Join in Love

Just like magic, spirituality is our to make. To find the most in the sacred and our own spiritual journey, it helps to take stock. What is our spiritual path? How do the things we do feed that path? For me that introspection is long over due. I was afraid that I would find that the things i was doing did not feed that path, and so I procrastinated.

Don’t do what I did. By delaying, I only missed an opportunity to better appreciate the sacred in what is before me.

My Spiritual Goals

My goals remain the same. I want to learn, practice, and teach love and share that message. I want to lend my energy toward a world where love and intimacy are more welcome. I want to promote authenticity and promote doing the work to make openness and vulnerability wise, safe choices.

When I come back to those goals, my doubts fade away. I have been going to fewer events that bill themselves as explicitly spiritual. My rituals have been with my vassal rather than public rituals. But when I read that statement of my goals, it’s obvious that I continue to do the work that I set out to do. And that work has the same spiritual significance it has for me throughout my journey.

The fears are natural too. Seeing something as spiritual or sacred adds gravitas. I find myself asking whether I really believe in what I am doing enough to attach that gravitas.

Seeing the Sacred in my Actions

Much of my work these days is teaching, both in my local community and nationally. My vassal and I taught a class about “Changing the World One Heart at a Time”—the slow, methodical work of building community and approaching people where they are, taking advantage of one-on-one connections to learn and teach. Creating that class was its own journey of believing in ourselves and manifesting a space in which to share the message. It brought us closer to our community. And of course actually teaching about vulnerability and connection is sharing a message that is a spiritual truth for me.

Some of my work has been more personal: building connections with people and helping them at cusp points along their individual paths. At one level, that work is building friendships and being there for my friends. How can that be spiritual or sacred? It’s just living my life. But when I talk about love as something that can be practiced, and dedicating myself to actually practicing love, living my life with openness actually becomes the most sacred responsibility ever. All of the teaching and learning about love and intimacy are valuable only because it allows us to actually learn the skills we need to bring stronger love and deeper connection into the world.


At least for me, spirituality and the sacred are about intent. Examining my path serves to remind me of that important truth. By focusing on how what I am doing connects to my spiritual goals and path, I can focus my intent and justify the gravitas of the sacred that caused me to second guess where I was.

I wanted to be more intentional about my relationship with my vassal. As part of that, I wanted to be intentional about the things I value in that relationship. I'm sharing because while my relationship is deeply personal, watching the exercise may help others be more intentional.

Here are the ways my vassal builds me up:

  • She is amazing at staying happy and finding the core of happiness in life. I over complicate things; I'm the one who plans everything. She's the one who reminds me that often that complexity is unnecessary. She reminds me to be happy, and it's mostly that simple.

  • She supports me. She offers her strength and acceptance. Having someone believe in you is an awesome power. What a confidence boost.

  • She gives me a space in which to have my own desires. She makes it safe over time to bring my fantasies out of the dark corners of my mind and bring them into the world.

  • She showed me I could be a god. We call to the inner divinity in each other. We help each other go beyond this world.

  • We share a sense of the sacred. For example sex is sacred to us. Yet doing something casual or light doesn't diminish the times when it is life-changing or powerful. Sacred is about finding the most you can out of an experience and celebrating what we find. Sacred doesn't mean stepping away from experiences because they somehow won't be good enough or allowing one experience to take away from another.

  • Our view of the sacred extends beyond sex. We can find the sacred in the little adventures of life as well as the big rituals.

  • She is responsive to me. There is power and liberation in our sexual connection. I know it is there; many of the common doubts people face in intimacy are things we simply don't have.

  • We are responsive in other ways. We can share each others' joy and support each other through pain. Sometimes finding the blessing in this connection is difficult as we struggle to keep one person's fear from swamping the relationship. Yet the responsiveness also gives us the tools to work through that.

  • There are so many ways in which she has given me the gift of her surrender. When I think about the changes she has made and the protocols she has adopted because she is mine, I am humbled. Giving your life to someone like that is one of the deepest forms of love imaginable. These have brought us together, and given us the power and trust to grow and face the challenges life has thrown our way. Ultimately the work of surrender teaches us that obstacles and limits we see are more mutable than we anticipate.

I cannot talk about our relationship without talking about our M/s dynamic. Here are some of the ways our dynamic feeds us:

  • Being my vassal lets her do things she never thought she could. Sometimes it's because I ask her, and the desire to serve and please gives her strength. Sometimes my support matters. She can fall back on my protection when things get tough and sometimes that extra support makes things possible. Sometimes it's just that I can provide opportunities. Or perhaps it is what happens when we combine our strengths and work together.

  • As her lord, I also achieve things I thought beyond reach. Being my vassal's lord is a huge responsibility. I need to know how far she can go even better than she does. Sometimes I ask her to take that extra step; sometimes I tell her to step back. Those decisions have consequences. I need to be my best for her. I need to challenge myself. I need to keep one step ahead. Of course that is only part of how I achieve those goals. We are also a team. Combining our strengths, we can do things together that we could not do alone. Neither of us could have manifested our house without the other.

  • The responsibility of being her lord drives me to be my best. Whenever I fall short of who I could be, I know that it's not just me. As a leader and master, I need to be my best for those who look to me. Sometimes that gives me strength to do better than I might otherwise.

Recently, I've been stressing out that I've been spending a significant chunk of my personal time writing fiction. I feel like I am wasting time. Instead, I reason that I could be working on classes (either about relationships or kink), personal open source projects, or taking steps to publish the fiction I've already written. Underlying this is the idea that fiction writing is frivolous/escapist and doesn't contribute to the spiritual work I'm trying to accomplish.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences regular doubts and insecurities about the work they are doing. For me these insecurities are a natural part of being vulnerable. I have high hopes for all of my love and intimacy projects. I hope that I'll help people think more intentionally about love and intimacy. I hope to show it's not just something that happens, where we follow society's expectations. Instead, we can choose our own path, and can learn and teach the skills that make intimacy successful.

Doubts are easy. Who am I to believe I can help people see the world differently? Even if I can possibly do that one-on-one when I'm talking to someone, where do I get the idea that fiction can cause people to think differently?

That's all a bunch of bunk of course. I can point back to plenty of fiction that has influenced how I think about the world. Even in my spiritual work, fictional representations of the divine have been critical in helping me find my own connection to the gods I work with. I can even point to cases where readers have talked about how stuff I wrote helped them at a time when that was important to them and other cases where I did cause people to think differently in exactly the ways that are important to me. But none of that matters to the little voices of doubt.

And of course we do our best work when we believe in ourselves. If you live in a world of magic, that's only natural: it is easiest to focus your intent when things are clear in your own mind. And so the little doubts get in the way and turn us aside from being our best and being productive. It's crazy. I've been on a tear lately. Since December 18 I've managed to write 35,000 words. This is some of the best quality story I've ever written. Rather than celebrating that and taking the time to write more, I'm sitting here doubting whether I am being indulgent.

I'm sharing my struggle in that hopes that the next time you doubt yourself, you tell the doubts to get lost just like I'm trying to do.

Of course there is a balance here. The doubts, at least in my experience, have a grain of truth. I absolutely should spend some energy getting existing writing published. I've actually been working on that. Similarly, it's been a while since I have been working on classes. It's coming up on time to do that. But what's really going on in my mind is that I'm afraid to believe in myself. If I put myself out there, I'm vulnerable. It's hard work after all. Especially for creative projects, many people will not see things the same way I do; they may not see the value I'm hoping they do. But ah, the rewards when they do. When something you do manages to connect with someone else, that's one of the best feelings ever.

So I'm going to try to squish the doubts and enjoy this surge of creativity. It's helping me explore power exchange and what I value in relationship. Besides, I'm finding my world building and characters more compelling than a lot of what I'm reading lately. That's a great feeling. For so much of my creative journey, I've been embarrassed by my own art. But in the last few years I've reached a place where I can be proud of it, at least when the little doubts are silenced. So I'm going to try to enjoy that. And I wish you success when your own self doubts stand in your way.

As a postscript, somewhere between writing this and publishing it, I had an opportunity to put together some class proposals and have them seriously considered. I also found time to work on thoughts about a class I hope to present this fall. I also had a great conversation about book covers for existing fiction. So, by defeating the voices of doubt (at least for the moment) and believing in myself , I managed to find the time and will to move all the projects forward. The magic really does come when we are in the right frame of mind to manifest.

In September, I had a great conversation about conference accessibility. I speak from the standpoint of someone who is totally blind, but of course I only speak for myself. Other people who are blind have different lived experience; some things may be easier or harder than they are for me. Each of us has things we are comfortable with and things that call to our fears and uncertainty.

These are notes I used to start our conversation, edited to emphasize things I found during the conversation and to hopefully be more clear.

Do not use this as a checklist to see how accessible your conference is! Seriously, I know I'm about to say this in the executive summary, but everyone who has looked at this sits down and tries to figure out how their conference/community stacks up. That's not really the point. We are all volunteers; we have many priorities before us. Unless you're running a conference called Blinded by Kink (and if you are, please reach out and let me know about your event), accessibility for people who are blind or face visual challenges is not your top priority. If you went and focused on all these issues, accessibility in other areas would suffer.

Instead, I invite you to take this as an opportunity to learn about issues people who are different than you might face. After all, the first step in being inclusive is to educate ourselves. But the second step is to actually reach out to the people who we want to include, hear their story, and hear what's important to them. So reach out to the people in your community who face accessibility challenges and ask them what issues are important to them. Focus on those issues. The education is still important in case someone new comes into your community with an issue you have not yet focused on.

Executive Summary

I think the best way to approach accessibility is to educate yourself on the issues, and then to ask people in your community what they need. I’ve talked about what I think some of the likely issues are. To achieve diversity in our community, accessibility needs to be more than participating in a conference; we also need to think about accessibility in terms of how people join our community. Without that, our community will never be welcoming/inclusive for people with disabilities.

Why focus on Asking?

Different people, even with similar abilities, will need different things. For example if I'm bringing my vassal to a conference where she will generally be in service to me most of the time, and where I'm just going to be a participant rather than trying to get involved in the community, I may need close to nothing in terms of accessibility. If you spent a lot of time making something available in braille, I'd feel awkward because I'd have no intent to use it, and you might be frustrated that you went to a lot of effort that didn't end up being helpful. Asking what someone needs, especially when you come from a reasonably educated position about what the answers might be and are able to work with someone is almost always going to help someone feel welcome.

General Accessibility for Visual Disabilities

That said, here are some of the issues that you might want to be prepared to address when they come up in your community.

Website Accessibility

Is your website accessible? Can a screen reader user navigate elements like schedules? Can they register successfully?

  • HTML including HTML tables is generally accessible. Tabular information presented with HTML divs rather than real tables may be harder to get accessibility working right for. (It's totally possible, it just means you have to do more work with ARIA attributes yourself).

  • Text in PDFs that are produced by page layout software or office suites is generally accessible. It's generally possible to get the text out of tabular layouts in such PDFs, but for example figuring out a schedule table from such a PDF may be tricky or even approaching impossible depending on a number of factors.

  • Scanned PDFs an images are generally not accessible at all. For images, that may not be a big deal: a photo gallery is never going to do much for me. But having a conference program that was scanned and thus not accessible at all would be disappointing.

  • I've run across registration systems that try to be too clever with e-signatures. "Hold down your left mouse button and draw a signature in the box." That's not accessible at all, and is completely unnecessary. If I can e-sign all the preliminary disclosures for buying a house just by clicking sign here and typing in my name, I definitely don't need to draw a signature to attend a conference.

Attendee Information

How much of the information attendees need is on your website? Your website is likely to be more accessible to people with visual disabilities than material you hand out at registration. People can use screen readers or zoom in, adjust the color scheme, and adjust fonts, depending on their needs. So, if information like class descriptions and schedule information is on the website it will be more accessible.

For blind attendees, a map of the venue on the website isn't likely to be helpful and I can appreciate why it might be desirable not to leak that information digitally. For low vision attendees being able to zoom the map might be helpful; it depends on the attendee and on whether they have physical magnifiers with them that could zoom a physical map.

  • Do you update your website with last minute schedule changes?

  • If not, how will people find out about these schedule changes?

  • Does your website contain copies of legal agreements, waivers, etc that you ask people to sign? if not, are you prepared to read these agreements to someone at registration without making them feel bad for wanting to fully review what they are signing? Pressuring someone to accept a summary weakens your legal position and is dehumanizing.

  • Does your website contain dungeon rules and requirements? Is someone who cannot read posted signs going to potentially be surprised by requirements they are unaware of? If not, how will you handle conveying this information?

Getting Around

How will someone with a visual disability get around the venue? This is an area where someone's ability and comfort affects what will work for them a lot.

What I tend to do when attending a conference alone is something like:

  • At check in to my room, have the hotel work with me to confirm I understand the route from the elevator to my room (and back) as well as the route from the elevator to some common area.

  • There's a lot of hanging around common areas and asking for help getting places. This works surprisingly well unless a conference is very spread out. If the conference is very spread out I may need help from the conference staff. At such conferences, I try to know how to find staff.

  • Pay attention to situations where I might get stuck and make sure I have a way to get un stuck. As an example, if someone is taking me to a classroom, and there's no one else there, evaluate whether I have confidence in my ability to get back to a common area if no one ever shows up for the class. If I don't I might end up abandoning the class. If that happens more than once, try to get cell phone numbers for hotel or conference staff so I can avoid the situation in the future.

That or some variation has worked well for me, but I have years of experience going to professional conferences on my own. What I described above might be completely frightening for someone with different experience.

Electronic Device Policies

How will someone who cannot write take notes? If the website is part of the accessibility solution, will your policies allow someone to access it when they need to?

This is an area where there are legitimate privacy concerns that go against accessibility. If you aren't going to be as accessible as you would like because of privacy, I'd recommend treating people with compassion. I'd also make sure that your policies, viewed as a whole make sense and achieve your objectives. I'd recommend differentiating policies that make people feel safer from policies that actually achieve safety and privacy. It's a lot easier to understand why my accessibility is being sacrificed for real privacy than it is for security/privacy theater.

  • Allowing phones but not computers is discriminatory. In many ways, especially when I'm writing, I can be much faster with a computer than a phone. I cannot effectively take notes with a phone--on-screen keyboards are very slow in an accessible mode. Phones have at least as many recording devices as computers.

  • If you are going to have privacy policies that restrict accessibility, either enforce them or get rid of them. It was really frustrating to be at Colorado Leather Fest (which on paper didn't allow any electronic devices beyond what presenters used for presentations), to have people regularly be getting out their cell phones to show each other cute pictures, to have presenters encourage people to take notes on cell phones, but to have the no computer policy be strictly enforced for everyone but presenters.


Bwahahaha. I have no idea how to approach dungeon accessibility. It's mostly not an issue unless you had two visually disabled people wanting to play together, or someone wanting to self-suspend or similar.

Here are some of the problems I run into:

  • Knowing what equipment is available. Generally solvable by looking around before things get busy. This may be a case where offering to help give someone a tour of the dungeon is helpful. If they are new, offering to give a tour when the dungeon is unused so they can actually touch the equipment could be very helpful.

  • Moving through the dungeon while it is busy without interrupting a scene. I ran into a bit of trouble recently; one of my play partners and I had picked out some equipment. I needed to go to the bathroom before we started, and she assumed I would meet her back at our equipment. But there was no way I could navigate across the dungeon to get to her. Obviously we've sense adopted protocols to avoid that situation, and I don't think a conference could really solve this for me, but it illustrates how difficult things can be.

  • Knowing where cleaning supplies are, where trash cans are, etc.


Are contest rules discriminatory? Do you have reasonable latitude to make accommodations in the moment without say needing to have a board meeting or publish a revised rule book. This is easier to explain with examples:

  • Generally in a title contest the contestant draws a pop question, reads it, the question is read to the audience, and then the contestant answers. If the rules require a contestant to be able to read a written question, that's discriminatory. Probably what you want to happen is for someone to privately read the question to the contestant; having them wait to hear it at the same time as the audience probably creates a disadvantage. You almost certainly could get a group of contestants and judges to agree in real time to some way of doing this that everyone thought was fair. An accessible set of rules would give you the flexibility to do this even if you discovered the issue at the last moment. At least a couple versions of contest rules we've looked at appear to grant sufficient flexibility that they should be fine.

  • Some things are just going to be inherently different. As an example, I couldn't see a judge nodding and couldn't see their body language indicating that they had heard enough of an answer in interview questions. I don't think it's the contest or conference's job to do anything about this---how could they. Instead I'd try to be open and vulnerable about my limitations; turn it into a way to stand out as different and to start a conversation about how to connect even when there are differences in communication.

My point in the two examples is to illustrate that there are classes of cases where the conference/contest has an accessibility responsibility and cases where there's nothing to be done at that level.


The above covers the issues I can think of in terms of making the conference accessible to an individual participant. But when we talk about diversity, the discussion eventually needs to turn to inclusion and creating a welcoming community. These conferences are more than just educational/play opportunities. They are also key parts of our community—opportunities for how you become a member of the community and contribute back.

For us to achieve diversity, people need to be able to do more than just go to classes. They need to be welcomed into the community.

It’s been my experience that we don’t have a good answer for how to welcome blind participants in that way. Everyone’s initial reaction has been a desire to help, but I’ve run into struggles making it happen. To be inclusive this needs to be part of accessibility. I am currently working trying to find answers to these issues.

Volunteering is one of the ways that we gate-keep our community. We have tasks that everyone can do to get involved, get noticed, and get a feel for how things happen. Things like:

  • Run errands for conference organizers

  • Work security/registration

  • Help set up event spaces

Except not everyone can do these things. Most of them involve being able to get around a space without help. Most involve being able to read and write normal printed papers.

Even before we tell people to volunteer, we tell them to watch what goes on. Go to a dungeon; watch a bunch of scenes. Make eye contact with people after to see if they would be open to talking to you about what they did. Once you know people make eye contact to see if people would be open to a conversation about playing or co-topping or joining a scene. All of that involves being able to see well.

I cannot do most of that. And yet there are ways I’d love to contribute:

  • The theme of the 2023 Master/slave Conference will be “one heart at a time,” referring to how we change people’s lives through our individual interactions. I’m good at talking about M/s, kink, spirituality, sexuality, love, and their intersections. Times when I’ve had an opportunity to sit down and talk with people and exchange experiences have been some of the most important moments in my life. From what people have told me, these experiences have changed their lives too. Most of all I’d love to find a position in the community where I can do that.

  • I’d love to teach classes and guide conversations. I think I’m good at that; I have done so in small situations since 2013, and recently my vassal and I have been expanding what we teach.

  • I can be an effective spokesperson, helping people understand issues, feel welcome, and understand constructive ways of approaching conflict.

  • I’m reasonably organized and have experience leading volunteer projects/communities (although not in organizing conferences).

But the areas where I at least see myself as contributing effectively are all high-level. How do I prove myself? How do I earn trust. As an example how do I gain a reputation sufficient to be accepted as a presenter? How do I get recognized enough that people would suggest I might be a reasonable person to talk to, especially when my disability makes many of the protocols we use for negotiating approachability not work for me? I’m starting to find answers for myself. I’m starting to teach classes in my local communities—branching out from the small communities where I have been working for years. I am looking at the various title contests.

But to create a diverse, inclusive, accessible community, we need to be able to help answer these questions whenever our normal ways of getting involved don’t work for people. I don’t know what that would look like, but I appreciate this opportunity to organize my thoughts about the challenge and start thinking about possible solutions.

Recently I've been confronting being blind and how that affects my participation in the kink community. Why now? I’ve never been shy about being blind or asking for help.

That’s true, but I’ve generally minimized how much I think about being blind. I do the things I can do, ask for minor changes, and ignore the rest. That’s 8 parts healthy positive thinking and two parts avoidant behavior. Recently, the stuff I’ve been ignoring has started catching up with me. I’ve realized that without a bit more focus, I wasn’t getting what I needed.

childhood Background

I had the best parents ever. They gave me all sorts of opportunities, and never focused on what I couldn’t do. They never let being blind get in the way. I played at being a doctor, a construction worker, a fireman, a hair dresser—whatever I liked. (Interestingly despite their recent conservative leanings, I was never pushed toward play associated with a particular gender identity.) So, I grew up believing I could do anything and being blind would not get in the way.

In many ways, that was great. I accomplished things people were skeptical I could do. Blind people weren’t supposed to be good at geometry or biology. I aced both classes.

But as a consequence, I had a couple of blind spots in how I approached the world. I am not used to focusing on the things I cannot do.

Recent Realizations

After moving to Denver, I realized that I needed to do something different. I was interacting with people but not really becoming part of the community. As I started to think about it and listen to advice for how to become involved, it became obvious that this was a situation where I could not ignore being blind:

  • We recommend new people spend some time watching scenes to learn what happens.

  • Much of our discussion of how to interact with a bottom talks about learning to read their body visually. There are other ways to connect, but that’s what we focus on.

  • At Topside Talk we recommend the way to become involved in the community is to become the best at something; regularly be seen in the dungeon doing something showy and interesting enough (and be the best at it) that you get noticed. I’m not entirely in agreement that this advice is healthy even ignoring the visual component, but as given it certainly doesn’t work for me either as the one watching or being noticed.

  • In other aspects of the community, we recommend people get involved and show interest by volunteering—perhaps helping confirm people are members at the door, learn to be a dungeon monitor, fetch/carry various things, etc. Most all of that is visual.

  • And even if I found an initial way to volunteer, all the more senior positions in the community are very visual in how they interact with paperwork or in other aspects.

  • Consider all the ways in which we recommend eye-contact as a way to see if someone is busy or is available and open to being approached.

Facing this has been hard. @Lee Harrington was running one of their classes on disability and kink. I’ve been at events before with classes focusing on disability. I had never gone—I have other things to focus on, I thought. I was afraid of how others would react to me. Because like any other minority, one person’s needs are not the same as another’s. Many of the times I’ve tried to work with other blind people, I’ve been told I’m going about being blind all wrong. I use the wrong tools, I shouldn’t be able to do the things I do, and suggesting that others consider the approaches that work for me is somehow ignoring my privilege. Doubtless I do have privilege, even in being blind, and yes I have gone my own way in a lot of respects. Still, my experience reaching out to spaces that were supposed to be safe is that they often haven’t been. Now, I absolutely do trust Lee to create a safe space. But I found that as the class approached, I just didn’t have the emotional energy to be ready for that. Which in its own way was a real wake up call. If I am having trouble facing an issue enough to work on it, then it definitely does need work.

I did go to my first class covering lifestyle and mental health/disability at MSC. It was good, in that it helped me get out of a rut.

Finding my Own way

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m different, and will need to find my own way. The general recommendations we give everyone probably won’t work for me. I’ve tried to stop judging myself by standards set up for people who are sighted. Feeling shame that I’m not good at reading body language will distract me from the successes at reading the energy of a situation. And yes, I’m always going to need more verbal communication than some people.

I’ve also accepted a shift and realized that more of my focus is on M/s and relationships than it is on playing in the dungeon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a kinky fuck, but I don’t need to judge myself based on how much play I get or on how much interest in play there is. Yes, some of the people I respect in the community do identify their success related to their play. I am not a failure because I don’t live up to someone else’s success metrics. I know that trap, but goddess, even knowing it’s a trap, it is easy to get caught.

So, what is my path? What are the ways I can get involved in the community even if the traditional entry paths aren’t a great fit for me?


I’ve found I am good at participating in discussions. I am articulate; I understand some of the issues that affect M/s, kink, poly, and spiritual; and I can present things in a way that others can connect with. Joining a community through discussions involves balancing being vocal against the humility of sitting back and making sure everyone is heard.


I’ve been teaching on and off for a long time. Now, presenting and putting together classes is becoming a key focus both for me and my vassal. It is a way to reach people and to give back. The trick is to gain sufficient reputation that people will be willing to take a risk on our classes. We taught two classes September 24th; they were well received and we’re applying to other venues and developing additional content.


My vassal and I were sitting at the 2022 Colorado Master/slave contest interviews this spring. After, she turns to me and says “We could do that.” I had been sitting there thinking much the same thing—thinking about how I wished we had an opportunity to share our story with the community, to help others, and to stand in front of the world showing people what our slice of M/s was like. I just didn’t expect my vassal would be open to doing something that public.

I hope we win; we would love to have a chance to serve the community that way. However, even running for the contest is a way that we can get involved in the community. In exchange for submitting to the contest, the judges and some portion of the community agree to listen to what you have to say and vet whether you are in alignment with the community. It’s a way of saying this is our home; we are part of this; we want to give back. If we have valuable things to say and an interesting perspective, people will know that regardless of whether we win. And again, if we are doing our jobs, even during the contest, there will be someone out in the audience touched by what we say, encouraged to reach further than they otherwise would have. After all, that’s what happened to us: we listened to the people at the front of the room and they gave us the courage to try to share our story.

One Heart at a Time

The theme of next year’s Master/slave conference is “One Heart at a Time.” It’s the individual connections that profoundly change people’s lives. It might be a word of encouragement at the right time, seeing someone we can relate to, an answer to a pressing question, or seeing a lived relationship.

I value doing that work. It’s hard because reaching out to people in a crowd is one of the places where eye-contact matters most. I’m approaching this in two ways. I’m co-hosting the Denver Munch. I’m also working as an ambassador at Denver Sanctuary, available to answer questions from new people. The munch is working well. I think there are other people who are filling the role at Sanctuary well enough that it is not a big deal that I’m not being as effective as I like.

What Isn’t Working Great

Writing this post, I realized that I have made much more progress than I at first thought. I think I have made great strides in being more intentional about my disability and how it affects my participation. I still think there are some areas to work through. I think there are still areas where the lack of ability to make eye contact is making it harder for me to connect. I think I need to find better ways to express an openness to deepening a connection. I realize that’s hard for everyone, but I suspect there are cases where the lack of body language is getting in the way. I’m still struggling trying to figure out how I relate to dungeons, public play, and some related things like that. Some of that is related to being blind. Some of that is just general growth, rejecting others’ expectations, and deciding who I want to be.

Participating in discussions of disability and figuring out how active i want to be in thinking about disability issues is still a work in progress. I know I need to face my frustrations and fears and be more involved. Yet I’m not the first member of a marginalized community who wants to focus on themselves and their interests rather than being identified by some attribute of themselves. I want to be more than blind. Yet thinking more about how this affects me has already helped me achieve my goals of involvement.

Last night, we had the house warming for Manifest house, and had an opportunity to welcome the community we found to our space. We were nervous as party o’clock rolled around: what if no one showed up.

Our friends came through; with their time, their joy and their gifts they showed us the community we found was real. We had people from all over: neighbors, people who helped us manifest our house, coworkers, and people we’ve found in the leather community. Several things really brought it home how much we’ve been welcomed and how wonderful our community is:

  • People who came in spite of deep personal loss, there to support us because “we are their people”

  • People who spent significant time making things for us to show we were welcome

  • How when we asked people got out their tools and helped us make last-minute modifications

  • People who shared things important to them—the things they liked

  • People who carefully looked for things that they thought would be meaningful to us and shared what they found and what it meant

  • People appreciating what we did for the party

  • People taking the time to view our space and help us think about how we can use it for the community

  • People who connected with new people there, taking the time to appreciate what others had to share

  • And so much more

It was one of the best parties I’ve ever hosted. To everyone who came, thank you so much!

Using Manifest House

People last night confirmed our belief that Manifest House is a great space. It needs to be used; we need to welcome people to our space to fuck, to worship, to play, and of course for continued socialization and connection. I don’t entirely know how to make that happen, but it is important to us. The community was a part of helping us manifest this space; for that and other reasons, we want to use it together.

Some of it will be finding the right niche. There are a lot of good spaces in the community, and so some of the question will be finding what sort of things benefit from a private space and what we have to offer. Some of it is developing skills: we haven’t hosted play parties or rituals before. Some of it will be finding what works for people we know and what they need.

For now, the important thing is that we’re open to finding ways to use the space, and we are interested in ideas from people we know regardless of whether you made it to the party. If we could help you by holding space four your ritual or activity, reach out. If you’d like to be part of our ongoing ritual work, reach out and we can talk about it.

It’s likely our next party will be leather friendly, sex positive. Likely not much play would happen. In practice the only difference from this party might be that we and our guests could feel free to use more protocol and be a bit more themselves. That kind of permissive space has value even if the permissive nature of the space ends up not being needed at a particular event.

A couple weeks ago, one of the local clubs had a top tasting. There were several stations designed to let people practice and learn skills related to being a BDSM top. My vassal and I ran a station focused on energetic connection.

It was lots of fun and I think we helped several people really level up their BDSM and relationship skills. For most people we focused on intent, because the most important thing you can do to get energy going the way you want is to know what sort of energy you are looking for. The intent of a scene is more than just what tools you will use and what you will physically do with those tools. It is as much about what emotions you are looking for. How does the top want to feel at the end of the scene? What about the bottom? What will each of them do to achieve that? Are there words or ways of connection that will help enhance that? Often just keeping in mind what you are looking for will influence how you approach an interaction in a way that enhances the intent.

We also talked about explicit mechanisms for connecting with and manipulating energy. This involved working the feel energy between two people as well as things like breathing exercises. For people who had experience already, we work through chacras and various approaches for using meditation to move energy around.

As relatively short individualized instruction, this worked well. It will also work well as a full-length class. We are looking forward to finding a venue to present that. If you'd be interested in such a class, let us know and we'll keep you informed when we find a place to teach it.

I marched in the Denver Pride Parade with Colorado Leather. This was the first time I've marched at Pride: it was the first time I identified with a specific community to march with.

The solidarity was amazing. There were far more groups than I could count taking pride in their identity. The cool thing was a vast majority of those people were willing to accept me for who I am. I could be me, shared that and hold my head high. **And those other groups would support me just as I supported them.** The big we—the whole parade—were united in that acceptance, in creating a space where people could be themselves. And let me tell you a larger community where you can do things like hold the ABDL flag high with pride is something I can really get behind.

Then there was the small we: Colorado Leather and the actual group I marched with. Not only do they accept me, but we can work together as we each explore what leather means to us, growing together as we walk similar paths. I knew many of the people I was marching with already, but spending time together, connections grew and I found all sorts of new things we had in common.

My deepest thanks go out to the audience. That was a long parade, and yet many people kept up the energy, kept shouting and cheering until the end. That energy is a critical part of the experience. The audience was there offering acceptance, validating us as we stood proud, just as they accepted themselves.

A Consent Story.

There was a bondage bear on our float. One kid asked whether the teddy bear was happy being tied up like that. “Yes, he’s happy,” the person I’m marching with said, “we asked him if he wanted to be tied up.” We always ask. If we get kids talking about consent that young, the world will be a better place!

My Thanks

My thanks go out to the people who welcomed me to the community and made it possible for me to participate. It means so much.

We manifested a house. A year ago we moved to Denver; the plan was to see what we thought after a year, and if we found friends and liked the area, buy. That's exactly what we did. And so this solstice we had our opening ritual at Manifest House.

The Ritual

We gave thanks for what we’d accomplished: manifesting the house, but also manifesting a community and friends that create a space in which it makes sense for us to put down roots.

We also dedicated our house as a magical home from which we can manifest ongoing love, joy, intimacy, abundance, and connection.

The magic was strong. We felt it settle on us as we welcomed Abundance back to her fountain on our altar. It only grew deeper as the ritual progressed. We celebrated ourselves, our divinity, gave thanks, and worked the magic of our intent going forward.

What does it Mean to Manifest

How is this more than buying a house? How is this more than hoping for good things in the future? Manifesting is an intentional magic, where you align your will with bringing what you are looking for into being. Like all intentional magic, things work on multiple levels. You still get to a point where you’re sitting around a closing table, signing all the paperwork in the world. There are other levels. I’ve found that for me, manifesting works best when I:

  • Know what I want. I have words to describe it, but I also feel what I want at a deep level.

  • I believe. I have confidence in what I’m looking for,, and I have confidence that it is achievable.

  • I am ready to succeed. I am prepared to give my yes.

  • I work to succeed. I actively work both to believe at an energetic level and at a practical level.

  • I’m open to alternatives that allow me to succeed. I am not so rigid in what I am looking for that I cannot adjust to better align with what the universe has to offer.

  • I give thanks when I succeed. I offer back to the universe for making things easy.

When this all comes together, there is an inevitability, or an energetic draw. It’s like the peaces of a puzzle falling together.

In Practice.

That is all a bit abstract. To make it a bit easier, let me explain how it looked for the house:

  • We knew what we wanted. We needed space for ritual, for kink, and for vanilla entertainment. I need a home office. My vassal needs her space. We needed a place that was big enough for the things we might manifest in our life: a place for our community to gather and a place for our tribe to grow . But we had flexibility in how we’d achieve these things. We didn't have a particular layout in mind; we just needed to be able to figure out how to fit that layout to what we were asking for.

  • We had our logistics in order. We knew what we could afford. we knew where we would find money, and understood how the buying process could work.

  • We put in our energy and will. Once we started, we made sure to reward and respond positively to anything that was moving forward. So, for example when the lender quickly turned around and got the pre-qualification letter to us, we made sure we were on top of the next phase. By the time we had an introduction to a realtor, we were already looking at places and scheduled for open houses.

  • We were ready to decide. Within 30 minutes of finding Manifest House, we knew it could work for us. After running a quick exercise to make sure we were not overlooking negatives, we had made our decision.

And so we went from actually deciding to get serious about buying to closing in one month.

There was fear along the way. This was a big decision both in terms of the money, but also a commitment to Denver and to a particular direction in our lives. Yet it was also the least stressful decisions about where to live in my adult life. Buying a house was far less stressful than renting an apartment a year ago, and even the move went relatively well.

The Momentum Builds

Everything is connected. A space that is good for community does no good without a community to use it. So as we manifested our house, we have also continued to put energy into what we started last year. In the middle of going from agreement to closing, we went to Colorado Leather Fest. It was my first leather event. There was a moment; we had just walked out of a presentation. “We could do that,” my vassal said. I had been thinking the same thing. We could teach; we could help people do the hard work of building relationship and connecting together. We have an important story to tell. Our path is different enough that we have an unusual perspective but similar enough that others can learn from our experience. We’ve found a community that both of us feel comfortable being part of. We both want to contribute, and we are causing that to happen.

The Next Morning

After our solstice ritual, there was a crow sitting on our out-door love seat, cawing into our bedroom window. The crow is a symbol of the Morrigan, who I turn to for this kind of manifesting. What a blessing.

It was September of 2019 when I last danced around a ritual fire. This Beltane I returned. I almost didn't. That would have been a huge mistake.

I was doubting my place in the community—doubting whether that community was part of my life now that I’ve moved to Colorado. Back in 2016, I still worked to bridge gaps and connect with people, even those who disagreed with me significantly. These days, my focus is on my local community. The broader world is too filled with fear and hate; it is not a safe space. I was struggling trying to figure out if Beltane was too distant from that local community. Was it worth the investment of energy and vulnerability. I struggled the last couple of times I danced around a ritual fire. I wanted to find a way I could grow and contribute more effectively. I was a thinker in a community of people who work with their hands. I was someone whose ordeals run toward the mind and spirit in a community of people who turn to the physical. I’d been reassured that I belonged. And yet again and again that weekend in 2019, as I offered to contribute in ways that played to my strengths, I was told “No, we don’t need that. We’ve got it all covered.”

If that had been true it still would have stung. But as far as I could tell, my contributions would have improved our rituals. So I struggled, trying to find a voice, trying to find ways to give back, and most of all trying to find ways to grow with the tribe I had found. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to face that struggle again from across the country.

The Long Road

Thursday’s ritual focused on telling our story over the two years we were apart. It was a real gut punch. I know I’ve struggled. What shocked me was how universal the struggles were. Yes, each of us faced different obstacles. But we were all alone, disconnected, and fighting in our own ways. The forms of connection we grew to depend on to support us often failed. Some of us found connection during the pandemic, but that connection was tight and close rather than the kind of community we were used to. It seems like in many cases building even that connection was a struggle.

As the event progressed, it became clear we had gotten used to being isolated, and this harmed us. Several people expressed relief and joy that I had chosen to attend. They told me I was an important part of the community and it meant a lot I was there. They said they were worried I would not come. “Why didn’t you reach out and ask if I was coming?” I asked.

One person told me that felt invasive. They weren’t sure that it would be okay to reach out into my life outside of festival.

If they only had! That sort of contact would have helped me step past my fears about whether I belonged. It would have created an opportunity for me to explore ways of improving how I interact with the fire tribe and how to grow in that environment.

I could have reached out too. I had doubts. Why didn’t I reach out and ask what was going on and whether I could help? Why didn’t I choose the path of vulnerability and openness, share my concerns, and ask for help?

The Pandemic Poisons Us

I think the answer to both questions is in the long road we’ve traveled. The pandemic has poisoned us. We are used to being isolated. We are used to hurting in a world that is harder to understand. Frightened, afraid, in our own little bubbles, reaching out for the very things that would nourish our souls is too much.

For me the really scary thing is how natural the isolation had become. I didn’t realize I was poisoning myself. It scares me how close I came to losing a community that has been part of my life since 2011. It would have been all too easy to walk away. Facing the vulnerability of coming even though I had fear and doubts was an act of will and stubbornness.

Lifting the Veil of Isolation

It was liberating to let go of that isolation and to be in community. I began to see how I contributed, and how the community’s care lifted and supported me. It felt like coming out of a shell after a long winter.

We all experienced a shared trauma. I pray that as we begin to heal from the last two years, we find some way to reject that isolation and use the experience to motivate ourselves to come closer together. I know that for myself I value connection more than ever.