TURNED ON: “TAKE A LOVER WHO LOOKS AT YOU LIKE MAYBE YOU ARE MAGIC”

“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic” – Ellie Burrows is inspired by the classic line behind our most popular Instagram post to date…. Portrait: Mikal Marie Photography

“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic…”

This quote is often incorrectly attributed to Frida Khalo, but it’s actually a line from a poem called Frida Khalo to Marty McConnell by Marty McConnell. I guess I can sort of see how that would be confusing. You can watch McConnell perform it beautifully here, and if you’re really listening it becomes clear this poem is a reflection on a break up, rather than an ode to mystical love.

But no matter who said it, taken out of context this line never ceases to inspire those who read it. It pushes our internal heart button and causes us to double-tap the external one too – there are thousands of likes associated with it across Instagramland, the Tumblrverse and the Twittersphere.

Magic…

One meaning of the word is “inexplicable things” and that’s the definition I want to focus on. But first, I need to clear a bit of smoke from the air, and throw out some mirrors.

Let’s pause for a throwback: When I was growing up and would get into trouble for hanging out with the fast crowd, my mother would say to me “you’re judged by the company you keep.” And although 15-year-old Ellie would call me a sellout for saying this, my mother was totally right.

So hey Magic, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have to stop hanging out with the word “trick.”

I can’t tell you how many people I know who are seeking meaningful relationships via suspect means. All around me I see people trying to conjure love, undoubtedly what feels like a rather tricky business of late. In the contemporary dating world, some of the newest tricks in the book are actually very old tricks called “illusions.”

She gives him the impression that she’s fine with an open relationship in order to make him stay.

He creates a mirage of interest and strings her along because it makes him feel less lonely while he gets all those oats out of his system.

And my favorite – she doesn’t respond to a text message right away because then it appears like she’s busy and indifferent. (The latter we call playing hard to get. Since playing is the operative word, it would indicate that she is just pretending and is in fact, easy to get. Just saying.)

The Magician card from the Star Child Tarot

While these tricks can deliver results, they actually involve zero magic. And they don’t usually add up to anything meaningful.

Friends, your act isn’t working. It is time to drop the top hat and the rabbit. If you are an adult and seriously looking for love, then why are you choosing to forget that tricks are for kids?

I’d like you to consider that the illusions listed above have nothing to do with magic. Instead, they involve another M word: manipulation. Definition: “control or falsification.” And when you think about it, a stage magician is really more of a master manipulator. He is highly skilled at fooling you, but no – that woman didn’t actually get sawed in half.

But a true magician? Well, that’s something else entirely…

According to the Tarot, the Magician, #1 in the Major Arcana, is considered the bridge between the spiritual and the material. With his right hand pointing a staff toward the sky and his left bringing our attention the ground, he can channel the power of the Universe and bring it into the physical plane.

You can see it on the table next to him, which holds all four suits of the Tarot (Pentacles, Wands, Cups, Swords), each of which corresponds to one of the four elements of the ancient alchemists (Earth, Fire, Water and Air). These symbolize the proper use of mind, heart, body and soul in the process of manifestation.

A real magician is not an illusionist, but a creator. This card is all about the best use of our highest self, turning ideas into actions with the power to make a difference in our own lives. This card begs questions like “Am I using my powers for good or evil?” and “Am I tapping into my fullest potential?”

The Magician from the Spirit Speak Tarot

We are the magicians responsible for taking our abstract, sometimes inexplicable, feelings and bringing them through to the material plane. This is unbelievably challenging, since it requires the full engagement of physical form to lay our souls’ desires on the proverbial table.

When I’m building a relationship, I can feel my entire system using its “powers” to do so. My mind must ground the fears of judgment, rejection, and loneliness. My heart must glow with unconditional self-love, trust, and honesty. My body must swim against the current of its biological predisposition to fight or fly in the face of vulnerability in order to genuinely communicate my wants and needs.

We are all magicians who must work daily to create clear unobstructed pathways within ourselves in order to travel more freely in the confusing world around us. We are the magicians who must understand that our internal worlds are so complicated that we must endeavor to create external simplicity wherever we can.

But if instead we focus on crafting trap doors and smoke screens that are just there for effect, then authentic relationships and clear outcomes will be center stage when it comes time for the disappearing act.

So if what you’re looking for is, in fact, a real relationship, leave your bags of tricks at home. Instead, put something like the following on the table next to your drinks:

“I am going to be super natural with you.”
“I am looking for something serious.”
“I am looking for love.”

Because then you would be the fucking unicorn of the dating world, and then I guarantee your lover will look at you like maybe you are magic.

TURNED ON: SEXTING ACROSS THE MADONNA WHORE DIVIDE

Is sexting the same as cheating? It all depends if you’re playing in the shadow or the light, says Ellie Burrows. Image: Katie Fischer

Sigh, the Madonna and the Whore. Is there anything more banal then reducing a woman to one of those two archetypes?

Madonna: Non-sexual woman. Keeper of morality. She offers her breasts to her children. She tempts you into eating your peas. She tempts you for your own good.

Whore: Sexual woman. Debaser of morality. She offers her breasts to everyone. She tempts your husband. She tempts you for her own good.

For thousands of years women have been cast in one of these two forms. There is no shortage of literature or decorated scholars who have devoted their lives to studying them. And, there are many feminists who have fought fiercely to destroy such narrow-minded classifications.

But I have a confession. I totally recognize this duality in myself and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Enter: Sexting – digital fingering at its finest, and the space where I recently encountered my inner Madonna and Whore pushing their respective pleasure agendas. As it turns out, I was able to marry them when I understood how to align their supposedly conflicting interests. They were willing to sign a sacred contract, but they had to look each other in the face to do it.

A few months ago, I found myself in a budding Millennial relationship: we were really into each other but having a tough time sorting out the commitment piece. It forced me to evaluate my own feelings about monogamy. And when this column launched in April, it brought some men from my past out of the proverbial woodwork.

I hadn’t talked to Eric in years (name obviously changed). We grew up in the same place and had always had that energetic-sexy-vibe thing happening but we never actually acted on it, mostly due to timing with a dash of trepidation. He reached out to tell me that he was proud of me and confess that he had fantasized about me since his preteens. Before I knew it, we were sexting and it was tons of fun, like major smile-ear-to-ear fun. And if I’m being totally truthful, it happened two more times. Over Gchat. Off the record. That was the problem.

Hello Whore Ellie. Eric has a very serious girlfriend.

The next weekend I was with my boyfriend-who-wasn’t-my-boyfriend. He put up an Instagram that also drew out a woman from his past. When I saw his facial expression when he peeped at his screen, I was intrigued. He told me that she was someone he had a one-night-stand with and since then had occasionally sexted with. He assured me that I had nothing to worry about.

But, I wasn’t concerned at all. Like, at all. See, I knew that I had just engaged in a sexting conversation with someone I was attracted to and it had absolutely nothing to do with him. It wasn’t going anywhere: I’m monogamous and I like to flirt. Of course, someone could say that if I really loved him I wouldn’t have sexted with someone else. If you’re that someone, please go buy Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Immediately. #requiredreading

Then the following came out of my mouth:

“It’s okay if you sext with her.”

“What?”

“Well, I’m not sure sexting with her is a direct reflection of how you feel about me. It has nothing to do with me. It’s just an aggressive form of flirting. I would be fine with it as long as she knows that I know that it’s happening and it doesn’t actually become physical.”

“Explain.”

“If you both know that I’m aware that it’s going on and are still willing to sext, then you’re playing in the light. Then we are all engaging in conscious behavior and all of us get to enjoy the fantasy. However, if you can’t share it with me and you don’t think I can be part of the fun then that’s playing in the dark. That would be messy.”

Then I dropped the bomb. “In fact, I sexted with someone last week.”

“Really? Look at you.” He had a mischievous smile on his face that mirrored mine.

“Yes, and that exchange had absolutely nothing to do with my love for you. Totally mutually exclusive. It’s sophisticated flirtation. Except his girlfriend doesn’t know about it which is a problem.”

It was like we were sitting in an energetic room and the ceiling was lined with fluorescents. I could see everything. Deception is the fertile soil where the Madonna and the Whore’s separateness is able to survive. And that really is some holy shit.

The next day, I reached out to Eric and shared my revelation. He loved his girlfriend very much but was doing this behind her back, casting her as the Madonna and me as the Whore. I didn’t like engaging in this kind of shadow behavior because it didn’t allow us to play together. It kept us separate.

Maybe Eric believed that his girlfriend couldn’t see the duality and understand the nature of our flirting and so he felt the need to hide it from her. That, or he actually felt like it could go somewhere with me. But by going along with the deception, I wasn’t holding a space; I was trampling straight through one. And if we couldn’t play in the light, then it needed to end. So I ended it. I told him we could speak as long as we could keep it PG. Sadly, Eric and I haven’t spoken in months.

Hello Madonna Ellie. I support monogamy so I wanted to support Eric’s relationship. I also wanted to honor his girlfriend and only play with Eric if we could all play together.

The Madonna and Whore archetypes are in all of us. Both are remarkable extremes in their own right. I intimately know my Madonna and my Whore, and my life is an exercise in integrating them. It’s way beyond just being “a lady in the streets but a freak between the sheets.” I love both of them and so they love each other. I offer each a seat at my well-lit table and that is where they are able to break bread.

Read more from Ellie Burrows at Ellieburrows.com

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