Ecosex

I was introduced to a new concept/ movement/ idea this summer, called Ecosexuality. I received an invitation to participate in the Ecosex Convergence event and I was intrigued to learn more. The event promised to be a combination of permaculture, large group rituals, earth-based spirituality, and ecosomatics within a sex-positive container.

My hubby and I attended the last 3 days of the 5 day event. The land on which the event was being held was spectacularly beautiful and clearly very sacred land. We pitched our tent with plenty of spaciousness, enjoyed really good vegetarian food at each meal, and took full advantage of the forest sanctuary they named after Lilith to commune with the divine and to connect sexually with each other.

The trainings and workshops were informative and thoughtfully conducted. The large rituals were interesting to observe. While I didn’t feel significantly called to them, I appreciated the thought, intention, and creativity with which they were conducted.

What I took away most from the event (other than savoring the delicious connection in the woods with my beloved and a spark of inspiration to explore my pleasure) was a new found curiosity around the Ecosexual movement.

The concept behind the Ecosexual movement is that we shift from a relationship with Mother Earth to one with Lover Earth.

I purchased and read the new anthology “Ecosexuality: When Nature Inspires the Arts of Love” as well as many of the foundational texts that are supporting this movement.

The Ecosexual Pioneers are a small, but visionary group who are utilizing their artistic talents and deep personal connection to the Earth to articulate a new vision about ways to relate and interact with the Earth and all of its inhabitants. They suggest that the mindset of how we treat a mother and how we treat a lover, are significantly different enough to adjust the very way humans view, interact, and make decisions about our relationship with the non-human world. Charles Eisenstein talks about this shift in the anthology:

“Eco-sexual awakening is a direct response to hitting these limits [of what the earth can give], the weaning age of abundance and the ending of our civilizations childlike relationship to the earth. We face the necessity of treating earth not as a mother – a boundless provider of all we need and want – but as a lover, with whom we give and receive in equal measure.”

I am appreciating this movement’s effort to make the “green” movement more holistic — to include human sexuality as a key factor in the world’s ability to have a more sustainable relationship with the Earth. In my experience of the environmental movement, human sexuality is never discussed, let alone valued or leveraged. That is no surprise given that in most cultures, human sexuality is forbidden, hidden, and demonized. And in more “progressive” cultures, human sexuality is at best marginalized, called offensive, and subjected to shame, control, and fear.

In the Ecosexuality anthology, author Gabriella Cordova asks the fundamental question: “… how can a species at war with its own nature be able to love nature?” If we can’t embrace, redeem, utilize, cherish, and find peace with our own wild, sexual natures, how can we expect societies to protect, support, and have a symbiotic relationship with the wild plants, animals, and land that comprise the rest of the inhabitants on planet Earth?

Anthology author Robert Silver says, “Many have heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. For many people, that link is sensuality and sexuality.” I’m intrigued by the idea of looking at my relationship to human sexuality as a mirror for my culture’s relationship to nature.

This relationship is at the very heart of my pleasure project. What lessons do I learn when I explore my own pleasure that apply to my relationship with Earth as well?

I may not go so far as to have an eco-wedding to marry my new Lover Earth, but recent events (including a conversation with a snake, story coming soon) have led me to believe that pleasure, sensuality, sexuality have an integral role both in my own personal development as well as my understanding of how I fit into the larger ecosystem on our planet.

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Why pleasure?

I was telling a dear friend about my new project, and she asked me a very thoughtful question: Why pleasure? Why not joy, or gratitude or love?

My immediate answer to her was bumbling and incoherent, so I wanted to spend some more time articulating my answer and sharing it here.

Why pleasure?

Who doesn’t want to be assigned to focus on their pleasure? I guess some people wouldn’t, but it sounded awesome to me. However, there was more than just surface-level enjoyment motivating my decision.

I denied my pleasure from an early age: I was raised in a religion that taught the physical body and sensations were “illusions.” I was told as a teenager that abstinence was the only option and was sheltered from movies and media that portrayed sexual situations. As a corporate employee, I spent 8+ hours a day sitting, often in windowless rooms, working on a computer. When I became a mom, I found it hard to prioritize my own exercise, rest, and relaxation over the needs of the children, the family, and my marriage.

Only within the last few years, with the help of dance, tantra, yoga and the 15 commitments, have I become more in touch with my body to understand its needs and wants. Since quitting my job, I have drastically reduced my sitting and typing and being disconnected to the natural world outside. I am lucky to have a partner who supports my ability to take time to myself to be with friends, to go dancing, or to sleep in on the weekends. And while I’ve made tremendous shifts, I know there is still a lot of pleasure left to discover.

I’m also intrigued by the notion of pleasure being a revolutionary tactic and one that can address the environmental crisis we are facing.

Charles Eisenstein talks about how the current story of the world, the one that is creating such environmental and social destruction fundamentally requires us to deny or postpone our pleasure. He says it is “because most of the tasks that we must do to keep the world-devouring machine operating do not feel very good at all.”

The world-devouring tasks that come to mind are strip mining our mountains, burning fossil fuels that pollute our air, pillaging rainforests and lands of other cultures to gather materials needed to make our disposable products. And there are personal-level examples of world-devouring tasks as well: throwing away a giant plastic box that was only used once to transport some lettuce, sitting in rush hour traffic, or having the alarm go off early every morning because school and work have regimented start times. Charles believes that for the individual and the world to keep doing all these things, “we must be trained to deny pleasure.”

So if I pay attention to where I am denying my pleasure, and make different choices (buying lettuce from the farmer’s market, sans box; riding my bike more; dedicating more time in my week to having sensual connections with others), then I am not only walking-the-talk for the world I want to live in, but I am also undermining a foundational requirement that keeps the machine devouring.

I’m also very interested in exploring the philosophies of the ecosexual movement (which looks at the intersection of the state of the environment and human sexuality). I’ll do an entire blog post on what I’ve learned about ecosexuality soon, but in the meantime, there’s a quote from Sam Keen’s book “The Passionate Life” that describes the potential I see in looking at pleasure as a way to address environmental challenges: “It is only when we deal with the dis-eased character of modern sexuality and ecological crisis as a single problem that is rooted in an erotic disorder that we can begin to discover ways to heal ourselves of our alienation from our bodies and from nature.”

At the end of the day, I don’t know what I’m going to learn from this pleasure project. But I know that my intent of this project is to benefit all. To help the world know more pleasure, I’m starting by fully knowing my own.

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Quote of the day

“Across time and space, people have personified natural forces and fundamental principles in an effort to give names to what we do not fully understand. The natural world has been seen as sacred: elemental forces known as divine. …Yet today, most Westerners live in a world that has been stripped of spirit — the Earth is perceived by many as inert, the erotic is often interpreted as obscene, sexual desire and expression are found to be offensive, and the force of Eros is confined to little more than the physical arousal sensed in one’s genitals.”

From: “Ecosexuality” by SerenaGaia Anderlinin-D’Onofrio and Lindsay Hagamen

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To choose pleasure…

In December, only 9 months ago, I read a book that has so significantly changed my life, I’m inclined to think about my timeline from a “before” and “after” perspective. This book has given me hope, new perspective, inspiration, reassurance, a sense of peace. And quite surprisingly, it’s inspired a project.

Now in my third reading of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible” (by Charles Eisenstein), I’ve taken away many ideas and inspirations. The inspiration I feel most called to is to choose and celebrate pleasure.

Charles says: “To choose pleasure… is to set in motion a process that upends the Story of the World.”

The book outlines the old story of the world: that we are all separate, disconnected individuals fighting for limited resources from a world that is meant to be conquered. It also paints the new story of the world: that we and the earth are all interconnected and that we are all working towards a common goal. If the old story of the world is true, then there is very little space for pleasure — rather it seems that pleasure would be a hinderance to productivity, efficiency, and getting our share of the resources. If the new story of the world is true, then pleasure is a key component. If my pleasure is your pleasure, and your pain is my pain, why would I make any other choice?

So what if Charles is right that the true nature of the world is that we are all interconnected? Could choosing pleasure truly be a revolutionary act that makes it easier to see and feel that interconnection?

What if pleasure is the path to radical change for the world?

In looking at my own experience over the past few years as I’ve studied how to make stronger connections through my words (NVC) or through my body (tantra), I see how much personal transformation has occurred for me. This learning and growth has been intentional, yet not focused. What would my life look like if I consciously chose pleasure? Could I make the new story of the world a little more possible by prioritizing pleasure over productivity and efficiency?

The more beautiful world MY heart knows is possible is full of deep connection, dance, play, food brimming with flavor and vitality, tender touch, loving words, natural beauty, and the sounds of children laughing.

Starting today, I’m committing to let pleasure be my compass to the more beautiful world.

And this blog, is my psychological striptease — a titillating and exposed stage on which to reveal my experience of choosing pleasure.