A few weeks ago up-and-coming erotic writer Vina Green attended the first instance of our flagship event, Smörgåsbord. This is her review of the event.
Earlier this month I wrote an article proposing that all you need to experience “Sacred Pleasure” is an open mind and the intent to enjoy the pleasure of your senses. Last weekend I had a chance to test this theory, by attending Smörgåsbord, an event at Sacred Pleasures, billed as an alternative to Valentines day; a luscious weekend celebrating love and pleasure in its delicious diversity.
Two full days in community with other open-hearted people, of any gender, sexual orientation and relationship configuration.The weekend would give me, alongside my partner, the opportunity to explore boundaries, find deep connections within a group, learn about conscious touch, grow as individuals and hopefully add something new to our relationship in the process.
You might think, upon reading my earlier article, that this type of thing would be absolutely up my street. Well folks, I have a confession to make. Intimacy terrifies me. Oh, I believe it’s a good thing. Much like team building exercises and vegetarianism, I think ‘intimacy’ is a nice idea if you’re into that sort of thing. I don’t have any problem with taking my clothes off, or even having sex in public. I’ve had experiences which many people would see as deeply intimate, but nearly all of those experiences have been tightly controlled; experiences of primarily physically letting go, often not consciously, rarely mentally, and never, in a month of blue Sundays, emotionally.
So, when London Faerie invited me to attend and review Smörgåsbord, I was filled with both trepidation and astonishment. He’s an astute man, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he would have guessed that even the thought of attending an event like this would give me the night terrors. But, he promised that I could participate in any way that I felt comfortable, even if ‘exploring my boundaries’ meant sitting out on the balcony looking in at the group through the controlled safety of double glazing. I figured, that terrifying as it may be, it would be good for me, and, the worst that could happen would be that I might experience a little discomfort whilst learning something about myself. But, I wasn’t prepared for quite how much I would learn. Or how good it would feel.
One of the first things my partner said upon arriving was “I can feel the warmth – and it’s not just because it’s hot in here.” He was right. The group, even before we met them, seemed warm, open, curious and overwhelmingly ‘normal’. True to promise, the attendees spanned age groups, genders, sexualities and relationship dynamics from singles to ‘just dating’ to long term relationships, both monogamous and non-monogamous. The reasons for attending varied from “finding something to do on the weekend”, to personal discovery following a period of traumatic illness, to exploring sexualities both within and without the context of a relationship, or, just because someone else in the group had extended an invitation and no reasonable excuse could be found to get out of it.
What I’m not going to do, is tell you exactly what we did over the course of the weekend, because much of the beauty of it lay in the unknowing – in trusting both the facilitators and the group to provide the right environment for learning to take place. Suffice it to say that each new activity followed seamlessly from the last, and even the ‘scarier’ sounding items on the menu were delivered in such a way that by the time we got to them, they didnt seem so scary at all. Over the course of 48 hours, I learned more about where my boundaries really are, and what it feels like to safely test them, than I have learned in probably the last ten years. I had my first experience of non-sexual kink; a taster fireplay session with London Faerie, (a bit like being enveloped in a warm cloud – imagine splicing a hug with a hot oven), and I experienced what it’s like to give and receive touch, when you’re really, truly thinking about it.
Each of these things might sound simple in and of itself, perhaps even skating narrowly close to ‘woo’*. If you’re typically sceptical, or perhaps downright terrified, as I am, of any occasion that promises to be open-hearted, and invites you to explore your boundaries, you might think that this type of event isn’t for you. But, think about it – when was the last time that you really connected with someone? That you touched someone you care about, mindfully? That you were honest with your lover, friends or colleagues, or even yourself, about the way that you feel right now?
These are simple things, but much of our happiness, engagement with the world and the success of our relationships is tied to acts like this. We spend so much time building walls to keep our selves and our feelings safe, that we don’t have any space in our lives to let go, or we’re too afraid to. We hold ourselves together, for work, for our relationships, and often only find the freedom to relax our boundaries and ‘let go’, by losing ourselves in the unconscious, often with the aid of alcohol and drugs, or plain everyday distractions like television and social media. But freedom, said London Faerie, is not the absence of boundaries – it’s the existence of them. It’s only when we have a safe place to hold onto, that we can truly let ourselves go. The experienced practitioners at Sacred Pleasures create this space of safety, within defined boundaries, so that participants can consciously, consensually and safely drop some of the barriers to intimacy that we hold, and take away some techniques to apply in everyday life.
To access “Sacred Pleasure”, an open mind and the right intent are good starting points. But the right space, the support of a group, and the guidance of an appropriate practitioner are invaluable. If you want to experience a little consciousness, freedom and energy in your life and your relationships, then give one of the events at Sacred Pleasures a try. Be conscious for 48 hours. Bring a little of the divine into your life.
Sometimes it’s the most beautiful, and the most profound experiences that are the hardest to put into words – and that’s how I feel about Smorgasbord. So,I’ll leave you some lines by one of my favourite poets, which I had ringing in my ears all weekend.
The art of walking upright here,
Is the art of using both feet.
One is for holding on
The other is for letting go.
(Glenn Colquhoun – the trick of walking upright)
* “Woo” – any activity that might be associated with raw food, hemp trousers and the exuberant hugging of trees.