In the underground of our natural wildland lives a being: our heat. This beautiful creature is our sensory nature, our sensual self, our creative power. It is our life force. And like all wild creatures, it has its own natural timings, desires, needs, and nutritive cycles.
This beautiful being is desirous, relational, connected, intuitive, curious, bonding, both primitive and longing to be tamed. It is responsive and deeply sensitive to all that involves the senses: sounds, tastes, scents, movements, textures, temperatures, skins, eye gazing, peace, quiet, beauty, desire, fireflies, coldness and darkness.
It is this underground aspect of a woman’s interior that has heat. But it is not only sexual desire, primitive and raw passions, it is sensuality, eroticism. It is an aliveness, a vitality, that goes beyond all boundaries of the rational, and enters the realms of infinite power and pleasure. It is mysticism. It is memory. Woman is mystic. Woman is memory itself. But like all underground fires, it has cycles too. It has various speeds and movements and shapes. It has highs and lows, fasts and slows. Our heat is not a state of sexual arousal – it is more than that: it is a state of intense sensory awareness and attunement to sensitivity, that includes our sexuality too, as well as all and everything else. In a way, it is our life force.
With this heat, we feel embodied and keep ourselves warm, feeling connected and purposeful. Even when it’s cold and we feel frozen, we can find a way to settle into ourselves, into the core of our heart, and listen to our voice deep within on how we can use some matchsticks to light up the flames of our stove, so that heat enwraps us our body once again.
This is also where our creativity is, where our divine is, and it is through these creative fires that we become inspired, expressive, artistic, poetic, lyrical and dancing.
Creativity is a shape-shifter and shape-changer. Like love, it too has various speeds and movements, and comes in many shapes and forms. It has its natural cycles too, and sometimes even if we think nothing is shaping on the surface, the soul of its hands is guiding the soul of our feet, beneath the earth that we walk, until one day it reaches out its hands through the mud, with temptation made of water, made of air, and merges with us. And then its becomes a painting, a meal, a song, a poem, a book.
All of our life is a creative force: tying the knots and sewing a dress, loving someone, tending to our garden and our clothes, helping a child rise when they fell on their knees, finding our own voice, cooking up a revolution, finding the beautiful words. Yes, yes, yes. All we do in life is of creative force. Love itself is a revolution bursting from our soul, bursting from the wildfires of our heart. Love for a man, a child, family, humanity, our land, our ideas, our passions. And like all wild things, our heat too is a creature that does not because it wants, but because it needs to. It must. It has no other destiny than to fulfill itself, its desire, and it does, always. Like love.
In The Feminine Mysteries of Love and Longing we discussed how love has two aspects or divine qualities of itself: the masculine and the feminine.
The masculine aspect of love is the fiery sword that becomes the action, the word, the seed, the penetrative power which initiates, which says “I love you. I want you. I need you.”
The feminine quality of love is the mystic. She is the yearning, the longing, the moist soil, the bottom of the wells, the wombed room, the cup to be filled, the tides pulling in towards herself, the desire, the dreaming. She is the memory itself. She whispers in a voice only the soul of her beloved understands and she says, “I am waiting for you. I am longing for you.”
She is nature itself, the good mud and fertile soil of earth. And he is the hands that dig in searching for her. Once he fills her with the waters of his love, her soil is now moist, ready to birth. And then comes love: the birth of a new soul, the soul of a newly formed relationship born of two, in whatever shape or form it is.
This gives us an important clue: we need to channel our creativity and heat outward. It is what feeds our internal wildlands of the emotional, spiritual, psychic and physical. There will be stops and hesitations and seeming failures along our way, but we must continue. When we feel disconnected from ourselves, we must find ways to reconnect again. Remember what you loved doing once upon a time. Dance, move your body, move your hips, allow yourself to be stirred entirely by your wildish soul. Experiment, connect to the senses, begin sewing, cooking, gardening, climb some trees – whatever you do, do some soul spinning. And sometimes, all we need is rest, a good rest. In addition to being crucial for our overall health and wellbeing, sleeping is also a creative aphrodisiac, and it helps us recharge. So find time to relax the muscles of your body and mind, so that they can remember what you love, need and desire deep within.
We must also have the needed environment that supports us in our true self, in our heat. We can only go so far on our own, but we need support too. Otherwise we freeze like Andersen’s Little Match Girl. When we feel we are not valued, not appreciated, not seen and not heard, we begin to feel cold. This coldness grows to ice, and then to freeze. The fresh waters that once nourished us to tenderness and cleared the pollution from the swamps, are gone. And the warmth we once we felt is our heart is gone too. We used all of our matches to warm things and people that never gave us anything in return. We forgot to keep some matches for ourselves too so that we can light up our stove during our natural cycles of winters.
We must remember: when someone does not care about us, does not support us, does not love us, and our life, and our true selves, walk away. Now. Immediately. Don’t turn back. It doesn’t matter who it is. Get out. Otherwise, we’ll dress in rags, sit in the corners, dry up our sensual moist soils, and never live a full life. We’ll live a quarter life at best. We’ll freeze our talents, senses, desires, gifts, writings, poetry, dancing, vitality. We’ll go into a trance, a fantasy, used to feed our staved selves. And this never ends well.
The best remedy for cold? It’s tenderness, it’s warmth, as we see beautifully expressed in The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, which I discuss in detail in What The Snow Queen Knows. When we feel a freezing layer forming around our heart, when we feel lost in an unknown distant land, when we feel a part of us is missing, we need tenderness, we need love, we need a holding hand.
We need warmth. We need an environment where we can be supported, where we can thrive, where our life force can move through us and outside of us and thrive, and expand, and breathe even more. We need firewood, we need the burning flames. We need the reality of the hard firewood that we’ll put into the hearth of our home; the fantasy of it will not warm our bodies. Of course, fantasies and dreams are needed and purposeful, and in many times they warm us in our tough times. But we also need the real things.
In many ways, the return to our soul, to our soulskin, to the wild soil and our heat, happens through the fires of love. Through the love of self and through the love of another. Through the meeting of our wild lover, or a wild friend, the one who loves us passionately, intensely, continually, constantly, persistently, unguardedly, and with profound endurance and encompassing. Into these eyes we should look and learn and trust and surrender into – into the these soulful, wild, loving and wise eyes.
Healthy dependence is what creates true independence. Remember: you are soil, and he is the hands that dig in for you, the waters of desire as you open yourself, and a deep love awakens to the surface. When we learn to see ourselves with these eyes, we will inevitanly only allow others into ourselves with such eyes also.
Photography by Chris Madsen
The sacred and the sexual.
When we talk about heat, we are also of course talking about our deep sensory, sensual and sexual natures.
Women’s sensory, sensual and creative expression have been shamed for many centuries and we’ve learned to keep it hidden, in our underground. We are either virgins or whores, naughty or nice, blonde or brunette, priestesses or mistresses, mothers or lovers, wives or courtesans, saints or temptresses.
Sacred versus sexual.
Sacred versus sensual.
Sacred versus dirty.
The truth is: we are both, and all, simultaneously.
We can engage in long love making sessions with our partner, and then have dirty animal sex with them right after. And vice versa. Again.
How do we reconcile all these ever changing and ever moving aspects of ourselves in a relationship with our partner?
Many women might say that their partners don’t want to know them, or that they have tried to be understood but it just doesn’t happen. Well, yes, some men don’t want to learn, don’t want to explore, and these are not the kind of men you’d want to walk life with anyway. And while a rarity, there are those that do want to learn you, explore you, re-explore you, and are willing and are open. For them you must reveal.
To the man of our heart, the one who is willing to learn and explore all our skin and all the parts within, we must tell him, teach him, unveil to him. Open to him and tell him all our desires, wisdoms and mystical secrets. We must tell him not because – but because his soul asked us to.
Love is a knowing of each other, and of being known, a knowing not of flesh, but through flesh. A seeing and of being seen. A transfer of scent, a spirit. An opportunity for a deepening. And entering into the soul of the matter, for soul-sized is the land of our heart and that’s the land that truly matters. When we feel heard, seen and appreciated, we feel more connected and we love more.
There are two questions to ask one another: What do you want? and What do you desire in your deepest self?
And then listen, really listen. Listen with a kindness of rhythm, clarity and respect. Listen not to what we want to hear, but to what the other is truly saying, feeling and needing at this moment.
When it comes to sexual desire, it is important for couples to share how they feel at the moment and what turns them on. Instead of saying, “You turn me on when …” you can say, “I am turned on by …”. Perhaps you are in a more sensitive, romantic mood today, so rather than getting it on with dirty talks when your partner initiates it, and then being passive aggressive about it, you can just let them know how you feel and what you need: “I am in a more sensitive mood today, my love, so what I’d be turned on by is more sharing, closeness, romance, emotions, tenderness.”
Research has shown that it is actually women who get bored with monogamy much faster than men. Desire for women is based on mystery and emotional connection; it is a seduction art that begins from the end of the last orgasm. And that’s something that is harder to be understood by their partners since desire for men can be felt differently, without much foreplay. But for women it is seduction, it is similar to what is known as pacing in the animal world. You come close but not too close, there is surrender and repulsion, there is a dance. We must be willing and open to understand our own needs and desires, to be able to communicate them, and then be willing and open to truly listen and try to understand those of our partner.
Sometimes we are dirty goddesses.
And what is dirt really?
It is a substance, such as mud, that soils someone or something. It is loose soil or earth. It is free in itself. And it has been extended to include obscenity of any kind, especially in language. And obscene, because let’s dig in further, comes from old Hebrew, Ob, meaning wizard, sorceress.
A famous so-called dirty goddess was Baubo from Greek mythology. She was known as the goddess of sexual liberation, wearing a face on her vagina because “she spoke from between her legs”, and she was also the goddess of mirth, or laughter. I mean, full bodied laughter – the one where you laugh from your belly, and your entire body moves.
In laughter, a woman breathes in, and out, so fully and entirely, that she begins to feel all her feelings, from the depth of her core. You see, laughter is a real liberation of our underground fires just like an orgasm is.
Breathing is one of the key feminine embodiment techniques. Breath is powerful. It is how we are alive. It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs but breathing is done by our whole body. In The Voice of The Body Alexander Lowen explains how the lungs actually play a more passive role in the respiratory process, as proper breathing involves the muscles of our head, neck, thorax and abdomen. The depth of breathing waves varies with emotional states; breathing is shallow when we are stressed and it is deepened through pleasure, sleep and relaxation. With each breath, a wave can be seen to ascend and descend through the entire body. The respiratory waves begins deep in the abdomen with a backward movement of the pelvis, which then allows the belly to expand outward. The wave then moves upward as the rest of the body expands, and eventually our mouth opens.
The expiratory wave begins in the upper part of the body and moves downward, the chest collapses and the pelvis moves forward, which creates a pleasurable sensation. In adults, this sensation has a sexual quality even though it doesn’t induce genital sensations. Throughout the entire body, breathing is experienced as fluidity and lightness.
Every part of our body rejoices in breathing and through a kiss, our own spirit attaches with another body like a memory. This also raises the temperatures of the bodies and our soul follows this temperature. It is a sensual experience.
When we kiss and want to experience another fully, we open our mouths. During orgasm we also open our mouths to breathe in. On the contrary, when we want to feel less, we stop our breath. The beauty about breath is that not only how we feel affects how we breathe, but how we breathe will affect how we feel. So we become masters of our state of being.
One story of Baubo is her famous meeting with Demeter. According to the Greek myth, when Demeter’s daughter Persephone was kidnapped by the Hades and taken into the underworld, Demeter became so grief stricken that all land dried causing massive starvations on earth. Disguised as an old woman dressed all in black as she was devastated, Demeter came to the city of Eleusis, where she rested by a well, mourning the loss of her daughter. There, Baubo came and offered her a cup of wine. Demeter refused. Baubo offered her sympathy. Demeter pushed her away. And so Baubo then did something that would surely notice you even in our modern day and age: she lifted her skirt and showed her vagina. This random gesture was indeed so random and absurd that Demeter started laughing. And then she drank, and then she ate, and then she shared her pains for some relief. With renewed strength, Demeter then went to Zeus and eventually her daughter came back.
Baubo’s role of the dirty goddess may be small in the overall context of the famous and beloved myth of Persephone and Demeter – but it is significant and transformative. It is a fire. It is what gave Demeter a renewed strength as she snapped out of a frozen state, so that she moves on and save Persephone.
Many shamans and ancient healers have a similar strategy. Most of their healings and teachings come in the form of jokes and storytelling. In the middle of a beautiful story, with profound depth, they would, out of absolutely nowhere, say something incredibly obscene and vulgar as a joke. This sudden joke or phrase is so sudden and random that the person in front of them snaps out of whatever mental blocks, in order to go beyond their understanding, limitations and ordinary thought pattern. You see, spirituality is at its essence an expansion of perception. But we have so many conditioned beliefs and thinking structures that have rooted in it since childhood, that in order to think of something differently, to perceive it differently, we need to break some structures in the patterns. And sometimes dirty stories can have a self healing element to them – they cut through a wall, and can even lift sadness and depression. They can cut the black from hearts, and allow it to leave its cage, for a breathing. Laughter is a much needed medicine. In fact when you go to a healer, and tell them you are depressed or feel no purpose, the first thing they’ll ask is: When was the last time you really laughed?
Another aspect of Baubo is her nipples. Aside from her ability to speak between the legs, which symbolizes the primal power of truth, Baubo sees through her nipples. It might sound like a great mystery but if you are a woman, you probably know what I mean.
Our nipples are deeply sensitive and to see through them is actually a sensory attribute. Woman’s nipples are psychic organs: they are responsive to temperature, texture, fear, anger, noise, and of course pleasure. Just like the purity of our feelings, they know when something is good and when something is not good. They are a sensing organ, just like our eyes.
At its essence, sacred sexuality for a woman means to stay in her truth, rooted deeply in her core, and embrace all of her parts, no matter what they are, to embrace all of her cycles, because they all need to be honoured. We don’t have to fit any categories or immovables, our natures are changeable and this is beautiful, precious, and sacred in itself. We wax and wane. We laugh and cry. We are cool toned while burning fires inside. We are the salted bared skin on the beach while also the scent of the back legs of the red fox at night. We are bonding while away. We are lingering while separating. We are ecstatic while longing, desiring towards the distance of the I don’t know. We repulse and surrender. And yet the waning holds the waxing, and the waxing holds the waning. These are the cycles of our land.
When we are made better, more generous, more sensitive, it is sacred. When we feel more alive, more joyful, more fulfilled, it is sacred. When we feel more conscious of love, and more living in love, and more giving of love, it is sacred. The sacred and the sexual, the soul within the physical and the emotional, it is all one land for us. And we live there all together.
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Cover photography by Chris Madsen.