Whore

Radical Ritual: Reclaiming my Virginity {NSFW}

The Virgin Mother on the Cross

The Virgin Mother on the Cross

I burned my wedding dress in the Burning Man temple this year. Or rather it burned while I watched—tears gushing from my eyes, snot running down my face. An unapologetic display of gratitude and grief. Ignoring the impulse to run into the fire and wrap myself in the warm comfort of the past, I chose instead to wrap my arms around me—knees tucked into my chest like a scared kid on her first day of school. Because that’s what it felt like—the first day of a brutal lesson in love that I was only just beginning to understand.

I liked to think I was good at relationships. This was my first error among many—attaching my ego to some version of relating based on doing it “right.” Always the consummate A+ student through-and-through. But when my relationship GPA depends on being a good girl (need to get into college to find a husband after all), then my wants/needs/desires get left behind out of fear of disrupting the class.

So I had to burn down the institution in order to see what was left. Because I knew whatever survived the blaze would not only be true, it would be the raw material in which I could turn lead into gold. The way of the alchemist—sharing her gifts once the inessential has been stripped away.

I met someone at Burning Man this year who asked me a simple question: When do you feel most powerful?

The answer came quickly: I feel most in my power when I dance/speak/move like no one is watching.

When I behave like no one is watching, I move from desire—an internally-motivated way of being that is rooted in truth and profound self-love. When I think others are watching, I notice how I posture myself in order to cater to their needs or assuage my discomfort.

-Who is this person?

-What do they want from me?

-What do I want from them?

-What do they think of me?

-Do they like me?

-Who do they know that I might know?

-Who holds the power right now and how can I get more?

-Do I feel jealous of this person?

-Do I think I am better than this person?

I think most of us go through life in a constant state of external reference—placing our power and agency into the hands of others rather than in the center of our own bodies. This shows up most powerfully in our most intimate relationships—both romantic and familial.

My intention at this year’s burn was to reclaim my power and agency through a revirginizing ritual. To be clear, revirginizing isn’t about denying my sexuality. It’s about reclaiming the original definition of the word “virgin.” In biblical times, a virgin was a woman who was owned by no man. She could own land. She was considered whole unto herself. That was my prayer. To return power to my center and choose relationship from wholeness—not unconscious patterns based on filling some ego-void or antiquated systems intended to deny a woman her holy right to erotic power and fulfillment.

The ritual was simple: walk to the temple in my wedding dress, take it off, and leave the temple naked. I intentionally left a lot room within my planning because I was curious what magic the playa would contribute.

I gathered my midwives (instead of bridesmaids) around 5pm Friday evening. Dana helped cinch me into my ponderous dress while I tried to ignore the sweat dripping between my legs. Lance offered me his arm and we set off on foot—literally, I was wearing no shoes—towards the temple. 

My midwives, Lance and Dana

My midwives, Lance and Dana

We got about two blocks down the road when we met a woman passing out cupcakes. She saw me in my dress and Lance at my side and offered her congratulations. I knowingly smiled and said “thank you,” amused at her hetero-normative assumption about my intentions.

I grabbed a cupcake and said, “It’s my unwedding day.” Curious, she wanted to know more. I told her about my ritual and she laughed. “Wow,” she said, “these cupcakes just came from a wedding."

How fitting that on my unwedding day I should eat the cake first. I had indeed gone through the looking glass. Full circle.

When we stepped out onto the esplanade, people kept congratulating me as they biked or walked by. I simply smiled and accepted their best wishes.

About a quarter of the way towards the temple, a woman asked to take my picture. I could tell by her camera that she was a professional photographer. She moved me around a bit, placing me in the best angle to the sun. When she asked me where I was going, I told her about my ritual. She decided that she wanted to document it. The playa had provided my unwedding photographer.

About halfway across the playa, we found ourselves at a giant rosary with a cross in front. Since I was reclaiming my virginity, I decided embody the Virgin Mother while placing my body against the crucifix. An offering to the Christ consciousness that lives within me. Again, wholeness. Holy masculine and feminine merging within my own body and blood. After all, I had just attended a spontaneous Eucharist at the temple a few days before.

On the cross

On the cross

We stepped off the platform and made our way to the temple—stopping briefly for an apropos Bloody Mary along the way. Now literally filled with the blood of the Virgin Mother (and bleeding in my own right given that my menstrual cycle had started a few days before), I was ready to enter the temple’s sacred void.

What was meant to be a ceremonious entry devolved into utter absurdity as a woman—who thought she was singing the wedding march—started to sing the Imperial March from Star Wars. I couldn’t help but both laugh and marvel and how perfect her error was. I suppose I was crossing the threshold into some sort of cosmic death star. I thanked her for her contribution and continued along my path.

I circumnavigated the temple clockwise, my midwives holding space behind me while I sung O My Beloved. It was a medicine song to the Beloved within my heart. I always liked to take a page from Hafiz’s book whenever the opportunity arises.

Singing medicine songs

Singing medicine songs

When I finally returned to the entrance, I slowly weaved through the crowd—pulling my dress close to my feet so as not to swipe the faces of those sitting. When I entered, I noticed the center was completely empty. Folks were gathered around the edges, but there was simply open playa in the middle. At first I hesitated, thinking there must be some sort of ritual happening. Then I remembered—oh yeah…mine.

Entering the temple

Entering the temple

I moved toward the center and stood for a moment. I wondered what I should do next. Then I remembered: “Just do what you would do if no one were watching,” I told myself. I removed my front veil and gently placed it on the ground in layered folds. I laid my white flower—my unwedding bouquet—on top, then proceeded to remove my back veil and placed it on the ground, too.

Dana then came to me and helped remove my skirt, which fell to the ground in a heavy poof of whipped cream organza, satin, and lace. She then unlatched the many hook-and-eye clasps that bound up the corset and unlaced the ribbon that held it in place.

In one final sweep, I pulled the corset over my head and there I was, naked in the center of the temple with a hundred forgotten eyes watching me. Not sure what to do next, I felt into my center and knew I needed to give gratitude to the garments that had once so lovingly held me. I dropped to my knees upon the dress and fell over—bundling the fabric in my arms. Tears formed around the edges my eyes and my body gave way to rippling—not quite crying, but a sort of activation through my spine. An enlivening. An awakening. A rebirthing. 

Rebirthing

Rebirthing

I then stood, holding the dress against my bare chest and walked to one of the pillars at the edge of the temple. This was when the grief hit me. Through waves of jangled sobs, I made a prayer as I clutched the garment one last time.

“Thank you for the magic and the prayer that was my marriage. Thank you for the great honor I got to carry while in this relationship. I release myself and all others from unconscious patterns and suffering that hold us back from our power. I now choose wholeness and I call in ways of relating based on choice rather than fear. When this dress burns, may this prayer return to Source so that its gifts may be bestowed on those who now need to learn these lessons. Aho.”

As I put the dress between the pillars, a Hawaiian man who had been watching the ritual came up and spoke a prayer in his native tongue. He ended with “Mahalo” and I responded with “Mahalo” in return. I then began to sing a Ho’oponopono song as I turned my back to the pillar. It was then I saw several people had gathered behind me to witness the ritual. I’m not sure what called then to the temple that day or why they chose to witness. But I am grateful for their presence and I hope that through their witnessing, they too got the medicine they needed.

Not standing on ceremony, I quickly walked out the back entrance of the temple and returned to the open playa. The professional photographer came up to me—visibly moved—and wanted to take shots of me as my new self. Another woman came up and offered me a stick of incense as her thanks for allowing her to witness the ritual.

My unwedding photographer

My unwedding photographer

An offering of incense

An offering of incense

Naked on the playa

Naked on the playa

After they were done, I walked naked back to camp—stopping only for a moment to say hello to a marionette art piece of a teenage girl called "Step Forward," who, coincidentally, was dressed in her wedding whites.

"Step Forward" in her wedding whites

"Step Forward" in her wedding whites

I created this ritual not as a “fuck you” to marriage. In fact, I created it for quite the opposite effect. I created it to cleanse my heart of unloving ways of relating that cause harm and suffering to all the lovers in my life. I created it so that I could live my life from sovereignty and choice. I created it so that I can use my power in heart-centered ways. I created it because I want to know what genuine love can be without getting caught in the trappings of seduction and romance. I created it because I want a life where my sexuality is an expression of authenticity rather than a means of validation.

While huddled on the ground at the center of the temple, the words from The Grandmother’s story in my book Reclaiming Eros: A Heroine’s Journey came to mind:

It was in this moment Nan realized how very lonely she had been. Not just in this life but for lifetimes. Nan began shaking and weeping.

“Oh God,” she cried out, “I miss God.”

Unbearable love pressed against her chest. It was a spherical expansion that cracked the edges of her ribs and tore through her skin. As her heart burst forward, the back of her body burned—like simultaneously giving birth to wings and dying in the phoenix’s flames. An involuntary wave of gratitude and grief gripped her throat, and she keened an ancient sound that twisted with both agony and wonder.

“We touched love,” she thought to herself. “Not ephemeral romance, that crunches and pounces and cramps. But love. Pure. Rich. Golden. Love.”

This is the kind of love I want to call into every moment of my life—full-out, unabashed awe of the ordinary and devoid of the kind of pride that prevents us from living in direct communion with those that we love.

Finally, I am reposting a video I created nearly two years ago called SLUT, a poem I wrote for my book—which also happens to the Virgin’s poem. How little I knew then how far the journey to reclaiming eros would take me…and how very clear that this student has a lot more to learn…

MY VIDEO "SLUT" REACHES 5,000 VIEWS ON YOUTUBE!

My video "SLUT," a digital performance art piece based on a poem I wrote, has reached 5,000 views on YouTube over the past two months. Thank you all who have watched and shared the piece. Please continue to like, subscribe and share this important work which challenges our views on women and sexuality.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slutpositive

Twitter: https://twitter.com/slutpositive

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheOrgasmicLife

"SLUT" written and performed by Candice Holdorf

I was a Virgin for a long time.

Perhaps you think
I mean
I took 21 years
To let a man Penetrate me

Measuring
My Worthiness
By the diminishing inches
Of his Cock?

No.

I mean a Virgin
In a language long forgotten:
Lost in the ashes
Of burned witches

And in the silenced vows
Of Brides of Christ,
Whose names were erased
In canonical Genocide. 

I was a Virgin.

A woman unto herself;
Whole; Unshackled; Owned by No One;
And in this way
We’ve always been Virgins--

Our women's wisdom,
Written in our Mothers' bosom,
Survived the translation migration
From page to pyre.

Observe your Holy Rights.

Do I deserve to be attacked,
Unwritten from history,
Because I fucked my way
Through the Zodiac?

Keep your righteous indignation.
Your taunts and jeers
Only urge my Vestal Reclamation
And the resurrection of my Erotic Innocence.

We. Are. Coming.

So here I stand:
Palms stretched, legs spread,
Re-Virginized once more,
While making love to the Sacred Whore.

SLUT: A Poem

Penitent Magdalene  by Titian

Penitent Magdalene by Titian

I was a Virgin for a long time.

 

Perhaps you think

I mean

I took 21 years

To let a man Penetrate me

 

Measuring

My Worthiness

By the diminishing inches

Of his Cock?

 

No.

 

I mean a Virgin

In a language long forgotten:

Lost in the ashes

Of burned witches

 

Or in the silenced vows

Of Brides of Christ,

Whose names were erased

In canonical Genocide.

 

I was a Virgin.

 

A woman unto herself;

Whole; Unshackled; Owned by No One;

And in this way

We’ve always been Virgins--

 

Our women's wisdom,

Written in our Mothers' bosom,

Survived the translation migration

From page to pyre.

 

Observe your Holy Rights.

 

Do I deserve to be attacked,

Unwritten from history,

Because I fucked my way

Through the Zodiac?

 

Keep your righteous indignation.

Your taunts and jeers

Only urge my Vestal Reclamation

And the resurrection of my Erotic Innocence.

 

We. Are. Coming.

 

So here I stand:

Palms stretched, legs spread,

Re-Virginized once more,

While making love to the Sacred Whore.

The Archetypes of "From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism" (Video)

Originally posted April 24, 2014

"From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism"

A New Book by Candice Holdorf

http://www.from6to9andbeyond.com

 

Filmed by Find Your Edge Media http://www.findyouredgemedia.com

Embracing the Spiritual Paradox: The Sacred, The Profane, The Mundane

Amor Sacre Amor Profano, Titian

Originally published June 24, 2011

All right. I can feel it. This is going to be one of those entries that tries to mash up 15 journal entries into one barely coherent post. I apologize in advance. I’m not a writer. I just play one on the internet.

So, what does spiritual mean to you? Is it something high in the clouds? Pure? Is it deep and connected? Is it trippy altered states of being? Is it devotion to one omnipotent being? Is it being in nature? Or something completely different?

I say yes. Just yes. Whatever your answer is, yes. And your answer, yes. And your answer, yes. Because the bottom line is that ALL THAT EXISTS IS SPRITUAL. PERIOD. To deem one area of your life as being “spiritual” (i.e. when I do my meditation) and another as non-spiritual (i.e. when I drive my car or scream at my child) is to create divisions in your life, namely, the good, the bad and the boring. And this division leads to an underlying tension in all that you do. When things are good, fear of losing them creeps in, so you must grip, lest they slip away. When things are bad, you must reject and shut out the world. When things are boring, you must constantly seek out anything to fill the emptiness. All of these are ways to escape the present.

We’ve all felt “sacred” moments in our life. The sun making its first appearance on a fresh spring day. Sculptures of beautiful men and women. A baby being born. Our first kiss. A song. A group in deep prayer.

But what about when you are sick on your knees and hanging over a toilet? How about when you are washing lettuce? How about when your anger and jealousy consume you? How about when you are unlocking your door? How about when your marriage ends or your mother dies or you see people killing each other in foreign countries because everyone has a different name for “God”?

This post is not just about “sacred sexuality” or “sacred prostitution” (which is where most people go when they hear the union of sacred/profane). Indeed, what the hell is “sacred sex” anyway? What makes intercourse that is done with breathwork/chanting/eye-gazing anymore spiritual than a fingerbang in the bathroom of a nightclub? True, participants may be more conscious in one scenario than another. Participants may be more in alignment in their personal integrity in one scenario than another. Maybe not. But all experiences stand alone on their own as spiritual and opportunities to plug into ourselves deeper. It’s just our idea of that we believe spirituality to be that keeps us grasping for certain experiences in life and avoiding others (which is the fundamental nature of suffering).

What if we explored the possibility that THE UNIVERSE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. Can we expand our perspective and hold the paradox that everything, from Wall Street tycoons to rapists to priests to crack addicts to paint drying to the Dalai Lama to George Carlin’s seven words are all expressions of Spirit and offer an opportunity for connection and self-reflection.

Doesn’t mean life is easy. Or pretty. Or nice. Or exciting. Hell it downright sucks a lot of the time. And yet if you can slow down and simply feel what is (underneath your history or expectations), you would see the miracle it took to bring you here. Mel Robbins has a great  where she says that the odds of being born in this moment in time are one in 400 trillion! Now imagine those odds coupled with another person being born in this moment AND the odds of your two sharing the same energy field. Now imagine more miracle-people moving in and out, like threads on a loom. What an incredible tapestry of life you weave. And you are an expression of Spirit. And so is the chair. And the floor. And the cockroach. All these pieces coming together for you to interact in service of self-realization in your one miracle-life.

Furthermore can we begin to see that pain is actually a gift on the journey. Your anger and fear provide valuable information as to where you are out of integrity in your life and where your desire lies. Your grief in losing a loved one is a chance to crack open your heart and cleanse your soul of past residue. War is a reminder that there is still so much work to be done in the INTERNAL landscape of our spirit (as Osho says, “You cannot change the society first and hope that individuals will change later on”).

So notice where you are fixed in your perspective in life and try to invite in a new way. Notice who or what you deem as “worthy of your attention” and who is not. Notice who you blame for all the world’s problems. Bush. Obama. Republicans. Corporate America. Porn. Hollywood. The Government. Your Parents. Whatever. Then invite the possibility that all that is just is. Begin to take responsibility for your own life. Begin to accept the challenge made to you on the miraculous day of your birth: to come to know yourself and your soul’s purpose through self-discovery in relationship and integration (not in avoidance, rejection or “rising above”) to all that is.

You chose this life. Really. If you don’t like it, you can bitch and moan and blame and try to run away from it and into the “sacred.” Or you can choose to accept responsibility for all that you are, find the Spirit that already exists in this moment and move forward empowered to create the life for which you were born.

For a brilliant (and more succinct) view on the topic, check out Ken Wilbur’s talk on Beauty and Spirit, where he explores the Good, the Beautiful and the True (in my language, the Sacred, the Profane and the Mundane). Shout out to Jason D. McClain who brought this stunning video to my attention.