Next week I am going to the mountains to recharge my spiritual batteries. It’s been a long and challenging summer, and it’s time for me to sharpen my tools. For the past six years I have taken this week to work on myself. I retreat into space held by my community and my teachers and let go. This year we are diving into creation stories, into the mysteries of beginning and birth. My days will be spent reconnecting to my own body and spirit and my nights tending erotic space for the alchemy that happens there.
My body will be the crucible where I burn away and transform the lead of the past year and find the gold. I will no doubt feel pain and pleasure and sorrow and bliss. I will walk the ecstatic path into my own heart and shadows, connect with my guides and with the healing power of the earth. I will connect deeply with my body and my desires and come back into my world renewed.
My erotic rebirth is an ongoing process of experimentation and curiosity. My journey has taken me deep into my own senses, my own ideas and notions about who I am and how I “work” in the world, and has dwwpened my relationship with myself and with my loved ones.
My journey followed four “stages,” which I continue to revisit because sometimes it’s useful to have a little bit of a map.
Stage 1 – Internal Awareness. This is where I woke up. Where I became aware that I was brimming with sexual energy and arousal. This is where I battled with my stories about how sex is bad and the feelings I have are wrong, and my desires are best hidden away. This is where I awakened my body to sensation again and re-framed my relationship to myself and my desires. This is also where I learned to breathe, to feel sensation and broaden my sensual palette (see Erotic Skillz 1 and 2).
Stage 2 – Seeing myself as an Erotic Being. I mean “seeing” literally. Looking at myself in the mirror, in pictures and in print. I started journaling and watching myself. I realized that I was beautiful and sexy and desireable…that was not easy. I watched myself and talked to myself and coached myself and touched myself…and once again fell in love with my own erotic uniqueness.
Stage 3 – Being seen as an Erotic Being. You know how children run up to you and say something like “look how amazing my … is!” Fill in the blank, you get my point. This stage is about confronting shame: body shame, sexual shame, thought shame and learning how to be seen. I struggle with this and the best way through is to let go and do it. Carol Queen has a great book “Exhibitionism for the Shy,” which is full of stuff about this.
Stage 4 – Experiencing sexual energy and touch from another. This was really difficult for me and I still struggle with receiving pleasure. Receiving asks me to put all of these pieces together. I have to be aware of my body and my own arousal, I have to let go into being an Erotic Being and be vulnerable and seen by someone in my erotic bliss. Fortunately this is a delicious stage to practice and I encourage you to practice frequently!
In November, Pamela Madsen, Ron Stewart and I are creating a space for sensual discovery. “Back to the Body: A Sensuous Retreat for Women” will be a place for vunerability and erotic rebirth. I am more than excited to see what can happen, and I am deeply humbled knowing that I may witness and celebrate transformation there.
As I head off to my own retreat, I am holding these stages in my intentions as keys to self discovery. In the upcoming “Back to the Body” retreat, we will be working with all four stages and I can’t wait to see what unfolds there.
I invite you to take time for you.