Confessions of a Lusty Mage, Pt. 2: Swinging with My Shadow
Today’s blog is a continuation of last week’s introductory entry on my real-life adventures in sex magick and swinging! If you missed it, you can check it out here.
After joining the ethical non-monogamy (ENM) community, I quickly realized that the practice of swinging (a.k.a. “The Lifestyle”) is an excellent, albeit quite advanced, container for doing shadow work. I define shadow work as the practice of coming to grips with one’s old, ingrained, self-destructive patterns and learning to choose more empowered ways of coping with this roller coaster we call life.
In that vein, The Lifestyle (LS) has been extremely efficient in drawing my attention to my own shadows and blockages, simply because this way of being in relationship is still considered incredibly taboo by many people in our broader, puritanical, Abrahamic culture. Because swinging pushes up against deeply ingrained ideas about goodness, cleanliness, and morality SO HARD, practicing it forces us to quickly define and come to terms with what we consider to be principled, safe, and reasonable behavior. It can be quite challenging, and yet immensely rewarding when practiced in the spirit of loving kindness, curiosity, and joy.
In just a few short months of exploring and dipping our toes into the lifestyle, I started to see my marriage and my relationship to my spouse differently. Before the LS, my marriage to my best friend and soulmate was mostly about safety, security, love, acceptance, and building a shared life together.
It’s still all of those things today, but now I also understand our marriage as the blending and balancing of equal, opposite, complimentary energies that have the power to effectuate change—sex magick. Most often, this magickal, sensual union of opposites produces children (biological and/or adopted). But we can also see this alchemy at work in other ways—entrepreneurial couples who grow businesses, artist couples who design creative worlds, spiritual couples who develop and shepherd religious movements, public service couples who work for the betterment of their communities… the list is truly infinite!
When we added the fire of the LS to the crucible of our marriage, we began experiencing exponential growth and change in areas that at first blush seem completely unrelated to magick, but nonetheless are absolutely crucial in producing effective magickal workings. By indulging our desires for sexual play, we are simultaneously doing the Great Work of achieving our highest potential through self-transcendence. So, what kinds of impacts has this work/play dichotomy had on me, my spouse, our marriage, and our spiritual practice? Here are a few…
Magickal Impacts of The Lifestyle
Perfect Love, Perfect Trust. The LS has exponentially increased the trust level between us, and that was such a telling realization because I always considered trust between us to be rock solid. When we were tiptoeing around the idea of jumping into ethical non-monogamy, though, I realized there were volumes of sexual information and ideas I was keeping from myself and thus him, too.
The biggest example of gaps in my trust was that I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in him the attraction I felt toward other people, because I was afraid of hurting him or making him jealous. I also didn’t want to know about whom he found attractive outside of me, for fear of feeling rejected and jealous. The LS gave us a defined space to play in and made it possible to relax into our shared and individual sexualities, so that now we both feel perfectly safe to tell each other all about whom we find hot and sexy. In turn, that has spilled over into trusting each other with “scary” things like taboo fantasies, deep insecurities, and tender dreams for the future. Thus, we truly feel safe to say and hear anything to and from the other. Having this depth of trust and security in this most sacred container of our marriage makes it easier to approach the world and others in it from a place of love, instead of fear, which contributes to confidence in my magickal perspective and workings.
My Word is Law. Swinging has dramatically advanced not only my openness as explained above, but it also has lightning-accelerated my communication skills. Participating in the LS didn’t just force me to say what I mean and mean what I say (and it certainly did that); it also forced me to put into words many things I had previously preferred to keep to myself.
For example, when discussing boundaries before play, I had to quickly get comfortable with being quite explicit and clear about them. No euphemisms or beating around the bush! I had to get over my squeamishness around certain words and topics, because they were directly related to the realities of human bodies and organic existence. We’re talking about activities that can be potentially dangerous after all, so it’s imperative that I’m clear about what I will and will not agree to do. I cannot allow my fears of saying no, hurting someone’s feelings, making someone uncomfortable or angry, or turning someone off to limit my communication of standards, boundaries, and requirements for play that is both safe and enjoyable for me.
Likewise, I can’t just avoid talking about something because it makes me feel uncomfortable. I never dreamed I would discuss my period with so many people, but guess what? Planning play dates around periods is just a reality. When I find myself feeling uncomfortable or triggered during a play date, I can’t just shut down and retreat from everyone like I would prefer to do, and as my pattern has been for so long. That’s not fair to my playmates, who are there with open hearts to have fun with me and to give and receive pleasure, just like I am. Because my playmates are also dear friends whom I treasure, I learned that the most important time to be open and vulnerable is precisely when it’s least comfortable to do so.
Learning to truly practice clear, open, honest, and specific communication has freed me to step into my courage, my power, and my sovereignty—all very necessary components for powerful magickal practice. It also took my spell writing next level, beyond just incorporating the five senses to paint a compelling picture of what I want my spell to achieve, and into using crystal-clear, explicit language to create laser-sharp, compelling clarity on my magickal goals.
Stay tuned for the rest of this list in Part 3, which will be posted next week!