Sacred Whore Women's Wisdom

The Power of a Whore’s Body


Here’s a funny thing I learned a long time ago: Prostitution is deeply embedded in all civilized bodies, in one way or another. The chronic collective repression of everything it represents makes it not only a huge part of our collective shadow, but also a collectively visceral shadow.

I know this because when I say ’I was a prostitute’, I can feel everyone present having a visceral response. Physical revulsion, or fear, or titillation, or hatred, or relief, but something. Bodily. Those are words that vibrate through human matter. They retain the original ‘power of the word’.

So the moment I say them, the body engages. Simply voicing my Active Feminine self, explicitly, in public, is a wild act of defiance against the Separate Self Shame Pool.

My defiance creates an in-the-moment visceral vibration along the strands of our connection that is far more powerful at revealing our essential interbeing than all the theories and methods in the world. It is one of those small changes that has a huge impact.

I’ve learned that all I have to do to change the world is to show up and stay engaged & intentional. And occasionally strum on the whore-strands to wake people up again.

Sacred Whore

Distinguishing between Prostitutes and Courtesans

So, I was just half-listening to a talk by Amy Tan on MPR while going about some daily routines, and I didn’t hear the whole thing, but, interestingly (to me), I tuned in as she began to talk about beginning to suspect that her beloved grandmother (who is long dead, but evidently still very active & present in her life, as ancestors ought to be – maneuvering circumstances to help her, etc.), may have been a Courtesan. 

This would have been in Shanghai, at a time when Courtesans had a lot of cultural influence, more legal freedoms than any other woman, etc. (a lot like the Hetaira of ancient Greece) – a fascinating historical period in any case. 

Having gone through the evidence, reaction, etc. Tan started to distinguish between Courtesans & Prostitutes, which I found disappointing. 

There is a growing fascination with (or willingness to talk about) the Courtesan life, an emerging willingness to not write those women off as either abject victims or as women of low morals – I think society has begun to grant some ethical leeway to the upper echelon of women who, in various historical contexts, have made sex and sexual-polarity-work their lives. And it is true that the Courtesan life is closer to the mythical image of the Sacred Prostitute than is a streetwalker. She’s a better model of what the archetype’s purpose is, and what might be possible – even if still a far cry from the ideal.

So, it’s fine to hold the Courtesan up as a possibility.

But to say a Courtesan is not a Prostitute, that just bugs me. That’s a class distinction that people use to distance their connection to the Courtesan (whatever that connection is: familial, academic, artistic) from Prostitution. It’s a distinction made to maintain a sense of safety and ethical integrity, without having to examine one’s own pre-judgements about what prostitution really is. 

That distinction is definitely about class and maybe about race one as well, it’s not about character difference. Courtesans may have had more clout, more status, more money – they were perhaps better politicians, negotiators, leaders, and influencers than garden variety whores.  But their essential difference from the rest of the world is the same as the Prostitute’s.

In either case, their relationship to sex is what makes them outsiders, and what creates their commonality.  It’s what creates the stigma, and what Patriarchy both requires and demonizes.

And I say – don’t cut a Courtesan slack you won’t cut a Prostitute. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig  so you can love it – it’s an insult to pigs. If that’s what you have to do to justify the courtesan, you’re still calling the whore a pig, and I object.

You’re not redeeming the whore in anyone’s eyes, you’re just exempting the top layer of whores from criticism.

Glossing over their essential sameness because of wealth or status does nothing to change the essential underlying paradigm. I’m not looking for ‘some of us get a special pass’, I’m looking for ‘none of us should require a pass’. 

Its just another divide & conquer attitude. And I think most Courtesans would agree – there’s no need to disrespect their less fortunate sisters just because you are fascinated by what the successful ones can teach you.


Identity Sacred Whore Women's Wisdom

Ho Stories

So I’ve been researching the genre of whore memoirs lately, looking for a good agent to help me publish the Lunch Guy as a book, and here’s what I’ve uncovered:

First – there has been a big surge in prostitute memoirs in the past decade (I knew that, but my research reaffirmed that sense). More of us have been coming out & getting published than ever before. 

Second – they tend to fall into 3 sub-categories:

  1. Horror stories – trafficking, coercion & abuse victims who experienced the sex trade against their wills and survived to tell about it. (I personally don’t consider these prostitution stories – if it’s against one’s will, it’s kidnapping, slavery, rape & torture – not prostitution. The experiences may look the same on the outside, but there are significant differences on the inside. To me, conflating choice with trafficking is just another way of reinforcing cultural blind spots). I found a bunch of these & probably won’t ever read any of them. Not because I disapprove of the genre. But frankly, there’s enough trauma in prostitution even when chosen – I don’t need to subject myself to more & worse. What’s of interest to me is not the acts (there’s enough overlay whether you choose or are trafficked) but the psyche that chose and how that psyche manages that particular stigma of having chosen in the aftermath.
  2. Fluff Jobs – happy-hooker-type tales that present prostitution as a job like any other, with its pros & cons (no puns intended). This category also veers into the ‘how to’ genre (how to enter the biz, how to manipulate men, how to give a BJ like a pro, etc.), and is often intentionally titillating. This one is also uninteresting to me – I get the political impulse to white-wash & I share the yearning to be treated like anybody else. But in our culture, I personally just can’t buy that prostitution can be that agreeable. I wish it could. I wish we understood the need for & value of the Sacred Whore, and could structure the work to reflect that value – but our economic paradigm does just the opposite. To me, nothing is as complex and challenging as our society’s relationship to the intersection of sex and money (by which, perhaps I mean – hyper-masculinity), and working with that just can’t be light & fluffy.
  3. Reality Stories – the kind that say “I made this choice. No-one forced me into it and no-one prevented me from leaving it. And here’s my honest effort to tell you what that experience was like”. They usually steer a path somewhere between the first two – neither white-washing nor overtly victimized, refusing to be ashamed, feeling somewhat put-upon (often as much by the stigma as by the sexual experiences), sometimes graphic, but trying not to come across as gratuitously so. Efforts at serious writing. These are the ones I read.

My memoir would have been the third kind if I’d written it 10-20 years ago. I read them in part just to know what’s been written, in part to find kindred spirits, and in part to understand myself and my tribe better – because I think there is value in understanding us. But over the years I’ve concluded that the insight I’m looking for doesn’t  emerge in the first decade after prostitution.

I applaud all those writer’s for having the guts to write at all. I applaud & cherish their hearts for sticking with the memories long enough to write about them clearly.  I applaud and rejoice in their ability to affirm themselves enough in the face of society’s disapproval to believe they’d find readers. I didn’t have all those things when I was at where they were when they wrote their stories (generally in their first post-ho decade). But as I come out again after 20 years in my ho-closet, it becomes more and more clear to me:

  1. The way the sex industry works, it takes decades (seriously, it does) to recognize and work through everything that happened (the initial causes, the deep psychic impulses, the actual events, the mandatory dissociation, the profound stigma, the inevitable secret shame in spite of refusing to buy into the shaming, the inability to be authentically intimate that either preceded or comes from so much transactional affection). It’s just not reasonable to think there can be much insight to be gained from those soon-after tales. It’s still too fresh and raw. Prostitution requires a long time to gain any perspective on.
  2. The paradigms that create that profound stigma work, both from the inside and the outside, to block understanding. I wonder now if I’d ever have come to understand what I did and why I did it and how it impacted me if I’d written about it for the public back in the day. If I hadn’t given myself 20 years of privacy. If I’d spent my entire adult life walking through a world that saw me as a whore. The weight of that and the defenses that requires, I think now, would be about all one could manage in one lifetime – insight would be too much to ask.

What does that all mean to me today?

It means:

  1. I’m grateful for those bold (or naive or reckless) souls who have gone before – the ones on the bleeding edge of this emergence of the missing voice of the whore in civic discourse.
  2. I’m glad now that I’ve waited – the story from 30 years later is really different from right after, and this is the one I’d prefer to write.
  3. I’d bet there will be more old-lady long-ago-whore stories published along with or soon after mine, and I’d bet they will blow people’s minds. People keep registering shock (like in Amazon comments, etc.) that ex-whores can be intelligent, well educated, and successful at non-fucking things. But I take that for granted. There is a fundamental difference between women who choose prostitution and other women, and the more our voices get heard, the clearer that will be. It’s not a mistake that in the old stories the king’s concubine is his closest adviser. As a prostitute, I knew plenty of bimbo-y victim whores, but I also met an unusually high percentage of fascinating brilliant iconoclasts who weren’t afraid to take risks or to transgress in pursuit of greater wisdom and personal efficacy.
  4. As more of us come out, those stigmatizing, understanding-blocking paradigms will begin to shift and we will become more and more able to both understand and articulate the wisdom of whores.
  5. I eagerly anticipate a ‘hundredth monkey’ moment when all these whore-voices tip the scales into a whole new paradigm, and the healing and reuniting power of the Sacred Whore really kicks in.

I know most of you are laughing at me for points #4 & #5, or shaking your heads at how delusional I am – or what a blasphemer. But that’s ok. That’s my truth – I really do hope to see that day when it comes. So go ahead, be appalled at my absurdity, I’ve lived through far worse.

Just Lunch

Just Lunch – Beginning of an Emergence

So once I concluded that Lunch Guy’s anonymity was conditional, I realized that if he approached & I didn’t want to be around him, I could just say that – why pretend a twisted civility that just protects everyone from seeing the impact of their behavior? Why get all uptight & carry the mess alone, in private? It’s not, actually, my mess (or even his & mine). It belongs to all of us.

Shortly after the training I walked out of, and my subsequent conclusions about privacy, there was another event that he & I both attended. It was large enuf that I easily evaded him throughout. Afterward, I happened to sit down in a crowded cafeteria with a woman who knew both of us. Midway thru lunch, she said ‘There’s [lunch guy]’ and started to stand up. “You’re not calling him over, are you?” I asked. “I’d thought to,” she replied. “Well, that’s fine if you do, but if he joins us, I’m going to leave,” I said.

She immediately plunked back down with those big ‘tell-me-the-story’ eyes women get when they sense some juicy gossip. So I told her the whole thing, beginning to end (in summary form), and that started a whole new mutual understanding between us.

She shared her own experience just a couple hours before, being in a group discussion, having arrived all open-hearted, fully present, ready to be in love with the universe. . .

And then she started getting the stalker look from some guy in her circle, which made her shut down & want to leave. She was utterly put out by the whole thing. Indignant at showing up fully present & open and having that be taken as an invitation to leer. And at the same time, trying to shake it off, because what can be done about a thing like that?

“How can we stop that from happening?” she asked. “We can’t,” I said. “It’s inevitable. You’re lovely. And an open woman is a powerful magnet. You can’t expect to show up & not attract masculine attention. But you don’t have to let that close you down. We have to get better at dealing with that when it happens – having a dialog about it. If we’re going to show up fully, then we have to just start being honest about what we experience in that fullness”

The discussion deepened. She talked about her beautiful adult daughter, who feels she has to try to make herself smaller than she really is everywhere she goes (quieter, less smart, more agreeable, less attention-getting). She feels she has be smaller both so that men don’t start stalking her and so that women don’t start to envy and resent her (which is a very dangerous position for a woman to be in).
But listen – It’s not objectified sexiness, folks – really, that’s so boringly reductive. It’s not about wanting to get laid – that’s the furthest thing. It’s just that we are whole beings, we don’t open our hearts & let our creative juices flow without there being an energetic correspondence. And, I’ll tell you, that energetic correspondence is powerful stuff.

Powerful & misunderstood & so rare in this female-objectifying culture that to experiment with it at all is, frankly, dangerous business. I attest to that.

It takes guts. Guts that most people misinterpret. Men often take it as availability. Other women often interpret it as naive vanity.

I’ve been impressed by how many women have been appalled at me for even having lunch with the Lunch Guy in the first place, given the initial circumstances. You’d think I’d never displayed the slightest bit of sense before in my whole life the way they talked to me about how dumb I’d been (women I know, I’m talking about here – not strangers) – and let me make something clear – no-one, no-one ever in my life, considers me stupid. Except in this one place & suddenly I’m an absolute bimbo – what is that about, do you think?

I mean, let’s contemplate this. A man I have no intention of ever having sex with makes the slightest indication of erotic response and suddenly there are NO OTHER FACTORS to take into consideration – it’s flat out risky & idiotic to have lunch, in a crowded mall, with my husband nearby knowing exactly where I am & who I’m with, with this guy who is part of a community where we both are known & trusted. Wow!

And – put it that way & I guess it’s clearer why I felt shamed. Put it that way & you have to begin to wonder what kind of lives most women lead. . . It seems frighteningly stultifying. Makes me hope that ‘most women’ are not like the one’s who’ve responded to this story so strongly.

So anyway. If I hadn’t vetoed my own presence at another lunch with Lunch Guy, my friend would never have brought up the ‘stalking’ thing. We’re all making such an effort to be so non-judgmental &  accepting – it sounds either narcissistic, infantile or seriously uptight for a 50ish woman to complain about a strange guy’s excess attention. Yet clearly it can have an impact.

Instead, in private, we just rule the guy off the list of human beings & make every effort to avoid him, keep trying to show up ‘open’, and giving control of our openness to strangers by being impacted by their behavior without ever giving them feedback about how that works. Maybe we go home & question how we misled the guy. But we’d never dream of trying to have a dialog about it. At least – no woman I’ve spoken with has seemed to consider that an option. When I say it, it sounds unrealistic & radical. I hope there actually are women out there who could have that conversation, but the only ones that come to mind personally are other ex-whores I’ve known or whose writing I’ve read. . .

Maybe it’s a generational thing & I’m just not close to enuf younger women – but the ones I know seem to share this taboo.

Anyway, this friend & I talked about shifting that paradigm – how women’s true power will never enter the room if we don’t shift it. As it is, our power enters, people react to it, we feel shamed to death and run & hide.

Seeing how strongly this friend responded to the whole thing affirmed that I wasn’t just spouting my own idiosyncratic crap. A whole layer of experience & observation I’ve long held in my depths surfaced that day, and stayed surfaced. It had peeked it’s head up here & there previously, but this time it didn’t go back into hiding.

I also started seeing the whole thing as an experiment. Not such a big deal. I was practicing showing up more openly, Lunch Guy was practicing how to respond more from his heart. It disproved whatever theory of engagement we each were working with, and we each learned some things.

I still wasn’t ready to deal with Lunch Guy at the level he seemed to be approaching me, because I still didn’t sense that his new theory of engagement would prove any more workable for me, but I quit framing it in my head as if it had been some sleazy thing I’d allowed myself to get dragged into.

The whole thing was very useful in fact. Seeing it all in that light, writing thru it all and writing off on related tangents elsewhere, and beginning to talk with selected people about it, over the course of the following year, helped me finally understand how to frame something I’d struggled with for over 30 years – namely, my life’s purpose.

Just Lunch

Just Lunch – Afterthoughts

It’s been over a year since the Lunch Guy drama was at it’s peak. Almost a year since my writing about it wound down.

Other small things have happened that strike me as worth mentioning.

Once he sat next to me at a training and I left. I knew there was no way his presence wouldn’t make me really tense, with his gazing & gazing – his constant, penetrating attention fixated on me.

He’d already done that in another context from across the room (after I’d sent him this series of posts, a month or so before the training in question) I’d pointedly ignored it the prior event, but even so it increased my tension.

Oh, I got that he meant nothing ‘untoward’ in that, he most likely was just looking for an opportunity to slip back into my good graces. But that was the wrong way, the lazy way, the ‘people always behave nicely in public so I’ll break the ice in front of others’ way. If you ever want to make up with me, do it one-on-one & directly. Don’t try to slip thru the swirl of polite expectations – I hate that!

I didn’t want to be peer-pressured into pretending to feel things I didn’t – or more accurately, to not feel things I did.

So this time, since he intentionally sat next to me (amid an abundance of other options), I figured he was upping the ante on that approach, which just in itself pissed me off – I knew there was a good chance he would accidentally say something that triggered me again.

I didn’t want to make an ass of myself in front of others, either by just coming off sideways, or by suddenly lashing out at him. The tension in my gut was enough to totally occupy all my awareness & seep out to impact those around me. I’d already been bonding with a woman who sat on my other side, so I couldn’t really move to another seat without an awkward bullshit song & dance. Plus I’d become angry if I did move, since I was there first and would be letting our goo push me aside. So, unless he moved (and I felt powerless to ask him to) the event was already ruined for me. So I packed up the crap I’d already spread out in front of me (notepad, pen, handouts, eyeglasses, tea) and walked out without a word to anyone.

Afterward, angry and pondering the latent aggression in his sitting next to me at that point as well as the power I’d given him to seriously unbalance me whenever he chose to, I realized I needed to figure out how to push back.

I mean really, it needn’t be that big a deal. If people can behave with two hairs more respect for one another’s integrity, it’s absolutely lovely. I adore being adored, and I adore tons of people. And I mean, I feel their erotic life-energy and let them feel mine and we use that charge to further our purposes. It’s not the erotic element that’s at issue.

It’s that a line had been crossed, I had tried to clarify that line and he had made some generically-ugly boy-jabs (pretending ignorance & innocence and implying I was the one with the confused carnal intent). Those two mis-steps, small enough in this instance, can lead to all manner of evil. And he hadn’t apparently really grasped where he blew it with me & was again trying to cross a line that had been firmly drawn much further out than the original (it’s just not reasonable to expect to get as close to a person as you once were, if you’ve violated their integrity via that closeness. Not without clearly articulating the understanding of how you overstepped, and your intent and capacity to avoid re-overstepping. Somehow I’d had too many guys making that effort with me around that time and I just didn’t feel inclined to play along anymore).

Pondering what pushing back might entail, I came to understand that a big element of what makes that whole weird ‘goo’ business so toxic is keeping it hidden.

It’s not that these things happen, they’re inevitable. It’s pretending they didn’t. It’s – if a woman says, in any way ‘your attention is too penetrating, I’m feeling the need to put up barriers (esp. in contexts where ‘openness’ is valued & necessary), or ‘I’m sensing you’re anticipating that we’ll have a more intimate connection than I’m open to’, then suddenly it’s as if SHE is the one introducing the topic of sex, SHE’s sexualizing an innocent man & making everyone uncomfortable. She is always the temptress, the Eve in the Garden.

(ok, sometimes women can get that wrong, that can happen. It’s easy enough to interpret a guy’s attention as the same-old, same-old. But I’m pretty certain women get it wrong way less than men like to say it does) (Or sometimes it’s yes, the guy actually IS happily basking in the glow of her life-giving feminine energy, and he knows it and is grateful and he also knows that doesn’t imply anything about the future – it isn’t an offer of sex, nor a willingness to be told about the state of his dick, it’s not a promise or a hint of any kind of future intimacy, and it’s not an invitation to be presumed upon, tucked away into some exciting private recess of his existence, or objectified. There are men who can adore & respect us without getting grabby. And I say – if we mistake the intent of THOSE men, they’re going to feel just fine if we call out what we’re feeling. They understand how much that happens & don’t take it personally. They’ll use it as an opportunity to be understanding & increase everyone’s comfort-level.  So call it out! You’ll find out instantly how grown up the guy is).

I began this story assuming I’d keep his identity a secret, and for the most part, up till that point, I had. I’d assumed I was doing that out of compassion, to not cause him further pain. 

But in pondering, I realized that keeping it hidden created an implicit message to my own psyche, that if others knew about our little – whatever-that-was – then on some level, it would harm MY reputation too.

Others would begin to connect more closely this proper-old-lady persona I’ve cultivated to the whore I once was. They’d see the whore in me a little more, not just as pitiful innocent victim, but as wanton seductress.

They’d assume his angle was correct – that I’d led him astray energetically. They’d begin to sexualize me, look at me as some needy slut slinking around sucking up male libido wherever I went. In their minds, the goo would be all mine. That squeaky-clean innocent boy stance would win the day – like it tends to.

Or maybe it wouldn’t be quite that bad, but I’d become seen as simply a problematic presence – someone who upsets everything – a dangerous Lilith leading into chaos (which, at the time, I was still feeling like was a bad thing. Part of my own transformation thru this whole mess is that now I’m able to own that – sometimes I DO upset everything. Sometimes it’s GOOD to upset everything. There is NO REASON I should show up assuming that the stated agenda is the only thing that’s supposed to happen. Some agendas are crap & some things NEED to be upset. But back then, I was still struggling with an unacknowledged need for people to like me. And even with my closed-down pseudo-masculine persona, I still had an excess capacity to upset applecarts, and I was acutely aware of the annoyance and animosity I triggered by doing so. Actually, it was more a need to not be disliked, than a desire to be liked – being disliked seems so dangerous to me – we all need connections, allies and community.  Being an unsettling goo-mongerer, that just felt like a really threatening role to be saddled with).

Anyway, I realized that my willingness to keep it hidden had as much to do with my assumption of guilt (perhaps not the guilt of a temptress, but certainly of being unsettling, of inducing chaos) as with compassion. I realized that I was acting as if the world were a hegemony of boy-noise, blame-the-victim, Eve-the-Temptress attitudes in which all that I am, if truly seen, was worthy of nothing but shame and repulsion.

Again, I’d hit an unconscious shame-bump, which gave me pause.

I started to re-examine, at again a deeper level, when, and how, and why secrecy (discretion, privacy, concealing – and a frequent corollary – soothingness, predictability, order, stability) might be appropriate, and when, how, and why I could begin to turn the dial on that Eve-the-Temptress paradigm by speaking my own truths – and risking being known as an apple-cart tipper.

First, I concluded that if he approached me like that again in the future I could just say something, early on when the table-discussion starts. I imagined a little spiel like ”You all should know that He and I have some unresolved muck between us which still causes me a certain amount of tension, and I wish he’d chosen another place to sit. But since he’s here, I may withdraw at times while I manage my triggers. I might also address those triggers openly if they seem relevant to what’s going on (i.e. you – lunch guy – should be forewarned that I may reveal aspects of our muck), and I may even leave in the middle. I just want you to know that these things will have nothing to do with the rest of you, and that if he’d respected the truth between us enough to recognize that this isn’t the way to handle it, and chosen to sit elsewhere, I’d probably be able to contribute better than I’m guessing I actually will under these circumstances’.

I concluded that his anonymity had to be conditional. He couldn’t have it both ways.

Having figured that out, I instantly felt much better – less at the mercy of his little-boy whims. No matter what stemmed from that kind of a move, I would be just fine.

From there, I started to realize more clearly why I’d put so much energy into writing all this & to understand better what traps us when this goo arises.

We just need to deal with it, as it arises, more openly. He shouldn’t have been shamed at being excited by me in a way I didn’t reciprocate. But the whole topic is so taboo that my calling it out (privately, gently, respectfully, out of care for each of our lives) triggered his shame (the same shame which fuels pornography & objectified prostitution), and he took a toxic jab at me. And that one jab – I don’t think he gets it even yet – but that jab, that Eve-the-Temptress accusation that almost always works because it carries the force of at least two millenniums of misogyny – that is where I got triggered. That’s where I flew into a rage.

So – untangling that little dangerous step in the dance, that moment of imbalance – it should not be so fraught. (ok, maybe it should – sex is powerful stuff & our souls won’t allow it to be white-washed). But what I’m saying is – we women could stop carrying that in secret, stop fearing what it says about us. Stop being afraid of having boobs & butts & meltingly-open deep-eyed smiles & vibrancy pouring out of us. Stop hiding our feminine erotic energy because someone may misinterpret & then throw the ‘poor-innocent-me, misled-by-eve-the-temptress’ jab at us.

We can throw it back. We can say ‘look – this is what I’m doing, this is my intent. This is what I’m sensing, this is how I’m responding to it. This is how I see that response impacting the group – how can we make this work better for all of us?’. Instead of carrying that shame ourselves. Instead of feeling like we’re faced with either being a shaming shrew ourselves or allowing his innocent boy-noise fiction to perpetuate itself at the expense of our own full presence. If we did so, we’d increase everyone’s ability to discern what’s really going on, we’d reduce the boy-noise’s power, and we’d help everyone grow up.

That’s what I was wanting when I started writing this. I wanted to use this live example. For my readers to go on a journey with me about how and why such a simple little thing has such power, and to experience me processing that power and transforming it. And what I really, really, really wanted from him was to step into that real-life discussion and say his side. But I’ve learned not to tell men what to do, that doesn’t work for them. Instead I leave a door slightly ajar and tell them exactly how I feel – which is how I handled my desire for him to step into the narrative with his own words. He chose to let me do all the work, and even to pretend my work covered his side of the deal as well. So – oh well, it could have been even better, but I can’t control that.

Anyway – I went through that whole examination about secrecy and revelation and came out the other side, with what I felt was a non-‘militant’, non-‘attacking’, direct and clear but nuanced understanding of how to keep my core, my balance, and my openness in the face of sexualizing boy-noise ignorant (‘unintentional’) aggression.

I was no longer afraid or ashamed of any of it. I felt free and clear and complete.

Which changed my behavior around the whole Lunch thing in another way, which impacted how I show up even more deeply. I’ll tell you about that in my next post.

Continued. . .

Active Feminine Eros/Libido Sacred Whore

The Touch of the Sacred Whore

My husband does energy work – which he’d call a misnomer because what he does doesn’t fit into quite that clear a category. It’s kind of a shamanic, James Hillman-esque, soul, mythic energy dialog.

He has a highly developed, and very sensitive feminine side. Plus he’s schooled in the energetic and erotic nuances of whores – he’s had to be to, married to me. Add to that, I was a lesbian for 5 years before and during the time I was a prostitute, which is a whole ‘nother level of complexity.  So he easily navigates what could be a baffling flow of  ‘sexual essence’ energetic polarity flip/flop without his own essential masculinity feeling threatened.

So anyway – a while back he did ‘healing’ work with a young lesbian prostitute, who, almost by definition would have to have a very complex energetic field. The kind most men don’t know how to enter into with enough awareness to be allowed in.

During the healing, he started where he usually starts with women (and many men), patiently acknowledging and honoring her boundaries. Just brushing tenderly at the outside edges of her energy body attentively, ‘listening’ for the response, reassuring her through his ‘touch’ that his energy would penetrate no further than invited, no faster than invited, and that he could be trusted to sense that invitation appropriately – that’s all fundamental to him, he learned that dance with me and never ever takes the slightest opening for granted. He earns his trust anew each and every moment. That’s his way.

So – he does his delicate ‘touching’ with this young woman, whose overt persona has a complex hard-delicate, cold aloofness similar to Lisbeth Salander in the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy – and he can feel her energy testing him – lesbian prostitutes are generally very sophisticated in this realm and highly selective about their opening. Which he appreciates and can surrender to.

What transpired was very different from what usually happens with women he works with. Instead of letting him in, she entered into him (energetically). In an astonishingly beautiful way.

He described it later as like a very gentle mist – a fine, fine mist that ever-so-gently and lovingly penetrated his energy-body, like a very gentle rain seeping delicately into parched earth. Slow enough to cause no run-off, perfectly calibrated to what could be gradually absorbed. Then it gently and sweetly seeped into his most profound depths, where, again – ever-so-gradually, it began to condense, like an underground pool.  She condensed into his core a pool of the most pure, sweet love. She was healing him, not vice versa.

Now, sometimes in a healing, the person on the table has a very clear sense of what happened, and sometimes they don’t. So when it was over, he said ‘Do you have a sense of what just happened?’.

“Yes,” she said “I touched you [energetically] the same way I always try to touch my customers,” (meaning, how she tried to touch Johns, working as a whore).

When he told me that story, and what he learned from that experience (which I’ll talk about more in another post), I immediately wanted to wrap that young woman up in my arms and seep my own healing love into her. A long-un-stirred love for my sisters from the Chthonios, whom my life has brought me into too little contact with.

That’s exactly how I tried to touch men when I was a whore. It’s how I learned to touch women as a lesbian & I had once thought it could be transferred. It’s the way I touched the lunch-guy at the end of hand-holding, which he also recognized as the touch of the Sacred Whore.

That she was so capable of that touch that she could even do it intentionally, without skin, and was so clear about what she was doing confirmed for me that I’d been on the right track 30+ years ago.  Clearly she’d mastered something I merely got good at, but even that much affirmation was gratifying. And I was grateful that she’d touched my husband that way, because I’m still trying to regain that ability, after having Johns and others judgements traumatize it away.

My husband didn’t have a chance to ask her if ‘trying’ meant her touch usually wasn’t received, but in my own prostitution experience, it was almost never opened up to or appreciated. Either most men were not permeable enough, or I was just not as capable. Though he didn’t ask, his sense was that she didn’t find men generally receptive to that kind of touch either. It seemed meaningful for her that he could recognize it, describe it back to her, and gratefully honor it as a very refined and beautiful gift.

A gift that some few of us have an intuition about and try to learn to manifest – in spite of a world that denies the possibility at every turn – and for which we are almost universally ostracized and shamed – pitied at best, conflated with trafficking victims, which is a whole different thing. A gift which, even if we don’t have the skills for fighting back, we stubbornly struggle to protect for as long as we can, a gift we’d die for.

I’ll say more about this in later posts – but that, right there – that touch (whether literally tactile, or purely energetic) is the essence of what I’ve spent all these years since, trying to understand what it means on an archetypal level, on a communal level – how that touch is a metaphor for a different way of engaging, or better – what that literal, tactile touch teaches us about the potential for engagement and communion at the broader levels, how that touch could heal our rifts. And how to help us all open to it when it’s offered – because it’s out there (and ‘in here’), and it wants to touch us and to flow through us into one another. That – I’ve always had faith in. That’s the higher power I surrender to and serve – but it’s immanent, not transcendent – which, I think, is where all the confusion arises.



Theory U

What is Presencing?

Presencing is sort of a mash-up of the Buddhist ‘Be Here Now’ practice of ‘being present’ and a Bohmian-Dialog-Thinking-Together kind of awareness that is broader than oneself and is sensing the future as it is emerging in the ‘space’ between us.

The concept comes from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.

In Scharmer’s words

Presencing – requires the tuning of three instruments: the open mind, the open heart, and the open will. This opening process is not passive but an active “sensing” together as a group. While an open heart allows us to see a situation from the whole, the open will enables us to begin to act from the emerging whole. . . Presencing is the capacity to connect to the deepest source of self and will allows the future to emerge from the whole rather than from a smaller part or special interest group.

In Theory U, there are three levels of organizational change: Structure, Process, and Thought. If you change the structure of the organization without changing the Processes, the change won’t be very effective. Change the Processes without changing thinking, and it will only be moderately effective. But if you can change thinking, and look to the future instead of the past, change can be profound.

Theory U is a framework for developing insight into and creating methodologies for helping human systems access that level of profound change.


Active Feminine Dialog Practice Eros/Libido Women's Wisdom

Trusting Men To Navigate

David Deida has written several books about masculine and feminine ‘sexual essences’, sexuality, and relationships. My husband and have read, together, just about all his books and found them really helpful.

I think a lot about how to apply the learning’s I’ve been given about intimate male/female dynamics to parallel dynamics in less intimate settings. Work groups, neighbors, etc.. So let’s consider these related snippets from Deida’s book “Dear Lover”, written to help women understand their men:

Because the feminine is connected with the flow of life energy much more intimately than the masculine is, you will often feel when your man is ‘off’ before he does. You will be able to feel instantly when he is lying to himself or to others. Your heart will cringe. Your body will tense. Your breath will tighten. . . .

Naturally, you try to guide yourself when you don’t fully trust your man. You begin to rely on your own masculine capacity to navigate, since your man seems unwilling to even consider that he has a blind spot limiting his integrity. . .

[however] other than those critical moments when telling your man exactly what to do is definitely called for, your two-bodied trust would grow deepest by giving your man your fully expressed feelings while allowing him the chance to correct his own actions. Rather than telling him exactly what to do with your masculine directional guidance, tell him with words and show him through your body and expressions how you feel.

Reflect to him how his ‘offness’ hurts you and affects your heart. Rather than saying “I think you should do such and such,” express what you feel–hurt, anxious, mistrustful–but allow him to find his own way to a correction and learn to navigate from a deeper truth.

If you regularly tell you man what to do–even if you can clearly see what course he needs to take–then you are depriving him of a learning opportunity. You are stepping in and applying your masculine capacity to navigate rather than allowing him the chance to exercise and cultivate his own navigational skills. You are creating a relationship in which he will come to depend on your masculine guidance. Is this what you want? Can you fully surrender your heart and body to a man who regularly depends on you to tell him what to do?

Learn to trust and value your heart’s deep sensitivity. Fully express to your man how you feel as your lives proceed together, moment by moment. . .

Meanwhile, don’t suppress your pain and passively wait for him to get his act together. Show him your wince every time his actions are shallower than you know he is capable of living. Shout your anger every time he persists in denying his lack of integrity. Every time you feel him unreceptive to someone’s honest feedback –yours or his friends’–display your disgust. Give your man your fullest expression in response to his self-deception or blunders, and allow him the opportunity to learn how to correct himself.

Your energetic attunement is a gift to your man. . .

Of course, there’s more to Deida’s advice than I’ve included here – how to stay connected while expressing yourself, and so on. But this does not comport to most people’s nice & polite expectations. Actually – Deida is pretty advanced stuff. No molly-coddling for either polarity. He’s not about helping the lowest common-denominator relationship become tolerable, but showing how intimacy can be the highest (and most challenging) spiritual practice – which takes strong adults. Which our culture doesn’t much cultivate.

Anyway, I’ve been practicing this instant, connected, non-directive, brutally honest feedback with my husband for several years now, and while I still have ample room for improvement, this practice has vastly improved our marriage, my husband’s judgment, insight, and awareness, our mutual trust and connectedness, and my own faith in and ability to express my loving feminine core. It’s great.

But there is a downside, which is that I’ve come to expect other men to be able to hear honest (and emotionally expressive) feedback as well. And to be able to self-correct (or at least struggle to self-correct and ask for feedback while doing so). My tolerance for low-consciousness and low-integrity presence is slowly being eroded and my readiness to express my frustration has grown, faster than my skill-set at expressing the hard stuff with people I’m not as intimately connected to.

I’ve become a pain in the ass for a lot of people, and I’ve let go of relationships with some men. Relationships that were important and could have been repairable, but I refused to prescribe a fix. I just clarified, reiterated or expressed the shifting in my feelings, and left them to figure out how to respond.

I’ve done that a number of times now, and it teaches me a lot about the men I’m dealing with.

I’ve discovered there are men who could instantly switch gears, get clear on what was happening, open up, be vulnerable, take responsibility for their ‘offness’, sincerely express what was going on for them & their desire to remain in connection. They have strong integrity and strong interpersonal navigational skills. When that happens, and it has happened in the most unexpected places – I suddenly adore those men. I’ll be their staunchest ally forever, I’ll give them whatever energy I have.

And I’ve seen men who shut down, behave appalled and throw up their hands in defeat – men who, if I wanted to repair the relationship, I’d have to direct each step – and they’d probably take each step grudgingly.

The first time I was clearly faced with the decision of whether or not to be directive about how a male friend could fix a tear in our relationship, I realized that if that was what was required, he wasn’t the kind of friend I wanted anyway. My trust would be so low, I’d always be trying to control things and he’d always be asserting his freedom (precisely the kind of marriage he already has). Not the dynamic I’d want in a life-boat. I want to be part of a community where we all can count on each other to do the right thing, not one that requires constant micro-management.

As women claim their full feminine power in community, I can’t imagine we won’t have more of this kind of behavior (because in fact, in spite of it’s counter-intuitiveness in our society, it’s really good and effective advice). And more of the kinds of messes I’ve been getting myself into. If I can help model it in a way that enables other women to do it less sloppily than I have, cool. But it’s disruptive no matter what, it’s meant to be. And as the old world falls apart around our feet and we figure out how to create a new one, women’s embodied life-energy wisdom is more and more necessary, and the quicker we all learn how to honor it, use it and grow from it, the better.

Just Lunch

Just Lunch Epilogue 3 – Initial Reaction

So – I get the response and begin to unpack it.

First, I’m impressed. It’s taken a month (which I consider good – I didn’t want his instant reflexive reaction) and he’s responding better than I expected. That he didn’t run away is almost astounding.

Plus, I instantly want to jump in and amplify all the self-forgiveness he should be exercising, making it even easier and more complete than it already is. I’m making all his excuses for him in my head – so well intentioned, he did nothing wrong, etc.. etc…

Then, I’m honored by the compliments. Gratified to think I’ve managed to express something useful.

Then, I’m suspicious – where’s the catch? He doesn’t mean those nice things, how could he, I’ve attacked him viciously. He’s just trying to trick me. Or make himself look good. He’s either trying to make a fool of me, or he’s too passive-aggressive to know he hates my guts. (This part is all purely about me – I go through it with almost every compliment, ever.)

Woven into the above – I try to picture another lunch, but it doesn’t go anywhere, my imagination balks. No – I don’t want to sit down alone with him again. I feel invaded just contemplating it. I almost start to push myself to imagine it working well and recognize that as the original impulse to force more openness than I actually feel – but that’s the impulse that got us into this mess in the first place. Haven’t I learned anything? Actually, I have, I caught myself this time – I drop that imaginative effort and move on. Unless it arises as a sincere desire from my heart at some future moment, I rule out further face-to-face one-on-one dates. If I’ve learned nothing else from all this – it’s to stop pushing inauthentic openness.

I recognize I owe him something, having used him as I have. But not that.

Then I picture the 4 of us having tea, which at first strikes me as lovely. The implication there is that wifey knows the history, that they’ve done work around this whole mess, which, from my perspective would be a beautiful outcome – but he hasn’t said that directly.

And, celebration, what does he mean there? Celebrate what? That I got mad at him and said so?

Then, I’m mildly annoyed at his reference to his having caused me ‘so much pain’. I don’t believe I said pain. Shame, rage, contempt, exhaustion, violation, goo. Did I say pain? Why did he pick that word? Why does it bug me? It strikes me as a word implying importance (on his part ) and impotence (on mine) – as if he means something to me personally, as if I’m vulnerable relative to him, which I certainly am not. I don’t like that he used that word. I’m tough, no-one hurts me! Didn’t we do this one already? He’s not important enough to cause me pain – and all the other unpleasantnesses actually came from myself – he just bumbled into them and failed to slip out the back while he had the chance. He takes too much credit. Pain!

Then I can imagine my husband and I sitting with them and having a wonderful conversation, my husband is so good at his part of good listening, and I am at mine. It would be fun, I’m thinking, sharing all this wisdom about men and women and marriage, and witnessing the effects of all my wise words. I wouldn’t feel invaded, with my husband and lunch-guy’s wife there. It would be fascinating to watch that open space between us unfold itself.

Why didn’t he just say what has transpired with his wife? Why merely imply it, leaving me to either make a (potentially stupid) assumption, or be forced to ask?

And, celebration – that implies the work is complete. Where is he getting that from? My work, the work I can do on my own, is complete – there is nothing more I can or need to do relative to him, assuming no further interactions take place. His work, that he can do on his own – it barely looks begun to me, but that’s not my place to judge. But OUR work, if there were a we – that would just be beginning. No – celebration – this is more of the same, jumping to consummation prematurely.

I go back over it again and see ‘I am happy to share my own perspective and answer your questions’. Did I ask questions? I don’t think so. I don’t recalling caring. I recall thinking I know everything relevant there is to know. I recall boiling him down to a privileged boy who has had everything (but the feminine) handed to him on a silver platter, about which I feel absolutely no fascination. I don’t recall expressing any interest whatsoever. I don’t need to hear a John’s details to know them, my body hears all there is to know – haven’t I expressed that? I’ve heard him already.

No – what I said was it might be interesting if he contributed his perspective to the blog series. TO THE BLOG SERIES. IN WRITING. I myself don’t care, I’ve done my work. I left it open for him to contribute to the work, but I’m not going to do his work for him. Just telling me things privately – that’s not enough anymore. Plus, it’s how we got here. You know what they say about doing the same thing & expecting a different outcome. . .

That’s starting to bug me. He’s assuming, again, that I’m interested in him personally. I’m not. I have, all along, been mildly interested in this process (I say mildly because it’s a process I know and trust), and highly interested in deeper self awareness – it’s the content to be discovered in the process that fascinates me. Him – not so much. Stick any used condom in his place – it’s all the same to me, we’re not making a baby with that spent sperm. The boys of the world have had their megaphones and audiences forever. In and of itself, his personal perspective means nothing to me.

Unless he wants to share in the actual labor – the risk-taking, the word-weighing, the meaning-making, the raking your soul over the coals of articulating what really happened inside – and he’s clearly stated he won’t go there.

The tea party starts to feel too familiar. Why would we be doing that? Why would I drag my husband to sit there and smile politely at people who assume they have anything to share with us? More, why would we go further to give perfect strangers the benefit of our hard-won insights when what has already been offered does not yet seem fully digested?

It’s impressive that he hasn’t run away from it all – very impressive. But still. Maybe he didn’t run away because he was simply too stupid. Or too arrogant to absorb what there was to run from.

And why didn’t he state clearly where things were at with his wife relative to all this? Why make me ask? It’s really familiar – like the very beginning – a tease, an implied intrigue. Like his last apology – trying to suck me into hearing his piece in person, not troubling to put what is most significant in writing. Taking the lazy way out.

I take a moment to let him know I’ve received his email and will respond after it settles. I also point out that he’s implied his wife knows everything and ask if that is so, because, no matter what, I want to know what he says.

I’m starting to swirl around in a familiar confusion – am I being arrogant and judgmental or simply respecting myself and recognizing the difference in our depths and insights? Are his expectations reasonable? Does the work he’s done so far warrant something from me? How far does fate oblige me? What is my job here? My god! On a day to day level I’m so self-directed, so resistant to obligation, so agentic. But at a certain level of spiritual entwinement I lose all sense of perspective.

No – I don’t literally think I’m morally obliged to him in any way, but still – there’s this twisted spiritual/erotic florence-nightengale/mother-teresa in me that feels this call to tend to the sick, to feed the starving babies (which, in my case, evidently means erotically stunted boys). Like a co-dependent, always falling for addicts. If we’re all connected, and interdependent, and he needs something from me, something I am uniquely able to offer, how do I say ‘no’(even if I know without a doubt that I will get nothing back, even if he seems to have wasted what he’s been given so far)? On one level, that’s a really simple question, but on another, it’s impossibly murky. He’s appealing to that deeper level where I don’t know where anything begins or ends. And, frankly, that pisses me off. Because the takers in the world have a knack for finding that level, and the givers are so fucking vulnerable to it. And he keeps having an unerring instinct for that taker role relative to me – he keeps pulling my chain.

The further I think about this, the less inclined I feel like doing anything but writing it all down again and putting it in my blog. But maybe I’m being too judgmental? I’m on my own hamster wheel now. . .

I send the text of his email to a friend and ask for her initial gut reaction. She responds shortly:

Well, my immediate response is, Yuck!!  Esp the part about 1) getting together for lunch, or 2) getting the four of you together.  However, I haven’t finished reading your blog.  I do know that you moved toward forgiveness toward him, but still this kinda makes me want to throw up.  To me he seems too cheery – like he doesn’t/hasn’t gone very far inside himself.  So if that’s true, what kind of a dialog could you really have?  And, you’re not his therapist, nor responsible for moving him any. one. step. further down his path.

That’s right. That’s the part I keep missing – what kind of dialog could we really have? No – it doesn’t feel at all like he’s gone very far inside himself yet. Impressive he hasn’t run away, true. But then. Then.

Then I think – standing in place isn’t enough. We proclaim we should all be the change we want to see in the world. We always take this sexual confusion deeper, more private, more personal, hush-hush, whispering behind our hands – in doing so, we make it sicker. I keep telling him I’m not going to that place with him – this is in part the change I want to see. Making it less private, less hush-hush – surfacing it to learn more from one another. All he’s doing is applauding from the sidelines and trying to lure me back inside with him. No. My invitation is to get out here in the street and be part of the parade, and he’s playing coy.

Really, it’s that he doesn’t understand my language, and I, having had to claw my way up the cliff of that boy-noise language he speaks, with no help from anyone, in order to even begin to share in the goodies he takes for granted – I am not inclined to make it one hair easier for him. What the fuck more can I do? Spoon-feed it to him? I’ve written a book already! Explicitly in the context of HIM, reflecting his own deeds and words, and amplifying my response – how mere relevant could the lesson be? Go back and read it again, boy, if you don’t understand me.

Oh – never mind! I don’t know, I feel sick to my stomach now. We all want a nice clean happy ending – but if there is one, it’s not here yet.

I decide I need to let all that swirling settle again. I leave it alone for awhile and get on with my life.

Continued. . .

Just Lunch

Just Lunch Epilogue 2 – His Response

So – I can deduce from the IP address accessing the hidden pages and my stat counter that he’s reading my posts. It takes him a month to respond, which I think is a good sign – at least he hasn’t flown off the handle, though he could be nursing a slow burn. In any case, here is what finally arrives in my in-box:

Hi Christine,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – there was a lot to read and a lot to process, but I wanted to let you know that I have read your blog.  I definitely have a deeper appreciation for your story and reality – thank you for sharing.  Clearly, I was oblivious about a lot of things.

It has been heart-wrenchingly painful to know that I caused so much pain.  It has been difficult being the target of your wrath.  I have been struggling with forgiving myself, but the evolution of your story / process has helped me quite a bit.  I am relieved, delighted and thrilled that you were able to find a few “kernels” in an otherwise mucky situation.  I was moved and inspired to see how your rage turned to reconciliation, how furor turned to forgiveness.  I believe you have revealed and demonstrated one of life’s most important and potent secrets.

I don’t fully understand all of your reflections, interpretations and analyses around what happened, but I found them intriguing nonetheless.  Your perspective is illuminating and at the same time raised more questions in my mind.

I am happy to share my own perspective and answer your questions, although I have done a pretty crappy job communicating verbally or through written words, so I am a bit wary about putting yet another foot in my mouth.

Maybe you would be up for Lunch (take 2) with lunch guy?  This time, we can both show up the way we hoped to show up and see what happens.  And / or, would you and your husband be open to having afternoon tea with my wife and I?  We could use our collective presence as an “opportunity for something new” – to celebrate vulnerability, forgiveness and healing.

If neither of those are of interest, no problem – I understand. 

Please know that I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with you.  Even though things unfolded in a ugly way, it seems that there was tremendous growth on both sides.  I guess some of the most beautiful things in life grow out of mud.

Thank you for sticking it out and sharing your story in great depth.  You are a women of dignity and grace and I know the world is going to benefit from all you have to offer.

Warmest Regards,

Lunch Guy

Continued . . .