“How we do sex is how we do life.”-Christiane Pelmas, www.therewilding.com
How do we use our Love, our Sexuality and our Intimate Connections to create a better world?
Love, Sex and Intimacy are a powerful trio and as EcoSexuals we are strongest and most effective when we are able to use their combined strength to serve life and the living. To get there, however, it often takes notable personal growth, healing of past wounds, and a willingness to see one another for who we are and not through the lens we have inherited from the consumer culture.
Love, Sex and Intimacy are also words that are often used loosely, so let us describe in more detail what these forces are and how we can best use them to create a thriving, ecologically sustainable culture.
In All About Love, bell hooks insists that love necessitates behaviors that demonstrate the following seven qualities:
- Trust, and
- Open and honest communication
M. Scott Peck, in The Road Less Travelled offers that Love is “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth and development…Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
Keeping in mind the understandings of love offered by hooks and Peck, EcoSexuality is an expression of our love in ways that serve the purposes of Life; it is an expression of love of those that manifest the values needed to create a sustainable culture; it is an expression of love of the earth body that gives us our Life. A definition of EcoSexuality offered by Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio is “loving beyond gender, orientation, numbers, race, and species”.
EcoSexual love expresses itself in many realms, from how we relate to our own body and soul, to how we relate the physical world in which we live. Transitioning into an EcoSexual world requires that we re-integrate what was once whole and has since become fragmented. This applies to Love as much as it applies to forest ecology or agriculture. We may naturally tend to some of these Zones of Love better or more fully than others. But, in order to create the cultural transformation towards a life-positive, sex-positive, ecologically sustainable way of living, we are called to cultivate loving practices in all aspects of our lives. We are called to surrender our love to Life itself.
Defining sex is not an easy thing to do. Particularly when we acknowledge the realm of sacred sexuality. Some have said sex is not something you do but rather a place you go; others think of it as an energetic exchange between people; others still think of it as the physical act of sexual intercourse. Intimacy Coach Betty Martin defines sex as “a full range of affectionate and sensual play and erotic expression.”
For the purposes here of meaningfully distinguishing sex from love and intimacy, we’ll use two definitions that may appear quite distinct, but upon further consideration, we hope you find that they are really rather the same.
Sex is an expression of the innate and erotic desire to deeply connect with the part of ourselves that is Life itself.
Sex is an act of intense erotic pleasure.
For reasons we do not pretend to understand, human sexuality is exceptional in that we can enjoy sexual exploration as a source of pleasure and connection separate from reproduction. This has led us to evolve a range of emotional, psychological and physical needs associated with sex, that most other animals do not share.
Sex has the power to touch us at our core, at our most basic sense of self, our life energy. The release of hormones during sex and orgasm has the capacity to influence our creativity, self esteem and existential sense of our place in this world. Sex can be playful, exploratory and transformative. Yet, at its essence, sex is an intense pleasure that can transport us to the place in ourselves that deeply connects us with our lovers and all that is.
So, it is of little surprise that such power evokes fear as well as curiosity, that those who want power concentrated in the hands of the few have created a culture of shame and guilt around the very pleasure and flesh of our bodies.
Yet, in an EcoSexual world, we are sovereign over our sexual selves: we acknowledge our desires and we seek our pleasures with respect and consideration. Our bodies have granted us too great a power for us to allow it to be used against us or for ill. Instead, we can use sexual expression as a way to accept the whole person, raw and naked in their humanity. In an EcoSexual world we reclaim our innate sexual power and use it responsibly and intentionally to affirm and validate the very essence of those that help us to create a sustainable way of life.
EcoSexuals know that the wind can give a stimulating caress, water can provide an arousing touch, a curve in the ground can offer an erotic embrace. When sex is understood as an expression of the desire to connect with the part of ourselves that is Life itself, then its easy to see that the Earth, its elements and its creatures can elicit these desires quite strongly.
Intimacy is a closeness, a seeing and being seen, a knowing and being known. We humans have a deep need for intimacy- for touch and acknowledgement, for physical, emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual connection. Yes, all of it.
As infants, all too many of us did not receive the physical closeness– the eye contact, the touch–we needed to meet our needs for healthy emotional development. We were children of parents that were themselves abandoned by our culture of isolation.
All too many of us are vulnerable to the assertions that the stuff of the consumer culture can fill us with a sense of happiness and replace our need for real intimacy. But no matter how shiny or fancy or new, stuff can not and will not fulfill us.
The good news is that the intimacy we humans crave is something we can have in abundance. We crave connection with our own soul, with one another and the place in the world we call home.
Agrarian philosopher Wendell Berry writes, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” We want to know what the name of plant is that grows at the forest’s edge, with berries oh so ripe in June and leafs favored for medicinal tea; we want to know that just west of where the large Oak stands, you can find your way down to a pool deep enough to swim in; we want to know that in the February moon, coyote will venture closer to our home, risking danger in hopes of finding a meal.
We crave this detailed understanding of where we live, just as we yearn to know the laugh and smile of the ones we love, to know how they think and what they would say, to be able to trace our fingers along the contours of their face and the curves of their body.
The opportunities for closeness, for knowing and being known, are abundant. As EcoSexuals, we can help one another fulfill our needs for intimacy. Nature has provided us with this inter-dependent relationship and we want to make good use of it. For when we have our needs for intimacy met, we are far more whole and grounded people, capable of giving ourselves to the service of life and the living.