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.

 

 

Walking the Beauty Path

Walking the Beauty Path

 beauty path

Beauty – noun.

1. A combination of qualities, such as shape, color or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, esp the sight.

2. A combination that pleases the intellect or moral sense.

3. The quality in a person that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind and spirit.

4. Something which embodies an unmatched aesthetic, regardless of external influences. To be truly beautiful reflects an unparalleled sense of eternity, unchanged by events or situations, which might otherwise compromise this trait.

We are taught that beauty comes from within. New Age positive thinking teaches us we are all beautiful and that women’s bodies especially are beautiful. We are taught our souls are beautiful. This is countered with society teaching us that beauty can be standardized or exists within certain forms. We are taught that beauty is packageable, marketable, that only a few possess it naturally and that the rest of us must strive to twist, contort, or conform to what has been declared the ever elusive standard of beauty.

Recently, I have found myself in an inquiry of ‘what is beauty and what does it look like when one embodies it?’ As one who is walking and teaching a path of sacred sensuality, how could I not look at beauty and aesthetics as part of this path?

Now when I say beauty, I feel that little prickle in system of vanity traipsing in the wake of standardization. ‘You mean six-pack abs? Cosmetics? Body modification? False appearances?’ screams my inner angry feminist. No, I mean Beauty – the unique embodiment of the light of Source shining through us. Beauty has a tremendous power. It has been worshipped in most all cultures to some degree – hence Venus, Lakshmi, Aphrodite, and the billion dollar beauty industry, Hollywood. It has also been rejected, rejected as false, seen as a mask of illusion or a manipulator of the natural.

The inquiry has taken me into my own path of beauty, where I am actively inviting it in and also exploring those moments where I have been truly surprised by beauty.

Beauty and I have had a quite a journey together. I trudged through a morass of misunderstanding and rejecting the concepts of physical beauty for much of my life. Some of my earliest memories of aesthetics or rejection thereof include: my mother chasing me around the house with eyebrow tweezers and a mascara brush; my angry feminist stage in college of wearing my hair up in what others called my ‘angry scarf’ and sporting army cargo pants with a militant personality, because I was worried I would be objectified instead of valued for my mind; my late college years of discovering my sexuality and its power and subsequently overly sexualizing my body to feel powerful; and eventually my naked yoga years of stripping away all forms of exterior beauty to open up to something more authentically beautiful on the inside.

My herbal teacher and pioneering second-wave feminist leader, Susun Weed, is a card-carrying Goddess worshipper and universal lover of women. Aesthetics and beauty-based rituals, however, were not something she touted in her repertoire. Her fierce temperament and Earth worshipping ways are more aligned with Baba Yaga and Gaia than with Aphrodite and Venus. A model in her early days, Susun now has a hearty woodswoman body for functional farm work and sports tie-dyed t-shirts and bug-repellant blue jeans. Her trademark fashion is a bandana worn around her forehead that contains her otherwise wild wiry hair. Susun encouraged her apprentices to bathe no more than twice a week and generally avoided soap especially anything scented. Conditioner other than nettle leaf infusion was seen as unnecessary and I’m quite sure she never willingly applied make-up at any time during 66 years of life. This was a priestess of the Earth and aesthetics were not a priority, especially for one who embraced farm life. Not only was beauty non-functional, any cosmetic enhancement was deemed unnatural. But whether consciously or unconsciously, Susun distinctly expressed herself through aesthetic choices. Her simple, functional, Earth-based choice of personal presentation was, in its way, as much a statement of her beliefs as a conservative office-worker’s or a Fifth Avenue fashionista’s. In recent years, my own preferences have shifted to a slightly enhanced version of Susun’s aesthetics. More ‘Gaia to feed and heal the world’ and less of the sought-after invocation of Venus or Helen of Troy.

Following in my teacher’s footsteps, it felt natural for me to be make-up free, barefoot and visually unobtrusive when speaking with the plants during our herb walks. That was how my herbal teacher taught and I mirrored that. When we are exploring our options of personal style, we tend to try on conventions to see if they work for us. Likewise we may try something on that apparently rejects the whole concept of aestheticism, unconscious of the fact that this is, of itself, an aesthetic choice.  I felt part of my calling in connecting women to their sexuality was to bring them to the Earth, Earth wisdom and Earth orgasm, and to take us away from any aesthetic preconceptions we had around what we perceived as sexy, seductive or sensual.

On an herb walk I lead this past summer for Awakening the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat, I looked around at the women gathered and did a double take when my eyes fell on Juliette. Juliette had her silky raven hair coiffed in an up-do, had bright, fire-engine red lipstick painted on to accentuate the heart shape of her lips, and her hourglass body was draped in a sleek black gown adorned with silver beadwork. Juliette wore this on an herb walk. Juliette was a sex-workers’ rights activist by day and a ‘by choice’ high-end escort at night. She owned her sex and her beauty. She was someone who had stepped in and embraced her sexual aesthetics and beauty fully and it was jaw dropping to behold. Juliet was the kind of femme fatale that wore gowns on herb walks, because why wouldn’t a classic femme want to be dressed in her best to meet and commune with the flowering plants that remind us to own both our beauty and sexuality with their shameless display of blossoming genitalia?

Nothing about Juliette’s beauty was contrived or false. While glamorous and deeply aesthetically beautiful, nothing about Juliette was standardized. This beauty was a direct reflection of her soul fully integrated in her body temple. Juliette is a femme fatale. Juliette is sex and beauty. For Juliette to wear bug repellant jeans and a bandana would be asking an orchid to dress like a dandelion. Nothing about it would be authentic or true to her nature. The day that a red lipstick wearing femme fatale went on an herb walk with me was one in which my relationship to beauty changed. Beauty could be authentic and a reflection of our inner state and could also look quite conventional. The difference was this beauty was not trying to impress someone or mold itself to fit a certain form, it just is was. Same as a flower is not trying to be beautiful, it simply is beautiful.

We make aesthetic choices every day. The question is what do you want to make a statement about? What is your beauty? Whose beauty team are you on? Beauty elevates the soul, excites the senses. Beauty makes life more engaging. It magnetizes us. I was very excited being in Juliette’s presence just as I was very excited being in the presence of the flowering herbs on our walk. Beauty meeting beauty.

Beauty can also be considered resting or sitting well in oneself, good health and vitality, being the full embodiment of one’s own unique characteristics and how they are meant to shine. Meeting Maple helped me understand beauty as ownership of one’s own unique characteristics and soul energy. I first met Maple when she attended the monthly Naked Church service that I co-facilitate. She entered the room quietly, a petite gypsy-fairy spirit. While everyone clucked around before service catching up on small talk, Maple sat very still, eyes closed creating both a deeply meditative and electric presence around herself. When she opened her light blue eyes, they glowed and held the wisdom of other worlds. Maple is someone who holds my gaze. I find her presence reminds me of visiting a museum and being struck with surprise by a painting you didn’t know you were there to see but stops you in your tracks. Maple does not shave her legs and has one long dreadlock coiffed to the side of an otherwise hipster haircut. Her eyes are deep pools of sparkling blue and hold many stories. Her soul holds two-spirit energy, equal parts masculine and feminine. Her dress often looks like a collage of found garments that have been woven together to create a beautiful folk art collage of gypsy beauty. Without clothes, she somehow holds the same quality. At the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat, I had everyone bring a tennis ball for sitting on for pelvic floor release work. Maple brought a potato. Maple is the embodiment of her own beauty. She has what is that ephemeral je ne sais quoi. There is no convention or standardization in Maple’s beauty, but the beauty she possesses is undeniable, a beauty which radiates from every cell of her body.

In addition to the women I’ve met in my work and community who have inspired me to rethink beauty, I’m moved to consider women over history who have served as walking embodiments of beauty. In contemplating beauty and its icons of past, I am taken instantly to the age of the courtesans, artists who were paid richly to cultivate their beauty and intelligence. Inspired to know these aesthetic feminine embodiments of art more intimately, my research led me to the discovery that several of the most famous and successful courtesans were not what one would consider conventionally beautiful. Several of the most famous courtesans in Venice were not particularly attractive in any way, yet they were a breed of woman that was irresistible – sought after by every man and envied by every woman. What these women did not lack was confidence and the ability to maximize on their charms – the most basic of beauty tenets. I am reminded of the great Mae West saying: ‘What is important to know is that every woman can have her own kind of beauty, if she’s willing to look for it and try for it.’

Beauty pioneers are often women who have swept in and taken over a standard convention with a certain amount of ownership of their own grace. Perhaps there was no greater rebel of beauty’s standardization than designer Coco Chanel, a fashion icon who helped women find their embodiment of beauty by famously liberating them from the constraints of the corseted silhouette. She was also a woman who perceived herself not to have been born beautiful. Chanel famously confessed to a lover: ‘I’m not pretty.’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’re not. But I know of no one more beautiful than you.’ Coco Chanel owned her beauty and her intrinsic style helped create an entry point for other women to own theirs.

Like the famous Coco, pleasure revolutionary Mama Gena says: ‘Ownership is the key to beauty. You gotta dig on down and have yours.’ It is every woman’s job as an embodiment of the feminine to discover and embody her unique beauty calling card and then to work that card and those traits to maximize their potential. Mama Gena cites one particularly eccentric experiment, which involved throwing out everything in her closet except what made her feel the most beautiful. She was left with five garments. I don’t recommend this drastic a beauty experiment, but it warrants some consideration. Why would a woman want to drape her body in anything other than that which makes her feel beautiful? How would her life be altered if she felt she was truly and unequivocally beautiful?

Slightly less radical than Mama Gena’s beauty wardrobe make-over, I find that my own personal embodiments of beauty are ever changing and are often determined by occasion, season and inner states. On certain days I find my most comfortable pair of faded jeans and a v-neck t-shirt are what makes me the most beautiful, on another day, a Charlie’s Angels purple jumpsuit, and on another day a flowy Goddess dress, mostly because where I have chosen to source my beauty is from inside myself. It takes a lot of personal beauty ownership and inner sourcing to wear a Charlie’s Angels purple jumpsuit … a whole lot.

There is an astonishing amount of beauty available on the planet. We are not in scarcity of beauty, though standardization would have us think that it only belongs to a few. Our gifts and talents make us beautiful. Everyone is born talented at something. A certain innate gift is bestowed upon us all that allows us to excel in a particular area, an area of our lives where the stars simply seem to shine on us and we are able to rise above others.

My dear friend Cindy, for example, is perhaps at her most beautiful in her kitchen, talking to ingredients as she bakes and licking batter off spoons as she seduces her ingredients into just the right balance to create extraordinary sensations on one’s tongue. My soul sister Lisa and her eye for space and altar feng shui transform any space into an aesthetic feast with a few simple repositions of objects already there. I marvel at her eye for outer aesthetics as I know it comes from an internally aligned sensitivity of her own beauty.

A Practice of Self-Love

In an honest inquiry with beauty, however, I am also brought to looking past the places where we shine into the places where we feel there is no beauty. I want to examine body features, aesthetic inadequacies, voids of Goddess-given talent that others seem to have but where we come up short.

In this inquiry and reflection on beauty, I am reminded of my own beauty insecurities at various stages of my life. In high school, I had small breasts. I hated them. I always thought they were too small, not even enough for a handful. My sophomore year of high school, during a grueling rehearsal schedule, I dropped fifteen pounds. My clothes became too large for me. My bras hung off my shoulders. My mother took me to Kohl’s for some new clothes. I will forever remember the moment I was standing in a Kohl’s dressing room trying to find a bra to fit only to discover that even the A cups were too big. The air conditioner in the dressing room was blowing down on me and it was coldcoldcold and my nipples and breasts shivered and shriveled even closer to my body. My chest look emaciated and like a boy’s. I left the dressing room in tears and my mother and I left the store. She took me to a Sonic drive-in and we ordered a limeade and she told me that plastic surgery could be an option in the future as prices for such work had in the last few years become quite reasonable. My mother, bless her, was trying to provide a fix to the problem. Breasts too small? Make them bigger! Thus buying into the conventional standard of beauty and creating an entry point for me to manipulate and reconstruct my breasts to meet that standard. What I really needed from my mother at the time, however, was to be taught self-love and for her to remind me of what about me was truly beautiful, as well as perhaps finding something that I loved about my breasts.

Raised in a family and culture where self-love and alignment with one’s individual traits of beauty were not modeled, I traveled my own healing path of beauty embodiment by sourcing my beauty from aligning with the seasons and cycles of the natural world. In my journey of embracing beauty, my truest connection and sourcing has always come from my connection to nature and the natural world. The Navajo teach and practice a spiritual tradition that is called ‘walking the beauty path.’ When one is unbalanced or out of harmony with their beauty, they must return to the natural world to find it. To walk in beauty as the Navajos define it means to hold balance and harmony with all things, all people, all nature and all events in your life. When you achieve balance among the pendulum of polarities, you are ready to walk the beauty path.

I did not get a boob job. Instead I practiced and taught naked yoga and Earth-based spiritual traditions that consistently remind me and place me in right relationship with my body. In my late twenties as my body filled out, so did my breasts. As my body size naturally fluctuates over the years with different phases of my life, I have a developed a practice of loving kindness to my breasts in all their forms and phases. Currently, I massage my breasts daily right after my bathing ritual and infuse with them with visualizations of pink and green for the heart chakra. I do this as I sit in what I lovingly have declared the boudoir area of my bedroom that has a red cushioned chair, Victorian fans and a collection of vintage black and white nude boudoir postcards featuring women of all shapes who appear to be celebrating their bodies and their sensuality. Make no mistake, I don’t wake up every day and think ‘Ah yes, I will lounge naked in my boudoir and lovingly massage my body with scented creams.’ This is a practice. Like showing up to one’s yoga mat, sometimes we jump at the opportunity, and at other times we must drag ourselves through temper tantrums, pouty toddler phases, and I’m-not-worthy moments to practice self-love. The effects of a self-love practice, however, have very tangible reverberations. On a return visit to my hometown a few years ago, an old friend from college actually asked me if I had gotten a boob job. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I practice loving kindness to my breasts.’

In my session work with women, I have the pleasure of witnessing women blossom and unfold to their true beauty. I have had the honor and pleasure of facilitating session work for a Hassidic woman named Miriam who wanted to explore deep sensual reclamation work. It is incredibly rare for a woman from such a conservative community and religious background to actively seek out session work that supports authentic sensual embodiment. Miriam was healing from childhood sexual abuse and was currently in an emotionally toxic relationship. We explored several simple movement-based practices and healing bodywork ceremonies to bring her into a safe, soft and sensual connection with her body. After our fourth session, she asked me: ‘Isis, does this work change your physical appearance? Because I am noticing my features changing, and I like them!’ Her eyes were becoming more open and her lips rounder and fuller. She was looking like a woman turned on, lush and alive! ‘Miriam,’ I told her, ‘We are all born beautiful. Sometimes life circumstances or situations cause us to forget this beauty. What’s amazing is that you’re open to returning to it.’

Today I find myself in a stand. A stand for beauty. I honor the beauty of my body. I honor the beauty of my spirit. I honor the beauty of those who find their own beauty and shamelessly flaunt and embody it. In my stand for beauty, I ready to walk the beauty path. On the beauty path, we return to balance, a state where we accept and are accepted, where we don’t feel the need to justify who we are or require validation from others, where we perceive our own beauty as continuous with the beauty in the world around us. Clearly perceived, beauty, so fragmented in our contemporary culture, is actually what can connect us to the larger beauty energies and mysteries of the universe. Each of us is a facet of a magnificently beautiful universe. To align ourselves with this beauty is to be one with it and to find it reflected everywhere we look and in everyone we encounter. Beauty is and you are a unique part of it. Walk the path.

The Navajo Beauty Way Ceremony

In beauty may I walk

All day long may I walk

Through the returning seasons may I walk

Beautifully I will possess again

Beautifully birds

Beautifully joyful birds

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk

With dew about my feet may I walk

With beauty may I walk

With beauty before me may I walk

With beauty behind me may I walk

With beauty above me may I walk

With beauty all around me may I walk

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk

It is finished in beauty

It is finished in beauty.

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

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

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