WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF MASCULINITY?

The “divine feminine” is often invoked as a Now Age ideal for our gender evolution. But how to really dismantle systems of patriarchal oppression? Trans man and diversity and inclusion activist, Aaron Rose, shares his vision for the future of masculinity …

Photo: Aziz Acharki

From Parasitic Patriarchy to Abundant Symbiosis 
When Now Age mystics speak of “divine masculinity,” what they are describing is simply: masculinity. Exalted qualities of heart-centered action, fierce loyalty, innovative logic, and earthly strength are what masculinity truly is. Everything else is an aberration, a mistaken idea, and a misuse of energy.

The divine masculine is complemented by the divine feminine archetype: the universal energy of intuition, receptivity, nurturance, creation, and collaboration. These energies are not inherently gendered. They flow within all of us.

So how do we reclaim healthy or conscious masculinity? How do we end our crisis of sexual violence? How do we build a world with true gender equality?

In the #metoo era, it can sometimes feel like the goal is total eradication of an inherently “toxic masculinity,” an embrace of androgyny, or an exclusive exaltation of the feminine. But the destination of our evolution is not about erasing our differences or course correcting from toxicity to divinity; it’s about reclaiming gendered archetypes while embracing an even wider spectrum of expression.

Patriarchy is the collectively held (and externally manifested) idea that men are superior to people of other genders, that there are right and wrong ways to be men and women, and that there are rewards for reinforcing these ideas, and penalties for violating them.

And if patriarchy is a result and a manifestation of parasitic scarcity consciousness, then we’re more than ready for abundant symbiosis.

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A Different Way to Be Human
When I first began my transition from female to male, I was terrified of becoming a man. It was who I was – a person who had been female-assigned at birth and who felt called to a male identity and masculine embodiment – and yet, I could not have been more scared.

As a woman, I had lived a life defined and constrained by male violence – from the abuse of family members, to the harassment of strangers on the subway, and the subtle discrimination at work. The manhood I saw around me did not represent the kind of person I wanted to be. And the people I loved were quick to reinforce this idea: You’ll become a tool of the patriarchy, they said. The world doesn’t need another MAN.

On a physiological level, I knew that taking testosterone (in the form of hormone replacement therapy) was right for me. My body needed it, hungered for it like a too-late dinner after a long day. But on an emotional level, I was paralyzed, wracked by immobilizing guilt.

I was afraid of losing the part of myself that cries at Pixar movies and gathers my friends into huge hugs and composes love letters to my beloveds. The part who really, really listens to my people when they’re hurting. I was afraid of embodying toxic masculinity. I was afraid of becoming (even more of) a stranger to myself.

This deterministic model of gender is one we’re all used to. We’ve all heard “that’s just how men are” and any number of absolutist statements that divide the population squarely down the middle, into two prescribed boxes: man and woman. I was just as trapped as anyone.

But equally, in making the choice to transition I knew I was signing up for a lifetime commitment to proving the idea that there was another way to be a man than what I had been shown. That ultimately, there was a different way to be a human altogether.

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Dismantling the Deal with the Devil
This commitment, this faith in the future of masculinity, has fueled my decade’s plus of evolving work in diversity and inclusion—a key part of which is leading conscious masculinity workshops in which men and masculine people of all genders have an opportunity to take themselves off of cultural autopilot and reclaim healthy masculinity.

Patriarchy invites men to make a deal with the devil: trade your eternal wholeness and humanity, in exchange for earthly and temporal power.

Time and again, I witness men become emotional in my workshops when we talk about gender equality and allyship. When I ask why, they say things like: “I feel like I don’t have anything else to offer,” or “What more do you want from me?,” or “Not everyone gets to be treated so nicely, you know.”

As the conversations unfold, we identify, again and again, that they are fundamentally bewildered about why or how they should be giving something to someone else that they do not feel they have themselves: gentleness, a reason to truly accept themselves, a full range of self-expression, emotional presence.

⁣⁣In my workshops, we inventory our masculinity stories, going all the way back to our first memories. And themes emerge, like the first moment of shame, often attached to a memory of playing with feminine clothing, hugging other boys, or crying when we were sad. We bring loving witness to these wounds, and then we choose again.

If the story was: “when I am emotional, the people I love reject me”—we elect to write a new story: “my vulnerability brings me closer to the people I care about.”

Photo: Sir Moon

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What is your role in this process? Here are 4 ways we can all help bring about the future of masculinity … 

1// Separate masculinity + femininity from gender identity and sex assigned at birth.
“Sex assigned at birth” is the label you were assigned at birth based on the external anatomy your doctor observed. Gender identity is your innate, internal, sense of your gender.

Within our current western gender model, which has its origins in European colonization and white supremacist social control, sex assigned at birth, gender, and gendered energy are all conflated. If you are male assigned at birth, it is assumed you will be a man, and that you will behave in a masculine way. This deterministic model belies the truth of our experience — the truth that indigenous people of many cultures have always embraced — that there are as many possible genders and gendered experiences as there are people.

For example, I currently have a pretty masculine embodiment – short hair, muscles, a deep voice, a flat chest, traditionally male clothing. However, my energy is a blend of masculine and feminine – I am a go-getter who is often charging forward on the next big idea AND I create space for the people I love to be vulnerable, where I too surrender into vulnerability with them.

We all contain both masculinity and femininity. The unique mix and balance of this energy within us is as essential as the flow of oxygen into our lungs and bloodstream.

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2// Conduct a patriarchal thought detox.
What are the stories you’re telling yourself about men and masculinity, and about gender overall? Do an inventory of your beliefs about masculinity and men, and choose some different stories.

Some of our big collective stories that you may have running on cruise control include: men should not be emotional, women are more emotional and nurturing than men, there are only two genders, men are just like that, what your body looks like determines your gender, and more.

Set a timer for 10 minutes, write these old stories out, and then decide what you want to replace them with. Write down your new narratives and reread them out loud every day for 21 days.

One my biggest autopilot scripts was that conscious men are few and far between, and that if I was really myself and spoke about gender the way I do, then I would have few connections with men, personally and professionally. I’m choosing to tell a different story now, to affirm that conscious stewards of masculine energy are all around me. And you know what? Bit by bit that community is emerging.

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3// Understand that this work is not just for “bad guys.”
When I discuss my conscious masculinity work, I often witness men immediately deciding that it’s not for them. Or women deciding that it’s not for their husband or their brother or their friend. Because they’re already “good.” They haven’t assaulted anyone recently. They don’t make gross jokes.

⁣We have this mainstream idea that there are “those guys,” those really bad guys, who have really messed up, who really need to get their act together. They’re the problem. They’re the patriarchy. They’re the ones who need an intensive on conscious masculinity. ⁣But the truth is that this work is for ALL of us. We all have an opportunity and a responsibility to become stewards of a new era of masculinity, of gender, of humanity.

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4// Embrace and reclaim the masculinity within yourself.
No matter your gender, you contain an alchemical blend of both masculinity and femininity within yourself. How does your masculinity manifest? In the clothes you wear? In the role you play in your relationships? In the way you tackle a project or negotiate a deal? In the fictional characters you identify with and seek to emulate? How conscious is your masculinity? How much have you chosen it, rather than operating it on autopilot? What do you love about your masculinity? How does it symbiotically complement and amplify your femininity? What do you wish others could see about it?

Write a love letter to your masculinity. Honor what you learn about yourself in the process.

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5// Practice inviting others into this conversation.
Where do you see others running on autopilot about masculinity and femininity? Maybe you’re a mom and you see how other parents assume so much about their children based on their sex assigned at birth. Assuming how their child’s body looks determines what their gender will be. Assuming boys will be tough and girls will like pink. Assuming girls will be nurturing and boys will be adventurous.

Just the other day I spoke with a mother who was grappling to understand why her 8-year-old son had been described by a teacher as “sensitive” and “safe” for the other kids to play with, because of how gentle and unaggressive he was. “I would have no problem seeing my daughter this way,” she said. “But it’s hard to compute how a boy could be described like that. It’s not how I see him.”

Maybe you’re a man and you are aware of how conditioned you are to not call out other men when they say something sexist, or to shame each other for expressing emotion. Maybe you’re a woman who feels super supported by your community of women, but feels like your male partner, family member, or friend, isn’t conscious of his masculinity and how it impacts you.

It’s okay to call the people into your life into greater accountability and connection. To do this, get honest about what your unique role is, however uncomfortable or scary it might feel. Whoever you are, your voice matters, and others will resonate with it.

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A Manifesto for Conscious Masculinity 
The work of remaking our relationship to masculinity and femininity is, like all other fundamentally spiritual work, ultimately about restoring our capacity to self-determine our identity, to trust our intuition, and to unconditionally love ourselves.

We are the generational clean-up crew, taking ourselves off of the autopilot our ancestors ran for centuries, mending the wounds they did not know how to tend. As we emerge from the shadow, it is our birthright to embody unprecedented levels of self expression, connection, and ease. It is the work of a lifetime, but it’s why we’re here. And we don’t have to do it alone.

The future of masculinity is not an erasure of the traditional masculine archetype (ie strong, rugged, powerful, action-oriented), but a conscious release of the shadow sides of these traits (domination, control, emotional suppression, violence) and a conscious choosing of what our masculinity means to us. ⁣⁣

The future of masculinity is the reclamation of this true divine masculine archetype, by whoever resonates most deeply with that energy.

The future of masculinity is amends and repair for generations of harm done, the honest reckoning of personal and collective shame and grief for violence committed, or violence not stopped.

The future of masculinity is an embrace of action without aggression, of leadership without dominance, of impetus and initiation without steamrolling, of grace without repression.

The future of masculinity is creation without collateral damage, strength without silencing, devotion without obsession, responsibility without control, power with rather then power over.

The future of masculinity is the intentional embrace of intuition, rather than the unconscious whim of instinct.

In short, it is a human life, fully and bravely lived, with self-love and connection with a Universal intelligence at its core, with nothing to prove and everything to share.

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Ready for more support reclaiming a positive masculine archetype, for yourself, or someone else in your life? Registration is open for my online Conscious Masculinity Intensive. Use code NUMINOUS for 20% off all ticket levels through next Tuesday, November 20th. It’s open to men, masculine people of all genders, and allies; we even have a few parents of male-assigned-at-birth kids joining too! Join us in co-creating the future of gender, together.

WHY FEBRUARY IS THE MOST FEMINIST MONTH

It’s time to upgrade your normative notions of Valentine’s Day date nights. Lucy North tells us why why February is the most feminist month … Art: Naro Pinosa 

Art: Naro Pinosa

It may still feel cold outside—but Spring is coming! And this precious period of in-between is actually a key time of year to tap into the Divine Feminine through the ancient practice of co-creating with Gaia, the seasons, and nature.

While many of us have sold ourselves to the Monday-Friday lifestyle, the origins of these days actually connect us to Divine Feminine energy. After all, Monday is actually “Moonday” and Friday is dedicated to the Goddess Freyja. The Divine Feminine is both the beginning and the end, and a reminder of our power to break free and make time be whatever we want.

In response to the seven-day week of patriarchal DOING, here are seven reasons to reclaim February as the most powerfully feminist month …

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1// V.Day Actually Celebrates Your Erotic Sovereignty 
Before it was renamed by the Roman Catholic Church, Valentine’s Day was originally known as “Freyja’s Day.” Freyja was the Pagan Goddess not of romantic, but of erotic love, and on February 14th women would hand out cards to as many men as they desired.

Transcending the gender stereotypes of today, women were seen not only the gateway to new life, they were considered at one with the desire, love, and sexual energy that runs through nature. Reclaiming this celebration of women as desire itself (rather than objects), realigns us with our ability to create anything we want.

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2// 28 Days Means Lunar Power
Before being scrapped by the Church, the year adhered to the Goddess calendar—meaning there were 13 months and not 12, which reflected the 28 day cycle of both the Moon and womb.

Being only 28 days long, February is the only month of the year that still respects the Goddess calendar, and honors how the seasons and year really flow. This month, treat your womb like a second heart (whether or not you have a literal or metaphorical space there). Listen … what does it want to birth?

Art: Naro Pinosa

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3// Imbolc Challenges the Madonna-Whore Complex
The pagan calendar marks February 1st as Imbolc—an important step towards March’s Spring Equinox. This is the time to release some of our 9-to-5 programming in favor of a kind of “land feminism” that lets us co-create with the upcoming Equinox’s tantric energy.

The Celtic Triple Goddess Brigid, synonymous with this day, is the Queen of the Underworld, the Mother of all beings, and the Mistress of the Elements. Whether it’s the sacred prostitute, the Divine Mother or the snake in the garden of Eden, the Divine Feminine holds and honors it all. Think of February as a time to break free from the pain of having to be “one type of woman”—and to exchange archetypal constraints for a wildish knowing.

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4// Pisces Season Wants You to Wombifest  
As the Sun enters the final zodiac sign of Pisces on February 19th, right before the birth of the new astrological year, it’s time to create a nourishing, protective womb that will enable you to tap into the oceanic source of all life.

This means retreating from the “busy-ness” of everyday life, and setting some boundaries to re-connect with your soul. Just like a mother that needs to retreat for the last month of pregnancy, create a safe space for you as Divine Mother to meditate, breathe, make love, self pleasure, journal, paint, sing, do yoga, and eat well. Rest in the womb and let your Divine Child emerge!

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5// Saturn in Capricorn Spells Sacred Union Time 
2018’s sees the Goddess month of February with Saturn in the sign of Capricorn, spelling out the start of something huge for the Divine Feminine. Capricorn is technically a “yin,” or feminine sign, but it’s also cardinal, with a mountain-building, masculine energy that asks us to blend action and intuitive knowing.

The Divine Masculine can only come THROUGH the Divine Feminine. It will only come through an open heart and the womb of collective feeling—and, yes, as with any birth, through pain. Women and those who embrace the Divine Feminine have been socially okay’ed to feel more of this, so we must lead the way. This integration asks us to do what we love by taking action, and watch the fear fly away.

Art: Naro Pinosa

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6// The Aquarius New Moon Catapults Us Into Fairy Territory
When people are told they’re “away with the fairies,” it’s almost a derogatory comment. We say it’s time to celebrate our visits with the fairy realm!

With a New Moon in Aquarius on February 15th, it’s time for the Divine Feminine to swoop high, dream big—and to astro travel our dreams into the 3rd dimension. This New Moon also ends the longest complete lunar month of 2018 (the last New Moon was on January 16th, giving us 29 days, 18 hours, and 48 minutes). Mama Moon is giving you extra time to push on through, with a clear focus on new beginnings.

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7// Mama’s Wide Open During Eclipse Season
With January 31st’s Super-Blue-Blood Lunar Eclipse bonanza, and the upcoming Solar Eclipse on February 15th, the first two weeks of Feb see us in the middle of two incredibly catalytic aspects. It’s like the universe has its legs wide open in breach position providing a gateway though which we can birth projects, artistic endeavors, networks, and relationships that reflect our divine purpose.

Goddesses: F is for February, F is for Fertility, F is for the future. Reclaiming feminist February means pretty much get it on with the universe!

Lucy North is a writer, healer, and artist. She will be running a Goddess Healing Circle in honor of Freyja this Tuesday, February 13th, at The Alchemist’s Kitchen in New York. Click HERE to reserve your spot. She will also be holding an “I’m Every Woman” Goddess Circle at RA MA New York on Sunday, 25th February. Find out more and reserve your space HERE

HOW IT FEELS FOR A TRANS SOUL TO COME HOME

As the 2018 Leo Lunar Eclipse asks us to stand up in our fire and be truly seen, childhood abuse survivor and joyous healer, Danny Brave, shares his journey and reveals how it feels for a trans soul to come home …

Danny Brave. Photo by Tommy Venus.

“I remember the moment
when I came home to
my body

what a lovely reception 
that was
(though emotional) 
. . . ”

While working with a sexual empowerment coach in 2015, this was the beginning of a poem I wrote entitled “coming home.” In the exercise that inspired it, I visualized that pieces of my soul were perched over my head.

My coach then instructed me to reach up with my hands and pull these pieces of my soul back into my body with my hands. After a few minutes, the coach then instructed me to call my soul back into my body by placing my hands on my heart and saying my name out loud, three times: Katie. Katie. Katie.

And I burst into tears, because I felt in that moment a tiny piece of me came home, along with a deep knowing that I had never actually, up until this moment felt at home within my body. Not once in 28 years.

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:: MEETING DANNY BRAVE :: 
This session took place just a month after recalling memories of my father sexually assaulting me as a child, an event which completely altered the course of my life. The memory shattered the fabricated reality of the cheerful, healthy relationships I thought I had shared with my immediate family members up until this point.  

As a result, my journey home into my body has also felt, and still sometimes feels, extremely challenging. In fact, at times, this would be an extreme understatement.

Between July of 2015 and now I have, almost relentlessly, uncovered countless repressed memories of being sexually assaulted and abused in a multitude of ways. Not only by my father, but also my mother and grandfather, along with some deeply questionable evidence that I was not in fact a woman.

I remember being in the thick of my repressed memory recall and looking in the mirror and talking to myself, and hearing a voice in my head say to myself, “I want to be a boy.” I thought I must be insane, and shut that voice down for an entire year before I would allow it to re-emerge and accept it as truth.  

Fast forward to today. I now know that my true name is Danny Brave, and I am a gay trans man. I discovered the trans part in June of 2016, but was too terrified to come out until that November. And the gay part I wasn’t even too sure about until about a week ago.

Photo: Tommy Venus

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:: I WANT TO BE A BOY; I AM A BOY :: 
The reality of my gender identity came crashing down that June, when I decided to, once again, look my inner child in the mirror and have a conversation with them and really listen this time. This is a practice I had adopted from the amazing work of Louise Hay as I found it to be deeply healing (and for those who are brave, I cannot recommend it enough!)

I asked my inner child what was wrong, as I had been feeling deeply depressed, and I had long hair at the time that felt droopy and heavy. I asked what I could do to help them feel better. In response, I heard the voice of my inner child scream: “I want to be a BOY!! I AM A BOY!!  I want to cut off all of my hair!” 

It was that same voice I had heard a year ago, a voice that I could no longer ignore or discredit as crazy: this was the real me, the one who as a kid tried to pee standing up, who felt confused about why he did not have a penis, the one who loved dancing, singing, and fabulous shoes, and had dreams of being a visual artist.

This moment in the mirror was the moment I finally decided to listen to myself. Two days later, I cut off all of my hair and immediately felt so much better, so much more like me. I began to realize that I could not visualize myself in the future as a woman without wanting to die.  

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:: FROM TERROR TO TRANSITION :: 
At this time, I had dug myself into a hole by moving to a small town an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, where I was making little to no money, had no car, and no health insurance, let alone access to trans health care or support groups.

I was terrified, and had created this situation out of that same terror. I knew I had to get back to a city to gain access to support for figuring out my transition. I thought my choice would be Los Angeles as that would be the most convenient, but shortly after moving to LA and not being able to land a job with decent pay, I took the little money I had left and moved back to NYC in August of 2016.

It was in NYC that I was able to take my old job back, and gain access to the support I needed to come to terms with myself and transition: trans masculine support groups and free therapy via the Center on 13th Street (for which I am forever grateful). I came out in October 2016, and lost a majority of the “close” friends I had at the time.

In the winter of 2016, I met up with a friend from one of my support groups and told them I was having suicidal thoughts and that I couldn’t get out of bed. They gently pointed out to me over a cup of coffee that not being on testosterone was “not working for me,” (to put it mildly) and I started hormone therapy shortly thereafter, in January of 2017.

Every week since then (with the exception of one month during which I completely panicked) I have been injecting myself with a needle filled with testosterone (also simply referred to as “t” within the trans community).

This simple act is slowly but surely transforming me externally into the person I have always been internally, which feels a bit like becoming sane and going crazy at the same time. I am going through a literal and a figurative process of transformation in order to become the person who I have also always been. Quite a trip!

Photo: Tommy Venus

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:: WHOLE, LOVING, JUICY :: 
Last week I had a more triumphant and joyful moment of homecoming, when I attended a dance class with my loving partner (who is also a trans man) shortly after having anal sex for the first time (for hours on end, I might add).

Something so essential about who I was clicked into place while with him: I felt like my soul actually landed it my body. It felt really good, and really whole and loving.

Running late for the class, I looked into his big, beautiful eyes on the train on the way to class and felt he was really seeing me for the first time, and I him. Beneath the boobs, we were, and are, two gay men, despite all of the “ma’ams” and “misses” and the lifetime of being perceived differently by everyone, including ourselves. Our truth felt so simple in that moment, and I felt truly beautiful in his eyes. Really real, and really me.

Looking in the mirror in the dance class, I could see how recently my arms, wrists, and fingers had gotten so much more masculine looking, and how flat my chest looked with my binder and the grey t-shirt I was wearing. This made me smile, as did acknowledging how much I love to dance—always have, always will.

I glanced over at my partner in the mirror, and saw a beautiful person who was somewhat scared to be themselves out in the world, but who was doing it anyway, just like me. I saw someone who was willing to go outside of their comfort zone to try something new, something they always wanted to do, like take a dance class, or write this article, and the simultaneous nervousness and courage behind his eyes made my heart swell.

Then I looked at his juicy butt doing the warm up and felt my genitals wake up once again in my stretchy pants. This also made me smile. I realized and accepted in this moment that I was gay—that I REALLY was a man who liked men (cis and trans). Always have been, always will be. And that despite all of the incest, I always have been and always will be a deeply sexual person (after all, my Venus is in Scorpio).

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:: IT TAKES COURAGE TO ENJOY IT :: 
It has taken years, a village of trans allies, sensitive artist friends, therapists, Reiki attunements, shamanic healers, dance/movement therapy teachers, sexual alchemy teachers, yoga trainings, sexual empowerment coaches, random acts of kindness from strangers like the lady in the Starbucks who told me that who I was was really beautiful and that the world would love the real me, and thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt to get here. But damn, I did it. I’ve done it. I’m here.

And I love sex. Yes, I love sex! says the man who had his first orgasm from masturbation when he was 27 years old, because he thought sexual energy meant being hit, yelled at, and penetrated without consent. Says the man with a female body who didn’t want to look down or touch himself there because it would mean realizing that my mind and body did not match. Says the man who was, as a child, anally raped by his father and grandfather and molested in a bath by his mother, and taught by the Catholic religion that sex was a sin and that my body was something to be ashamed of. Says the man who was not allowed to share a bed with his boyfriend when he visited his parents’ house at the age of 26, being not-so-subtly shamed that they lived together before marriage.

Yes, I love sex. And I have reclaimed sex to the extent that it now makes me feel alive, loved, present, powerful, and best of all, real. What once made me feel terrified now allows me to feel safe. It takes me from that idea of myself in my head perched above my body to actually being an embodiment of self. It is teaching me to trust life again.

In the words of Bjork in her song “Big Time Sensuality”: It takes courage to enjoy it. I hope that everyone who has been through what I have gets to experience this particular kind of courage.

I hope that everyone gets to experience the pleasure of coming home into their own sexuality, their own body. 

Tommy & Danny. Photo by Lyndsey Kamide.

Danny Brave is a Writer/Public Speaker/Educator on the subjects of Gender/Transgender, Overcoming Trauma, and Ascension/Spiritual Living. He is a Master Shamanic Reiki Practitioner/Psychic Healer specializing in helping people of all genders, ages, body types, and races overcome the effects of child abuse/sexual assault via various healing modalities which he has come to term “Brave Healing Arts.” He conducts monthly LGBTQIA & Allies Community Healing Circles at Maha Rose in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (1st or 2nd Wednesday of each month). He is 100% sober, vegan, and loves to paint, take photos, dance, and pet dogs. 

HOLY F*CK: HOW TO CREATE HEALING AS ART

Forget plasticky mats and badly lit yoga studios. Writer, director, artist, and transformational coach, Alexandra Roxo, tells you how to make sacred sexy, and create healing as art …

Photo: Keith Carlsen

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Magic feasts & dark chocolate canoodles …
I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life working as a writer, director, and artist. At age 21, I created an immersive theatre experience, where the music, the aromas, and colors allowed people to be completely lost in the moment, forgetting who they were. 

For a New Year’s Soiree in Portland, OR, in 2007, I hand dyed invites with beet juice. I instructed everyone to arrive in white. I decorated the house with vintage candlesticks. Made little tents out of sheets for couples to canoodle in, with books of erotica and dark chocolate. Throughout the night there were surprise musical acts. Everyone dancing! And in the morning there was a feast around a long table, where declarations were spoken. It was 48 hours of Magic. A retreat into Love. And this way of crafting experiences has continued with me.

Birthday parties, events, rituals. I can “direct” and make art out of any part of my life. And my healing work is no different. I see healing as art.

Photo: Alexandra Herstik

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Full body healing & healing as art …
When I think of healing spaces and rooms, I often think of bad lighting. Sagging couches. Yoga studios with plastic mats and water bottles and the same Kunda tunes on repeat. And as a healer and a director, I want nothing more than to make the healing experience a full body, full sensory experience of art, delight and great pleasure!  

I’ve had practice crafting this in our Moon Club meetups. Just last month, myself, Gaby Herstik and Kaitlyn Kaerheart— the LA pillars of Moon Club— crafted an evening of healing as living art, the whole night directed by me, like a Mistress of Ceremonies and a High Priestess extraordinaire!

We titled the event “There is a Light that Never Goes Out,” after The Smiths song. People arrived to candlelight. Wearing black. I opened with a monologue and setting of the space, an incantation, a dropping in. We were serenaded by Kaitlyn’s sweet voice. Like an angel! Then we shared stories in the dark. We received a magical Gong Bath from North and Nomad, and hands-on healings and oils from Kaitlyn, Gaby and I. The night was a piece of theatre. A true ritual, with every detail intact. No small talk. No chatter. No same-old Trader Joe’s snacks!

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Mix your sacred with your gorgeous …
This is how I will be crafting ALL my healing experiences from now on. Healing is getting a new look. Sex. Art. Fashion. Theatre. No more yoga studios and therapy rooms. I’ll be leading healing work on beaches. In gorgeous living rooms. In the forest. Sacred acts, dedicated to the Divine! A celebration of human existence. A return to the way we once healed and worshipped. Before the puritans took the fun out of it!

And you can DIY mini experiences for yourself and your friends anytime! No more pot luck dinner dates. How about hosting something fabulous and fun and experimental? It takes less efforts than you’d think to turn a night with friends into something magical and memorable.

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Here’s how to create your own artistic healing soirée … 
1// Create your event around a theme. This could be in line with the Moon. An Equinox. A certain ritual you’ve read about and feel inspired to lead. Or your own Solar Return!

2// Art direct the shit out of it! Make Pinterest boards. Choose colors. Start to envision and most importantly to feel the world you want to create.

3// Create a run-of-play. Do you want to put love notes in secret spots for people? Create a hot seat for Compliment Showers? Put sexy questions into a hat for people to answer? Invite a musician to stop by? Have someone lay down and get an 8-hand massage? Get creative and map out a time-line. Imagine the colors. The smells. No hummus and chips and no Pandora on shuffle! Get specific.

4// Ask for help. Get a friend on board to help you execute. This is your Assistant Director. Love them and have fun together. Send them a gift after!

5// Send those invites and test it out. The first one may be clunky. Maybe the music didn’t come on at the right moment. Someone got the dress code wrong. But have faith! Things will get more clean and clear as your faith in your ability to direct gets stronger. When you commit to bringing YOUR presence is when you’ll inspire others to elevate into their own greatness, too. I promise!

Photo: Alexandra Herstik

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In 2018, I’ll be creating my most ambitious healing as art experience to date—leading a Transformational Healing Journey for six women. And I have two spots left! It begins February 1 and will entail a RADICAL six-month healing journey of magic and art and sexiness. A true return to healing and transformation as your own greatest art form!

Our journey will include SIX fully art-directed, 2-day retreats, which I’ll be co-leading with some of the most incredible practitioners from my own healing journey—many of whom I’ve written about for this column. We’ll be dancing with serpents. Suspended by ropes. Sitting in sacred tea ceremony. Diving into the wisdom of plant medicine. Taking cedar baths in the desert. Doing heart-opening work with the Divine Masculine (in divine man form!) And so much more.

Email Alexandra at [email protected] to receive all info and an application! Program begins 2/1.  First retreat is 2/10-2/11.

LOVE YOURSELF: A BODY WORSHIP RITUAL

Learn how worship your body with the same reverence you show when entering a sacred space of prayer, says Kitty Cavalier.  Artwork: Pedro Sacadura

As a little girl, I loved volunteering to clean my church after mass on Sundays. My family and a few other parish members would polish the pews, switch out the flowers on the altar, sweep the long processional aisle of dust bunnies and organize the hymnals. As a very devoted little Catholic girl, I felt like I was being given a backstage pass to my favorite concert. Tending and caring for what I considered God’s house was a huge honor and made me feel quite elite.

As time (read: puberty) went by, my beliefs about religion began to shift tremendously. As Mae West once said: “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” The church no longer felt even remotely like home – and as for many of us, my spiritual path since has followed more of a curve than a straight line. But there’s been one constant throughout: my body.

“My body is my temple” – it sounds so cliché. But let’s really think about it for a second. A temple is defined as “a space devoted to religious reverence,” and I can think of no greater house of worship than the cathedral of my very own heart. There is no holier a song than the sweet hum of my inhale and exhale. The light in my eyes mirrors the warmth of a candle’s flame. My skin houses and protects me like the smooth, lavish marble of the Taj Mahal, and the flush of my cheeks after an orgasm can put the ceiling of Sistine chapel to shame.

Yes, my body IS my temple. So today I’d like to share with you one of my personal favorite rituals to start 2016 off right: body worship. There is no way to do this ritual wrong. Just like learning a prayer or a hymn, a little heart, a sprinkling of soul, and practice is all it takes.

Suggested supplies for this body worship ritual:

  • Body Oil (such as coconut oil)
  • A mirror propped against a wall
  • A body scrub (like some sea salt mixed with body oil), or a loofah
  • A towel
  • Candlelight, incense, flowers, or anything else that helps you set sacred space
  • Music: click here for a free, hand-curated Body Worship Ritual playlist

1. Set Sacred Space
Imagine you are setting space for the high holy days of your inner temple. You can light candles, burn incense, place rose petals on your bath mat, fold your towel as you would for a guest, play music, or anything else that evokes the spirit of the sacred for you.

2. Tending The Temple Grounds
Step into the shower or bath. As you wash and scrub your skin, do so with the same care, attention and tenderness that you would show to the house of the Divine. Scrub and loofah your elbows and knees with the same softness and reverence you would show when walking into a sacred temple. Imagine that as you caress your body with soap suds, every bubble of soap is like a flower laid down in offering at the altar of YOU. When you rinse your body, feel the water wash away that which no longer serves you, and it’s healing power to make space for something new to enter.

3. The Sacrament of Body Worship
Now you have prepared the temple, you are ready for ceremony and worship! Place a soft blanket or towel on the floor in front of your mirror. Position yourself naked by candlelight seated on the floor and bow to the beauty of your reflection. Take the body oil and warm it between your holy hands, using your breath to blow a prayer of gratitude into the oil. Then, allow your hands to be both pilgrim and priestess, as they slowly, reverently massage prayers into your skin. Approach each curve and corner of your body as a different room in the temple waiting to be explored.

4. Encountering Eternity
When you feel complete with your body worship, get very close to the mirror. Stare deep into your own eyes and see if you can glimpse the part of you that is eternal, that never ages, and transcends time. Just like that sense of divinity we feel when we walk on sacred ground, that spirit is right there, woven into the fibers of your DNA. All that’s required to encounter it, is the courage to really look.