We are bodies imbued with souls.
Not souls, driving bodies like cars.
Not meat, lurching through a pre-determined genetic script.
Not illusion masking itself as perception.
We are bodies. Shot through with souls.
What happens to our bodies affects our thinking, our choice of logics, our emotions.
What happens to our emotions affects our bodies. Chemistry looping upon chemistry, thwacked occasionally with the 8-ball of reason, knocking up against other concatenations of chemical/reason loops and episodes of sheer unreasoning experience.
It matters that I was oldest, with two brothers following me. It matters that I was sprouting breasts a full 3-7 years before my age-mates would. They suffered jealousy and shame because I had so outstripped them with physical maturity; and they punished me for that shame. My father, suffering from pools of jealousy and shame and chemical loops which no one would even know about, let alone tell him how to control, for another 10 years, looked to me as his savior from irrational demands, and saw my 9-year-old body as a grown woman inviting him to a love affair. In shame and in jealousy I lashed out at my (to the best of my knowledge) unaffected younger brothers, and at my male age-mates at school, who suffered neither bra-snapping nor incest. (Of course, what did I know: they may well have. But we are locked inside our own skulls for most of our lives, not least when we are suffering from psychological abuse.)
The life I have led has been predicated on the facts that I have highly noticeable breasts and hips and will-to-kill.
People who have been filled, like a too-generous pitcher, with shame have a chemical and nearly uncontrollable desire to pour that shame into someone — anyone — else.
And only those men who were too stupid to see past the hips and the breasts to the will-to-kill sought me out to request sex.
Unfortunately, child sexual abuse makes it extremely hard for the victim to refuse sex to anyone — especially when that second person is pressing the matter.
It turned me into something of a Lamia: a sexual predator. If a man was so lost to all decency to press me to have sex with him, I did so: and acted to destroy him.
This is the shadow-version of female sexual energy: giving, when asked, a cup not of joy but of acid, which burns both the giver and the receiver. No sexual pleasure was ever received by me; and no living energy was ever received by my sexual partners.
This is not a good situation. This is not what sexual energy is for; I even knew that, though it was hard to make it stop. Unable to stop it, I decided just to stop having sex: I had finally, at that point (and after a lot of strenuous work and assistance from my [pitiably few] friends) learned how to say no and to make it stick; and I went into a much- relieved seven-year period of chastity (and agnosticism!)– not even masturbation. I was finally giving off the chemical markers of a neuter, rather than a female.
Healing up the tatters of my soul. Gaining scar tissue. Looking boyish, even with the breasts, and therefore not subject to any serious male sexual attention. Being a neuter.
But it had always been my determined goal to live life joyously and fully. I finally got through the grey hooting fog, the sudden changes of ground, the general misery of it all, to a place that seemed quiet and calm and clear to me (although, looking back, people who had lived a more normal existence would call it roiled and mad). I started to look around for a way to give praise for living which did not involved what was to me then utter, reactionary poison: a male deity. Sorry: can’t do Christianity. Whups, not Buddhism either. Hinduism? ay yi yi, no.
Do you see? Any male power source simply dragged me back into my despised Lamia-like existence, and I was determined not to go there any more.
Give me a Goddess. Let me find a Goddess to follow. I found Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood, and then I found When God Was A Woman, and then I found Dreaming The Dark.
And Wicca. And, fairly shortly, a teacher who was female, and who had absolutely no sexual interest in me. Who was, in fact, Dianic in her teachings (though I didn’t learn that this was the word for it until later.) And an all-female coven. And a way to begin feeling that lust for life which is the basis of all actual living and all magick, without being thereby dragged into an actual sexual encounter (which would, unfortunately, have dragged me right back to the Lamia) to poison the entire thing.
Lust for life. Pure lust. Mary Daly‘s work on this was very important, giving me a handle on what it was that I needed to include, and what I could reasonable discard. Being able to feel that lust running through my body, object-less, and have it burst out of my mouth in a shout of joy. Gaining back ownership of my own big-breasted, big-hipped, overweight (it’s only recently that I’ve actually been able to achieve “fat”, try as I did), short-cycled body: being able to say, Yes, this body is mine, is me, and I am glad of it.
Being presented with a chance to make love with a woman, and having the unutterable rightness of it soak through my soul. Being presented with the chance to risk my dignity and my self-assurance and my carefully-spun sanity in asking a bright-souled, gentle, very wild man to be my lover, and having him accept — for the time being. Sexual encounters which had no poison, no anger, no helplessness in them: which washed the last bits of that away, leaving me free to discover myself lesbian: not out of antipathy for men, but because my call to women was more right. Turning from this bright, but essentially single, man to the woman who is my lifemate, with his blessing and glee.
I could not have done it in traditional binary Witchcraft; in order to open my soul and let the poison out and the moonlight in, I had to have watching me, teaching me, only female presences. That allowed me to embrace and disarm the Lamia.
When I say “female sexual energy,” I mean “the sexual energy which pours through female bodies.” Nothing more, and nothing less. I will not compare it with the sexual energy which pours through male bodies: I have not experienced that. But I tell you what: I have experienced it as poison in the presence of presumably quite innocent men; I have experienced its lack; and I have experienced its undamming, the poisons all filtered out.
And theoretical insistence on balance would have killed me. Not to mention the men I would have taken down with me.