In yesterday’s edition of Daily Astrology [Beyond Mars-Nessus, a Frontier], I described the frontier of inner awareness and sexual healing that we can now face. For today I promised some practical ideas for how to be in this territory — what you can think of as tools that might be useful entering this new terrain.
I have learned these tools along my own healing journey, and collected them from many sources, inner and outer. Some go back a very long way. Before I begin, here is a moment of self-disclosure. I am in an active process of healing aspects of my sexuality, involving this lifetime, certain prior lifetimes and going back some generations in my family.
Gradually one shifts one’s orientation in sexual healing from one of being willing to face shadow material to a social, creative and loving foundation. While I think that’s the general direction of travel, I recognize and honor the necessity to approach what is unpleasant, and to find love and healing there. Part of this may simply be about not internalizing the thought form that it’s ‘wrong’ to consider what is unpleasant.
A Course in Miracles goes to some lengths to impress on students how it’s necessary to bring the shadow to the light rather than bringing the light into the shadow. I would describe that as a general direction of travel as well. My approach to healing is part spiritual, part practical and part psychological.
The practical and the psychological approaches call on us to stay with ourselves and with our process. Grief, fear and shame are all inflamed by the unwillingness to acknowledge them. Awareness is your best friend. I also feel strongly that being able to articulate your experience, first to yourself and then to someone you trust, is essential. This is part of bringing darkness to the light.
Be aware that as you do these things, something real might happen. You might encounter actual intimacy. You might notice yourself concentrating your strength, finding the ability to make decisions. This might feel beautiful and it might feel some form of ‘scary’. However it may feel, I suggest you be aware of it. Remember, what is ‘scary’ in the way the word is used these days probably means helpful.
I also suggest you be aware that there can be some backlash of guilt when you actually engage your healing process. This can come in the form of fear of reprisal, a sense of being on edge, the feeling that you’re betraying someone by taking care of yourself, the sense of being spied on or the feeling that you’re committing a crime. Note these feelings; you will eventually figure out that they are not what they seem.
One key concept to work with here is that you are bigger than your problems or situations. One of the illusions when addressing this kind of situation is the feeling that our problems tower over us, occupy our hearts and minds, or have us fenced in. In my experience, that is one of the first things to shift.
Anyway — here are some suggestions. I am stating them in direct language for the sake of clarity and not sounding wishy-washy. Take the ones that are useful to you, if you notice that any are.
Learn to talk about everything. Challenge the concept of ‘the unmentionable’. Learn the words to say what you want to say, and get comfortable using them.
The idea of a taboo is much of what holds down the process of healing and resolution. Mercury approaching Nessus is going to facilitate communication, and in Aquarius, it may extend to some public forum — or you may gather useful information or find validation in these discussions.
I suggest you keep the circle of people you discuss things with fairly tight, however. For now you need to keep a sense of ownership of your material, and be aware of the values of anyone to whom you are speaking. More on that in a moment.
Part of describing experiences to yourself is the gradual process of learning to admit what is so, and to call things what they are.
Listen. If we’re going to learn now to verbalize, we also need to learn how to listen. This may be the more challenging skill since it involves minimizing one’s defensiveness, or perhaps setting it aside entirely. Listening is about holding space. It’s also about receiving nourishment from the experience of taking someone’s story or feelings on board. You do not need to respond, just to gently seek understanding. Of all the skills work down by the presence of the technosphere, listening may be the one that’s the greatest loss. We can, however, get this back through willingness, choice and compassion.
Demystify sex. Learn to think about it as something normal that happens to normal people on regular days. There is a ridiculous prohibition on discussion of real subject matter where sex and sexual healing are concerned. There is a prohibition of sincere admission of desire and admitting who we are.
We are so used to this cloud of mysticism, controversy and denial surrounding sex that it can seem really weird to think of sex as normal. Some say that to take away the mystery is to cheapen sex. I think it’s about simple authenticity. Part of this means using real words instead of euphemisms.
Part of normal involves admitting when things have gone wrong, and the activity of seeking healing and growth — though pathology does tend to come into vogue; that is to say, society favors discussion of ‘bad things’. What we need to make normal is pleasure, contact and the fact that we want them.
Yes — even if you think that what you do and what you want is strange. By normal, I mean there is no such thing as normal. All sex is a little weird, when you think about it. People adapt or invent all kinds of interesting desires. Some of them would definitely be frowned upon in polite company, and you might not feel comfortable revealing them. In the spirit of demystifying them to yourself, you can honor the incredible, beautiful diversity of sexual desire.
When we have been shaped by circumstances that have injured us, or if we have had our power taken away, those things can become points of erotic fixation. Most people will say you have to purify them. I would say that they are usually tools or gifts to work with for as long as you want to or need to. Keep checking in about that as you move through your inner journey.
Mainly, I suggest you set aside approaching your desires with fear, shame or guilt, as best you can — at least setting that as an objective. Note that you may have eroticized these things, and that they may play into your core phantasy.
Know and explore your core phantasy. Many people have a core phantasy — the thing that always gets them off. I don’t mean a preference or curiosity; I mean the one thing that you turn to dependably for release. It may not involve champagne and candlelight.
It may range from the perfectly vanilla to thoughts of something that is ‘wrong’ or ‘illegal’. It might involve red shoes, sacrificial fires or wolves. It could involve some form of humiliation. Whatever it may be (assuming your actual behavior on the physical plane is legal), there is no moral issue involved, only your own desire for pleasure and contact with your inner truth.
You don’t have to ‘act on’ your core phantasy; all you need to have is a conscious relationship with it, and the willingness to allow yourself the space to feel whatever you feel. The central idea here is creating the space to feel without judgment. That, in turn, allows you to exist without the need to suppress yourself in any way. You are now going in precisely the opposite direction.
Share your sexual history with your partner(s). It’s essential that the person or people you are sexually intimate with actually know who you are. I suggest that this be a mutual exercise, and that you begin with an agreement of amnesty. Your sexual history can include everything you’ve done and who you’ve done it with. It would also involve what you now do.
You might include what you want or plan to do, and what your fantasies are. I think that sharing fantasies is both liberating and deeply healing. Phantasy sharing is a form of sex. It needs to be done by agreement, and with an understanding that there is forgiveness or amnesty involved.
Of course, it might not work out that way; there is a risk involved in any personal disclosure, particularly in a situation where someone might feel threatened. That threat was always there, and it was being kept latent by withholding. Part of being real involves embracing the potential that being real has an effect on people. This will take some confidence, which you may not have now but which you’re likely to get eventually.
Read and inform yourself. Pain festers in ignorance, and learning has a way of setting people free. Read books about sex. There are a few basic starter’s guides. I recommend as a starting point: The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort (with many versions — check Amazon); Sex for One by Betty Dodson; Eros Denied by Wayland Young (one of the best nonfiction books ever written, IMO, about the history of forbidden words, people and ideas); Sexual Secrets by Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger; Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective; Sex at Dawn by Ryan and Jetha.
Get help. Don’t try to ‘go it alone’. If you need some ideas about how to select a therapist, here is my article on that topic. As I mentioned yesterday, there’s a little problem with some therapists and healers both not knowing terribly much about sex, nor being comfortable with the subject matter. You need someone who is comfortable with both the healing challenges and the pleasure side of the equation.
Focus on trust rather than on love. The concept of ‘love’ in relationships can be so corrupted that it has no meaning at all, such as telling the police how much you love the person who just beat you up. Maybe you do but I think that the word love is void for vagueness.
Trust is the key. Trust is tangible. It can be built and it can be sized up; it’s often a matter of communication, understanding and time. Yes, there are people you trust immediately and intuitively — though this is pretty rare and we’re not always right. Give trust time to cultivate, and recognize the elements of why you trust who you trust.
Stop associating with people who betray or violate you. Keep crazymakers at a safe distance; most of them are pros and know how to do it better than you know how to keep them at bay. This is a matter of ongoing practice; there is a discipline involved. If you’re trying to get a date with someone and they are treating you in a way you don’t like, provoking you, being evasive or whatever, move on.
Mirror masturbate. Have sex with yourself facing a mirror. Look, see and encounter all of the feelings that come up. Make eye contact. Do your best to actually love the person who is looking back at you. If this seems brave, or strange, I suggest you meditate on why that is, or ask yourself while you’re doing it.
Masturbate together. This works as ‘get to know you’ sex and also as an essential ingredient in a relationship with a partner. Yes, this is a deep expression of trust and vulnerability. It’s a real sharing. You may decide that it’s far more vulnerable than the sex that you’ve been having, and that vulnerability can exist as its own thing of beauty, or it can be conveyed back into contact sex.
Sharing masturbation — and I mean masturbation rather than giving one another hand jobs — is a way to learn to honor yourself in the presence of someone else. It’s a form of witnessing; it’s a form of holding space for another person’s reality as distinct from your own; and it allows people to see and be seen. In my experience it’s the easiest way to experience and explore compersion (appreciating another person’s pleasure) with no sense of threat from jealousy or loss.
If you combine this with the outward sharing of phantasy, you can increase the pleasure factor and also the daring factor. If you’re going to do this I suggest you make an amnesty agreement first, such as saying to your partner, “I have phantasies that are not about you, and I want to share them.”
This is deeper territory and you might want to go here over a series of steps. I think, however, it’s a truly significant place to go — allowing your partner to see and know you for who you really are. Such can enhance intimacy in a profound way.
I also propose that people share masturbation in friendships, where it’s a mutual desire or place of mutual willingness to explore. This offers a place of sexual freedom that is not encumbered by fears of sexual infections, pregnancy or romantic commitment. This is potentially a form of same-sex play that does not involve declaring yourself anything special. Sharing masturbation is normal primate behavior, including in same-sex or opposite-sex situations. I believe that we would all be a lot happier if we used this as ‘getting to know you’ sex, rather than hooking up. It’s a great way to test the water and see who someone is and how you respond to them.
My sense is that if one thing can set free the sexual pain and shame that we hold as individuals and as a society, it is sharing masturbation. I have covered this in a diversity of articles, including on the Compersion webpage. There is lots there, including my eBook, It’s Not About Sex, It’s About Self. And it’s all free to non-subscribers. Speaking of –
Compersion. This is the ability to allow others to be free to feel what they feel, which means you being free to feel what you feel. Compersion is a kind of gift that gives an alternative to jealousy, a way to consider the people you love in the most favorable light: as autonomous loving beings. It’s not a thing; it’s a journey. It’s a path from conflict and unfreedom to clarity, choice and love. If you are aware of this already and are figuring out how to get there, it is possible, even likely that you’ll find it. It starts by holding space for others the ways I’ve described above.
Keep a diary of these explorations. Write down your experiences, feelings, dreams and desires — and keep copies of what you send people.