Tag Archive: ritual

Okay. So it’s been a couple of weeks, as planned, and I’m continuing my Notice Pleasure practice/series. The point of this is to get myself to a place where I can reliably either (a) just not freak out, but more likely (b) get myself out of a shame/shut-down/panic kind of situation during sex. I want sex to be fun. I want to be able to bottom sexually and enjoy it. And part of that is trying to develop some shame-resilience by doing an explicitly sex-and-pleasure-focused gratitude practice (see the actual Notice Pleasure section at the bottom of these posts) that is also kind of part mindfulness practice as well. It’s making a point of noticing what feels good/hot/yummy/sexy/fun/pleasurable. It’s making a point of paying attention to that and (hopefully – this is definitely a work in progress) following those tasty feelings towards more of them. With any luck, this will help me develop a bit of a compass or a roadmap or…something so that, if I get a little lost while engaging with a partner, I have a better shot at finding my way back to the fun, the pleasure, and the connection[1] without derailing everything due to Feeeeelings.
And, like everything I do, this is basically a practice that mixes blogging (processing my experiences enough to turn them into words), magic, and physically doing The Thing.
My wife tells that I do “cognitive behavioural witchcraft” and… she is not wrong.
Anyway. So: What have I been doing for the past two weeks in the name of magic, blogging (well… not so much the blogging, that’s happening right now), and physically doing The Thing?
Whelp. Due, in substantial part, to these experiences, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga (thence the alphabet prompt of “lift and lengthen”).
I’ve been making a point of directing my attention to my perineum and doing Bottom Breathing (this sort of relaxed “open” deep breaths that people do as a matter of course while sleeping, and that “engages the pelvic floor”), both in ritual contexts and just as a sort of mindfulness practice that I do multiple times a day.
I’ve been doing (for a few days) instructed yoga, via youtube. Doing routines that the instructor designs with one’s root chakra or pelvic floor or hips-and-heart in mind. Doing Moon Salutation[2] (and also dancing to pop music) in the mornings, because I wake up in my body when I dance or otherwise unlock the knot at the base of my spine.
I feel silly as heck saying this, but I’ve been… “jerking off mindfully” (I’ll probably talk more about that when I do the “M” prompt, so… sit tight, I guess), if I can put it that way, doing something that is sort of related to Mula Bandha but isn’t exactly that.
As far as actually “lengthening and lifting” go, other than striving for a really good, grounded lift when I’m doing poses like Bridge and Bow, I’m trying – and often failing – to keep a bright, dicernable connection between my root chakra and my heart chakra when I’m doing, in particular, seated or squatting poses.
I’m finding that I can either keep my focus in the bowl of my pelvis OR I can put my focus higher up. But trying to keep a connection going is difficult, and sometimes… gives me weird, cramping shoulder pain??
Which, tbh, is reminding me of the body feelings I had twenty years ago when singing started getting hard.
Anecdote Time!
So. I have sung all my life. There is a recording of me, as a toddler, successfully and intentionally carrying a recognizable tune.
I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. (When you’re seven, singing lessons are as much about learning to love the learning process & keeping music fun as much as they’re about actually learning technique). Seven years later, in my early teens, I switched teachers, and started shifting – because my body was literally, finally, getting physically mature enough to handle doing this – towards a more intense and thoughtful practice.
Seven years after that, my Dad died of cancer, and about a year after that, I stopped singing.
Not just “I stopped taking singing lessons”.
I. Stopped. Singing.
And I only really went actually silent for about six months.
But that was still pretty close to twenty years ago, and coming back to my voice has been a difficult and on-going process that has a lot of self-consciousness around “making noise” and shame around having “left” in the first place tied up with it.
One of the things that happened… around that… was that I found I couldn’t take proper singers’ breaths without getting a sharp pain in/across my middle trapezius.
Now, I have no idea what was going on there.
But it still happens.
When I try to deep breathe low into my abdomen and fill my lungs up all the way, while also trying to maintain good, upright singing (or “lengthen and lift through the chest”) posture, I am still getting that sharp pain in my traps.
Maybe this is due to just… not breathing right? Like, am I over-filling my upper chest instead of filling my lungs all the way down? Maybe I need to engage my core muscles more?
I have no idea. But it’s a thing and I’m noticing it happening during these yoga routines when I’m trying to sit up tall AND keep my roots in the ground at the same time.
Hopefully I’ll get better at this with time and practice?
Anyway. That’s what I’ve been doing, for the most part. I’ve also been doing some experiments with using anointing oils[3] on my body, asking for things I want to take (in the Wheel Of Consent sense of the word “take” – see link – which is not the same as asking for things that I want to receive, because in these instances I’m still doing the doing, but it’s still an important thing to keep up), and trying to be more active in my glamour practice which, itself, pertains to the whole Union Of Opposites thing I talked about here.
But, mostly, it’s been yoga.
Notice Pleasure: Puddles of warm sunshine coming through the kitchen window. The sound of water running in the street as the snow melts. The thwack of flogger-falls against skin. Naked snuggling. Touching feet. The joy that courses through me when I’m dirty-dancing with the door-frame for support and able to throw my weight around because I can trust my house to not fall apart on me and let it take my weight.
Ms Syren.
[1] That’s Brenee Brown again. The whole “spectrum of vulnerability” where shame is at one end and connection is at the other, and where – essentially – feeling down on myself because of Whatever is going to impede my connection to other people. Which, like… I “do” sex with partners because I want emotional (and physical, but my main love-language is touch, so the physical is still emotional for me) connections with them.
[2] For reasons that have nothing directly to do with my sexual-emotional health, but which involve a lot of squats and back bends and pelvic lifts, all of-which should help my lumbar region get stronger and, ideally, less constantly-in-pain. And that’s not going to hurt my quest to more readily and easily access my own Sexy. So.
[3] This is what I do with my perfumes, now that I tend not to wear them out of the house. Now You Know.

Gifted Leather (some musings)

So. Andrea Zanin has a post about earned leathers that went up back in 2007. Having just spent a weekend having a lot of discussions about leather identity (and also attending a writing workshop, which might have something to do with this, too), I’m inclined to talk a little bit about leather – as in leather clothing – within the context of Leather (as in leather culture).
One thing that came up in those discussions was that, as a culture, Leather has symbol sets, rites of passage & other rituals, and in some cases even straight-up religiosity built into it. This is a thing that cultures do, so it’s no surprise.
We have collaring (and un-collaring) ceremonies. People earn club patches or caps. And we give leather.
We take this stuff – these marvelously durable, frequently (though not always) practical, articles of clothing – and we give them to each other in ceremony, imbued with meaning that goes way beyond “these will keep your feet dry in the rain”.
You can read it a bit like this, maybe:
“You have worked hard. Here is some hard-working gear that can stand up to the wear you’ll put it through”.
“You have created something that lasts. Here is clothing to recognize what you’ve made. It will last, too.”
But… Look, kids, I’m a writer. I tell stories. Sometimes I even tell good ones.
Stories about who we are and where we came from and how we live (or should live, or can live) in the world, these are mythology (“In the beginning, there was the Old Guard…” and “Once upon a time, a plauge ravaged our village”), they are the cosmology and axiology that reiterate and reinforce our values and our understanding of how we (as individuals, and as a community) fit into the world. When we give leather, when we recieve leather, when we inherit leather, even when we buy leather (zomg) for ourselves, we are telling stories about who we are, where we come from, and how we fit in the world.
I can give you the leather coat he wore for forty years before the cancer or the depression won that war, and the story that goes with it might be “As long as you are wearing the skin that touched his his skin, he will never really be gone”.
I can put a collar on you so that you feel my hand on the back of your neck, the expectation and the protection both, even when you’re not sitting at my feet.
I can give you my old army boots and tell a story that goes “I am with you every step of the way”.
I can grant you the privilege of wearing a Magdaleine’s Army club patch, and the story I tell you is “You belong; You are one of us”.
I can wear my leather – my impractical pencil skirt that I found at value village, my “genuine leather” very high heels that I bought from a certain online mega-retailer, the jacket I picked up at last year’s MLO garage sale – and access the iconography of “this is what a leather dyke looks like”. It can be a beacon of acceptance for someone who is worried that her choking fantasies mean she’s a Bad Feminist. Alternatively, it can announce at the dyke bar, sure as a black hanky, that I would be up for doing something rough in the ladies’ room. Either way, I’m making myself known to My People.
When my wife gave me a hat – bought at a store on Church Street that sold mass-produced leather gear for the kinky crowd – it became something special. Whenever people tell me they like my hat, I tell them who gave it to me. Because on its own, it’s just a hat – maybe even a slightly pretentious one – but from her hands, it’s a physical manifestation of our relationship: a counterpart to the collar I put on her years ago.
I can gift you with leather, the simplest of vests or the most elaborate, hand-sewn, made-to-measure garment, even just (“just”) a bracelet, and what I’m saying is this:
“This is my pride and gratitude made manifest. This is my arms around you when you are far away.”