Tag Archive: Paganism

Orange rose - A dark orange-red rose in full bloom, surround by green foliage. Photo by Sabina Bajracharya, via Wiki Free Images.

Orange rose – A dark orange-red rose in full bloom, surround by green foliage. Photo by Sabina Bajracharya, via Wiki Free Images.

So it’s October. Samhain is coming. And I’ve started listening to Pavani Moray’s podcast, Bespoken Bones (also linked in my Blogs And Pods list, on the right).

It’s a podcast about (1) sexuality, sexual healing, and sexual pleasure, but also (2) ancestors, transgenerational(?) sexual mores, and practices like ancestor veneration. I find this just an absolutely fascinating combination for a bunch of reasons. So I thought I’d just use this as a jumping off point and talk about this stuff for a little bit.

First thing, you may have seen on my instagram a few days ago that I posted a cover shot of Jane Meredith’ and Gede Parma’s book, Magic of the Iron Pentacle: Reclaiming Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion. In the post, I mentioned that I wasn’t too deep into it yet. What I didn’t say was that the reason I wasn’t too deep into it yet was that I got part-way through the first chapter, the Sex chapter, and just started balking.

And I was balking, for the most part, at Jane Meredith’s essay about birth as part of sex.

And, like, yes, part of that was that there was some biological reductionism going on there which, particularly in a book with at least one queer author, I found more than a little disappointing, but I want to try and unpack what else was bugging me about that chapter.

So, to begin: My understanding, such as it is, of the Iron Pentacle, is that the whole point of having those specific five things as its elements is that they are things that are often demonized (literally or not) by Christianity, and as such by cultural-Christianity, particularly when it comes to marginalized people who are expected to feel shame around their own existence in the world for their (our) “failure” to be Real Human Beings (cis, het, abled, neurotypical, white, men).

And, I mean, I do realize that I’ve spent a long time conflating Feri – the magico-religious tradition where the Iron Pentacle comes from – with the Radical Faries, who are a queer new-age-ish, contemporary-pagan-ish, secular-spiritual-ish bunch of loosely-affiliated counter-cultural groups that reject homonormativity and the idea that gay people are Just Like Everybody Else (Everybody Else meaning straight, monogamously-married, would-be parents).

Like, yes there’s definitely overlap between those communities.

But also my long-time assumption that Feri came from the Radical Fairies is (a) maaaaaybe not actually the case, but also (b) kind of colouring my expectations for what I’ll find in a book on the Iron Pentacle.

Secondly: I’m a cis lady. More specifically, I’m a cis, white, middle-class-raised, university-educated lady. Which means I spent the first 28 years of my life under the expectation that, between the age of 20 and 30, I would get pregnant and give vaginal birth, ideally 2-3 times, and that if I failed to do this I was somehow both failing to Gender Correctly and letting a bunch of people down whose own identities, for some reason, were heavily invested in my reproductive capacity.

At twenty-eight, I came the conclusion that (a) I didn’t actually want to have kids, (b) my bisexuality was way gayer than I’d initially thought, and (c) I would be better off in non-monogamous relationships. So I got the heck divorced and started dating other polyamourous women and, while this didn’t mean I got to stop being vigilant about avoiding pregnancy, my various girlfriends and other partners have never seen my intentionally-child-free status as some kind of a deliberate afront to their own life goals or gender identities. Thank all the gods.

What I’m saying is that, while having my own sexual desires (let alone acting on them) was, for a long time, something that I was taught to keep my mouth shut about and to sort of go along to get along, if you will, my early belief that I did want to birth babies and raise children was always treated by others as a part of myself that I should embrace, and it was my rejection of that belief, when I realized that it wasn’t true, that was “radical” or “subversive” or otherwise pushing outside of what Gayle Rubin calls the Charmed Circle of Acceptable Human Sexuality.

Seriously. Dating women, and being fairly loud about it, is probably the main reason I’m not getting any questions from random co-workers and/or relatives about “So… why don’t you have kids yet??” because being a big homo also puts me outside of that Charmed Circle AND, up until very, very recently, would have meant that any children I did want to have would have been forbidden to me by the state due to lesbianism making one an unfit mother.

So, for all of these reasons, I was surprised and frankly put off by seeing “Let’s reclaim birth-giving as part of sexuality!”

And yet.

My culture tends to go really hard on the idea of separating “mother” and “whore” or – to put it more broadly – “virtuous woman who genders properly” and “unvirtuous woman who breaks femininity through her unladylike behaviour”.

All that ways that Black and Indigenous women are hypersexualized by white people, have their sexual consent ignored, have their children stolen from them in a million directly and indirectly lethal ways, have their motherhood disregarded or else treated as pathological or even parasitic. All the ways that poor women are characterized as slutty, how deliberate sexuality is cast as “low class”, how the lives of sexworkers of every gender, are treated as utterly disposable, how women with a history of sexwork, or sexual voraciouness, are often fired, or won’t be hired, how they lose class mobility and economic security if their sexuality is seen as not belonging to one specific male individual. How sexworkers have their kids taken away. How little girls are held responsible, and characterized as sluts, when grown adults rape them. How a million, zillion “sex after parenthood” books have to address the “but I’m a mom, I’m not supposed to want that…” element of getting your (monogamous, vanilla, hetero-married) sex life back once there are kids sleeping down the hall. The way that birth is sanitized in pop culture, having all the (vast, vast) sweating, bleeding, shitting, bodily messiness of it airbrushed right on out.

So it’s not entirely weird that one might want to write, or build into one’s spiritual practice, a reminder that “birth is part of sex”.

And it’s not weird that “Sex”, when defined as (among other things) the Creative Power of the Universe, would include the actual creation of other lives.

But it still felt really weird to run into this so directly.


Sliding back to Bespoken Bones for a bit, and the way that sacred sexuality can be related to ancestor veneration.

So, this is kind of two things.

Like, we have our ancestors of biology – the literal human, and otherwise evolutionary, lineages that resulted in our respective living human bodies. The story that Starhawk tells, in Earth Path about The Oldest Ancestors, and they way they shared breath, green to red to green, and the way we still do that with out plant-kingdom cousins every time we, ourselves, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. The way I wonder how my pre-Christian, and even just pre-Reformation (pre-machanized worldview) folk-Christianity-practicing, ancestors related to and with the other lives around them. The way my wife told me that she could smell the earth on my maternal grandfather – not in the sense of literal dirt, but in the sense that my mom’s dad, even after he stopped farming in his mid-60s, spent his whole life in a relationship with the ground under his feet. The way I can see my ancestors faces in my own reflection and in the ways people paint and draw me in their art classes.

That I wouldn’t be here if not for these specific chains of birth and sex and birth and sex and birth that have resulted in me, that continue to result in my nibblings and second generation cousins.

But there’s also our ancestors of spirit, to use (iirc) Lee Harrington’s term. What Katheryn Payne is talking about, in her Brazen Femme essay, “Whores and Bitches Who Sleep With Women”, when she asks “Do you know your lineage?”

The queer femmes who came before me and gave me words for what I am. The leather dykes and the femme dyke sex workers who kept a space for me to step into when so much of the rest of feminism was trying really hard to make us disappear. The second wave feminist, lesbian goddess worshippers whose writing – so much of it published right around when I was born – I found in my local public library and read over and over again in my teens. The poets, almost all of them queer as hell, who taught me how to be a poet. The kinky spirit workers and ordeal facilitators whose work introduced me to the whole realm of sacred sexuality that exists beyond the chalice and the blade.

Ancestors who I trace through communities of sexual affinity as much as I trace them through anything else.

So these are two ways that sex and ancestry are related to each other.


And then I listen to Lee Harrington’s interview with Pavani on this podcast, and he talks about making explicitly sexual offerings, on a regular basis, to spirits and deities who have traditionally watched over queer people or who have been called to in queer ritual and queer mysteries.

And I wonder if my own lady of sexual sovereignty would enjoy something like that (and then I get an immediate answer of Yes flashing through the back of my head, more than once, so… apparently I have something to add to my practices).

And then I wonder about my lady of queerness – who for Reasons that I’ll get to in a second – would also want something like this. And then I think about the ways that I recognize her as sensual, and recognize some of my interactions with her as sexual or sexually charged, but haven’t tended to think of her as explicitly a Goddess of Sex, even though she is both a goddess of queer desire AND a goddess of birth (and aiding in birth), which kind of does bring me back to that whole Iron Pentacle situation again. Oh, hai.

So that’s something to think about.


To take things (maybe?) a step farther:

Back in… late August, iirc, I got to take an online workshop with Lee Harrington about sex magic. One of the things that came up, however briefly, in the discussion was the possibility of using sex magic specifically as a battery for destructive magic. For letting go, for releasing (hahaha…) people or events or emotional/physical/somatic Stuff. Storm Faerywolf describes the point of orgasm as the moment when we enter into constant dance of creation-and-destruction-and-creation[1], so I can see how that would work.

And I think about this, and about the ways that sexual trauma can be intergenerational whether or not incest is a thing in your particular family.

I think about how, after a particular relative died, my grandmother felt at liberty to tell my mom The Family Secret (in-so-far as it was a secret, which apparently, not so much). And my mom told me.

And I thought: That explains a LOT.

I think about how, years and years and YEARS later, the ritual I did using sex magic to “puncture my tank” in order to free up space for a better relationship to my own sexuality unexpectedly, wound up including me making a heartfelt phone call, if you want to call it that, to my maternal great-grandmother (who at least knew me in life) and to her mother, my great-great-grandmother, and telling them:

This shouldn’t have happened to you. I’m glad I’m alive, and that I’m the person I am, and that I have you as ancestors, even though it means I also have a rapist as an ancestor, but that doesn’t make your rape your fault, it doesn’t mean you deserved it. And it doesn’t mean you deserved to have your mother-daughter relationships fucked up all the way down our whole family line. None of us deserved that, and that includes you. That shouldn’t have happened to you, and I’m sorry it did.

I really hope they heard me.

And I really hope they believe me.


… So.

Not exactly sex magic. But a ritual that involved it, and also involved talking to my biological ancestors. So… they can be combined. Apparently.

And then.

And then I take this a step farther. A step farther in a different direction, maybe, but still a step farther. And I think about age play. How being a Mommy, in the D/s sense, is having a net-positive effect on my own attachment Issues when my relationship with my Actual Mom was pretty fraught for about 3/4 of my life-to-date and has only recently started feeling comfortable after decades of feeling anything but. How, too, being in this explicitly sexual – and spiritually-sexual – relationship with someone who calls me “Mommy” is also potentially a path towards understanding and better-relating-to my Fetch, which is to say the part of my soul who is my inner child, my sexual self, and my shadow (all the parts of me I reject or keep hidden) all wrapped up in one gangly, adolescent-looking being.

Not entirely sure about that last bit, but… it feels relevant. It feels likely.

So I’m going with it.



Obviously this is all rambling Things And Stuff. But it was on my mind, and I wanted to talk about it. Maybe I’ll talk about it more later on.

But, for the moment, thank you for listening.



Ms Syren.


[1] Now I’m thinking of Neil Gaiman’s Endless, and how Destruction went off to build stuff, saying that every act of creation is also an act of destruction.

I’ve got a bunch of books on my shelf that have the “ecstasy” or “ecstatic” in their titles. Ecstasy Is Necessary. Ecstatic Witchcraft. Radical Ecstasy.
Ecstasy is – maybe, by one definition of ecstatic ritual (Adrian Harris and M. Macha NightMare[1]) – a means of reconnecting with the other-than-human world as well as with “the wisdom of the body”. A way of allowing oneself the vulnerability of deep connection with something else.
Which… When I pull on Esther Perel again, actually puts itself in opposition (dynamic tension?) with her idea of erotic as “The ability to stay connected to oneself in the presence of another”.
I’m… interested in a few things here. I’m interested in cultivating ecstatic states – even if I find the notion of all those blurred boundaries to be liiiittle scary – but I’m also interested in… how to build those kinds of deep connections without losing my sense of self.
I’ve experienced senses of timelessness – SM scenes that felt like 30-40 minutes and turned out to be 3-4 hours long. Dancing in a crowd for hours when, usually, I’m tired after a song or two – but I don’t know that I’ve experienced that kind of… self-dissolving connectivity that I think might be related to ecstatic states.
I’m signed up to the Explore More Summit (again) and, on Day One, I got to listen to the Nagoski Sisters talk about connection as a cure for burnout. And they described something that they called “the magic trick” – getting 300 very intense university students to sing “Let It Go” together in a lecture hall – and which I recognized as an ecstatic experience. I really appreciated how they sort of… gave an ingredients list for “ecstatic experience” (without ever once calling it that, because though they are both PhDs, neither of them is a religious scholar) and then talked about what happens during those experiences, neurologically. One of them (Emily) said that ecstatic experiences are such a literal experience of connectivity with The Other (<– I’m paraphrasing very hard right there) that there’s a neurological bridge that happens between you (The Other could be other humans participating in the same rock concert, it could also be a deity, or more than one. There are options) such that your minds are not entirely inside your own bodies during those experiences.
Which is HELLA COOL!
(Just be being a big nerd there for a second).
I keep thinking about how, like, Brené Brown talks about the way shame and connection are the two ends of the vulnerability spectrum. How easy it is for me to flip into shame and how hard it is for me to stay with connection.
And I wonder if there’s something in here, in “practicing ecstasy[2]”, that can… help?
Look. Ages ago, Andrea Zanin wrote a blog post about the energetic exchange that happens – intentionally or not – when our skin is broken by someone else. (It popped up on my timeline the other day, which is what’s got me thinking of it now).
As a blood-play top, I “puncture [other people’s] tank” through cuttings and piercings (and I would include brandings here, too, tbh) with a fair amount of intentionality. The content of that intention varies wildly. From “I’m actively keeping specific types of my own energy out of the mix here” (because I’m running a “tasting table” for people who’ve never been pierced before, and want to see what it’s like, but didn’t necessarily sign up for a side-order of my personal dominance and sadism) all the way to “every cut I make in this stylized lotus chakra image over your sternum is actually me energetically opening up your heart and putting Ms Syen’s Special Blend of Self directly into you” (because we both want that level of connection and intimacy and this will strengthen the bonds that are already there).
While I’m not one to pierce myself – let alone let someone else do it, at least not outside of a blood-test situation – there are definitely other ways of piercing my own tank.
I can’t help thinking that this is one of the reasons why being on the receiving side of penetrative sex is such a difficult thing for me (at least some of the time). How it can be restorative and wonderful, but can also leave me feeling worse than before, if I’m experiencing it while feeling shaky or “leaky” or disconnected already.
I know I’ve done solo sex using a toy to get inside myself, and felt just awful after the fact – probably due to the headspace I was in when I started.
But I’m wondering if I can… if I can use this whole “pierce your own tank” thing, by using toys on myself, to release some of the shame-stuff I’m holding onto – just let it leak out – and intentionally fill the resulting space back up with something more positive, more connective.
It may or may not help me be more receptive, or more open to ecstatic experiences, but I figure, if nothing else, it’s worth a shot.
Notice Pleasure: Skin brushing skin. Rubbing noses. Chocolate truffle ice cream. Hot sunshine through a winter window. Making out. The way glass will hold the heat of my body, the reminder that I’ve got all that warmth inside me. The arch of someone’s back. Being able to move and rise, even when I’m stiff and sore, with something approaching grace.
Ms Syren.
[1] The above is a paraphrasing of a quotation I found here which, I think is lifted from their essay “New and Alternative Religions in the United States: Ritual and Neopaganism” in Gallagher’ and Ashcraft’s Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America).
[2] How? Singing? Dancing? Harvesting wild fruit? Star-gazing, falling into the northern lights? How much of this is ecstasy and how much of this is wonderment and how much overlap is there between the two? And, maybe more to the point, how much is it possible to do this on one’s own?

At the moment, between knitting and sewing and cooking and trying to write a novel, I’m working my way through reading Radical Ecstasy. I’m not quite halfway through, but I wanted to talk about some stuff that’s coming up.
Radical Ecstasy was published about ten years ago – it’s an oldy but a goody, as they say – and it’s about using S/M techniques to reach ecstatic states.
… Sort of.
It’s about rough sex as religious/spiritual experience;
It’s about building western style tantra techniques into kink and pain-play scenes;
It’s about sado/masochism as sex/magic as sacred/mystery;
It’s about sex and kink and woo.
Right up my alley in other words.
I love the woo that I find in my leather community. I love the discussions that come up at leather women’s brunch, talking about a particular colour of blue and how it matches from person to person to person even though it shows up in different ways and for different reasons, it means the same thing. The way people get cuttings or brandings to commemorate something important to them. The way we can have quiet conversations about I think I might be a vampire and where to find sustainable sources of food.
I love listening to Lee Harrington talk about energy and sacred sexuality on his podcasts, and poking my head into the kinky spirit-workers’ blogosphere to see what the Tashlins and other folks of that ilk are up to. I love Barbara Carrellas’ work on ecstatic states as necessary to human well-being.
But trying to translate that work into my own life is… harder for me than I was expecting.

Again and again, the message comes back to me: Slow Down!
And, again and again, I ignore it. I rush and push; reach for the vibrator and forget to breath; try to move too fast out of fear that I’ll run out of energy, run out of steam, before I can get her into the Blue; try to hit those high notes without warming up first; lose patience with myself and flip my girl so that she doesn’t have to wait (and wait, and wait, and wait) for me to maybe get off. Embarrassed by my less-than-reliable “results”, as if there had ever been any goal beyond getting each other naked and hot, awake and aroused, hooked into each other with all our nerve endings singing.
I have to slow down.
I have to push through (or away from) the shame and the fear of not having enough or being enough, of wanting too much or not being able to follow it all the way through.
I have to remember that she’ll crave, in her body, the pain that feeds me if I work her skin up to it sloooooowly. I have to remember that I will have the energy reserves to keep it up if I actually give myself a warm-up, too.
There’s vulnerability here. In the slowness, in the warming up and working up. The fearsome chance that I’ll crack my voice, get too tired, resent the amount of time/work/energy this is taking/draining from me… and not see it through. That it, or I, won’t be as good as I once was.
A zillion years ago, I read The Mists of Avalon. This is relevant, I promise. There’s a point in the story where the main character has been away from her Practice for a number of years and is finally trying to get back into it, to get it back into her. During this time, she has to count “painfully, on her fingers” in order to remember which direction she needs to be facing on which day, in order to work her daily devotions back into her muscle memory, her body.
This feels like that.
The fear of Doing It Wrong, of not being good enough, of having lost “too much”, of not being able to do X or Y or Z “anymore” just because I’m rusty. The shame around needing to relearn this technique, that breath, that patience with myself. The fear that, if I let myself open up, that I’ll just cry and cry and cry and not find ecstasy, not find my power, not find joyful release… just fall into a bottomless pit of grief and not be able to pull myself out unless I stop feeling again.
This is, I think, clearly about more than “just sex” at this point. But it’s all tied up together. Sex, death, music, ritual, orgasm, scene, power, magic… It’s all part and parcel of the same flow. And I think a lot of it, a lot of getting it back and making it something I can reach for without a lot of angst, comes back to breath and patience, to slowing down. To having the will to wait it out, to warm myself (and my partner) up appropriately. To open myself, with each breath, unblock and unfreeze and let wonder back in. Let magic come through again.

Elsipogtog – What You Can Do

This is just a signal-boost.
I’ve sent my letter (via email) to NB Premier David Alward, as per the general request of Idle No More:
Express your concern over the government and RCMP’s actions against the Mi’kmaq.
New Brunswick Premier – David Alward
Email: premier@gnb.ca
Phone: (506) 453-2144
Fax : (506) 453-7407

I CC’d the (NDP) Premier of Nova Scotia and Dominic LeBlanc (MP for the area, who – like the New Brunswick College of Family Physicians – has called for a moritorium on fracking exploration due to concerns about health risks) in the hopes that they’ll put some pressure on Premier Alward. No idea if that’ll work, but I figure it’s worth a try.
I’ve also signed this petition, and you can, too.
No One Is Illegal has more information on solidarity actions and links to reports on the anti-fracking blockade near Rexton, NB.

So, y’all are about to get cross-posted to death, so please bear with me on this one.
I just had a lovely chat/consult with life-coach and fellow Woo Person, Sofia Wren, talking about energy blocks, life goals, and Pulling It All Together.
What I said to her was that – to boil down my rambling into something a little more coherent – I have my fingers in a lot of pies, and I want to keep doing all of them… but I also feel a little scattered and a lot like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing… And what I’m looking for is, basically, way to reframe my million scattered elements so that I can see how they all dovetail and fold together and slot into place to form a cohesive whole (AKA: My Career).
Something that was really neat to see her picking up on was that, when I think about “My Career”, even when I do imagine actually make some sort of reliable annual income from it, what I’m thinking of isn’t “money”, it’s “connection”. I don’t want to be a writer like Stephen King or a performer like Madonna. I want to be like Cat Valente and Holly Black. I want to be like s00j and Heather Dale.
My two big take-aways from my wee, free (thank you!) introductory coaching session were:
1) Clean out your heart and your throat (and I get a little bit of pressure in my throat when I write that, so hey) chakras, ‘cause your passions are right in there[1].
2) Integrate sex-as-nature and body-as-nature and food-as-nature. This was a really neat observation/piece-of-advice which, combined with the above observation about connection, led me to the idea of career-as-ecosystem, both in the sense of (a) an ecosystem is thrives when it has a lot of variety in it (no monocultures for me!), and (b) I don’t want to be in competition with other people doing the similar things to me; I don’t want to be taking food out of Lee and Andrea’s mouths if ever I wind up on a lecture circuit about polyamoury and consensual-power-dynamics (just as a for-instance). I want to be part of an ecosystem that is thriving.
That’s what I’ve got to work with, while I’m working on the novel, the locavore cook-book/memoire, the D/s-related essays, the chapbooks, the jewelry, the Making Of Things, the keeping of my house, the search for my Forever Home and its Garden, and all the zillion other little things I have on the go at any (every) given time.
I was lucky and got to have one of her free coaching sessions, which is wonderful. I happen to think she’s awesome, and I found the session helpful and also encouraging, so I’m passing her services along to all of you. Do go and have a look at what she offers both as a coach and on her blog.
Ms Syren.
[1] I am not surprised by this. Dammit, it really is all about the singing, isn’t it? Also, as a PS, when I did the above-linked throat-chakra-clearing meditation, I felt my mouth fill up with steam. What does that mean? Thoughts? Beuler? Anyone? It was an interesting side-effect, for sure.
NOTE: For other throat-clearing / chakra-clearing exercises try here, here, here, and here.

So there are a few conventions/conferences that I would really like to attend in the next year or so.
In the past, I’ve only attended (1) Convergence 8 (a fabulous and soul-restoring goth get-together that was – YAY – held in Montreal in 2002), (2) the first Canadian National Pagan Conference (Gaia Gathering) in Edmonton (where I had a lot of financial help, since I was presenting in a couple of areas and got a scholarship to help cover my food and accomodations), and (3) a couple of Leather Dyke events (Spring Fling and Unholy Harvest), both of which have spent most of their history in Ottawa (so I didn’t have to worry about the cost of food/transportation/accomodation while attending), but which are now held in Montreal and Toronto, respectively. I’ve also been to the Rainbow Health Ontario conference (hinto: call for proposals is now), but I work for them, and so it doesn’t really count from a financial perspective.
This year, for the first time, I’m going to be attending the FPAs in Toronto, including the Feminist Porn Conference – which has a huge number of panels and presentations that I really, really, REALLY hope don’t conflict with each other. That said, seeing as I’m attending while wearing a number of different, albeit often overlapping, hats… there will probably be a few places where I need to make some hard decisions.
Regardless of that, though, my excitement about this conference/convention, combined with what-all the twittersphere had to say about CatalystCon East, has got me thinking hard about attending both #ccon and one of the winter-scheduled Dark Oddyssey (either Surrender or Winterfire) conventions in the next year, year-and-a-half. I love the way both of those Cons blend different areas of interest for me – mixing kink and religious practice with sexwork and polyamoury; mixing accademics and activism with pornography and relationships – so I want to attend them, partially to see if they live up to my expectations (I hope so, but I also expect so), but mostly just to revel in the stew of it all. 🙂
When I said this to Ghost, she said “Well… Why don’t you?” and I answered, immediately, “I can’t afford to”. Just like that.
And then she reminded me that I could.
And she’s right. By the grace of one of my ancestors, I can. But the mere thought of doing so scares the heck out of me (to put it very mildly) because, typically, the way I hang onto money is to forget that I have it. To hide it in a sock under the matress and then attempt to forget that the sock is even there. I’m a bit like a squirrel hiding nuts in the hopes that I forget their exact location and so can only access them if I’m willing to do the work of hunting through every nook and cranny where they might have been stashed. (I do this with ice cream, too, although it’s not nearly so effective). I’m scared to death that if I start thinking of 4-didget-price-tag[1] events as “accessible” (to me, at least), I’ll start thinking of them as normal-accessible rather than as a “sometimes food”.
I mean, yes, I get all that stuff about how, if you want to build a reputations as, say, an internationally renouned bondage model, you have to start out by either (a) having a friend in charge of hiring the models for X photo spread in Y well-known fetish publication; or (b) getting your ass on the train and booking paid shoots all across the country in order to get your face/body/reputation out there. I get it that if you want to change your financial/social/physical “set point”, you have to start acting[2] like you’re already at it. I get that if I want to push my life in a particular dirrection, I have to first convince myself (or fake-it-til-I-make-it) that said direction is feasable and attainable. (I know. Half of this talk sounds like it should be on Urban Meliad, rather than here).
None the less, I have a really rough time convincing myself that it’s okay for me to spend large (for a given value of “large” that tends to fluctuate depending on my income) amounts of money on, well, anything at all, let alone something that will benefit me long-term but maybe seems frivolous (or even just “frivolous”) in the moment.
Things to think about and unpack, no question.
Ms Syren.
[1] Four didgets meaning for registration PLUS food, accomodation, and travel expenses. But still. O.O
[2] For a given value of “acting”. Don’t do anything stupid, kids.

So I finally finished Dark Moon Rising: Pagan BDSM and the Ordeal Path (ed. Raven Kaldera). What can I say about this book? Well, let me first give you some back-story on why I wanted to read it.
I am, somewhat perpetually, on a bit of a quest to “get my groove back”. More accurately put, I’m on a bit of a quest to figure out how to cultivate things like sexual ecstasy and “top space” (which has a variety of meanings, into-which I will surely go further in the next little while), so that pre-planning a date or a scene with (or for) my sweetie doesn’t tend to include questions around “But what if I get tired before it gets good for her?” or “What if I can’t get into my zone, and wind up feeling resentful?”
(Granted, while I worry about that stuff, it doesn’t tend to happen. What does happen, though, is that I will sometimes talk myself out of jumping my girl if I’m worrying about that stuff happening).
Basically, I’m looking for ways to reliably keep the energy flowing and building, and the desire to find actually techniques to help me do this has been growing in me, particularly over the last six months or so.

So… why Dark Moon Rising?

Well, quite some time ago, I picked up a copy of Dear Raven and Joshua (my review of-which is here), which talked about O/p relationships in a way that – thank goodness – really worked for me. Raven may be prone to blustering (which can be irritating), but he and I appear to occupy roughly the same area on the Service-Control spectrum, and it was a relief and a help to read about this stuff from a perspective that was both service-focused and taken well beyond the bedroom.
So Dark Moon Rising was kind of on my radar already because of that.

And then I started reading a bunch of Lee Harrington’s stuff – a fair amount of which focuses on the intersection of spirituality and sex[1]… and I started getting ideas. So when I found out that he’d contributed to Dark Moon Rising, along with a few other books that Raven’s edited, I figured it was time to give it a shot.

Dark Moon Rising is about Pagan BDSM. I had hoped, when I started reading it, that I was opening a book about bringing polytheistic, sex-positive, earth-centred spirituality and ritual/energetic techniques into BDSM. It’s not. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It’s about incorporating BDSM techniques and dynamics into your polytheistic, sex-positive, earth-centred spiritual practices and rituals. So, right off the bat, it wasn’t what I had gone in hoping for. That doesn’t, however, make it a bad book. So let’s pull it apart.

Dark Moon Rising is cut into six different sub-sections of varying lengths. Part One is a basic intro, including a section wherein a collection of kinky terms are defined with regards to how they’re going to get used in the book. I confess, I skimmed this bit.
Part Two is a series of essays looking at how the tools of pain play – everything from suspension bondage to flesh-pulls to less S/M-related stuff like fisting, tantra, and energy work – can be linked to, and used in, Pagan ritual. Some parts of this section were… a bit of a stretch for me. I wasn’t particularly interested in a rundown of which toys could potentially correspond to which elements when casting a circle, for example. For me, it felt like “filler”.
But, then, I didn’t come to the book looking for ways to incorporate BDSM into wiccan-influenced sacred sexuality. The subsection called “The Invisible Toybox” was rather more what I was looking for: Suggestions on how to charge your toys, or push your aura into them, or similar in order to deliver more (or less) bang for your buck. A handy trick if you’re a top who gets physically tired fairly easily. 😉

But things really didn’t start getting interesting for me until Part Three. This section included a few really beautiful sample rituals (not what I was after, but a great way to see how Sacred Kink can work in a group – or not-so-group – ritual context), but what really got my attention were the sections on “The Way of the Ordeal Master”, “Ritual Catharsis”, and “Sex Magic from the Top Perspective”. Those sections offered some thoughts about, and descriptions of, how to get into a headspace where you are running the scene, and comparing it to getting yourself into a headspace where you’re running a ritual, as well as a bit of a road map of where you (may) have to “go” in order to get into that headspace. While I haven’t tried it in practice yet, just having that map has been a help in terms of understanding what it’s Okay to do.
The description of the four gates to the underworld actually made me cry. I’d like to read more on that subject – like a whole entire book worth of more (hint hint…) – exploring how to follow the red thread of fear or shame or what-have-you into the place your bottom is afraid to venture but badly needs to go… and then how to bring them back up again (which I could really do with learning. Seriously…)
So Part Three had some definitely Good Bits in it.

Part Four looked at D/s from a spiritual perspective. It’s a collection of essays – really interesting essays, actually – talking about things like: The difference in how one trains one’s property when one has an animistic worldview versus when one has a mechanistic worldview, and What it’s like to be the dedicated servant of someone who is, himself, sworn to serve a particular deity. There are also a couple of sample Dedication Rituals that some folks might find helpful. This section includes a poem that really hit home for me – spoken from the perspective of a submissive, it asks “Let me be useful. Use me, because to be put to good use is to be valued”. I need to remind myself of that, periodically, when it comes to my own Servant, so it was good to see it written out like that.

Part Five is a series of personal essays (and some poetry) from different authors, talking about the O/p relationships they have with their patron deities (wherein the deity is the Owner and they are the Property). Part Six is simply a concluding poem. I confess I was kind of “meh” about it, and would have preferred that the poem be included with another essay. But that’s just me.

All in all, I found this book had enough Good Stuff in it, in terms of what I was looking for, to have been worth picking up. Am I glad I bought the e-version (which is waaaaaaay less expensive than the bound version, fyi, when bought through the publisher’s website)? You betcha. But I am glad that I bought it.

Next up, I’ll probably dive into Barbara Carrellas’ book Ecstasy is Necessary, which I have in hard-cover, and then move onto Sacred Power, Holy Surrender, which is about living in a spiritual power dynamic. That said, having read Dark Moon Rising, I’m kind of leaning towards Lee Harrington’s Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths Of Bdsm And Beyond, which is looking like it might be a neat one for actual techniques and altered (altared?) states of consciousness.

Ms Syren.

[1] For a given value of “sex” which could be “kink” or “power exchange” or “S/M” or “polyamoury” or a variety of other things that actually go rather beyond rubbing various body-parts together.

So, as previously mentioned, I’ve started a personal blogging project that involves posting on a kinky/sex-positive/feminist/queer/etc topic of my choice, at regular intervals, while basing my topics/titles on the progression of the alphabet. Part of this is to make sure that I post here regularly. The other part, though, is to give me something a little more light-hearted (or not, depending on the week), to put up here in terms of content.

See… Look. “B is for Beauty” is my chosen theme for this post. It’s really tempting to make this a post about “standards of beauty” or working in an industry where, to one degree or another, one is expected to fit those particular standards (Lee Harrington’s post got me thinking about that, actually). But, honestly, I spent a significant portion of last Thursday writing a post so bitter and grouchy that, probably, it will never see the light of day. I’ve been feeling a little “burnt out” (despite not having done “all the work” for any particular Community Event, beyond my poetry showcase, in over eight months), feeling a bit like all I do is knit-pick, find fault, and complain. And, on the one hand, that’s What You Do. “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention”, as the old adage goes. But, on the other hand, I’m sick of being angry all the time and would like to focus more on what’s beautiful in my life.

Thense the Greater Granola Blog Project and, thense, B is for Beauty.

I feel like I’ve been walling myself off, avoiding vulnerability, drawing up a false set of options where Option A is “be an event organizer[1]” and Option B is “be a hermit” and there is no third option for “participate” or “create casual social environments in your own space”.
In retrospect, this is perhaps not the healthiest way to be looking at my social life.

So this is my goal: I’d like to focus on The Good Stuff.
I’d like to go poking deeper into the magical and mystical aspects of S/M and D/s (this is mostly being done through (a) experiments in energy work, and (b) reading books – which I will discuss on here as I read them). I’d like to reconnect socially with friends who, lately, I’ve only been seeing in Work and Protest contexts – or as we’re both hurrying in opposite directions on our various vital errands. I’d like to have more dinner parties and share more food with people (I do a LOT of canning in the name of fun and a “negabucks” type of economy. My kitchen is slowly being taken over by jars). I’d like to push for change – small, very localized change, I know, but still – through actions and activities that add to the joy and compassion in the world (instead of just writing strongly-worded letters to MPs whose politics push all my rage buttons).

To that end, also trying to up the percentage of Syrens content that is centered on Stuff I Think Is Cool and Thought Provoking (on the themes to-which this blog is dedicated) to balance out the posts where I’m writing about Stuff I Think is Enraging and/or Problematic.

To the end, a short list of things that start with B:

Bodyslides – Like a massage but rather more involved. 😀
Breakfast – A lovely way to start the morning after, and a great excuse to eat Bacon and Berry-slathered Brioche
Books – I just picked a couple. In addition to Dark Moon Rising (which I got a while ago), I recently picked up Sacred Power, Holy Surrender: Living a Spiritual Power Dynamic and Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic. I’m looking forward to reading them, and am thinking of adding Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths Of Bdsm And Beyond to my list in order to round out the beginnings of my wee collection.
Bondage – Not really my thing as I enjoy holding people steady/in-place through (a) command, or (b) the awesome power of my Body, but it can be very, very pretty. Also, it’s useful for preventing too much flailing on the part of someone you’re hitting with a stick.
Bastinado – For people who love (a) feet, and (b) hitting other people with sticks. I should really do this one more often. 🙂

This has been your speedy post for the day.

Ms S.

[1] I’m not sure where, along the way, I went from feeling like “If I want there to be X type of event available for me to attend, and there isn’t one, I’d better get off my ass and make one happen” to feeling like “If I’m not organizing ummpteen different events, then I’m somehow letting down my community/ies”… but it seems to have happened. Time to chill out a little, I think.

Hey folks.

So.  As I mentioned in my first post, I am a Goddess Animist and an EcoPagan, and thus, also quite wild about seasonal eating, permaculture, balcony gardening, and making food from scratch.  And it’s mid-July, which means that there is a LOT of fresh produce available, both in my garden and around the neighbourhood (to the tune of parks full of Service Berry and Hawthorn trees, and scrub land full of wild sweet apples, for example).

So, where I’ve been for the past little while, is out in the streets, picking sour cherries, service berries, and whatever else I can get my greedy little hands on (including, woops, accidentally killing half my cucumber plant when, while cutting a cuke off the vine, I mistook the vine for a leaf stem and – snick – cut half the plant off, near the base), and then experimenting with jam (service berry — does not appear to have worked too well — and sour cherry, which has turned out delicious) and, soon (haha), cucumber garlic-dill pickles.

My thoughts are mostly circulating around my balcony garden, where to find available free fruit in the neighbourhood, and how to make various types of preserves.  It’s a good place to be.  Gardening on the balcony makes me happy, and I love being able to sit outside with the plants growing all around me.  And every time I make jam or salad or tea with ingredients that I grew and/or gathered, I feel like I’m Contributing To The House Hold.

Seriously.  As a freelance writer who, by and large, write poetry and porn, and whose (very low) income is generated mostly through recipe-writing and art-modeling (and, potentially, porn), I basically look like a stay-at-home-wife, at least under a certain light.

Which is not a bad thing for me to be.  I like being my own boss, and my sweetie (who is also my collared servant) is proud to work to support me like this.  So life is pretty good.

But where am I going with this?  Oh, right.  Back before I lost the Original Blog, I wrote a post about Slow Food and Feminism.  Slow food, or Sole food, as the case may be, is all about eating local, in season, and – frequently – making stuff from scratch.  All of which is faboo, except that who, in a given house-hold, is expected to take on the majority of the food collection and preparation?

Given the frequency with-which laments about the state of our cultural eating habits tend to pin the blame squarely on Mom, on Feminism, on Women Joining[1] The Work Force, it’s safe to say that the assumption is that women should be shouldering this, on top of everything else[2].

But here I am, able to do this.  I have time.  I have an uber-flexible schedule (which I’m trying to make slightly less-flexible in the name of Spending Time With My Loved Ones) and I work from home (which means the time I might spend Playing Solitaire, grabbing a coffee, or chatting around the water-cooler, can be spent, instead, stirring boiling vinegar or watering the beans).  So I may as well try it, right?

Let me tell you about my mother.  My relationship with her is pretty fraught.  She Worries about me, even when I’m doing things – like being a “stay-at-home wife” and Contributing To The House Hold via gardening and food preserving – that, when she did them during my formative years, were A-Okay and something to be proud of.

I think she means well.  At least in theory.  Which doesn’t mean that we get along very well, most of the time, but that’s how things go.

Anyway.  As I said, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, for most of my under-18 life.  She’d work minimal part-time jobs, sometimes, that were easy to work around my dad’s work-schedule and, later, our school schedules (like retail, or selling real estate, or starting a local Saturday farmers’ market where she sold bouquets of marsh flowers, fresh-baked bread (12 loaves, every Friday night), and baskets of produce), which rarely brought in heaps of cash, but which did help cover Extras (like funds to fly from New Brunswick to Southern Ontario, to visit the grandparents and the great-grandmother, for example) and which gave her plenty of time to do her Full Time Job, which was us: Me and my siblings, plus managing the house and working the micro-farm that was our seriously enormous garden.

So, I learned that home-based work had value from pretty early on.  In part because my mom pretty-much hammered it into our heads that what she was doing had value[3], but also because, even at three years old, I understood that it was the garden that kept us fed over winter.

My little balcony garden, with its leaf-lettuce and cherry tomatoes, is not going to do that.  But, when I work it, when I water my tiny garden, when I make part of our meal from that lettuce and those tomatoes, when I make preserves out of fruit that I foraged for free… I know I’m doing something valuable, something that helps us, as well as doing something I enjoy, that enriches my own relationship with the land and how I feed us.

Anyway.  That’s my prattle for the moment.

– Cheers,

– Ms Syren

[1] Meaning, of course, white, middle-class women; and meaning, of course, the monetized work force.

[2] Don’t even get me started on how much child care, health care, elder care, cleaning services, cooking services, and all the rest of it that women do, and – more to the point – are expected to do, and are counted upon to do, for free.  Good grief…

[3] Possibly because she was trying to convince herself, granted, but also possibly because she had grown up being a farmer, so of course that kind of work had value.  Duh.