A Poem for the Closing of Workshops

Published in Erotix: Literary Journal of Somatics, forthcoming in August 2018

We have traveled. Alone and with each other, down deep and up high, from black and white to Technicolor: we are Dorothy in sparkling red shoes who have had the answer all along.

We started as the Ouroboros and we have travelled, have become the scales and spine and beating heart who discovers and devours our own tail, root to crown, recycling, ad infinitum. We complete the circle. We know how we come together to cauldron our stones and thick scented herbs and blue sea glass and red aching scars. We pour our every fluid into the center of the toroid. We are the body, our own body and the body of the circle.

We have become the Alchemist and we have travelled. We have put together our rucksack of tools and took part of the magic, drank of the passionate potion of our pheromonal feast. We made bone from feather, we made heart from stone. We found the scars and massaged until they slip-slided into skin. We bottled the essence of body plus courage plus desire plus prayer.

And now we are closing the circle. Stitching ourselves back up, stepping out into the life flow from this place of stillness and refuge.

When we leave here: again, we will travel, but this time back to whatever we left. Take a breath now into this feeling of the center of the body. Hold it. Lock it to the back of the heart. In the center of the merry-go-round, the tornado, the wheel, the toroid, and the self is the place of stability. On the rim, we are flung. But we have found stillness and we can return.

When we leave here: touch water. Go sit on the edge of the ocean and remember the jagged mountains and green-black kelp and monstrous sharks still under the flat surface. Go find a cobalt waterfall and enter it hand-first, enter it head-first, remember what it feels like to be a body that something rushes against and into. Go find a river that spends half the year as ice and ask how it freezes and thaws and freezes and thaws over and over.

When we leave here: know that with expansion comes contraction. It is the story of the universe, the oldest story, the one even before the sacred whores and healers, the one before the magic rush of one palm on the ground and one palm to the sky. It is a story even the water knows. What we take in may cut to the quick. Be cautious around toxicity, screens, urgency. Expect the contraction, and tend to the baby-green shoots that have dared put their root down and just begun to stretch the surface open.

When we leave here: reach out. We journeyed together and we can look again at each other with blinking eyes and say yes, that happened. Yes, our siren screams of pleasure brought the nourishing rains to soak the soil. Yes, fingers ankles collarbone hips. Yes, hello again beloved.

When we leave here: tell your story. Tell your story. Tell the story where we are the hero of our own journey, where our quest is one of continually knowing the self, now and now and now. Leave alone the stories of others, gorgeous and shimmering as they are, lodged as crystals in our open places. They are for our memories, our witness, and we leave them in the circle. Tell your story. Tell it slant. Tell it complete. But always keep a little for yourself.

It is time now to invoke our individuation, to come back into our own completeness. To carry what we have made together, a love note tucked between heart and ribcage. Together, we have traveled. And now together, we are going home.

Introducing Erotix: Literary Journal of Somatics

For a few years now, I’ve been working on an anthology called Erotix: Literary Journal of Somatics. I put out a call in late 2016, thinking it would be a quarterly journal (!) published by Body Trust with the intention of putting some words to the erotic embodiment work we pursue, which is often mysterious. But the personal (trauma) crises I’ve been going through have kept me pretty much unable to get to my big projects since then, so it’s just sat in my inbox (and in the back of my mind, making me feel awful). On top of that, the submissions I received were somehow not quite what I was visualizing, though I couldn’t really put my finger on what I was visualizing to explain it, either. I thought I might have to do a second call for submissions.

But as I’ve been able to pick up projects — and complete them! — again this year, I’ve been tackling Erotix. It’s a smaller volume than I expected, but it finally came together in some sort of form that makes sense for me. No idea if I’m going to make other volumes — with the Best Lesbian Erotica project on my plate right now, it will probably be a little while before there is another one, but of course now that this is finished I’m excited and want to do more. I also don’t want to promise another one and then keep it incomplete for a long time.

But here it is, the first issue! I am excited to share it with you. It’ll be ready to buy in August.

Introduction

In an erotic embodiment workshop, though we may be loosely organized around a theme of exploration, we all come together with different stories. We have different lived experiences, different relationships to our bodies and to others, different wounds, different resiliency. Many of our stories explore the themes of connection, touch, rejection, care, transformation, power. Some of them overlap at the same resonant frequency, and when we find the tones that match ours, the moment of perfect harmony which comes out of cacophony can be a soothing balm of relief.

I find this to be true in anthologies, too. A group of stories, tied loosely around a theme, manifested through a writer but now a being in their own right, come together with different expressions. Through the various refracted perspectives, sometimes deeper truths emerge. Sometimes a resonance emerges like a singing bowl which can buoy, which can soothe. Sometimes each piece adds it’s own perspective on the melody, like the different instruments in an orchestra.

I’ve had a vision for Erotix as a literary journal of somatics, but it’s taken me some time to figure out what that is and how to share it with others. That process of articulating something is precisely part, in fact, of what I visualized. When starting to do work in erotic healing circles in the late 1990s, participants and staff alike were often counseled not to talk about it, because others who weren’t there and didn’t experience this transformative space wouldn’t understand. Amy Butcher’s essay, “Between Silence and Words,” explores this further. But in the two decades since then, we in the embodiment, somatic, transformative, and sacred erotic realms have begun articulating quite a lot — and much of the world is ready to hear what we have to say.

That is Erotix’s goal: to be a mouth and tongue to express, in the linear confines of the written word, what it is like to experience embodied erotic transformations. The differences in the content are too many to name — power dynamics, masturbation, temple, sensation from subtle to bold, intellect, skin, orgasm, kink, connection, friction, music, and countless more. Each experience is unique and individual. Yet seeing a dozen or so descriptions come together in one volume shows some commonalities, some themes: the wild and whimsical ways our bodies work, the healing power of pleasure, the navigation of reclamation, shameless exploration, and connecting beyond ourself and other to a greater consciousness all thread through. They also thread through week-long residential workshops where we pray and dance and soar, where we realign our Self and selves, where we circle in a lineage of women’s temples.

Though not everyone can be in temple with us, I hope that as you sit with this small volume of words and have a glimpse of what it might be like. Each of these contributors bring their body and desire to the page, and without each one, the circle of this book would not be complete.