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London Faerie: Playing with Consciousness Part 1

Though I’d met London Faerie before and seen his amazing sacred BDSM demonstrations,  Eroticon 2014 was the first chance we’d had for a real conversation. And when the topic was something as multifaceted as sex and spirituality, I knew I wanted to have Faerie guest on A Hopeful Romantic. The resulting guest post on the topic of ‘head space,’ ended up way too amazing to cram into one post. So, please welcome London Faerie, for Part 1 of Playing with Consciousness! (see Part 2 on 31st March)

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In my work I teach people how to play with consciousness. This sounds a bit grand and, to many people, rather spiritual. However KD’s asked me to write about ‘head spaces’, and this is a great opportunity for me to talk about how you don’t need to believe in God, the Universe or anything else to experience these altered states.

Firstly it’s good to define what we’re talking about here. In everyday life our minds are busy and active with many thoughts, and our attention goes to the past and the future as well as the present moment. I see this as a horizontal reality, where we experience life in a linear way, with the present moment part of a narrative that extends backwards into the past and forward into the future.

Most of us have at times experienced a different space: a peak state, sometimes called ‘flow’, in which we lose ourselves completely in what we’re doing. When we’re in this flow state we lose track of time and everything but the present moment fades away Often this flow state happens London Faerie-23spontaneously and without us doing anything to move into it: for example, when we’re engaged with an interesting and difficult task, like repairing a bike or painting a picture. Instead of finding ourselves on a horizontal line, the present moment expands and we experience a more ‘vertical’ reality, in which we feel deeply connected with the world around us.

For those who are spiritually inclined, this state is often seen as connecting with a higher power: God/dess, the Universe, the Background Presence, All That Is or whatever you individually choose to name it. I don’t however feel that you need to believe in any of those things to experience altered states of consciousness. It’s enough to feel more presence, and in this increased presence to discover that you feel quite different.

These different head-states are special for a few reasons. First of all, they feel great. In his book Flow, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi talks about the flow state as optimal for human beings, a complete immersion that increases our mental capacity and makes us feel much better. He argues that happiness and flow are closely connected: the more time we spend in this peak state, the better we feel. Even though his book actively dismisses spirituality, I recongise that his discovery of the close link between presence and happiness is an important one.

As well as being good for us, going into altered states of consciousness is often very surprising. People report becoming much more attuned to each other, sometimes almost psychic in their ability to feel what is happening to each other. It’s common for people to think similar thoughts at the same moment, to ‘just know’ what to do in difficult situations and so on.

Whatever their beliefs, most people recognise this hyper-connected state as something they’ve experienced from time to time. It’s as if the veil of separateness drops and we experience our inter-connectedness as reality. We still know that we are individual, but we also remember that we’re part of the web of all life and that our thoughts and feelings connect us with everything and everyone else.

London Faerie-14Most of us know these altered head-spaces because we’ve been there, but often this happens haphazardly, by accident and without us being able to easily replicate it. So how do we learn to move in and out of this flow state at will?

Through the course of my explorations with BDSM and Tantra I’ve discovered that there are certain things we can do to enter these altered states again and again. One amazing tool is breath. It still staggers me that changing the way we breathe fundamentally changes the way we feel: it’s so simple and obvious yet it works every time.

When we think about it in reverse, it makes perfect sense. When we feel differently we automatically breathe differently. When anxious we breathe fast and shallow, and this way of breathing increases the anxious feelings; when aroused we breathe fast and deep, resulting in us feeling more ‘charged up’ and more aroused. How we feel and how we breathe are in a dynamic relationship with each other, each affecting the other, taking us into a virtuous or vicious cycle.

Playing with breath deliberately is a simple way to play with consciousness. In Tantra we learn how to become more relaxed through one type of breath, how to turn ourselves on through another and how to become more present and alert through yet another. Similarly we play with breath in BDSM: holding someone’s breath when they have a lungful to induce panic, holding it when their lungs are empty so they feel relaxed and spacy.

If your interest has been piqued by what I’ve written, I’m running two workshops in April where you can experience these altered states for yourself. On Sat 5th & Sun 6th April I co-lead Through The Portals, an experiential weekend introduction that includes BDSM, Tantra and breathwork. And on Sat 26th & Sun 27th April I lead The Purple Door, exploring ecstatic and altered states through BDSM. Find out more at http://sacredpleasures.co.uk

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Be sure to stop by next Monday, the 31st for the second instalment of London Faerie’s post on Playing with Consciousness. 

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Through the Portals Workshop:

5th & 6th April

The Purple Door Workshop:

26th & 27th April

www.sacredpleasures.co.uk

About London Faerie:

London Faerie-15London Faerie is a purveyor of authentic desire. He believes that you should ‘Follow Your Bliss‘, and offers a range of workshops, talks, salons and sessions to support people in doing so.

Faerie’s practice is wide-ranging, drawing from BDSM, shamanic healing, coaching, psychodrama and Tantra. He’s been practising and learning for over 12 years, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his groups and sessions. Faerie is the founder of Sacred Pleasures, the place where everything meets: a sex-positive community space where you can welcome more of yourself and make friends with everything you are.

Find London Faerie Here:

www.londonfaerie.co.uk

www.sacredpleasures.co.uk

blog.londonfaerie.co.uk (personal stuff)

Twitter: @londonfaerie

 

 

The Delish Delores Deluxe Talks Body Confidence

KD: Welcome, Delores! It’s such a treat to have you back on A Hopeful Romantic, and discussing    such an exciting topic. Could you tell us what inspired you to begin a course on Body Confidence.

Delores Deluxe body confidencemini DDDD: I have been working on the cabaret and burlesque scene for nearly 10 years and have been teaching burlesque for about 5 years. I found during the regular burlesque classes that a lot of women felt unhappy or uncomfortable with their bodies and would often want to chat about this as part of the class. I felt that they were almost looking for permission to be open about their insecurities. I decided then I would create a new class with a focus on this and encouraging positive body image.

I’ve been sitting on this class for quite a while and haven’t really had time to follow it up but a change in my career situation recently has meant I’m now able to put all my energy into it, which is really exciting and challenging.

KD: What do you see as the main cause for women’s over-all lack of body confidence?

DD: I think there are many causes – I’m sure that many people have long-term deep-seated issues with their bodies that a couple of hours in a workshop won’t be able to address – I am not a psychologist! On a more general level, I do think the media has set a very unrealistic ‘body ideal’ for most women with their airbrushed and enhanced images on every magazine.

While I can understand that fashion magazines do, and have done this for years, my real issue is with the newer celebrity magazines where we see women berated on the front cover for having lost or gained weight, wearing unflattering clothes or nipping out without make-up. This sets a really dangerous example and puts enormous pressure on all women, particularly younger girls who feel they have to look a certain way to be accepted.

KD: Do you think women’s attitudes toward their bodies are getting better or worse with all of the interconnectedness of the internet and social media?

DD: I think the internet can have a positive influence in that it encourages discussion and can offer a wonderful support network, however,  it does give EVERYONE a voice and opinion and some of these can be deeply damaging and negative. I think the benefits outweigh the cons though – just keep away from the nasties!

KD: Could you tell us a bit about your own journey to body confidence, Delores.

DD: I trained and worked as an actor for many years before I moved into cabaret. I suspect anyone who has trained in a professional performing arts establishment and worked in that industry will at some point have felt pressure about their body and image, especially in dance and musical theatre. I powered through but being told  outright you’re too tall, too big or not pretty enough for something does have an effect regardless of the training you go through to deal with personal rejection. Moving into burlesque made a huge difference to my self-confidence and I finally felt that I was being judged on my performance abilities and skills rather than ‘looking Delores Deluxe Body confidenceTop hat DDright for a part’. Also the style element was something that I got right into immediately! I loved the clothes and the lingerie and it really helped me find my individual style, sourcing items for which,  is now one of my greatest passions and pleasures!

KD: What do you think is most detrimental to our body confidence?

DD: I think there many factors and everyone might feel differently. Some people have had negative influences in their early years, which are very hard to shake and reprogramme. Other people judge themselves too harshly and are constantly comparing themselves to others, which I think is really pointless. We are all unique and individual and need to try to focus on the positive rather than what we feel we are lacking.

KD: Why do you suppose body confidence issues are much more common among women than men? Why are men more comfortable in their bodies, no matter what they look like?

DD: I don’t think that’s true….. I think they are maybe just less vocal about it!

KD: Pop culture, airbrush mag covers and cosmetic surgery readily available for a price can take their toll on any woman’s body confidence. How can we combat that influence when we’re surrounded by it every day?

DD: We need to look at reality – what do you actually find attractive? There are so many beautiful women who don’t conform to standard or media ideals who look amazing. Being body shape aware and understanding how to dress for your body shape can make you feel like a million dollars!

I think surgery is a different issue – if someone is really unhappy and wants to change themselves with plastic surgery then they should feel free to do so for themselves but not because they feel they are expected to look a certain way.

KD: In the burlesque performances I’ve seen, I notice that there are women of all body sizes and shapes, and the confidence and sensuality all of these women exude on stage is amazing. Why, and how, does burlesque helps build body confidence?

DD: Burlesque is a feminine art form and, in its resurgence, is predominantly run by women which gives us control over what we create and what we want to see. Creating a routine and a character is a very personal thing and a great deal of ourselves and personalities go into it, which Delores Deluxe body confidenceKittens.8makes each performer unique. I believe that once we stop comparing ourselves to others then we can really begin to feel happier, more comfortable and positive in our own skins.

The classic burlesque style is also very flattering to all body shapes – the corsets which come in all styles, sizes and shapes mould perfectly to the individual body and enhance curves (if you have them) or create them (if you don’t) Hours of work and hundreds of pounds go into costuming so they have to make you feel amazing and ready to va va voom!

KD: How much does our attitude toward our bodies influence the other areas of our lives?

DD: I think any negativity can have a massive impact on our happiness and self-esteem, which then can influence the way we see ourselves and how we set our ambitions and our expectations. If we don’t treat ourselves with respect then it’s very easy to let this affect our careers, relationship and personal goals.

KD: If you could give one piece of advice to help women be more comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?

DD: Come to my class!!! Ha ha! Just give yourselves a break, girls! Focus on the things you do like and remember there is so much more to attractiveness than having your ideal body or perfect face. I also advocate surrounding yourself with a crack team of amazing friends – good for keeping body and soul together in times of trouble!

KD: Tell us a bit about the Body Confidence classes. When are they available? Where? Who can participate? How can we sign up?

DD: The class is a 90 minute workshop – it’s very nurturing, gentle and quite good fun! We’ll be focussing on looking at our bodies in a positive light and challenging the issues that hold us back from feeling like the goddesses we are!

The classes are every Saturday in Angel at:

The Joker of Penton Street

58 Penton Street

N1 9PZ

Class times are 11am 1pm and 3pm

£25pp

http://www.thekittenclub.com/dates-prices/classes/

About Delores Deluxe

Delores Deluxe body confidenceMini DD2

Delores Deluxe started out her cabaret career under a railway arch in Bermondsey in 2005 in the original line up of The Kitten Club. She is an established performer, programmer and promoter on the London burlesque and cabaret scene as well as founder and leader of London’s longest running troupe, The Kitten Club Cabaret which have been performing around London for 9 years. Having a 10 year background in classical acting and musical theatre, she was delighted to stumble into the emerging burlesque scene in London in 2005 and to put her skills to an exciting new use. Delores is also now enjoying working as a soloist on the cabaret and variety circuit with her comedy magic tricks and can generally be found wearing something polka dot!

www.thekittenclub.com
Twitter: @deloresdeluxe
Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/thekittenclub

 

 

Eroticon 2014 Mental Snap Shots

IMG00622-20140311-1111There are snippets of time we’ve anticipated for ages, and when they’re suddenly upon us, they pass in a whirlwind of experience and laughter and conversation. These snippets stick with us like snap shots, so in lieu of the many photos I was too into the moment to take, I’d like to share with you some of my snapshot moments from Eroticon 2014. Some of the photos I am using I shamelessly borrowed from the Brit Babes.

A strawberries and Fizz Brit Babes reunion in Lily Harlem’s hotel room.

In so many ways this reunion was also a birthday party, since it was last year at Eroticon 2013 that the Brit Babes were first conceived in London in the hotel bar when the ideas were flowing faster than the alcohol. Eroticon is a great place for the imagination. The year before the Brit Babe members dreamed and schemed the Sweetmeats Seven Deadly Sins Anthology.

Armada House revisited

The very first Eroticon was held in Bristol in Armada House two years ago, and everyone I talked to who attended was thrilled to be back in the warm homey space and back to cheeky, sparkly, in your face Bristol.

Censorship online and in Print

The riveting opening talk of Eroticon 2014 was on the topic of censorship online and in print with feminist pornographer, Pandora Blake, solicitor-advocate Miles Jackman and writer and member of Feminists Against Censorship, Zak Jane Keir. I was stunned by the ambiguity of the obscenity laws. In fact, the laws seem to be fluid enough to be easily accommodate any agenda.

10001307_10152675201832786_1266549849_nThe Lister Dent Short Story Formula

After being in Ashley Lister’s poetry workshop last year, his class was at the top of my list. I was not disappointed. Ashley led us down a raucous path of formulaic fiction made literature, that was fun, informative and creative. Some at our table may be revisiting Tales of the Knicker Drawer in future.

Overwhelmed by Sexuality and Spirituality

Victoria Blisse and I plotted this panel at last year’s Eroticon. We Skyped, emailed and schemed for a discussion we both felt was essential to erotica writers. We didn’t know what to expect, but a full house of enthusiastic people willing to share their thoughts on the deep connection between the spiritual and the sexual and the common vocabulary as well as the common experience is what we got. We both came away feeling like we were the richer for the effort.

Delightfully dazed and confused by marketing and Twitter

The fabulous Ruby Goodnight and Michael Knight were very patient and shared myriad ways to market better and use Twitter more efficiently. I confess that I am still a dunce, though thanks to Ruby and Michael, I’m a little less so and most definitely proud of myself for making the attempt to learn more. Every little insight is huge for me, and Ruby and Michael were amazing.

Sacred BDSM

London Faerie was back this year with Martina, who has the voice of an angel. The demonstration of sacred BDSM was moving and full of thought-provoking nuance that I’ll be thinking on for awhile.

In front of the Ibis HotelCyclonic waves of hen parties and gigantic inflatable penises (peni?)

I quickly discovered that Bristol is Hen Party Central on a Saturday night. A growing crowd of eroticoners made our way along the waterfront avoiding the swing of enormous inflatable penises and shoving cheek to jowl with slightly inebriated women teetering on nose-bleed heals. We descended on the Stable for a dinner of pies, pizza and cider. Sixteen of us crowded around a table for ten, and it was well worth every elbow in the ribs and jostle of the knee.

Animal extremes and Cocktails

Animal extremes were not lost on the Brit Babes as we made our way past the Slug and Lettuce to the Elephant Bar for the Eroticon cocktail party. The conversation was great and the drinks were plentiful. My only problem was that I didn’t get the chance to meet and chat with everyone, but with cramming so many people and so many experiences into a weekend that’s bound to happen.

 Bonding of Bleary eyes and smiling faces

were the norm on Sunday morning with everyone clutched the caffeinated beverage of choice. At every Eroticon so far, Sunday seems to be the day when we’ve all bonded. We’ve shared the experience, made new friends and deepened relationship we already had. By Sunday morning I always feel a sense of real cohesion, and it’s one of my favourite parte of Eroticon. The list of people I’d like to mention is way too long for one blog, but it was a special pleasure to meet the fabulous Vida Baily at long last – even have dinner with her at the Stable. And it was a delight to talk sex and spirituality with the spankalicious Renee Rose.

Kristina Lloyd’s workshop on flash fiction

had us looking at paint chips with names like ‘arsenic’ and ‘blacken’ and playing filthy flash fiction bingo. Sadly I missed the first half of the two-hour class, but was very glad I got to wrap my dirty little mind around a bit of quick and dirty fun. As always, Kristina rocked.

Ear Candy …

…well that’s how I described myself when I sat in as a part of the workshop How to Write a Story from Inspiration to Publication with Kev and Victoria Blisse, Lucy Felthouse, and Kay Jaybee. My part was to read an excerpt from a short story I wrote. I could SO do that. I’m always happy to read. And it was lovely to sit back and enjoy with an occasional expert-ish nod.

High Tea and Readings

If Eroticon 2014 kicked off with a serious talk on censorship, it ended on a playful note with high tea (read cupcakes!) and readings. Harper Eliot put together an amazing schedule of readers, of which I was lucky enough to lead, though not lucky enough to be able to stay and enjoy all of the delectable aural offerings. I did, however, get the chance to enjoy Judith Watts’ fabulously filthy poetry before I had to cut and run for my train.

After three amazing Eroticons in the UK and one in the US, which I have heard nothing but raves about, Ruby Kiddell, you just get more and more amazing! Thank you SO much for all of your hard work throughout the year to put together such a stunning event. You’re the best!

And to everyone I shared the experience with, the pleasure was very truly mine! I was inspired and encouraged in a hundred different ways. Thanks!

 

Sex as Ritual

Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500I’m very excited to be on a panel about Sexuality and Spirituality with Victoria Blisse at Eroticon this year. Those of you who follow my blog and read my books know that I’m fascinated by the connection between sex and spirituality. I’m not a mystic. I’m a bit of a skeptic these days, but I’d be the first to say that there’s definitely something spiritual, something magical about sex, and not the least of it is the ritual involved.

I think about the ritual of sex a lot lately as I revisit the Elemental Coven from the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy in my serialisation of Demon Interrupted on my blog. I’ve always loved ritual. I made rituals up when I was a child. Later, I was involved in everything from conservative Christianity to practicing in a Wiccan coven — drawn in by the ritual. I spent three years training to be a spiritual director. I did it for the ritual. Contemplative prayer, meditating upon passages of scripture, the use of movement, dance, chant, are all tools of ritual. During my time spent in the Wiccan coven, the year itself was lived out in ritual — full moon, new moon, the changing of the seasons, the celebration of spring and harvest. During that time my husband and I even underwent the ritual of hand fasting in the stone circle at Avebury.

Ritual is a set of actions performed mainly for their symbolic value. But that’s only the beginning. The real power of ritual is that it’s the gateway to something beyond itself, it’s the gateway to a deeper understanding of what it represents.

That ritual infuses my erotica is not surprising. Sex is steeped in ritual, and often the rituals we psyche_et_lamour_327x567practice before sex are strikingly similar to religious rituals. We often wear special clothing for the occasion, just as priests and acolytes do. We may share a romantic dinner together before hand, with special foods, just as the priest serves the Eucharist. Flowers and gifts may be offered. And all this we do in hopes of experiencing and celebrating le petit mort, the sexual version of death and resurrection.

When life was a lot more tenuous than it is now, fucking the world into existence was an act of high magic, sympathetic magic. One hoped that by having sex in a field or a cave or possibly a stone circle, the birds and the bees would see what was happening, and take a hint. Pollination would take place in the plant kingdom, plants would grow. Procreation would take place in the animal kingdom, animals would give birth. There would be food to eat, and the next generation would be guaranteed. Our ancestors got it — that there was something in the act, something in the lust driving the mating rituals of all living creatures that brought about new life. New life was in itself magic.

Today sex is more about recreation than procreation. The urgency is no longer there, nor is the belief that our efforts will encourage the cattle in farmer Jones’s field to breed. The urgency may be gone, but the ritual is still there. Strangely and wonderfully, so is the magic, albeit a different kind of magic.

220px-Grus_canadensisThe beauty of sex as ritual is that we don’t have to be members of a religious group; we don’t have to undergo years of training to practice the rituals of sex. Whether it’s BDSM, kink, vanilla or masturbation, sex contains the built-in default rituals of all humanity, just like it does for our animal cousins. Yes, I get that it’s biology. But when cranes dance and grebes do synchronised swimming and apes groom each other, it certainly seems like more is happening than just the old in and out.

Giving and receiving pleasure is the ultimate ritual of human connection, even if it’s just some much-needed connecting with ourselves. There are as many versions of the ritual as there are people to practice it. No organised religion can offer a ritual that is more personal nor more universally compelling. Perhaps that’s why so much effort has been made through the centuries to regulate it, to control it, to limit it.

Back in the dawn of humanity when sex was both ritual and religion, our ancestors got it right. Though the science wasn’t yet available to back up that intuitive connection, that visceral urgency of fucking the world into existence, even back then, our ancestors already knew that the ultimate ritual, the ultimate magic takes place in the arms another.

If you’re in the Bristol area next Saturday the 7th, I hope you’ll get your ticket and come join us at Eroticon.

 

 

 

A Peek at What’s to Come

Writing imageFab writer, good friend and sister Brit Babe, Tabitha Rayne, tagged me for this blog hop Q and A fresh for 2014. You can check out her answers here. As you know I always sneak in through the back door of every New Year anyway, so February is when I finally catch up with all those new beginnings, and here is a peek at some of what I hope for in 2014.  I’ll tag 2 more unsuspecting writers at the end of this post!

If you could achieve anything with your writing in 2014, what would it be?

I would love to sell my Epic Fantasy trilogy and branch out into the wider world of fiction. I adore writing erotica and erotic fiction, and I can’t imagine not doing it, but I think like so many writers, I want ‘adventures in writing,’  and my wonderful characters in the first novel of my trilogy, The Choosing, have given me huge adventure and loads of dark, edgy fun in a new world.

There’ll be another book coming out in The Mount series at the end of this year as well, and I would love to get back to work on Eye of the Beholder, the burlesque play I’m working on with Moorita Encantada. So much to write, so little time!

What are the top three demons you must slay to achieve your goals in 2014?

The demon of self-doubt is always a biggie. No matter what I achieve, no matter what happens, I’m always and ever neurotic and there’s always room for a little more uncertainty.

The demon of Tunnel-vision forever haunts me and hounds me. I need more balance in my life, more play time, more time to read for pleasure and enjoy a little breathing space. I know that the Tunnel-vision demon would be way less of a problem if I didn’t love what I do SO much, but still, I write better and am more creative when the rest of my world is a little more ordered and balanced.

The negativity demon is a demon I’ve fought with all of my life. I don’t just see the glass as half-empty, but I often see it cracked and dirty as well. Sigh! I suppose seeing the cloud in every silver lining helps me prepare mentally for the worst and then allows me to be pleasantly surprised when things aren’t so bad. But really … Negative Nelly is very neurotic!

Name three things that inspire you to write

Just about anything can inspire me to write. It doesn’t take much. But things that are guaranteed to inspire in my life are long walks, working in the veg garden and, believe it or not, ironing. Of the three, I most definitely prefer the first two.

What advice do you have for a new writer who is considering writing fiction?

First of all, get the words down. ALL of them! Push on to the end, never go back, never quit, never stress about how bad what you’ve written is. First drafts are almost always crap. That’s how it’s meant to be. But you have to get something on the page before you can make it shine. First and most important rule of writing is WRITE!

Secondly, don’t ever give up. Like most things worth doing, perfecting the writing craft and telling stoies and getting them published takes lots of hard work and lots of time. That means the people who have made it, the people whose novels you enjoy reading are the ones who didn’t give up, the ones who got that mountain of rejections and just kept pushing. DON’T GIVE UP!

That’s me in through the back door of 2014, and now keep an eye out for these lovely writers and their 2014 plans.

Helen Callaghan  http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk/

Kay Jaybeewww.kayjaybee.me.uk

You can follow Kay on Twitter- kay_jaybee

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/KayJaybeeAuthor

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3541958-kay-jaybee

Brit Babes Site- http://thebritbabes.blogspot.co.uk/p/kay-jaybee.html

Kay also writes contemporary romance as Jenny Kane – www.jennykane.co.uk

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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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