Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Dark Night of The Soul.

Greetings everyone, winter solstice is here. Long dark nights and short, dusky days. Biting cold and damp chills pervade. This….this is the shortest day and the longest night and here is where Persephone, deep in her Underworld home, takes with her the fruits and seeds of a fertile season as we have moved into dormant stasis. However, nothing is ever truly dormant, for there is life even in stillness.

As a Goddess, Persephone's personal journey can be seen as the epitome of balance between night and day, dark and light. Kidnapped by Hades and taken into the Underworld, it was said that she grieved so deeply for her previous life that she did not eat from the moment of her abduction. Moreover her mother Demeter, Goddess of earthly fertility, refused to allow anything to flourish above ground whilst her daughter was captive in her underworld prison. Zeus, king of the Gods, seeing the earth moving deeper into famine and barrenness, relented to spare further hardship and allowed Persephone to return to her mother and her upper world home. Perspehone, like Eve before her, Pandora, and a thousand other curious women, had eaten of the fruits of her dark home (pomegranate seeds) thus binding her to 'suffering,' and tying her to her underworld life for at least half of the year.

I love the symbolism in this mythology; I grew up on it. As a child, my mother read Greek mythology to me at bedtime; it became the essence of my childhood, a dreamlike mystical place where dark demons battled gods of light and women and men danced with lust, greed, envy, fear, and pleasure, love, honour, allegiance, and more.

At winter solstice, one of my favourite times of year and one that for me, holds so much more spirit and soul than Christmas, we are called to really enter the darkness and accept it. When we reject our darkness and our shadows, they have control over us. Similarly when we dive in and forget how to swim through it, we risk becoming stuck in it, reaffirming our pain, over and over and over. But what purpose is there to this life we live if not to find ultimate peace and harmony in being here? Why wait until we shuffle off this mortal coil to realise we've blown it by forgetting how simple it can be? Surely being human is about the remembrance that light must always follow darkness and thus darkness must inevitably follow light. Just as the sun rises and sets, as the dawn breaks and dusk brings night, so we too must hold faith that in our darkest moments, light WILL return as we mirror the patterns in nature and in the evolution of life.

It can be hard to hold that faith when in our darkest hours; we become attached to our suffering and fear takes hold, the ego gets busy, the monkey mind starts to convince us that we are alone in our pain, that no-one else understands. The danger is that in becoming over identified with it, we create more of the same and become locked in an endless Sisyphusian cycle of repetition. We become gracious hosts to our very own self fulfilling prophecies; a sad table to feast at for sure, and so it is here at this pauper's seat when we must call upon our inner Kali, our Baba Yaga, our wildest, most primal selves, or risk becoming lost in that sea of suffering, lost in an endless Samsara of pain and repeating patterns.

At this pivotal point of the year, as light returns, so we must understand our own cycles and stories. Our personal mythology must become alchemically transformed into gold, or it will surely consume us as winter and summer merge to become one endless torment, the contrast of light and dark becomes meaningless. Every one of us has some kind of cross to bear, each of us knows separation, each of us has known elation, for the human condition is a universal one.

This morning I awoke in the middle of a strong dream. In my dream I saw a man, a south American or Mexican man, standing over me pulling energetic cords out of my throat. He was cutting these ties and explaining to me what needed to be cleared, he was also teaching me the importance of resting and clearing the energy field when working this way. In other words, we can get help when needed and we are also responsible for taking care of our own needs. Community and self sufficiency; paradox in perfect harmony!

My invitation for the Solstice is that we all remember to return to the still point in the centre, the heart of our experience of a human lifetime, right here, right now. We choose in every moment how we respond to things. For me, I'm starting to look at the energy of resistance and what it creates to engage with this. Choosing instead, to call upon 'flow' and to move like water around a perceived obstacle or source of conflict, to respond instead with compassion, kindness and love whilst coming over and over into breath, self knowledge and timeless awareness.

There is an island…I'll meet you there xx

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Be Your Own Shaman!

"The core of the earth is made out of the stuff of black magic." Rudolf Steiner (paraphrased in the book 'Breaking Open The Head' by Daniel Pinchbeck).

Reading this out loud this morning as I lounged about on a rare day off, here began a small exploration of the nature of 'self', of gender and of the dualistic notion of separation. I've been working with this quite intensively for the last few months, with it all coming to a head about two weeks ago in sacred dharmakaya ceremony.

Steiner, it turns out (I never knew much beyond his great schooling principles; my son went to a Steiner nursery when he was little and it was a blessed relief after mainstream schooling but that's another post), was an occultist, freemason and student of self mastery. I'm not going to say much more on this here as I don't know enough yet, so my words would be ill informed, save to say that I enjoy meandering down unexpected paths and it has indeed been the process of much of my life.

When I first heard the quote at the top earlier today, I immediately began to think of it in terms of gender; the dark, moist, cavernous centre of the beast, the belly and womb of the planet, referred to as the container for all 'dark magic' - the up above perhaps being perceived as masculine, outward, light? In this context however, it seemingly referred to the place where we 'bury' our rage, fear, shame, anger and other shady stuff, both consciously and unconsciously. To bring it therefore to light, we need to be able to first identify it, secondly, to challenge it, and thirdly, to transform it.

As a society we have become conditioned into shunning the intuitive (feminine), and the instinctive (neutral), and fearing the mystical - pastures of the insane or accessible only those with direct links via for example, religion. Instead, we have come to favour the rational (masculine), logical (masculine) and scientific (atheist or perhaps agnostic) explanations for things. We began to split, not only in terms of gender, but in terms of our core inner being; we became dualistic.

In becoming dualistic in our thinking we lost great parts of ourselves, and began to hide those parts that did not seem to fit with the acceptable mainstream view of how we are supposed to be, feel and think. What becomes even more confusing is that with social and political evolution, we aren't even sure any more what those dual roles are meant to be, and so we become even more and more dispossessed of our intuitive understanding, even further away from the idea of oneness and unity, and even more alienated from both ourselves and from others. 

"Because we deny our intuition, because we don't believe in spirits or listen to our dreams, because we have banished our potential shamans to mental institutions and homeless shelters, because we have imprisoned ourselves within virtual shells of technology, it may be pathetically easy for ambiguous, super sensible entities (-) to continually operate on our minds, filling the vacuum we have created with sludge, anaesthetising us to deeper levels of wisdom." (From Breaking Open The Head). I find this sentence to be quite profound. What's worse is that we have become our own prison guards. We have successfully imprisoned ourselves by limiting all that we can be through fear, doubt and mindless projection! The great news is, we can transform that. We can turn our suffering into gold, our stories into healing and our separation into unity. 

Pinchbeck goes on to assert that we live between 'egocentric materialism and spiritual nihilism', and for many this is true. However, there is a rising tide of evolution in my view and it is growing fast. There is a new paradigm birthing and people are waking up! In switching off the television, the Revolution will indeed not be televised! 

But how can we cultivate and maintain a feeling of non-duality within ourselves? Are we going to sit and wait for "shamans powerful enough to suck the spiritual poison from our social body and vomit it out for us? Wizards who can tame these demons? Visionaries who can paint the way forward?"(Pinchbeck) 

Here I'm inclined to agree with Pinchbeck in his summary, for he asserts that we must all become our own shamans, wizards and seers, and if "as spiritual warriors, we must take responsibility for the plight of our species" then we must indeed begin to understand the nature of this separation; it's what I would refer to as the 'original sin'. It's not that we were cast out from the Garden of Eden for having curiosity, but that we lost sight of the beauty for believing in the separation as a result. Evolution or God's Creation…it doesn't matter as long as the separation is banished.

Steiner's Rosicrucian philosophies were founded on the principle of self mastery. In this self mastery there are two forms: firstly mastery of the lower self in the form of everyday mirroring and awareness of our day-to-day self - how it functions, what it believes, and how this limits us. Secondly the higher form of self knowledge born of self renunciation; not so easy I hear you cry!

To discover self renunciation, we must first overcome ego. Of course we all have them, they cannot really be escaped but they can most certainly be tamed. A powerful driving force, each of us has the tendency/habit to believe that our own personal version of life is the best, is the 'right' one and to disown, move away from, or become extremely uncomfortable when that version is challenged too hard. Yet for me, my greatest knowing is coming from beginning to move away from this idea of right and wrong, and to move back into balance, into harmony with life, with the 'other' and with myself. When we balance our characteristics, we start to understand from the perspective of 'otherness', from contrast, from true equality. In this point of stillness, there cannot exist conflict, only flow and acceptance of the 'is-ness' of life. And in this lies freedom. In this lies the true heart of LOVE, and who indeed would not want to return to that place? 

To get there, to return to love, we must look for guides, look for mentors, look for teachers and trust ourselves and our own discernment. We also need to recognise the mirrors, and then, we must call ourselves out! I find humour a fantastic tool for taking myself down when my ego is over inflated. Before we can truly laugh at our own shortcomings and misconceptions though, we first need to find them. Dig deep, dream hard and love well, and with those intentions we will surely all start to find our way 'home'. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Protect Me From What I Want: Porn Just Got Dirty!

So, porn in the UK just got seriously dirty and we need your attention here people!

Yesterday, a new law was passed in the UK making a list of specific acts illegal in porn in this country. Now, this list has absolutely NO bearing whatsoever on anything that could be considered even remotely helpful, healthy or healing. In fact, the opposite would appear to be true in that upon closer scrutiny, it seems to serve to further marginalise people and groups already feeling the sting of this kind of irrational legislation or their place in the existing social pecking order, in particular women, the LGBT community and the fetish world.

Now, I'm an open minded sort of a woman; I've explored my sexuality in as many aspects as I can think of throughout my life, with some exceptions of course, I mean not everything is my tasse du thé after all. It would be fair to say however, that I felt that one of the safest places for exploration I've ever experienced was in fetish clubs where my boundaries were always well and truly navigated and respected, and the breaking of those is in fact seriously frowned upon within this community.  Diversity of sexual expression is also most welcome: Leave your shame at the door please. Not every place or person respects this of course but nothing in life is really like that is it, and as far as it goes, these places always felt extremely SAFE.

From my explorations of fetish and BDSM, I can also say that 1) I throughly enjoyed them, and 2) No children or animals were hurt in the process and 3) I was kinda proud of my flogger marks and pleasantly stinging buttocks! So what gives here? Surely this is quite an innocent sentiment below...

Haven't us Brits always found the delicate 'thwack' of leather on willow a pleasure (cricket), or the whistle of air as crop hits thigh (equestrian pursuits) an unparalleled delight? Hasn't the scrum down in rugby always resulted in more than 'light' bruising? But that's ok because it's sport? And what about boxing? Cage fighting? Wrestling? Judo? I could go on - all consenting sports that often require a willing acceptance of the risk of injury. Well aren't I entitled to be the arbiter of that in my own sexual expression? It would seem not, for when we add sex into the equation, suddenly there's a flurry of outrage and censorial judgment. If it's about valour and the honour of your team or your country that's ok, but if it's about pleasure it's not? This double standard has to stop and I don't mean just in relation to sport but in relation to gender. The new law makes face sitting an illegal activity on the grounds that is "potentially life-endagering"! And female ejaculation? Please educate me as to how this can be deemed worthy of a total ban? I think I must be doing something wrong here because I am genuinely perplexed!

But I don't think it's because we are getting anything wrong actually. I think what is at play has some strange undercurrent of a regressive and perhaps ulterior motive. Is this part of a strategy of some sort? These politicians aren't stupid, so how can anyone with any intelligence whatsoever deem that it's not okay to face sit, but it is ok to aggressively face f**k (where a man thrusts his wonderful pride with some degree of brute force into the open mouth of a woman). It's okay for a man/group of men to ejaculate all over a woman but not okay for a woman to ejaculate over a man? It's not okay for me to consent to you spanking me and leaving a mark or two but it is okay for a boxer to knock an opponent into unconsciousness? The way I see it is this, if I consent to you spanking me, well I'm an intelligent woman and if I want it I will have it, if I want to watch it, I want to watch it. The key words are here: 'consenting', and 'adult'. I don't need a nanny and I don't remember employing one. Funnily enough there's a whole genre of porn based around adult babies, where one adult plays a nannying role over another, in that instance it's clearly defined role play but with these state governed censorship laws it's simply offensive! 

No, what's at play here is far more sinister. When I was a student we saw the evolution of the "Off The Shelf" campaign to remove porn from all top shelf placement in shops. Now in our technological age it's the 'ban online porn' movement, only there is no consistency, no equality, no logic or reason and plenty of hypocrisy. I don't actually like a great deal of porn. I find it seriously lacking in imagination, tenderness, and eroticism and way too loaded in control, aggression and false representations of gender and intimacy. I prefer my sex connected, present and full of integrity. Whether a one off or a relationship, whether vanilla or wild and dirty; as long as it's full of that connection, presence and honesty, and not riddled with guilt, deceit and shame, then I'm ok with the variations on the theme. 

If you care about freedom of speech, and if you think that to educate your children, rather than conceal, ban or imagine rather foolishly that human beings aren't naturally curious about sex, and from an early age too then please sign the petition. If you think that surely it's better to communicate than to ban, then please sign the petition - and let our politicians know that frankly it's us who will show zero tolerance to ignorance rather than you to your people by demonstrating no more than your petty moralistic judgements. My crop is simply buzzing for a bottom to whoop over this one and I bet I'd find that bottom in the corridors of Westminster in full enjoyment of a bit of illicit sexual frisson. Mr Cameron, you have made a grave error with this one! As usual our sex has become a class, gender, and choice loaded gun and you're pointing it in all the wrong directions. So I have only this to say….

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Heartbeat of Life

The other day I was chatting with a friend about watching people in their flow, and the great pleasure one gets from really seeing someone utterly connected to what they're doing. This actually arose when discussing DJ's and turntablists and observing that when the DJ is connecting with their craft, whether that be with vinyl, Traktor, a mic, or other; when you see a person loving what they're doing, the expression of their craft becomes a pure extension of them. It becomes the language they use to express themselves. It is their heartbeat made manifest.

One of my teachers Rita Hraiz says all great DJs are shamans of the dance floor. I love this! Who can say that when they've been to the best gigs, the best music nights, they haven't come out truly moved. I'm not here talking about the kind of energy that requires drugs to create it or to uplift it, but the kind of energy born of contagious passion; contagious heartbeat. 

I got to thinking about how we express ourselves in life. For me, it can be about when I'm holding sacred ceremony, or when I'm juicing in my shop, in a bodywork session, a kiss or simply in a conversation that inspires or excites me, challenges or touches me somehow. My expression, the essence of me, permeates my being, enters my words, my actions and my presence in any given moment. I think it's the same for others, only here's the problem - we are human beings and we forget. 

My shamanic teacher Chris Luttichau says "We are born remembering who we are; the first enemy is forgetfulness."

I love this saying. It reminds me that in essence, we are perfect and we are born knowing all we need to know in order to be who we're supposed to be, but we become conditioned by society, by our parents, by our friends, by our teachers, and most of all by fear. Fear is a 'contracting' emotion - it shrinks us, and in my opinion, it's the opposite of love. It's not hate but fear that's the opposite of love, for when we're in fear that's the only place that 'hate' can survive. When we're in 'love' it's not possible for hate to exist. 

Over time, fear becomes our teacher. A cruel teacher, it sits punishing us over and over for our 'stupidity' and our naiveté. It laughs at our mistakes and taunts us with its petty and limited responses of sarcasm, criticism and malice, where love supports us through compassion, curiosity and transformation. We need to banish fear in order to find our heartbeat again, and everything has a heartbeat….the universe is pulsing all the time and we are indeed truly connected. We hear this a lot: "Everything is connected; we are all one", but what does it really mean?

For me, it means that ignorance cannot live in the midst of that realisation. When we hurt others, we are hurting ourselves, when we judge others, we are judging ourselves. We are all capable of great love and great fear. We are all capable of acting out through our conditioning or choosing instead to make other, new and healthy choices. We are all accountable! The good news is that becoming accountable opens the doorway to love, to genuine love born of that compassion I mentioned above, and of wisdom and inner knowing. That doesn't mean we have to like everyone we meet, but we can certainly try to love them! 

I've been watching a film called Earthlings this week. It's really distressing. It's about our relationship with animals, and how we use them (pets, food, zoos etc). It's an important film to watch despite the upsetting images. It doesn't mean of course that the world will go vegan overnight, but what if it just opens the gateway a little more to our understanding of the action/reaction chain, the cause/effect chain, the need/response chain? What if we could find ways to really begin to understand that our actions have power and consequence? Surely this would be as liberating as it would seem limiting? 

Ultimately, when we begin to recognise our true connectedness to all things, to all actions, we begin to live in the present moment so much more fully. We start to inhabit ourselves properly and this inevitably means we have to look at our places of discomfort in order to live in the moment without trying to run from it, disown it or project it. I love projections! They are such powerful messengers of where our inner work lies. So let's soften into our beating hearts and find the things that connect us over the things that separate us. Let's find our pulsating, beautiful, strong and loving heartbeats and express that beauty in our conscious waking lives. And above all remember….

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Eating The Wild

I read a quote this morning, written by a man named Stephen Buhner. Stephen's quote went as follows:

"One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us. Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, non-linear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic. Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it, the more we will awaken"

This quote really struck a chord in me in a week where I have been giving much thought about what it is to literally 'eat our wildness'.

In shamanism, the totem animal who walks with us teaching us how to embrace the unknown, the shadow, the night, the darkness, is panther. Panther treads softly stalking her prey, assessing her terrain. She knows when it is time to act, time to hunt, time to rest, time to be still. Panther is lithe and untamed. He does not question his instinctive nature. Where does your wildness live inside of you? Do you recognise its call or do you literally 'eat your wildness' and refuse to give it a voice through fear?

Now, imagine this - if we begin to eat the wild rather than our wild, we begin to discover what it truly means to be free and to unlock our potential for expansion. Nutritionally, living food contains a light force that many of us don't even recognise as our diets and lifestyles have become so processed and contained, controlled and packaged, and delivered to us as lifeless addictions. We don't even know how to distinguish between an addiction and a real physical need any more. Our wildness has been sold back to us as extreme sport, long holidays (a break from our 'reality'), or romance that doesn't have any relevance to truth.  Our wildness is sleeping the long sleep of an eternal winter; Sleeping Beauty awaiting her kiss.

But what if the kiss we await is the kiss of our own wild nature trying to touch us? What if that wildness was given breath and held in the reverence it surely deserves? What if we stopped self censoring, judging and projecting and instead became fearless warriors of the heart?

I'm summoned to thinking about this in a week of synchronicity, change and finding my way back to centre over and over. I WILL EAT THE WILD! I will eat the fruits of life and my clarion call is to radical honesty.

I desire that my suit no longer fits because guess what…I did not employ the tailor!

I desire that the wild light enters my eyes, that my gait changes and that my words become poetic. Not the poetry born of self indulgence, but that born of truth. Is it so hard to find that?

Why do people squash themselves into small boxes, somehow being less than they know they are? How much courage does it require to start to release the wildness in us? Gabrielle Roth, founder of Five Rhythms was once quoted as saying - "It takes a lot of discipline to be a free spirit" and I couldn't agree more. Self awareness is key, and courage is our main weapon.

I ask for Radical Honesty in all my relations, for all our relations. The Native Americans can be heard referring to something called 'The Children's Fire'. Sitting around the fire in Sacred Circle, any decision thats's made in this Council comes from a place cognisant of the seven generations to come. How does this action affect my children, their children, their children's children? Imagine that for a mind bend! But basically it's about honour and integrity. It's about taking responsibility. For me, truth telling can be a challenge as I'm sure it can for many; not having clarity, not wanting to hurt others, or not yet knowing how I actually feel about something, all of these factors influence to greater or lesser degree my ability to be radically honest, and yet, as long as that's my intention, then I'm doing ok.

No more sleeping beauties. No more to lack of nourishment coming from dead food, dead parts of ourselves. No more unmet hungers that can be fed by truth telling. ONLY truth telling. No more passions locked away. But let it all be done in the name of LOVE. Self love first and foremost for without that, our wildness cannot even recognise itself. And I love you all. Aho!

Monday, 10 November 2014

When I Get This Feeling…I Want…Sexual Healing.

"Most western sex is necrophilia; one dead body having sex with another dead body" - Joseph Kramer.

When I read this quote today, I was in absolute agreement with it. No brainer. Sex is dead. Long live intimacy! 

Many years ago now, I came across a book by a female performance artist and former sex worker Annie Sprinkle. At the time, I'd never heard of Annie nor come across her work, but this book, entitled "Annie Sprinkle's Post Porn Modernist" changed my life. Annie spoke to me about her sexual evolution in ways that were heartfelt, humorous and sometimes heart-breaking too, but then such is life. Her vivid descriptions of her up-bringing, adolescence and her journey (or perhaps deep dive) into the explorations of what it is to be a liberated sexual being were so incredibly inspiring. Annie seemed to have banished shame! This intrigued me. 

I have been fortunate enough to meet Annie, and at this meeting I was rapidly introduced to the magic that is Ms Sprinkle as a room full of people were taken into energy orgasm streaming right next door to a room of policemen and women, policy makers and officials deep into bone dry conversations of the cerebral type. The orgasmic noises filtering through the thin walls with increasing volume were just so delicious, and I can tell you now I sincerely wished I'd attended 'the other' break out session at that conference! 

From this meeting, this conference, a litter of ideas were birthed, giving rise to the Sex Work Re-Assessed Conference here in the UK in 1998. This joint project led by myself and two colleagues from The University of East London (Dr's Wendy Rickards and Merl Storr), came about after that trip to Los Angeles, where seeing so many create and change so much by giving a massive platform to that which is often unsaid was utterly inspiring. Perhaps in those days, funding was internationally more available, people were talking more about this stuff and there was a real buzz around sexuality, not a 'dry' buzz but more of a wet slippery one! Sex workers were speaking loud and proud and this is what they were saying…

But what is sex? what is sexual expression? Who gets to decide, and who gets to legislate? Personally speaking I don't ever want to witness a repeat of 'Operation Spanner' where in December of 1990, 16 gay men were given custodial sentences for consenting BDSM activity. Key word there = CONSENTING! So, the issue with sexuality for me lies in the distortions around it, and the value judgments which are seemingly inextricably tied to it. A bondage of a different kind! 

For me, it doesn't really matter what you do in bed, it's more about how you do it. As Joseph Kramer so succinctly puts it above, many of us are dead or dying from the waist down when it comes to the fine and exquisite art of truly 'love' making. Neither the hearts and flowers Mills and Boon kind, nor the opposite kind of the style you may find in a fetish club, for both can be equally besieged with a lack of true connection to the self and the other in my view. No, Joseph has nailed it (no pun intended!). 

For me, the three keys are breath, communication and presence. Being brave enough to really speak about what turns you on and off, where your energy is flowing and stuck, and truly making the first forays into stopping with the acting and starting to become the key player in your own pleasure maps. Following a path of Red Tantra has led me into the body in ways I could never have previously imagined. Without having to use fantasy as a tool to get off, one becomes able to use presence as the greatest erotic aphrodisiac on the market, and the good news is that it's free! All of the add-ons can be fine of course, but even then, if we default to major fantasy without fully remaining present to who is in front of us, what we are sharing and how we share it, then it's game over. If you're lucky you get a great O-gasm, if not, a somewhat deflated feeling that you've sold yourself short somehow. 

But what if you don't sell yourself short? What if you don't make love as one 'dead' body to another? Then, does it matter if you are paid for it or not? If you're tied up or not? If it's a one off or an ongoing thing? No! The whole point is, that you are truly alive and inhabiting your body, your sexual self and your personal erotic map in absolute and utter presence, and that my dears, is where the nectar truly lies. In integrity. 

So let's hear it for all of the Sexual Pioneers, healers and adventurers out there making this world sexier one way or another. I for one am grateful for each and every one of them. 

Shakti Tantra, Sarah Rose Bright, Joseph Kramer, Barbara Carrellas, Annie Sprinkle, Betty Dodson et al. Thank you for being there sexing up the planet! 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

On Communing With Reggie Kray

Hello Sunday! This evening I'm here to chat with you about life and how we live it.

Sometimes, as my general attitude to life is positive, vibrant and full of optimism, people mistake this for naiveté. We all make assumptions about others right? What do you assume about people? Do you know their story? I saw this post on my friends Instagram a while back, I kinda liked it - it said:

This, amongst other things recently revealed got me thinking; why do we make assumptions about others? Why do we project and disown our own shadows? Why do we tell half truths, blatant lies and distort reality? My feeling is that often it's not coming from a malicious place but a fear based one. We are all scared underneath, to a greater or lesser degree, and the greatest distortions in my opinion are born from fear, the antithesis of love. We may ask ourselves, what can't I say when I feel this? Why do I feel so exposed if I speak my truth? We're all so damn scared of rejection and it goes back a long way, often to early childhood, where obviously if we feel afraid of abandonment there isn't a much greater place of terror as we're not able to take care of our own needs at that point. Children are great at forgetting stuff so deep trauma can be utterly erased, however that 'soul loss' will remain until revisited and healed, if not, it will have a nasty wee habit of resurfacing every time the wound is opened and sometimes we don't even know what opens it, only how to close it fast!

So by the age of 19, in the depths of serious addictions and fully immersed in London Gangland and all that came with that, my fears were pretty well masked. I was lost, but paradoxically thought I was super sussed and had it all under wraps. I didn't. Underneath I was a scared young woman; the problem was I didn't really know it and so there was a certain inevitability about the things I had to 'learn' before I could become aware and therefore make changes, and it seems the Universe had decided tough lessons were to be my thing.

So what do we do when we call in hard lessons? We sink, or we swim.

So, like Dorie, I just kept swimming. My Grandmother always said that I narrowly escaped death over and over. I now consider she may have been right. As a result, the woman you see today is self aware and damn grateful to be here, to be alive and to be clean and strong. I have the stamina of an ox and the balls of a rugby team and if anyone thinks my optimism is born of ignorance, its not, it's born of learning my lessons the hard way and learning them well. So why am I telling you all this? Well I think its because it hurts me to see beautiful souls locked in fear, scared of telling the world, their partners, their friends, their bosses, their families, who they really are. Scared of saying what pains them, and what uplifts them, what they truly desire and need, what they are struggling with and what they have to share. Afraid of being 'exposed' at any given moment, of upsetting others, or of losing our perceived securities, we learn to shut down those parts of us that allow us to be vulnerable and yet it is only in our vulnerability we have any chance of really becoming alive, joyful and whole again. Take me to my heart and nail it to the altar of love please!

So at age 22, it came to be that I was sitting beside Reggie Kray in Parkhurst Prison discussing his book draft for Reg Kray's Book Of Slang (not then published), his life and how he got to be there, and it all seemed perfectly normal to me. In there, he was a pretty ordinary guy believe it or not. Not very well, weakened by years in jail and the lifestyle he'd led, but quite unassuming beyond his reputation.

Once this man was young. Once he experienced distortions that shaped who he became and what became of him. Accepting responsibility for our actions is important. Not demonising a person "oh I could never do that" because who knows what we are capable of when not ourselves, when pushed, when influenced so absolutely by our peers, and our conditioning. It's not that though is it, it's what we do with what we've been given, what we choose in the moment. Blame, judgement and criticism are usually shadow projections. So I'm all for transparency and kindness these days. Communicating and allowing the vulnerability to crack me open. Everyone has a heart; look for it and don't ever stop looking.

As for me, I will allow myself to be open to criticism because of two things: One, it doesn't touch me as long as I'm comfortable in my own skin and choosing love over and over, and two, your criticism is not about me, it's about you! 

And so I call to Courage, Truth, Integrity, Love, Transparency, and Gratitude and ask that they continue to shape my life and the lives of those around me. I expect radical honesty in my primary relationships. In being brave enough to speak your truth, you gift me with the ability to speak mine in response, and that is truly a blessing. 

So, let it be beautiful. Let it be. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Cosmic Orgasm of Life

This week sees your Hostess Claudia looking into and pondering Creation Myths and the general disconnect from the physical body and the act of union/communion.

After a beautiful day out in Wales on Wednesday with Barry Spendlove from Healing Tao Britain, I was left, as usual when out on Barry's walks, in a state of presence and contentedness. Barry is one of the most embodied people I've ever met, and walking with him with his deep knowledge of the land around Wales, nature in general and the physical form, provides a really strong base from which to engage with the interconnectedness of our own bodies and the body of the earth. Observing the deep sunsets, engaging with the trees, with the feeling of Autumn approaching, the earth changing and yet also ever present in stillness, led me to what I can only describe as a state of bliss. This in turn got me thinking about sensuality and sexuality in general, and to wondering how many, if any, creation myths actually involve the physical in a sexual way and what that energy of creation and dissolution is about.

Nature has an exquisite way of mirroring sex. Just observe on your next walk how many trees, plants, flowers and rocks can hold an essence of this most natural act, and yet then consider where we, where the world came from, and how disconnected from the sexual this usually is. Generally we know that the increase in organised religions around the world saw the decrease of shame-free sexual expression. From early natural expressions of sex, amongst mammals and other animals and amongst people, gradually we saw a decline in that naturalness and an increase in judgement and censorship. Over time, we began to hide our sexual drives and to judge them. We became our own inner critics, and the ugly trinity of shame, guilt and fear began to take over from beauty, joy and bliss. Basically - we forgot.

So as I walk in nature and observe everywhere the essence of change, of growth and new life in spring, of decay and release in winter, and the beauty and magic running through all seasons based in that essential re-creation, I am left wondering why so many of our creation stories do not involve the physical expression of that. I found mainly one, a Japanese myth about the God Izanagi and the Goddess Izanami. It is said that these two made love with appetite and with passion, thus giving birth to eight of the Japanese islands.

What eventually happened to Izanami was that when she gave birth to one of her sons, a fire God, this birth was too much for her to bear and the fire consumed her - interesting right? Here is this passionate, sexually confident Goddess and the fire she gives birth to burns her up! So I'm left wondering about all of this cosmic bliss; it's a beautiful thing to feel, to experience and to contain. Orgasmic streaming of the kind that comes from deep, spirit connected, embodied sacred sex is without doubt a potent force for creation. Are we afraid of that energy? Are we shying away from harnessing that life force? Are we overly concerned about the physical aspects of sex when we should be focussing on the energetic ones in their most pure form, and by 'pure'  I don't mean of the kind judged on a moral basis. 

Life is beautiful. Nature is powerful. Sex and sensuality can be a gateway into presence and into bliss. Let's get rid of the distortions around it, open up the dialogue and welcome the great Cosmic Orgasm of Life! 

Leave me your comments on life, energy, nature, sex, creation. I love to engage with people!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Kissing as Communication.

It's been a while since I've written here. January in fact. Since then, my life journey has continued, as it always does, following all manner of changes, twists and turns, each turn more healing, each more revealing than the last.

I am currently on sabbatical from my own healing practice in order to focus on my personal journey towards increasing clarity of what I do, and do not, want in my life. With my mother's passing in May of this year, and the deep grief and shock that went with that, something inside me truly changed. Slowly, over the process of her leaving her physical body, in this plane, I came to accept many things about what it is to be alive, to have the gift of a healthy body, a healthy mind, and the recognition that I had absolute agency for choice in what to do with my life was so strong it was almost more of a drive than a passing thought. "Make the most of life Steph" was all I could hear, over and over. Do not waste time trying to fix things that can't be fixed, instead, lean into the grief, feel it, move through it and let go.

And letting go is not always easy as we know.

Letting go requires courage, faith, hope and trust. It demands stillness and presence. But if we cannot let go, then how can we create space to breathe into new things, new opportunities and new life. When your hands are full of the baggage you're already dragging around with you, there is no room in your heavy arms to carry anything else. Let go. Feel and let go.

Love is one of the hardest things of all to let go. All of those hopes and dreams we shared. All of the visions of growing old together with a whole lot of shared memories, all gone into nothing? But it's never 'nothing' is it? Every person or situation we encounter along the way is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, and about our personal dreams. If we can share those that's great, if not, then it's time to let go.

So lest we dwell in the place of nostalgia, let's make space for the excitement that comes from really getting to know yourself. Being alone can be a perfect opportunity to tune into our own rhythms, desires, strengths, vulnerabilities and so much more. Being alone is like the compost for the soul. We enter the void and become masters of our own egos. Here I am in the silence and I am uncomfortable, lonely, fearful, angry, or peaceful, blissful, turned on, content. Probably a little of all of those things. At some point the balance has to tip. If not we are stuck in depression, isolation. If we can allow it, we move into the exquisite place of peace and self awareness, and suddenly we find we can see out once more. There are friends there waiting to hold our hand. There are people…and people are interesting if we remain inquisitive enough to want to know more.

And so, as we begin to see the people, we begin to find our curiosity again. Who are you? What do I see in you that must also be in me? You interest me. I am you. You are me. We've had time identifying our true self, our drives and desires and our deepest dreams. We know what we want that little bit more than we did when stuck. There is so much freedom in letting go! Slowly we may find our interest is piqued. Someone smiles, and we return the smile. We begin to feel a fluttering of new possibility and the dance begins all over again, however slowly, however fast. Without the learning, we will most certainly dance the same dance and trip up in the same places. With the right wisdom, we can start to learn new footsteps and new dance routines. 

And then comes the kiss. 

Kissing is an art. But not an art in itself for it is actually a communication. Last night I dreamt about a kiss, a strange kiss, two pairs of lips sealed together but not moving. And in my dream I could hear myself saying "No! Kissing is communication. I want you to communicate with me, respond to my kiss with your kiss. Let your kiss be your silent words, your offering and your response to my kiss, my silent words, my offering." In my dream I knew absolutely and utterly that a truly great kiss is 100% communication and 100% communion. Anything less is an act. Dropping into that place of communion is not always straight forward though, and for me, kissing is one of the greatest tantric acts. To be fully present to the intimacy of another human being and to yourself gives a kiss all that it merits. It is a beautiful thing. And it is communication. 

So let go, let go, let go. Dive deep into life and all it offers you. Whether alone and in between kisses, or together and in the midst of them, let them be wonderful, or let the promise of them be exquisite but waste not your time on kisses that are not reciprocated. Waste not your time on kissing into the wind when the wind could carry your beautiful kisses towards someone waiting to catch them, someone waiting to communicate with their mouth on your mouth, their lips on your lips, their heart present to your heart. That way, even if it is only ever one kiss, one moment, it can never be a lost one. 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Dropping The Veil - What Can Tantra do for you?

Tantra, an ancient practice for modern times. Tuning into the body, the soul, releasing, letting go, surrendering and communing with the Spirit.

I hear so many people express how tired they are of hiding their truth around intimacy, the body and sexuality, and I share that because it's good to know you're not alone. Isn't it? What I've noticed in my practice is the absolutely inescapable flood of relief that crosses people's faces when I simply reflect back "yes, I hear you, that's normal" or "oh that's common."Usually a smile crosses their faces, followed by a genuinely surprised "really?" This myth that it's only us, the myth which keep us so small, well it's a potent jailer and we are taking a first step towards freedom in understanding that we are not alone after all.

More people come to me with that opening sentence than any other - "I'm tired of hiding, of not being able to be myself," or "I'm tired of feeling stuck and limited in my relationships when it comes to sex and intimacy." So, when we start our tantric journey, the first thing we look at is how to identify who that 'self' actually is, and get clear on our intentions for transformation. Starting with the goal and working backwards we will begin to take apart, or paradoxically, construct, a strong sense of self around our unique maps for pleasure.

For many of us, we have lived carrying messages, beliefs, energy and ideas that are not even ours, and these freeloading hitch-hikers have occupied so much of our lives that we often times don't even know what the possibilities would be without those beliefs. Who would I be if I could let go of….(fill in blank)?

In my practice, when a client steps through the door, I first off acknowledge their courage for getting there; true tantric practice is not for the faint hearted but it is for the Warrior of the Spirit. Recognising the courage required to get there, we then enter into sacred space, co-creating what those sessions will look like. I work quite intuitively once the process is started, acting as a vessel for receiving any clues or keys into unlocking that which is ready for change. To see a client begin to understand what may have been a challenging block, or a sticking point, and to see a client leave feeling encouraged to try to change things out there in their daily life fills me with wonder. In releasing armies of loved-up, conscious, open people, the ripple effects can only be good yes?!

Using a combination of bodywork (massage with intention), breath work, visualisations and other tantric structures, we begin wherever is fitting to the person sitting in front of me. Some clients are clear about where their blocks are and others have no idea. Some come knowing what they want to work on, others go with the flow of trusting the process. Some are very shy, others ready to dive right in. All are good.

It's important to say here that living in a tantric way is not about just sex. Tantra may utilise the powerful force of sexual (creative) energy but it's so much more than a manual of techniques about how to get great sex, in fact in essence that couldn't be further from the truth, though in finding its essence, great sex is usually a guaranteed outcome in my view. What makes it great? The truth makes it great. Integrity and authenticity make it great.

When we release shame, guilt, fear, anxiety and trauma, we create space for pleasure, real embodied pleasure to occupy that empty seat. I invite your questions about my work, my sessions, my one-to-one and group work possibilities. I invite to to step into freedom from the restraints and restrictions you have been given, instead offering up the change to place yourself in the drivers seat. Not all restraint is dull!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Life and the lessons of Walter Mitty

I'm six cocktails in. I've learnt that life does to adhere to six cocktails. I've learnt that life squeezes out of the confines of life, and that if you let go, then life has its way of showing you different perspectives.

I went out for tea. But then this dynamic started up. Someone told someone I was seeing them, just to stop another someone from feeling something that previous someone did not want to, or know how to, deal with.  So I sat there wondering how the hell I found myself in this Walter Mitty moment. I kinda like the guy who was laying claim to this lie, he's a friend, he makes me laugh, he is vulnerable, he is real, and so I sat with the lie watching it unfold, despite my discomfort.

Many years down the line, many stories later, and life just has this way of showing me that it's never as simple or straightforward as it seems. It's all just us making the best of each moment. Were we animals, we would most likely accept this without needing to understand it, just be in the moment and let it go. But being human and having an ego driven intellect, we need to understand and compute, well I do at least, and yet there are times when emotion is rough and ragged, when we don't know what else to do but lie. Save me father/brother/sister/mother for I have sinned!

So this guy tells someone else he's seeing me, but he's not, and in truth I'm raw in that emotion myself, but he tells it to stop another someone from entering into the illusion of emotion, of hope, and therein lies the issue, hope; one motherfucking cruel bastard that occasionally has us by the balls. You see - what if we dare to believe in hope? You live this life and it's only as 'real' as the hope that the unfulfilling reality you may find yourself living in, will pull you out of where you are, to take you to where you desire to be, and that destination - love, contentment and comfort, well who would not want to be there right? It may feel like a long way from home and sometimes it can most certainly feel like the magician's trump card, the ultimate illusion, for if we do not create the life we desire and live in conscious creation, then hope may as well be the genie in the lamp. 

Life sets us challenges. It creates tasks on a par with those of the princess locked in Rumplestiltskin's tower (or if you're a man think Hercules with his monumental challenges), tasks that call us over and over into truth. And I must be frank when I say I don't really live in that duality world of consciousness any more. I love life. I've walked the path of messy chaotic versions of truth and for me, it's just too much to manage, it breeds toxic emotions and confused people. So now, I choose the simple, honest version of life, the one in which the ego is no longer the King. The one in which the ego, recognised for its weak and futile grasping style of leadership, is banished to the deserts of shame and insecurity, and can lie amongst its fellow thieves of fear, confusion, unfulfilled longing and the like. Me, I hold no court for these petty pirates of authentic living. 

I arrive home humbled once more. I know that the older I get the more I see people hiding their true desires which then become distorted, for in hiding, the masks of illusion gain power. We are all walking our individual hero's journey. Walk tall and choose truth. Or be fallible and accept the mess. Both have merit. Both contain wisdom. The best we can do…maybe summed up below! 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Does My Vulva Look Big In This?

Following on from the seemingly very popular theme of writing fairly explicit blogs on taboo subjects, we come to today's frankly titled piece 'does my vulva look big in this?'

The reason I chose this somewhat direct title was manyfold, but first and foremost it is to serve to blow the lid off another extremely taboo area for open discussion, the wonderful diversity of women's genitalia. Now, you may wonder why so, and why the play-on-words title? We've all heard the question "does my bum look big in this" which has become an almost ironic statement in it's chronic overuse, yet it masks something deeper and far more distressing, the fact that so many women suffer body dysmorphia to some degree or another. 

Body dysmorphia is a condition in which you see yourself as disproportionately different to how you actually look, and how others see you. "Oh my god, I'm so gross" "Oh my good look at my arms, I can't wear that" etc, and yet it would seem that this works mostly one way, in the way of women wanting to be slimmer, skinnier, more toned, more lean, and not so with slender women wanting to be bigger. I don't think I've ever heard an 'oh my god I look too skinny in that" and yet I'm sure as many naturally slim women struggle with their body image as do larger, more curvaceous women, largely due to the 'public gaze' and the common icons of perfection presented to us as our aspirations and ideals for beauty. Ultimately, the female form is massively diverse and yet the mainstream media work hard to convince us that any shape outside this perfect ideal is unattractive, and what absolute bollocks that is! 

Today's post is not to focus on this subject though, it's to go one step further into the no-go zone of the discussion of women's vaginas, labia and vulvas, and how here is one area we would rarely be able to joke about or say out loud (as with the bum question) despite the fact there is a pit of hidden insecurity around it.

Whilst on my tantric path, I have heard so many women voicing deep dissatisfaction and self hatred over the subject of their labia and vulvas. All this pain and yet the truly sad thing is that the diversity in this part of our bodies is as different as the colour of our eyes, and some of us do indeed need a map to find out own way there, never mind a way into willingness to share this part of ourselves joyfully with our lovers. 

In tantric teachings, good ones that is, I've been fortunate enough to witness many women really transforming the way they feel about their genitals. Women with large labia discovering they're not the only ones, women with really hairy pussies facing off women with neat little shaved ones, discussing and understanding the differences and the commonalities. How they look, smell and taste. Discussing and airing our true feelings and recognising just how much of that is a product of the perfection model we're all made to believe exists but is actually an absolute and utter myth. I recommend the book below as a starting point for conversation, currently available from Amazon; basic but helpful. Tell yourself, tell your daughters and your granddaughters, tell your mothers (they often came from generations where it was even harder to talk about this stuff). 

I also recommend that women start to seriously blow the lid off these subjects of taboo conversation by getting the truth out there, by replacing the lies with the wise! Some women, like my friend Thea (who has shared this in her recent book 'Growing into Myself' so I'm not speaking inappropriately about her private stuff here) undergo surgery on their labia for real reasons of physical pain. Some of us are seduced into considering it simply as cosmetic beautification and this is where it gets truly disturbing. Surgery to tighten our yoni's, replace our hymens, cut our labia, or remove our clitorises, this is where my temperature starts to rise really rapidly. STOP! Refuse this affront to our womanhood, and dive instead into the pleasure to be experienced in our bodies and our naturalness when we finally begin to realise that there is no such thing as a 'normal' vagina. No such thing as a 'normal' labia, normal vulva, normal bum or normal body. They're alien constructs a bit like those baby charts that give new parents endless reason to worry where none is necessary. It took me three children before I started ignoring those dots on the charts telling me my baby was 'out of normal range' - "Great! I'm so glad to hear that" would be my response now, "and tell me, what is normal anyway!"

So let's start this dialogue, the one about our less than perfect bodies, for we look more like this:

than this:

And as we can see from the image above, 'this' doesn't even exist! Our genitals are as diverse as our genetic blueprints so try this one out for size too, another great book for changing the way we think about  the gentitalia (women and men), their appearance and how differently we experience pleasure according to our intimate  body shape, size and form. 

And whilst you're at it, let's try giving them some positive messages. Tell them how FABULOUS they are and if you can't do that, at least try and befriend them just that tiny bit more, as step by step we heal our wounds. And you could start by visiting this wonderful bunch (click link) - workshop coming to Manchester very soon…register your interest here! 

*painted image of two women above by Aleah Chapin