The Temple Of The Flesh

Today’s post is a game of show and tell.  I am going to reveal the ritual that is at the heart of my seduction practice, and informs everything I do. It is the ritual that has opened me sensually more than any other, and has given my body an oasis of love and appreciation I didn’t even know was possible.

It is called: Naked Body Worship Ritual.

(N.B.W.R., for short.)

I created this ritual one lonely Friday night right after I separated from my husband. Having never lived alone in my life, those first weekends with nothing to do were absolutely terrifying. That night I had been crying on the phone with a girlfriend for about 20 minutes. (What you see in divorce movies about the non-stop crying is true!) It was only 6:30pm. With friends out of town and nothing to do, the barren weekend stretched out before me like a desert highway, and my little Brooklyn apartment felt as cavernous as a cathedral.

I contemplated going to a bar in my neighborhood alone and drowning my sorrows, but knew I’d just end up feeling even more afraid after chasing my tail.  So I asked myself, “What would a sacred seductress do?”

This thought emerged courtesy of my new friend Laura. A few nights earlier she had come by my apartment and commented on how excited she was to be in the home of Kitty Cavalier. As a fan of my blog she said she was excited to be visiting the sensual lair of the sacred seductress. Upon hearing this I was flattered, and also realized, it was time to get my shit together.

So on that lonely Friday night I asked myself “If Laura was outside my door right now, what would she expect Kitty Cavalier to be doing in here all by herself?” The message I received was: sitting in front of a mirror worshiping her naked body with exotic oils by candlelight. Duh.

Cabanel Birth Of VenusI lit every candle I owned. I set a big, old antique mirror on the floor against the wall and a warm, soft blanket before it. On a crystal plate I placed a bottle of patchouli-lavender infused body oil,  turned on Cleopatra invoking music, and removed all my clothes.

It’s not that this was my first time sitting if front of a mirror with the intention of appreciation. This was not my first body-love rodeo. Maybe it was because I had been brought to my knees in surrender that night, or maybe it was because this time the action was of my own invention rather than instructions I was following in a book. Whatever the reason, as my flesh appeared before my own eyes in that mirror, I was suddenly transported through time and space to an original temple of the erotic.

Intuitively I reached for the oil, poured it into my cupped hands and slid my fingers across my skin. As the oil shimmered in the candlelight, my red fingernails dovetailed around my thigh. My hands were both pilgrim and priestess at the same time, massaging, exploring and worshiping every soft swirl of my body.

I then began to move my body around in different positions; laying down on my side, sitting up on my knees, leaning forward on my elbows. At certain points I would be watching my hands, other times watching my body, and sometimes, getting really close to the mirror to look deeply, infinitely, eternally into my very own eyes.  I wasn’t checking myself out or evaluating myself the way we often do when we look in the mirror. I felt I was face to face with the Goddess herself.  It occurred to me that every place I had ever visited as a house of worship; churches, temples, synagogues – all of the beauty found there was just an attempt to come close to the glory of what I was now seeing: the temple of the human body.

Venus-and-CupidSlick with oil and soft as a flower petal, I took out my journal and wrote one page about what I experienced and enjoyed. As the ritual came to a close I slipped into my satin robe, not bothering to tie it. When I padded into the kitchen to get a glass of water I noticed that the feelings of panic I felt before were no longer there. I felt, well, home.

Over the next few months this ritual became one of the many things that helped soothe the acerbic sting of being newly alone.  As soon as the sun went down, my anxieties would go up, and N.B.W.R. was my refuge. It is something I still practice frequently, and every time I do it, I swear I encounter infinity itself.

Just last week during an N.B.W.R. a song came on my playlist that reminded me of my best friend who had recently moved from NYC to LA. In the tenderness of an N.B.W.R. the intensity of my love and gratitude for her blew my heart wide open. I began crying big, fat Snoopy tears. But these weren’t tears of loss, they were tears of deep gratitude and love.

Continuing the ritual I gazed into my own eyes deeply. Red, puffy and filled with tears I saw a familiar face: my four year old self. Vulnerable. Innocent.  As my aperture widened and I saw my four year old self sitting there in a grown up woman’s naked body, I witnessed the very cross section between vulnerability and sexuality. It was one of the most moving, profound experiences of my life.

“If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred” – Walt Whitman (click to tweet!)

Or, to quote Chazz from the movie Blades of Glory: “Personal philosophy? Clothing optional.”

Let The Sun Shine In!
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Images: Rokeby Venus, Birth Of Venus, Venus and Cupid

 

My Body Doesn’t Need A Reason

My ideal customer.
Are you my ideal customer?
(The other day I was holding a puppy in a pet store and kept asking her “are you my dog?” I figured if I had to ask, the answer was probably no.)
This weekend I am throwing the party of the year: Intro to Qoya teacher training.  I have a few spots left, and I thought to myself this morning, “what would my ideal customer want to hear that would make them decide to come?”
Then I slapped myself in the face.
Qoya.  Nuff’ said. 
Because that is simply not how we roll here at the School of Charm and Cheek.  When I write a piece, it is because I have a story I want to tell you.  Not because that story relates to whatever product is on the proverbial shelf that week, which might convince you to buy it.  I can smell that a mile away, and I know you can, too.  However, this week I do have a story to tell you, and it is about Qoya.  And while I do want to fill those spots with gorgeous, extraordinary, legendary women, I don’t want women there because they were seduced by hearing exactly what they wanted to hear.  The kind of seduction we practice is not like that.  The only women I want in that room are the women who have been called…where my words are simply an affirmation of their inner voice. 
So, without further ado, sit at my feet.  Lounge on a pillow as a sister strokes your hair.  Let me tell you a story….
Like most children, when I was young, I wished for supernatural powers.  I was, for the most part, convinced that I had them.  I could turn a rock into a crystal ball, a flat stone into a tablet on which I would communicate secret messages with my fairy Godmother.  The grave of my hamster was not some kid’s tribute to her furry friend.  It was a sacred, ancient burial ground that demanded respect. 
My supernatural powers felt most distinct when I would shoot out our back door like a bullet from a gun, screen door slamming behind me, lunging at my swing set/jungle gym with a ferociousness that I think made it brace for it’s own self.  I would hang upside down for hours and attempt death defying feats from the highest pole.  The slide? Please.  Don’t waste my time.  Give me the rings or give me death.
My fairy Godmother has always resembled Anjelica Huston in Mists of Avalon. 

Looking back now, I am able to see that my most potent magic would happen when I was enjoying my body.  Somewhere along the line, as it does with most young girls, that magic was tucked away.  For my own protection and the protection of the world around me, my feminine magic was locked in a chest.  But you know that fairy Godmother of mine.  She is one cheeky little minx.  She didn’t throw the key away like the culture would have her do.  She simply hid it in the folds of her dress, and eventually gave it to a friend of mine, to be given back to me when time was right. 
That friend is Rochelle Schieck.  Rochelle is Qoya’s founder. I’ve known Ro for several years and have been blessed to watch Qoya’s evolution.  About a year ago, I felt called to become a Qoya teacher. I want to let you in on one of the thousands of rewards that have come from making that decision.
This past weekend, I had one of the biggest ruptures of my life.  A relationship that I thought was going one way turned out to be going the complete opposite way.  I was blindsided. But was I really? Here’s the thing. When I received this news, I wasn’t so much shocked as I was relieved that my mind had finally caught up with my body. 
You see, my body knew all along what was really going on.  But because I couldn’t use logic to explain that feeling, I decided to let the outside world convince me that it was a feeling to be ignored. However, the nature of feelings is this: just like the key to that chest hidden in my fairy Godmother’s skirt, they never really get thrown away. They simply get altered. We adapt around them.  Kind of like the way the body can grow and adapt around a bullet after one has been shot.
Well, this weekend the bullet was pulled out.  And strangely, what fills this hole now, alongside tremendous grief, is a sense of relief and validation.  My body was right all along.  This has been the lesson of this experience: my body is always right.  She doesn’t need a reason.  She doesn’t need to explain. She may not offer words, but the feeling she offers is more than reason enough.
 
Solo Qoya in the desert

Where I learned this lesson most profoundly is in the Qoya classroom.  Had I not heard the messages of Qoya echo in my ears a thousand times “if it feels good, that is how you know you are doing it right; feel everything; there is no way you can do this wrong,” I would probably be clinging to trying to make the outcome of this situation different than it is.  But thanks to Qoya, I know the physical sensations of letting go, embracing the unknown, and doing what feels good, trusting that that will take me where I need to go.  And because I know what those feel like, I know how to put them into action
Last night I almost cancelled Qoya because I was feeling so sad.  But I forced myself to go, and waiting for me there was the bosom of my fairy Godmother herself, found in the magic of dancing, shaking, saluting the sun, sensing, feeling and surrendering. I left there remembering what it feels like for everything to be ok. 
If this story speaks to you, if my words resonate with the words that live in your heart, I invite you to join me and a badass group of dancing revolutionaries this weekend.  There is no experience necessary.

You are stronger than you think you are. 

More creative.

More brilliant. 

More courageous. 

More wise.


Through movement, we remember.

We remember that as women, our essence is wise, wild and free.

Seduction & Sobriety

Sobriety.

Ugh. So un-seductive.

Isn’t seduction supposed to be sitting in an opium den, slowly sipping smoke from a pipe, wearing a see-through brocade dress, making eyes at some beautiful stranger I will never see again after tonight?

“I know. It sucks. But that is just simply not the case,” says the Universe.

I’m sitting on an Amtrak train from Harrisburg to New York after a weekend of helping my mother-in-law move.  My husband is sitting across from me.  I’m tired.  I miss New York.  There is a peppermint patty in my purse, and truthfully, I want to inject the sugar into my veins with an IV.

As those of you who read my blog know, I am a recovering compulsive eater.  I use food like a drug.  I have come a really long way over the years, and have a generally awesome relationship to my body and the way I eat.  Sometimes, however, it comes back.

Here on the train, I have a hung over/sick feeling in my stomach from the cheeseburger I ate for lunch.  It came with a Diet Coke, chips, and so much mayonnaise you would think the thing was made by a diabetes drug company.  I feel bloated, and the last thing my body wants is more sugar and chemicals.  But the part of me that wants to numb out just wants to mainline that thing.

As I was purchasing it, these were some of the motivations that crossed my psyche:

“I can’t make it 3 ½ hours without sugar.”
“It’s a peppermint patty, not a Snickers.  It’s not that bad.”
“I can split it with my husband to make myself feel better about it.”
“It shows that I am independent, that I can make my own decisions” (see the next two paragraphs).

When we were leaving, my husband chimed in that he thought we maybe shouldn’t buy train station snacks because we ate a lot of processed food over the weekend (translation: please can we go to the farmers market when we get home and get some fresh veggies so we are not supporting/taking part in the downward spiral of junk food that is killing America?). My brain, however, turned him into my worst patriarchal nightmare: “What, are you some kind of freak? You can’t live three hours without a sugar fix? You’re lame. Fat. Unattractive. Weak. Stupid. Hopeless.” 

In buying the peppermint patty, I got to say fuck you to that patriarchal nightmare: “You think I’m fat now? Just you wait.  I’ll show you how fat I can be.  How much misery I can take.  I’m just getting started.  If you can’t take me like this then you can’t take me period.  Leave then.  Let me be alone so I can eat my way into a numb, miserable, isolated coma. At least it would feel different than this”. 

(Please note that none of this is happening on a conscious level .It is only in retrospect that I am able to identify these feelings clearly.)

Then I bring this patty, which now feels like a nuclear reactor in my purse, onto the train.  We are riding Amtrak, so of course we are delayed.  Part of me wants to eat through my purse to the patty.  But I hold off.  I am still feeling totally nauseous and I know that eating more sugar will only make it worse.  And that is just not what normal people do goddammit, so I’m not going to do it!

Finally, we board the train.  I sit in my own seat and listen to the song “Be Here Now” by Mason Jennings, breathing deeply and taking in the sunshine. “You are the love of my life” plays through the interlude.  I think to myself, “if God were singing this to me, would I eat that patty right now? It’s not that eating the patty is wrong or bad. It’s just that I know I don’t actually want it.”  When I slip on the suit of being the love of God’s life, I don’t see myself choking down something that feels like poison.  Okay.  Good to know.  And yet, every 45 seconds, my mind drifts to the ever-present ability to change what I am feeling in the moment with a substance.

You may be reading this thinking, “Jesus! Throw the damn patty out the window if you don’t want it! Or just don’t eat it!”  But see, that would be like trying to apply the rules of checkers to a game of chess.  By eating the patty, I get to physically act out several beliefs:



1. I am shit.  Eating this patty reinforces that, and then when I have the sick feeling in my stomach that comes from eating it, I can blame my problems on my belly, not reality. 
2. If I can blame it on my stomach that means it’s my fault.
3. If it’s my fault, I am the one in control.  If 1+1=2, and junk food + fat belly = being repulsive and repugnant, I can subtract one from the equation by drinking green juice for the rest of the day.  Yes, that is what I need, a good baptismal cleansing of kale.  Redemption, atonement, something to make me shiny and new.

After all, when you are shiny and new, things like delayed trains don’t get to you! Shiny and new means thin, beautiful and in control.  Thin, beautiful people don’t have to worry about their businesses being successful. It all happens by magic.  They certainly don’t have to worry that their nieces are getting older every day which means that once they finally have kids there will be an enormous age gap that prevents cousinly bonding.  They don’t have to worry about their parents being sad.  BEAUTY FIXES ALL.  IF IT LOOKS RIGHT, IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT. RIGHT???????!!!!!!!!!!!!



As a last ditch effort, I got out my computer to write to you.  Writing this, I can feel that the jig is up. The cat is out of the bag.  I know now that a peppermint patty won’t fix a single goddamn thing.  What I want and need right now is to feel the heartbreaking fragility of life.  To be nourished by how much my nieces love and admire me, and cope with the fact that someday they will be too old to fall asleep on my lap watching Mary Poppins.  To know that someday, members of my family will die.  And I will not only be able to handle that pain, but also the pain of seeing my family grieve, and that we will come out of it loving each other even more. I need to acknowledge that right now my husband’s own crib quilt from when he was a baby is in my suitcase. This makes calling the gynecologist to have my ovarian cyst checked out before I get pregnant all the more real and pressing.  And I need to be reminded that when it all happens, somehow, it will be ok. 

So.  Seduction.

What I have learned is that those opium den moments come and go, but they don’t fill me up for long.  Sacred seduction is about long lasting attraction and satisfaction. What is most attractive at the end of the day? The truth.  It’s not about having white teeth and perfectly painted toenails.  What is attractive is showing self-respect by giving in to the glaring, white-hot, electric, sometimes harsh-as-fuck truth, instead of just eating the crust off the pie of my feelings, and covering the gooey center with a tea towel to pretend it’s not there.  We all know that shit seeps through eventually.

After writing this, the feeling of my stomach wanting to be over filled, pulling like quicksand on anything and everything, has reversed.  I now feel extremely full, and can feel my stomach pushing back.  I can physically feel that I don’t need or want anything else in my body in this moment. That is not a feeling I had 15 minutes ago.

Sobriety, it appears, is extremely seductive after all.

Okay Universe, one for you.

Mary Oliver, And My Birthday



“Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.” 
-Mary Oliver


Mary Oliver’s birthday is today.  Mine is tomorrow.  (Somehow, this makes me feel cool.) I am following her advice today by sharing some astonishment with you, and inviting you to be astonished with me.  

Few things are more astonishing to me than the feeling of wholeness I have after teaching and experiencing a Qoya class.  Qoya is the movement class I teach every Tuesday. Qoya was created by my good pal Rochelle Schieck. It is a movement class based on the idea that if it feels good, you are doing it right. There are no rules, no simon-says instruction.  It’s not about getting your body to look like what mine is doing, or what the person next to you is doing. What I love the most about Qoya is the way it offers a woman reclamation of doing things HER way.  

Qoya is about remembering that as women, we are all inherently wise, wild and free. I believe that this connection to body is the cutting edge for women’s empowerment. When a woman chooses to source her truth from within her very bones, rather than looking to a set of rules outside of herself, she is truly wise. When she can stand up and speak a truth that is boiling up inside her no matter how big a risk it is to speak it, she is claiming her wild soul, perfect and untamed.  When 5,000 years of conditioning is telling her that her way is wrong, but she decides right then and there that her way is right, and in fact, always has been, she is finally free. 

For my birthday this year, my biggest wish is celebrate my life by empowering other women. Tuesday September 11th, I will be having a by-donation Qoya class where all proceeds go to benefit Women for Women International.  This organization provides education and training for women victims of war all over the world.  The women who take this training often go on to start their own businesses, becoming financially independent.  The most important thing the classes offer is giving women education about their RIGHTS.  The more we are educated about our rights, the more we are able to give ourselves permission to access that which is wise, wild and free within us.  

On my birthday, this Tuesday September 11th, please join me in celebrating this year’s twirl around the sun with Qoya and Women for Women.  Class will be held at Chelsea Studios in NYC, 151 West 26th Street, from 7-8pm. 

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
 – Friedrich Nietzsche

Photo by Jodi Jones