YOGI VEGAN LEZ: ZEN AND THE ART OF CELIBATE DATING

When Alexandra Roxo signed up for a peyote medicine ceremony, she forgot to tell her girlfriend this would mean a week of celibate dating. Uh-oh…Homepage image: Fab Ciracolo 

Alexandra Roxo tries to negotiate a period of celibacy before her peyote ceremony. Click to read more!
Stuck between a rock and…a psychedelic cactus?

The night before my last peyote medicine ceremony, I was almost asleep when my girlfriend climbed on top of me and started a slow dry hump. I was jarred awake, shocked, and didn’t know what to do. No, not because she’s hideous or I’m no longer attracted to her or dry humping is gross. Not any of those reasons. But because I wasn’t supposed to be sexual / have sex for three days before my medicine ceremony! This essentially meant a week of celibate dating.

So I was faced with a dilemma. A) We’d been having a rough time and hadn’t had sex all week. B) I didn’t tell her I was supposed to be celibate for three days prior to taking the peyote and three days after. Woops. And C) Well shit, C is that I love her and she’s hot.

I found myself between a rock (or rather, a cactus) and a hard place. Also between 300-thread count cotton sheets and a hot bod. So I somehow justified that I’d let her masturbate on me or with me and it wouldn’t count. Not exactly rational but it was the best I could come up with. She finished quickly, I didn’t let her touch me, and somehow I felt no guilt about it all. Until. The next night.

I’d had two peyote ceremonies with the same medicine man before, which were both “deer ceremonies” in the Apache tradition, one in a teepee upstate and one in Mexico. Both times it was incredibly enlightening. I’d worked through deep parental issues that were a part of my Saturn return, and sung in the dark wearing a white muumuu as I released the pain of my youth.

Alexandra Roxo at a peyote medicine ceremony tipi . Click to read more!
Alexandra and her soul sister Natalia Leite at her first deer medicine ceremony

But this ceremony was different, in that I got a real ass kicking. I felt like I was gonna puke but couldn’t. I felt like I was having the worst period cramps in my life. I couldn’t lay down. And I kept seeing dark visions. Had my soul become a dark vault in the last few months? OR WAS IT THE SEX? (I mean, half sex really, but…)

Worse, after the ceremony the ass kicking continued for a full week. My GF and I’s relationship was pulled apart and rebuilt, like three times. Meaning I was crying in public again. At one point Orian and I were sitting on a bench in the park and I was crying and she put her hands over her head and commented that her shadow looked like a deer.

At that moment I got it. Everything came together. She was in on this ass kicking from the Universe too! She didn’t even know I had done the deer medicine but the plant had obviously used her lovely spirit and they’d been in cahoots all week to school and teach me.

This interconnectedness of my lessons has revealed itself again and again over the years, sometimes in a calm and magical/twinkly way, and other times in a more grotesque and “punch in the face” way. It still amazes me. This time, I’ve come to realize that managing sexual energy in times of spiritual growth can be very, very challenging.

Essentially, when I’m deep in some growth and lessons, the LAST thing on the planet I want is to open my physical body to some “poking.” To put it crudely. ‘Cause when I’m not in the sex zone, that’s kind of what it feels like. Like an intrusive visitor showing up at the very wrong time.

When I want to hold my energy close and exist in my higher chakras, I’m thinking about my angelic spirit guides and the work I’m doing here. And sex? Well, sex feels incredibly mundane. But how is this fair to your partner? And how do we navigate these moments as a couple?

I’ve also started meditating every night before bed recently. You know, releasing my day by doing visualizations and setting my dream time intentions. And lemme tell you…this can be a major buzzkill in the bedroom. The other night my girlfriend and I were kissing on the couch and when we moved into the bedroom I stopped the fun and was like: “Wait, just let me meditate real quick!” When I opened my eyes 15-20 minutes later and looked over, she was passed out and snoring with her mouth open. Dammit.

On the other hand, I find myself trying to turn the work I’m doing into “our” work. The other night, instead of meditating, I asked her participate with me as we shouted what we are grateful for. “Thank you Universe for coffee! Sunshine! An HBO Go password from a friend!” And then I guided us through some vibrational chanting.

I know this is sounding like a Christian teen sleepover or a day at a Waldorf school, but it was great. But we don’t live alone, so there’s that. Instead of that awkward moment in the kitchen, “Shit, did our roommate hear me cumming?” it’s “Did he hear us… doing vibrational chanting work and daily gratitudes??”

Alexandra Roxo doing yoga looking in the fridge. Click here to read why!
“Did our room mate hear us chanting before bed?”

Thankfully, taking the leap into the land of heart-warming cheesiness can be just as bonding as sex. Sometimes we tackle the bigger questions in relationships like cheating, differences in values, or whether or not we want kids.

But the small ones can be the scariest to tackle. Like telling your partner you aren’t really feeling sexual, and them being able to respect that space and not feel threatened/slighted/or like you think they’re ugly now. Being able to say; “Hi. I’m wanting to not have sex for a bit ’cause I’m tryna connect with my guides and my third eye this week.” Or “Hey I can’t have sex cause I’m cleansing/grounding my energy before a ceremony.”

And them being able to accept where you’re at, and not go parading around in Agent Provocateur panties or send you nude selfies of them masturbating or watch porn beside you at high volumes while you’re trying to meditate.

If your partner is down to respect and accept where you’re at, then maybe during this time they can do something useful with their energy too, like work on their kickboxing moves or reorganize the fridge. And then when you’ve ridden out that wave and got what you need, you can come back together roaring and ready to meld energies, have sex all night and transcend together with some candles, wine and Kenny G.

@yoga_vegan_lez

TURNED ON: FALLING FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF DESIRE

Ellie Burrows has a confession. The mood of the Autumnal Equinox has got her turned on to the idea of…commitment? Portrait: Mikal Marie Photography

I’m hanging in the balance.

It’s the Autumnal Equinox and we’re halfway between rosé in the sand with a tan and cashmere socks and Schnaps.

For the Earth, the Equinox represents a point of balance. This year, for my heart, it’s the tipping point.

June, July and August are releasing their hypnotic hold on me. My rear view mirror is filled with the boys of summer and their hard bodies at pool parties. No more fist pumps to summer jams or kisses that taste like Pina Coladas. Goodbye to short shorts and tiny dresses. Gone are the days of sweaty hands up my skirt and sticky rolls in the sheets while blasting AC to bring down all the heat.

Fall means I’m 90 miles from mistletoe with just one stop for turkey. It’s about back to school, back to work, a return to obligations. It’s time for knitwear and leggings and with them along comes all sorts of longings. We’re plunging into colder climates, descending into darkness, and harvesting in order to hibernate. And all that impending cold just makes me want to snuggle up and pair down. Fall always sings songs of commitment and for the first time in a long time, I want to sing along and settle in with a romantic partner.

When I initially sat down to write this article, I wanted to explore the transition from a Summer Fling to a Fall of Love. The original pitch was something about “turning your Montauk share into a home ownership.” In New York City, the hot months have an echo and it sounds like “dating in the summer is hard.” Trying to get a relationship off the ground in high season is like trying to swim against an undertow. Everything is in motion and everyone is gone on the weekends. But when autumn arrives and beach rentals end, the restaurants in the city are filled with hopeful singles once again trying to figure out how to keep their beds perpetually warm for winter.

Telling my readers how to turn a steamy summer hookup into something more substantial felt like teaching them how to take a cold shower. When you let the hot air out of the balloon, it floats to Earth. It felt strange to try to decode the alchemy of love, because it’s a magical process of transformation and the infinite combinations make it impossible to boil it down to a single formula. The heart is just not a transactional place.

But something is shifting in me and it’s right on schedule with the Earth’s rhythms. In my own personal Equinox it feels like I’m on a seesaw suspended in air at zero degrees. From this place of balance, I can see exactly what’s changing in me.

I never really dated with the purpose of finding a boyfriend, a husband, or “the one”. Like masturbation, I date because it feels really good. I learn by experience and it’s always been up to the experience to determine its own purpose, a purpose that only comes into focus in hindsight. I always felt that being attached to outcome when it came to dating was a hindrance, a one-way ticket on the disappointment express. However if I’m being really honest with myself, my lack of vision was buying that same ticket at a cheaper price.

It seems rather silly to think about it now, but the idea of what I actually wanted out of dating never factored in. I think I may have flat out ignored it. I always thought I would figure it out along the way and that my wants, whatever they were, would reveal themselves to me in the process. Yet the only things that were continuously revealed were my “don’t wants.”

I want a man that’s mine. I want to wake up in the morning next to someone and I want that person to bring me black tea. I want to have a raging argument, walk out of the house and know that he will be there when I return. I want it all. I want to be alone and I want to be together. I want to be alone together.

This year, I’m not sad to see the dog days go. I’m leaving my summer playground in search of something more. I’m going to harvest my experiences and move into the winter of my being where it’s the quietest. Deep inside of me there is a burning desire to be in a devotional partnership. Somehow admitting that on the Internet is scarier than talking about my aroused vagina. It feels outrageously vulnerable, like standing on the street, in the middle of an epic blizzard, totally naked waiting for him to bring me a jacket. But, saying it out loud feels a million times hotter than playing it cool.

Ellieburrows.com

@_ellieBurrows_

TURNED ON: SHAPESHIFTING TO MEET MY MANIMAL

In this month’s column, Ellie Burrows investigates how the ancient Shamanic art of shapeshifting has infiltrated her relationships – and what she’s learned about herself in the process. Portrait: Katie Fischer.

Ask any of my friends – when it comes to my lovers, I’m known to be a shapeshifter. As in, I change form depending on my bedfellow. I admit it.

In 1998 I met my high school sweetheart. We wore Air Max 96’s, Jordans, Nike snap pants, and listened rap music in his black two-door Ford Explorer Sport. I had cornrows and rhinestone sunglasses. He was captain of the basketball team and regularly had one pant leg scrunched up to the knee. Young love at its finest, we were a match made in 1990s high school heaven. We were each other’s dawgs.

In the summer of 2006, I met an Israeli businessman twenty years my senior. It was always DJ Tiesto and the mispar echat (number one) everything: the number one restaurant, the number one hotel, the number one vodka, the number one yacht. Lots of excess, free love and bacchanalian behavior. Everything was a teachable moment and I learned all sorts of sexual lessons. He was a bird of prey and I was his helpless kill.

In my twenties, it was my seriously cool East Village architect. All raw denim all the time. No shampoo. He taught me how to dial down the fancy, wear my curly hair like a mane and eat meat off a bone. I was a lioness and he was my lion, the king and queen of a concrete jungle. We had a lot of pride. And frankly, that’s what killed us.

Shapeshifting litters the landscape of divine folklore and shamanic traditions. Magically speaking, it’s all about changing form in order to take on and assume the nature and qualities of a specific creature. A shapeshifter morphs in order to alter or enhance particular thoughts and perceptions or acquire new abilities. One changes shape to see and access the world from a different perspective.

As the dawg, the kill and the lion, I fully embraced and emulated the quality of each manimal I was with. I immersed myself in our love and thoroughly explored their natural habitats. I invoked their energy within myself, adopted their characteristics and saw the world from their vantage points.

This was a practice of sorts, the method by which I connected to the symbol of my desire. And it was most definitely a symptom of my immaturity. When I loved what they loved, enjoyed what they enjoyed and preferred what they preferred, I felt a deeper sense of closeness and communion. I think it goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not love. And in fact I royally fucked up because I lost myself completely in each beast.

As of late, my ability to shapeshift is non-existent. Turns out, I prefer not being anything but myself. Venturing into someone else’s habitat and taking on their views, behaviors and tastes to enhance our connection no longer serves me – especially when that person drinks like a fish, doesn’t work out, lacks a connection to the divine or fucks without reverence for the act of fucking itself. I tried to get down with that species and it just didn’t work.

Changing form to align myself with my partner stifles my own needs in relationship. I became unrecognizable in the mirror and then there was no perspective at all. And if I can’t see my self in the mirror, then it defeats the whole point of partnership in the first place.

The mirror is one of my favorite metaphors for a lover, spouse, significant other, partner, friend or soul mate. It can feel vulnerable to step in front of a mirror and take a good look. You will see all your beauty, your ugly, your gains, your losses, your shortcomings and strengths. It can be exhilarating, humbling, ecstatic and painful. The human mirror is an extraordinary thing because we have the capacity to really understand our very existence in the presence of another being.

What ultimately serves me in my relationships now is to be in my true form, my authentic self, and see how I occur in the context of another human being. I’ve learned that it’s my responsibility to grow as a result of that reflection. And if I’m really honoring myself, then I can honor the other too, and hopefully be the ultimate mirror for them.

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com
@ellieburrows (Instagram)
@_ellieburrows_ (Twitter)

TURNED ON: THE TANTRA OF ONLINE DATING

In the second instalment of her brilliant column on sex and spirituality, Ellie Burrows takes a Tantric approach to online dating…

I’m pretty sure I discovered the secret to online dating.

And it’s Tantra.

I’m not talking about super-connected, total body orgasm, tantric sex. I’m talking about the energetic concept that makes that kind of sex possible: balance of the masculine and feminine energies. Let me explain.

After getting out of a very intense five-year relationship, I actually took a year off from dating altogether. At the end of the year, I met a lovely lawyer in LA who subsequently flew to New York City to woo me. The weekend was wonderful. He really had his shit together, but one night lying naked in bed he called me a “stallion” – and I knew as soon as he uttered that word that we weren’t a match.

The part of me that was also a mare shuddered. But to his credit, the dating experience was so positive it got me back in the saddle and over my fear of opening up my sacred sexual energy to a new partner. I wanted to repeat it many times over with all different kinds of men. And that the fastest way for me to accomplish this was to bite the bullet and get online.

Almost immediately my inbox was flooded with hundreds of messages from dudes who:

1. Hadn’t actually read my profile: “hey sexy ;-)”

2. Were clever but weren’t particularly attractive: “Multiple photos of you in leggings before 11am. Thank you.”

3. Were so totally wrong for me (and also crazy, with really poor grammar): “So I was reading your profile and then I was like goddammit…this always happens every time, I’m reading some nice girl like your selfs profile and then I remember I didn’t check your diet…Bam! I know I’m fucked before I even look, she’s going to be a god damned vegan, CRAP! Then by some magical stroke of luck or maybe the stars have aligned in my favor I see, I see: “Strictly Anything”…fucking finally a girl who isn’t a new age picky bitch, thank god! Hi I’m Johnny, its nice to meet you.”

Where was the quality? Where were the guys that I would actually want to meet and touch in person? The discerning, thoughtful men weren’t sending messages to every chick on the site. Then I remembered three very important things.

1. I’m a class act. And if I’m online, then my equal is probably online, too.

2. Insecurity is not gender specific, and rejection is scary.

3. We all have egos that need to be stroked once in a while.

As I browsed through the online shopping mall of men, I realized my approach needed to evolve. Big time. What if the right men weren’t reaching out to me because they thought they might get rejected? What if they needed me to reach out to them? After all, my profile status was set to “Replies Very Selectively”. This was going to require a serious shift in consciousness. So like everywhere else in my life, I decided to approach it from a spiritual perspective.

When it comes to love and sex, Tantra is my subtext. And Tantra embraces opposites, playing with concepts of light and dark, attraction and repulsion, hot and cold, and obviously, male and female.

As Osho writes in The Book of Secrets; “Tantra says that when the ultimate bliss and ecstasy comes inside you, it means your own positive and negative pole have come to a meeting – because every man is both man and woman, and every woman is both is both man and woman. You are born not only from woman or from man, you are born out of a meeting of the opposites.”

Now do me a favor and look between your legs. Seriously, look. Imagine what’s underneath those jeans…Now, completely forget what you just imagined. We’re all over the spectrum, people. There are masculine and feminine energies in all of us despite what our genitals tell us. Male energy is about focus, purpose, and drive. Female energy is about creativity, nurture, and radiance. ALL of those qualities are in EVERYONE. However, sometimes we get our energetic wires crossed when it comes to the dating dance and we can short circuit.

In 1995 the authors of The Rules, claimed that the male must be the sole initiator when it comes to dating. Yet according to ancient tantric rituals, the female is deeply revered and considered an initiator of sorts. She’s the creator. So you see, either the male or female energy can initiate. The feminine is always on the receiving side of the masculine penetration, but in Tantra “penetration” and “initiation” are two different things, and that’s where we get confused.

Having wrapped my head around this, I was now ready to send out some serious digital fuck me eyes.

My first online date was EPIC. A dreamy Vintner from Northern California (match 97%) was visiting the city and geo-locating attractive ladies using a feature called Quickmatch. Basically, the equivalent of telling me I was hot but not being bold enough to send a message.

I showed his photo to my friend Sarah who was staying with me for the week. Call it kismet, fate, even divine intervention, she responded; “Oh my God, I know him. That dude is amazing. I did some day-drinking with him a couple months ago in L.A. You need to message him.”

I dreaded sending my first message, but I knew it was all in the name of Tantra: “Small world moment of my day. Sarah was overlooking my shoulder when your face popped up on my quickmatch. She says you’re good stock.”

I gave no name. No mention of his profile. Didn’t ask him out. I wanted to rouse him out of his man cave, give him a little confidence, and let him know I was willing to play. Now it was up to him to show me his peacock feathers.

And boy, did he show me. He was only in town for two more days so he asked me out immediately. I was supposed to leave town but it was a blizzard outside and when I got snowed in, I agreed to meet him that night – which turned into a 36-hour first date. It included closing down two bars (Smith and Mills and a deserted Greenwich Hotel), dim sum (with his friend), sushi (just the two of us), two sleepovers (one at his, one at mine), and one flight change (his).

I can’t believe a computer told me I would like this person so much. So okay, online dating is kind of awesome.

Next, I tried my newfound strategy on a very handsome Corporate Lawyer with perfect abs and a brilliant mind whose profile I had been circling for a couple weeks (match 89%). We had also matched on Tinder, very equal opportunity in the cave-door knocking department. On OkCupid, we both had the same answer to the question “The most private thing you’re willing to admit?” which was that we both loved reading Missed Connections. I sent him the following:

“High percentages.

Tinder Match.

Missed Connections.

Nice Abs.

Your move.”

Again, no name. No overly thorough message. Just a little Tantric taunt.

Well, Corporate Lawyer asked me out immediately and told me that was the most effective message he had received to date. We went on a date and shared some steamy make outs and engaged in a pretty intense cerebral texting relationship. He also serenaded me with The Magnetic Fields’ “Come Back From San Francisco” begging me to return from visiting the aforementioned vintner. Timing wasn’t on our side; he got a new job, moved to Colorado, and although my body was back in New York the truth was that I had left my heart in San Francisco.

A key part of online dating is discernment. Over the course of four months I went on six dates, with five truly viable options. Only one was terrible. It was my first Tinder date and I didn’t vet him enough over text. Amateur hour.

But my point is, I didn’t go on hundreds of dates. I didn’t shoot twenty arrows and hope one hit a bull’s eye. I shot six and missed once. The men I met were of the highest quality and I had played my part in the courtship. It’s too bad I can’t have five boyfriends at once.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that in preparation for the this article I picked up The New Rules: The Dating Dos and Don’t for the Digital Generation to see how the game had changed with the advent of social media.Inside, I came across lines like “Don’t talk too much in the first weeks” and “Don’t write to guys first,” and “ignore winks.”

Yikes. I had to throw it across the room. It was entirely missing the opportunity for an open dialogue about the nature of our hearts and gave total disregard to spontaneity, two pretty important tenants of love.  More importantly, it diminished the equal power of the male and the female to ignite something.

At its core Tantra is about expressing everything that “comes up,” including all that you feel. It’s about allowing ourselves to feel and express everything between two polarities. It would never have you suppress anything for the sake of strategy or gain. It wants you to dance openly with everything and everyone you encounter. It’s all checks and balances, and I am glad I went with the ancient wisdom on this one.

Which makes me a rule-breaker I guess. But I expressed myself fully and created something magical.

NB: I had roughly 1000 words to make my case for Tantra as an online dating strategy, so I’ve seriously cherry picked my way through the infinite Tantric garden here. For a more in depth lesson, see the following reading list:

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com
@ellieburrows (Instagram)
@_ellieburrows_ (Twitter)