Big news: Marti is leaving SP

After four years of passionate and dedicated work with us, Marti leaves Sacred Pleasures at the end of 2017. In this blog post Newman shares a few thoughts about Marti’s presence in the organisation and the many gifts she’s given us; and Marti talks about why she’s moving on and the plans for her new work.

Newman writes:
Since we met in January 2013, Marti & I have been intimately connected: as life partners (from Jan 2013 - Aug 2015), as teaching partners (for most of that period) and more recently as the creative team behind Sacred Pleasures. During this time Marti has given a huge array of gifts, both to Sacred Pleasures and to me personally. 

Marti has been closely involved with the development of our work for the past four years. She began as an assistant and then graduated to co-facilitator and co-creator. She was instrumental in shaping The Purple Door to its current form and co-delivering it six times in London. Together we created Intimately, a beautiful introduction to intimacy that we led together in London, Utrecht and Copenhagen; and we created SP's first retreat - Together // On Holiday - a week-long deep dive for a group of fifteen brave adventurers. Marti also co-created My Body Thee Worship with Gayatri, The Purple Door II: Mesmerized with me and co-curated Sacred Six (our one-day festival). 

During this time Marti grew from being a fantastic spaceholder (which she is naturally) to being a gifted and playful facilitator. As her confidence grew she stepped up and took the lead more in workshops. It was a joy to watch her find her voice at the front of the room, culminating in her leading her first solo workshop this December. (More on this further down.)

Marti has taken the lead on our Socials for the past couple of years: preparing the space and the food, being a fantastic host, making everyone feel warm and welcomed during these cosy evenings at Tony & Sarah’s place. Marti will host her final SP social on Thursday 23rd November: come and join us for a last taste of her delicious food and her wonderful presence.

These are Marti’s more visible contributions to SP and many of you are already aware of these. However I want also to acknowledge the many subtle and behind-the-scenes ways Marti has contributed to bringing SP to where it is now. 

Marti is highly intuitive, with a deep sensitivity to what’s going on - particularly to what’s not being said or felt by others. During our time working together I’ve learnt a great deal from her about how to cultivate these gifts to better support people on their journeys. While I was supporting her to step up to the facilitator role, she was helping me to become a better spaceholder. As often in our partnership, there was a beautiful exchange of skills and gifts for which I’m eternally grateful.

Marti is very creative, with a great eye for what works visually and aurally. As such she was our “Visual and Sonic Mistress” for much of her time with SP: designing logos and banners and choosing images for the website and curating a lot of the music at our workshops. I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated the flair she brought to the look, feel and sound of our work.

People often say that they feel better as soon as Marti walks into a room. She’s often been instrumental behind the scenes in helping the organisation to run smoothly. This has included her gently steering the direction of the organisation, supporting our communications to be as appealing and user-friendly as possible and calming me down when I’m in a bit of a state. She’s the warm one in the background, making sure things are softer and sweeter when they get a bit tense or intense.

As with Sir Claire Black before her, it’s time for Marti to spread her wings and fly the nest which has nurtured her talents for the past four years. In December Marti leads Take The Reins, her first solo weekend workshop and her last event with Sacred Pleasures. This new workshop supports women (and anyone socialised female) to find their power through BDSM. 

I’m very excited about this co-production between Sacred Pleasures and Marti’s new venture, The Sound of Birch. It’s our third female empowerment workshop (after Maggie Tapert’s Queen and Ruby May’s In Love and Service) - a worthy successor and an important contribution to our programme. Take The Reins is booking up nicely and we recommend getting yourself a place if you’d like to join Marti for it. 

I want to end by saying that I’m deeply grateful to Marti for everything she’s given to Sacred Pleasures and to me personally. It’s been a powerful journey for us and I feel only joy to see her stepping out and creating a new organisation that’s 100% aligned with her mission. Thank you Marti for being a wonderful partner, a great colleague and a dear friend for all these years.

Marti writes:
I still remember vividly the end of 2012. I was living in a spiritual community in Germany and recovering from my 5 years at a corporate job. I was hoping for a brighter future, filled with excitement, fun, depth, art, sex and creativity but, most importantly, I had a deep longing to break free.

I met Newman, at the time Faerie, in Prague in early January 2013. Soon after that I started to visit to England regularly, mostly London & Bristol, and was living the freedom of being able and privileged to travel and explore. A new world opened to me and I wanted to learn. I was naïve, fairly young, but oh so curious and wanting to soak up as much experience as I could. It felt I was living more than in my teenage years, which were hideously tame and quite boring. I started by helping at holding space, assisting at workshops and using some of the other skills I developed during my previous corporate job. Somehow, it all felt quite natural and almost effortless.

Of course it wasn’t all easy. I had to find my English voice and accept that I might sometimes make a speech mistake and that kept me quiet at times. Trusting myself, and that my voice and knowledge matters and was welcomed, opened a space for me to co-facilitate and lead classes, demos and mini workshops on my own. At that point I realised, it was all just a starting point. A starting point which lasted 4 years or so.

What is next? Through my own journey and direct experience, I realised how much I learnt about myself through BDSM and conscious kink and how much it helped me to be the woman I am right now. At the beginning of 2017, I decided I want to pursue my own stuff, push my ideas and plans further, which were separate from Sacred Pleasures. They were directed to women* who, like myself, were facing similar challenges of what it means to be a woman. Catcalling, harassment, power abuse, father and generally man figure issues, but, most importantly, the effect of patriarchy. Yet again, I felt like wanting to break free. This time BIG TIME. The idea to create a platform for women was born.

Sound of Birch offers a space for reflection of who we are as women, what has been taken and given to us, and how can we take full responsibility for our lives. To know when to be in charge, embody leadership and when to be in flow and surrender. Realising that the world is not just about play, fun and sex, SoB offers the political angle and addresses gender equality too. It’s a wondrous place for women to come together, nurture their power and their stories, empower themselves and become allies to each other. Through exploring consent, BDSM, conscious kink, sex, and, most importantly, taking responsibility for ourselves, our pleasure and our lives.

It feels right to take my attention and resources and concentrate them on one project. I was never good at doing two (major) things. Also, it felt that my curve of contribution towards SP shaped a circle and facilitating my first solo weekend workshop, Take the Reins, is a wonderful way of saying good bye and bringing my contribution to a gentle farewell.

I'm grateful to all the people I met through SP and, of course, that Newman didn’t get offended when I told them that BDSM is just wrong, bonkers and good for devils. I feel lucky that I was trusted enough to be part of some proper amazing events, that I could travel around Europe and learn so much, that I can now create something of my own. Thank you!