We went back to basics in September at the School of Erotic Mysteries' introductory workshop, aimed to initiate the uninitiated into sacred sexuality, tantra and conscious kink.
Having worked on the mainstream side of kink for over a decade now, we have a long-standing preoccupation with the various routes that lead people into alternative lifestyles, as well as how they can traverse them safely and, one might hope, enjoyably.
And so, on day 1, we found ourselves sitting in a circle, doing the usual introductions and ticking items off our mental checklist of how newbies may be inducted to erotic mysteries and indeed kink. Confidentiality for all? Tick. Importance of consent? Tick. Establishing and holding boundaries? Tick.
The language of the workshop, which included the divine, was clarified - something very much needed, we thought, for those not at home among the elementals. No one seemed to mind the eclectic mixture of archetype cards sitting on the class "altar" right beside rope and floggers.
After lunch - shared by all in a communal kitchen - more practical exercises followed, involving movement, breathing, eye gazing, the beginnings of more physical explorations, and negotiations of what one may wish to experience.
Day 2 is when interesting stuff started to happen, with deeper work, emotions and stories flooding out. We found ourselves unexpectedly challenged, remembering the oftentimes difficult moments when one first realises one's otherness and not fitting within the established and generally accepted frameworks of gender, sexuality and sexual expression.
Assisting people through such time is always worth applauding, and this is where the real strength of the workshop came through. An excellent ratio of facilitators to participants ensured that no one was left hanging in those challenging moments - tissues were circulated, hugs freely given and available, as were the quiet corners for those who needed space. Rebecca, Seani and Benjamin were all warmly attentive and evidently experienced at such work - there for everyone when needed and keeping a respectful distance when not.
Our only criticism of "Introduction to Erotic Mysteries" as experienced would have to be that of equating kink with BDSM (when its definition is so very much broader). This, however, is hardly unique and a fairly prevalent misconception.
All in all, we left the workshop with the impression of a safe space well-built and well-held, and with a good follow-up - a good starting place to explore one's erotic and kinky self, also suitable for those looking to deepen their practice.