Sex Work

YOLO in the Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch

Yesterday my partner and I were talking about ideas for starting our own business. The idea that rocketed to the top of the list was a consultation business for sexual acceptance of self. Whatever one’s gender preference, whatever one’s orientation, whatever one’s kink, or darkest, strangest, trippiest, or even vanilla sexual desires or no desires at all, it’s all alright. We’re all wired the way we’re wired. And there are safe, sane and consensual outlets for those desires to be met.  We can help!

While we were brainstorming, I realized that I started to recoil a bit. I was immediately worried that by getting into a sex-based business, I was somehow short-changing myself. That there were more important things for me to do in this life, why would I do that?

But then I thought, WAIT A MINUTE! What’s wrong with it? Why am I falling into the same trap of the very people we want to help?

Paris Hilton, hamburger eating übermensch, handing down the moral decree that size matters.

The strange truth about our culture in America is, we are sent mixed, confusing messages daily about sex daily. If you’re a woman, you’re suppose to be both liberated and modest. If you’re a man, you’re suppose to be both aggressive and sensitive. The media bombards us with flashes of objectified humans and psychologically ambushes us with products to make us all sexier, sharper, hyper-aggressive, übermensches. But you’re not supposed to act on those airs you purchased; you’re just suppose to look the part.  

With no national dialogue on sex. We’re all a bundle of neurotic wrecks on the subject, including me. My mother was so hung up on sex that I never thought I could talk to her about it. I group up terminally embarrassed about the subject so there was so much I didn’t know until I got to college. But if I’m honest with myself, I learned most of what I know about sex through the internet like most people today.

 I’ve met women who so identified with sexual purity due to their Christian fundamentalist upbringing, that they were unable to shed that identity when they got married. They were just suddenly expected to let go what was drilled into their minds since they were young children.  They didn’t know who they were if not a virgin!

BDSM symbol

And that is why we need more people out there helping communities to gain a healthier understanding of sex, sexual orientation and gender in this country. Too many people think there is something wrong with themselves because they like something “deviant” or “immoral.” Often times what they are into is rather normal, they just don’t know it because people rarely open up and talk about it. People worry if they like sex too much, they worry if they don’t like it enough.  God help then if they find they like having pain inflicted on them, or they like to inflict it on others. They bury these fears because they’re not supposed to like it by the standards of social norms.

It’s when these things are buried and unacknowledged that they become misshapen and grow into deviant monsters that hurt others. When we are aware of the shadow and start to integrate it, we can find constructive outlets for our desires and partners who are more aligned and eagerly willing to participate in our sexual needs.

A literal blackhole shadow! So dense it will bench press your soul.

So much ends up in that shadow, it’s got to be made of the most super dense material on the entire planet! I believe that to be the case. I think Americans are really good at super packing their shadows with dark treats just waiting to bite us all on the ass one day. It’s okay if you like that sort of thing, I don’t judge.

It’s healthy to talk about sex. What is not healthy is to not talk about it. So, my own shadow work this week will be to uncover why I recoiled when I really thought about a business that centered on sexual acceptance. Is it my Catholic background rearing its head, a fear of being rejected by my family, or something deeper?  

The Devil Inside

“Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward.”

Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor
The Devil, from Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck

Today for my daily tarot card I pulled The Devil. I’ve learned to love this card because it’s a great reminder that we’re not just all connected through love and light, but also through shadow and darkness. One of my great lessons last year was that all the things that really irk and irritate me with others, are the things I do myself. I project my shadow all over others when I see the things, I hate in myself in their actions. It allows me to Otherize the shit out of it and distance myself from all the nasty cognitive dissonance I push deep down in my psyche. I don’t do that, they do that! They may or may not do that, but so do I. It’s how I’m able to recognize it outside of myself.

But that’s okay. We’re not creatures of pure love and light. We human beings are complex buggers. We’ve got a whole array of traits that range between delights and horrors. Sure, we all have angel light waiting to burst out of our hearts, but there’s a little demon in all of us too which also unites us. And I think therein lies the key for us to truly understand each other.

I this happens to you, see a doctor immediately

We’re all hung up on the light, but fail to understand the shadow. But lo and behold, that’s where all the shit flinging is located. The devil in me sees the devil in you. Because we refuse to acknowledge that it’s the devil inside of each of us that sees the devil in others, we persecute each other. In our own minds it’s, the superior Godbeing in me condemns the devil in you! The condemnation begins when we are divorced from our shadow, because we see ourselves as morally superior. The reality is, we’re being hypocrites.

When we are aware of our own shadow, we become aware of the shadow of others and how it came into being. We understand that the same pain, hardships and environmental forces that shaped us, shaped everyone one else. We all take on a different shape, but we all still have the bruises and scares made by those forces. Knowledge of this leads us to compassion and empathy, rather than condemnation.

We cannot embrace our Divine selves unless we embrace all opposites. A divine being is a whole being and contains both light and dark elements. Refusing to acknowledge the shadow and work with it, makes devils of us all.

“He’s going to lead you down the path of righteousness. I’m going to lead you down the path that rocks!”

Alchemical Love

I was listening to a video from Carolyn Elliott the other day regarding the topic of love. In it she talks about how many of us miss the love around us because we are seeking to find ourselves worthy of it. Am I worthy of love? What must I do to be worthy of love?

But this is the wrong way of looking at love. It’s not about making the grade or getting to the final cut where we’ll finally grasp the golden ring and be found worthy!

Nope.

The most humbling aspect of love, she says, is that worthiness has nothing to do with it. Alas, love just is for no reason at all.

This is the truth about love. It’s unconditional or it’s not love at all. One loves everything; the ugly, scary, awkward, weird bits alongside of the ordinary, milquetoast, mediocre bits, and the beautiful, fabulous, glorious bits.

When it comes to ourselves, I think it’s difficult and often even terrifying to love the whole of ourselves. I know it is for me. I can be mean, nasty and petty sometimes.  I can also be quite awesome and a cool person to be around too. I’m both of these people. It’s been hard for me to love my dark side. But I’ve learned to over the last few years. My shadow is part of me and she’s gotten me through some tough spots. I’ve learned to stop shunning her so that we can become better partners and work through the rough patches with greater ease and less drama.

The one I still have trouble with is Awkward-me. The one who has ADD, poor coordination, brain fog, and freezes at the thought of small talk. She’s the introvert that trips me up and makes my life extraordinarily difficult. She’s why I suck at job interviews and have such a hard time in front of cameras. She’s a big reason why Shadow-me can be such a monster. I feel like I’m always paying a huge price for Awkward-me, so loving her has been so very difficult. It’s a hell of a lot easier for me to love my shadow!

This awkward part of me is why I’ve had worthiness issues in the past. When I get frustrated with myself, I still scream, “Why can’t I do this?! What’s wrong with me?!” But the simple answer is, this is the body I have. These are the chemicals in my brain. I have these challenges and they shape me into who I am. I would likely not be on my current path had it not been for these challenges. As frustrating as my challenges can be – I love my path, I love how I think.  What I really don’t like are the bumps in the road. Welcome to the human condition.

I’m may be the fire breathing unicorn, but she’s the gun toting cat!

Love is not about being worthy. Love is about embracing the whole, even the stuff you hate. Maybe especially the stuff you hate. That’s the stuff that carves us into the magical creatures we become.

I know I’m a unicorn. My beloved told me I was this morning and she never lies.

Gratitude

One of many fine spirits!

A year ago, I was in a serious financial and spiritual rut and my good friend and spirit brother, Nick, helped me out. He thought it would be good for me to get out of my house in Colorado and visit him in Pasadena for a change of pace. So, I did and it was awesome and healing and everything I needed when I needed it. We took a long walk down Venice beach, rode down Sunset strip, jeered at the Scientology building, visited some awesome museums, bought Day of the Dead souvenirs on Olvera Street, picked up all the minerals and crystals in the metaphysical bookshops, and binge watched Rick & Morty and the Twin Peaks reboot while in altered states.  He bought or made me dinner every night and boy did we drink!

We also engaged in a night of ceremony and I had a fascinating experience that has taken me some time to unpack. The experience gave me great insight into my own mind and even now I find at times I come to new realizations about myself and my perceptions.

On the road trip back we stopped in Quartzsite, AZ and touched all the crystals even though was 5 billion degrees and you could cook an egg on the big ones.

Nick was the perfect host. I have great gratitude for all that he did for me last summer. It was certainly what I needed and when I got back to Colorado (we road tripped it back), I was refreshed and able to start everything over. I started working on my magickal practices and getting my shit in gear. I started working with Venus again (I was working with her prior to my vacation) and she provided!  By the end of September, I had a new job interview that came out of the blue in a field I never would have applied for on my own.  By the end of October, I was working as a contractor making decent money after two years of bad adjunct teaching jobs.

The job unexpectedly took me to Memphis in January for a week, which was quite awesome. I had a chance to visit Beale Street, eat fabulous Memphis BBQ, visit the Civil Rights Museum, and learned how to conduct a 5-day training event for a group of middle-aged men than really just wanted to be at the bars.

The Lorraine Motel where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, part of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Then a few weeks after getting back, coronavirus hit. I’m currently working in one of the very few industries not rocked by the virus. I was still on the books to teach online classes in the summer and fall – all of those courses vanished. While things were drying up elsewhere, I was asked if I wanted to move from a contractor position to a full-time position with the company. Um, YES! I received a raise and a much better benefits package.

 I’ve blogged a number of them, not the least of which was the great hailstorm that shredded the flower garden.

This journey is by no means over. I have so much more to do. This job I have now is nice. It pays my bills and keeps food on the table. I find it far more enjoyable than the endless grading of an adjunct. But I also know it’s not my life’s work. It’s what I have to keep my family and I afloat until I’m ready to move on to my life’s purpose work. I think it is coming in this next phase. It’s what I’m working toward now with my research and writing.

My alter to Venus and the Divine Feminine

But for right now in this moment, I am so grateful for everything! For my beautiful partner, Lisa, my brother Nick, and my family and friends who do so much to support me. I have so much when so many do not. I know this. I’m giving back what I can to my community in as many ways as I can think of to help.

Shadow Wrangling

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept…”

John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962

Just this week I’ve been bombarded by well-meaning relatives and friends sending me pro-Trump ad and other various propaganda videos. I’ve also overheard co-workers speaking about their new pro-Trump paraphernalia to put out on their lawns and how they hope he can get this country back on the right track and… I really don’t want to hear it. I do not like this man and I certainly do not relish the idea of four more years of him. I’m not sure America can survive four more years of him.

But if you happen to live in America, hear about him you must as we all do. Every. Single. Day. I imagined this election cycle would be exhausting back in 2016 if Trump managed to remain in office. But on top of out-of-control coronavirus, mask wars, well-justified Black Lives Matters protests, DHS goons being sent into our cities, and Trump at the center of all of it like some mad conductor leading a group of hyenas on kazoos playing All Hail the Conquering Hero – I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.

But with little choice in the matter, I’ve chosen to focus on a positive aspect of the Trump administration. What could that possibly be? He’s introduced America to its shadow side.

All of the hate, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the religious hatred, is hanging out for everyone to see. All of the problems plaguing America; the cracks in the system, the loop-holes in our democracy, the institutional blindness towards people in need, the gerrymandering in the voting system, the theft from the social safety networks are now exposed to us. It was always there. Trump didn’t cause it, he just shined a large enough light on it for all of us to see the rot that was growing there. Our history is both great and terrible. Where we have excelled, we must remember that this nation accomplished its great deeds on the backs of slaves and through the genocide of the indigenous culture. This is a time for our nation to sit with these realities and actually work through them rather than ignore them. If we are to ever heal these wounds, we need to stop pretending that we have nothing to do with our own past. As Antonio tells Sebastian in The Tempest, “What’s past is prologue.” Everything in our history has led us to this point. But how we choose to act right now at this moment, can change things for the better or the worse.

There is no recovery from some mistakes.

When I was studying archaeology as an undergrad, my professor gave me an old iron artifact covered in rust from the 19th century to clean with a sandblaster. To this day, I don’t know what it was. It was mostly rust by the late 20th century when I got my hands on it. As I used the sandblaster to remove the rust, it gradually became apparent that whatever it was, the rust was all that was holding it together. My heart sank as the object split into four pieces. They were shiny though! If we melted it down, we could have used the pieces to make it into something else. Alas it was not a metal recycling class, it was archaeology. My job was to preserve the useless thing. When my professor saw it he simply replied, “Ah, shit.”  

I sometimes get the feeling that America is now being hit by a giant karmic sandblaster. It’s a grueling process, but we’re slowly stripping the rust and rot away. Maybe beneath it there are some shiny nuggets for us to recover and make into something new. Rather than being archaeologists and preserving the old, decaying, rusted, rotting legacy that we’ve held onto so tightly for so long, we need to instead become the alchemists who burn away the dross, refine what is left and make alchemical gold.

Solve et Coagula

My work this election year is shadow work. It is not easy. It is why it is called The Great Work.

To everyone who is reading this, stay healthy and stay safe.