Full-length windows framed daffodil blooms bright against vibrant and deep greens. For the comfort of bare flesh, the furnace was turned up, and turned up again. As dusk gathered, six of us breathed, coming together consciously with intention. We were here to explore ourselves. Together.
Inspired by the Bodysex viewing and discussion at Portland's In Other Words Feminist Community Center in February, we were here for a Self-Pleasuring Ritual. My co-facilitator for the Bodysex event, Barbara Wynne, spearheaded, hosted, and held space for this ritual.
In the invitation to this ritual of self-pleasure, Barbara wrote:
In a society that forces us into boxes, our very bodies are polarized, colonized, and objectified, separating us from the very vessel we
inhabit. Our cellular memory is impaired from knowing the diversity of ways we’re capable of feeling sensation.
I invite you to step into a circle of women to share inspiration, witness, daring, and vulnerability as you touch deeply your own desire. We will begin our evening together co-creating an environment of intimacy and warmth, meeting each other in the present moment, and grounding into our bodies. With gentle guidance and facilitation, we’ll use our words, bodies, breath and movement to tap into our own perfect pleasure.
Barbara'sinsight, sensitivity, and skill are unparalleled. I trust her implicitly. Educator, coach, facilitator of group experience, and incredibly clear communicator, Barbara is remarkable. She held space for our ritual and offered guidance with a sense of ease that helped us relax and be present with ourselves and with each other. To read more about Barbara and her work, see her website. For those in the Portland area, check out her four-part sophisticated sex ed series, starting April 11 and running monthly through July.
During the ritual, we moved around the room, stretching our bodies, feeling our skin. In the midst of moving and connecting inwardly, Barbara led us through a series of prompts and activities to connect with each other. We looked with soft eyes, reflecting each others' beingness, letting ourselves be as vulnerable and exposed as we wished.
I was elevated, my senses sharp. I felt my hair on bare shoulders and hardwood floor under my soles, heard the sounds of my breath in its varied rhythm, saw limbs and torsos swaying and bending as we danced with ourselves. I felt my pulse lift and eyes dilate. While certainly my circlemates were beautiful and sexy, it was not horniness directed at them that I felt, but rather an arousal of my entire self, including my spirit.
My body tingled with excitement. Here I was, again. I delighted in how comfortable it felt, to drop into myself, show up, and be in the presence of self-connection -- my own, and others'. It felt incredible to re-enter the space of shared sexuality, to expose my soft white underbelly, to strip naked of clothing and propriety, to share the brightness and magic of my own pleasure in a room of women doing the same. This was my first women's masturbation circle since filming Bodysex in the fall of 2011.
My participation in Bodysex was not the culmination or arrival at body acceptance. Participating was a tool, a conscious effort to push myself toward self-love. Capturing images and sounds (only those of us in the room can recall the smells) and making a 90-minute record of a two-day workshop was an experience that I earnestly consider sacred. Our offering is a publicly consumable
nugget of a life-changing experience.
Over the last several years, I have passed through a number of doorways on my journey toward bold and joyful celebration. Each threshold feels like entry into a bright and shiny and sometimes strange new world. What's been on the other side of each portal has unfailingly challenged and delighted me.
I've taken what is generally private and hidden, and have exposed it to light, air, and words. When I began writing here and at darkgreeny.com, I experienced incredible catharsis through writing about my sexstyles, the ways I have enjoyed my orgasm. The power of first person storytelling, sharing from one's own experience and perspective, hold tremendous sway with me and my sensibilities.
The steps came over time. I shared some of my story. Later I shared my real name. Then I began sharing masturbation and social orgasms. I went to New York and filmed the Bodysex Workshop DVD with Betty, Carlin, Sheila, Sayaka, D, and Liandra. We all put our bodies, our faces, our cunts, and our orgasms on the screen.
Last year I hosted a private viewing in my home. The public viewing of the DVD in Portland marked another doorway. As I sat at the front of the room with Barbara, my body and orgasm displayed on the screen behind me, I felt surprisingly calm, after weeks of anxious anticipation.
The film is one possible beginning point. It is an entryway for conversation. Being willing to stretch and speak openly about bodies and sex and orgasms and pleasure and connection and self-connection, and the power of integration - these are the things that make me feel alive and awake and aware and rooted in my flesh and purpose.
During the self-pleasure ritual led by Barbara, I remembered something else. The DVD is not just the beginning point for conversation. The DVD can also serve as a jumping off point for private and public action. Not only talking, but doing. The doing can look many different ways, but it is inherently active. Moving forward, into, through, around, toward. Active. Embodied.
As I left the ritual space, several hours after watching those bright yellow daffodils in fading sunlight, I was flying high, tingling in my skin, excited in my muscles, stretched in my spine. Gathering together, sharing pleasure, bearing witness - prompted in part by the Bodysex DVD and the threshold created by the public viewing - left me feeling sparkly and bright-eyed.
I'm fervent in my hope that waves of orgasmic healing will continue to rise and wash over individuals and communities and regions and ultimately over all of humanity, bathing us in the awesome power of self-pleasure and love.
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photo courtesy of Mark Gamba