Two Spirits: An Erotic Retreat for Men & Women

By Suzanne Blackburn

Two Spirits 9/20-26 2001

I’m struggling. How can I write about my recent experience at the Advanced Two Spirits workshop at Wildwood? How can I not? How can I put into words an experience so essential, so primal, so life giving? Still, I am compelled to make some attempt even if it is only minimally successful. My experience simply feels too rich to leave unshared.

We were eighteen participants, two assistants and two leaders, standing together in a circle at Julie Andrews’s point at Wildwood Retreat Center in California on a warm Thursday evening. The landscape was spectacular-perfect. We had come from Hawaii, New York and Maine, Colorado and Arizona, California and Washington. My husband and I had come to work with each other and with others. We’d come to witness and celebrate each other. I let my eyes sweep around the circle. My mind whispered judgments to me, "He’s nice looking, she’s uptight, he’s gay, she’s intriguing." I knew these judgements would dissolve as my heart opened to these fellow explorers over the next few days. I wondered if I would ever be able to keep my heart open and decided to make that an intention for the work of the next six days. My eyes swept around the circle again and I wondered about the strength and safety of the circle. I wondered what we would become for each other. I wondered what this circle would look like at the end of this workshop.

The first evening we introduced ourselves, and shared a little about our intentions for this workshop. My intention was simply to take one more step toward wholeness. I wanted to learn to accept, even love, the not-so-wonderful parts of myself and the parts of my life that were more painful than the life I have now. I wanted to learn to honor all the events of my life, light and dark, which served to bring me to this very moment in this very place. As I invited my shadow side to be with me a little voice inside me whispered, "Uh oh!’

We began our first full day with some energetic sharing, meaning that we spoke of what was true for us at that moment without going deeply into our stories. I was already feeling safe and well guided by our facilitators, Collin Brown and Selah Martha. They had already showed many wonderful qualities of leadership including clarity, grace, vulnerability, good humor, compassion and a commitment to excellence. Collin guided us through some breath work exploring variations of "The Big Draw". I allowed myself to go deep into this experience and realized, for the first time, that I can be my own lover! Fantastic!

Later that day our circle was split into several groups of three people. I was coupled with a man and another woman and our connection felt good. They already felt like friends. For this ritual we were instructed to ask for whatever we needed from being touched, which could include not being touched if that felt right. Our task was to be true and clear about our needs. I asked to be touched in a nurturing and tender way. I also asked for erotic touch. My desire was to connect my cunt with my power center and my heart. I wanted to feel that all of me was connected, loved and accepted. My ritual partners generously gave me their touch with loving intention and I fell into a place of deep grief and longing for the love I had missed for so long. I felt that if I allowed myself to fully let go into the grief I would be lost in it forever. My rational mind knew that that was not so but the experience happened in my body, not in my mind. I only dared to feel a small part of the grief I knew was inside of me. I knew I would return to that place again to work through another layer on another day. I already felt much lighter. My experience had been so rich and it was only the first day!

The days flowed on and time became hard to track. "Is it Friday?" "No, Saturday, I think." Experience and transformation measured time. The rituals and sharing were punctuated with laughter and the delicious freedom to be openly lusty and sexually expressive! I felt as if layers, decades of repression and shame were being pealed away. Collin and Selah carefully constructed every ritual. We were the beneficiaries of their wisdom, creativity and fearless commitment to the Body Electric process.

Each ritual built on the prior events. Our experiences deepened and picked up momentum. The energy of the circle spun with ever-greater frequency and power. Our paths began to blend. We became each other’s Sacred Intimates. We dedicated ourselves to transformation. Each person in the circle played an important role for me. One person played the role of my father and challenged me to hold onto myself. Another played my brother. We played and laughed and were sad together. Another hung onto his pain. Another reminded me about my shame. Another showed up to teach me how to be a passionate lover. We shared common fears and common hopes. I need them all to heal. That was the alchemy, the beauty, and the magic of the circle.

For most of the rituals we worked in small intimate groups of three or four. The Self-Pleasuring ritual brought us all together in a rich and powerful circle. We poured our energies into the circle witnessing without shame or judgement as we brought ourselves into ecstasy. We poured our moans, our sobs and our laughter into the circle. We poured our fluids onto a ceremonial sheet, which would later be burned and mixed with sacred ashes and earth from earlier ceremonies. I could feel the energy of the circle spinning feverishly into the air and down into the ground. I quaked with the holiness of it all. I became my own lover. I embrace my teenage self-loving, even my shame. I forgave, loved and buried my father. I dedicated myself to this powerful process of healing and connection.

Those six days were filled with power and magic. The rituals were numerous and rich. We cross-dressed and learned what it was like to embody the energy of another sex. We sampled ritual exchange of power. We learned how to be in sacred service to each other and we learned how to create our own healing rituals. We feet in love with each other as we feet in love with ourselves.

It was a warm Wednesday morning. We stood together in a circle at Julie Andrews Point. We looked into each other’s eyes, we smiled and we cried. We said good-by and walked away with reverent gratitude and love for each other and our lives. We walked away carrying each other in our hearts.

I am changed. I embrace my shadows. I celebrate my life-all of it. I feel accepted and whole. I know now that I am not responsible for making someone love me. I am only responsible for being authentic and open to love. I am out of the erotic closet. I will not hide again. My heart is open.

The Body Electric School’s Two Spirits: An Erotic Retreat for Men & Women is held twice a year. Once in California (July 23-27, 2003) and once in New York state (October 9-13). Individual cost is $850, including room and board. Couple registration is $1,600. A $200 non-refundable deposit is required at registration, along with a required telephone interview. For further information, Contact the author at 207-529-5225. A complete listing of Body Electric events can be found at or by phoning 510-653-1594.