Truth or Dare: Tell Me A Story

I apologize if I haven’t been posting as often. As you may be aware, I have been offered a publishing deal to collect some of the essays from this blog, as well as Dying for a Diagnosis, into a series of books, the first being focused on spirit work and shamanism. I am in the process of writing new essays specifically for the book, so that’s been where a lot of my writing spoons have been going to. But I promise not to let this blog go fallow in the meantime; this essay is not likely to be included in the first book, but it leaped out of my fingers and onto the page – like most of my essays do – so here it is.

Many of us feel lost, alone, abandoned. We mope our way through life, doing what we think we’re supposed to, little more than children afraid if we step outside the box of expectation, that some Cosmic Hand will come down and deprive us of pleasure until we surrender back into what it is that we think we’re supposed to be doing. Day in, day out, the days blend together; without the invention of the weekend, we’d never know to stop working and get a little sleep.

Once in a great while, something will come along and afford us the opportunity to have an adventure. But how many times have you heard about something, felt a longing for it deep in your bones, but let the voices of scarcity convince you to stay home? I don’t have enough money. I should be cleaning my house. I need to get more sleep. My body won’t be comfortable traveling for that long. It’s scary and unknown, and I need more comfort in my life.

And then those who invited us on this adventure we’ve turned away from return, and their stories are filled with wonder and exploration, and they come away with some deeper connection (to people, to themselves, to a greater meaning, etc), and we do everything we can to comfort ourselves again, that it wasn’t meant to be, that it would have been different if we had gone with them, that we would have held them back, or in some other way been a weight on the buoy of their transformation.

Then it comes time for us to tell a story about who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going, and we can’t think of anything to tell. No one wants to hear about six months of going to work, coming home, eating dinner, watching some tv, and going to sleep, a diligent consumer doing what is expected of them. There is no excitement, no story, no moral, no journey. We shy into the background, feeling ashamed of our complacent life. We yearn for something more, but the yearning passes as soon as we go back to what is familiar.

Many people ask me about ordeal, and they’re surprised when I tell them about my own; we expect ordeal to be physically painful, to be about blood and sweat and tears, and we turn away from that and let it be the story of other people. I have enough pain in my life, we tell ourselves, and I don’t desire to be in any more of it. But my story, my ordeal experience, looked nothing like what someone would expect. Many people come to me for ordeals because in their mind, “ordeal ritual” and “hook suspension” have somehow become linked; in the same vein, more ordeal workers than I can count have asked (or sometimes demanded) that I teach them hook suspension, because they feel without that knowledge they are somehow lesser. But my ordeal, my most transformative experience, had nary a hook in sight.

People get angry when they ask me to facilitate an ordeal for them, and when I come back with my ideas there is no black leather, no floggers, no bondage, no masochism, no pain. This happens even more often when the potential ordeal dancer is involved in the world of kink; because we speak of kink scenes as being cathartic, as being “ordeal like”, they come to assume all ordeals have some sort of kink element involved. My ordeal happened at a family-friendly event, in front of children; in fact, there were aspects to my ordeal that attracted children to me while it was going on. And there was no black leather, no whips and chains, no sexy dominatrices forcing me to my knees. My ordeal did not happen in a darkened room fitted out to look like a torture chamber or dungeon; my ordeal happened in the middle of a green field, at the peak of summer, during the afternoon.

You’re probably yelling in your head, “Well, tell me about your ordeal, then, Del!” But the denial of that desire, that place of expectation, that desperateness to sate the uncomfortable feeling of unknowing, the fear of being the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on; that is the spark from which ordeal is made. We have to find a deeper truth to our lives, in the corners where we do not know all the answers, do not know what to expect, can not set our watches by how long it will take, and most importantly, be in a realm where success is not assured. In order to truly engage in the realm of ordeal, there must be the chance that you’ll never know the real answer. In most ordeals, we only learn that we are asking the wrong questions, over and over again, increasing in volume; if we’re lucky enough to get the answer, it is never a comfort. It only reminds us that we aren’t thinking big enough, wide enough; stuck once again in our boxes of expectation and instantaneous comfort.

Many times, in fact, someone will approach me and detail to me exactly what their ordeal should be. They’ve thought about it down to the last detail; they’ve cast all the characters and chosen the stage, they might have even purchased the tools ahead of time, so that they could feel them first hand. And it pains me, so deeply, as one experienced in facilitating ordeal, because my first and most plentiful order of business is to disavow them of their vision. They’ve created the false ordeal; the one they know they can succeed, the one where they control what happens, where they’ve played it out in their head until it’s lost all sense of potential loss of control, or potential to fail. Many ordeal dancers have gone on, decided to find an ordeal master who will do exactly what they say, exactly how they say it, and unfortunately there are a bevy of ordeal facilitators who, feeling unsure in their own ego, will take the job and execute it perfectly. And yet, somehow, the dancer is back at my door, begging me to explain why their ordeal meant nothing to them, why it didn’t sate the need they had.

My ordeal was completely unplanned. I didn’t have any time to create expectations, and I think it was sprung on me such because I’m the kind of person who likes to rehearse conversations in my head before I get to the party; if I had known I would be challenged in such a way, I would have spent weeks thinking over the hows and wheretos and in the end I would have learned nothing. I would be so caught up in the steps, I’d forget the dance altogether. I also had no facilitator other than myself (although I did ask a friend to spot me a bit, just in case), because honestly, if I could not be both master and dancer at the same time, I needed to get out of the business of providing ordeal.

Have you had enough discomfort yet?

To me, an ordeal is nothing if the story is never told. It doesn’t have to be shouted from the treetops, but even if you just send me an email a few days later, describing what happened to me from your own perspective, and I delete the email after reading it and it is never spoken of again, it is the story that brings the most healing. We need to feel like we have had a significant experience, one that is worthy of story telling, that brings us from faceless drone to Hollywood celebrity, even if it’s just in our own minds.

The other half of this truth or dare game, is that sometimes ordeal is not the right path for you. Even if you’re kinky. Even if you’re open to body modifications. And it could be that those things are why ordeal may not be what you need. Sometimes, we can’t figure out what it will take to move us forward, when the secret is that you just have to do it. The ordeal may be hearing the truth: you don’t need a ritual, you need to do something. The ritual may be fun and fill your desire to be the center of attention, and it may even help you enter into an altered state of consciousness, but if what’s really holding you back is you, nothing I or any other ordeal master can do will get you past that first step. You can’t go back to school if you don’t fill out an application. You can’t move on from your past relationship if you keep reading their Facebook statuses and blogs and sending them emails just to have them respond to you. You can’t heal from the death of a loved one if you keep doing things and saving things that remind you of that loss. If you need to dress up that first step through a ritual, that’s okay; but you also have to remember that it’s just a first step, and that the ritual won’t do the work for you. Nor will the ordeal master. Only you, pulling up your big kid pants and doing something proactive will get you where you want to go.

That was a key to my ordeal, too. I could have chosen to stop, sit, think about the fear I was about to face, and instead of just pushing forward and doing what needed to be done in order to achieve the result, I could have waited and written an elaborate ritual with lots of “smells and bells”, as we call them, and then scheduled it for six months hence, hoping that in that time somehow I would feel more comfortable with what I was about to do. But there it is again, the enemy of ordeal, comfort. So instead of waiting for all the trappings and orchestrations of a ritual to insulate my experience, I just took my damn clothes off.

That was my ordeal. I was at a Pagan event at a local summer camp, where nudity is common. I never walked around nude; I have too many body issues, ranging from gender dysphoria to fear about being fat. My body is shaped oddly. I have a humped back/neck (a genetic gift), a large torso with small limbs (chicken legs, as Rave is wont to say, or an egg on sticks), a belly that hangs low on my thighs, skin so pale I glow, and a lot of scars. I have no need to prance around with all of that in people’s faces; I’m better looking when I’m clothed. So the first step in my ordeal was just to take off my clothes.

In many ordeals, an integral part is stripping away our artifices. We have to stand metaphorically, if not literally, naked in the eyes of those who witness. Ordeal is about showing and facilitating parts of yourself that you’d rather keep hidden; your fear, your rage, your failures, your shortcomings. If you can’t be honest about what those are, the ordeal is meaningless. You must be willing, enthusiastic even, about standing in the fullness of that which you’d otherwise hide. If you’re not ready to bare it in front of witnesses, you’re not ready for an ordeal.

My fear? Thunderstorms. I know many of my friends revel in the power and might that can be felt in the air, on the skin, when the skies turn dark and the clouds rumble. I feel lost and alone, like I’m going to be swallowed up, blinded and deaf, and that everything I love will be destroyed. I have suffered much loss at the hands of weather, and it seems thunderstorms are the reminder of that pain. Admittedly, my fear of thunderstorms isn’t wholly rational, but few fears are. I had originally left the group of my friends who were settling in to watch the storm, with the intent of hiding in the cabin until the worst of it had passed.

But when I got inside, I heard over the staff radios that they were looking for people to patrol different parts of camp, making sure the attendees were making safe decisions. As Pagans are wont to do, many of them were stripped down and dancing in the storm, and however wonderful that may have felt, the storm was raging dangerously close to tornado, and even though the cabins would provide little safety if the winds really got going, it was safer to be inside than out under the trees. So the staff were looking for people to make sure the attendees were inside their cabins, and that they had some form of communication there should we need to move into the stronger shelters if a tornado touched down.

There’s a moment when you’re crafting an ordeal, that you get this inner sense of being on the right track. You just know you’ve found the heart of the challenge, whatever it may be. Often, it’s something that you stumble upon, rather than find or know; asking a dancer to take off their shoes, you learn he has never walked barefoot on dirt before, and PING. There’s the real challenge. This was my PING moment, that I knew my calling to service was stronger than my fear of the storm. And the best and most convenient way for me to discharge this duty was to take off my clothes; after all, who wants to walk around in sopping wet jeans for hours? Especially when there isn’t a dryer in sight?

So in the face of my fear of nudity, coupled with my extreme dislike of thunderstorms, I knew that the challenge being set before me was to get out there and do my job. Naked. In not just a storm, but one so bad it could become a tornado any minute. I stripped off my clothes (except for a pair of hiking sandals, so I could handle all the walking and have a little traction), and readied myself to go out into my fear. On the cubby-closet sat a large rubber duck, a gift from a friend, the duck as big as a 13” television. My intuition said to take it with me, so as I walked out of the cabin, my inventory was:

-one pair of hiking sandals
-one staff radio, encased in a ziplock bag to keep it as dry as possible
-one 13” rubber duck
-a lifetime of fears

My friends were baffled. Less than three minutes ago, I had declared that I was going into the cabin to hide from the storm, and now I was striding out, butt-naked, with my head held high and my left arm curled around a large rubber duck. They blinked in disbelief as they watched me go down to the place I had been dispatched to, the middle of a large hill, and start telling campers they had to go into their cabins. There was something about the rubber duck that made me seem more friendly, approachable, and less of a tyrant trying to end their Pagan-y fun, dancing around in the rain. A small boy came up to me and asked me what my duck’s name was.

“Well, what’s your name?”

“Max,” he replied, seeming very proud.

“Well, that’s funny. My duck is named Max, too. And this Max says that it’s safer for you to be in your cabin until the storm dies down a bit.”

And here’s the real moral of my story. I could have easily chosen to lay down in my bunk, reading a book until the storm passed. I could have done what I thought was expected of me, bowed to the comfort of what I would normally choose. I could have let my fear dictate my actions.

But then I wouldn’t have this awesome story to tell.

And when I die, I want the memories of my friends to be littered with stories like these. I want them to stay up, late into the evening, warmed by a campfire, as they trade stories of my life’s adventures, never being sure which parts I exaggerated or blatantly made up, and which ones were true stories of derring-do. Isn’t that what we all want? I can’t think of a single person who would be happy having their epitaph being “They always arrived to work on time, stayed late when asked, and their house was spotless.” We all want to be heroes of our own mythic journey, have stories to tell our children and grandchildren, making them proud to be related to someone with moxie.

So here’s my question for you: Truth or Dare: What’s your story?

The Broken Lock

It happened by accident; she went to remove her collar for a visit with her family, and the tiny key broke off in the lock. Luckily, she hasn’t been asked to remove it since then, like being somewhere that gets hinky about giant hunks of metal. But there is it, stuck, unbreakable and yet in its own way broken; her collar stuck on her with no easy way of removal unless she unweaves the links that holds it in place, keeps its form.

It’s not all that dissimilar from our relationship, especially these days; we went from being in a dynamic that although always in place, only really became active in my presence. She went home to another place for long stretches of time and I didn’t really control much of what happened there. She came and went as she pleased, conducted a social life outside of her relationship with me, made her own decisions when it came to what to buy and where to store the spoons. But then one night, when my life was the on the verge of its own radical upheaval, I called her to me and informed her that she and I were going to live together.

Now, it sounds like she had no choice but to obey, but it was more of a negotiation than that. She had been living with an ex-lover she did not care for or enjoy living with; she also lived pretty far away from me and therefore when I needed her she had to drive quite a distance to help. It started with me living in a friend’s spare room while she alternated crashing on their couch and going back “home”. But even then, she knew the day was coming, sooner rather than later, that we would be living together.

Things moved very quickly. They found the abscesses in my abdomen and I needed her by my side; I needed rides to all of the appointments in quick succession and then I was in the hospital and needed a partner to stand in for the spouse I had just lost to infidelity and dereliction of duty. When I was released, she had already started setting up our first experiment in co-living, a friend’s house we were basically borrowing until we could find a more permanent place.

It took a while for us to find our stride; we both wanted there to be a deepening of our commitment to the other, without a radical change to either of our day to day existences. I was and will continue to be chronically ill, with the addition of the acute issue, so it wasn’t like I was in a position to take more reponsibility over her day to day choices. But at the same time, she became my PCA, my cook, my housemaid, my caretaker, my companion, my advocate, my chaffeur from time to time, my social scheduler, and sometimes even my representative at events and places I couldn’t go myself. And this all happened almost literally overnight – we had been doing this full time thing for less than a month when it went into overdrive.

I’d love to say it all went smoothly, and parts of it did. However, there were also times where I could see all the stress in her eyes, and her hair – I joke with her that I can gauge the level of her stress by the frizzyness of her hair – and my inner Master voice told me I had to give more rewards. More structure. More recognition for successes, and gentle reprimands for failures. I’ve always had to be gentle with her to some degree – although I can rough her up with my hands and toys, her emotions have been much more of an intricate mindfield where the wrong step could put her out of commission for days. It’s something she’s been working on for a long time, and she continues to take it very seriously, but we’re not at the end of the road with that yet.

She started noticing her own strengths and weaknesses, and started reaching out to others for help in making her a better, more suitable slave for me. She knows she needs to work on her time management, to make judicious decisions about when to multitask and when to focus on a single thing, and on being respectful and polite to me even when I’m an annoying and messy roommate. She went from either being cooked for (by her ex) or just zapping something convienent in the microwave to preparing nutritious and tasteful meals that take all of my odd dietary needs and desires into consideration (which was sadly complicated by my chronic nausea and lack of appetite – she had to find ways to make foods that encouraged me to eat even when it was the last thing I wanted to do, without spending ridiculous amounts of money neither of us had on expensive gluten-free alternatives to all of my old comfort foods like macaroni and cheese).

On top of that, things got much hairer with my health. The surgeon declares that this upcoming surgery is dangerous, could possibly kill me, and all of a sudden in the midst of trying to adjust to having me around her all the time, she also has to come to terms with not having me at all. She has to balance her grief and worry with keeping things positive around me, so I don’t get dragged into her turmoil and lose my own sense of zen about whether or not I’m about to die.

There were only brief moments where we actually got a chance to talk about our dynamic and how it had changed; ways to make it more obvious to both of us and recognition for all the work she’s taken on. But those moments were stolen; little conversations on the porch of the Squat, or wormed into discussion as we re-read The Marketplace series. We crafted a “greeting ritual”, something that brings us deeply into our dynamic as soon as she gets home from work (and allowed for daily training exercises that I thought were important).

There are times that I am worried that I forced her into this – she had already given me her consent, her submission, and so when I basically informed her that we were moving in together because I knew I couldn’t live by myself (and this was before the surgery was imminent; now that’s twice true) and I knew she was unhappy and looking to leave her current living situation (she didn’t like where she lived, the apartment she lived in, or the person she was sharing it with – it’s not that she hated her ex, but she just wanted to move on both romantically and life-wise) and so I “solved” her problem by announcing we were moving, together.

But then there are days that make it clear to me, if not both of us, that this was perfect timing for our relationship. It has given us ample opportunity to connect deeper as Master and slave, as well as Shaman and initiate (not that I really see her that way, but I do assist her in her own spiritual meanderings), as well as just two people looking to rebirth themselves into a new incarnation. She smiles at me, or does something nice without being asked, or she stops to send me a short email telling me how much she loves me and is happy to be in service to me. Even in the deepest stress of facing the surgery, she never forgot her role as she helped my friends and family with their travel arrangements and making sure they had all the information they needed. She’s stated in several situations that her service gives her something to focus on when her emotions make her feel unfocused. She feels like she’s doing something with her life, rather than just working a thankless job and eating food and watching movies. Even though sometimes that’s exactly what her life looks like, there’s always that moment when I call her into my room to ask to do something for me, even as trivial as making me a cup of tea so I can continue to write uninterrupted, and it all comes surging back.

When we didn’t know what the future held, she decided she wanted to take on a new symbol of our transition from what we were to what we are; we found ourselves in my friend Captain’s tattoo shop with her at my feet kissing my boots before two needles penetrated her in a long legacy of kinky queers; getting your nipples pierced used to be reserved for those who wanted to signal they were an owned submissive before they went mainstream. And in that moment, laying on the table with her slave blindfold on (it actually has the word “slave” on it), she trusted me enough that when she realized the jewelry was bigger than she had imagined, she knew I had asked him to use 10g jewelry (most nipples are pierced at a 14, which is smaller) as just another mindfuck in a series of mindfucks we’ve played with over the years.

Sometimes I worry about the day that she’ll have to take that collar off – not so much because our relationship comes to an end, but more if she decides to travel by air and some TSA agent refuses to understand that it is a “religious item” that never comes off (I’ve heard stories on both sides of experience as to whether or not collared submissives are forced to remove their metal collars during air travel), and the only option is to unweave some of the links so it will fall from her neck. But now, we can both look down underneath her clothes and know there is a mark she always wears; not her nipple rings, although they’re a symbol of it, but the mark of courage that she was able to take this leap of faith with me, continues to choose to bow her neck to our combined future, to the twists and turns that affect both of us.

In a way, the most wonderful side effect of the terrible, heart-rending tragedy that was the end of my marriage, is replayed each night when she comes home from work, removes her clothes, comes into my room, and sits at my feet. Even if the neighbors think we’re just two aging lesbians cohabiting together (because I don’t pass, even as transgender, to most eyes), in those moments we both know the truth; that collar, wrought by her own hands (twice, as the first time she forgot to ask me what colors to use and she had chosen colors that had specific meaning to me – and not a good one), is only a sign, a token, a easy shorthand when we pass through kink spaces, and what really matters lies underneath.

To Rave, my property, my girlslave, my assistant, my PCA, my amateur masseuse, my cook, my social scheduler, my available demo bottom, my play partner, my little girl, my roommate, my medical proxy, my advocate, my representative, my companion, my friend. I love you very much, and I am continually awed and filled with gratitude at the choices you have made, the consent you have given, the power you relinquish, and the changes you accept with grace and dignity.

The Invisible Third

dedicated to my boyfriend “His Boy”, because he asked for it, and then waited and waited…

You tend to end up dating the kind of people you hang out with. Spirit workers and other spooky-woo types tend to hang together, because we live odd sorts of lives and it’s nice when you don’t have to explain all the weird jewelry and what a geas is and how come you wear a wedding ring but I haven’t met your spouse. It’s convenient to find yourself in situations and telling someone they need to ground and re-shield and they can just do it, rather than need you to launch into an hour-long lesson on what that means and how to do it.

It’s like any other profession – it’s comforting to know that your experiences, frustrations, and jargon are understood by others. And although not all engineers date other engineers, you tend to find that left-brained people tend to drift towards other left-brainers, and vice versa. I’m not saying this happens every single time, but it’s not uncommon.

With that said, it’s no surprise that I have found myself in a V relationship – that is, where two people are dating the same person, but those two people aren’t dating each other. But that’s not the unsurprising part – it’s that the other branch of the V is an Invisible Person. Yes, my boyfriend has a sexual and romantic relationship with his God, and that relationship, as you might expect, is his primary commitment.

Now, to those who haven’t been around people in these sorts of relationships – God spouses, consorts, whores, etc – you might be thinking that it doesn’t affect my relationship with His Boy all that much. I mean, for most people raised in a mainstream religion, what you do with God happens either when you’re all alone, or when you’re surrounded by others who believe the same thing. That’s not how this stuff works at all.

This Invisible Person, whom we affectionately call Mr. Mister, is as “real” to us as any other person. Mr. Mister has wants, needs, desires, boundaries, and faults. He makes demands on His Boy’s time and life, and sometimes those demands rub up against things I may want or need from His Boy. Like any other poly situation, you’d think the answer would be to negotiate and communicate. And sometimes that works, and sometimes that can be more problematic.

In our situation, it happens that I have fairly accurate signal clarity. I don’t say that as a boast; it’s something I’ve been told by countless clients and colleagues over the years. His Boy strains to hear the very smallest whisper from Mr. Mister, and even then his faith is at a point where he second guesses himself a lot. So there’s a lot of talking between Mr. Mister and me, and me relating messages from His Boy when appropriate, and some of His Boy talking to Mr. Mister, but not a lot of Mr. Mister talking directly to His Boy.

It took some negotiation on my part to create strong boundaries around this – Mr. Mister started “showing up” uninvited, either by just being energetically present in the room, or sending me messages to pass on, or in one case, taking over my body with no warning. I had to make it clear to him that I honor he is a part of this relationship, but that there needs to be a strong foundation between His Boy and I that exists separate from Mr. Mister’s influence. Mostly, I asked that he attempt communication with His Boy directly first, and then if that fails, to come to me and I’ll pass the message along. If he wants to be present while we’re spending time together, I just want a little warning so I can prepare, and that it has to be proportionate to the amount of time I get to spend with His Boy without Mr. Mister.

One last little tidbit about our specific situation: this is the first human relationship His Boy has ventured into since making his oaths to Mr. Mister. Everything has a “let’s try this and see if it works” atmosphere to it, and we’re both trying to fail on the side of being too cautious, rather than too lax. It seems sometimes I forget a rule or push a boundary, but overall I’m very aware of what I am free to do with him, and what belongs only to Mr. Mister. It can be tricky sometimes, because a slip of the tongue or a errant touch has put me in Mr. Mister’s sights, and that’s not really somewhere I want to be.

The first step we both took when we decided we wanted to experiment with this relationship is that His Boy spoke to Mr. Mister about it. Well, that’s not entirely true; he sorta agreed to be my boyfriend before asking Mr. Mister if he was allowed to have human relationships. His Boy is still new to this whole God-consort thing, and hadn’t yet fully explored what was now off limits because of his new relationship. When we realized we had forgotten this fairly important step, His Boy did what he could to apologize and then ask. I was in fear for a while there; we weren’t assured that Mr. Mister was going to say yes. Not only had they not discussed human relationships and what was allowed, but His Boy had gone ahead and agreed to the relationship without permission. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that an Invisible Person holds the power to tell your potential partner that sorry, this relationship that you’ve just screwed up all your courage to ask for isn’t in the cards. There was some nail chewing and mental pacing while His Boy communed with Mr. Mister about it.

Then it was my turn. I sought out a diviner, so my signal clarity would not be influenced by what I so desperately wanted. I asked if this was okay with Mr. Mister, what I should be wary of, what belonged to Him vs. what was available to me. It was made abundantly clear to me (and to His Boy through different channels) is that marriage is out of the question, unless there’s a silly legal need (like health insurance) or some other earthly need for it, but no romantic oaths of living together forever. This works well for me, since I am pretty much done with the concept of marriage anyway. It was also made clear that although both His Boy and I find power exchange attractive, we could not enter into any sort of permanent power exchange relationship. And for me specifically, I could not either collar him or be collared by him. Basically, the message was that we could do nothing that might confuse His Boy about who is on the top of the hierarchy of his relationship structure.

I was also told that there were some skills I possessed that Mr. Mister was very interested in, either me teaching His Boy or providing for him. I balked – I have a strong personal rule that I don’t date “jobs”. I did it once, and learned the excruciating way that I can NOT keep my feelings locked in a box, even if I know going in that the relationship is a spiritual setup, rather than a romantic or recreational one. And usually, when the Gods are interested in me for spiritual “dating”, part of the “job” is to force them to come to terms with their issues around relationships, and that always ends in a terrible horrible break up, and most of the time also includes the “client” spreading horrible rumors about me because they can’t deal with how many buttons I was forced to push. I hate it, a lot, so I have asked Him Who Owns my Head (Loki) not to send me more jobs like that. So when Mr. Mister seemed interested in “employing” me as a tool in his relationship with His Boy, I was more than hesitant.

However, I spent about a month communing with Mr. Mister about exactly what he wanted from me, and what He was going to do in exchange. As He is not someone I have taken oaths to or am sworn to work for, there’s absolutely no reason for me to bend my neck and just do what He asks without something tangible in exchange. I also made it clear that “getting to have a relationship” was not enough of a poker chip – it was a big one, no mistake – but for the amount of things he wanted from me, it wasn’t enough on it’s own.

It was made clear at the end of the month that He and I had come to an agreement. I would serve as a sounding board for His Boy while he strengthened his own signal clarity, and when the time is right, I will assist in “fixing” his connection with Mr. Mister so His Boy can hear Him more reliably. I would encourage His Boy to do things in public that Mr. Mister wanted him to do, and remind him when it was appropriate. There was a sexual technique that Mr. Mister wanted me to introduce His Boy to (well, His Boy knew what it was, but he had no experience with it), and since it meant taking a cherry of His Boy’s, I was pretty okay with that. Finally, He was very clear with me that I was to keep a vigilant eye on His Boy’s mental health, and if he slipped into being more symptomatic, went off his meds, or made some other change that would affect his life negatively, I was to put on my Madness Shaman hat and get His Boy back on track. I’m not so pleased about this, as a recent relationship of mine came to an end because no matter how much I tried to assist my partner with their mental health issues, they ignored me and continued to make bad choices until I had no choice but to leave.

Overall, however, it wasn’t too much to ask for, and most of it was something that I thought fell under the category of “being a good boyfriend” anyway. He and I ended the negotiation by me making it clear that if He wanted something else, He had to have a tangible benefit for me in His hand. As Mr. Mister is very “negotiation” oriented, He could appreciate this.

(Not the first time I was happy that Loki taught me not to fear Gods, but to stand up to them and talk to them with moxie, for sure.)

Now His Boy and I have been together for a little longer than six months, and it seems to be working out. Mr. Mister has made less surprise visits, although sometimes He drops little messages in my mind – like recently we were at a party and He told me to give His Boy a good time – and I think His Boy has gotten an unexpected side effect of all of this. He has been much more diligent in setting up and working with Mr. Mister’s altar, sitting in reflection more often, and in general keeping Mr. Mister closer to his heart and head and an active part of his life.

I do believe that at this time in my life, who I date or have relationships with is not really in my hands anymore. I do have some choice, and can say no, but ever since I surrendered the reigns of my life over to Loki, every relationship I’ve had has had some spiritual meaning, lesson, or exchange that has been important in my progression. However much I am angry at the STBX (soon to be ex) at how things ended up, I recognize that without his relationship I would be in a radically different place than I am now. And in some way, maybe that’s an example that His Boy needs in his own life, how to engage in romantic and sexual relationships while balancing that he has a job to do, an Invisible Person who takes precedence, and it’s not something he can hide in order to get laid.

Both His Boy (whose blog can be found at Rock of Eye) and I are hungry to hear from others who have Invisible People in their relationship life. How do you deal with communication, negotiation, boundaries, and other typical relationship issues? Have you figured out interesting ways to acknowledge Their presence in your life and in your relationship? Are you just starting out and want to talk to others who share the same experience? We’re both hoping to hear from people with an entire spectrum of experience, from those who are just figuring this all out, to those who have done it, and maybe even those who did it for a while and then went back to being monogamous to their Invisible partner. If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, you can contact me at awesome.del@gmail do

I’m An Ordeal Master, And I’m Not Afraid To Say So

I am an ordeal master.

What this means is that I have been recognized by my community as someone who is skilled and talented at creating and facilitating rituals that challenge a person’s boundaries and fears in order to bring about spiritual breakthrough.

It means that I have performed rituals like this for many people, most or all of which have thanked me profusely and have had permanent, marked, beneficial change in their life due to the ceremonies I have facilitated for them.

It means I have studied various forms of challenging the human being. This does include BDSM, but that is not the only or even the most important tool in my box. People can have their boundaries pushed in a variety of manners. As I have said so many times I cannot count, my own most powerful ordeal contained nothing but myself, a thunderstorm, and a rubber duck. No leather pants, no physical assault, no whips and chains. I have created ordeals for people that sang with the simplicity of the human mind, and some that were so gear-heavy that it took longer than a year to get all the necessary tools together.

Sometimes, but only very rarely, do my ordeals involve sex. I would say of all the ordeals I have facilitated, two or three had sexual components, and none of them had any sort of sexual component that involved my genitals or any sort of pleasure on my part. I do not find ordeal sexually stimulating, and I do not perform ordeal to fulfill some personal fetish.

It is true that, in addition to being an ordeal master, I am a practitioner and educator in the world of BDSM. And yes, BDSM sometimes involves activities that are purely for my own pleasure. And some of the techniques and tools that I own and use in ordeal are also used in my own personal BDSM practices. But to say that I cannot use a tool for two very separate and disparate uses is to say that I can only use duct tape on actual ducts.

When I am asked to create an ordeal, I look at all the skills I have gathered in my almost 40 years on the planet. Some people come to me specifically for some skills I am known for being gifted with – I have a theater background, so I have an ability for the dramatic, for costumes, for creating a mood. I have a body modification background, so many people seek me out for ordeal because they’re interested in hook pulls or suspension, as well as many other skillsets from that arena as part of their ritual. I have a keen understanding of psychology, and sometimes I employ that as part of the ritual at the person’s request. I can be physically intimidating (at 5’10” and 400lbs), and that can be useful for pushing boundaries. I am genderfluid, able to present as either woman or man or something in between, and that definitely pushes buttons in people who struggle with their own gender issues. There are many facets of my life that I employ and integrate into the rituals I create.

Here’s the part that you’re probably skipping over: it’s all by request. I do not seek people out for ordeals. I do not advertise myself as an “ordeal master” – you’ll never find a classified ad on Craigslist or even in a Pagan magazine horking my talents in this arena. I do not troll the Internet looking for opportunities to mention my calling, in hopes that more people will become clients. Sometimes, if it seems appropriate, I have offered my services to someone who seems to be looking for an experience similar to what I create, or I mention my abilities when someone is openly seeking someone to facilitate an ordeal

I also happily refer people who ask me for ordeals I am not qualified to perform. For instance, I can’t tie a knot to save my life. (I can barely tie my shoes.) So if someone envisions an ordeal of being encased in rope and suspended from a tree, I know several other workers-of-ordeal whom I can recommend. If a client feels that they need a cisgendered male facilitator for whatever reason, I know plenty of those I can refer them to. Maybe they live far from me, and cannot afford the travel (and I can’t either). I put a lot of effort into keeping a “rolodex” of sorts, so I can hopefully help match them up with the right person. I have absolutely no ego tied up in how many ordeals I do a year, or how many clients I’ve worked with, or how showy and dramatically interesting my rituals are. All I care about is that the person who seeks out this sort of experience gets the experience they need. That, and nothing more.

This also means that sometimes I turn people down. I do not perform ordeals for people who have to keep their work a secret from every single person in their life. I need to know they have someone in their life who can provide emotional and physical aftercare, especially if they live far from me and I am incapable of doing so. I do not take on requests I feel are too dangerous, or life threatening, or illegal. And I have had such requests. Sometimes I turn people down for personal reasons – that I can’t interact with them cleanly due to interpersonal relationships, or because I don’t get that inner connection with them, or because they need something physical from me that I do not provide.

I do mention my work in places where I talk about myself in general. It is a part of my life, as much as my roles as devotee to my Gods, child to my parents, spirit worker for Those I Serve, lover to my romantic partners, owner to my slave, and any other role I have. I never called myself an ordeal master until people I had worked with in this capacity called me such. It is a title that has been bestowed upon me, not one that I invented or claimed for myself.

I have taken an Oath of Ordeal Mastery, in 2009, in which I begged the Universe and all the Gods that should I make a move, a decision, a word, anything that would cause unintentional harm to anyone, let my hand/mouth/words by stayed. I pray for quite some time before I begin crafting an ordeal for a client, and I am in communication with them throughout the process to make sure that they continue to consent to, and collude with, whatever I feel will work. If there are parts that are kept secret for dramatic or spiritual reasons, I make sure to gain consent by sending a list of actions that “may” take place, putting the secret one in the list, and making sure to gain consent that way.

I do not make money doing this work at all. Sometimes I am reimbursed for materials, sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am reimbursed for my time, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. I see this as sacred Work, and therefore money is not a barrier to entry. I would not call this a “career”, or even a vocation. It is a calling, yes, but not one that I expect will support me in my old age. In fact, doing this work ends up costing me hundreds to thousands of dollars a year, in training, disposable tools, phone calls, education, travel, time, hiring other professionals to help, etc. Let me be clear about this again: I almost always lose money on ordeals, rather than make money. Those who think I am out there scamming my way into people’s pants and rolling in the dollar bills it creates is lost in a masturbatory fantasy.

But it’s not my words that count. I encourage those reading this, who have benefited from, witnessed, helped facilitate, or in some other way worked with me in my role as ordeal master, to speak out. And yes, this means my critics too. I feel very strongly that this, like other sacred titles, is one that is given by the communities you serve. So let their voices tell you what I have done, what I do, and whether or not the title is an appropriate one.

Talkin’ About Safer Sex

I was at a fairly small sacred BDSM event and I saw that one of the classes they were offering was on safer sex techniques. I admit, my prejudice came over me – I thought to myself, “If someone is at the point that they’re at this event, they probably don’t need to know about condoms and gloves.”

I attend the lecture, and there was an air of “you probably know this already, but a review couldn’t hurt.” And there was a lot of nodding and such. But I got this memory-vision stuck in my head, of all the times I’ve heard someone go on about something I didn’t know about but I chose to nod because I didn’t want to admit I had no idea what they were talking about. With that thought, I looked around again, and wondered to myself how many people are nodding and smiling, while at the same time hearing for the first time that condoms don’t protect you from herpes?

That’s right, kids. There are STIs that condoms can’t protect you from. I happen to know quite a bit about Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 (HSV1, HSV2) because I am in a small minority of adults who is HSV1 negative. That’s right – I’ve never had a cold sore. Scientists say somewhere between 60-90% of adults are HSV1 positive, and a good number of them don’t know that you can have HSV1 in your genitals – that is, if seropositive oral contact is made with someone’s seronegative genitals, and some of the virus sheds, voila! It’s not like the virus knows the difference between a mouth and a genital. You can, therefore, also contract HSV2 orally. (Heck, doctors recently announced that you can also get Human Papillomavirus in your throat, too.)

Also, because of my compromised immune system, catching HSV1 may be more detrimental to me than most people. It’s not just cold sores.

From the linked article:The common myth is that HSV-1 causes a mild infection that is occasionally bothersome, but never dangerous. The reality? HSV-1 is usually mild, especially when it infects the lips, face, or genitals. However, in some cases type 1 can recur spontaneously in the eye, causing ocular herpes, a potentially serious infection which can lead to blindness. In very rare cases HSV- 1 can spread spontaneously to the brain, causing herpes encephalitis, a dangerous infection that can lead to death. HSV-1 is also the usual cause of herpes whitlow, an infection on the finger, and “wrestler’s herpes,” (herpes gladiatorum) a herpes infection on the chest or face.

The range and potential severity of HSV-1 infections lead some experts to view the virus as more risky than usually perceived. “This is heresy, but I think type 1 is a more significant infection than type 2,” says Spotswood Spruance, MD, an oral HSV specialist at the University of Utah. “Type 1, and the morbidity associated with it, are underestimated.”

Yes, I’m aware that the options for me are basically stay celibate, wrap all my partners in saran wrap or body condoms before having fun, or resign myself to the fact that I am probably going to seroconvert before I die. This does not mean that I do not ask about status, or that I reject partners who test seropositive. For me, it’s about risk awareness, and making the conscious decision about how much risk to take.

And as it turns out, sometimes it doesn’t matter. As I’ve written here before, my spouse cheated on me, thus exposing me to unknown risk. Off I went to the doctors to get tested. And I told my partners, too, about the fact that I had a big question mark in my potential risk column. With some, we choose to limit our activity to things that held lesser risk until I get my results. Others, we chose to take a breather entirely.

How do you talk about STIs? When is the right time to talk about it? Are you aware of the risks you take with the various stuff you get up to? (You know that Hep C is the bigger risk in blood play than HIV, right?)

Reid Mihlako has a great article on how to write your STI ‘elevator speech’ that encourages you to get the conversation out early, make it a little sexy, and also check for other potential pitfalls (like being the unwitting partner in someone else’s cheating, or finding out someone is not sexually oriented towards your gender, or even something as mild as learning that your favorite position is their no-go).

I get this conversation out pretty early if I think things are going in a sexual direction. Sometimes even before I think they are. I figure it can’t hurt, and it might even be a good gauge as to whether or not they are.

If you have questions about safer sex, testing, talking about it, how they are transmitted, what the symptoms are, please feel free to ask in the comments. I know quite a lot about this subject, and have some great colleagues who can chime in if I don’t know the answer.

God Sex

I get asked this question a lot. “How does a human have sex with a God/spirit?” Although I am not in a marital relationship with a Deity, I do have sex with Gods as part of my devotional work. Heck, Loki once made me have sex with Ratatosk (yes, a squirrel; I was a squirrel at the time, it’s a long story) so I could learn how to slip through the grooves of the World tree like He does.

First, I should make it clear that not everyone is meant, built, chosen, or fated to have this sort of relationship with Deity, and having it doesn’t make one better, cooler, more connected, or more important to that Deity. As Loki seems to be taking more and more spouses, I often get chided for not being chosen for this sort of relationship with Him, but really, I’m okay with that. And no, I’ve never had sex with Him. That would be…weird.

Anyway, let me explain how sexual devotions happen. These are from my personal experiences, as well as sharing notes with others who engage in this practice. I do not claim to be the World Expert On God Sex, so if you have other, different experiences, please feel free to share them in the comments. If you’d rather be anonymous, you can email me and I’ll post them myself.

There are four ways I’ve had sex with Deity.

The first is masturbation with intent. This may or may not include the devotee physically manipulating their own genitals; those who can perceive energy through the sensation of touch may feel their Partner touching them. Many I’ve spoken to usually incorporate typical masturbatory techniques, and most have toys dedicated to specific Deities. (This may help the devotee differentiate God sex from just rubbing one out, when they use a God Dick or Cunt.) This may or may not include a fantasy or vision of their Partner’s presence, or the Partner being energetically present. What’s nice about this option is that you can do it even if you can’t sense the God in question – you can offer your arousal or orgasm to a God/dess as an offering, if you’re pretty sure they’re open to that sort of thing. (It is not advised to offer orgasmic energy to Goddess of Virtue, Virginity, etc…trust me on this one.) To the observer, it would look like someone masturbating with or without their own hands.

The second is astral sex. This is when the devotee enters into a deep trance state and energetically leaves the body to join their Partner in some other realm (Asgard, the Underworld, Cleveland, The Summerlands, etc). Obviously, this requires the devotee to have this skill, and it is one that someone can develop over time. This may or may not include the physical body feeling sensation. To the observer, it would look like someone meditating, or having a sexy dream.

The third is by use of a stand-in. This is when a human partner acts as a surrogate for the Deity in question, but is still fully a human. Everyone, including the Deity, should be in full knowledge that this is what is occurring. (Some sex magicians disagree with me on this point, and feel that you can use someone without their knowledge for this sort of thing, but as someone who thinks highly of consent, I feel it is important and ethical for everyone involved to know what’s going on.) I do this often when I engage in Sacred Whore work – since I can’t touch my Deities on a regular basis, I will go into sacred space and offer my touch to other humans, while dedicating the act to my Gods. This can be done with a person you are in a pre-existing relationship with, as long as you remember to also fuck outside of this practice. Actually, I encourage those in relationships to go this route, rather than the fourth, as it seems to work out better for couples in the long run. To an observer, it would look like two or more people having sex.

The fourth, and the most rare, is finding someone who is willing to become possessed by the Deity and allow their body to be used for sexual acts. The difference between this and the third option is that in this case, the owner of the body is likely not fully present mentally/psychologically when the sex occurs. I know that when I act as a horse for this sort of work, I do not retain memories of the event, or have vague ones, like through a fog. I highly discourage the use of someone you’re in any sort of relationship with, even if that relationship is not sexual, because it’s easy for people to confuse the body with the inhabitant – that is, the devotee may see me as a living representative of their Deity, rather than Del-the-guy-who-watches-reality-tv-and-eats-a-lot-of-bacon. It can also cause issues when the God uses the horse’s voice to say things, or the body to do things, that upset the devotee – the devotee may get angry or question the horse’s ability, or accuse the horse of “faking it” in order to influence the devotee’s relationship with that Deity (especially if there’s any jealousy or other ill feelings between the devotee and the horse). I also discourage using the same horse more than a few times, as it is very difficult for a typical human to have sex with the same body over and over again and not feel some form of bond with them. It’s a tricky business, which is why it is, and should be, a rare occurrence, rather than the norm. To the observer, it would look like two people having sex, while one of them is acting differently than they ordinarily do, and is being called by a different name.

Like I stated in the beginning, I am not stating that this is the Definitive Guide of God Sex Tee Em. But I feel this is a good primer for those who find the practice foreign, odd, or interesting. As most mainstream religions enforce a more parental relationship with Deity, it may seem unusual to relate to Deity in this way, but I have met many Pagans for whom this is part of their regular devotional work, and/or a deep part of how they connect with their Gods. Again, I am open to comments, questions, personal stories, etc, in the comments; if you want to remain anonymous, you can email me at awesome.del at and I will post them without your name.

Upcoming Apperances Summer/Fall 2012

I figured I’d take a break from the Month of Loki posts to let you guys know about some of the presenting/teaching gigs I have coming up in the next few months.

For those of you who only know me through this blog, I should explain that I am an adult educator who travels nationally teaching about a wide variety of topics, mostly focused on spirituality, sacred sex, kink/BDSM/Leather, and LGBT/queer identity.

In a few days, I’m off to the wilds of rural West Virginia for Trans Camp Out. I’ll be teaching BDSM For Bigger Bodies, Needleplay as SM, and Kink Spirituality. I’m also facilitating a body modification ritual (focused mostly on energy/hook pulls) called Into the Deep. Reg is already closed for this event, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

I’m super duper excited about my participation in Dark Odyssey Summer Camp. This year, they’re trying to bring a little nostalgia to the “Summer Camp” experience by having some classes that you’d find at any kid’s camp, but with an adult twist. In that vein, I’m going to be playing the part of the “Drama” teacher, which oddly enough, I was a drama teacher at a private summer camp once upon a time. One class will focus on how to apply the foundations of improv to kink play/scenes. Another will be a more traditional improv class, which will create a team for Whose Kink Is It Anyway, an actual improv-troupe performance. But have no fear, I’ll also be teaching a needle play class, if all this goofing around isn’t your…kink.

I am planning on attending and/or possibly teaching at Dark Moon Rising, a pagan BDSM event in Western Mass. (Note: the link goes to last year’s page. This year’s dates are Sept 28-30.)

In October, I’ll be at two awesome events – the first being Black Rose, the hotel event hosted by the DC BDSM organization of the same name. A few weeks later, I’ll be co-leading a Loki intensive at Nine Worlds Festival with Elizabeth Vongvisith. Nine Worlds is a family-friendly Northern Tradition gathering at a lovely campground in Northern Maryland. I may also show up at Queer Invasion, a play party in Hartford, CT, but that’s still in the maybe column.

I’ve got some gigs in the hopper for November, but they aren’t confirmed yet. I’ll start some rumors that I may be found at The Geeky Kink Event II and Brimstone III, but I can’t be entirely certain.

I’m still available for spirituality, kink/BDSM/Leather, or LGBT events, especially over the winter. If you’re an event organizer, feel free to email me at awesome.del at if you’d like to see a class list. And if you’re attending an event and think it would be nifty to have me present there, tell the organizers. You’d be surprised how many gigs I’ve landed because someone told an event producer that they really wanted my classes at their event.

It’s worth noting that I also teach classes to small groups of people – I just need my travel and accommodations catered to. So if you wanted to gather together your friends and have me come teach in your living room, that’s a distinct possibility.

Hope to see/meet some of you lovely readers soon!