When I was 11 and 12, I was already writing stories and poems about feelings and emotional, torrid things that you would not expect of a child, but that at an age of puberty, unbeknownst to me, was coming from an instinctive and natural gut source. I wore my ‘lambada’ skirt and tried to wiggle my backside and flick my long curly hair back like the Brazilian dancers from the ‘Kaoma’ group. I put on my mum’s make-up and posed and strutted with my long skinny limbs, imagining I was a supermodel. I took the time and effort to make my own made-up magazine, with folded A3 paper, a pencil-case of coloured pencils and pens, a ruler, scissors and some pritstick. Before that, even younger, I would sing into a Fisher price cassette recorder and dance on my bed and around my room.
When I was 19 and training to become a make-up artist, one of my class projects was to produce a portfolio of artwork that represented an emotion. We could choose one we wished to explore or understand more, or one we were adept at feeling. This exercise intended to get our use of media, colour and creative juices flowing, by getting in touch with our inner selves. I chose sensuality. I was questioned as to whether I had understood the brief, and when I stated matter of factly that ‘I always feel sensual’, I was allowed to go ahead with it.
I used melted candle wax, snippets of black lace, charcoal and pastel, shapes and images of naked bodies, water and moonlight. It wasn’t the best ‘aesthetically pleasing’ art work I have ever done, but the most soulful. I absolutely adored and devoured the project; it certainly brought out more of my creativity and sensuality.
Do not mistake sensuality for sexuality as some do. Although sexuality comes under the umbrella of ways to express your sensuality, that is not the only way. To be sensual is to be connected to all of your senses. it is to let them come alive.
It is to see beauty as you behold it, to see colour, nature, everything; and to become absorbed in it.
It is to feel textures, emotions and intuitions and to allow yourself to react to it.
It’s to hear the light yet deep sound of a dragonfly in flight, or each beat of the trickle of water over pebbles, and to be delighted by it.
It’s to smell the base note of your favourite perfume, and be transported to feelings and memories.
It is to taste the specific spice or herb in your favourite dish, and smile with your eyes closed at it.
It is to know exactly what the 6th sense is, and to not have or need words to describe it.
I know when I have neglected my sensuality. When someone puts a hand on my shoulder or arm in conversation and I can feel my energy sucking it up, trying to connect, to pull another’s human touch into my being. When I am in silence in a room with someone else, and there is no need to talk, just hearing another person breathing quietly and focused on what they are doing can sometimes bring me out in goosebumps, because I become so intensely connected to the pure, undistracted and uncorrupted energy in the room.
Now, here today, I am starkly aware of not just my own, but others’ natural sensual natures being snuffed out. Where mine was a roaring, growing fire, it has over time become a wavering candle flame. For women especially, who are representatives of sensuality for even the swooping curvatures of our female bodies represent it; it has become like a dying breed.
It is not just that our original hunter, gatherer roles have evolved into inter-changeable gender representations, whereby each sex tries to be and do more than they are. It is also the growth of a faster, on-edge pace of life, the taking over of human to human communication via screens and circuits, and the build up of rules and behavioural codes so as not to offend our over-processed and fragile sensibilities.
Let us not forget the rape and controlling of all that is female; the individual woman, cultural mass female control, stifling of emotional, psychological and physical expression, the disappearing natural habitats and crumbling mother earth. Naturally sensual women weep at this. Why do I want to cry when I see more and more forests burnt or cut down? It’s not just me being a ‘tree-hugging hippy’…it goes much, much deeper than that. It is because that forest is mother earth, oxygen, and therefore life provider. Women are mother earth and mother earth is women. Men are the sun. The forest needs the sunlight so that nature can grow, and the sun is pointless without mother earth. So sensual women cry, because the destruction of nature is a direct blow. This may be hard to understand for those that see themselves as seperate from the earth, and spit angrily upon the ground.
In destroying the female psyche, male is also destroyed. One can not be without the other, so the harder, the more structured and fast-paced the world becomes, the closer it comes to destruction, because natural growth and creation needs not just male seed, but warm and loving incubation, harvest, nurture, freedom of development in its own time…be it fast or slow. With the destruction of the female, and therefore sensuality, there is no love and there is no natural growth. Just a deathly pallor and an unnatural, sharp-edged and cold world.
In a fascinating book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, ‘Women who run with the wolves‘, she explains: “When a woman is cut away from her basic source, she is sanitized, and her instincts and natural life cycles are lost, subsumed by the culture, or by the intellect or ego; ones own or those belonging to others.”
This of course is the grand scheme of it, but I understand the grand scheme by observation of myself and the men and women closest to me. For myself, having become busier and too focused on responsibilities, expectations, living within the boundaries of society’s should’s and shouldn’ts, and fear of ‘failure’, I abandoned my creativity and natural sensuality. By doing so I was becoming ill and pale with thin, weak hair and nails (deathly pallor), blocked intestines, comfort eating fake foods and shorter breathing (unnatural) angry, snappy and resentful (sharp-edged and cold). It has only been through the recognition of this and the gentle gathering of my old self that I am now able to begin self-forgiveness and acceptance, and by beginning to do so, over the past few years I have rebuilt and am still rebuilding, that natural me.
The dancing around the room has come back, the urge to chat and express has begun to bubble up into my previously hardened heart, the candles have been dug out, the writing has slowly begun to flow and the maternal need to nurture others and myself has blossomed. It is by no means complete,;see how it can take a few years when you tap into a nature that does not sit well with convenience and instant gratification? The long-run result is so worth it. I can happily sit and watch my orchids take forever to blossom, and each day it looks like they are the same as last week, but if I let nature take its course I know that one morning I will wake up to astounding open flowered beauty, petals looking like they are opening their arms in thanks to the universe.
The only time we should go backwards, is to pick up the good bits we left behind, and re-create them to fit our current natural needs. Whether you be a man or a woman; men can grow stronger by the acceptance and enjoyment of sensuality too, begin to slowly pick up old treasures and see if they still sparkle, or find new and current ones. Begin to take even 10 minutes, however long, each day to tap into something sensual that fills you with deep love and connection right in your gut, your heart and your soul.