Sex and Sexuality

You Sly Universal Virus, You Psychedelic Mushroom Cloud at the Center of All Our Brains

“A Prayer for Us,” by Rob Brezny

his is a perfect moment. It’s a perfect moment because I have been inspired to say a gigantic prayer. I’ve been roused to unleash a divinely greedy, apocalyptically healing prayer for each and every one of us—even those of us who don’t believe in the power of prayer.

And so I am starting to pray right now to the God of Gods . . . the God beyond all Gods . . . the Girlfriend of God . . . the Teacher of God . . . the Goddess who invented God.

DEAR GODDESS, you who always answer our very best questions, even if we ignore you:

Please be here with us right now. Come inside us with your sly slippery slaphappy mojo. Invade us with your silky succulent salty sweet haha.
Hear with our ears, Goddess. Breathe with our lungs. See through our eyes.

DEAR GODDESS, you who never kill but only change:

I pray that my exuberant, suave, and accidental words will move you to shower ferocious blessings down on everyone who reads or hears this benediction.

I pray that you will give us what we don’t even know we need—not just the boons we think we want, but everything we’ve always been afraid to even imagine or ask for.

DEAR GODDESS, you wealthy anarchist burning heaven to the ground:

Many of us don’t even know who we really are.

We’ve forgotten that our souls live forever.

We’re blind to the fact that every little move we make sends ripples through eternity. Some of us are even ignorant of how extravagant, relentless, and practical your love for us is.

Please wake us up to the shocking truths. Use your brash magic to help us see that we are completely different from we’ve been led to believe, and more exciting than we can possibly imagine.

Guide us to realize that we are all unwitting messiahs who are much too big and ancient to fit inside our personalities.

DEAR GODDESS, you sly universal virus with no fucking opinion:

Help us to be disciplined enough to go crazy in the name of creation, not destruction.

Teach us to know the distinction between oppressive self-control and liberating self-control.

Awaken in us the power to do the half-right thing when it is impossible to do the totally right thing.

And arouse the Wild Woman within us—even if we are men.

DEAR GODDESS, you who give us so much love and pain mixed together that our morality is always on the verge of collapsing:

I beg you to cast a boisterous love spell that will nullify all the dumb ideas, bad decisions, and nasty conditioning that have ever cursed all of us wise and sexy virtuosos.

Remove, banish, annihilate, and laugh into oblivion any jinx that has clung
to us, no matter how long we have suffered from it, and even if we have become accustomed or addicted to its ugly companionship.

Conjure an aura of protection around us so that we will receive an early warning if we are ever about to act in such a way as to bring another hex or plague into our lives in the future.

DEAR GODDESS, you psychedelic mushroom cloud at the center of all our brains:

I pray that you will inspire us to kick our own asses with abandon and regularity.

Give us bigger, better, more original sins and wilder, wetter, more interesting problems.
Help us learn the difference between stupid suffering and smart suffering.

Provoke us to throw away or give away everything we own that encourages us to believe we’re better than anyone else.

Brainwash us with your compassion so that we never love our own freedom more than anyone else’s freedom.

And make it illegal, immoral, irrelevant, unpatriotic, and totally tasteless for us to be in love with anyone or anything that’s no good for us.

DEAR GODDESS, you riotously tender, hauntingly reassuring, orgiastically sacred feeling that is even now running through all of our soft, warm animal bodies:

I pray that you provide us with a license to bend and even break all rules, laws, and traditions that hinder us from loving the world the way you do.

Show us how to purge the wishy-washy wishes that distract us from our daring, dramatic, divine desires.

And teach us that we can have anything we want if we will only ask for it in an unselfish way.

DEAR GODDESS, you who just pretend to be crazy so you can get away with doing what’s right:

Help us to be like you—wildly disciplined, voraciously curious, exuberantly elegant, shockingly friendly, fanatically balanced, blasphemously reverent, mysteriously truthful, teasingly healing, lyrically logical, and blissfully rowdy.

And now dear God of Gods, God beyond all Gods, Girlfriend of God, Teacher of God, Goddess who invented God, I bring this prayer to a close, trusting that in these pregnant moments you have begun to change all of us in the exact way we needed to change in order to become the gorgeous geniuses we were born to be.

Amen
Om
Hallelujah
Shalom
Namaste
More power to you

Oh, but one more thing DEAR GODDESS, you pregnant slut who scorns all mediocre longing:

Please give us donkey clown pinatas full of chirping crickets,

ceramic spice jars containing 10 million-year-old salt from the Himalayas,

gargoyle statues guaranteed to scare away the demons,

lucid dreams while we’re wide awake,

enough organic soup and ice cream to feed all the refugees,

emerald parachutes and purple velvet gloves and ladders made of melted-down guns,

a knack for avoiding other people’s personal hells,

radio-controlled, helium-filled flying rubber sharks to play with,

magic red slippers to contribute to the hopeless,

bathtubs full of holy water to wash away our greed,

secret admirers who are not psychotic stalkers,

mousse cakes baked in the shapes of giant question marks,

stories about lightning strikes that burn down towers where megalomaniacal kings live,

solar-powered sex toys that work even in the dark,

knowledge of secret underground rivers,

mirrors that the Dalai Lama has gazed into,

and red wagons carrying the treats we were deprived of in childhood.

*   *   *

From Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, Revised and Expanded: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

Categories: Earth-based Religions, Great Quotes, Healing, Poetry Sundays, Sex and Sexuality, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Of Chaucer, Spring Cleaning, and Werewolves

his is the strange and convoluted history of a holiday some people love, a lot of people hate, and everyone seems confused about: Valentine’s Day.

Once upon a time, in ancient Greece, a secret ritual was held each May on the slopes of Wolf Mountain (Lykaion, the tallest peak in Arcadia—the region lauded during the Renaissance as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness, and in Greek mythology, home of the god Pan). The mountain was named for the Greek myth of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, who slaughtered and dismembered one of his sons (he had fifty, so I guess one was expendable, or maybe he just really pissed him off) and fed his son to Zeus, to see if he was truly omniscient. This upset Zeus, who transformed Lycaon into a wolf (λύκος, lukos or lykos, means “wolf”), restored the slaughtered boy to life, but killed all of Lycaon’s other sons with lightning bolts.

The secret rituals of the Lykaia were essentially rites of passage for epheboi (adolescent males)  that centered on the dual threat of cannibalism and werewolf transformation. Now, I’m not sure why cannibalism featured so prominently in Greek mythology, and I’m not sure why it was a threat: most often cannibalism was practiced during periods of extreme famine, or as a mostly ritualistic means of asserting dominance over a vanquished tribe or culture. We certainly cannibalize the art and practices of nearly every culture we come in contact with (usually to that culture’s detriment), but I haven’t grasped why actual cannibalism was such a strong tendency that a ceremonial prohibition against it needed to be instituted. The epheboi were often trained to be warriors; maybe it was a way of saying, “And when you win, don’t eat the other combatants or they’ll think you’re no better than wolves!”

Now we move to ancient Italy. The month of February is named for Februa, a spring cleansing ritual held between February 13 and 15. It combined spring cleaning and washing (February is a rainy month in Italy) with the notion of ritual purification. The festival may have gotten its name from the Latin word febris, “fever,” since the sweating that often accompanies fevers were seen as purging bad substances from the body.

In Rome, the Februa festival gave way to the Lupercalia, or “Wolf Festival,” which came to be held on the same dates. This celebration was to banish evil spirits, purify the city, and bring health and fertility. The Lupercalia was named partly for Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, and partly for the god Lupercus (also called Faunus), the Roman equivalent of Pan—who was worshiped in Arcadia, where the Lykaia were held.

The rites were directed by the Luperci, “brothers of the wolf”; they were naked except for goatskin loincloths, and served in the Lupercal temple, the cave where Romulus and Remus were raised and where, at the beginning of the Lupercalia, two goats and a dog were ritually sacrificed. According to Plutarch, “[During the Lupercalia] many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs [which were called, interestingly enough februa]. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school, present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.”

Fast forward a few hundred years. The feast of Saint Valentine on February 14 was established in 496 CE by one pope, but deleted from the calendar of saints by another in 1969. So much for papal infallibility. No one is entirely sure which of the many Christian martyrs named Valentine were being honored; it was a popular name that derives from valens, which means worthy or strong, and there were three different Valentines who were named in various martyrologies in connection with February 14. Most think it was a Roman priest who was martyred sometime between 269 and 273 during the reign of Claudius II, a.k.a. Claudius Gothicus. Valentine was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples, which was against the law at this time, and while in prison, Claudius (shall we say) took a liking to him. Then Valentine made the tragic mistake of trying to convert Claudius to Christianity, so Claudius had him beaten with clubs and then beheaded.

The Feast of Saint Valentine was a minor festival in the ancient Church. But after 380, when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire (which was a shame, because when Constantine converted to Christianity in 312, he mandated that all religions in the empire be universally tolerated), the Church systematically established Christian feasts on the same days as the more ancient pagan ones—in a future post I’ll try to gather together an exhaustive list of them. In this case, the general pagan fertility celebration on February 13–15 was so widespread and prevalent that the Church needed to bring the feast a touch of religious sobriety.

Happily, the paganish aspects of the day—people acting like goats and wolves, seducing everyone you can with the sort of abandon one might ascribe to the followers of Pan—have remained to this day, even though dear Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle did their best to make Valentine’s Day a paean to romantic love. In his love poem “Parlement of Foules” he wrote, “For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.” (For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, / When every bird comes to choose his mate.) The problem, of course, is that Chaucer wrote it for the engagement of Richard II, which was on May 2—a date which celebrated a different Saint Valentine, an early bishop of Genoa.

But that didn’t stop others from piling on the Saint Valentine bandwagon. On February 14, 1400, in honor of Valentine’s Day, a “High Court of Love” was established in Paris to deal with love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Judges were selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading, and “valentines”—then short love poems—began to be circulated.

Since then it’s been all downhill. The early 1800s saw the first valentine cards available for purchase, and by the mid-19th century they were all the rage. It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that roses and chocolates and jewelry were added to the giving of cards; apparently some 190 million valentines are sent every year in the US, not counting valentine exchanges in elementary schools.

Sickly sweet sentimentalism, to my way of thinking. I say we go back to dressing in nothing but goatskin loincloths and getting in touch with our inner wolves.

Categories: Classic civilizations, Earth-based Religions, Holidays, Sex and Sexuality | 1 Comment

The Erotica Eight and the Great Puttanesca Initiation

I hope my friend Indigo Bunting will weigh in with her recollections and corrections to this story. I am old and my memory is failing, while her memory is remarkably pristine.

The first thing I don’t remember is the year. I rarely remember what year anything happened. But back when we all lived in Maryland, some friends offered to host a spirituality/mythology discussion group. We’d all watch an episode of the Bill Moyers series, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, and discuss it afterwards. This evolved into a general spiritual exploration group, which didn’t go so well since some of us wanted more theory, others wanted more practical stuff, and some seemed dedicated to fluffy bunnies and unicorns. (It seems now that this pattern has been repeating in my life for quite some time now.)

This group evolved, or devolved, into discussion of another book, Ladies’ Own Erotica by the Kensington Ladies’ Erotica Society. We’d read a few chapters in preparation, then come together over an amazing meal that one of us would prepare, and discuss the book. It was a heady mixture of the lubricious (one of my favorite words in the whole wide world) and the respectable, the intellectual and the wanton, the sensual and the spiritual.

By this time the group had weeded itself down to a core group of eight people: two married couples; one couple who didn’t believe in the institution of marriage, which merely showed how silly the whole argument was, since no one could be more married in body, soul, or mind than they; and two single guys. That first night, sitting around over Bill Rau’s pasta puttanesca and much excellent wine discussing women’s approach to erotica and how it differed from men’s, and what made something exciting or arousing in one context and either boring or rather distasteful in another, we christened ourselves the Erotica Eight.

The Erotica Eight met quite a few times after that, sometimes discussing erotica, sometimes not; we even went on a group trip to Chincoteague, Maryland, and Assateague Island at the height of a winter snowstorm, and rented a house for a long weekend. That is a longer and much stranger story for another time.

The Great Puttanesca Initiation happened this way. When we arrived, we found Bill at his stove in the middle of making this sauce that smelled oh-my-god-is-it-possible-for-anything-to-have-a-more-intoxicating-aroma. A surprising amount of excellent extra-virgin olive oil, a few teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, a couple of tins of anchovies (which was my first honest encounter with those wondrous fishies), and a dozen or so cloves of garlic, minced. To this was added a goodly amount of lovely oil-cured black olives, capers, and several cans of roma tomatoes, and a little tomato paste. A little red wine, a few leaves of basil, and a handful of chopped Italian parsley. That’s it.

When I wrote of puttanesca some time ago, I said that the celebrated Neapolitan dish was so named because it was “pasta the way a whore would make it.” Many think the the name refers to the decadent sauce’s hot, spicy flavor and rapturous aroma. Others say that because the ingredients were so inexpensive, it was offered for free to prospective customers to entice them into houses of ill repute — or that the dish was so quickly made that prostitutes could prepare it between customers.

Author and chef Diane Seed relates this story:

To understand how this sauce came to get its name, one must consider the 1950s when brothels in Italy were state-owned. They were known as case chiuse or “closed houses” because the shutters had to be kept permanently closed to avoid offending the sensibilities of neighbors or innocent passers-by. Conscientious Italian housewives usually shop at the local market every day to buy fresh food, but the “civil servants” were only allowed one day per week for shopping, and their time was valuable. Their specialty became a sauce made quickly from odds and ends in the larder.

Tonight I made puttanesca sauce myself for the first time. I was not disappointed. It was not quite as spicy as Bill’s version was, but there was definitely a heat that crept up on me as I ate it. It was sensuous, and heady, and altogether wonderful. But as you can see, it was my counterpart to Proust’s madeleine: one mouthful, and I was transported back to the even headier days of the Erotica Eight, of our sitting around a table filled with wine and laughter, eating the food of whores, and tracing the strange road from Joseph Campbell to the Kensington Ladies’ Erotica Society.

Categories: Cooking, Relationships, Sex and Sexuality, Spirituality | 12 Comments

Sex Unashamed

This morning on my windshield I found the first lovebug of the season: Plecia nearctica, a member of the family of march flies. It is also known as the honeymoon fly, telephonebug, kissybug, or double-headedbug.

This was a lone male, one of the few times I have seen a lovebug without its partner. Usually they are seen locked in connubial bliss, flying lazily through the air or being splattered on one’s car.

Lovebug flights can number in the hundreds of thousands. The slow, drifting movement of the insects is almost reminiscent of snowfall. Two major flights occur each year, first in late spring, then again in late summer. The spring flight occurs during late April and May, the summer during late August and September. This year, their flight was delayed by the long drought. Flights extend over periods of four to five weeks.

Mating takes place almost immediately after emergence of the females. Adult females live only three to four days, poor things.

I’ve written before about squirrels copulating on the screen enclosure of my back porch. I’ve seen two Southern Black Racers, the oh-so-appropriately named Coluber constrictor priapus, coiled in writhing embrace.

Tonight, while at a stop light, I noticed two Green Anoles—the gentle little chameleonlike lizards who so valiantly tackle the insect population around our homes—mating by the side of the road, their skin now brown, trying hard to blend in with the branch on they were perched. They didn’t seem to care that I was staring at their public canoodling.

Of course, it’s likely they don’t notice us. We are unimportant unless we are threatening them or pushing them out of our way. We are environmental noise, worthy of no special attention, just as humans coupling out of doors would generally ignore the birds or other creatures who might catch sight of them.

On the other hand, I like to believe that Nature thinks sex—whether it be the product of love and affection, or instinctual urge, or conscious choice—is good and blessed and worthy of celebration, or is at the very least nothing deserving shame or judgment. It would be nice if humans could, at least once in a while, embrace Nature’s perspective on such matters.

Postscript: Adam just sent me this photo he took last year at Castaway Point Park of some manatees caught in flagrante delicto. Lovely!

manateecastawaypointpark

Categories: Animals, Sex and Sexuality | 3 Comments

Ancient Figurine of Voluptuous Woman Is Found

By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
The New York Times

No one would mistake the Stone Age ivory carving for a Venus de Milo. The voluptuous woman depicted is, to say the least, earthier, with huge, projecting breasts and sexually explicit genitalia.

Side and front views of the Venus of Hohle Fels

Side and front views of the Venus of Hohle Fels

Nicholas J. Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, who found the small carving in a cave last year, says it is at least 35,000 years old, “one of the oldest known examples of figurative art” in the world. It is about 5,000 years older than some other so-called Venus artifacts made by early populations of Homo sapiens in Europe.

Another archaeologist, Paul Mellars of the University of Cambridge in England, agrees and goes on to remark on the obvious. By modern standards, he says, the figurine’s blatant sexuality “could be seen as bordering on the pornographic.” Continue reading

Categories: Art, Earth-based Religions, Sex and Sexuality | 1 Comment

“This Store Burns Souls!”

Maybe the changing seasons are prompting people to cover up. Maybe the political climate is making everyone more conservative. Maybe folks are sick of seeing celebrities’ hoo-hoos exposed in the tabloids. Whatever, this whole modesty craze I wrote about a while back seems to be taking on international (and decidedly violent) proportions, as in this Associated Press story:

Jewish “Modesty Patrols” Sow Fear in Israel

JERUSALEM (AP) — In Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste. They hurl stones at women for such “sins” as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.

In recent weeks, self-styled ”modesty patrols” have been accused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men. They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography.

“These breaches of purity and modesty endanger our community,” said 38-year-old Elchanan Blau, defending the bearded, black-robed zealots. “If it takes fire to get them to stop, then so be it.” Continue reading

Categories: Judaism, Sex and Sexuality, Spirituality | 8 Comments

Berlin Unveils Gay Holocaust Monument

Following years of controversy, German dignitaries this week dedicated a memorial to the tens of thousands of gays and lesbians who were persecuted and killed in Nazi Germany.

[The photo to the right shows a man looking at a video screen inside the memorial.]

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the series of raids and public book burnings in May 1933 with which the regime of Adolf Hitler began its crusade against homosexuality.

Photos of Nazi stormtroopers hurling books onto bonfires stem largely from the book-burning rally which occurred outside the offices of gay-rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science, which was ransacked in May 1933.

But authorities in Germany are going to great lengths to ensure that Tuesday’s monument dedication ceremonies remain low-key so as to avert neo-Nazi violence. Continue reading

Categories: Politics, Sex and Sexuality, Social Justice | 2 Comments

Private Politics

My activist days are pretty much behind me. I am no less passionate about my politics, but I am much less apt to do much about them except vote. For a decade I worked at a non-profit that lobbied Congress on world hunger issues, and even though I was just the office manager (and sometime receptionist), I proudly counted that toward my liberal bonafides.

The 1993 March on Washington was life changing. I marched with my church, and somehow, in a crowd of a million or more, I ran into every single person who had been important in my life as a gay man.

Truth is, I was never much of an activist. I’m not big on demonstrations (I’ve been to three in all, and the last one gave me heatstroke). I think the best politics are local and personal, anyway.

I remember one morning I had breakfast at my favorite diner in the little Vermont town of Poultney. It was during the height of the controversy over civil unions. Signs telling citizens to “Take Back Vermont” from the liberals were everywhere, and gay rights were a frequent topic of conversation.

As I waited at the cash register to pay my bill, next to a native Vermonter (or so I assume from the John Deere cap and the Vermont accent) who was seated at the counter, we struck up a conversation with one another. He was reading the Rutland Herald, and he pointed to a headline about the impending civil unions vote. “Somethin’, ain’ it?” he said. Continue reading

Categories: Politics, Sex and Sexuality, Social Justice | 5 Comments

There Are Not Enough Words

“Green Porno” is a series of very short films conceived, written, co-directed by and featuring Isabella Rossellini. Inspired by the amazing and often bizarre sexual practices of insects and other creatures, these eight films are both comical and insightful studies of the curious ways a variety of earth’s tiny critters “make love.”

Green Porno” premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. View it now on the Sundance Channel website.

Categories: Animals, Humor, Sex and Sexuality | 1 Comment

Court Approves Evil Gay Agenda

Satan’s plan to make uptight straight people “really uncomfortable” working out “fabulously,” say Bay Area gays

by Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist | Friday, May 16, 2008

We are all going to die. Very, very soon. Did you know? Apparently, the signs are all in place and the plague is clearly nigh and Armageddon is fast upon us because, oh my angry heterosexual god, the announcement has now been handed down: Couples who deeply love one another may now get married in California. It’s true.

Wait, there’s more. The couple in question might both have penises. Or they both might not. This is the crazy, terrifying new thing: It is totally up to them. Can you imagine?

Put another way: If you are a loving couple in this fine and baffled state, your particular combination of genitalia has officially been deemed irrelevant as far as whether or not you may hold a lovely little ceremony and enjoy a year or three of wedded bliss and buy a tiny condo you can’t really afford, and then fight about money and who gets to name the dog as you lose that once-omnipotent romantic spark and rarely have sex anymore and eat your meals in silence as half of you get divorced in about 5.3 years and end up back on the dating scene, wondering whatever happened to your dreams. You know: just like everyone else! Continue reading

Categories: Sex and Sexuality, Social Justice | 3 Comments

Are You Immodest?

Margaret White, the psycho mother of Stephen King’s Carrie, immortalized in the film by the ever-wonderful Piper Laurie, has this wonderful/creepy speech in the middle of the movie in which she describes the night Carrie was conceived:

I should’ve killed myself when he put it in me. After the first time, before we were married, Ralph promised never again. He promised, and I believed him. But sin never dies. Sin never dies. At first, it was all right. We lived sinlessly. We slept in the same bed, but we never did it. And then, that night, I saw him looking down at me that way. We got down on our knees to pray for strength. I smelled the whiskey on his breath. Then he took me. He took me, with the stink of filthy roadhouse whiskey on his breath, and I liked it. I liked it! With all that dirty touching of his hands all over me. I should’ve given you to God when you were born, but I was weak and backsliding, and now the devil has come home. We’ll pray.

One of the things Carrie’s mama was upset about was how her prom gown let the boys glimpse her “dirty pillows.” Clearly she would have benefited from one of the more modest clothing lines now being marketed to women. (Odd how it’s never men who are immodestly putting their wares on display, isn’t it?)

Here, for example, is a line of bathing suits from a company called WholesomeWear. Their Culotte Swimmer, which is apparently styled after turn-of-the-(20th)-century “bathing costumes,” Continue reading

Categories: Humor, Politics, Psychology, Sex and Sexuality | 12 Comments

The Big Trip: The Minneapolis Drag Show

day5map.jpg

As I look at the map and retrace my path, I’m rather mystified by the route I took. Some of it makes sense; some of it worked out so well that you know there was some divine synchronicity involved; some of it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Like today’s trip from the Mirror Lake to the Twin Cities. If I were going to stick to the interstates, why wouldn’t I take the one that headed directly there? Why would I head west toward Albert Lea, then due north, if I wasn’t going to take any scenic detours?

In western Wisconsin were some really interesting shale formations. My notes talk about rock towers jutting up out of nowhere, formations that were once little islands, apparently, and mentions Castle Rock by name, though I can’t find any record of such a place online. I drove by a Castle Rock Lake; maybe I saw a sign for it and confused it with the landscape I was seeing. Having my eyes deceive me would become a theme for this leg of the journey. Continue reading

Categories: Sex and Sexuality, Shamanism, The Big Trip, Travel | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.