better start doing my reading for my next packet of masters work. I was astounded to find an entire chapter devoted to primates, particularly the bonobos, in Riane Eisler’s “Sacred Pleasure” which I’m reading for my master’s program. The premise of her book is that there are two strands of our evolution – ‘dominator’ culture based on fear/pain and ‘partnership’ culture based on pleasure. She stresses that “bonobos demonstrate an evolutionary movement toward sex as a means of reinforcing social relations based on the give and take of shared sensual pleasure rather than on coercion and fear.” Bonobos are masters of using sex as peacemaking ritual. It’s important to note that bonobos aren’t inherently peaceful, or there would be no need to make peace! They just know how to use female bonding and all kinds of sex to make peace and prevent violence.

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Learning all this about bonobos has been so powerful. I knew a little bit of it but hadn’t thought about bonobos in a long time. The deeper I got the more powerfully it resonated and the more I saw the importance of their discovery for our evolutionary understanding – as well as my own personal understanding. I want to be a master of using sex as peacemaking, healing and spiritual ritual.

Yesterday during my morning meditation, I discovered a new direction for my career. From the signs I received and the direction I’m now heading, I feel this is connected to the animal totem work we did this week.

In honor of my bonobos I did skip a few meals this week which actually felt good, it reminded me that as animals our bodies are more adapted to eating when we find food, rather than at scheduled mealtimes. I also introduced fruit (bananas!) into my diet, kind of by accident because my sister kept bringing them home and forcing me to drink the banana smoothies she makes every day. I realized I almost never eat fruit these days, I’ve gone off fruit for the past year! I think it’s a good time to start reintroducing it into my diet.

I completely resonate with bonobo sexuality. I can easily see how sex can be used completely pragmatically for any number of social functions. I would say that I have always seen sex as a way to create and maintain intimacy – even when I identified as an asexual, I saw the value of sex in that capacity and was happy to participate for that reason only.

It’s a shame that in our society, it would be a bit dangerous to go down on all fours with your skirt raised in between two blokes about to have a fight – what a powerful image!”

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