March 12, 2004

Why I'm Studying Sacred Sexuality

My interest in Sacred Sexuality starts with uninformed intuition - a sense that there is something deeply spiritual to erotic acts. When humans join in intimate touch or sexual congress, there is a sweeping feeling there, something larger than either of the participants, and larger than the sum of their energies. It is a primal force. It is, perhaps, simply hunger, amplified hunger.

When I'm losing my control in pursuit of sensual pleasure I understand why many folks work to suppress and sublimate the sexual forces in pursuit of the divine. But I had a moment of clarity that illuminated the potential for purposeful passionate interaction: I met a young woman on the internet. We didn't know each other well. We sat together in a café, and then at my house, not speaking fluidly. I was wondering what our communication might be; my mind was wandering. Then we leaned in for a kiss. And then we kissed for an entire weekend. We spent hours rolling and gasping and licking and kissing. And when we could stand it, we stared into each other's eyes, building hard tension before we gasped and looked away. I had been powerfully attracted to people before, and I'd shared deep intimate physical moments, but here it was clear to me: there are people with whom you can create an ecstatic blissful experience. It wasn't meant as a sign that she and I were destined for long-term partnership; our non-physical communications were too stilted for that. But there was something in that moment of staring and touch that was so fantastically reorienting - I felt air and blood rush into parts of my chest that are otherwise dark during my days. It was serendipitous, and inspiring. It felt like sexual healing, especially in memory. One of my defining spiritual experiences.

I wouldn't say this feeling is for everyone. I've had fantastic encounters of all sorts that have barely skirted this feeling, some fantastic encounters that have even studiously avoided it. But I've reached a point in my life where I realize my personal passion priority is to study this feeling, to see what might be done to claim and cultivate that ecstatic truth I found in another body.

After a recent breakup, I found myself craving touch. I went from spending over 150 hours a week near another body, to spending all of my time alone in my skin. I experimented with massage parlors. Browsing advertisements on the internet, I found that I was attracted to the "hippy" "new agey" advertisements - Northern Californian women decked out in saris, talking about goddess energy. I went to see one of these women, she massaged my naked body vigorously with a friend. I couldn't tell what they were wearing - I didn't have my glasses on, and my deep breathing and the sensation of touch lidded my eyes. I felt gooey; I couldn't help curling up. One exclaimed afterwards, "wow! You really soaked up all of our touch." And it was true - I felt like I'd been feeding, consuming something, I'd been filled by these two women. I thanked them, and I asked if there was a church they attended where people practiced this kind of work.

The question caught them off guard, but it made perfect sense to me - gathering with other humans on a regular basis for the purposes of healing and affirming life. Singing dancing, celebrating, communing, reaching for greater powers or inspiring energies. That's what church is. That's what I felt with these women. And I felt like maybe I could provide something to my partners as well. I didn't want to be a client in the context of erotic massage services; I wanted to charge up sensual energy with people outside of commerce.

So in some ways, a search for Sacred Sexuality is a search for more sex. But I'm not so interested in "fucking" or intercourse - I want to be naked and touch people. I want to stare deep into someone's eyes, sharing breathing, exploring that space where energy and desire and divinity meet. All those forces are intangible, and talking about them sometimes makes me sound like a Northern California puff pastry. But I believe in those feelings I have that compel me to seek out play partners. I've had healthy and unhealthy experiences as I look for people to have sex with. Sacred Sexuality seems like a good term to frame a context for more healthy exploration.

What would that look like? Well I can start by saying what it wouldn't look like. It wouldn't look like a singles bar. The paradigm for sexual experimentation there seems to be predicated somewhat on forgetting - being inebriated, unknown. Risk taking, disaffection. Sacred Sexuality, as I imagine it, would involve participants agreed to a fundamental expression of intent: that the sexual congress was grounded in growth, learning, healing; in mutual uplift. Removing the goal of "getting off" or unauthorized expressions of power.

That's an ideal vision. Power and getting off are an intimate part of sexuality. Sexuality is frankly a mess. It incorporates all of our histories and fears and ambitions. It's a ripe area for abuse, addiction and excitation. That's why I would love to explore sex with more gentle deliberation.

It means finding practice partners with patience. I'm starting by reading. Reading David Guy's book. Essays by Francesca Gentille, a Bay Area-based personal life coach who posts frequently to Sacred Sexuality Yahoo groups, and Bernadette Vallely, a British environmental activist who writes about Sacred Sexuality on her web site. Their words and their aesthetics are largely precious - honoring the sacred self, and so forth. They use phrases and vocabulary that my friends would scoff at. As one polyamorous vegetarian midwife friend of mine Lulu put it, "why do all these people sound like fuckin' hippies?"

The real problem, she went on to explain, is that hippies are people who talk grandly without action. I'm inclined to believe these folks, and their talk about being and wholeness, energy and passion. It's not hard to act that out - can you act with compassion? Can you control and express yourself in useful and creative ways? Most of this Sacred Sexuality stuff I've found proselytized online feeds back into relationships and behavior. There's only so much sex modern citizens can manage - the study of Sacred Sexuality seems fortunately larger than penis vagina. A good place to route your energy! Taking horniness and developing it. Sensual arts discipline, like martial arts discipline.

I like having something else to do with my mind when I'm feeling sexy or curious - instead of booting up Fleshbot or TheHun, I have sex theory and sex ritual and sex visions to study. As I read these folks, I'm finding out about teachers, many of whom are local to the Bay Area (funny, that). And where there are teachers, there should be other students. We shall see.

Posted by Justin at March 12, 2004 05:08 PM | TrackBack
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