For a few years now, I’ve been working on an anthology called Erotix: Literary Journal of Somatics. I put out a call in late 2016, thinking it would be a quarterly journal (!) published by Body Trust with the intention of putting some words to the erotic embodiment work we pursue, which is often mysterious. But the personal (trauma) crises I’ve been going through have kept me pretty much unable to get to my big projects since then, so it’s just sat in my inbox (and in the back of my mind, making me feel awful). On top of that, the submissions I received were somehow not quite what I was visualizing, though I couldn’t really put my finger on what I was visualizing to explain it, either. I thought I might have to do a second call for submissions.
But as I’ve been able to pick up projects — and complete them! — again this year, I’ve been tackling Erotix. It’s a smaller volume than I expected, but it finally came together in some sort of form that makes sense for me. No idea if I’m going to make other volumes — with the Best Lesbian Erotica project on my plate right now, it will probably be a little while before there is another one, but of course now that this is finished I’m excited and want to do more. I also don’t want to promise another one and then keep it incomplete for a long time.
But here it is, the first issue! I am excited to share it with you. It’ll be ready to buy in August.
In an erotic embodiment workshop, though we may be loosely organized around a theme of exploration, we all come together with different stories. We have different lived experiences, different relationships to our bodies and to others, different wounds, different resiliency. Many of our stories explore the themes of connection, touch, rejection, care, transformation, power. Some of them overlap at the same resonant frequency, and when we find the tones that match ours, the moment of perfect harmony which comes out of cacophony can be a soothing balm of relief.
I find this to be true in anthologies, too. A group of stories, tied loosely around a theme, manifested through a writer but now a being in their own right, come together with different expressions. Through the various refracted perspectives, sometimes deeper truths emerge. Sometimes a resonance emerges like a singing bowl which can buoy, which can soothe. Sometimes each piece adds it’s own perspective on the melody, like the different instruments in an orchestra.
I’ve had a vision for Erotix as a literary journal of somatics, but it’s taken me some time to figure out what that is and how to share it with others. That process of articulating something is precisely part, in fact, of what I visualized. When starting to do work in erotic healing circles in the late 1990s, participants and staff alike were often counseled not to talk about it, because others who weren’t there and didn’t experience this transformative space wouldn’t understand. Amy Butcher’s essay, “Between Silence and Words,” explores this further. But in the two decades since then, we in the embodiment, somatic, transformative, and sacred erotic realms have begun articulating quite a lot — and much of the world is ready to hear what we have to say.
That is Erotix’s goal: to be a mouth and tongue to express, in the linear confines of the written word, what it is like to experience embodied erotic transformations. The differences in the content are too many to name — power dynamics, masturbation, temple, sensation from subtle to bold, intellect, skin, orgasm, kink, connection, friction, music, and countless more. Each experience is unique and individual. Yet seeing a dozen or so descriptions come together in one volume shows some commonalities, some themes: the wild and whimsical ways our bodies work, the healing power of pleasure, the navigation of reclamation, shameless exploration, and connecting beyond ourself and other to a greater consciousness all thread through. They also thread through week-long residential workshops where we pray and dance and soar, where we realign our Self and selves, where we circle in a lineage of women’s temples.
Though not everyone can be in temple with us, I hope that as you sit with this small volume of words and have a glimpse of what it might be like. Each of these contributors bring their body and desire to the page, and without each one, the circle of this book would not be complete.