My Interview with the “Mother of Polyamory”: Deborah Taj Anapol

newDear friends,
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I’d like to share something very special with you.
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A few months before her (unexpected) death, I had the great honor and privilege of interviewing Deborah Taj Anapol (1951-2015). This beloved teacher, known to many as the mother of the polyamory movement, was a clinical psychologist, author, and radical teacher. Co-founder of the Loving More magazine, Anapol birthed such keystone books as Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits, The Seven Natural Laws of Love, and Polyamory in the 21st Century.
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It’s been three years since the interview. In my life lately, I’ve been diving even more deeply into profound questions about sexuality, intimacy, consciousness, and human connection. More and more friends are seeking me out, asking whether polyamory and open relationships have a place in their spiritual journey. Anapol’s work seems ever-relevant, ever-poignant.

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Her teachings are simple. If we open our hearts, we lead a more joyful life. If we move past fear and jealousy, we feel more connected to Source. If we can look within, what we see on the outside—in our relationships—will be rich, fulfilling, and abundant.

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Anapol reminds us that sexuality is a mirror for how we perceive ourselves. If we view sexuality (ourselves) as sinful or wrong, then that is exactly what it will be for us. If, on the other hand, we view it (ourselves) as sacred, as a beautiful gift, then that is exactly what it will be.
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Here is the interview. (It was originally published on my previous blog.) I hope you find it every bit as relevant and awe-inspiring as I continue to do.

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Lots of love,
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Anya

 

♥ ♥

 

Anya:   What is love, and how do we recognize it?
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Deborah:   Love is a vibration, a state of consciousness, an unconditional acceptance of what is along with the awareness that All is One. Love may or may not speak out or take action in response to injustice, but love does not take a position. It’s beyond duality. We can recognize love by its energetic signature, by how we feel in the presence of love.
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Anya:   Once we recognize love and feel its presence, how can we get out of love’s way and allow it to lead? Any practical strategies?

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Deborah:   Essentially, allowing love to lead means that the Ego or Personality stops trying to control and manipulate according to its mission to save us from perceived danger. Instead, we learn to listen, to be receptive and move along the path illuminated by love. We take actions that expand love or increase the vibration of love. We surrender to love’s guidance and stop listening to the voices that lead to fear and contraction and judgment.
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The mind can be tricky and masquerade as the voice of love telling us what we “should” do and making us wrong for asserting ourselves. So the first step, practically, is self-observation. Noticing what you are thinking and feeling and doing and why and what the results are. Many people will need some guidance in learning how to do this and the reflections of others who are more self-aware to point out when you’ve gotten off track.
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Anya:   Let’s talk about self-reflection. I am endlessly fascinated by observing how I change over time, by looking back at various projects over the years, and comparing my philosophies then to my philosophies now. How have your views on polyamory changed since you published your first book on polyamory in 1992?
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Deborah:   My views on polyamory itself really have not changed much at all in that time. What has changed is that I no longer see polyamory as a way to radically change the culture or as a radical solution to the many problems of modern life. Instead it seems that what’s happening is that polyamory is being used to prop up the status quo.
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Anya:   In what ways do you see poly being used to prop up the status quo?
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Deborah:   Atlantic Magazine has joined the ranks of mainstream publications running favorable articles about polyamory. Recently, the emphasis seems to be on how jealousy is manageable, or even non-existent. This makes total sense if you are trying to promote polyamory because once people get over their moral/religious objections, one of the main stumbling blocks is jealousy. The other main stumbling block is time and the cure for that is to work less, but no one seems to be mentioning that yet. If we ever decide that the 40 hour (or for many the 80 hour) work week needs to be cut in half (while increasing income for low and middle income people) and people can be enticed to work less if they can have more intimacy in their lives, then we’ll be getting somewhere.
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Over the last 30 years I’ve witnessed a huge change in how the print media relate to polyamory. It’s gone from an unofficial black out to advocacy. I’d like to think that it’s just that the mainstream has seen the light and is getting more tolerant of diversity, but I don’t see similar articles about how fabulous it is to be gay, for example.
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Judging by the kinds of questions coming from journalists who’ve interviewed me, social policy experts have realized that the nuclear family is an endangered species, just as I predicted in the 80’s. So the question becomes, how can we keep couples together so that we don’t have to shift our whole concept of relationship? How can we lower the divorce rate? Without families, there is a greater burden on government funded social services.
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Since we prefer to spend our tax dollars on the military and bailing out financial institutions, something needs to be done to save the family and preserve the kind of thinking and behavior that says, “these people are my family and I will share my resources with them and take care of them.” That’s all well and good but I’d like to see this attitude extending to all life—all people, animals, plants, oceans—our whole global social and environmental ecological web.
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Anya:   My work, too, is about the connections between spirituality and relationships. It’s what I write about in my book Opening LoveOur partners and intimate friends are like mirrors for us, helping us along on our path, showing us where we need to grow. In your book Polyamory in the 21stCentury, you write: “The blessing and the curse of polyamory is that love that includes more than one tends to illuminate those dark shadows that many would prefer to ignore.”

Dr. Anapol, if you had not become poly, how do you think you would be different person today, on a spiritual level? 

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Deborah:   First of all, I did not “become poly” so much as notice that I was not monogamous and never had been. Once I let go of the identity of monogamy, I attracted a series of lovers who reflected different parts of myself. This allowed me to experience and integrate all of me for the first time. If there had been one person who could be my perfect mirror, I don’t think this would have been necessary, but that’s not what life brought me. And I don’t think it’s what life brings most people, honestly. There is truth in the old saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” I think the journey would ultimately lead to the same place, but it would take longer to get there. Polyamory accelerated my process and that wasn’t always pleasant.
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Without polyamory I might still believe that my happiness was dependent on another person, and I might still think that if only I could find the perfect partner I would be happy. I would have missed the sense of freedom that came when I realized at 23 that jealousy was a choice that I didn’t have to make.
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Anya:   Who have been your most important relationship teachers?
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Deborah:   Without a doubt my lovers and partners have taught me more than anyone, and especially the ones who were leading edge innovators and teachers in this area. Dane Rudyar, in his wonderful little book, Directives for New Life, says that without a high level of intimacy and interpenetration, nothing much happens in the way of transformation.
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Anya:   What do you believe is the biggest impediment to transformation on a global level? What is humanity’s greatest resource for conscious relating?
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Deborah:   This may sound silly, but it’s true. The biggest obstacle to conscious relating is lack of consciousness. People like to talk about conscious relating and feel superior about thinking they are doing it, but when you get down to it, you have to do the personal work of evolving your consciousness. No one can do it for you.
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This evolution is going to look a bit different in different environments, but it’s all evolution wherever you are starting from. In some places, the environment, the culture, is more supportive of change, in some places less, but I think the inner work is more significant and is truly our greatest resource. Having good role models helps of course, but if you haven’t got the awareness to recognize them, what good are they?
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Anya:   What else would you like to share?
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Deborah:   It was important for me at a certain point to let go of the monogamous identity and it seemed useful at the time to replace that with a “polyamorous” identity so that I could see what I was up to. It sounds strange, but I hadn’t really noticed that I was involved in multiple relationships and loved more than one person until I expanded my map of what relationships were possible.
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But after a while, the polyamorous identity can become just another limiting belief, another imaginary category to be mistaken for “who I really am.” Many people, including myself, who’ve been on this journey for a while, don’t want to empower a label to define them. Labels can facilitate communication with other people, at least if the label means the same thing to them that it does to you. Ultimately though, labels become a distraction from realizing that we are much more than any concept can encompass.

Dragonflies and Flesh

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The sun is the
moon
tonight.
Daughter of all stars.

A blue clearing pervades the sky,
taking names
(persuading even
the bottom of these clear blue lakes)

We’re covered with mist, my dear.
We’ve covered in kisses.
This is the moment—
this is the moment
the door swings open.

We can finally finally sing.

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Co-Evolution

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In the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition, there is the philosophy and practice of the tantric consort relationship. Rarely, remarkably, in a flash of miraculous lightning, a person appears in our lives who is so perfectly suited to us that all others pale in comparison. When we meet this partner, this dear sacred consort, we must recognize all that this relationship asks of us. We must bow before it, surrender.
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The practice of tantric consort is a lifelong practice. It is blissful, sublime, yet incredibly challenging. It is nothing less than a path to enlightenment. If we are blessed to have met such a person and if we have the courage to surrender to the transformative power of this relationship—to all that it can teach us and to all that it can change within us—then there is the possibility for a real merging of souls to occur. There is now not two people, but one. In this sacred togetherness, the notion of a separate self, or a separate ego, drops away. In its place is pure unity and love.
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In the following poem, Alistair J. Kraft dives into the waters of such an all-encompassing, unifying love. Kraft asks us, as readers, to drop our defenses, recognizing that some bonds are more powerful than our individual will to resist … some bonds thrust us into pure being. Some bonds, some paths, we have no choice but to follow.
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I hope you enjoy this beautiful poem.
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–Anya Light
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♥♥

 

CO-EVOLUTION

 

There is a pathway into

my heart that only you

are shaped to follow, forged

by the sum total of our lives,

experiences, bringing us inexorably

inevitably

fatefully to each other’s arms we co-

evolved to fit together with a

blinding perfection, heart to

heart, soul to

soul and from that we both

find a place to call home, someone

to touch those places no one else

is shaped to reach in our depths.

Of all the possible lovers in a life

this is your home in my soul, only I

am this home in yours.

 

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Alistair J. Kraft is a poet, author, professor, part-time pagan, and animal lover based in Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends his spare time contemplating social justice, comedy, and how cute his rescue animals are. He can be found on Facebook at Alistair J. Kraft, or on Instagram and Twitter @poetofcats

Our First Hug

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He is my friend’s lover.

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Over coffee dates and over phone calls, she praises him as if he were a god. With a squeal and a radiant, teenage grin, she says to me, over and over again: He is the most fascinating, sexy, amazing man I’ve ever known!
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My dear friend is happy. And I am happy that she is happy.

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She says, I hope you’ll love him, too. 
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She tells me he is a quiet man. A man who selects friends and lovers carefully, with no great rush.
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And she always talks about his hugs. His amazing, mind-blowing hugs. She playfully warns me that, were I ever to have the pleasure of his embrace, all time would stop. I would pull back from his arms only to discover that five hours had passed and I had missed my bus. 
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The season is spring.

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He is wearing a dusty jean jacket from some long-ago decade. Simple wire, round glasses adorn his bearded face. To me, in this moment, he looks exactly like John Lennon. This is comforting.
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It is early in the evening, around seven o’clock. We are at a sacred sexuality workshop. All our friends are deliciously naked, mingling around the snack table, nibbling on chocolates and carrots. Giggling and flirting and silliness everywhere.
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My friend’s lover and I have been standing by the coffeepot: serene silence shared between sips. As he takes a step towards me, unfurling his arms in the universal gesture of let’s-hug-now, something inside me trembles. Time already seems strange. I make some sort of stupid joke, stalling. My heart is pounding. It feels like my words are some defense—but for what? I suddenly feel young, like a child.
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I’ve heard about your hugs, I say. Should I be nervous?
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No, he replies. A kind smile. Gentle, merry eyes.
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We embrace.
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I sigh. I melt. Something new is now here.

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We stand here … minutes or hours, I’m not sure … the din and chaos of happy friends all around us. We are floating. We are floating in a sea of love and touch: no boat, no anchor, no map or plan. There is just this.

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Only this.
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Always.
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How to Transcend Polarity with Gender Fluidity

 


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Susie Beiler is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner with Spectrum Health Consulting LLC. Susie is a channel for the Divine. She assists her clients to discover and live their soul mission so that they can enjoy a deeply fulfilling life. 

After healing herself from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (adrenal burnout), she reprogrammed and rewired herself to live her own soul mission as a channel for the Divine. Susie is the founder and lead facilitator in The Creation Temple®, an online venue for supporting Lightworkers in their ascension process. She lives in Sedona, AZ and enjoys nature, authenticity, and high vibrational food. Please visit her at: www.susiebeiler.com and www.creationtemple.com

The Exquisite Combination of Lucid Dreaming and Sacred Sexual Healing

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In my practice as a Sacred Sexual Healer and Transformational Guide, part of my role is to serve as a sexual shaman. The heart of this shamanic role involves widening my fields of perception, as well as helping others achieve this. I work to open the doors of seeing.

This work manifests in a number of ways, including working in spirit realms and dream space.

In a lucid dream, we can make conscious choices that influence the course of the dream.

Lucid dreaming enables us to interact, with intention, with aspects of our deeper selves. 

When I began this work, I had been reading a wonderful book I’d received from my mentor, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. This book introduced me to the concept of using lucid dreaming to heal yourself or others. This involves making a conscious choice while dreaming to offer healing.  (Of course, when offering healing to others you must always ask permission, just as you would if you were offering healing in waking life.)

There was a fascinating synchronicity in the fact that I was reading this book at a time when I was feeling sick. I had a brutal sore throat and my voice had become quite wonky.  One night it reached a point at which I was experiencing knife-like pain in my throat, and I was coughing and congested and generally felt pretty miserable.

I wanted to do something to ease the pain in my throat, and I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try a little lucid dreaming. I decided to hold the intention to enter into lucid dream and heal my throat, with all of my shamanic awareness. I admit: As I began, I was very skeptical, but ultimately, I was so blown away and grateful for what opened up.

There are a number of techniques one can use to enter into a journey of lucid dreaming.  I will describe the methods that I used.

The journey began with focusing my attention very strongly on my hands. I brought my awareness to my hands and held the intention that I would be able to use my hands as a way to remember that I was in control of the dream.

One of the methods I use to hold an intention during this or other shamanic work is to literally write it out on paper. I believe there is something quite powerful about bringing intention into physical reality by physically writing it down.

So, that night, I wrote my intention in my journal, and the words went something like this:

Tonight, while I am dreaming I will see my hands, and I will realize that I am dreaming. Once I realize I am dreaming, I will heal my throat.

I wrote those words down, and keeping my attention on my hands, recited them like a mantra. I had considered setting the intention of healing my whole body, as I did have other symptoms. But, I decided to keep the practice very simple, specific, and focused on my throat.

Part of the process I used to solidify my intention and enter into lucid dreaming involved working with my sexual energy.

 

Sex Magic: Working with sexual energy to manifest intention

Our sexual energy is the powerful, creative energy that is our life force. This is the energy that brought us into being. We can tap into this energy with a little intention and awareness, and of course with consent, integrity, and respect for our own bodies and for others.  I hold this to be very sacred.

There are many ways to work with sexual energy for healing. I will tell you about the steps I used.

  1. During self-pleasure, feel your sexual energy flowing through you.
  2. Begin to channel that energy towards your intention. (In my case, it was my mantra: My intention of seeing my hands in a dream, becoming aware, and healing my throat.)
  3. In particular, try to focus your sexual energy on an intention right at the moment of orgasm.
  4. Allow that yummy, spacious “WOW!” energy that we experience during orgasm to infuse your intention.

Indeed, I had an exquisite self-pleasure experience that night, despite the pain in my throat. It felt lovely and as I drifted off to sleep while still holding that mantra in my mind, I was smiling and felt like I was floating in a sort of blissful cocoon.

When I began to dream, I immediately saw my hands in the dream.  I was so surprised!  I was dreaming, and I knew it. In the dream, I was sitting in my yard. I was out in nature, which was even more cool! I became so excited that the dream dissolved and I woke up.

I was ecstatic that I had accomplished this, and I immediately wrote the experience down in my dream journal. However, I eventually realized that I hadn’t followed through with the rest of the intention. I had not done any work to heal my throat. I realized that I would have to go back. So, I focused again on my hands and recited my mantra and I gradually drifted again to sleep.

Similar to before, I was dreaming of being in my yard space, and I became aware that I was dreaming. I also became aware of a man who was to my right. I was tempted to engage with him, but I remembered to stay focused on my intention to heal my throat.

Looking at my hands in the dream, I saw that I was now holding a day lily bud. I knew it to be a day lily even though it looked somewhat different from those I was familiar with from waking life. I had been working recently with day lilies as an edible wild plant in my backyard. I had just learned that you can harvest the buds and sauté and eat them like green beans. They are just lovely.

I saw the day lily bud in my dream and I knew that I was supposed to eat it. So, I took a bite. And even though in waking life there is nothing inside the bud, when I tasted the dream lily it filled my mouth and throat with a cooling liquid that felt amazing. I received the liquid. I drew it in and knew I was supposed to eat the whole flower.

I had a moment in which I experienced a strange sense of anxiety about eating the flower; I wondered if it was safe. I had dreamed in the past of eating or drinking, but I had never before felt the physical sensation of consuming something, feeling its presence and texture in my mouth and body. I wondered if I should be doing this. After a bit of reflection, I decided that yes, this was the healing I had asked for, and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and joy as I finished the lily bud.

I spent a little more time in my dream, some of it talking to the person who was sitting there to my right. The dream concluded after my interactions with him and I woke up. I wondered if I should try to go back to the dream, but I said no. I decided to just let things be and try not to notice anything right now about how I felt or anything that might have changed.

I recorded the dream in my journal and went back to sleep. During the night, I had a few other dreams that were semi-lucid and also centered on healing my throat. I had a dream in which I drank an herbal infusion, and another in which I ate a piece of chocolate.

The next morning when I woke, I nervously swallowed and checked in with my throat. To my astonishment, I perceived vast improvement. The previous night I would have ranked my pain as an “8” on a 1-to-10 severity scale.  This morning I rated it a “2” or a “3.” My voice was not quite returned to normal, but the sharp knife-like pain I had been experiencing was completely gone. I felt filled with gratitude to Spirit.

 

Trusting in the Possibilities of Spirit

I have continued to explore healing and lucid dreaming, as well as using sexual energy to help facilitate those transitions.

It can be so difficult at times to trust that there are other possibilities, and that by working with and through Spirit, we can have a significant impact on what we see as rock-solid consensus reality. We are vastly infinite energetic beings who for a time exist in a finite form. But we can still tap into that infinitude if we trust it.

This doesn’t mean we have to shed all of our skepticism. A good dose of skepticism can be healthy. But, if we can crack open the door just a little bit, and be willing to try and see what happens, then we can open ourselves to new worlds of possibility.

Part of this also involves trusting ourselves as creative human beings with the ability to impact our world as we continue to expand our awareness. At each step in our journey, we encounter moments when we recognize that new possibilities have opened to us. These are the moments when we need to slow down. Bring our awareness to our body, our minds, and shedding the layer that no longer serves us. We let go a little bit and let these things drop away. We slow down in these moments out of love and respect.

These are the basic tenets of opening our awareness and connecting with possibility. These are the basic tenets of trust

 

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Leslie Blackburn, MS, RCST® is a Sacred Sexual Healer & Transformational Guide—a leading educator and coach of sacred sexuality and tantra in the US. A former mechanical engineer specializing in quantum physics, and Ironman triathlete before her spiritual awakening, she has conducted thousands of individual client sessions, leads workshops regularly, and has reached thousands with her inspirational presentations ranging from intimate groups to large speaking engagements. Her monthly radio program is one of the most listened-to on Body Mind Spirit Radio. She bridges the gap between sexuality and spirituality, covering tantra, consciousness, sexual anatomy and energetics, yoga, meditation, sacred geometry, and more. Leslie’s personal path and work has been the integration of the ever-unfolding feminine in body and psyche with masculine direction and purpose—Love in Action! Find out more about her work at www.LeslieBlackburn.com

Learning to Live Again in Tantra

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In Tantra, we learn to breathe again. 

Where attention goes, energy flows. Through the breath, Tantric practitioners become more and more aware of subtle energy currents in the body.

In Tantra, we learn to see again.

We have energetic ports throughout the body, and the eyes are two.

We learn to soften our gaze towards the world and ourselves. We practice sending nonverbal empathetic acceptance to strangers with our eyes. We learn to peer out of our subjective experience to “see” the love all around us. Whether the store clerk, the repair person, or our most treasured friend, we learn to see the aura of love surrounding them.

In Tantra, we learn to touch and feel again. 

Ever-striving for immersion in the moment, Tantric touch is potent. Most of us do not invest our full attention in things. We have bills and schedules and stresses; these distractions interrupt a full experience. When we can gain some experience marshaling our attention, and perfecting a posture or movement, Tantra then opens up the world of physical sensation to ever-increasing heights. We slow down our monkey-mind. We slow down the speed of our touch. We tune in deeply to our touch partner and go totally into the moment.

In Tantra, we find our body again. The world sends so many messages prodding us to numb out, to bisect the relationship between mind and body. To use our mind “over” our body and make it conform to an ideal. As a woman who has struggled with weight and bodily self-esteem, Tantra has allowed me to fully inhabit my body. Rather than using food to manage feelings, I make a regular practice to simply experience my body. To be fully in it.

Once in my body, I experience the air around me, the scents, the temperature, the brightness or dimness. Very simple acknowledgments of the environment have a grounding, calming effect. Over years of this, I have encountered types of pleasurable movement which organically fit my life. I honor my body when my stamina dips, and I am ever-more selective about food. In my practice, I’ve found old emotional patterns held in my body, and the techniques I’ve learned in Tantra and energy work help me to release them and to keep moving forward.

In Tantra, we learn to pray and worship again.

By bringing curated attention to our juicy body, we build our relationship with Source.  While walking my path, I have studied the world’s religions and found myself unmoved. Inspired, yes, possibly even brushed by Divinity’s touch, but never did I FEEL my connection with Divinity as palpably as I have since practicing Tantra.

Further, in order to walk a Tantric path with intent, one must contend with their shadow. Once allured by sensuous energetic sex, we are confronted with our shortcomings and traumatic histories. We seek to fully integrate our prayers into our bones, and we consciously work to neutralize toxic patterns in our personal and community life. Tantric exploration can mean nothing short of spiritual revolution—and that’s an undertaking!

In Tantra, we learn to love again.

We learn to love ourselves, over and over, just as we are, in the present moment. This means we must practice self-acceptance and self-love, often in the face of our shadows or shortcomings.

The smooth, aware breath coupled with a practiced, meditative mind allows our darkness and pain to arise, meet compassion, and be embraced with love. The capacity that Tantra has to bring light to our dark places is exactly why the practice should be approached with awareness and willingness to be with darkness or trauma. Through facing these wounds, one can find freedom and liberation.

In Tantra, we learn to live again. The totality of these subtle but profound changes is something like a personal renaissance.

From our root to our feet to our eyes, Tantra weaves us together anew. It empowers us to really see, really feel, and really live with awareness.

In Tantra, we learn to live.

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Magdalena Knight is an IT/Telecom Rock Star turned Poly-Tantric Sex Healer, Educator, and Sexual Freedom Activist and Writer. Visit her online at deardakini.net