Remembering the 101

Rope Bondage 101.  That I can do.  That I have never stopped doing.  I can not only do a Texas Handcuff quickly, but I can slow it down, walk you through each step, help you breathe and try again when it is frustrating.

Dominance and submission 101.  That I can do.  I talk with folks all the time about why they do D/s relationships and play, have classes on the topic, have a 3-day weekend where I help folks dissect their desire on a regular basis.

But in Minnesota I was struck dumb in the face by the fact that I have never in my life taught sex magic 101.

I do a fair amount of sex magic.  Energetic connection or spell casting or bond building or more using sex either as the vehicle, tool or conduit for the working… sometimes the sex is the battery, other times it is the machine itself.  And I was asked by the folks in Minnesota to do a class on “Safer Magical Sex and Erotic Energy Exchanges.”  I’ve done the class a number of times before, to folks who have a basic knowledge of safer sex or sex in general, and a basic knowledge of sex magic or erotic energy exchanges.  It’s a 201+ on both levels, though I touch on 101 topics in it.

The room had been set up theatre-style- me down on the ground, everyone else in chairs up on partial stadium seating in an actual theatre.  It was beautiful- sumptuous curtains hanging from the walls, great lighting, beautiful stage… and it didn’t hurt having an object of my affection as part of the audience.  I went into my usual schpeal, talking about astral bodies and the map of our energetic bodies, making sure everyone had a similar baseline of language as me for sharing their experiences of bonds between bodies, energetically transmitted diseases, etc.  Then, as a student who I knew was active in the local tantra community started asking me about my thoughts on various rumors that Deborah Anapol supposedly said (side note, I have found out that Deborah Anapol has denied these claims that she supports magic over condoms for STD stuff, in a direct email to one of my closest friends only 2 weeks ago, can we now stop spreading this rumor, k, thanks), it struck me.  I looked around the room and realized, most of the room was blank faces.

I turned to the student, and did something I am glad of and ashamed of all in one breath.

“I need to say something to you, and I apologize in advance.”
He stared back, as I had cut him off mid sentence, and said, “okay…”
“Fuck you.  Fuck you for pointing out so clearly that this class is not the right fit for this audience.”

Both he and the rest of the audience were stunned.

“How many of you can clearly say you have done sex magic?”

Less than 1/4 raised their hands.

“Okay, all of you, please bear with me.  I need to apologize for leaving you all behind with my assumptions that we were on the same page.  I would propose now that we all pick up our chairs, and make a big circle here down on the stage, and we start over again.”

They blinked at me, and one person started to move.

“Thank you, yes, please, thank you all for bearing with me.  And Sir, thank you for your strength in letting me vent at you for that moment, even if it was unprofessional.  I needed to get my anger and frustration out so that we could do what needs to happen here- a basics of energy and sex magic class.”

This was the start of my first ever sex magic 101 class.
Not my most glorious work ever.

I have since talked it through with a few folks, including my best friends Brent (The Mad Social Scientist) and Wintersong (The Barking Shaman).  I have parsed out, based on those 2 conversations, some of the challenges at hand.

1) It’s a pain in the ass to have to explain the algebra.

That was what Brent said, as we were talking about when we work in any field at 301 or higher.  That there is a point in mathematics where you don’t have to show the algebra each and every time, and you are able to simply use the calculus.  If we have to go back and show the work, it takes 20 times as long, and we aren’t able to get onto the exciting stuff, the wizbang high math stuff.

I realized as I talked with him that this is why I like engaging in D/s and polyamory relationships with folks who have done it before.  If I have to keep going back to the 101 with my own partners, I will not be able to get to the wizbang stuff at 301 and higher.  I would never brave my current adventures in transparency with someone who was not as experienced in open relationships and kink as my Boy, Aiden.  I wouldn’t trust them to know how to do it, even if I started down this journey over the course of my last 2 D/s relationships.

That is not to say that as experienced players we do not have anything to learn from 101 information.  Therein lies madness.  No.  We do.  But it’s like when we have seen a movie before, then rewatch it knowing the end of the flick- we see new information in the same movie.  I watch “Usual Suspects” about once a year or so, and each time I watch it I go “OMG, how could I have not seen THAT clue before!”  The plot is laden with stuff that we would have seen if we had only known.  The same applies for advanced folks in a field going back to 101 classes- we learn new stuff because we know the plotline.

2) If we explain the algebra, we can’t do the high end calculus.

As I explained Brent’s theory to Wintersong, he said, no, it’s more than that.  If we have to stop and even think about the 101 stuff, we become incapable of doing the higher end work.   He actually bans himself from teaching 101 level magical work before he is about to undertake deeply involved spellwork or magic, about a month before actually.  The higher work must come naturally to him.

When we first start to learn to drive (I am told, I in fact do not drive), we have to think about each turn, each weave, each bob we do.  We must think about what needs shifting, what is in each mirror, how much room we have.  Over time, this comes more “naturally.”  This notion of naturally is actually our brain having built new neural pathways between ideas, developing schema inside our mind that say “If X then Y” without us having to have it become part of our conscious mind.  Shema allowed some of our ancestors to survive in moments where they were out in the woods at night- those that ran without thinking, whose bodies “knew” before their thinking brains did, what to do (run), they ran.  Those that stopped and thought “hm, I wonder what that noise is…” were eaten.

There are of course negatives about schema- they lead to us “jumping to conclusions” or “acting without thought” – the positives are the same as a note.

So, if we have to stop and consider each turn our car makes, the likelihood of surviving a high speed chase are fairly low.  So it is with magic.  If I am thinking all the time about grounding and centering, I have no active brain and body space left for casting spellwork, doing astral journeying, removing elfshot, etc.  Grounding, centering, shielding, energetic balance, feeding and more must come like water, must have pre-built operating systems running in the background, before I can do the deeper work. This applies for knowing my partners in magic too- the first time I work with another, I do not know what they will do next.  Will their style and energy match with mine?  Over time, we develop lexicons in our magical tongues, knowing what they can do, that they can be on the same page as us, that trust is in fact possible.  And when trust is needed, and I mean needed, this is key.

3) Dissecting the calculus back into algebra is hard.

If we have not done algebra in many years, trying to dissect the calculus as a path back to algebra, it’s hard.  I would argue it is damn close to impossible.  Algebra, as a mathematical language, builds up into calculus.  Calculus does not dissect naturally back to algebra.  Pieces fuze, and it is hard to untangle the threads again.

The same is true of magic, or relationships, or many other points of work I do.  Once I stop paying attention to the “why do we do this kinky stuff” and start simply saying “this is who I am or what I do, now what,” dissecting the conversation backwards can be difficult if it has been a while, if not downright impossible.  Our brain has gone onto the next layer, fuzed the math together, and suddenly we are working on a different level.  Someone asks “why do you do this” and the words come out jumbled- a tangle of reasons that actually don’t add up- because we can’t show all the math any more.  The invisibles that rule our knowledge of self, this thing called authenticity and identity and core has slipped in extra variables, and the symbols are not in the lexicon of the beginning mathematician before us.

So how do I do it in kink education and relationships?  Why can I teach rope 101 and also turn off my mind and do rope jazz?

Because I do 101 all the time.  Yup, at least once every 2 weeks I teach someone 101 rope.  It keeps me rooted there.

Because I went back to 101 classes and learned with the intent of knowing how to explain the basics.  I learned Algebra *after* I learned Calculus.

Because I make it important to me.  In the form of income, of identity, of whatever, I make the 101 still important to me.

So why can’t you seem to do this with magic?

Ah… and now I pause and breathe, as I have a magical student under me who asks for questions sometimes, and all I can give them is exercises.  I don’t have the words.  I am working towards them, working on those 3 because’s.  But I’m not there yet.  And that third one is a bitch.  I have to make myself care.

One student is not enough to make myself care… and please don’t step up and shout “I would learn 101 magic work from you Lee!”  Stop that thought, please.

I only have so many hours a day, so many days a week, so many weeks a year, so many years left as I dance on this planet.  Where and how I spend my energy is important.  I have master works to do, and I have a glimpse, hell, an entire slideshow, that shows me where my master work is.  And this is not the whole of it.

My WORK on this planet, my cosmic Job, is as an interpreter, as a linguist, so that I can help open doors to cosmic potential.  Yup, got that.  So yeah, I am learning the 101, going back and taking algebra again.  There are days I see the work that Wintersong and other high end Magi do, and get jealous.  Couldn’t *that* be my master work, I ask my Patron.  She blinks at me, and I go back, with my ring of keys, to opening doors and writing.  More writing.  More conversations and chats and eyes open with an “aha.”

I’m not planning on teaching magic or sex magic 101 classes, but who knows, right?  I teach a fiber magic class that during it I spell out magical ethics and understanding purpose and destiny… even in my 101 I do it different.  But how is that different from my rope 101?  I sneak in philosophy, faith, relationship dynamics, humor, love and understanding core values into those classes.  Because my boxes, they are not so lined up.  This stuff to me is all the 101 stuff we need to live as humans.

So here I am.  Looking at the 101.  Wondering, if I can not dissect or deconstruct the Calculus back into Algebra- can I learn both, and from it, help us all build a new math?


Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

One Comment:

  1. I deeply appreciate and resonate with what U say and how you handled this question about my work. Since I have not even mentioned the subject of Safe Sex and STD’s in public for nearly 10 years, (since realizing people literally could not hear what I was actually saying) I cannot imagine why this even came up. Thanks for showing up Lee! Love, Deborah

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