hit to heal

I’m coming down from Xplore 2012, which did even more in its last 3 hours than it did in its prior 3 days.  I’m not really one for play parties, generally – too much of the general public to negotiate and not quite my style of play – but the space created by Xplore (and definitely the free ticket as my reward for volunteering) made me feel that if ever there was a time, it was probably then.  It was.

You walk away from these sorts of gatherings with a fair bit to sift through, more of it personal than professional (though often for those who work with something this intimate, those things are hard to distinguish from one another).  I had a beautiful 10-hour drive to do some of that yesterday, and carrying all of that stuff down the Hume with me was pretty intense.  This was trips inside of trips inside of trips, this thing, and a couple of those occurred in the wee hours in a dinky bar in industrial Marrickville.  Before they disappear from the forefront of my consciousness, I want to put them to text.

When you navigate other people’s sexualities for three solid days, you absorb a hell of a lot.  Not all of it is yours.  Some people’s energies are harder to interface with than others.  Let alone trying to work out what to do with your own.  I almost got back on the road that night, planning to skip out on the party, but as Sunday afternoon went on and I started to hit the wall and break open a little, it became very un-sensible to stuff it into the car with me and take it flying down the highway at midnight.  So I went to the play party with the intention to let some of that out.

When you ask for what you want, you are more likely to get it.  I made it clear to as many people as would listen that I’d consider it a good night if I left with a few marks.  They came as bruises and scratches in one of the most nurturing BDSM experiences I’ve had.  Every woman involved was queer, feminist, and a couple also are or have been sex workers.  There was something very valuable in that, for me.  Something very safe.  Like I knew exactly with whom I was negotiating and that their top priority was my care.  They each hit me as if it were so.

…..

Red rope binds my wrists and tethers me to a ceiling beam.  There is enough space in front of me to fit a person, and never am I without someone to hold space with me, to be a real point of human contact, to hold my hands, to reflect my experience back at me, to bear witness.  The process of tying is accompanied by very clear negotiations: I will rate the intensity of the strokes to their giver on a scale of one to eleven.  I will safeword with red, yellow, green.  I will be asked regularly about how I am feeling.  I will receive strokes of the flogger from multiple people.  I will become a puddle, and when I have reformed I will fall at the feet of the leader of this scene and worship the boots they stood in as they did so.  I understand exactly what is going to happen and I consent wholly.  I possibly welcome an extra bit of umph behind every swing with the smile that often accompanies me into a scene.  She’s smiling?  Let’s tell her how beautiful it is, and then beat it out of her. 

The first stroke is hard.  My threshold will need to be high, so I move it there.  I grin through the opening blows with that excited feeling you get when you feel like you might have to squeal.  I harness that, focus it, close my eyes and allow the peace of each stroke to pass through me.  The rhythm is slow, and there is a lot of time to spend with each sting.  The effort of moving that impact through my body becomes something I have to concentrate on, and that’s where I begin to enter that meditative, hyper-vulnerable space.

I carry all of my weight in my shoulders.  Often they knot and curl around my heartspace and I have to bring a lot of awareness to them in order to open up my heart.  This is sometimes a painful process.  Strong blows to my shoulders are a good way to bring me to tears.  Salt water healing. 

The flogger changes hands and I am told how incredible I am and how pleasing it is to hit me.  The woman at the other end of the whip now is ancient, is deeply connected with history, with the earth, with the alchemic, the mythic, the esoteric.  I can feel that in her strokes, some of which don’t even reach out to my flesh but are felt just as sincerely.  Behind my closed eyes now is the image of a timeline stretching back into forever, and I remember that it is her tradition that’s being passed onto me as I train as a pro domme.  All of this engages me deeply, connects me to these women around me and the wisdom we share.  The sobs are in my shoulders and I breathe into them.  My breath is a channel now, through which I am allowing tears and blood and neurochemicals to flow.  It keeps me conscious of my boots on the ground.  I need this now.

I close my eyes and let it leak out over my skin.  One woman, a woman who knows, is so pleased to see my tears.  She wants to see them fall to earth.  She knows what a healing space this is, she’s been there herself.  Shared wisdom. Another tells me how beautiful I am, how very strong, powerful.  Every word and every whip is an affirmation.  You are so beautiful.  You are so strong.  I am so loved.

And on it goes, and I dive into that reservoir from which the warm salt water comes, and I connect with everything there is to be sad about, to be grateful for, to feel alive with.  I love the intention with which each of these women cares for me, draws from within me, brings blood to the surface of my skin.  I do not know where I go, for a time, but it is dark in there, a velvet dark that I could fall into like a k-hole.  I return to find that blood to have been drawn out, and that means the trip is over.  No blood on the whip, yanno?  I know.  And I am brought down (up?) from this do-not-know-where-i-go and I begin to pick up the various pieces of my bodily experience – snot, tears, breath, sense of the skin.  I am embraced, I am buried in the scents and warmth and heartbeats of these women who heal, and when I have been appropriately nuzzled I bring myself to the ground to give thanks with lips on leather and fingertips over buckles and my breath on the blackness of those boots.

Thanks to XI, Ana, EL, and Zahra for this.

xplore 2012

I’m on a little journey at the moment.  It’s not quite a holiday, but I’d really like one if your holiday house in such-and-such is a little untended.  A few days ago I began moseying up the coast from Melbourne to Sydney to attend Xplore in Sydney and to make some space in my brains.  I’ve finally landed in a reliably-welcoming queer house in Newtown, having parked my van in the backyard of a whole bunch of people I’ve never met, cooking pasta on a butane stove at 7:30am.  There’s a kitchen about three metres away, like a domestic one, in a house, but camping is romantic, yanno?

Xplore plays with a lot of different approaches to sexuality – some really pragmatic, and others much more spiritually-based.  I think I might be a sucker for this sort of gathering, which I didn’t really know until I attended Barbara CarrellasUrban Tantra training last year.  I find that the spaces created by a whole bunch of curious souls coming together to seek personal and professional development around sexuality to be a pretty supportive environment for me.  I like to be offered a perspective and to make the choice as to whether to try to adapt it to myself.  What I hope to gain from this is a few technical skills to add to my BDSM toolbox, some good body-play, and to be provoked.  Thus far, that’s happening.

One common criticism of these sorts of spaces, and one that I often hold myself, is that they can have a tendency towards the heteronormative, but I’m really finding that to be kept in check here by a few elements.  There is definitely a substantial queer presence here, and I find that to ground things quite a bit.  Having queer voices in these spaces keep things broad and open, and adds dimension to the understanding of every workshop on offer.  Another element that seems to contribute to this space is that this is a kinky space, and if you’ve ever had anything to do with kink culture, you know that openness and frequent checkings-in with reality are essential.  Last evening I found myself in the ‘practice space’ of Tristan Taormino‘s Female Ejaculation workshop surrounded by mostly-queer duos and trios going at their practice while other folks talked glands and ducts, and my heart swelled three sizes.  I am not personally very plugged into queer community, but fuck I’m grateful that it exists.

Something that’s been coming up a lot lately in my work, particularly in professional BDSM, is the topic of ‘performance’ and performative identities.  Stepping back from the sex industry for a couple of years gave me the opportunity to go light on that issue for a little while, which was most rejuventaing.  But it’s reared its Medusa head again, proving itself to be a recurring theme, and one that is definitely addressed by the content of Xplore.  I’m developing some thoughts and words on that now, so watch this space…