August 9, 2011
This Sunday, August 14th at 6pm the Traveling Tickle Trunk will be hosting a workshop on the basics of Tantra, facilitated by the fabulous Anastasia. There are still spots left and you can register online at our workshops page. To be honest, I know very little about Tantra and am pretty curious about the possibility of all these insanely intense orgasms I keep hearing about. I caught up with Anastasia earlier this week and asked her a few questions about Tantra to get ready for the workshop.
1. What is Tantra? Who can practice Tantra?
Tantra means literally – a tool to expand yourself. To me, it’s a way to move and focus energy through your body. Its really simple, and can be used for healing, for connection, for amplifying your energy and bringing you closer to the divine. Anyone can do it, it’s really easy and fun.
2. What benefits does Tantra offer as a practice, both in sex and life?
Well, in sex… Practicing tantra allows you to build your sexual energy as opposed to releasing it – leading to longer, stronger orgasms- Earth shattering, taking you into another stratosphere. You can practice this alone or with a partner. When with a partner, it leads to a very deep connection. And the really beautiful thing is, during this connection, this energy amplification that will blow your minds, and there is also healing involved for both of you. It’s such a beautiful experience.
3. How did you come by your own knowledge of Tantra? Do you lean toward more Buddhist or Hindu traditions of Tantra? What other spiritual/meditation traditions influence your practice?
I first took a tantra course in a shop similar to the tickle trunk in Montreal back in 2003. That course was mostly about how to focus the energy in your body for healing purposes, but it really opened my eyes to how we are energetic beings. It’s so interesting to become aware of this, and to realize that you can also learn to control it is amazing. Since then, I have taken many different energy courses – I am a reiki master, and a yuen method practitioner, and I have taken a wide variety of amazing workshops and courses. It’s so fun. I would say I lean more towards the Hindu philosophy with shakti and shiva and their divine connection, but my focus is the energy not the religion.
4. I know that tantra, like yoga, is deeply rooted in Hindu traditions. Yoga as practiced by many people in North America has clearly evolved away from a religious expression and towards serving other purposes for practitioners, such as physical fitness. How does the Tantra you practice differ from its original religious purpose, if at all?
I am not a strongly religious person in a particular religion. But I am very spiritual. I believe in love being the strongest power of all. I give thanks to the universe for all that it’s given me. I believe we all coexist in peace and love and in the spiritual realm and the closer we get to the divine – through practices such as tantra or yoga or praying or meditating – the closer we get to this here on earth too. This is just a tool to let you get closer to that light. A really fun tool but I focus mostly just on the energy and the spiritual stuff is kind of a side effect.
5. How does the concept of “sacred sexuality” fit into Tantra?
In tantra, sexuality is honored. I really love that about tantra. It’s not something to be ashamed of, to hide, to use to control people – it’s honored as being beautiful. In a partnership, By allowing the sacred male and female energy to meet so that it can be whole, it brings you both into connection with the divine.
6. Does practicing Tantra require a partner or is it something you can do as an individual?
Most people who practice tantra do it alone as part of daily practice. It can also be done with a partner – sexually or not. It’s all just how you move, focus, and circulate the energy.
7. Can you give me an idea of what you will be covering in the workshop this Sunday?
This Sunday, I will talk about tantra historically, then i will give an overview of what energy is, and how you can move it through your body. I will be talking about sensuality, and how to transform that into energy. We will do some guided meditations and some breathwork and some fun non-sexual group exercises playing with energy. And of course we will talk about sex and how the sexual energy can be moved around one person or two for that divine connection. I am really looking forward to it!
July 18, 2011
Happy Monday everyone!
This Saturday, the Traveling Tickle Trunk is hosting it’s first BDSM 101 workshop for all those curious, interested and invested in the BDSM scene in Edmonton. There are still a few spots open if you’d like to attend; $25 to register, and you can register a friend, lover, etc. for $15. I caught up with Rusty, the BDSM guru who will be presenting the workshop at our store on Saturday and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions!
1. What is BDSM? How long have you been a participating member of the BDSM community? Please describe the BDSM scene in Edmonton for our readers.
The definition of BDSM, Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission Sadism/ Masochism. The Acronym covers a wide variety of variations, but all basically contain a common Power Exchange theme.
I’ve been involved with the local scene for 11 years now.. Starting with the local SASSIE Spanking scene that was quite active back then, but soon discovered the EOS – BDSM group.. and then later COPE was created which is a BDSM Play Party group that also meets monthly.
The local Edmonton scene has had a huge growth in the past couple of years… it was pretty predictable for many years.. EOS (Edmonton “O” Society) based on a BDSM Educational theme.. that also hosts a large annual BDSM Feast called “Lupercalia”.
COPE (Come Out and Play – Edmonton) developed from the demand for a Play Party scene, that up to that point was always private parties, or the Annual Lupercalia parties. So COPE became the monthly Play Party group.. that has grown from one hall for about 30 to 50 players to the current 100 to 150 monthly players it is experiencing now.
In the recent years or even months, other groups have sprung up to better focus on the expanding needs of the community. YEP (Young Edmonton Players) basically was formed since there are so many new younger players now, so the age limit is around 30/35 for that group. There is a bondage group solely for those that just like to learn and play with rope. Rope bondage scenes tend to take longer to set up, so they formed a group to cater to their specialty. There are groups that meet monthly for just “subbies” those that are into the advance “Primal Pain” specialties.. Leather groups (NLA – Northern Leather Association) and others I hear about but can’t list them all.
The Main two that hold regular events and munches open to all ate EOS and COPE.
2. Can you please explain the importance of consent, communication and boundaries to BDSM sexuality?
One has to think about BDSM as a regular contact sport. One always has to sign waivers whether playing football, soccer, judo, in fact most sports today require a waiver. It’s really no different in the BDSM community, only since the contact play is more personal, and intimate, one does require more communication between the players, since they aren’t competing, but there to help each other. We all bring war wounds, either physical, mental or emotional, so communication and boundaries often need to be set up to prevent accidental harm to an injury, or to trigger an unpleasant memory or response. Communication is the answer.. a good “top” will always ask the questions up front before playing. A good “bottom” will let them “top” know their limitations.
3. I’m pretty confident that I understand the terms ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ in relation to sex, but I recently learned about people who identify as ‘switch’; fluidy or non-exclusively dominant or submissive. Do people in the BDSM community see people who identify as switches to be on equally desirable footing with either tops or bottoms, depending on what an individual is seeking? Or is exclusivity on top or bottom more ‘valuable’?
There definitely used to be thoughts that a “switch” was just confused, or undecided. But in reality I have discovered more and more players will “switch”. I personally believe people who switch make better “tops” as they have a better understanding of the needs of the “bottom”. I see in the play parties today.. many people “switching” and it probably adds more respect than disrespect. Why should all the bottoms have the fun!
4. What is a munch? What is a play party? Do these events occur often in Edmonton?
Munch I think originally was a meeting over lunch, but today its a gathering in a public bar, restaurant or coffee shop. They are pretty common throughout the various groups in North America and other places, where members of the community openly welcome new members to a non lifestyle event to socialize, talk, and meet others in a “safe” location. When someone is curious about the lifestyle its a lot easier to come to a pub, that is usually advertised that to a “Play” party that usually isn’t.
“Play” parties are usually invitation only, and not open to anyone off the street. Members need to know they can trust that those joining them at a party are of “like” mind and won’t be offended. Each community will have their own rules, but the most common is “No sex, No drugs and No alcohol” That way we are safe from the laws banning “Sex and Violence” and for safety we don’t want anyone playing under the influence of anything other than their natural endorphin rushes.
The Two main groups, EOS and COPE both have munches twice a month, the location and times are available on their web sites, and both have privet club events once a month. One for Education, and one for Play.
5. For a BDSM-curious individual, single and with no connection to the community, how would they go about becoming part of the community and finding a suitable partner(s)? Are there specific books, websites or other resources you would recommend?
The most common website in use today is “fetlife.com” that is a non-dating site, that is really the “facebook” for the kink community. There are so many forums and tracks going on there, that you will find people from every age, style and kink. a little searching, will bring you to “Edmonton” events, or people. Its free.. and a service to the community. Join the COPE or EOS threads, and you will be informed when the next munches are etc. The Munches being the first step to being invited to the private events. The members want to know who you are, just as much as you want to know who they are. Its much safer than meeting someone you don’t know on-line. At the Munches there are others that will look out for you, and introduce you around if you like.
6. What part do whips, cuffs, collars, gags and other articles of clothing/apparati/toys play in BDSM?
These are all costumes and toys, that help with individual fantasies and kinks. The BDSM mindset doesn’t need all the toys, a simple look can be enough. I see many of the experienced players come to a party with no toy bag at all, just their hands and ability to know how to play the power exchange game with their “play” partners. The toys are things you collect as you go along, things that you find turn you on, or are simply props for a “scene” you want to act out. I always find it fun to watch the new people, that may simply dream about a spanking.. and yet a year later I see them tied up, blindfolded and gagged. Its a journey, that can start with a simple need.. and can progress to levels you would never have thought about. But in a “safe” environment, you are more willing to try new things.. and discover more feelings and sensations about yourself, and find your own level of play. There is never any pressure at play parties, as there are strict “safe” words and dungeon monitors to watch out for any abuse of the rules, rarely happens, they are usually just there to make sure everyone has a good and safe time..
7. I’ve heard the verb “collared” before, what does it mean to be collared by someone else?
This term has different levels of depth to different people, but in its basic form its really an outward symbol to the community that a “bottom” belongs to a certain “top” and is not “available” to be picked-up, not unlike a wedding ring to the regular community. Some will go to the point of signing contracts with each other.. some will have “collaring” ceremonies.. some will just wear a collar for a certain play party that they want to play exclusively at.
Overall collaring is taken as a serious symbol of ones dedication to one’s Master or Mistress.
8. What types of topics will be covered in the BDSM 101 workshop you will be presenting at the Traveling Tickle Trunk on July 23?
I tried to think back to when I first came out to the community, and all the questions and uncertainties I had.. and then put them all into answers to help a similar person going through that first step.
I take time to show the history, to help the individual understand this isn’t something that is “wrong” with them, that in fact it is healthy and more open minded that the general populace.
I introduce the local scene, pictures of what our “dungeons” really look like, explain the different groups/activities that one might hear about at a munch so I can take the fear way, and prepare the people to take the next step in their journey, either privately or within the community.
I explain safety, manners and etiquette for play parties, and the whole premise of why pain and pleasure is so addictive, but why the reactions are actually completely natural, and why our own bodies betray us!
Over all I want the guests to walk away with better knowledge about themselves, how to join in with the community, and take away the fear about this “lifestyle” we call BDSM.