Latest posts for tag magic

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.

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.

Against the backdrop of a Colorado thunder storm, we celebrated how our dynamic has strengthened. In the beginning, we picked out several different collars, each one of them focused on a different aspect of love and surrender:

  • Her gift of herself to me; the gift that shows that I am worthy of a goddess’s surrender.

  • A collar to focus on the primal mess that is our mammal, animal selves

  • The couple’s collar we wore at the wedding

  • A collar to remind her that she’s still mine even when we’re struggling and trying to figure stuff out

For most of our relationship we’ve changed collars fairly regularly. But for much of this year, we’ve been wearing only one of the collars. And when we tried to change it, we felt off. The energy was wrong and tensions grew. Part of it was doubtless that there was friction the last time I placed that collar around her neck. Increasingly though, the energy changed and flowed too rapidly for any single aspect of our dynamic. I’d find that just after placing the sexy collar around her neck, we would find ourselves facing a week where our strength of our bond together was our focus. And like as not, just as I acknowledged that and shifted to the couple’s collar, we’d reach a place where we were ready to celebrate the strength of my physical claim. The collars had never been an absolute focus; we acknowledge the overlap from the beginning. However, as our dynamic grew, these different focuses became even harder to separate.

Yet my vassal still likes lots of collars. Changing collars can be a way to focus and remind ourselves about how precious what we have is. We didn’t want to lose that.

So we had a collar weaving. we wove the energy of all the collars together in a ritual before the gods. We let go of thee negative energy and the aspects that no longer served us and dedicated all the collars in service of love and surrender.

The gods were present and the magic strong. We’ve grown so much over the past five years. We are blessed.

So, why is this significant? Sure, it’s great to have sex in ritual setting with the blessing of the gods. But why is this worth blogging about; why is this an important ritual along a path of surrender?

The short answer is that it’s big and significant because we choose for it to be. Ritual lends power to things. By finding aspects of our path and our love where we can lend that power, we lend power to the whole. Our path is big and live changing because we’ve found places along the way that we decide are big. Those specific places might only matter to us, but making a practice of choosing moments to focus on is a key part of spiritual openness.

Like all rituals, the preparation is at least as much of the magic as the ritual itself. I can capture the intent and a little flavor of the ritual in a blog post. But to actually bring that about, we planned for days. What and how did we want to remove negative energy from the collars? What were we letting go of? What protocol do I use for collaring my vassal? What is the intent behind that?

When we ritualize that introspection, we work magic on ourselves. We influence how we will remember things. What aspects will be emphasized going forward? For example, I asked my vassal to review the collaring protocol. She spends a few minutes reading and says, “Yes, that’s good.” She’s saying that I’ve captured the important parts of the intent we’ve shared. That’s the magic we’re going to focus on going forward, and when we look back, that’s what this transition will mean to us. And she’s given her willful consent to that spell, lending it her strength.

The details matter because they are the language we interact with the world and bring about love. The process matters too, because that’s how the details get turned into magic.

The theme for this year's Yule ritual was Return of the Sun. And why not: we're going to Hawaii.

Normally, Yule is a time of reflection for me. It tends to be the time of year when I reflect on the price of the rebirth to come. I don't actually do sacrifice work at Yule, but I do tend to think back and honor the sacrifices that make new life possible. This year, there is too much darkness already. So we jumped right to the promise of the returning sun and how we'll bring that rebirth forth within ourselves.

We are starting on a journey to find our tribe and our family. The two of us are closer than ever: facing the challenges of the pandemic deepened our dynamic and our gratitude practice. But sometimes with the isolation of the pandemic, it's felt like it's just been the two of us trying to stand strong against the world. Reflecting on this, we confirmed what has been a growing suspicion: we don't have enough of a tribe here in Massachusetts to meet our needs. It's getting worse as people move away from the city. Our inability to drive makes it challenging to keep up with people in New Hampshire or Rhode Island. We two have something really wonderful going on. But if we could find a bit larger we to belong to, it could be more stable, stronger, and we think bring us to even greater levels of happiness and love.

At Yule this year, we focused on setting intent for this journey. We aren't being shy about what we want. Ideally, we'd find someone else (or a couple) to join our family. Someone who could drive and fill in some of the other gaps in our life would turn something that is great into something even bigger. I don't think we're unicorn hunting, at least not in a bad way. We have the experience with polyamory to navigate another relationship. We have the time and energy to make it work. And we have the experience changing and growing to adapt our lives to someone else. we have a lot to offer: experience in the art of happiness, art of love, and in manifesting what we seek. We're not afraid to reach out and accept the gifts the universe offers. We are constantly growing and teaching, and can offer that. Somewhere out there, there's someone for which this could be a great deal. We aren't going to find them (and they aren't going to find us) unless we try. And so we set intent and asked our gods and goddesses to help us.

Beyond our family, we seek tribe. We'd like to find a community to belong to. Probably a relatively kinky, love and sex positive community. We haven't managed to find that in Massachusetts. There is kink and sex positivity in surrounding states, and it appears to be emerging a bit here. I haven't found the kind of connection between that and spirituality I've found elsewhere. Also, this keeps pushing further away from the city, and our lack of driving impacts things.

We've been drawn to Boulder Colorado, and that may be where we end up.

But the first step is healing enough for us to connect with our desires and what the universe will manifest. The pandemic has taken its toll, and we aren't ready for that. Yule is a time of rebirth---a time when we can rekindle the spark of life within ourselves. What better to do that after the cold, dark times of 2020, than starting 2021 in the literal sun of Hawaii. So, as is proper, magic spirals around reality, and we embark on a spiritual and literal adventure. First Hawaii, then the rest of our lives.

I finished out the season at Crossroads as I often do.

Friday ritual was dedicated to work at the crossroads: work in the liminal spaces between, work with the travelers and messengers, and work with their gods. It's been a long time since I have focused on my Hermes work and long past time to offer thanks. Three and a half years ago, I made commitments to Hermes and Venus to teach and practice love, to stand as an example to others, and to work to stop the shouting and start listening. Often during that time, I have called to Venus. But of late, the messenger work has been strong and it was time to acknowledge that.

As I sat in the ritual run-through, I realized that I have not honored Hermes’s role in that communications work. My Debian work is all about stepping past the shouting and listening to each other. Two things stood in my way when I tried to honor Hermes.

First, Chuck brought Hermes to our work. He had a deeper connection with the gods’ messenger. The chasm opened between Chuck and me before I could develop my own relationship with Hermes.

Second, I have been downplaying the spiritual aspects of my Debian work. I have been worried that members of the project might be uncomfortable that I see trying to help our community as a form of worship and magic. I told a few people, but I have not focused on it.

My Debian work is spiritual. Debian has been a community close to my hart for approaching twenty years. I’ve been part of Debian longer than I’ve been dedicated to Venus. I saw my home tearing itself apart. I offered to sacrifice my time to come in and work magic to see if I could help Debian stop the shouting and gain more genuine connection. When talking to the project, I wouldn’t use the l-word, (and would not dream of saying magic) because it would be misunderstood. But in my heart, I know that I’m teaching a kind of love; the love of tribe and home. I’m offering to teach how to disagree and grow in a world with the dynamic tension that allows a loving community to thrive.

And yes, the work is magic. At one level, I am using communication tools like consensus building and NVC to build connection and understanding. I am also acting with my intent, using my will to manifest change in the community. Each time we find a tool that works, we move things closer to a culture of compassion. We are building our own rituals that can hold us together with a new level of connection.

It is working. I’ve seen others pick up some of the patterns of communication I have used. I’ve seen them succeed. Before I left for Crossroads, I received multiple compliments on a difficult message I sent. People said that I managed to present things so they felt connected to them rather than building conflict.

And so I offer thanks to Hermes. I offered my dance Friday night, and what a dance it was. And I offer him thanks in words here and now.


Saturday we did some of the most difficult messenger work I have seen done in a ritual context. Each of us took a ribbon dedicated to harm in the world. Racism, sexism, sexual abuse, body shaming, slut shaming, and disability were all represented. The ribbon represented the harmful act as well as the impact that might result. We were invited to read these ribbons in our own voice. We were invited to connect both with the one acting and the one acted on.

I stood there mocking someone for crying, for expressing themselves. “Stop being such a pussy,” I said. How could I do this? That is not me! As I flipped over the ribbon, I realized that is no idle question. That’s the key question to empathy. That empathy is the first step to a connection deep enough to request change.

On the other side of that ribbon, I was the person denied their expression. I was denied one of the things most precious to me: denied my feelings and my internal voice. But the text on the ribbon allowed me to take a stand demanding that everyone be given voice to their feelings, without diminishing themselves.

Standing and witnessing was not easy. As the ribbons came to the focus, we might face harm we brought about or harm that was all too close to our personal experience. But we were together as tribe, supporting ourselves. And after the last ribbon was read, we began to place the ribbons and what they symbolized into the fire.

It was not just a ritual of release. As the ribbons burned, we were challenged to act to change the world. Right then, we were asked to find what we would do to bring the world closer to the one we would live in. If we do not want to always be tied down by these ribbons—if we do not want to be the ones tying others down—we are the only ones who can act for change.

Under the surface of the ritual there was much more. This was a ritual about taking responsibility for our role in bringing harm into the world. But it was a ritual about being whole in a world where we will cause harm. So, it was a ritual about stepping past judgment, stepping past write/wrong, good/bad. We will all cause harm. Sometimes intentionally. If we face that from a place of judgment, the guilt and shame can get in the way of happiness and positive change. Instead, this ritual was about acting with intent, heart open, and awareness of our impacts on others.

This too is related to my Debian work. One of the things ripping through the Debian community is the challenge to embrace awareness of those around us enough to foster respect and diversity. Earlier this year I was talking about pronouns and how asking people about their pronouns was just a form of treating people as they would want to be treated. I gave another example talking about myself and pointing out that some blind people might not enjoy their blindness being used as the way to identify them. Perhaps I don’t want to be described as “the blind guy over there.” I don’t mind as it turns out, but figuring that out is a way that you can respect me rather than objectifying me. “That’s unreasonable to expect people to do,” was the answer I got.

This ritual was about understanding why that answer amplifies harm in the world. Fighting that battle is yet more Hermes work standing ahead in Debian.

Not all Easy

The ritual work was very good. Yet I am still struggling to fit into the ritual team. I’m not a maker of physical objects. I do less physical ordeal work than most of the people around that fire. My talents lie elsewhere. It is hard to find a voice, hard to find ways that the things I could bring can be integrated.

  • I was talking to one of my mentors from the earliest times in my spirituality. I wanted to give gratitude and talk about how I was finding ways to do good work based around bringing compassion to the world in Debian. Without even understanding the context, without even asking how things were going, he told me how to do my job. I appreciate his advice, but I was hurt that there was no room for my existing success to be heard. Why does he know better than I do how to approach a community I’ve lived in for 20 years?

  • One of the primary points of the Saturday ritual was almost lost. There was no discussion of our responsibility for change. It almost turned into a simple release ritual rather than a transformational experience. One of the ritual team felt called to discuss an article about change and our role in creating it as the ribbons burned. I’m really good at that kind of integration work. Yet the way we write rituals, there is no room for me to be involved and help. I guess at one level, why complain? It’s working. Yet I know based on contributions I have made elsewhere that I can help.

On June 2, I got married. Our wedding was everything I could have hoped for. I got to hold a goddess! and we showed our true, authentic selves to the people we most care about. They understood us and shared themselves with us. I truly choose to live in the best of all possible worlds.

I’d like to talk about how this came about, because that’s not where we started. I thought I was going to have to make huge compromises, so much so that I thought I’d have to do real work to appreciate the wedding I had rather than longing for the one I could not achieve. Instead, I got better at creating love magic.

I imagined my ideal wedding around the ritual fire, celebrated with the drums of our tribe in a space where love and spirituality are free. Rena is still learning to be comfortable around the fire. Also, many of the people we most want to celebrate with could not get to such a ritual space and would not be comfortable there anyway. So, no matter how much I wanted that wedding around the fire, we needed to do something else.

Rena wanted a waterfront wedding but not one in a hotel function room. When we toured the MIT Sailing Pavilion, we fell in love. The energy of the space was wonderful: people have fun there and enjoy the water. It is a space people use, not just a tourist space.

Even if I couldn’t have the fire, I wanted our wedding to be an event of our tribe. We wanted to hire an outside caterer, but as much as possible, we wanted to build a celebration together with our community. As part of that, Rena planned to bake our cake with the help of some of her friends. We reached out to a priest and priestess we knew to help us put together our ritual. So our wedding began to take shape as something that we would build together.

Even if there wasn’t a fire, I wanted there to be dancing. I thought back to my fortieth birthday party and the power of music in creating magic. A simple playlist was sufficient to set the mood for a party, but I would need more for dancing. Songs needed trimming and transitions were important. I needed a real mix. We considered hiring a DJ. I thought communicating clearly what I wanted to accomplish might be almost as hard as learning how to do it myself. So I started to learn how to mix tracks. I approach some friends and rather than telling me I was crazy, they helped me out, giving me advice on how to mix and encouraged me. As I realized I needed to write my own software, one coworker listened to my endless questions and frustrations and provided help.

Sharing the Fire

As my skills matured, a plan developed. Dance played two important roles in my spiritual journey. Around the ritual fire, dance is a meditation allowing me to be in the moment and reach out to gods. Similarly, through #TranceFamily, in the club and my own living room, music and dance allow me to be in the moment and reach out to a family of dancers who want to find peace, love and unity.

I was not going to have my wedding around the fire, but I could at least try to share the importance of that kind of dance with the set I was producing. I could help friends who had never been around a fire get a feel for what that is like. I could also try to show my pagan friends what I get out of Trance music. Before I knew it my set had turned into a ritual: there was a clear invocation, intent and opening. The set intertwined my goal of comparing two forms of dance with celebrating core aspects of Rena and my relationship.

The Love Snowballs

Jumping at the opportunity the sailing pavilion provided as a venue and finding a way to bring the magic of dance into the space were both instances of seeing opportunities and embracing them as fully as we were able. Again and again as we did that, the wedding grew as a vehicle for us sharing our desire to find love and create happiness. As we shared these successes with our friends, they added their own magic. As I already mentioned, friends were supportive in my desire to learn how to mix music and write my own software to do so.

I told {USERLINK(user="morningstar")}Dove{USERLINK} about the dance ritual I was constructing. I played part of the mix. She had not realize that electronic dance could hold a theme. She saw the parallels I was trying to draw; I was excited that someone else was able to follow what I was doing. We talked about how we might represent the fire and have something to dance around to give the feel for motion in a circle. Weeks later I would be amazed by her plan.

Meanwhile, Rena and I were considering wedding vows. I happened to be looking at Wikipedia. I noticed an old alternate form of the Anglican vows. The groom promises to love, cherish, and worship the bride. The bride promises to love, cherish, and obey the groom. That sounded a lot like our journey of surrender and the divine. Through surrender we open to ourselves but also open to the divine worthy of worship in each of us. The vow is not entirely accurate to our situation: She surrenders to me, and through accepting her gift and reflecting the goddess I see back to her, I offer worship. However she offers her own form of worship through her surrender and in how she reflects myself back to me. Still, there is worship and obedience in what we do. Using that vow was an opportunity for us to bring our quest to grow closer to the divine into our wedding. That quest has become big enough that leaving it out felt like we would be leaving out an important part of who we are. In today's world, a vow of worship and obedience is bold enough to be noticed. However it is traditional enough that our guests would understand and accept in a way that they could not accept me collaring my Rena at the wedding.

So, as we sat with our priest and priestess, we discussed ‘worship and obey’. The priestess asked Rena if she wants this. She smiled and nods. I think this was part of giving our priest and priestess permission to really throw their spirit into the ritual. In his message giving me the first draft, the priest said, “Wow it gets real when you see it like this.”

It all Comes Together

June 2 came. I stood in the circle taking three breaths. Over the past month, many of our friends had added their own magic. The previous day, our apartment was filled with the joy of baking and camaraderie as the cake was assembled. Rena and I each had a team of friends to support us as we prepared ourselves and the event. Dove, my parents and a number of friends set up the space. Others went above and beyond what we had asked to take pictures. All these people intermingled their love with our celebration, connecting through love and happiness.

Finally, it all came together. I called to Rena as herself, as her goddess, and as the Beloved. As the words of the invocation left my lips, I realized we hadn’t planned what I should do while we waited for Rena to enter the circle on her father’s arm. Then it came to me: if I opened my arms just so, beckoning, a goddess would step into them. And there she was! The woman I would spend my life with stepped into my arms glowing with a palpable love. In that moment, she was far more than just a woman: our rite had been joined by the divine.

Achieving that invocation was yet another case where our desire to shine built off our tribe’s magic. The original ritual didn’t have space for Rena’s father to walk her in. She needed that. We asked how to accomplish this and our priestess suggested that we could work it into the invocation. This gave us the opening and support we needed to truly be open and to build an invocation that captured far more of our deep mysteries than either of us thought we would be able to bring into the wedding.

Talking to people that night, it was clear we had accomplished our goals of sharing our love and spirituality in a way people could understand. A coworker came up and talked to me about how he really connected with the ring blessing. I don’t think he had ever been at a pagan ritual like this before. My parents were able to connect with the ritual. As I learned later, a friend had spent time with them helping them understand what to expect in ways that I could not.

I even got to share my fire. The dancing accomplished everything I hoped it might. As the sounds of Great Spirit filled the dance floor, Dove brought out her skulpture of the Eternal Flame complete with light, heat and sound. Now I have a fire to dance around wherever I am. And as I had hoped, I got to share the energy and joy of the ritual fire with our guests. Even my parents danced around the fire. So much love and magic and desire to connect from many people made that moment possible.

Rena and I both value bringing happiness and love into the world. As she has described pictures of the wedding, it’s clear we did that. Together, we created a space where we and those close to us could find something special.

Our parents urged us to commit to finding happiness in life—to doing the work to find the same happiness they have found. That is an easy promise to make.

Not Without Fear

We achieved something special because we were open to the opportunities available to us. We shared our vision with our tribe and asked for their help and we met them with joy and gratitude when they were able to join us.

However, as with any love work, there is risk. Dove ended up taking on the role of event coordinator. I had been reluctant to ask her. I couldn’t imagine someone I would rather have help out. However, Dove has helped me so much over the years, I felt that I had turned to her too much. I wanted to find someone else. I don’t think we could have achieved this type of event if we hired an event coordinator. Too much of the magic came from the personal connections. There was a time when I was really worried about whether I’d be able to achieve our dream. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. Until it was clear that Dove would be able and willing to help, Rena and I were not seeing any options.

Things could have turned out much differently. Reaching big sometimes leads to big falls. Life and Love are worth the risk though.

In the last post, I talked about how my beloved and I have become closer to each other. Our work has also brought us closer to the divine. I've had critical breakthroughs in how I approach Venus and my own spirituality.

Of course this story is deeply personal. However, it is also a story of prayer answered, the deep love the gods have for us, and the long winding path that is growth as a lover. I hope you will find a deeper appreciation for the complexity that is spiritual growth and our struggle to find something bigger than ourselves. Perhaps you will be able to see important steps along your path as I talk about mine.

Talking to the Gods

It's worth taking a brief diversion to explore what I mean when I talk about communicating with the gods. Everyone's experience is different. These days, most of what I hear from Venus is just thoughts or words within my head that have somewhat of a Venus feel to them. It's easier if I clear my mind with dance or meditation. Sometimes I'll get something that feels like it is bigger than myself but is not something I can clearly identify as a connection to Venus.

At the other end of the spectrum is drawing down or possession. We can invite the gods into ourselves. When I watch someone who has drawn a god, I typically see changes in personality or behavior. The specifics are very dependent on the gods involved. Confidence, a tendency to speak with authority about the future, and deep knowledge of our inner selves are common. Energetically there is often a presence; at my first Venus ritual, when she entered the space, my entire focus was drawn to her. It was almost an electrical tension. That was an extreme, but there is sometimes something of that effect for me.

There’s a spectrum of drawing down—a spectrum of how dominant the host is compared to the spirit. Is someone sitting on your shoulder, speaking into your ear? Alternately, are they speaking through your mouth? Or have you stepped aside entirely, offering your body and watching from a distance?

Unsurprisingly, the host’s memory of the experience is cloudy and tends to fade over time. What’s interesting is that to a lesser extent, most people present at such an experience have some accelerated memory fading. Some specific emotions, concepts or phrases may burn themselves into your memory brighter than the experience of your normal life. However, other details of the experience are often clouded even a few days later.

Our Journey Begins

Long before I placed my collar around her neck, we talked about the role of spirituality and the divine in our surrender. She wasn't sure that she could surrender to me, but she could definitely surrender to the goddess and offer herself to me in getting closer to that. As she wrote:

>…to expand one's life to its divine edges, uplift the person exalting you and then surrender in love and trust to them knowing that you're actually surrendering to the Universe. Wow.

That resonated with me. Surrender offers the opportunity to strip away layers of self. As I accept surrender, we have the opportunity to examine each layer that we fold back. I can offer a mirror as together we focus on and honor each layer we strip away. It is a small step from that to honoring the goddess within. As the layers fall aside and we approach our core self, that mirror becomes a powerful tool for acknowledging and honoring the gift of the surrender.

Of course the mirror is two-way. As I accept someone's surrender, they offer me a view into myself.

When we surrender from strength, we can use this as an opportunity to reflect our strength, beauty and even the imminent deity within ourselves. The power of the experience gives us deeper connection both with ourselves and those involved in the experience.

And so our journey of surrender and possession became a spiritual journey too. We use the work we do to get closer to the divine. Part of this work is continued mindfulness and respecting the gift of surrender and the connection we find. At the beginning, I assumed that is all we were doing: we would surrender, find each layer of beauty within, and offer that as a testament to the goddess's joy.

My beloved and her goddess had different ideas. As we were planning our first Beltane, we joined. I held space for her. I honored the beauty and love I found. In that space, she surrendered, and her goddess accepted the offered vessel. I am amazed at how easy it is for her to drawn down and accept the company of a goddess. In that moment, the goddess was fierce and bright. She was there to give “just a preview” of the journey we began. She approached me sexually with a strength and command alien to my beloved but familiar from previous interactions of the divine. After, we basked in our closeness and the unmistakable blessing we found. I was excited and a little frightened. If, as the goddess had so forcefully insisted, this was only a preview, what would the real experience be like?

We had begun a new phase of the journey. From time to time one or both of us would find that we had called and opened ourselves to something bigger. We accepted this divinity into ourselves and met in the grace we were offered. From my perspective, there was much less of the surrender to each other when our spirits met this way. However the work we did within our DS relationship prepared us: we were more comfortable being vulnerable and more open to accepting love.


At Beltane, her goddess returned, meeting us in the Temple of Passion. She spoke of how across the ages and lives, I called to her, and how she was always there to answer. I was shocked: I had heard this before. The phrasing and the words felt like they were right out of Venus’s response to the consort from the Fires of Venus ritual opening. My beloved never attended a FOV event.

As our passion faded, we found ourselves offering healing to someone we met at the event. Our magics blended together. It was very different from the work I tend to do on my own. I tend to work with people to let them say what they need: having the other person ask is critical for a lot of what I do. She is guided by intuition and experience. Together, well, that was something.

Claiming my Beloved

In the coming months, I found myself struggling with dominance and the divine. Previously, when we found the divine, we tended to be surrendering more to the experience as a whole than establishing a DS dynamic between us.

However, as our DS dynamic expanded, I found that it was more rare that we would find something explicitly of the divine in our lovemaking. I rejoiced in claiming her. I rejoiced in accepting everything she offered and celebrating it.

Yet I didn’t call to the goddess in her as I claimed her. I certainly did offer the experience as an act of worship. The goddess who came to us before Beltane was big, larger than life. She didn’t seem like someone who would take kindly to being claimed. She didn’t seem someone I was worthy to claim.

However, this was an important phase. My beloved was growing comfortable surrendering to me. I was growing comfortable accepting her surrender. It was a beautiful celebration of the lover and beloved meeting each other.

My Lord

As our DS dynamic expanded, I decided I needed a title. I needed a way for her to address me and affirm the dynamic. “Master” didn’t accurately describe what we were. She doesn’t like “sir”.

She asked how I liked “my lord”. I imagined it in the best sense of a feudal lord: her service in exchange for my support and protection. She would be mine to use in building something greater—mine to protect so she could grow. She saw things the same way. That seemed a very big title, but big has been the hallmark of our relationship.

When I asked for a title, I didn’t anticipate it being used sexually. We were fucking, and the energy was building. She offered herself to me as “my lord.” I called to her as my vassal, claimed her physically and spiritually.

I opened myself, and there was a god waiting to step in. He called to her goddess. This was no egalitarian joining. No, this was the god claiming his prize after a long hunt. I don’t really remember much besides the intensity and the joy.

The goddess is big and strong. But so is my beloved. She surrenders from strength. When the goddess enters the hunt, she knows how the horned god will meet her. That has been part of the story from the beginning of time. And so, accepting the title led to a merging of our DS work and the journey to find the divine within.

We are Love

I’ve had a long time struggling to accept the personal regard of Venus or any other god. This is not unusual; in his dream, Chuck talks of his struggle to accept her positive regard. I attended a ritual in which Venus and Aphrodite were both drawn so we could better understand them both. My initial reaction was to be amazed at the ritual, except for one minor part. When Venus chose to speak to me, I was sure that the person hosting was leaking through way too much. How could Venus have such a personal connection to me? Sure, I had that kind of connection to her, but her picture painted was positive and deeply connected. I didn’t have any doubts when she displayed the same level of connection to others present.

It took me a couple of days to realize that my own fears and doubts got in the way of me connecting with my goddess. Why shouldn’t she have developed a relationship as deep and filled with love as I developed with her?

The spiritual journey we’ve embarked on has brought me even closer. One day, I realized that as her lord, I was calling to my beloved, claiming her goddess, asking for her surrender. Previously, when I’d been claiming her like that, I had at least partially submerged myself into something within, as if I called to a spark of the divine within, and let that flow forth to call to her goddess. It felt within myself yet separate from myself. But that day, there was me alone.

What was I doing? Had I found some new path to hubris? Was I despoiling the beautiful celebration and connection we found?

If so how? I found the same sense of awe and joy. I had confidence that the connection was real. I accepted her divine surrender just as I had done before. Part of me felt like a fraud. But the greater part was focused on the joy, awe and connection.

I thought back to Beltane, and the goddess who spoke of answering when she was called across the ages. Yes, that was the goddess speaking to the consort, but that was also the goddess to the very personal me covered in the sweat of our joining, holding her in that temple. So, I found myself facing the third truth: “You are Love.” The lover and beloved exist within each of us. That love that drives us is the same divine love that separates the god from the goddess that they might know and love each other. As Pat writes, “one of our central mysteries, that we are all Venus.”

It’s hard to accept myself as love. It’s so big. And yet if anything is a despoilment, I have come to believe it would be denying the power of the love I have to bring; denying myself as the goddess’s perfect child. I can truly be that spark—truly accept it as myself only in moments. Yet my beloved has given her lord that; to honor her, I needed to accept myself and see me as Venus would. Anything less would be unworthy of what she offers.

It all circles back. I was talking to her about what she had challenged me to accept. I let my mind drift back to that first Fires of Venus when I heard the goddess respond to the consort. My mind drifted to my dedication and my offer of service to Venus. I said I would walk her path and help bring her temple into the world so that the lover and beloved could circle each other. Be careful what you offer the gods; they are like to accept. And having offered, of course I was called to actually take on the role of the lover. For how could we have such a temple without a lover, and how could I build it if I were unprepared to step into those roles?

Give Thanks!

It’s been more than a year since I took up the mantle of sacred lover. I’m not sure which of the underlying ideas is more incredible. Love can be learned and taught. Or that you can approach someone as a lover and in a short time (a few hours) build enough of a connection to help them grow and to find a story worth sharing.

Incredible or not, this is my calling. I’m good at it, and I have successes to share. At times over the last year I’ve been filled with the joy of serving Venus, building her temple as I imagined when I first started walking on this path.

Teaching Love

There have been a number of times when I’ve had the opportunity to truly teach love. Take last night. A friend is approaching someone new in her life. They want to explore kink together. My friend has worked mostly as a bottom, but she wants to be prepared to top in this relationship.

Topping is hard, doubly so when you’re approaching someone you value who you are just getting to know. Confidence is key. You need enough confidence to try things and to move on when some of them inevitably fail.

We hoped to work on confidence and skill. However we were at an event where we knew no one. Play was permitted but not particularly encouraged. My friend was nervous.

If I’m teaching topping and only two people are involved, I find I spend most of my time being the bottom. Someone gets more out of me guiding them through how to play with me and my body than they do from me playing with them. However, I started by topping. I could use BDSM and ritual elements to build connection and confidence. I took her to a place of safety and strength where the nervousness had faded away. Interestingly, blindfolding her brought a feeling of safety: she could focus on me rather than the unknown.

I used my time as top to demonstrate some things and then let her restrain me. It was wonderful. There was a lot of teaching and suggesting on my part, but we maintained the connection of the scene. Even while giving pointers on safety, checking in, things to try, and general encouragement, she brought me deep into sub space. Definitely one of the better scenes of the year.

After, I was overflowing with happiness and accomplishment . I had helped someone gain the confidence they needed to be the lover they wished to be. I had helped her open doors. Venus filled me; I gave thanks for an opportunity to serve her.

Earlier this year I helped out someone close to me. We had an opportunity to attend a ritual of transition. I thought the ritual might be really helpful for her, but she arrived only hours before the ritual, unsure how vulnerable she could be. I worked to create safety and to encourage openness. We succeeded. It is wonderful to hold someone you love, supporting them so they can do the work that is before them.

Connecting Quickly

Those examples were people I already knew—already had a connection with. I’ve had at least two cases where I’ve quickly built the connection to do love work. I told one story in Singing of the Chalice and Lash. Someone new joined our community. I helped her feel welcome; she helped guide me through healing I needed.

Another case is more personal. I reached out to someone I met and built a strong connection with them. It was rewarding to be reminded that I’m good at at connection.

Passing in the Night

The previous examples all involved a lasting connection being built.

This summer, I found myself playing a strange mashup of Cards Against Humanity with Truth or Dare. I won or lost a round and and god a dare: “The winner of the round will have sex with the loser for seven minutes.” So, I found myself challenged to have sex with a man I’d never met before. I could say no (consent matters) but as I thought about it, I’d like to be the kind of person who can choose to have sex with someone they met across a card table for seven minutes. That isn’t inherently Sacred Lover work. However being someone who can open up quickly and be comfortable quickly serves me well on my path.

So, I found myself facing a man I’d hardly talked to before, masturbating each other as we introduced ourselves. Neither of us were cheapened by the experience. Just as I can be strong in declining advances, I can take the same strength with me in sharing my body widely as the slut I’d like to be. I know that intellectually, but choosing to share myself like that is new enough that living that strength has great power. We connected in not being cheapened and in being able to decide that it was great to just reach out and play with each other.

Apparently we helped break the ice. When we returned our focus to the group, the game had broken down because after our lead, several others had elected dares from the more adventurous collection. Opening the door for others to feel comfortable being vulnerable certainly is Sacred Lover work.

He asked me to take him to the fire as a date. I did. We were cuddled on my blanket. Again we played with each other. He sucked me; he hadn’t done that often. However, after a while we realized we needed each other, not the sex. I needed validation that I could connect and follow this path. He needed reassurance of his beauty and desirability regardless of how his gender transition progresses. He enjoyed the pleasure his body brought, but like all of us, he wanted to be more than that. In the sacred circle, beneath the night sky, we gave each other what we needed.

I can do this. I can open to people and help them as lovers whether the connection is long or short. Love can be learned, taught and practiced.

And Yet

And yet, I don’t have a community. I don’t have a good mechanism to find people to help. I don’t have others who follow this path to draw strength from or to share the effort of trying to create something self-sustaining. My success at sharing stories is limited.

I do not complain; I ponder. How much of the original vision is valuable yet unrealized? How much needs to change?

I celebrate that the core is something that is possible and that I’m good at.

Life has been rough, but I'm doing better. A significant part of that was a healing ritual that happened at Beltane. I've written a narrative of that experience to share with the world. It's not really fiction: I've tried to capture as much of the experience as I could and share what I could within the limitations of memory and respect for the privacy of others.

I've written a lot about the vulnerability of being open. In writing about experimentation with water sports, BDSM and writing fiction, I've experienced that vulnerability most acutely, sharing that vulnerability as part of the experience.

While this was easier to write than those earlier posts, the vulnerability is deeper. When writing about water sports, the topic was so taboo that I kind of hid behind it. In talking about healing through BDSM, I never talked about what needed healing. The fiction, well, that was close to this level of vulnerability, but because it is fiction, I had some distance.

Here though, I try to invite the reader into my experience as deeply as I can. I do so at a time when I'm filled with doubt, when I'm being asked serious questions by those I care about. I hope to show how spirituality and BDSM can make a difference. I hope to also show the power of a community like Beltane and the primal arts tribe.

I expose a lot of myself. There's a lot that someone could use to try and hurt me.

More deeply, this all matters to me. I hope for understanding. "Hmm, let's talk about something else," is about as painful a response as a directed attack.

As I say, I hope people find whatever path is right for them. It's painful when people look and say effectively "yeah, I'm good thanks; that self growth and introspection sounds hard." Of course I honor that choice, but when the people near me choose not to find some path to growth, it is hard.

Finally, I do hope that others will join me. I hope out there, there will be people who find they wish to walk a similar path. Telling my story gives that wish teeth--both good and bad.

The story is titled Singing of the Chalice and the Lash. There's no sexual content, although there is explicit description of nudity and BDSM scenes.

I turned 40 this year and this weekend I'm celebrating with some of my adult friends. It's not quite a Lovers Grove party although I am there as a Sacred Lover and Sacred Messenger. (no cameras at this one though). I decided to go put together some music for the party and wanted to share my experience because it was bigger than anticipated.

Music as magic

This summer I was in a conversation with a couple of wise folks talking about the value of music in spirituality. I didn't realize that simply picking music could be so powerful. However, as I was stringing tracks together, I realized that I was focusing will and building intent. At least for me, each track became a symbol in the language of that intent, together building a structure of what this party meant to me. Each track brought another element of our experience into the shared context. The progression told a story of growth.

Then, I noticed things were taking on a bit of a life of their own. At my conscious level, I was telling a generic story of growth as I created a space to encourage that growth. However, I also found that i was telling my own story both through styles of music that mapped onto parts of my life as well as symbols of my key events.

I find my time with Margaret there, my struggle to balance my needs against others, the fight against fear and embarrassment, and the joy and strength I've found along the way. To my great surprise, I even found the great wheel making its appearance. It was not so much the wheel of the year, but a wheel related to love work.

I am happy that I was able to see what was going on and turn it into a magical working. We find magic and ritual in all sorts of places and I'm pleased that as I grow I am better able to take advantage of what is before me. I'm also pleased that I am celebrating my own creativity, finding more ways to build the world in which I would live. Rediscovering comfort with my imagination and developing the comfort to be open about that is wonderful.

What I came up with

If you're curious, here's a link. I don't know how much of this will actually get used; the party may not run that long, music may get in the way of what we are doing, or the moment may require something else. Even if it doesn't get used at all, it will have been a powerful and useful tool for me.

Luke Howard

I open with two songs from Luke Howard. Yes, the same Luke Howard who made LDAP a viable technology for Unix/Linux and who wrote the first clone of Active Directory. Luke is one of the best software engineers I've had the privilege to work with. I first heard Luke play his music at one of the Kerberos Consortium's conferences. I was amazed.

Later, Luke sent me one of his albums, and I found myself captured by his beauty and skill. Most of what I listen to is a very different style of music. However, his sound was perfect for what I'm trying to do starting out.

Beyond that, I admire Luke for finding a way to create the world in which he'd choose to live. He's great at computers and obviously takes great joy in that work. However, his heart is in his music. He's found a way to do that and to structure his life so that he can do the work he wants. When I realized that spirituality and the desire to bring compassion to the world was becoming ever-more importantto me, Luke's example is one that gives me strength. I hope that some day I will find a structure for my life that lets me do the work I want to be doing just as Luke has done. At this point in my life, I couldn't think of a better foundation.

The Overall Intent

The playlist is divided into themes by interstitial transitions. Luke howard opens asking us to stop shouting for a moment showing that like ourselves music need not be loud and forceful to have inner strength. For me this track is a plea to stop the shouting and listen for a moment; I hear a hope that we can get past our anger and fear and actually listen enough to connect.

Heather Dale talks of the power of story and song and of how we learn from those who enter our life even briefly. This thematic section sets intent for the evening, exploring how there are many aspects to our identity and how interpretation shapes our experience. We ponder the struggle against fear and shame, magic, and determination.

Giuseppe Ottaviani adds levity as we cross to traditinoal party themes while the rest of the guests arrive. Ten Walls brings us back after a break in the music for a boundary exercise. Armin van Buuren invites us all to embrace. Enigma takes us on a journey through shame and the pain and frustration of boundaries poorly understood and articulated. Markus Schulz leads us into the light as we honor our lust and passion in the strength of respect for our mutual needs. Andrew Rayel responds to Rihanna's request, leading the dance into passion where words are not enough. Markus Schulz is back to remind us of our safety and strength as we emerge to accept the love in our lives. Jano invites us down into an exploration of magic and sacrifice. If anyone is still around this late into the night, Loreena McKennitt guides us to contemplation of the ultimate sacrifice. Eric Prydz guides us back, adding the twist into the spiral. I considered using "Resurrection" for this interstitial. It's an excellent techno track, but "Tether," captures a deep mystery for me in a way that "Resurrection" does not. We finally close with the coda from Intense which I suspect will be apropos.