All Acts of Love and Pleasure

“All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals’ is a line from Doreen Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess (read the whole piece here – http://www.doreenvaliente.com/Doreen-Valiente-Doreen_Valiente_Poetry-11.php) It’s an interesting phrase to ponder.

Up until fairly recently, if I thought about the line at all, I interpreted it in sexual terms. However, over the last few months I’ve been on a journey and have been changing my relationship with my body. A wider idea about acts of love and pleasure has taken root, and has brought me back to this phrase with much greater interest in the idea of sacredness in the physical.

All acts of love of course has to mean more than shagging. I’m not always good with touch, I can still be panicked by unexpected contact, but on the whole I’ve learned to trust, to soften, to be more open to affection from friends. I’m starting to see my own love for the physical world in this line, too. Putting my body into water, or into soft grasses, or out in the sun or under a wide sky is also an act of love, and of sacred connection.

The scope for pleasure is vast. Our physical bodies have the capacity to relish many sensations. Our senses are rich with opportunity. Yet I’ve spent most of my life with a utilitarian approach to my body, seeing it in terms of what it can usefully get done, and as a means of getting my brain places. There’s been a puritan streak in my thinking since childhood – I have no idea where it came from, but it created the feeling that to enjoy anything too much with my body was unseemly, inappropriate, greedy… that the pleasures of a body were not to be trusted or invested in.

To take pleasure in food, and rest, in skin contact, a hot shower, a cool drink… every day offers so many opportunities to delight in small, bodily experiences. And if all acts of pleasure can be sacred, that really turns the tables on the life-denying puritan who took up residence in my head very early on in life. I think much of it for me comes from a feeling that I am not entitled to enjoy or to feel good, that I do not deserve to relax into things, or delight in them – I am meant to work, to strive, and to suffer. Well, sod that! It’s a miserable way to be that has kept me in some lousy places and contributed to poor mental and physical health, so I’m learning to head the other way and to enjoy what I have and make the most of it.

So many spiritual practices treat the experience of the body as something to control, and be ashamed of. I’ve lived with a lot of body shame, one way and another. Working to change that has made a huge difference already, and I feel I have quite some way to go along this path.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “All Acts of Love and Pleasure

  • Tracy Kruse

    Lovely. Curious too, as to whether you were presented with the concept of Eve, aka all women as bearers of the original sin at an early age? After years of hearing how horrible women are, how we carry this monumental Sin and should be ashamed of our bodies, our existence, the truth of it’s absurdity presented itself in one quick stroke when it occurred to me that it was then, at that time, always a Man who seems to be the source of violence and war and the continued demeaning or downright desire for destruction of woman. As if they are afraid of us on a very deep level. When I began to follow that thought-thread, it emerged in the Goddess of ages old and the reclamation of the power. When you write of the sacred in our bodies, it is true and a beautiful reconnection.

  • Linda Davis

    Just reading what you say reminded me how much our bodies taking pleasure brings us into contact with the earth and the elements and can foster a sense of gratefulness, of being blessed, so it comes full circle. And of course, including feeling blessed by our own bodies.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I have heard all the complaints about getting older, seen the negative aspects in people that I known and even taken care of. I certainly have experienced some of the negative aspects personally with health issues, and disabilities.

    Yet in spite of it,I find that getting older still fascinates me, even as I go through it myself, from the inside. Now there may be more pain, more suffering yet to come, but I still study it as it happens.

    As I have mentioned before, this is still the happiest period of my life. I have all that I need and nothing more that I want. I’m content.

  • John Davis

    Having been brought up and worked most of my life with the Judaeo-Christian tradition…I absorbed all that mis-information about the physical aspects of life and particularly the dangers that women were thought to harbour. From my druidic perspective on life now, I can hardly believe that I went along with that for so long.
    I also went to a boys-only school where physical prowess on the games field and in actual physique was highly prized…as a quite skinny lad whose best subject was Latin you can see the vulnerability that I felt.
    At last I have found a spirituality that supports and nurtures me as I am….John /l\

  • locksley2010

    “All things in moderation, as Ghengis Khan used to say.”

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