On Friday, young people all over the world left school and took to the streets to protest climate change. They spoke fiercely and courageously about the climate emergency that we are now facing and demanded action. As I stood with my son in our little town I looked around at the loving faces of all of the parents there, standing humbly behind their children in silence, some with tears in their eyes as the young ones took the lead. I know that many were feeling what I was feeling. “How did we let things get here?” To me, this question translates to, “When did we forget that we are not separate from nature?”
For me, part of the answer to this question lies somewhere in the beautiful, messy, terrifying journey to erotic sovereignty and liberation that I am privileged to explore with my somatic sex education students.
Why eroticism? Why sexuality? Is there any other territory in the human landscape that is more wild, unpredictable, generative, life affirming or ripe with meaning as our sexuality? Is there any territory more feared, controlled, shamed and vilified? If we are looking to weave together the severed threads of our wildness back into belonging with the wildness of nature, I suggest we start here.
In her essay Uses of the Erotic, The Erotic as Power, Audre Lourde says, “In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change.” If we allow ourselves to stay numb to the aliveness in our own inner wilderness and shame the parts of us that are made to feel it how can we protect the wilderness around us of which we are a part?
To reclaim the erotic is not just to have really great sex although this certainly is a lovely byproduct. To reclaim Eros is to systematically make space for life to move through us by clearing away the deadening forces of a culture that encourages us to stay numb and filled with fear. To reclaim the erotic is not only to look at a pretty landscape, take a picture for the album and move on to consume the next thing. It is to breathe in deeply the scent of brine from the ocean mingled with your own or to feel the pounding, rushing water of a waterfall cause a quickening of the water inside your own body. Only then, will you feel in your own veins the pain of polluted water moving through the riverbeds or the collapsing of the earth’s lungs as yours struggle to breath in the smog and rise to do something about it.
Sometimes reclamation of wildness is as simple as letting our breath reach the pelvis instead of getting truncated in the chest. Or giving ourselves permission to notice and savor something that feels good instead of hurrying onto the next thing.
Somatic Sex Educator, Christiane Pelmas writes, “ A deep, abiding, integrated connection with our generative, sexual and erotic wildness is the necessary foundation of our authentic expression and participation with the world. This foundation of an integrated connection to our erotic wildness and generativity provides a constant stream of encounters with our essential soulful self; the self that is poised to risk everything in service of what it loves.”
So, as we continue to support the courageous actions being taken by our children around the state of the natural world, I encourage you to turn an honest mirror inward to your own wilderness. Where can you plant a new tree or clear away vines of shame and fear that choke the ancient ones? As we fight for an end to the rampant destruction of the delicate ecosystems around us, can we take a stand for the delicate ecosystems within us, root out the poison that keeps us from thriving and meet ourselves and each other with fierce tenderness as we regrow? I will meet you in the questions.