Things, things, things are afoot. Watch this space for something fun and useful soon!
My dear friends–
First, as you may have surmised from the image or the title, this edition of Reflections is concerned with sexuality. Yes, and spirituality, but if you, for any reason, don’t want to read something sexy, I suggest you slide on by, no harm, no foul.
Second, a quotation I read some time ago: “Passion and expression are not really separable. Passion comes to birth in that powerful impetus of the mind which also brings language into existence. So soon as passion goes beyond instinct and becomes truly itself, it tends to self-description, either in order to justify or intensify itself being, or else simply in order to keep going.” — Denis de Rougement, Love in the Western World
The distillation of another edition of Reflections for those of you who don’t receive it or didn’t get a chance to check in: Ugliness needn’t be transformed into beauty to make us worthy beings of strength and dignity. I have used “beauty” (of myself, especially) as a synonym for “worth,” and I think that’s a mistake.
“Whatever happens, this is,” Adrienne Rich wrote in “the floating poem, unnumbered” in her “21 Love poems.” It’s the last line of a poem about sexuality being the thing that can stay between two people, even after their ability to live together or love together has withered on the vine.
One thing some people think of as “ugly” is—and boy, howdy, do I hate this word—Promiscuity. I honestly believe that “promiscuity” is the idea that if you’ve had one more lover than I, you’re “promiscuous” and I’m “normal.”
Promiscuity, sexual (emotional, physical, spiritual) risk-taking, and GOD FORBID sex work, are all considered beyond the pale.
How does that list make you feel? When you consider spiritual elevation and sexuality, do you think of any of the following things?
Seeing the Divine in the face, in the body, in the arousal of a lover. What about if you didn’t know that lover before tonight? One night, and the moon shining on their face, blessing you.
Being exploded into smithereens by an orgasm you didn’t even know was coming.
Being tied into intricate knots—or simple ones. For fun. For love.
Having sex with more than one person at a time. For fun. For love.
Leaving marks on another person. Painting, drawing, biting, leaving handprints. For fun. For love.
Getting pierced. Getting tattoos.
Doing sex work of any kind. Doing it because for whatever reason—as with other kinds of work—you’ve chosen it.
Being part of scenes involving knots or fire and dancing or collars or all of these set up as ritual and performance with audience and preparation and awe.
For some of us, tattoos are commonplace, but leaving temporary marks on another person is beyond the pale. For some of us, having sex with more than one person at a time—in real life—is beyond our reach, desire, or ability to countenance.
Much more so, being flogged, inviting it, wanting it, and finding spiritual sustenance in it, well… that’s just ridiculous.
And yet I have had at least nibbles of all these things in my life.
Some of them in my early twenties, that period of glorious experimentation.
Some of them I have only witnessed.
Some of them I maintain in my life now.
And I had them powerfully, erotically, and most especially, spiritually. The “vanilla” things. The “kinky” things. Whatever you want to call them.
I am talking about connection to Spirit through the electric touch of human bodies.
When I took a performance art class, the teacher took great pains to explain that things like suspension for art were not sadomasochistic. They were not sexual. They were not the same thing.
When I asked him what the difference was, he couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer. One was art and one was just perversion of sexuality. Even I, mouthy as I am (and mouthier then!) kept that mouthy mouth shut.
Spirituality is just as variable as sexuality. And the two are so often related. I cannot pick them apart, myself. I cannot tear them one from the other.
When I look at someone I love and whom I find sexually appealing, all of me is engaged. At some times in my life, love hasn’t even had to be a part of the equation. But awe has. Awe at the human form, what it can do, how we can touch one another, how we can shudder and tremble and give over.
All these things are also part of spirituality for me. The trembling in the presence of the Divine. The shuddering of being taken by the power of ritual. Awe. So much awe.
How does it work for you?
I understand if this is too much for you. I won’t always write like this. But I am moved by the quotation above. I am moved to be a truth-teller. I moved to invite you to tell yourself the truths about your own sexuality and spirituality and their relationships.
One of my dearest friends has described herself as “a judgmental prude.” If you’re feeling that way now, it’s okay. It’s more than okay. I hope you’ll hang in here with me and wait to see what happens next!
So much, so much love.
PS — Be on the lookout, dear readers, for something fun coming soon!