Courting Ms. Violet

ImageIt is a Wednesday afternoon in late April.  The day is overcast and cold for the middle of Spring.  I wear my winter coat and sling my foraging bag over my shoulder.  I am off to Central Park and pray to the water elementals to hold off until I am finished harvesting.

I am on a mission.  Making violet medicine.  She’s been calling to me all Spring.   While my ambitious appetite wants to go out and harvest many things and make lots of different tinctures, I am reminded my herbal teacher’s mantra, learn one plant a time.  During my entire seven-month herbal apprenticeship we were asked to find a plant ally and get to know just one plant for seven months intimately.  While I learned much about many different plants during this time, my relationship to my plant ally that I meditated with for seven months is of course the strongest.

This season, a new plant ally has risen up to be greeted and I am becoming more familiar with her delightful acquaintance.  Violet (viola odorata).  This is my third time harvesting from her this season.  First was a glycerin based tincture, then a vinegar from her leaves that are high in vitamin C along with a violet cordial which turned out to be truly delicious.  Today I was guided to make an oil from her leaves as a new base for womb and breast salves and a vodka-based tincture from all her parts.

Violet called to me across the park and told me exactly where to gather her.  In my shamanic herbal apprenticeship, we were taught to listen to and hear the voice, song and healing energy of the plant through channeling the plants deva, or spirit.  While this may sound mystical or other-worldly, it is actually quite simple and involves deep presence, listening and a little trust and belief in magic.

While many violets were growing along the Central Park pathways, she was very specific with me about which ones wanted to be harvested.  She asked that I call her Ms. Violet and sing to her while I harvested her.  She told me where there were extra leaves that needed to be cleared so the ivy could grow and to be generous when I took her flowers because the spring ones were decorative and her true flowers that seeded next years violets would be up in the fall.

On singing and picking, I was transported to when I was a little girl picking wild violets in my grandmother’s backyard.   It was a ritual I relished every spring.  I would bring a small bouquet of these delicate, purple, handpicked flowers and present them to my grandmother.  She would put them in a glass vase with opaque glass violets etched into it. The vase went in my grandmother’s living room among all my grandmother’s beautiful colored glass and antiques.  Somedays, after picking a fresh bouquet, I would sit next to them in the green velvet chair in my grandmother’s living room and just look at their shape – their long slender stem and the ever so fragile nature of their petals.  I sighed wistfully at this sweet memory of long ago.  Had I known they were edible at the time I’m sure I would have found them a tasty snack.

During a self-pleasuring meditation ritual after I had harvested my first batch of violets this summer, my clitoris actually appeared to me as a violet.  Her delicate petals opening and unfolding, the beautiful engorged veins in my labia mirroring the lovely purple striping in her petals.  I know women often refer to their vulvas as flower like but this time I got that metaphor on a much deeper more profound level.

As I harvested in the park today, Ms. Violet told me she would sooth this chronic throat irritation that had been with me for months and when I used her tincture and she would help me speak more clearly and effectively when I sometimes jumbled my words or sentences together.  Violet has a delicate but steady flo, like a well tuned violin being playing long sustained notes.  She told me she would help my throat and voice come back into balance from the nodes and polyps I had developed on my vocal cords.  Her heart shaped leaves reflected the shape of my thyroid.  My body loved having a fresh violet leaf placed right at my collarbone to support my sluggish thyroid that sometimes needs encouragement.

Violet has a soothing and claming effect on the nervous system and supports regulating excess heat in the body.  She has a love for women’s breasts and is a natural supporter of healthy breast tissue and helps smooth out lumps, bumps and cysts both in the breast tissue and in ovaries.  Her leaves make a wonderful poultice over skin irritants, eczema, or places where there’s been chronic pain and inflammation.

If you find yourself in a field of violets stop and sit with her.  Sample a few of her flowers.  Some are being candied in my kitchen as I write this (painted with egg white and sprinkled with sugar and left to dry.)  She is a beautiful ally to become acquainted with holding the coolness of Spring in her body to relieve the body’s natural inflammatory tendencies and a wonderful generous plant high in vitamins that the body loves.

Thank you Ms. Violet for all of your wonderful medicine and your generous nature!

Sexual Shamanic Priestess Tenets

Sexual Shamanic Priestess Tenets

Shamanic Goddess

 The Sexual Shamanic Priestess is an ancient archetype that is returning to our consciousness to be reactivated. The Sexual Shamanic Priestess nourishes the cycles of orgasmic energy and inner rhythms and cycles of herself, her community and all of creation. In stepping into this archetype, we step into the wholeness of our power and repair our fragmented connection with Mother Earth and the fragmented connection between our sexuality and our spirituality. Through pleasure, love, ritual and Earth based wisdom and reverence the Sexual Priestess holds the wisdom of oneness with all of creation. In this powerful all women-retreat, we will journey to awaken the Sexual Priestess within each of us, reclaiming our individual and collective sexual power, opening to our authentic creative and sensual self-expressions and entraining our dance with the cycles of nature and the cosmos.  I’ve been crafting a list of tenets of the Sexual Shamanic Priestess.  This is the beginning.  I’d love to hear yours!

Sexual Shamanic Priestess Tenets

 

The sexual shamanic priestess…

 

Is one with nature.

 

Honors and celebrates all of nature’s cycles and all of the cycles and phases of womanhood.

 

Maximizes these natural cycles to direct energy with intent for personal transformation, perfect health, abundance and manifestation of her desires adhering to the shamanic principles of right relationship.

 

Nourishes her sexuality and sensuality with the governing principles that her body is her own to share and celebrate as she desires and that all acts of love and pleasure are her rituals.

 

Celebrates and honors her body and the bodies of others and connects and shares from a place of generosity, fullness and love.

 

Practices self-inquiry.

 

Knows and honors that her sexuality is hers and is also an extension of the Earth’s macrocosm of sexual life force energy.

 

Serves as a conduit of an essential sacred energy that exists within nature and a translator of this wisdom.

 

Sexual shamanic priestess is an embodiment of the Goddess and bringer of sexual joy by which animal instincts are transformed into the art and practice love and love-making.

 

Reinstates sexuality in its fundamental position as our birthright and a holy body blessing

 

Seeks to support and empower other women in accessing their sexual sensual life force for pleasure, creativity and health.

 

She brings her soul gifts to service her community.

 

I’d love to hear what the your tenets are for the Sexual Shamanic Priestess!

Please Comment Below.

AND Save the date for our the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat  in upstate New York at Galiana July 12th-14th!

Love,

Isis

Air Lover – Completing Incomplete Relationships with Compassionate Communication

AIR LOVER – Completing Incomplete Relationships with Compassionate Communication

Love is in the Air

We are in Air week in the Sensual Shaman Immersion exploring the lover archetype.  In the element of Air, we explore our communication, self-expression and discernment in relationship to our hearts, ourselves and the inner and outer lover.

As we move into the element of Air in with the Lover Archetype, we explore speaking and not speaking, choosing and discerning our words rather than reacting with our words.  Do our words articulate our love even when there is pain?  Do they work to create more love and openness?  Do they open us and others?  Do they close us and others down?  The six week Immersion series is never easy and it brings up everything that source says we need to look at to support our intentions and return to right relationship with ourselves, our hearts and our communities.

 

This week as a group we examined the places where we’ve been hiding from the lover archetype in anyway, changing our words or withholding them in order to downplay the full expression of our self, our emotions and the full expression of love.  This week we took the opportunity to have transparency and/or completion conversations with any previous or current relationships in our lives that we felt were holding ourselves back from being the fully self-expressed radiant lover we are meant to be.  This included dialoging with the inner lover and also examining those places where we have hidden, hardened or poisoned our hearts from ourselves and others.  We examined where we held residual vibrations of guilt, shame, fear or regret around past or present relationships and moved forward in our week with completion conversations. Let me give you an example.

This past summer, I was exploring my relationship to divine masculine energy and where and how I needed to heal my inner relationship to this energy in my own body.  As I slept one night, I was shown in a very powerful dream all the times I had been in any way intentionally or unintentionally cruel to any male relationship in my life.  In a particularly poignant chapter of this dream, I was brought back to a time in high school where I was dating a beautiful artist and gypsy musician named Oliver.  Oliver was a year younger than me, I was a senior in high school and he was a junior.  Everything about Oliver’s presence intrigued me and set fire to the poetry of my soul.  He was someone who found magic in every moment while I at the time was seeking to suppress the magic within me.  At the time I struggled with finding the right words to articulate everything I felt in our relationship.  I felt so many emotions surge up when I was around him including forbidden passions that he seemed to effortlessly express through his music and art and that I had bottled up and were slowly destroying me.  Not having a conduit to channel my bottlenecked emotions, I began to take out my suppressed feelings on Oliver.  I did this by withdrawing and retreating from him, avoiding him in the halls, not returning calls and not speaking to him because the emotions stirred too much up in me and were too much to process at any given time.  I had no channel for expression of these emotions and no form for the use of conscious loving language.  I was in a space of teenage romance but the feelings within me did not know how to express themselves.  I had no model for intelligent emotional communication.   There was no class that was given in our public education system that said here’s how to have a love-centered conversation with someone during times of emotional turmoil.  I eventually pulled away, retreated and disconnected from Oliver in what is considered typical emotional abandonment because I was in fact abandoning my own emotions and tumultuous feelings at the time.

After I was shown this dream, I reached out to another healer and colleague.  I told him about the dream and asked for his advice.  He said I should reach out to Oliver.  I of course knew this, but I was terrified. I waited weeks and then I found Oliver on Facebook. Below is what unfolded in our correspondence.  I wrote this email with no expectations other than to simply complete what I had not been able to complete with Oliver and to honor the time we had spent together and the very true genuine love and affection I continue to carry for him in my heart.

Dear Oliver,


I’ve been putting off writing this letter for a few weeks now. A few weeks ago I met you in a dream and was shown very clearly how painfully I treated you in high school. In this dream I saw how much I struggled with communicating clearly and compassionately and my absence of integrity and regard for you feelings in our relationship. I write this to apologize for, in the plainest terms, being cruel. My own confusion and inability to properly articulate and express my emotions for someone I deeply cared for came out in a jumbled mess of outburst and withholds of affection and love. I am truly sorry for any hurt I caused you. While I would not be presumptuous to assume that you even remember these moments or had a similar experience to the one I perceived, I want to apologize for any pain or hurt I caused you by my words, actions and own confusion. 
Oliver, I cared for you deeply, was in awe of you, intrigued by your gypsy mystery and magical nature and at the same time found it scary, elusive and intimidating. This welled up a huge amount of insecurity in my own system that I misdirected into our communication and relationship. 
Oliver, I am so sorry. From the depths of my being and deepest subconscious places I am sorry. Thank you for being you, in all your beauty and magic. I honor you. I adore you. I wish you all good things.


With Warmest Thoughts & Much Affection,


Isis                       

Oliver’s Response:

Isis,

I apologize for taking a few days to respond to your kind, thoughtful note.  Thank you for writing to me to express these feelings. Not to freak you out, but I remember our times really well, and while there surely must have been a period of being somewhat confused or bummed, I really can’t recall it well. It’s not what sticks out. It didn’t take too long for me to understand that you were going through some things and needed something different. We were young, crazy and such, and if we had to be held accountable for our past actions instead of present intentions, every human animal would be screwed. From my end, I deeply apologize if I treated you coldly at any point thereafter and left that hanging. Had we been who we are, perhaps we could have done better. I felt like I had to protect myself for a while, but soon I moved on and had good friends, including my guitar, who all helped me navigate my end of the emotional stuff. 

 

The thing most imprinted and perhaps the only one that has ever popped into my head is of standing in the parking lot outside java dave’s, cafe cubana, or whatever it was at the time and kissing for what seemed like hours, just standing there in the parking lot and repeating this in perhaps other public locations. just stuck together, stock still for a very long time. I think about this because I wrote a song about it a long time ago, close to 10 years now. Not sure you came across it or if I sent something out when I made the recordings, but here’s a link: http://oliverorion.com/track/what-was-required 
The song began from that memory of those times, and that’s a fair trade to me. 
Thank you for writing! 
-Oliver

When we speak the words that need to be spoken, we create a place of completion and reshape our reality.  We can move forward in our integrity.  We can re-pattern the wounded lover, the overwhelmed lover, the distant lover, the scorned lover.  When we do this, we free up the poetry of our soul to express itself and invite the inner lover to dance with us once again.

Today I am in a place where instead of retreating from relationships with big emotions, big feelings and big processes, I can witness my impulse to do that and grab my inner scared cub by the scruff of the neck and put her back in front of the big emotions that make her scared.   This does not mean that I do not close down.   I am opening and closing all the time, only now I am aware of it and my inner big mama grizzly is there to corral her bear cub and say “Stay. Listen. Speak.  Hear.  Bleed here with your heart open.  Do not run from it.”

I am so grateful to Oliver for giving me permission to post the above exchange and share his music.   I hope you enjoy!

The Warrior’s Bond – Intimacy in Battle

Kissing - painting by Alex Grey

Kissing – painting by Alex Grey

A friend and colleague Lloyd writes in:

I want to see a return to the adoration of the Earth Mother, but I also think our day is unique in that men and women have never been able to work together, shoulder to shoulder, like this before. The differences in strength, size and temperament matter less now. Traditional roles and stereotypes are no longer appropriate. I think finding sexual synergy and combining our energies in ways that don’t just complement each other but enhance our combined powers is vital.

 
Forgive the reversion to my scientist personality, but I’ve been thinking a lot about bonding lately. We know something of the role of oxytocin in creating emotional bonding when lovers couple and when mothers suckle their infants. But something like that also occurs between soldiers who have been to battle together. I can assure you we do not (usually) couple or suckle. But a strong bond is formed and I’m not sure what the mechanism is. For men there is a clear line between sexual and non sexual bonding that I think is less defined between women. But what happens when women and men bond in the way warriors bond? Will it work without the sexual bonding pushing it aside or conflicting in some way? Sex tends to get in the way rather than empower. If you have any insight, I’d love to hear it.
 
With much affection,

Lloyd

Dear Lloyd,

Always a joy to hear from you.  Here are a few things that come to mind….

Because the emotional chakra and the sexual chakra are hence the same chakra our ‘feeling center’ or center of clarisentience – ‘clear feeling’ or in some cases ‘not so clear feeling’ (seems to me things can get pretty mucked up in this area with all the conditions, restrictions and limitations we put on ourselves), I’m not surprised that when strong emotional experiences unfold between two people, sexual experiences generally follow.

In any sort of deeply impacting or traumatizing situation this of course includes war, it is natural to feel close to another human being who has shared the same experience.   The experience of trauma and tragedy, particularly in war, in many ways dissolves boundaries and barriers both internal and external between you and another human being.  We catch, in moments of catastrophe, holy witnesses and glimpses of “God” in each other.  These moments forever bond individuals.
I am reminded of two Korean men I met at King Spa in New Jersey last month. I was sitting in the ice room with a few of my girlfriends who had joined me for a spa trip.  These men probably in their mid seventies sat across from each other in silence.  Eventually I engaged one of the men in conversation and he was more than happy to speak about his love for the bathhouse and his relationship to his friend who was sitting next to him who he fought with on the American side of the Korean war.  They made special trips to see each other each year leaving their spouses at home, year after year.  They were silent in the bathhouse, very little communication passing between them, but I could feel their bond was sacred.  It was something they needed to do for themselves to honor what had transpired in their time together.
As far as men and women, now, assuming we are looking through a heterosexual lens, I think that because the emotional stakes of war initiations create such deep grooves in ones emotional energetic system, it is natural to bond to those who share the same experience and perhaps even creates an intimacy that one would not experience otherwise between two people.  In my practice of teachings sacred sexuality, I have the privilege and the responsibility of seeing the most intimate aspects of individuals on a daily basis.  The way I keep myself clear and contained is to create sacred space and to release any energetic hooking or cording that has transpired between myself and my clients and colleagues at the end of our time together.  This keeps me grounded, the space of intimacy specific and out of a cycle of projection and energetic loose ends.
That said, there have been on a handful of occasions a person or energy that we were not able to let go of the sacred space together and that involved a mutual desire to continue exploring the relationship.  These occasions were rare and developed into wonderful consensual friendships and relationships as the communication was clear between us about wanting to continue to explore each others energies and feelings.  My question to you is, in the event of a powerful initiation that brings a warrior closer to another warrior, it is useful to ask oneself, is this someone who I truly desire to be in relationship with, if so what is the best form of the relationship?  Is this someone I journey to see once a year, the love of my life, a pen pal, or someone who I hold in thought when I remember my fallen brothers and sisters and give a silent prayer of thank you he/she is still alive and well today.
You spoke of sex ‘getting in the way’ in these relationships.  Here’s where I would split your attention.  Sex can indeed get in the way if it is not in the highest good for the nature of the relationship to become sexual or if we have previous agreements that we would be breaking in our lives or our potential sexual partners lives by becoming sexual.
But what if it was in the highest good?  And our agreements, feelings and sexual turn-on were all sympatico with our prospective partners, then sexuality could in fact further and deepen a bond between two people that have been desiring to feel and experience each other.  I find when I am feeling sexual towards someone, it is best to speak about it openly and transparently so that we are both on the same page.  At that point we can create a container for the sexuality, even if the container is simply the response of ‘Thank you for saying that.  I am not available to explore a sexual relationship with you.’  This at a minimum brings clarity, directness and simplicity to what could potential be a ‘complicated’ situation.
Thank you for bringing this amazing inquiry!

Foundation, Boundaries & Community – The Art of Great Facilitation – a note to Sacred Sexuality Educators and Tantric Therapists

Foundation, Boundaries & Community – The Art of Great Facilitation – a note to Sacred Sexuality Educators and Tantric Therapists

We are on a learning curve with our boundaries in the Tantra, Sacred Sexuality, Sensual Enlightenment Community.  If you’re feet have been on this path even a little bit, inevitably you’ve landed at a Tantra workshop or puja – a mixed gendered event that takes you through a series of exercises or explorations that are focused on opening you to divine love, embracing the God/Goddess within, awakening the divine sensual you.  Inevitably after these events, people feel wide open and available.  They are more full of love, more themselves, more an embodiment of the divine we all as humans seek.  However, in this wide-open space there also arises a lack of boundaries, sensual self-containment and discernment.  After most every event, I’ve been hugged a little too long, asked for my phone number, asked for a do-date, asked if I felt the same amazing connection the person across from me felt and told we should explore our connection further with a ‘do-date’, massage trade, drinks later, etc.  I have also after a puja considered leaving my partner, becoming polyamorous or questioned if I was secretly a lesbian.  These wonderful boundary dissolving gatherings open us up to the vast potential of human love but also leave us in a lurch without proper grounding and good boundaries.

It’s the Earth week in my Sensual Shaman Immersion Series.  We begin our journey through the medicine wheel in the Immersion by beginning in the North with the element of Earth in an effort to ground, even though in conventional circles it is customary to open in the East with the direction of new beginnings.  We begin with Earth because as a whole, our western population tends towards body disconnection.  In Earth week we come to rest fully in our own body, the vessel and container of our soul.  The actual skin of our body is the largest organ and is the physical manifestation of our boundaries.   We also acknowledge our foundation, that which our healing and wholeness is built upon.  The element of Earth in the north is also our ancestry, our lineage of sexual awakening and embodiment and what we learned about sex and relationships from our parents and from our culture.  We begin here as a historical self-reflection and to also offer the maximum amount of potential to align, reprogram and transform.

I am ever cautious about who attends the Immersion as it is a long and intensive six-week journey that demands the right constellation for group growth and transformation.  I find that discernment in workshop settings about who attends is rare.  I have always held a mildly discernable all-inclusive policy in naked yoga classes and Holy Body Worship, but the Immersion is something else.  It requires a constellation of people who have a strong foundation, so to speak.  I need to know people can go deep and that they also have a support system around them when they leave the space.  The work is deep and process oriented and each person in the room is a wisdom holder.

We currently live in the age of information.  We can have instant manifestation.  I can be initiated into Reiki across the world without having anyone actually lay hands on me or teach me the art of laying on of hands.  On any day of the week, I could visit a naked yoga class, a sexuality workshop, a Tantra training, an Ayuascha ceremony.  I could in a months time with no yoga experience become a certified yoga teacher or within three sessions become a ‘Reiki Master,’ or even be initiated as a priestess.

There is a training for everything however flimsy it might be.  In the ancient lineages of Tantra and even in some sexual shamanic traditions, one was not initiated before their time and having a proper foundation for the teachings to rest on was everything.  It took years of study on the absolute basics with daily sadhanas and practices to lay a foundation for the spiritual path before one would dare be taught the most advanced practices around sexuality and spiritual mystery as a form of empowerment and transformation.  One was asked to chop wood and to carry water for years before one was initiated in the more esoteric teachings.

I too perhaps learned several very deep and profound teachings before my time by request because I had an insatiable thirst for the cup of enlightenment.  I wanted to drink really deep without doing the work that was required to lay a proper foundation. This age of information goes hand in hand with our western need for immediate gratification.

While beginning my path in my early twenties, what I did not have was a foundation of where to root everything or boundaries that were authentic to who I was at the time.  There was definitely a lust I felt for attaining certifications or initiations without doing the real work or the hours of practice.  This path caught up and humbled me to my knees several times in my life as superficial structures or foundations of spiritual growth caved in around me because I had not gone deep enough into my own work and process to reprogram them.

Over the past decade, I’ve seasoned as a seeker and filled in many gaping holes in my path and practice and become more authentic in my seeking.  What has not gone away is the thirst for the divine – that I understand now is a life(times)long path.  The thirst is quieter now or perhaps I should say, I am quieter when I receive it.  I no longer feel the need to make ambitious pilgrimages to India, or launch into long trainings with gurus.  The thirst and hunger for divine connection and the quiet raptures of fulfillment emerges in my morning walks in nature with my beloved beagle as we witness the change of the seasons.  That divine connection is present as I cook food for my family or even as I clean the house with a devotion of love.  The connection is present among a handful of what I would call true friends who I have shared sacred ceremony with over the years.  It comes in moments of listening to the herbs speak to me and tell me how to mix them and what to give to whom.  It is in the simple tasks of chopping wood and carrying water that the ecstasy of simple connections and daily sadhanas (practices) that bring me closer to source.

What I see now, and hindsight is a crystal 20/20, are many interested in becoming initiated and even teaching the deeper practices of sexuality and consciousness who have not done the work on themselves yet who want the high, the quick fix, the band-aid approach, the immediate gratification, the false prestige that the age of information allows without laying a healthy spiritual foundation for oneself first not to mention a healthy blueprint for being in relationship.

I had a man after a yoga class come up to me hearing that I worked as a sacred sexuality teacher and told me he was a Daka and had just finished his certification training.  He then proceeded to encircle me in a hug and begin Tantric breathing with me without my consent.  This man was also what one would consider creepy!  Not only did he pretzel his body around mine when I had only just met him, he also held a used car salesman vibe, like he was in the work as a blanket permission slip to feel women up because he was certified. When we do not have a container for sensual spiritual experiences from doing the inner work, energies, emotions and experiences become projected, messy and uncontained.

Our template for sexuality and spirituality starts with seeing how our parents model sexuality and relationship for us, then how our culture and how our friends do.  If the models are fractured or broken, this brokenness enters our system.  When we are not given a healthy foundation for teachings, transmissions and information to support ourselves, esoteric teachings especially around sexuality have the potential to become misappropriated, misinterpreted and mis-used.  If our inner model is broken, the teachings will seep into the shadow of the brokenness.  The same happens with spirituality and especially when spiritual and sexual teachings blend together, read: celibate gurus turning their students into lovers and priests molesting children.  Even in the Tantric community, one that seemingly thrives on being transparent with their boundaries or sometimes claiming to have none, at least we’re talking about sex, but it doesn’t make the hastily exploring and healing from overstepping boundaries any easier.

I’m so appreciative at workshops and sensually inclusive gatherings where instructors model and demand healthy boundaries in the space.  There are three instructor’s trainings that I find particularly admirable in this regard. Reid Mihalko’s & Marcia Baczynski’s Cuddle Party  where each participant practices saying ‘no’ to another person and works on clear communication throughout the event.  Two hi-lights I have always loved from Reid’s teaching is if you are a ‘maybe’ say ‘no’ and always honor the agreements you have already made with others in your life while you are at the Cuddle Party i.e. don’t call your partner up and renegotiate your terms half way through a cuddle party.

Another boundary and sensual self-containment supportive environment is Betty Martin’s Like a Pro Training that dissolves the concepts of ‘doing’ and ‘being done to’ and reworks simple requests like conscious giving and receiving that are based on the present moment and not what we think giving pleasure to our partner or receiving pleasure should look like.

The third is Teeni Dakini’s energy essentials class.  Teeni’s essentials class identifies the basics of energetically being in a body and how to maintain healthy boundaries and abundant energetic resources from a place of self-containment.

A good question that was raised for me was what boundaries are useful to keep and what are useful to let go?  Not to be confused, boundaries are not barriers and do not keep intimacy at bay, rather they create a structure where intimacy can flow.  Sometimes we are given boundaries by others and through self-discovery we get to find out if those boundaries are useful or if we need to restructure those.

I begin my private sessions with asking my clients if they have any injuries or special conditions in the body they would like me to know about. Injuries are a good way to start forming boundaries.  From there I ask about touch, if any part of the body doesn’t desire touch and if there are any special qualifications around touch that would like to be present or excluded, for example a client might say he/she would like to remain clothed, or to have the lights on or off or to not have their eyes cover because s/he is afraid of the dark.  Having these simple requests creates a structure where intimacy can flow and where the body can relax. These requests are boundaries.   Boundaries create safety.

When one’s boundaries are crossed or violated, most often the crosser or violator did not mean to cross a boundary and is often oblivious and had no idea there was a boundary there because it was left uncommunicated.  However, when it is crossed the receiver of the boundary violation is often left confused, frozen, disconnected or feels violated or victimized.  At times in the moment, our boundaries can change.  In my work, I check in with individuals throughout our session work letting them know it’s okay to change their mind around a boundary and establish a new boundary.  I had a couple come see me and the woman was clear she did not want my hands anywhere on her husband.  Got it!  But she did want to receive touch from me.  Got it!  On the way home in the car after their session, she expressed to her husband that she wished I had touched him and realized that boundary wasn’t authentic to who she was and what she wanted for their relationship.

If she wanted to readjusted that boundary in the session I would have most likely said no because we had entered into an altered state of consciousness our boundaries become fuzzy, a bad time to renegotiate. I would however be available to renegotiate that in a future session with this couple.  In the renegotiating we move forward together slowly, for example, where is it okay to touch your husband and where is it not okay to touch your husband.  I will also interject my own boundaries such as, I’m not comfortable touching your husband in these ways, etc.

What I would love to see from more facilitators offering this work is the power of holding a strong container with established boundary check-ins for participants as well as a modeling of what healthy boundaries look like.  Often we have to see someone say ‘no’ or to recreate a situation for themselves when a structure or boundary doesn’t feel authentic to them.  A wonderful example of this I experienced recently was a lovely young woman who attended my Awakening the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat.  In our second night of the retreat the women sat around and shared their sexual stories with each other.  As I modeled mine, this young woman raised her hand and asked the group if it would be okay if she disrobed and received the story telling while she was naked and told her story in the nude as well.  The group consented and the young woman disrobed which inspired several others to follow suit.  It was a remarkable moment having this young woman ask for what she needed in the space that was not being modeled for her.  From that model other women chose to participate based on their individual level of comfort.

I also invite workshop instructors to ask individuals to leave if there is someone who is not appropriate for the workshop participating.  I attended a Tantric Workshop for sound and vibration where a man consistently made inappropriate remarks.  While the instructor filtered these comments well, it left the group jarred.  At the end of the evening the man went up to another participant and placed his hand on her buttocks.  She corrected him – good for her.  However, before this point the instructor could have made a decision to ask this individual to leave.  I have asked a handful of individual to leave naked yoga after sensing when they came in the door that this practice wasn’t right for them. I have also as an instructor asked a student to not return to class on behalf of another instructor.  I have also tortuously sat through and not acted on an impulse to ask someone to leave because I was worried about hurting a students feelings rather focusing on the good of the group – my learning curve.

Great facilitation is an art.  It comes out of consistent inner work, deep presence and community.  In the Immersion, I never work without support from another teacher, sometimes two teachers who attend the Immersion as guests.   After each Immersion we decompress afterwards asking what did they see, what worked, what needs improvement, what is going in group dynamics that I might have missed?  If I am the only one holding space and facilitating, there is a greater capacity for blind spots and holes in the work, but in community there is the opportunity for co-creation and stronger space holding.  I also host a Facebook group for New York based Sacred Sexuality therapists so they can network and share success stories and their bad client lists.  In community there is safety, support, accountability and transparency.  As a facilitator, a network of support is essential.  Who do you call after a tough session, or a problematic class?  Who do you refer a tough client to who may not be right for you?  Are you in process yourself and in your own inner work?  Who are your allies, resources and co-creative partners?  Write-in.  I’d love to hear from you and share how we can make our community stronger and support each other in the work.

Energy Orgasms ~ A Romp with Queen Anne

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“What’s wild carrot?” I asked on my first herb walk several years ago.  It was a name I’d heard Kate, our herbal guide, say several times as we began our afternoon walk through Prospect Park.  Kate led us over to a tall slender stemmed white flowering plant with a red center.  “This,” she said triumphantly, “is wild carrot.”  “Queen Anne’s Lace?!” I exclaimed overjoyed that I knew a plant, and wasn’t a total herbal neophyte.  “Yes, also called Queen Anne’s lace,” Kate confirmed.
Hypnotized, I moved closer to the plant.  Something about Queen Anne’s Lace always attracted me. Growing up, I would often find myself simply standing by her, feeling the draw to be close to her stately presence. On family vacations, I had a tendency to walk over to her at road stops and run my fingers over her bird’s nest of delicate white flowers with the mysterious solitary red center that appeared even more crimson in the summer’s sunlight.
On this particular herb walk, Kate, our guide, invited us to speak with wild carrot and open ourselves to receive any intuitions or information from the spirit of the plant.  Having never actually had a dialogue with a plant before, I played along and followed my intuition as it guided me towards a tall statuesque Queen Anne’s Lace towards the middle of the field.  I stood in front of her delicate flowering top and introduced myself.
“Hello.  My name is Isis.”  In that instant, I was immediately swept into a deeply ecstatic state, as if meeting a long lost love.  I felt my womb space open and expand and the edges of my labia begin to tingle and become moist.  A pleasurable wash of energy galloped up my spine and my mouth opened letting out a sound that could only be equated to an orgasmic surprise.  I blushed and quickly looked around to see if anyone heard me.  The other women were deep into their own meditation and did not hear my very public pleasure-filled moan. My Goddess, was I having an orgasm in the skirts of Prospect Park?!
I turned my attention back to Queen Anne.  Rather than having a happy chatty conversation like I assumed the other women were engaging in, the waves of pleasure continued to roll through my system, and the hair on my arms goose-fleshed and stood straight up on my body.
 “Oh Isis,” I heard a voice say.  ‘Ha!’ I laughed out loud losing all awareness of anyone else around me.  “Did I just make this plant, moan?”  I stammered in my mind.  I then felt the two of us, the spirit of the plant and my spirit pull together like magnets. I could feel my heart beat in my uterus and my energetic roots unfold from my legs and reach out and twine around Queen Anne’s roots.  Wave after wave of orgasmic energy moved up my spine.  After about five minutes, Kate, our herb guide, asked us to circle again. I was sure my energy field looked like I’d just had a romp in the hay.  My cheeks were flushed, my heart racing and a glint of perspiration covered my skin.  Had I just made love to a plant?  Kate looked at me quizzically catching my eye and asking if I was okay.  I nodded, and darted my eyes around.  Did anyone else notice my quickie with the plant?  When she asked for impressions around what we experienced, my lips remained sealed.  I wasn’t one to kiss and tell.
My life’s work the past decade has been dedicated to the study and teaching of sacred sexuality through the lens of Shamanism.  Orgasmic experiences were a dime a dozen in my line of work.  But having an energy orgasm with a plant… This was an entirely new paradigm that raised even my eyebrows.   Startled by my experience on the herb walk and feeling the calling of my spirit to immerse more fully in the green world, I signed up for an herbal apprenticeship with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center.
The day before the start of my herbal apprenticeship, my husband and I drove up from New York City and stayed in a B&B in the Catskills.  We unpacked our bags and checked into our room.  As we settled into our cozy accommodations, I took a look around our room and discovered that above the bed on the wall was a picture of Queen Anne’s Lace.  So that’s what this apprenticeship is going to be like, I thought, silently laughing to myself.
As apprentices, our main assignment over the course of our apprenticeship is to cultivate a green ally relationship with one plant.  We were asked to ally with one plant by sitting with her each day, breathing with her and listening for her song.  When the apprentices were given our plant ally assignment, I felt Queen Anne dance beside me. “Yes,” I told her. “I know. We’re allies.”
Throughout the seasons of the seven-month apprenticeship, I meet with Queen Anne  daily for the first two weeks and then weekly.  I saw her grow from a feathery rosette with a white tasty root, to a statuesque Queen who towered over most other wild flowers and finally to the dried hand of the death crone as fall and winter turned and all that were left were her seeds, holding her blue print for the next year.  During the seven months we spent together, she and I moved from rapturous romps to bosom buddies.  I realized too that our first meeting was her acknowledging my work in sacred sexuality and was also her way of telling me she too was an ally in the sexual arts.
As a young maiden plant, her green feathery hair drapes along the Earth’s floor and her curvy and plump womanly root body nestles against the grooves of the Earth cradling her powers for her second year’s growth.  In sitting with her maidenly form in her first year, Queen Anne tells me “Most don’t, but you can actually sauté my greens and root as a tasty vegetable addition to any meal.  My maidenly first year leaves are brain food and supports cell health in the brain and circulation in the body.”
Her second year, she grows a long slender stem and has a crowning white head with a mysterious crimson center.  This is when she is ready to be harvested and when her womanly magic is afoot.  Queen Anne tells me “With strong intention brew my crimson spotted flowerheads in boiling water for fifteen minutes and drink the day after an unwanted potential impregnation.  I will support a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the womb by making the inner surfaces slippery so that it comes right out.” 
In her final phase of life, after her head closes, she instructs me “Take my seeds and carry them in a sweet medicine pouch next to your night table where you keep condoms and lubricant.  I go there if an ‘accident’ happens. Take two teaspoons of seeds every four hours for two days after your ‘opps moment’ and I will keep you from being with child.  In my second year of life I have a hairy stalk to remind you of the psyllium like qualities to move eggs from the womb.” 
“My second year head furls back in the fall but my first year leaf stays green.  In two years, my life is complete and seeds scatter and begin again.   I am the keeper of the maidens moons my red dot shows you when your cycle is upon me and I help bring it on.”

After spending seven months with Queen Anne and graduating my herbal apprenticeship, I feel like my relationship with her has only just begun.  As a sacred sexuality teacher, I’m not surprised that Queen Anne chose me as an ally when so much of her energy teaches about healthy sexuality and reproductive choice, something that our religious and political climate still attempt to usurp control over.   Queen Anne reminds me how to listen to the seasons and cycles within myself and to honor my body, my sexual energy and my reproductive choice as my own intuitive right as a woman.  My relationship with Queen Anne brings me deeper into my own inner rhythms around conscious conception and personal sexual power.  As a sexual shamanic teacher, my wish is for each woman to align with and feel Queen Anne’s support on the rapturous road of their lives.

Herbalist Robin Rose Bennett has researched and written substantially about the effects of Queen Anne’s Lace as herbal contraception.  For more information on Queen Anne’s Lace as herbal contraception Click Here

Lunar Dominant Masculine Sexuality

Lunar Dominant Masculine Sexuality – A Case Study

My practice is like a nature walk – on each encounter with a new client, we take a journey, never quite knowing where we’re going or what we’ll discover along the way.  We trust in our full surrender to universal guidance and divine transmission that we will be lead in the right direction in a state of grace.  This week held a particularly inspiring journey that I felt called to share.

A new journey began this week as I met with first time client, Gabe.  Gabe is a handsome massage therapist and yoga practitioner in his mid thirties.  He is tall with a beautiful body and a gentle spirit. Gabe contacted me specifically around his interest in Shamanism and also hinted that he felt he had blocks in his system particularly around sexuality.  Many of his questions and contemplations around relationships and sexuality were deeply thought out and held profound insights that had come from true introspection on his part.  Gabe had recently broken up from his relationship of two years with his live-in girlfriend and contacted me with the impression he was blocked or stuck around his sexuality.  When I inquired further, he said it took him time to find a connection or feel a connection in sex.

Gabe explained to me in the past, his girlfriend would often desire sex or initiate sex, which generally resulted in Gabe doing his best to please her, but ultimately leaving the experience one-sided and on his part void of intimacy or true connection.  Gabe found these interactions difficult and found himself challenged in his ability to stay present for sex or to generate the connection that both he and his girlfriend desired to experience.  He expressed that he needed time to feel or generate an authentic connection for this desire to awaken and for him to become aroused.  He found it difficult to connect on command.

Gabe expressed to me there were times when his girlfriend or a girl he was dating would reach out and grab at his chest or crotch which instead of turning him on, resulted in him feeling objectified and shutting down.  He had trouble getting or maintaining an erection during intercourse and often defaulted to oral sex as a way to pleasure his partner without having to make himself perform.  This pleasuring while sometimes enjoyable for him, mostly got his girlfriend over until the next time she initiated sexual contact.

I asked Gabe to tell me about the times he did feel connected to his girlfriend or other women he had dated in the past. Successful sexual moments he did site were having sex right after a yoga class, making love after giving his girl friend a massage, passionate encounters unfolding when meditating with his beloved.   “I want the women I date to be attracted to what’s inside me,” Gabe confided.

In an energy assessment, I could see that Gabe’s soul body was deeply interwoven into the sexual desire within his physical body.  Based on what I perceived, I was not surprised that Gabe could not find himself aroused from outward sexual suggestiveness or isolated sexual acts.  His soul body desired to be witnessed with the power of deep presence before his sexuality would awaken.  Sexual Shaman Kenneth Ray Stubbs talks in depth about the distinction of the four energy bodies and their ability to orgasm in documentary Path of the Sexual Shaman.  The circuitry for Gabe’s sexual turn on in his physical body was located within his soul. Uninspired by the common form of masculine arousal coming from sight based desire, Gabe’s erotic connection needed to ignite from the inside out, not from the outside in.

We began with a clearing where we burned Artemsia – a powerful herb, which helps anchor the soul body into the physical body, bringing it into deep presence and connection within oneself.  We then did a simple meditation where we began with bringing our awareness to the outer most layer of the skin and working our way in to find the inner most and truest layer of self where our divine essence exists.  This inner most layer is always available to us but is often one that we forget to access as we default to more surface based way of connecting.  During our meditation, when we both journeyed to this inner place, tears welled up in our eyes and an erection in Gabe’s shorts.  “The connection is incredible.  I’m so open and turned on.  I feel like I’m flying and I also feel so nervous and vulnerable.”  Gabe’s soul body was luminous and powerful and in its presence and awakening, his physical body went into full force arousal.

We then explored various degrees of openness within his soul body so as not to overwhelm his system.  We explored fully open, opened at half-mast, and being completely contained and wearing our opening behind a veil, knowing we need only part the curtain to find it again.

I asked Gabe to drop into his soul body connection and ask to be shown a symbol for this connection within him that he could use to access this space at will.  After a second he laughed and opened his eyes.  “What did you see?” I asked.  “A white circle..?”  He said confused.  Duh!  I thought – The image of the full moon.  It was indeed the night of the full moon where our energies were at their peak and lunar energy was fully present on the Earth.  “You’re lunar dominant,” I blurted out not even really sure I knew what that meant.  Tears welled up in Gabe’s eyes.  “That makes so much sense,” he marveled.  “Other intuitives have told me I have a strong connection with the moon.”

In Taosit tradition, it is said masculine sexuality is like fire – quick to ignite and quick to extinguish where feminine sexuality is like water – taking a long time to rise to a boil but sustainable and rolling when tended long and well.  On the most basic level, Gabe’s sexuality was core water and feminine and like waters of the world, it was governed by the moon.  Because there are many preconceived ideas of masculine and feminine and this polarity I’ll take a moment to clarify that by feminine I do not mean woman in gender –terms, nor masculine to mean male based, but am rather referring to a quality and/or characteristic of energy.

Each of us has certain rhythms and cycles to our inner body, emotions, mind-sets.  Most commonly referenced, for women, our menstrual cycles frequently sync with the lunar cycles and to the cycles of other women.  Men, less commonly discussed, are also subject to influence of lunar cycles even though in our western world we commonly perceive the masculine to be solar dominant as we live by a solar dominant calendar and in a solar dominant society and thus solar dominant sexuality – always turned on.  But what does lunar dominant masculine sexuality look like?  For Gabe – it looks like nurturing presence, intimacy and connection of his soul body during sex.  With this piece of information, instead of blaming or judging himself as blocked or broken, Gabe is now seeing the unique beauty of his sexual desire within his soul.  He can now move forward celebrating his lunar dominant sexuality by being aware of what is going to turn him on and creating those situations and seeking a partner who is ready to connect on a sexual soul level.

Another piece Gabe and I examined in our time together was how Gabe was actually getting into relationship and meeting his partners. When I asked him how his relationships with women generally started, he told me that women were generally the ones to approach him and make the first move.. I inquired if he had felt attracted to or magnetized towards these women initially and he said no – while they were beautiful, he didn’t feel his soul calling to be with them.  I asked him if there were women he was attracted to on a soul level and if he had approached them or ever asked them out.  He said he did experience attractions to certain women but never acted on them.  Gabe and I discussed that each time he chose not to do that he was telling his soul and its sexual desire that it didn’t have to be honored or taken seriously.  This struck Gabe deeply.  I gave him the home assignment of listening for the connection and vibration of attraction towards a specific woman and to acting on that desire through engaging the woman in conversation.  In addition, Gabe also agreed to get an app for his phone that charts the moons phases so he could better understand his own cycles and how the moon physical body and soul body.

I was deeply moved by my session with Gabe and was humbled in contemplating this form of masculine sexuality and the depth and complexity of its sensitivity. Of course we desire deep connection with another to inspire our sexuality but Gabe’s sexuality has taken sacred sex to a whole other level.  In sacred sex, we seek the sacred through sex, in Gabe’s paradigm, we must be the sacred first to initiate sex.  Gabe’s soul has an inner bullshit meter for sacred sexuality and it comes out as a ruthless ref calling foul on any false play. “I’m not feeling it,” his soul will tell him.

Gabe’s ideal future partner will be one who is interested in the spiritual dimensions of sexuality and is on their own journey of self-inquiry.  In session work, I am often shown different cultural, religious and spiritual blueprints and pattering of sexuality that are on the planet, and I feel Gabe embodies a new form of masculine sexuality.  As the women I work with articulate wanting a deeper and more spiritual connection in sex, I wonder secretly if they have the patience for this new masculine that has sex only from soul connection. Women – are you ready for him?

For more information about Isis and her work visit www.sensualshaman.com

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