Talking to Thresholders, wearing through the facade

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All week we’ve been discussing the idea of a Thresholder in the Daily Astrology space in relation to an aspect with minor planet 1992 QB1 (coverage here and here). Eric’s writing in Planet Waves and Book of Blue has long explored the idea of a Thresholder as one who intentionally holds space to help guide another through deep transitions.

Stanley Siegel, LCSW, recently found out just how taboo it still is to give space to Thresholders -- yet he is continuing to hold space on the Internet for the conversation.

Stanley Siegel, LCSW, recently found out just how taboo it still is to give space to Thresholders -- yet he is continuing to hold space on the Internet for the conversation.

The curious thing is how marginalized such people often are in our society, despite their crucial, central role in helping individual lives to evolve – marginalized even by supposed peers. In fact, a couple months ago one psychotherapist who wrote about Thresholders in an online psychology magazine found himself shoved to the margins of his profession for doing so.

Stanley Siegel is a psychotherapist, author, international lecturer, and former director of education at New York’s renowned Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy. In February he wrote an entry in his blog on Psychology Today‘s website exploring the shared values of sex workers and therapists.

In doing so, he crossed the imaginary line that divides the ‘proper’ healing community from the fuzzy, stigmatized world of sex-workers who provide healing services without credentials after their names. Psychology Today never ran the article – and cancelled his recurring column outright.

You can read Siegel’s article here – it includes anecdotes from his own patients who have benefited deeply from the services of sex workers, plus insights from the sex workers themselves. Unfortunately, therapists cannot actually refer their patients to sex workers at this time – despite the success of sexual surrogates in recent decades. Siegel writes,

In the 1970s, sex researchers Masters and Johnson introduced the idea of using sexual surrogates with patients to engage in intimate sexual relations to achieve a therapeutic goal. The idea caught on for a short time. Sex surrogates were eventually certified to use a combination of techniques — talking, listening and performing to help resolve a patient’s sexual issue. Psychotherapists referred patients to surrogates who had problems with self-confidence, sexual anxiety, premature ejaculation, vaginismus, sexual inhibition and erectile dysfunction.

Despite the high success rate of surrogate programs, complicated legal issues, along with intense criticism from both the far right and feminist organizations, arose. Few states allow sexual surrogates to practice these days.

Did you catch that? Both the far right and feminists closed ranks on these Thresholders. The reaction from the far right is to be expected; that feminist groups would be so anti-sex as to be unable to hold space for alternative forms of sexual healing is dismaying at best. At worst, it shows just how thoroughly we have, as a culture, been turned against ourselves. Even now, in 2012, a respected psychotherapist was thrown off a prominent psychology website for suggesting that some sex workers are able to accomplish with clients what the clinicians cannot.

We have some wearing-through to do when it comes to the rigid, punitive, self-denying shell we have surrounded ourselves with. It’s the one that we’ve inherited through generations of presumed ‘sin’ and have reinforced every time we find ourselves cowed by guilt and shame over our desires, our bodies and our sexual relationships.

As mentioned yesterday, Wednesday’s Moon-Pluto occultation was the first of a series of events designed to be a slow wearing through or wearing down of the religious taboos, emotional defenses, institutions, cultural hang-ups, familial fears, and so on that are standing in the way of healing the sexual conversation – both within ourselves and with others. As Siegel’s experience shows, the space for this conversation is still a dangerous place.

At least, it is dangerous if you are determined to cling to your status quo even as you come out with your authentic stand on sexual healing and the work of Thresholders. If you have truly embraced your mission, you will find another outlet for it, but that means allowing change. The Internet, thank goddess, is still a place where you can create a space in which to be heard – and where the rest of us can find the information we need as we make our transitions.

Siegel has his own website, which is why we can still read his article – Psychology Today went so far as to pull his other work. He also wasted no time in preparing to launch his own online magazine – called, with a wink, Psychology Tomorrow.

‘Psychology tomorrow’, huh? Let’s hope so. Better yet, ask yourself: how will you be working with the Moon-Pluto occultations to ensure that tomorrow includes this kind of healing at your life’s center, not relegated to the margin?

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16 Responses to Talking to Thresholders, wearing through the facade

  1. CaraSusanetta CaraSusanetta says:

    These resources are invaluable, as is all the frank conversation. Thanks PW!

  2. DivaCarla DivaCarla says:

    Thank you, Amanda. Fine writing on the article by the way.

  3. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    divaCarla —

    try serennu.com:
    http://serennu.com/astrology/ephemeris.php

    you’ll have to put in your birth time in “universal time,” which is basically the same as greenwich mean time.

  4. DivaCarla DivaCarla says:

    I love the concept of Thresholder, and I am delighted that Eric includes people who work with Orgasm in the same category as people who help with Birth and Death. Thank you Sarah for the link to the Sacred Prostitute clips. My priestess, Nut TmuAnkh is featured in one of them. I feel like I am at home here.

    While culture and politics are attempting to crush the Eros Thresholders from both sides, the Healers themselves, (ourselves), are staking out our territory. Certification programs in Sexological Bodywork are creating professional standards and practices in somatic erotic education and healing. Sexuality education centers are springing up in surprising places. For a time I was involved in a professional organization with the mission to bring the clinical talk practitioners into dialogue and mutual appreciation with the hands-on people. Kenneth Ray Stubbs was an organizer. The group may have been ahead of its time by a little bit.

    Getting back to the astrology, where’s a good place to find the location of QB1 in the natal chart? I had never heard of it, and it has not been written into mine.

  5. Katie Scarlett says:

    Interesting and predictable that the Far Right and Feminism would make such strange bedfellows as per views on sex workers, although there’s plenty room for disagreement in both camps.

    As they say, there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. Or love and hate. Not sayin’ which is which. Sort of like an ouroboros.

    The Far Right often gets criticized as being lackeys to the interests of the mega-corporate Koch Brothers and their ilk. As if the Far Left does not have its own unsavory Masters of the Universe. And they are ultimately one and the same.

    Of course, fervent Libertarians of the Ron Paul variety think people should be free to do–without hurting others, in the privacy of their own homes–as they please. That’s why Ron Paul’s candidacy has so much unacknowledged traction, even discounting massive voter fraud.

    But is Feminism itself a Vast Conspiracy? Why did it get the grip that it did from the top…why it was splashed on the front pages of major publications…and why did its leaders become sensational media stars? Sure, there were signs and portents in the heavens and the times they were a changin’, but still. Feminist poster girl and Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem had undisputed ties to, and support from, the CIA; heck, she even dated Henry Kissinger.

    So feminism may well have been a “plot” engineered to destabilize the bedrock family, and therefore the fabric of the Great American Society with confused men and women, a holocaust of abortions, and a rising tide of rootless bastards unable to fight off the predations and dictates of a NWO globalist state.

    Feminine Mystique maven Betty Friedan, in late date 1981’s The Second Stage, actually argued against ostracizing women who chose marriage and motherhood, and proposed home and family as “the new feminist frontier.”

    Marriage has always been referred to by detractors as “legalized prostitution”. But that is also true, really, of anyone who has ever taken a job, trading time, energy, intellect, precious life essences, for money.

    Why not make sex work, and marijuana, legal? It would certainly invigorate the economy and provide needed jobs. Or would it undercut the medical/industrial complex and its lucrative pharmacopeia…if people made love, not war?

    Maybe that’s what Neptune in Pisces and the Mighty Aphrodite Venus Occultation are about.

  6. kazaa says:

    I had a synchronous conversation this evening with a person who turned out to have been a Thresholder once in his life. He found himself serving and healing, meeting the deeper needs of others out of his own immediate need for survival. A coincidence, or perhaps not, because if I hadn’t had an intuitive sense about this person, why would I have felt safe starting this conversation? The circles are spinning faster and faster…

  7. Justine Rowinski says:

    Despite the high success rate of surrogate programs, complicated legal issues, along with intense criticism from both the far right and feminist organizations, arose. Few states allow sexual surrogates to practice these days.

    Did you catch that? Both the far right and feminists closed ranks on these Thresholders. The reaction from the far right is to be expected; that feminist groups would be so anti-sex as to be unable to hold space for alternative forms of sexual healing is dismaying at best.

    It is an ongoing irony that even as feminists decry sex workers/prostitutes and porno films because these are areas wherein women are negatively ‘used’, these same feminists support the freedom of women to openly express their sexuality, i.e., sleep with every Tom, Dick and Harry without guilt. Translation: I can use and abuse myself but don’t you dare try to do it to me.

    The sexual revolution was, in some respects, like handing a stick of dynamite and a match to a three-year-old. It was a thrilling liberation for women to be able to freely express their sexuality without stigma, but the underpinnings of what this really entailed never accompanied the feminist prescription to ‘go forth and screw.’

    There are psychic consequences to all our actions, especially those involving sex. Over the last decades, many of us have discovered that sex, sexuality and the way we live and experience our lives are intensely tied together. Hence, the profoundly positive outcomes resulting from sex workers and sex therapy should not be surprising. However, it is regrettable that feminists (for all the good feminism has done for women) have not caught up with the rest of us. Sex and sexuality cannot be compartmentalized from the rest of life.

  8. Hugging Scorpio says:

    Thank for sparking a great conversation here, I’m really enjoying what everybody is sharing.

  9. Len Wallick Len Wallick says:

    Amanda,
    Thank you, a beautiful piece that is on the wave front regarding both the social mores and the lunar occultations of Pluto. The concept of wearing down or through what needs to go is a brilliant choice of words that will be validated by posterity.

  10. Carrie says:

    “She went through a lot of failed relationships, and obviously didn’t learn how to stop judging others. There is a lot of tunnel vision in the relationship world.”

    Exactly, Patty and thanks for sharing your view on that.

  11. Patty says:

    I’ve been married a long time – with the same man over 40 years. I have Juno conjunct 1992 QB1 at Sag 9, conjunct my husband’s sun. the thresh-hold experience has to be about more than just sex. Deciding to get married just seemed like a good decision at the time. I knew that life would always be interesting (sometimes like the Chinese curse, but never boring). He had Juno in Cancer, and had no idea he would be such a good parent and teacher. His 1992QB1 is closely conjunct his mars in Capricorn. History and art always played a role, whereas I always viewed the world in terms of dollars and cents (mars, venus, mercury in Aries). I operate several home businesses, but he has no real mercenary traits at all. I enjoy the bartering and exchanging of money for goods, and quicksilver conversation. He loves doing and creating. Someone I worked with commented about him, “there’s someone for everyone” meaning, she didn’t get it and didn’t know what I saw in him. She went through a lot of failed relationships, and obviously didn’t learn how to stop judging others. There is a lot of tunnel vision in the relationship world.

  12. Carrie says:

    “and the narrow-mindedness of some “institutions” that believe their way is the only way.”

    As Devil’s advocate here I have to say that Siegel is just as narrow minded when he writes about marriage. I have read his stance on it and it is negative without any mention that it may be fine for some. He seems to think marriage is a Bad Thing.

    To quote part of his article, “The Case Against Marriage,” he wrote, “Wouldn’t it be more meaningful if when entering a relationship, we accept the truth that it’s going to end some day.” The “truth” that it is “going to end someday?” He is not talking about death separating the partners either. Who says it is the “truth?”

    He goes on to write, “It’s the exceptional couple who can form an ongoing intimate partnership that can withstand the oppressive forces of marriage and not lose their individual identities.” The “oppressive forces of marriage?’ WTF?

    Here’s the clue about why he thinks that about marriage, “Counseling so many married couples over the years, I have discovered that despite common wisdom, the longer a marriage lasts the less dynamic the relationship becomes. Communication and roles become ritualized into a few simple patterns. Think of your own marriage. Over time, conversation has probably lost its subtlety and nuance, with the same arguments repeating themselves, regardless of the issue, without resolution.”

    I would suggest that he has tunnel vision because the couples he sees coming in for counseling are the ones who have a hard time within their marriages. What he has not realized is this: there are also just as many (if not more) couples who never come in for counseling because they are doing just fine in their marriages and have no need for his services. He never sees those happily married couples so he assumes they are rare.

    I worked in a psych office for a time and one day, the family and marriage counselor came out at the end of the day and in a weary voice asked his support staff, “Is anyone in here happily married?” Several of us raised our hands. He sighed and said, “Oh, ok. I guess I am having a bit of tunnel vision because all I see every day are the unhappily married couples.” I think Siegel is like that counselor.

    Having said that, I still wish the magazine hadn’t pulled his works because despite that particular tunnel vision on his part, his writing is amazing.

  13. gwind gwind says:

    Thank you for shining the light on Siegel’s article and the narrow-mindedness of some “institutions” that believe their way is the only way. When I witness such prejudice, I take a cleansing deep breath and open my legs a little bit more. Amazing what a little air and light can do for one’s soul and pussy.

    There are so many people that go unseen, untouched, unloved for countless reasons. Imagine a world where that would be unacceptable or no longer needed. That would be an excellent way to use our energy. It is possible and it happens every time we make a choice to step out of our fears.

    I hope by hearing of Siegel’s loss, more of us step up in some small way to heal the injustice.

  14. Sarah Taylor Sarah Taylor says:

    Here is a link to “The Sacred Prostitute” — a documentary by Kenneth Stubbs:

    http://www.thesacredprostitute.com/mv/

    I bought it several years ago. It had a profound impact on me then, and still does today.

  15. brinda says:

    maybe obama’s outing his true views will open the door to confront the prevalence of hypocrisy on sex!

  16. brinda says:

    Those out there who are or have ever been D.H.Lawrence junkies (father of erotica, right up there with Anais Nin, Simone de Bouvoir, etc.) and massively censored for shining the light on the dark passages in the nite (ahem), will remember as well that his equally provocative wife Frieda once (or several times) prescribed a lover for her depressed daughter (and it worked!)

    Thanks Eric et al for outing the hypocrisy surrounding sex (a potent poison nearly as powerful as the countervailing power of love and physical connection) and giving everyone permission to heal themselves in the most basic and timeless way we know (but like to forget). xxx

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