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|Journey to the In-Between - Page 3|
To know yourself as a sexual individual, rather than as one who does or doesn't fulfill a role assigned to you, takes some conscious work. As it happened, the conscious work I chose arose from a conversation with a friend. Let's call her Zena.
Zena and I had sometimes been wildly attracted to each other, and we'd now and then been lovers, but our relationship wasn't romantic. We were friends. We trusted each other. We were each the only person we could speak with about our sexuality.
One day, we met for lunch and, as usual with us, the tremendous mystery of simply having a sexual body was the subject that preoccupied our conversation. In the midst of it, I was suddenly swept up, overcome, with lust for my friend, so much so that I blushed. Knowing me well, Zena got it. We laughed. I said something like, "There's got to be some way to break through to another level of sexual life!" That, rather than the intensity of my attraction, interested her. Zena said, "What about ritual?" That brought the problem into the intellect, where we were comfortable dealing with it.
What came of that discussion was a plan: we'd meet one night a week for four weeks—representing the four directions of the compass. We'd each bring flowers, food, water, a prayer, and a song. No inebriants. We'd meet, disrobe, sit, exchange flowers, say the prayers, and sing our songs to each other, though neither of us was much at singing. We'd gaze at each other in silence until we felt our physical and psychic reality shift, however long that might take. (We were both familiar with trance-states from other sorts of ritual.) We wouldn't begin to touch until we felt "the shift." We agreed to contain the experience in a vessel of secrecy: we wouldn't speak of it at all for some years, and then, if we had a reason to speak of it, we'd do so in the most general terms, keeping details to a minimum, never revealing the other's name, and keeping the memory as an intact vessel.
If this had been in some sort of therapeutic setting (though I can't imagine what sort), it would have involved safety precautions of some kind, but Zena and I—recklessly, no doubt—never considered safety. We wanted to open ourselves to the forces and energies of sensuality without equivocation. We were ready to accept immolation—in theory, anyway, remembering that in Oshima's film In the Realm of the Senses, the lovers became so entranced by their sensuality that they destroyed each other. We avoided that fate, perhaps only because we recognized the possibility and were open to it. In any case, we proceeded.
The intensity that we achieved was uncanny. Me, I'm about 5'8", and, at the time, weighed about 145 pounds, while Zena was, in the loveliest way, large. Yet, at one point, there was I, tossing her into the air and catching her—something possible for me only in a trance-state. Sometimes it felt like we were undersea creatures—squids, maybe. Gender was absent. All there was for us was sensation. Our physical bodies were merely vehicles—ramps for leaping into flights of physically enacted fancy. I promise you that I'm not exaggerating.
We met four times thus, to honor the north, south, east, and west—symbolic as aspects of our bodies and psyches. As the storytellers say, "There are four directions and a fifth direction, which is exactly where you are." When it was all over, Zena and I felt that, at last, our bodies were our own: psyches fully embodied, bodies electrically psyched. Many years have passed since then, and I can testify that we weren't wrong that we'd learned to inhabit our physical identities. I've since surrendered my body to given situations, but I've never felt my imaginal body determined, beyond my choosing, by a situation. After those rituals, I found that there was an equal exchange between my body and the sensual situation in which it finds itself. This was in-betweenness realized as a sexual territory that could be accessed consciously, with purpose. (A footnote: Zena and I haven't made love since, but our friendship wasn't thwarted by what we did; we remain close.)