Sexual Liberation as Collective Liberation
Decolonizing Practices for Sexual Liberation
Before I begin, I want you to know that I am casting a spell on these words, asking them to be my allies. They want you to know the spell. The spell is that if you read beyond this spell you are entering a contract with these words, not with me. The contract that you are entering is to honor these words and the energy and mastery it took to bring them to you, through me. This spell is about reciprocal energetics, if you read beyond the spell, you are consenting to become a part of this spell.
This piece is a journey, it is intense, as intensity is what is needed right now to root out white supremacy, antisemitism, patriarchy, and capitalism. Because of it's intensity, it is designed for you to take in slowly, bit by bit, at your pace. Grab a notebook, as there are writing prompts. Grab some water or tea, to help you remember Water is Life. Grab some herbs to burn, remembering your Fire. Feel the Earth below and the Breath within. Once the circle is cast, I invite you to locate yourself within the Earth's cycles and the wisdom of the northern winter. Next, you will be invited to root your sexual liberation practice in justice, exploring what that means. Several times throughout, we ground and center, tuning into the body, noticing the wisdom it brings to this journey. You are invited to practice in this space, and open to the wealth of insight, tools and possibilities, held in the arms of the author’s personal insights and sense of direction.
This is my consent practice with these words:
I consent to share these words if sharing them will honor and support my life and livelihood. I consent to sharing them if, by sharing them, I am able to break free from the oppressive systems that have supported me in my livelihood, while not contributing to the oppression of others. The words that I claim as mine are those that express what I have found from my labor, not through the labor of others. The Black and brown folx who have labored to bring this piece into fruition will be honored for their labor and the labor of their Lines and Lineages.
I send my words out to support you, and I call them back to me to support me. As the magick moves, it may not cause serious harm to anyone or anything. I ask that some of it come back immediately, and that some of it is paid forward and returns later to me, my community and my kin. I ask that all of this energy, given and received, support the liberation of those most vulnerable. I ask that these words only take and return what is freely given.
Your Consent practice invitation:
By continuing beyond this point, you are consenting to entering into this spell, this Spiritual Contract. You may weave your own intentions into this spell, which cannot undo my contract with these words, cannot detract from my spell, only add to how it impacts you.
Don’t be afraid. I am choosing transparency because I trust you and I trust me. Because too many people enter into contracts without full consent. Because all writers cast spells. Your consent and my consent are the center of my spell. Nothing will happen to you that you don’t fully consent to because of this spell. You get to choose how to reciprocate energy back to me.
If you want to check in with me about this contract, if you have questions, please reach out. This magick is not accessible to people who do not understand the contract.
If you want to offer me reciprocity before you begin, you may send it directly to me here. My suggested donation amount is $2-20.
I want you to know that I am not sharing everything. Some information has been protected and kept hidden. I believe that some ancient technologies need to be freed, however, others need to be kept hidden. If you want more instruction or support with integrating these words into your life, I offer spiritual guidance in 1-to-1 sessions.
Deep Winter preparations for Imbolc
Trigger Warnings: Racialized trauma, Sexual Liberation work, witch burning, oppression in healing work, kink, mention of abortion, miscarriage, self harming behaviors, sexual liberation practices
This piece builds off of my two pieces that came before. I don’t believe that time is linear. I want you to know that they are connected and in play together. Here are the links, if you want to read them all.
Experiencing Choice through Awareness and Practice
Boundary Magick for the New Moon in Scorpio
We are in the time of deep darkness and stillness. Christians call this the time of Peace. The Three Kings (Norns) have visited the Son (Sun) of God, offering him gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These gifts honored Jesus as King and human.
How can we mark this time? How do we honor this moment?
How do we work and play with the season between Yule (Winter Solstice) and Imbolc (Candlemass)?
We look to ancient traditions for practices. We call on our ancestors for guidance. We settle our bodies, observe within, and observe without. We integrate the deep rest of the 12 days of Yule (the days between Solstice and New Years).
Imbolc is the Holyday of Brigid, the goddess of the hearth and birth, and the beginnings of spring. At this HolyDay we celebrate the birth of the lambs, the warmth of our homes and our bellies. During this time, purify with fire and to use divination to see ahead.
This New Moon in Capricorn took place on January 12th, 11pm CST, waxing to the Full Moon in Leo on January 28th, 1:16pm CST, and waning to the next New Moon in Aquarius, at Lunar Imbolc on Feb 11th, 1:06pm CST. (1)
The season of the Sun in Capricorn (end of December thru the end of January) is about the hard work of a sea goat to ascend from the depths of the sea to the peak of the mountain. This is the time of determination to survive the winter, if that’s what we want. It’s about deciding what we want and committing to the hard work to get there. Full Moon in Leo reminds us to stay in touch with our pleasure and bliss, our joy and expression , while noticing the tension with the sun in Aquarius, which is about expansion of ideas, inspiration and authentic connection with others. Aquarius keeps us in touch with the better world that we know if possible, and questioning the structures that have built on faulty foundations.
In the Norse Runic Calendar, we have gone through Jera and Eihwaz and soon shift into the time of Perthro, January 13-28, and then Algiz, January 28 - February 12.
Jera, Yuletide, is the acquisition of allies and resources (no surprise that at Yule we share gifts of our year’s bounty, focusing on giving to those who experienced the least bounty). Eihwaz is death, the determination to do it alone, the engagement of the True Self to complete the task and move on. It is completion and detachment. These two Runes set us up for Perthro, which is the rune of responsible manifestation. Algiz, following Perthro, is the Rune of protection.
Perthro calls us to face our role in how “luck” plays out. (2) We are offered a number of avenues we may address, heal, and engage to better our position, always remembering that we are connected to all Life. We engage in responsible manifestation, brought about with attention to the past, balance in present, and accountability to the future.
Perthro is effort and embodiment manifesting desired wyrd, including healing ancestral lines, acceptance of what cannot be changed, and responding in the present moment in ways that bring all into balance for past, present and future lines. This is the culmination of the previous two runes; becoming conscious of what we are creating and how we are creating it now evolves into embodiment of the creation.
Coming next is Algiz, the Rune of Protection and the time of stepping into personal and collective power, embodying power and/through protection. We have spent the winter laying the basis to justly do so. It offers us strength in spaces indigenous to us, allowing us to carry the Sanctuary of our home space with us. In this time of tending the Hearth, we get to know the Spirits of our home spaces (House Spirits). In knowing our protectors and strengths so well, we carry them wherever we go. Boundaries are our protection, our articulated strengths.
The Celtic tree for this time of year is Alder. While Alnus incana, speckled alder, grows where I live, the European Black Alder, Alnus glutinosa, does not. When I read about the energy of the Spirit tree Black Alder, the tree that comes to my mind is grandmother Cedar, Giizhik, Thuja occidentalis. Cedar, like Alder, grows near water and is used for building because of how it's relationship with water impacts it's wood, making it resistant to rot. As the Solar New Year begins, many of us turn toward our foundations, what and how do we want to build in the coming year? We may use journeying, storyboarding, astrology or divination to get a sense of what’s ahead and how to prepare now.
As a medicine, Cedar has physical and spiritual uses. As this is not my lineage to teach, I cannot freely share the spiritual uses of Cedar. I can, however, guide you in the ethical and safe use of Native North American plants and European plants.(3) Indigenous people from various tribes have requested that white people not source White Sage, Osha, Palo Santo or other at-risk plants from non-Indigenous companies or people. To honor this request, I make a smudge blend including local Cedar, and following a teaching I was given within the lineage of Keewaydinoquay Peschel. I believe that using Native Plants for Spiritual Medicine can be dangerous and harmful to Indigenous People, if not done guidance and care. I also use Cedar as an physical medicine, it was part of my internal HPV protocol, it is highly anti-viral, while also containing a neuro-toxin, thujone.
The Soil where I live remembers that this is the time of Minado Giiziz - Spirit Moon. (4) This is a time to honor the silence and our place in creation. Have you ever been to the Northland for the January Full Moon? It is the most incredible sensory event of the year. The nighttime world is bright with the Moon’s light reflecting off a thick layer of snow. The silence penetrates deeply as it is usually below zero, and it feels as though everything is holding its breath so as not to expand so much that it breaks in the bitter cold. This is my favorite time of year to go out for a hike in the woods and find a spot to lay in the snow until my body tells me that if I stay out any longer I might experience damage to my skin - frost bite.
Notice the feelings and sensations in your body. Being held by the Elements and the Season.
From the Creative Alchemy Oracle Deck by Sarah Greenman
Connecting Sexual Liberation with Collective Liberation
A couple weeks ago a new friend asked me if I knew about Tantra. I asked him if he was feeling called to Tantra, then asked what he meant by the word. My understanding is that the meaning of Tantra expands well beyond the sexual realm, yet most westerners distill it into a fantastical meaning of Sacred Sex.
My friend said he was interested in sexuality as it relates to sexual realization, which was my cue to shift the conversation away from a colonized view of Tantra as the most accessible path of sexual liberation for a westerner, to the foundation of sexual liberation - as I understand it: Liberating the Body.
I shared with him a list of books about decolonizing the body. After I shared it, I took note of the make up of that list - Black and brown, qweer, fat, disabled femmes writing about various intersections of discrimination of the body.
Here is the list:
adrienne maree brown- “Pleasure Activism”
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinah- “Care Work”
Sonya Renee Taylor- “The Body is not an Apology”
Expanding this list, I include books by Black men that share the experience of being in a Black male body, healing the trauma of white supremacy and embodied Anger practices:
Ta Nehisi Coates- book “Between the World and Me”
Lama Rod Owens- book “Love and Rage”
Resmaa Manakem- book “My Grandmother’s Hands”
And, because Liberation of the Body cannot happen without Decolonizing relationship with Land:
Robin Wall Kimmerer- “Braiding Sweetgrass”
Grounding and Centering Meditation
Before we proceed, I invite you to take some moments to feel the Earth under your feet.
Feel the Air around you.
Feel the Essence of your Being.
These are the places that you may return to. Again. And again.
Consent Practice- This next part may bring up discomfort.
Please practice grounding and centering as you move forward.
And please practice self-care if the sensations get too overwhelming.
Radical Self-Care is the most important practice of decolonization work.
Why does my list include Black and brown voices?
Because the Foundation of Justice is listening to and centering the most oppressed people and their experiences. (5)
Because it’s easy to follow a path set up by a white person that does not include Anti-Racism (white supremacy and anti-semitism) Work.
Because none of us will experience Liberation until we are all Liberated.
This is the shadow this Moon is asking us to illuminate:
Sexual Liberation that is not rooted in anti-racism work is perpetuating oppression.
I know that this might be hard for people to hear. I know that some of these statements may bring up discomfort in the body. This IS the medicine. The hurt. The discomfort.
The practice is to move with that medicine by moving through it toward a commitment to showing up for Ally Work.
The practice is being in the body, experiencing the embodiment of Justice and Ally Work, which is often uncomfortable.
The practice is to understand the difference between embodying Justice Work (internal protection) and identifying with Justice Work (external protection).
The practice is to return to the sensations in the body as you do this work and to really look at and understand these sensations. Give them all the time in the world. And do all of this with gentleness and compassion and self-care.
Please take some time to notice what’s coming up for you and channel those feelings and sensations in a way that honors your body and your truth. Take note of what techniques you use to channel the energy and give yourself permission to use them again and again.
Commit to Collective Liberation and work through Ancestral Trauma
After I talked to my friend, it was clear to me that this is what wanted to be channeled through me. These monthly writings are a combination of channeling from Spirit and storytelling from my life. As is common for my contrary path, the way that Spirit was leading me was not the way I wanted to go.(6) I wanted to share something lighter. I wanted to have a writing process in which I experienced more ease. Here I sit writing and rewriting. Questioning the validity of my voice. Questioning whether I have enough ally work under my belt to take up space in this way.
This work is humbling because I have not experienced Sexual Liberation.
This work is humbling because I experience white privilege, physically-abled privilege, slender-bodied privilege, privilege of being over educated, middle-class-passing privilege, cis-passing privilege, straight-passing privilege, mentally-abled-passing privilege.
When I look at my 25 years of movement and ally work, (7) I understand myself to have mastery in some realms, while I am still working on mastery of others. While I write that, I realize that mastery is relative. I still cause harm with my internalized racism, ableism, fatphobia, transphobia, classism, sexism. Mastery is not perfection. For me, mastery is about my ability to be fully engaged in a process while not being run by a hormone response in my body.
For most of my tenure of anti-racism work, my experience has been run by trauma response. When someone called me out or called me in,(8) my body would flood with stress hormones, and I would engage in an emotional self-abuse cycle - questioning my validity to take up space in communities - “I should stay small, stay quiet” - criticizing myself for making a mistake - ”I should have known better” - and hating my body for being so sensitive - “I wish I was designed differently.”
For someone who identifies as neuro-diverse and white, especially a white femme (I no longer identify as a white woman, but I did for a long time) doing spiritual leadership work, it felt like there was no right way for me to do my life’s calling with integrity. I internalized the messages from BIPOC movement leaders in ways that felt contradictory, confusing and disorienting. The way I received messages was influenced by my neuro-diversity and my trauma.
Many people called to anti-racism work, many people called to healing or spiritual leadership work, many people called to sexaul liberation work are called because they are highly empathic, highly sensitive, highly magickal, highly contrary, neruo-diverse, emotionally-diverse, spiritually sensitive AND cannot turn this wiring off, cannot tone it down, cannot moderate to experience it less.
This is the natural wiring of humans. In places in the world where some Indigenous culture is more intact, this wiring is not a problem. In places in the world where Indigneous culture has been mostly destroyed, humans have learned coping strategies to tone down the wiring. While skillful coping strategies help us to live with our sensitivities, unskilful ones shut them out, often reducing our capacity for authentic connection with self, humans, creatures and the unseen.
Many of us have experienced times when we could moderate how we receive and process information from our senses, often with self-abusive behaviors. Many of us find that eventually these strategies no longer work.
How have you, dear reader, experienced moderating sensory information from the physical and spiritual realms?
The degradation of the environment, including disruption of Sacred Sites and Burial grounds is disrupting the Spiritual World. Those of us called to fight for Justice - for the Land, People, Earth, and other Beings - are answering the call because of being bombarded with messages from tho Unseen, and we experience that these messages are getting louder and more frequent. Just as all of us are experiencing EMF toxicity, which is wreaking havoc in our nervous systems, everyone is being bombarded with messages from the unseen. Some have the skills to let these messages in and process them in a way that does no harm. Letting them in, for many if not all, means doing grief and trauma work related to our ancestral line. While the core wounds of this trauma are different for everyone, the collective wound is the same - 5000+ years of colonization of Indigenous people all over the world (including Europe), and the commodification and horrific destruction of Black and brown bodies - slavery - and of women’s bodies - the witch hunt.
I invite you to take some time to reflect on this. How does it sit for you? Do you believe that every body’s trauma is related to this collective wound? Does this explain why white men and women who are not in touch with their lineage are not able to really hear the voices of Black and brown folx?
For me, it was imperative to understand that my trauma response to anti-white-supremacy work was a response and not an internal flaw. As someone who thrives on intense experiences, I was not deterred by the pain and suffering I experienced in doing this work. I was not deterred by the shame spirals I would begin when I messed up in my ally work practice.(9) And I honor that some people’s trauma makes emotional distress unbearable and that may be why they are not committed to ally work.
It is imperative to understand that this shame is related to the ancestral traumas that I carry in my DNA. I was relieved to read Resmaa Manakem talk about this in the book “My Grandmother's Hands”. "White bodies traumatized each other in Europe for centuries before they encountered Black and red bodies. This carnage and trauma profoundly affected white bodies and their expression of their DNA. As we will see, this historical trauma is closely linked to the development of white-body supremacy in America." (10) Until this wound is tended for our ancestral lines, white supremacy and patriarchy will continue.
So how do we tend this wound? We grieve. And we express and embody Anger. We allow the feelings and sensations about how this wound impacts us today to be fully felt in our physical and emotional and spiritual bodies. We acknowledge the connection between white supremacy and the burning of our grandmothers, the emasculation of our grandfathers. And we commit to healing ourselves, to de-colonizing our bodies.
Take some time to notice your body and any sensations as you connect with this grief. What does this grief ask of you? Take as much time as you need.
Embodiment and Empowerment Practice
I invite you to play with speaking the phrases listed below.
Notice in your body the different sensations with the different phrases.
Speak each phrase several times coming from different parts of your body. Notice when these parts want to be more grounded or more expansive.
The colonization of My Body is a tool of patriarchy and white supremacy.
I am not free until everyone is free.
My choices impact the enslavement of people.
My choices impact the degradation of the Environment.
The Ancestors are calling to me.
The Unseen are calling to me.
I am needed.
My Power is Sacred.
My Voice is Sacred.
My Choice is Sacred.
I am the change I want to see in the world.
I embody Justice.
I embody Healing.
I embody the destruction of white supremacy.
I embody the creation of Culture that is Sacred.
I am the Change.
When you feel complete or need to stop, please take some time to ground this energy back into the Earth.
Now take some time to write about what came up for you.
Did you feel your source of Power? Can you describe it?
Showing up for Ally Work
This work takes commitment and a thick skin - read “boundaries”. Many of us have been raised to have unskillful boundary practices. We take things personally. We take things to heart. We allow cuts to go deep or to tear open a wound that never healed. Since these wounds are not visible, we need to test them. We need to get to know the wounds, understand how they work.
For me, this meant learning about shame and how it shows up in my body. Sonya Renee Taylor and adrienne maree brown (see books above) supported me in this work.
There are two main facets to Liberation Work: Ally Work (external) and De-Colonizing (internal) Together, with these facets, we work to mend relationships with the Body and the Land. Each person experiences how these two facets work together differently.
I have been intentionally working on decolonizing my body for several years. When I chose recovery, I committed to do whatever it took to stop hurting the people I love. Caring for my body would be part of this work, as would be working with the ancestral wound of the witch burnings. I have psoriasis which flares like fire on my skin. In a journey several years ago, I learned that this condition is a symptom of the memory that my body carries of being burned because of my empathy, because of my womb, because of my magick, because of my ability to heal.
I have been doing decolonization work for 3 decades, and it’s only in the last 3 years that I have come to understand that decolonizing my body is the most potent action that I can take to end white supremacy and patriarchy and capitalism. This does not mean manicures and pedicures and masturbation magick to serve me. It means boycotting dirty corporations, it means giving my grief to the Soil as a gift, it means using sex magick for the healing of all, and so much more.
In movement work I see people doing Ally Work without doing the work to deeply care for their body. I did this for years, until last month. My usual pattern was to give until I crash and then trauma bond with my beloveds.(11) Last month I was able to see and understand that I was depleted and that I had the choice to stop giving, to avoid crashing. While I do not understand my experience to be that of true Liberation, this choice last month gave me a taste of Liberation, and oh...it tastes soooooo good.
For men and femme (this word includes women) and qweer, we are seeking the practice of balance between nourishing ourselves and nourishing others. Decolonizing the body means practicing balance. It means noticing how and where we are out of balance with giving and receiving. Overculture (12) dictates that femmes give and give and give, past depletion. This one way the patriarchy keeps us small. As femmes it is important that we learn to give to ourselves, that we nourish and love the body. This is a starting place for many women/femmes. Other women/femmes will find nourishment and balance by giving more outside themselves and their family. (13)
The piece that I want you, dear reader, to understand are the pitfalls and allures of sexual liberation work. There is an inclination to appropriate (sexual) liberation from other cultures, our task is to connect with our own Lineage, which means doing the griefwork around that loss As we connect with our sensuality, as we liberate our bodies, we find safety. Perhaps this is a safety we have never known. For those of us who have experienced safety for the first time, for those of us with complex trauma, for those of us with attachment challenges, it can be alluring to stay in safety, to stay in personal power, to continue to feed ourselves and to convince ourselves that this static state is the place to be/stay.
For me, I had to find this safety by moving to an island in Lake Superior. I holed up for 2 years. I put a scarf over my head when I went out (a real Invisibility Cloak). I played with children, because adults didn’t feel safe. I averted looks from predators. I avoided the tourists. I focused on myself and my kids and I did foundational healing work. Then I realized that I needed to go back into the world to complete the healing, to complete the trauma cycle. I needed to take a risk, to be vulnerable, to be seen, to walk the path of my calling - to support others.
I share my story though it is extreme like most things in my life. There is a deep part of me that wishes I could have stayed small on that Island. If not for my children, I may have. There is a part of me that wishes I could have created a healing industry for tourists there, made a lot of money selling healing. But that was not my calling.
Even as I write this, I am experiencing the sensation of wanting to stay small because I have asked to take up too much space. And I know that my tendency to stay small or to shrink is a tool of the patriarchy to keep us quiet and in line. I also know the feeling of stepping into my power and taking up space, growing more and more powerful, as I accumulate money for selling healing. This is using the tool of patriarchy against itself, which, while it is effective in some ways, continues to perpetuate oppression, because it gives power to capitalism, which fuels patriarchy and white supremacy.
For this reason, I choose to use the Tools of Earth to support myself and my beloveds. I choose the path that is anchored by humility, abundance and hope. I choose the path that acknowledges imbalance of resources, including access to healing. For me, this is Collective Liberation.
The Tools of Earth are the Jewels I find deep inside of me when I do Shadow Work. They are wounds that I mask with the tools of white supremacy culture: perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, only one right way, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of open conflict, individualism, progress is bigger, objectivity, right to comfort (14), shame, intolerance to discomfort.
My Tools of the Earth are my Empathy, my Magick, my Consent Practice, my Fluidity, my Responsiveness, my Sitting Meditation, my ability to Journey with ease, my Tolerance for Physical Discomfort, my Ability to find the Crack in a Vessel, my Ability to support others in finding their own Cracks, my Grieving without Limitation Practice, my Attunement with the Ancestors and the Unseen, my (right use of) Anger Practice, my Listening to Plants, my Expansive Thinking, my Commitment to Supporting Mycelial Change. (15)
What are your tools?
Trauma Healing Practices
I want to offer you every single one of my trauma healing practices as ways to get in touch with your Jewels. However, I am challenging myself to stay on topic. Here are a couple practices to support the practice to keep the energy moving through you, while still keeping the energy contained within your body/aura.
Connect with the spirits of your Ancestors and offer to heal your Line -
Start to get to know your Ancestors and/or the Ancestors who are present in your place. When working with the Unseen, it is important to keep yourself Safe. There are malevolent beings in our spaces and in our lines who are seeking connections with the physical world. I keep myself safe by saying “No one is allowed inside (my body),” and this belief resonates into all of my cells and aura.
There are many ways to access the Ancestors. A few are listed below. If you want more specific support, I offer consultations to support people in creating Rituals, Ceremonies and in learning technologies to support working safely in the Spiritual Realm.
Spend time in Caves/Crevices and Saunas
These spaces are Magickal. They are the Womb space, the place of gestation and transformation. They are spaces where you can nourish yourself to your inner depths and bring that nourishment back into your extremities. In Caves you can hear and feel the heartbeat of the Earth, you can feel/hear/see the Amniotic Fluid. This can be a form of sensory deprivation, which can also open up your third eye. You can receive visualizations, messages that come from the deepest, darkest spaces into the light of awareness. I don’t use a “protective” mantra when I enter Caves, it’s respectful to ask for permission, especially if you are using it for Ritual or Healing.
In Saunaing, I have developed a practice of toning and moving energy through my body with the use of toning. I call the Directions to create a vessel for healing. And I use cold water or snow to wash off all the toxins that come out, and to seal the healing in my body.
Balancing Self-Care with Collective Liberation
It is essential for people practicing Sexual Liberation to expand that Liberation beyond themselves. This means supporting the Liberation of all bodies, and not commodifying the Liberation of other bodies. We cannot hide behind our Liberation practice; we must bring our mastery into the world and share it with others, not sell it as another facet of capitalism.
We pulse in and out of these works. We find our Flow. We sync with a Cycle. It is a very common cycle that exists everywhere in nature. Masculine expansion - giving outward, and feminine contraction - nourishing in.
Pleasure, self-love and self-care is part of what was taken from women in the Middle Ages when women’s bodies were commodified and capitalism was created (16). Gender qweer people faced similar and different challenges, mostly an attempt to completely eradicate them.
It is absolutely crucial for women and gender qweer people to experience pleasure, self-love and self-care. And this medicine can be offered in a way that does not commodify healing, does not commodify the body, that is free from capitalism, that is rooted in justice.
And this work means connecting with ancient wounds and working to heal ancestral lines. It means understanding that the reason women and qweer folks experience less pleasure, self-love and self-care is related to the commodification of their bodies for capitalism.
It means grieving those wounds, processing anger and fear. And developing trust in the Body and its ability to experience Pleasure that is not just sexual.
This is the work of adrienne maree brown, author of Pleasure Activism. (17) In this book, she offers many practices to support the decolonization of pleasure.
The practices are what I have received in journey, meditation, experimentation and play. It feels tender to share this with so many people who I don't know.
I invite you to take it slow. Decolonizing the body, sex, pleasure needs time and space.
Please notice where white supremacy culture symptoms come up for you when engaging with this list. (see link in footnotes) This is where the medicine is.
Please remember this is practice. There is no goal. Sexual Liberation is not an outcome, it is a moment in time.
Play and experiment. As always with play and experiment, safety is important. For more guidance on safety, please reach out to me for 1 to 1 support in creating a safe vessel for this work. Because we are working against everything that we are told to be and do, being re-traumatized is possible and likely. Working through the trauma is where the Liberation happens.
With Land -
~Sex, self-love, self-care outside - in your yard, in a secluded spot in the woods.
I have a dream of being in a world where it would not be uncomfortable to stumble upon a person or people making love in the woods. I would simply smile, acknowledge them, and give them space. I wouldn’t sexualize them, I wouldn’t feel shame in my body, I wouldn’t go into the 5f’s (fight, flight, fawn, freeze, fuck). The dream is about being in a culture where respect for people making love in the woods is the norm.
~Experience the on-going, never-ceasing Orgasm of the Earth, with or without your own.
I suggest that people first practice self-sex outside, to get to know how to tune into the Earthgasm.(18) You can practice holding your awareness on a specific Element - Tree, River, Lake, Plant, Soil. First, ask them for consent to connect. Make Love to yourself knowing that that Element is there with you. They are not doing anything to you or with you. We are witnessing one another. Pay attention to the sensations in your body. Notice how it feels to be witnessed making love to yourself by this other Being. Make sure to maintain your boundary that they are not part of your process.
If it feels safe, as time goes on, expand your awareness to the ecosystem around you, not fixating on any one element, but feeling yourself as part of this ecosystems’s ongoing Earthgasm.
~Hug a Tree, caress a Tree, talk/sing to a Tree. Ask that Tree to bring this love to someone you love and be fully present with that Tree. Do this with other Beings.
~Offer your Moon Blood to Plants, wash your pads in a River or Lake. Make sure to articulate who may use your Blood and how. Giving your Blood freely can be dangerous.
~Be with the Soil:
The Soil has an infinite capacity to compost. It utilizes air, water and warmth. It composts plants, animals, mushrooms, insects. It composts grief, sadness, anger, loneliness. The Soil takes everything and alchemizes it into nourishment for the Earth.
Get more intimate with the Soil, physically and emotionally. Walk on the Earth barefoot, lay in the Soil. Have conversations with the Soil. Offer your emotions to the Soil (not just uncomfortable ones). Put your hands and feet in the Soil. Lay bare on the Soil. Use your hands as tools in gardening. Get dirt all over your body.
There is an ancient tradition of making love in the fields on Beltane Eve, this nourishes the seeds and soil that will be planted.
Our skin is the most colonized sensory organ. It’s our largest sensory organ and it’s very diverse. We have different kinds of skin- palms, nipples, scalp, soft inner thighs, rough heels, moist mouths and vaginas, soft and plump lips and labias.
~We have hair. Do you choose to remove yours, if so why? I have chosen to keep mine for political reasons, however, as I get to know my skin, I realize that hair increases our sensory intake, thus increasing our sensual experience of the skin. Not only does choosing to remove hair colonize our physical appearance, it also colonizes our sensory experience. (19)
~Go out in the rain.
I am the wild lady who saves the garden chores for when it’s raining. I literally take as many clothes off as possible and go out into the rain when it starts falling. The key is to not wait. The first downpour is magickal for the skin. Enjoy the sensation of being bathed by the Sky.
~Get to know the skin’s palette.
I do cold water submersion to support my nervous system/ reset my vagus nerve. This helps me to process trauma triggers/ hormone dumps in my system. When folks ask me “how is it”, I usually say “cold”. But the reason I do the cold water submersion is because of the complex sensations on my skin, that I realized I have not been taught the words to describe. I have the words to describe the palate of flavor and smell, or sight and sound. But for sensations of the skin, I have few words.
On a sunny and warm October day, I realized that the skin can experience a full spectrum of sensation. The air was tepid and the water about 50 degrees. I was biking, so my body was hot. When I got out of the water, laid on a rock in the sun, I felt the complexity of cold skin, warm body, warm sun and light breeze, and it awakened something inside of me that had been dormant my whole life, my skin. I see that suppressing the skin’s sensations is both a way to protect us from the memory of the witch hunts, while it is a way to keep us oppressed.
There are so many ways to get to know the skin’s palette. And I want to be clear that this is not about sex. Desexualizing the skin and skin play is part of decolonizing the body.
~Separate sex from non-sex.
Acknowledging that the body and sexual organs are not only for sex is a Sacred practice.
Our bodies, even our sexual organs serve multiple functions. Neither our bodies nor our sexual organs are only about sex. Neither is our skin. Neither are our upper thighs, our nipples, our breasts. Neither is kink.
What if we never feel shame when our body senses the pheromones of another body- when we experience a flood of dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and even adrenaline?(20) Being in the empowered state of attraction, including sexual attraction, and channeling that energy, is a way to decolonize the body. Using this energy only for sex is often a coping strategy that perpetuates the sexualization of our bodies. This energy can be directed into other creative endeavors or be coupled with sexual expression and another creative endeavor. Noticing this energy and giving yourself space to explore it is a piece of liberation.
I define kink as any practic/activity that couples harm with pleasure.
Kink can be sexual or non-sexual. You can use kink play as a way to move tension through the body, as a way to regulate and moderate the nervous system. Because of cultural conditioning and trauma, many people feel discomfort with doing kink play with another person. Many people also feel shame about their pain/pleasure and kink fantasies. You can start off doing kink solo. You can self-play with techniques for self-binding, hot wax on your skin, urtification for arthritis, (21) consuming bitter flavors, cold water submersion, biting yourself, digging your nails into your skin. If you are new to kink, and/or wanting support with exploring kink solo or with a partner, you can reach out to me for direct support on cultivating a consent-centered practice, working through shame, and more info about how kink rewires trauma in the brain/body. I highly suggest folks who have histories of physical self-harm or other self-abuse use kink as a tool for rewiring. (22) Folx who experience verbal and emotional self-harm and self-abuse can use mental-emotional kink for trauma rewiring.
~Sensory suppression/manipulation can be helpful for dealing with stress
Some of these are considered kink. These include blindfolding, earplugs, gagging, and weighted blankets.
Giving ourselves permission to be non-strait, non-gender binary or non-cis, non-monagamous. Yes, all of these restrictions- monagamy, heterosexuality and cisgender- are related to colonization and patriarchy. Practicing letting go of these restrictions, even if, in the end, we choose them again, will bring us to deeper Liberation.
~Decolonizing sexual choice and embracing grief
Notice how your body feels about sexual taboos. Kink, abortion and sex work are choices that embrace and work with shadow. These choices can bring up a lot of feelings in anyone’s body. Notice how your body responds, and give that response the space it needs. There is wisdom there. People who experience miscarriage, intentional (abortion) or not, experience trauma. Because of the taboos around miscarriage and abortion, many people do not work through the trauma and continue to carry that wound in their body. Sex work and kink, because they are working with shadow, also require the practitioners to do grief and shadow work to process the experiences.
~Decolonizing sex and desexualizing pleasure
Pleasure is not only sexual. Sex is not only pleasure.
Decolonizing sex means exploring outside of our conditioning around sex. A decolonizing sex beginning practice is to notice desire and fantasy and to find ways to nourish those desires, solo or partnered. Often these desires are about integrating the shadows of trauma, including sexual trauma. If these desires include pain or discomfort or sensory suppression (kink), it’s important to use consent if you want to heal the trauma. Not using consent in kink can perpetuate trauma cycles and/or create new traumas. (23)
It’s important that femmes, and potential partners, give themselves permission to experience pleasure in sex. It’s also important for everyone to give themselves permission to experience non-sexual pleasure, especially pleasure of the skin. It’s culturally appropriate for us to experience pleasures of smell, sight, sound and taste. Decolonizing pleasure includes using the choice to practice labeling these sensations as “pleasure”.
Overculture is entrenched in shaming women, femmes and qweers who are approaching or experiencing sexual and body liberation, or even practicing it. Short skirts, low-cut tops, nude beaches. I see and honor femmes and qweers for reclaiming sexy expression. And I honor femmes and qweers who are reclaiming their body liberation without sexualizing it. For instance, I can wear a short skirt and express myself with a sexaul vibe or I can wear a short skirt and express myself in a liberated-from-cumbersome-clothing vibe or both! It’s not my responsibility to deal with whatever comes up in other folx around how I choose to express, but it is my responsibility to deal with what comes up in my body around how I feel around other people. Being authentic, embodied, and aware of the reasons I make choices about my expresion will support me in my responsibility.
Music, dance, pole dancing, and culturally appropriate belly dance are a other ways to express sexuality and desexualize the body.
~Show up for Ally Work. Understand the symptoms of white supremacy culture and commit to personal change. https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/white-supremacy-culture-characteristics.html
~Practice Consent. I have #dailyconsentpractice on my FaceBook page.
~Practice Accountability. This is an essential part of healing. One that has no blueprint. I talk about accountability often. Stay tuned for more info about accountability.
Our Lineage and the Unseen:
~Get to know your Lineage and the practices, rituals and way of life of your Ancestors.
~Notice the Beings in your environment who are speaking to you without letting them in.
~Create Altars in your home for your Ancestors and the House Spirits (more on this to come in the subsequent piece on Imbolc)
~Make Offerings to Ancestors and Unseen regularly.
~Ask for support with this work.
I invite you to play with these practices. I invite you to create a ritual space with one of these practices and have ceremony with yourself, noticing what comes up in your body and how you feel before, during and after.
The spell has been drawn, the circle has been cast, the magick is taking root in you. I release the circle.
Now is the time for you to slow down as much as you can as the magick spreads into your body.
Please allow any energy to ground.
If you have uncomfortable feelings or sensations, offer them to the Earth, soil, water.
Follow your body’s cues.
Please drink water.
Please do extra self-care.
The more self-care you do, the deeper the healing will penetrate.
I honor you for your presence with me and with the words.
If you feel called to offer me support now, you may
You may email me to inquire about work trade opportunities. email@example.com
If you feel called to wait to offer reciprocity, please follow your body.
Monarda is a qweer femme, of Gaelic, Polish, German, Norse, and English Lineage, living near Lake Superior, WI, occupied Land of the Anishinaabe people. Monarda has been studying culture and oppression for 25 years, working with herbs for medicine for 13 years, and practicing embodied trauma recovery for 4 years. Their work centers Justice, Ancestral Healing, and Liberating the Body as the anchors for healing and Collective Liberation. Monarda’s unique skills include creating delicious medicines to support trauma recovery, creating rituals for embodiment, relationship recovery, ally work and advocacy for people experiencing CPTSD and/or disability, understanding and working with Spiritual Technologies (ritual, ceremony, initiation, etc) and living with the Spiritual and Physical cycles of the Life.
They offer donation-based services, including mind-body-spirit herbal consultations, ancestral healing consultations, individualized support with creating rituals for healing and living the Spiritual cycles, supporting people in leadership with the building practices around consent and accountability, supporting individuals or couples in relationship healing, supporting trauma survivors in creating crisis and post-crisis plans, emotional crisis support, doulaing for birth, death, illness, parenting, support for people/couples wanting to use kink for trauma/relationship recovery.
(1)Cross Quarter HolyDays are honored/marked in different ways, including calendar days, astronomical days, nearest New Moon or Full Moon depending on the energy of the HolyDay. I choose to mark these days however my body is called to mark them. Often the ‘ceremony’ happens in the flow with my family and with others.
(2) Luck is a close translation for Perthro. Unfortunately, these complex ideas don’t have words that closely translate, because the ideas themselves are cultural and do not exist in our culture.
(3)Spiritual use of plants, like magick, is best learned with the support of a teacher or mentor. It is particularly important for non-Indigenous people to work with a mentor, so as to honor the Spirits of the Land, the living Natives and the teachings. It is also important because magick can cause harm when used without care and attention. I know from personal experience!
(5)Centering is a foundational concept in social justice work: “communities who are most directly impacted by the issues your movement work is seeking to address should be in the center.” http://movetoendviolence.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Practice-Guide_Margins-to-Center.pdf
(6)Contrary- The medicine of people who carry the wisdom that the way/s we are currently operating is a choice. All of the institutions and agreements we have made were created by humans. We can choose other ways of relating, of building, of living, of being.
(7) Movement work- https://movementstrategy.org/msc-approach/
(9) Ally Work- I am not an Ally. I am a person doing ally work and ally work practice. I do not get to take on the label of Ally, that is someone that only someone who is experiencing oppression can give me, but something I can not claim myself. I may be an ally to specific people, but never to a whole group of people experiencing oppression.
(10) Resmaa Manakem "My Grandmother's Hands" page 11
(11)Trauma bonding occurs within the victim, perpetrator and savior triangle. It happens when the people in this triangle create tighter bonds because of trauma. It often happens without consent and with unconscious agreements.
(12) Overculture- https://we.riseup.net/rolequeer/overculture
(13) I honor that identity is fluid and person-specific. For ME, femme means that I identify with the struggle of women, but I don’t identify as a woman. I am in this struggle “With” not “As” women.
(15) Unlike grassroots work, mycelial work is unseen, and therefore cannot be disrupted by patriarchy. Check out adrienne maree brown’s book “Emergent Strategies” for her amazing take on mycelial change in movement work.
(16)“Caliban and the Witch” by Silvia Federici.
(17) https://www.akpress.org/pleasure-activism.html support independent booksellers and publishers!
(18) For a guided meditation on experiencing an Earthgasm, please reach out to me.
(19) I live in tick country. People who do not shave their legs are more likely to feel ticks crawling on them because as the ticks move, they move hairs, which sends information to the brain.
(20) Hormone Flood- When we are triggered or “flashbacking” (read Pete Walker on CPTSD), our systems are flooded with stress hormones. It often takes my body a day to process these hormones, even if it’s a small trigger. I have found that cold water submersion in a Lake or River shortens the time that it takes to process the hormones through my body. Intense physical activity also helps, but I need to be at a baseline of wellness to perform such physical activity.
(21) Urtification refers to the flogging of the body with the fresh nettle plant. The name urtification comes from the latin name of nettles, Urtica dioica.
(22) Reclaiming and redirecting self-harm is an act of resistance against patriarchy. People who self harm are not ill, they are working to reclaim their bodies. Yes, it can go too far, be dangerous. I mention this because the starting point for self-harming behaviors is Liberation from systems of oppression.
(23) My piece on Boundary Magick has a list of consent questions that can be used to create a safe vessel for kink play and practice.