For many years, I have created small shrines and altars on every free surface in my house. I collect things like driftwood and heart-shaped stones to remind me of my connection with the all-encompassing life force of the earth. So it was a natural thing to create this small altar in the front of the teaching space for a workshop I hosted yesterday on “Herbs for Erotic Play.” I wanted to add more items, but I was hauling bags with a hurt shoulder so I settled on simple: the yoni that resides on my medicine-making table, the chunk of rose quartz that I keep near my bed, an oil burner for anointing the space with sensuality, the provocative calla lily that was in the kitchen at Justice in the Body and the lovely glass heart with the rounded lobes that rested in the front of the room. These items summed up the essence of sensuality, and I placed them on a napkin my mother made me, sprinkling rose buds all around. I looked at the overwhelming pink hues–not ones I am used to using in my life–and thought, “wow, pink…”. But it was perfect.
I had spent the morning feeling a bit melancholy that, while I was inspired to teach this workshop because I wanted to work on reawakening the erotic energy in my life, I am not partnered in any sense of the word, and that connecting with other people on an erotic level felt far away–maybe even impossible. Of course, I really enjoyed the preparation for the class. I have been thinking for over a month very deliberately about what the erotic is to me, how I want to show up in the world as a sensual being, and what I need to be fully present in moments of connecting with others. I already got the payoff from doing the workshop–my body and senses felt alive, humming.
In front of the room, behind the altar, as I sat introducing the class, what was amazing was the opening that happened in me as I started talking about our bodies as our sacred homes. We began with a mindfulness exercise, tapping into the breath as we touched an unfamiliar object. I wanted to make the point that the erotic is always available to us, that our bodies and senses are our vehicle for getting there. I made it clear that this connection is not about love or partnership or anything except the simple act of dropping into presence with whatever is there in a moment. I think here about Joanna Macy’s book World as Lover, World as Self, and I am grateful for my Buddhist practice that has taught me to open my heart to both the great joys and the great sufferings without shutting down automatically. I realized in the conversation we had yesterday that if I can take all of this beautiful and dark world as my lover, then my heart will be ready for whatever comes my way in relationship with other people, and that this is the true erotic opening.
Something big is shifting for me right now, and I feel myself simply along for the ride. I am beginning to really think about and work with transmutation and the work of Sandra Ingerman as a component of my path as an herbalist and permaculture practitioner. I could never have foreseen these spirals of growth and spiritual awakening. I think that this year has a lot in store.