Review: The RodeoH Harness

Yes, this blog is also about sex, remember? I’ve said what I had to say about that other subject.

Some of the images below are probably NSFW.

It started with an excited text from my boyfriend. He had seen a specialized version of the RodeoH harness on some porn site, with “Queer Porn Star” on the butt. (I think it was on Queer Porn Tv, but I can’t seem to bring up their store page right now.) I was immediately grabbed by the concept of a strap-on harness that didn’t have straps and buckles, especially since my body is shaped in such a way where most of those kind of harnesses don’t lay right. (I do own the Joque Spare Parts harness, which I’ve modified a bit for my use, and it is also a great harness especially for us chubbier folk.)

So I went to the RodeoH website, and fell in love. I don’t know why I haven’t seen this idea in practical use before: I’ve seen latex or rubber panty-or-jock style harness, but they never sit right unless you have the perfectly flat belly (and really, who does?) and I don’t know about you, but both of those materials makes me sweat when I’m…uh…being active. RodeoH, on the other hand, makes theirs with a combination of mostly cotton, with just enough spandex to give it stretch. I was sad to see that their largest size was a few inches shy of Del-hips, but in a fit of inspiration I decided to write the company and ask them if they were planning on making larger sizes.

Lo and behold, I got much, much more than I bargained for. I got a response the very next day from the owner of the company. They offered to send me a pair of their biggest size boxer-style harness – the one I was most interested in – and said that if they didn’t have enough give, they would be interested in making a larger pair! They wanted me to test drive these, since they didn’t have many larger-sized testers and wanted to know how they worked on larger size people.

These are the ones I recieved.

These are the ones I recieved.

I was totally excited by the time they arrived in the mail. They come in a little pouch, about the size of a sock, which makes them very easy to pack, either in a suitcase or in a “overnight bag” with just your equipment, your harness, and some condoms. I wasn’t able to try them on immediately since I was (unfortunately) in the hospital at the time, but it made both my boyfriend and I build excitement over when I was going to try them on. (Oh, he tried hard to lobby for him to try them on first, because he secretly really wants a pair of his own.) But alas, a time to try them out with him hasn’t manifested yet, but it will very soon.

Go ahead and do a google search on 'RodeoH Harness" if you have time on your hands.

Go ahead and do a google search on ‘RodeoH Harness” if you have some…free time on your hands.

However, I did throw them in my bag when I went to FetFestCon in the Poconos. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have any use for them, but like a now-accepted gay Boy Scout, I like to be prepared (and hopeful). My curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to try packing with them while I cruised the Playspace one night.

I was super pleased to learn that although they list the size as being 52-55, they fit me (who is a few inches larger than that) just fine. In fact, some boxer-briefs like to creep up my ass when I first put them on, and these, pleasantly, did not. I used the dildo I call “my cock”, an eight inch realistic looking prosthetic. The O ring is stretchy, and the three inches of girth on my cock didn’t have any problem slipping in. I would say this harness could take most standard-sized cocks; I could stretch it far enough to get my hand and wrist in, so I’d say even size queens would approve. If you’re using a smaller extension, like for anal play, I would estimate that the O is about two inches wide; any smaller and you can easily cut a hole in a slip of foam rubber or other flexible-but-sturdy material and slip that into the pocket where the base of the dildo goes.

These are the boyshort version. They're comfortable and inconspicuous enough to wear them like underwear, and then excuse yourself to slip in the cock when the time is right!

These are the boyshort version. They’re comfortable and inconspicuous enough to wear them like underwear, and then excuse yourself to slip in the cock when the time is right!

There’s only a thin layer of cotton between you and your cock, so if you’re a rough fuck, you might want to slip some extra padding in to keep from bruising. But what’s nice about the contact is, it’s great for those who position the base in such a way where they’re getting some sort of stimulation from it, and you’re more in tune with what’s going on down there (whereas other harnesses that overpad the contact make it feel like you’re just pushing against a tiny pillow, rather than really feeling the cock move.)

Other than having to adjust several times to keep from tenting too obviously (there’s no easy way to tuck in this harness if you’re planning to pack-on-the-go), I wore it for most of the night and it was super comfortable. Even while doing some light punching/kicking, it didn’t slip out of place or move in any awkward way. With other harnesses, especially when I pack before doing SM, I find I frequently have to stop and adjust the straps or pull it up, if I’m moving around a lot. I also loved that it made my cock feel more natural, a real extension of me, because of the thin layer; I could feel when my cock moved in my pants, and it was a huge turn on.

What I also love about this harness is that you can play with positioning. Most traditional harnesses absolutely must sit on the mons pubis or it won’t fit right. For me, it’s hard to fuck like that, since, well, it’s a little further south due to having a belly. It’s hard for me to fuck like that without reaching down and keeping one hand on the cock, and really if I’m going to do that I might as well take the fucking thing off and just push it in*. With the RodeoH, you can pull or push the cock around on your body until it’s in the most comfortable place for you to fuck from. For those of us with differently shaped bodies, that’s a huge bonus.

As a bit of a slut, I also love that it is totally machine washable. It’s just no fun to spend the next morning desperately wiping down a leather or rubber harness, and over time they start to break down if you don’t care for them correctly (aka, not just letting them sit around dirty until the next time you have a promising date.) I came home from the event, threw them in the machine, and in an hour they were ready to go again.

I am in love with this harness, and not just because they sent me a free sample. Really, this is now my go-to for any kind of play where I need my prosthetic, including packing. And I can honestly say that their largest size can actually stretch another 4-6 inches if you so need; for any buyer, I would suggest getting a size that’s actually an inch or two smaller than your actual waist or hip size (depending on what style you buy), so you get a good, tight fit and less slippage during vigorous enjoyment.

Their website, again, is here. I haven’t tried their panty versions, but if someone else has, please by all means add your thoughts to the comments.

*I did recently buy a hand-harness that’s made by Spare Parts (although it’s not on their website that I can see). It’s great for those who want to fuck for long periods of time but want something with more contact than just holding the base of the cock. There’s also removable mini-bullet vibes above and below the cock for a little clitoral/perineum pleasure. I’m definitely trotting this one out when I teach my Accessible Kink class, as it’s great for those who like using their hands instead of their hips.

And it looks kinda badass, too.

And it looks kinda badass, too.

Yes, and.

Quick warning: I know I’ve picked up quite a few subscribers and fans who love my posts on spirituality, spirit work, shamanism, and Loki. However, there’s a reason this is called Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars; I also blog about kink, both by itself and combined with my spiritual path. This is one of those posts, so if you’re not hep with the consensual BDSM or descriptions of sex, you might want to take a pass on this one.

I had stopped bottoming.

The reasons were many, and there were a lot of complications. And anything too complicated, that requires too much negotiation and limits, kills my hard on. I don’t mind if we need to take some time to figure out what works for us, but if there’s more processing than playing, I quickly lose interest.

Part of it was about being a presenter. Although I am quick to bring up the fact that I switch when it’s appropriate in my classes, most kink classes are focused on top-specific skills which sets the assumption that the teacher is a top. It doesn’t help that I’ve gained a bit of a reputation as being both a Badass Heavy Top, as well as a Dominant/Master; these are true, but it never meant that I stopped wanting to bottom. In fact, it should make it easier: “You. There. Pick up that thing and hit me with it until I say stop.”

But it wasn’t only that. I was in a relationship where bottoming was complicated. They didn’t want to cause me “bad” pain, since I was suffering so much chronic pain to begin with. I didn’t particularly enjoy the kinds of play they liked to give; and they didn’t particularly enjoy the kinds of play I liked to receive. We tried, a lot, but it never really clicked. And it only brought up the raw wound that we had started out in a power dynamic where I was the submissive, but like our play, we had very different ideas about what we wanted or needed from dominance and submission. None of this makes either of us wrong, or bad, or unsuited as a top or bottom for other people; they were and are an excellent top who has legions of people interested in play.

But it left me feeling like I couldn’t do it, not with them, and not with anyone else. I didn’t figure this out until I started dating a top who did like the kinds of play I liked to bottom to; all of a sudden the giant green eyed monster showed up and wouldn’t leave until that relationship went away. We all dressed it up as anything other than jealousy, but really that’s what it was. And I saw how hurt and sad it made them, to see me enjoying bottoming to someone else. So except for a few, very rare occasions, I didn’t do it. Not even when they weren’t there to see it or be affected by it. I just focused on other things.

Fortuitously, this happened at the same time as I was finding people who wanted to submit to me. I had gotten a bit of cache as a needle top, and played with hundreds of bottoms for a scene or two. Eventually, I started attracting submissive bottoms, who wanted to go deeper than just playing. I fumbled a lot, like most new Dominants do, and made some mistakes, but at the same time I found a well of desire within me that I didn’t know existed.

So I buried my bottoming desires and focused on becoming a Big Badass Top and a passable Dominant/Master. I found the right slave, one who fit my desires and for whom I was exactly what they wanted/needed. I sublimated my bottoming desires by giving random play partners the kinds of scenes I secretly longed for. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a top, kicking someone’s ass or making them bleed – and I also love being a Dominant.

Did I miss bottoming? Yes. Sometimes I felt the lack keenly, like reaching out for a lover who isn’t there any more. I would either try to bottom to the person I was in a relationship with, even though I knew it wouldn’t take me where I wanted to go, or I would find the very few types of scenes that I could bottom to without dredging up all the shit.

After the relationship was over, I was shy about bottoming. It had been a long time, and I had done an excellent job of completely burying those desires to a point where I almost didn’t think about them anymore. And in a fucked up way, even though I was free to do whatever I wanted, the thought of bottoming again filled me with regret and sadness about the end of the relationship. In fact, for the first few months after we broke up, I didn’t play at all. Part of it was grief; part of it was fear that I would take out all of my emotions and anger on someone who didn’t deserve it, and then I would be even more aware of my unresolved feelings about it all and possible do damage (emotionally or physically) to someone undeserving. Another part was that I didn’t know how bottoming would make me feel. A lot has changed in my body since I last took a really intense beating/caning/spanking/etc, and I was afraid I wouldn’t or even couldn’t enjoy it like I did before.

But I am blessed with a wonderful, understanding, very switchy boyfriend who listened to all of my concerns and fears about going there again. He, too, had once taken a long sabbatical from bottoming, and had many of the same fears and anxieties about opening himself up like that again; and yet, without hesitation, he definitely let me be as sadistic as I wanted during our first fuck. So I decided to trust him, and to trust myself to let go and let the experience be whatever it was going to be.

Oh yeah! I used to like this stuff!

It started out slow and private; we did a little humiliation, a little tease-and-denial, some biting and punching, mixed in with our bedroom sex. It wasn’t a scene, I told myself, although where those lines really are, are getting very blurry for me as of late. I used to be able to distinctly tell what was a scene and what was sex, but these days it’s all a big sloppy mess of feeling good. (Likely, this is partly because I no longer have to live by different rules when it comes to “playing” vs “fucking”, and some of those rules were ones I had insisted upon. Lessons learned.)

Then, I decided to commit. I asked him to bring his canes down for our next visit. He giggled with glee – he is an incredibly enthusiastic caning top, and it’s a kind of play few bottoms specifically request. Yes, I am the rare bird who prefers sting to thud; but I’m very picky about what kinds of sting and where they’re applied on my body. Needless to say, I was so blissed and happy about it, I let him take and post a picture of my post-caning ass on FetLife. If you know me, you know that’s a HUGE fucking deal, as I very rarely post pictures of me without clothes on, and I especially have self-image issues about my ass.

The next logical step, in my mind, was to try bottoming in public again. I am both a voyeur and an exhibitionist; I have a Leo moon, which makes me love theatricality and production, and playing in a play space has an energy and atmosphere that can be hard to recreate in the room I sleep and write in every day. I will admit, it was also important because people were starting to assume that my boyfriend was somehow subserviant to me (either as a sub, a slave, a boy, or the like) and that’s not only not true, but it dances some hard limits he has. So by bottoming to him in public, I was trying to send the message that this is one helluva switchy relationship, one in which I am often the bottom of.

So that I would feel comfortable, and because he likes getting beat, we started by doing a scene where I topped him. What was electric, and definitely new territory for me, was that he was not the compliant, stand-there-and-take-it bottom – he punched me back at times, or flat out told me I couldn’t do something, or grabbed my hair and yanked it. It threw some people watching for a loop, as switch play isn’t what one might expect at a public space (and by “switch play” in this instance, I mean a scene where the line between top and bottom is blurry or non existent. Many switches will decide to do one or the other, especially if they’re not playing with a fellow switch) nor is it something that I’ve done much of, if at all, in public.

Even then, during the scene where I was nominally the top, he did something he knew would open up my vulnerability. I don’t cum in public. Part of it is to take the turn on home where I can wank or fuck anyway I want without having to worry about odd rules about what a penis is and where it can go. Also, as a wise man is fond of saying, I don’t enjoy being “National Geographic”. What he means is, it turns me off if people are watching me play or fuck specifically because my body or my identity is intriguing to them; rather than watch because it’s sexy, they’re watching because they don’t fully understand or haven’t seen it done that way before. As “enlightened” as I may seem sometimes, I still have hangups about my disability, my body size, and my trans*ness as they all relate to my sexual confidence. But knowing that did not stop my boyfriend from grabbing my cock and jerking me off right there in my wheelchair. And giving in, and not asserting my boundary like a Badass Top, felt more right.

We took a break, but we saw it was getting late and the club was closing soon. I had run out of reasons to procrastinate. We found a piece of furniture that would suit our purposes, and we figured out how to bare my ass without making me feel overly naked and on display. Granted, it was a queer oriented party, so I had less “Nat Geo” issues to worry about, but some of that is too instinctual at this point to so easily dismiss. He caned me, softly at first, but harder and harder as time went on. We changed positions and my pants and underwear fell to the floor, leaving me there with my cock hanging in the wind. Normally, I would have been mortified, but instead I just stuck my ass out further and asked for more.

The endorphins came over me like a wave. Usually, they creep up on me and I don’t realize how high I am until I’m loopy. This time, I distinctly remember feeling lucid one moment, and blitzed the next. He looked down at me and commented on how happy I was. I just urged him to hit me more. We had to start ramping down, both because I was in a good place and neither of us wanted to chance going too far and ruining the scene. But man, have I missed that wonderful, floaty feeling of love, both for my partner and for myself and my body. I am in love with my body, despite how much it pisses me off sometimes (kinda like my boyfriend 🙂 ), because it can give me such elevating experiences. I was in the perfect headspace to embrace a friend who has felt a distinct lack of love lately, and share some of that warmth with her. I was pretty damn loopy the whole way home, and our plans to fuck like jackrabbits when we got home was superseded by my inevitable crash, which made me sleepy.

Oh right, I used to like this stuff. And now I love it, because it comes with no baggage, no complications, no expectations, no obligations. I can just be who I am, when and where I want, and get a good beating if that’s what I desire. I can still be a kick ass kink educator and Big Badass Top, and also float along in my own personal subspace while my problematic muscles finally relax and I feel a deep and abiding peace. “Yes, and…” as the improv performer in me says.

Yes, and.

Questions about Sacrifice

My post, Sacrifice seems to have gone viral among people of many different faith paths; I received more hits per 24 hour period on that piece than any other I’ve written to date (although it has a way to go for best all time hits, as God Sex and Hearing the Gods are currently the most popular.)

One person, identified as “C”, sent a comment full of well thought out and important questions, so I thought instead of answering them in the comments section, I would give them a post of their own.

1) Many, if not most, of us who are now polytheistic or polytheistically inclined have come from a Christian background. One of the reasons a lot of ppl leave that path is precisely because they do not feel heard, acknowledged, or cared for. Paganism, at large, has held out the image or idea that these other Deities are more tangible and responsive, more imminent in our daily affairs. However, it sounds like you, and many of your colleagues, are saying that the Gods are, or can be to most of us, just as remote and apparently non-responsive as the Christianity deities ever were. So how does Paganism/polytheism offer anything preferable, or as many assert, superior to the Christian paradigm?

There might be some conflation between the concept that the Gods are imminent, and the concept that Pagans can develop the abilities to see and hear them on a regular basis. One of the (debatable) theologies of most Pagans is the idea of imminence: the Gods are not living in some far off kingdom in the sky, looking down on us from a detached viewpoint, they are here on Earth, walking among us, interested and involved in our day to day existence. That’s how I view imminence, anyway. And as it is possible for a human to be interested in our daily existence and collect all kinds of information about us (as proven by how many times people google “Del Tashlin” to find this blog, for instance), and may even be an invisible hand guiding our decisions or the outcomes therein, it is all the more possible for the Gods to be at work in your life, and yet you might never actually get to have a two-way conversation with them.

The reason some people are given the gifts of understanding the Gods with their senses (hearing, seeing, etc) is specifically to live a life of service to those who do not. So even if you, personally, do not experience the Gods with your senses, it may only take a phone call or a coffee date with the right spirit worker in order to have personalized messages delivered to you (if the Gods have anything to communicate, anyway.) It may take the form of oracular work, or it may be divination. And that’s another equalizer in this; although you may not have the ability to hear with your ears, learning a divination system is available to most people, and I do believe that Gods communicate with us through divination, as long as you learn the basic energetic exercises that go with being a channel (grounding, centering, etc), rather than just interpreting the forces of randomness.

Another hurdle here is that few people take the time to really listen. We live in a society of constant distraction; music at the gas pumps, Ipods on the train, tv in the background; we have learned to think of silence as a terrible punishment. Even sitting in a car with another person, if the conversation dies, both people are likely frantically searching for a new topic of conversation, rather than just letting the silence pervade the experience. (I had the fortune to learn how to sit in conversational silence while dating a person who rarely spoke; at first, it drove me crazy, but over time I learned to love the feeling of release when I no longer pressured myself to fill the silence with random chatter.) You can’t hear the Gods if you’re constantly bathed in distraction, and that takes practice. It may take a meditative session of an hour or longer before you can allow your brain to silence the running commentary track, because even that may be too loud for the inspiration to come through. And like I’ve said in Hearing the Gods, it rarely manifests as actually hearing an external voice, even if most spirit workers shorthand the description that way (“Odin told me to buy whiskey” may actually mean “I was in the liquor store buying tequila for the upcoming party, when I felt an overwhelming desire to purchase a specific kind of whiskey. I followed my gut, and later I sat for two hours staring at the whiskey until I had an internal revelation that Odin likes whiskey, and it’s been a while since I’ve libated to him, so I should probably go do that”, followed by a sense of resolution when you finish the act.) It takes a lot of trial and error (and yes, error, as in “I really thought seeing two ravens for three days straight was an omen from Odin, but actually, it was just that there was some carrion outside my house and they kept coming until it was gone.”

The other half of the sacrifice, which I guess I didn’t make clear enough in the first piece, is that those who dedicate their lives to the service of their God’s people, have to learn and perfect a variety of skills in order to do their Job and do it well. (No one wants to go see the shaman who doesn’t know how to meditate, right?) And if you’ve got a great day job and a wonderful spouse and lovely children, you might not have the kind of time, patience, or dedication that these skills require. Most spirit workers I know do not have children; many of them do not have day jobs or if they do, they spend all of their free time working on their spiritual calling. It’s not something that a full time engineer can achieve unless they’re willing to make… you guessed it…a sacrifice. That’s part of the life I live as well. I live in a very small, suburban/rural city, in a very quiet neighborhood, and I spend about 70% of my time sequestered in my room, working on some spiritual thing or another. There are days that my girl (who lives with me) will only leave my food at the door, knowing not to interrupt, and that eventually I will peek my head out if I need sustenance. I don’t get to go out to the bar, or visit a friend, or have a game night. Sometimes I don’t leave my house for weeks, and then only to see a doctor. It’s a very solitary life, and although I have romantic partners, they all understand that the Work comes first, and that means I might disappear for a month, too busy to send a text message or schedule a visit.

In other words, for dramatic effect, I used the bigger life sacrifices that my colleagues make, but inside of that are millions of smaller ones, daily ones, choosing to answer someone’s well thought out questions rather than sleep, maybe? 🙂

2) Given that apparently only a limited number of ppl appear to be able to hear and communicate meaningfully with the Deities, how does someone, such as myself, who’s tried their entire lives to make contact, not come to the conclusion that ALL of this isn’t simply fantasy wish fulfillment?

Again, this ignites what my colleagues call an “on duty light”. It’s a small pull around my heart chakra (or sometimes the feeling of force pushing down on my head and shoulders) because these are the services I provide my tribes and communities. I am out there, ready and willing to verify that your prayers are heard, your offerings not in vain, and that your beliefs are not an addiction to Dungeons and Dragons gone awry. Loki rewired me and removed the obstacles in my life so I have the ability to offer my skills humbly, to anyone who might need them. And He did it to me, because honestly, I was wasting my life away and was ready to end it, and He decided there was a whole different track I could be on, if only I was willing to surrender my free will. That sounds easy, doesn’t it? Reading those words in no way can convey what it’s like when I was Told that after my most recent marriage failed, that having a spouse was too much of a distraction from the Work, so although I am allowed to have romantic liasons, I am now barred from taking a new spouse, or even having a relationship that resembles spousery (like living together, sharing finances, making decisions as a unit, etc). I’m a Libra, and we work best when part of a partnership. But it’s very true, what the Gods said; both of my spouses and the relationship I had that might as well have been spousal, dragged me away from my calling; and it wasn’t their fault. It was too easy for me to ignore the Work in deference to the work a long term relationship entails. In each of those relationships, if the Gods told me to do something that my spouses disapproved of (my Soon To Be Ex (STBX) was fond of saying, “Well, if the Gods want that, They can pay for it.”) I just didn’t do it. And it wasn’t outward denial to my Gods; I just let the Work pile up in the cosmic inbox and plugged my ears and la la la’d my way along. And each and every time, the circumstances were brought about that the spouse would be removed from my life – and oddly enough, not by my choice – which is why I tell would-be spirit workers and shamans never to tell the Gods that something like your children, or your job, or spouse, is keeping you from doing your Work, because They have ways of removing those obstacles, usually ways that aren’t fun or pretty.

But anyway, this isn’t about my sob story. What I’m trying to convey to you is that I can tell you, C, that your prayers are heard. That you are loved and noticed. I feel it coming through my body and spilling out of my pores. And in the future, should you have doubts, now you know how to find me, and I will happily serve you in any way that will strengthen your spiritual journey.

I know this may feel a little like going to a Catholic priest; as though you need an intercessory in order to communicate to God. But that’s not the case at all. Prayers are heard, even if the pray-er does not feel the revelation after doing so. You can always talk to your Gods, by yourself, in any way that feels right to you, without anyone’s help. It’s only when you seek confirmation – and it’s worth noting, that often when people ask me if their Gods hear their prayers, I can easily point out the omens and signs they were given, but did not notice or apply to their situation. So the answers are usually there, but it takes time and skill to see them.

3) If, as is taught by some, the Gods are our Elder Kin, why should they be so recalcitrant about speaking to us? Do any of you who do receive communication ever ask the Gods point blank why they deign to speak to so few or at the very least make their presence felt? To expect or desire or in any way accept the heart felt pleas, prayers, cries, devotions, adorations, etc. of untold multitudes of souls w/o so much as a breath of recognition and response of any sort sounds quite cruel and capricious!

I can’t speak for everyone, or for the Gods on this question. I can only speak to what it inspires within me. Many of my shamanic colleagues, mostly when we’re railing against our calling, wonder why there seems to be more spirit workers and shamans cropping up all over the place; in places where there were none before. Obviously, no scientific survey has been done to definitely state that there are more shamans, shamanic practitioners, spirit workers, God spouses, and the like, than there was 30 years ago. Before the Internet, it is very likely that many were called but failed to understand what they were being asked to do – no googling “spiritual crises” back then – or that they just went about doing their Work, quietly, taking clients as the encountered them on the street, or in their tribes, or perhaps even just their extended families. They may have used different words to describe what they did; I’m positive that during more oppressive times, there were many “special grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins” who knew about herbs spirits and energy work, but since the monotheistic paradigm made it difficult or impossible to discuss without being accused of Satanism/Witchcraft (in the bad sense of the word), it was just something like, “Every time I visit Sammy’s house, I always feel more focused, more clear headed, more connected.” and no one talked about how or why it happened.

In the age where we have better means of long distance travel, as well as the obvious ability to google various spiritual quandaries and find meaningful answers, when hospitals are hiring Reiki practitioners who are as well regarded as MDs, when Tantra is something an adventurous couple might try to spice up their sex life, and as the eon changes now into Aquarius and more and more people will be open to imminent spirituality, us wackjobs who have been studying, practicing, and quietly doing our daily devotions and research on our Gods will come forward. I can speak from experience how many clients I’ve had who approached me as atheists or anti-theists, and over time and exposure learn to open their heart to whatever calls to it…

The Gods are activating us. They are pushing us to be more public. For years I fought using the title “shaman”, and it really wasn’t until other people started using it in reference to me that I began to embrace it. (There’s a whole essay on that in storage, as I’m waiting for a co-conspirator to add their thoughts.) The main reason my Gods demanded I do so is because it’s a word that people understand, that they have at least some concept of what one is and what it does, whereas if I followed the emerging trend to choose a title that comes from the language of the Gods I serve (from godhi to seidkona to volupsa), many of my non-Norse-following clients, as well as those who are just starting out with this whole spiritual thing, will have no effing clue what that means or what skills I have because of that title.

I bet, right now, as of 3:15am EDT, there is someone in an ER somewhere dying, knowing each breath might be their last; when a God of some pantheon or another, probably unknown to hir, is appearing and offering the same deal I got – die now and give up, or let me the reigns and I will make your life meaningful again. And maybe that ER is three miles from your house. Who knows? But we are out there, and there are more of us out of the broom closet and mingling outside of the Pagan demographic, reaching out to communities and tribes we’ve been assigned to (or chosen, in some cases).

Which brings me to:

4) If They are indeed as capricious as what it sounds like you’re saying and as it appears, what makes Them worthy of our love and efforts at all!? If I’m going to get all the response I would from a bit of concrete, then why don’t I just call some random piece of concrete my deity and pray to it?

Well, speaking as an animist, I’d completely encourage you to find a bit of concrete and see if it has a spirit within it that you can help or learn from in some way. But I admit that’s also me being a bit of a saucebox.

For as much as my Gods have asked to sacrifice or surrender in order to live the life I do, I will emphatically exclaim that their presence in my life has brought such richness, has turned my life from black and white to technicolor, has given me the audacity to believe in things that science can’t, and may never, explain. I’ve seen glorious things, both in the realms of magic as well as in the transformation of the human soul when it opens itself to seeing the world as being encircled by Gods who are here, with us, encouraging us to be our best selves, to get over what holds us back and move forward boldly and with a surety they did not possess before.

I have those times, though. I won’t bullshit you. In long stretches of the darkened silence, I have pounded my fists and demanded to know why I was asked to give up so much if all I was going to get was “do this thing you don’t want to do, and don’t talk to me until it’s done”. Or worse yet; when my chronic illness first manifested, mostly in the form of severe chronic neurological and muscular pain, I actually wrote a letter to many of my colleagues, demanding to know why Loki would have punished me so, and what am I not doing that He feels this is a suitable punishment. Was it? No. Although now i see my illness as a blessing, I do not believe that any of my Gods thought that making me use a wheelchair or be hopped up on opiates was a grand idea. I believe in science as much as I believe in magic; my mother’s lineage is full of autoimmune and neurological disorders, and so it’s very likely whatever it is I have (if you’re interested, my other blog, Dying for a Diagnosis is all about that part of my life) is genetic, not divine. But have the Gods found a way to make it work with Their overall plan? Sure, in the same way that anyone deals with a monkeywrench. Or maybe They knew all along this was coming, and that was why They chose me and not the dude down the block. Who knows? To this day, I have no idea why I was picked. :shrug:

But yes, I empathize with the feeling that it’s all for naught, that the messages you receive (if any) are just wish fulfillment, that you’re merely using the Encyclopedia Mythica as your literary porn (in the case of Godspouses and consorts), and that in the end it doesn’t matter.

This is not a problem of the Gods. It is a problem of human faith. Faith is a difficult thing to nuture, because at its core it is holding a belief and acting upon that belief without the presence of proof. My Boyfriend is struggling with this as we speak; he once had a working God Radio (he could hear Them but had no way of knowing if They heard him) but his God purposefully broke it, mostly because he had to learn to trust in his own faith, rather than rely on the stream of information coming from Them. Once his faith is bulletproof, he’ll get a radio back (and maybe a phone, if he’s lucky), but right now, he needs to cultivate belief in the absence of proof. Without that absence, then what we believe in ceases to be spiritual, and becomes either science or fantasy.

There are days when I question if what I’m hearing is really Them, or if it’s just a fantasy game I like to play by myself. I wonder what would happen if I broke one of my taboos, or ate something They’ve told me to avoid, or even denied their existence. I just came through my own ordeal, where I underwent a surgery that I had been Told would have a life or death crisis (and it did, as I stopped breathing and was on a respirator for a short period of time) and that I had to pass my Underworld ordeal in order to return to the land of the living. How much did I want to reason it away, to look at what was going to happen as a simple surgery (the removal of a large abscess in my abdomen, as well as 40lbs of infected and necrotic tissue, as I was literally dying from the inside already), and not some big ass Spooky Foo Showcase. Friends came from all over the country to participate in the rituals both the night before, and the day of surgery; we sent out instructions for those who couldn’t be present so they could work from home.

When I woke up in ICU, one of the first revelations I had was that they had all made this giant deal out of it, and other than the whole not breathing thing, everything turned out all right. I mean, I have severe trauma in my mind from the ordeal I passed in the Underworld (which I am still in the process of remembering), but physically, so far everything is going well. I wonder – was it all the hoopla that upped my odds of success? Or were we just blowing the procedure out of proportion.

Lucky for me, I was able to verify my spiritual thoughts with people completely unaware and unaffected by what I thought was going to happen. Boy howdy, did I seek out verification – I believe I spoke to over ten different spirit workers about one aspect or another. Yes, I even contacted spirit workers I did not know personally, having no idea if their godphone was “real” or “memorex”. (Please be old enough to get that reference.)

But that’s faith. And I can’t give you it. No one can. It is something you create, from pieces of your soul, and that you nurture on a regular basis. It’s perfectly normal, and somewhat expected (as my Gods tell me) that we doubt from time to time. They know it’s a lot to take in, and I even have felt their frustration that They couldn’t just manifest or create some random miracle before your eyes in order to bolster your faith. It’s kinda the one rule Gods have to abide by; devotees must come based on their faith, not on verifiable proof of existence. It sucks, but I guess you can lodge your complaint with the Universe, or whomever makes up the rules for the Gods.

5) Not to in any way demean, belittle, or question the trauma of your sacrifices or any those of any of the ppl you’ve mentioned, but MANY of us out here have gone through horrific sacrifices as well. My own include job loses, poverty, deaths of many loved ones, debilitating health problems, having my life threatened, and more. But regardless, there’s still no response from the Spirit world or the Gods, no matter how I implore them. So to say that there’s some kind of dividing line – involving sacrifice – between who receives communication and who doesn’t, seems arbitrary and unwarranted. It also sounds suspiciously like that old gem that crops up in everything from diet to religion, “you’re just not doing it right!”

I did not feel belittled by your question at all; in fact, you’re not the first person to ask me this. Frequently, people will write me and tell me about some horrific experience they’ve survived, wondering if it was a shamanic crisis (usually in addition to asking that if it was, when would the cool spooky powerz show up?). Not every trauma has a spiritual aspect to it. I had a miscarriage in 2002, and although it was a terrible awful thing, if it had any spiritual meaning (other than I am not supposed to have children, which I’m still not entirely sure if that’s true or not) I have yet to find it. My father died in 2007, and although it brought up a very complex set of emotions and messed me up for almost a year, I don’t feel it had any spiritual relevance. I was raped in college, and oddly enough, I’ve been told by the Gods that it didn’t have any spiritual significance; I just invited the wrong person to spend the night in my dorm room.

Because I have her permission, I’m going to use Galina as an example. She was a dancer, who suffered an injury that she feels put her on the track of her Work with Odin. Here’s the difference between a random event and a spiritual crisis: many dancers, once injured, decide to become dance teachers, or find some other way to stay connected to the life that they love. Olympic gymnasts become coaches, mentors, judges, or even go into producing the events. Just because something bad happened to someone, doesn’t mean that their life has to change dramatically. But Galina had a revelation, of what quality and kind I do not know, but something in her gave her the unshakable conviction that dancing was over, and that she was to pursue her spiritual calling instead. For me, it was that at the moment of the crisis, I had an actual “hallucination” (or “visitation”, take your pick) of Loki, talking to me and telling me what was to happen.

I have worked with several clients who really, really wanted their trauma to have some deeper spiritual meaning, maybe to help them make sense of it, to feel like it had some sort of silver lining. And no amount of divination or communication with the Gods revealed any greater purpose. Sometimes we’re just the extras in someone else’s movie; we’re not always the star, even if it may feel that way. Maybe my rapist had a spiritual conversion when he was fired due to my accusation. Or maybe it was his boss, who upon hearing of the incident, came to understand his role as a Sacred Guardian, and that he had to make sure all of his security guards understood the sacredness of what they were doing. Or maybe it was the person I told the story to, who realized that their own trauma didn’t exist in a vacuum, and went on to create a non-profit for LGBT rape victims. I’ll never know if there was any spiritual meaning to it, or where in the pond the ripple found a stone to push.

Loki reminds me daily that although I can pretend to be a rock star (see the title?), that I am really just a vagabond, wandering into people’s lives and saying or doing the right thing at the right time, and then fading to black as that person moves on without me, who may not even remember my name a year later, or who runs into me at some event and can’t remember how we know each other (even when their tear stained face is burned into my memory). That’s what I mean when I talk about having humility as a prerequisite for these abilities; the Gods aren’t likely to give them to someone who only wants them to gain power, control, or fame/prestige; in fact, I’ve seen some of the effects that happen to those who walk that path, and it rarely ends well. Humility is as much a part of my spiritual practice as meditation or energy work. Without it, I’m an asshole on a power trip that only helps other assholes who don’t mind being a part of that power trip, who stroke my ego and tell me how awesome I am; meanwhile, so many wounded and hurting can’t break through the shielding of inflated ego, and go on ignored and untreated. Whereas if I walk among them, hurting and wounded myself, not only will they find me, but they will understand that I know what it’s like, because I’m a human too, having a human experience.

So that’s the end of C’s questions. I hope my answers help in some way, not just C but everyone who stops by.

Just as a warning to my regular readers; my next essay is going to be about racism in the Leather and kink communities. It contains some information and images that might be offensive (and should be, but you’ll see). I’m working hard on it, because it addresses a complex issue that has many points of view at play. I hope you’ll read it and take part in a town hall that’s based on it on Sunday (check this post for more information. There is a chance I won’t be able to finish my post before Sunday, but Leatherati already has many posts on the subject.

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