This weekend I facilitated a “Queer Women’s Masturbation Ritual.” Seven self-identified queer women and I gathered together to reclaim our bodies and have our self-love witnessed. I want to share about that experience, with the intention of furthering this work in the world.
I’ve been leading masturbation rituals since 2009. I’ve begun telling participants that they are walking the warrior’s path with this work the amount of courage and bravery it takes to show up with a group of people and let them see you pleasure yourself is immense. It’s such a revolutionary act of self-love to reclaim our bodies in a communal erotic setting. So simple, so profound.
Sunday’s gathering went according to my experience. People gathered, nervously, and weren’t making eye contact. Even the women who already knew each other were quiet. As facilitator it’s my job to create a supported environment where people can be vulnerable. I asked them to just notice how they felt in the moment, and to imagine how they might feel by the end of our time together.
We began by breathing together, and dropping our breath into the pelvis. Squeezing the pelvic floor muscles to bring that part of the body alive, and moving our hips as our bodies were called to move. The breathing together created rapport, and I felt the group’s energy shift, dropping from nervous and high into a deeper, more grounded place. We stood in a circle, and agreed to support each other in this revolutionary work, and looked around to see who had the courage to show up.
Next, I facilitated a process using a Joanna Macy technology known as “milling.” Participants move slowly around the space, listening to the sound of my voice. After a bit, they find a person near them to partner with, and a brief facilitated engagement takes place. This process is repeated a number of times, with each engagement being an opportunity to either witness, acknowledge or demonstrate something about themselves and their partner. For example, the first pairing asked participants to “just look, and acknowledge, the tremendous courage this person standing before you has, in the fact that they showed up today.” This milling process, which can be verbal or non-verbal and/or somatic, begins to build group intimacy and support.
We then deepened into a heart circle process, in which participants spoke from their hearts about their experiences with masturbation, and the feelings and stories they carry about it. Having one’s heart-truth witnessed and held, and never fixed or advice given, is another simple ancient way of council. I borrow this particular moniker from the Radical Faerie community, but many indigenous cultures have council practices. The room was feeling quiet, and gentle at this point, as we heard many of our own truths and stories reflected in the sharing of the others. Stories of excitement at self-discovery, fear of being caught, shame, blocks and the challenge of self-love threaded through the circle, binding us together.
While the overarching intention for the ritual was sexual healing, we then deepened into a time of internal searching, to listen to our body wisdom of what our bodies want for sexual healing. Not what we “should” want or do or have, but the truth that arose from our somatic knowing of ourselves and our desires. We recorded these personal intentions, and spoke them aloud.
And then we masturbated, heads in the center of a circle, our intentions held at center. I guided us into explorations, and invited us to touch ourselves in new, experimental ways. Enliven the surface of the skin, stoke a deeper arousal than usual, following the breath to an ecstatic state. And ecstatic it slowly became, as women around the room began to engage their own erotic energy, and treat themselves as a lover. Signs and moans and “oh yeahs” started to fill the space. The sounds were enticing, and in the room the energy started to build. Every time someone would orgasm, the group would respond with vocal support. The energy passed through us in waves, sometimes high and intense, and at others quieter and stiller. It did build to a crescendo, and I reminded us to send energy to our intentions, our bodies, and our loved ones in need of sexual healing.
The most amazing thing happened next. It’s always an interesting challenge to know how to end the ritual. This group started laughing. Huge, rollicking laughter and belly roars filled the space, and lasted for many minutes. We’d get almost done, and then someone would start again and we’d be off. Again and again, orgasmic waves of laughter and joy cascaded down around us, weaving in and out of our intentions and our bodies. Slowly, and eventually, we finished this big release and turned over to gaze, with new eyes, at the other Self-Love Revolutionaries on the path with us. We greeted each other with joyful eyes, in awe of the erotic courage of us all. After a quick debrief, we shared snacks and community space, before cleaning up and going back to our lives.
Before this ritual, I was contacted by an interested party who asked, “I am not sure how community masturbating is going to heal sexual blocks and or shame.” I’m not sure honestly why it does work so well, but I have some thoughts. Being held and seen in warrior community is powerful as one gather’s allies on the path. Setting intention to reclaim the pleasure inherent in our bodies, and then taking action that is witnessed is potent. And coming together communally, with the idea that we are worthy, that we do deserve more, and that we desire sexual freedom? It’s almost like no socialization can stand up to that determination.
I welcome your thoughts and comments. What do you want out of your self-love practice?