For me, sexuality and spirituality are inextricable bound together. I often feel like sexual experiences, feelings, and thoughts contain something sacred in their essence. The stereotypical Puritan/Christian outlook on sexuality usually gets me in trouble when I write about spirituality and sex. But I hold to my view that all sorts of aspects of sexuality including BDSM, fetishes, erotic media, erotic romance, and plan old smut can be—and should be—part of our spiritual lives.
If any of this resonates with you, then I highly recommend Radical Ecstasy by Dossie Easton and and Janet W. Hardy.
Now, I will say first that this book does focus on kink and using emotional and physical “extremes” to experience transcendence. I don’t think this should scare readers—the authors explore said extremes with tenderness and wisdom. But I would suggest that a solid, introductory understanding of BDSM ethics be established by readers before beginning this book. But don’t worry, there is a section about ethics within the book as well.
The second thing I will say is much of this book is a very artistic, abstract, and creative rendering of experiences. There are monologues, poetry, recounting experiences in personal essay format, along with a few chapters that are structured as a typical non-fiction book that discusses concepts and applications. The authors are honest about this at the get go and I like how they handle the subject matter as, well, very subjective. If you enjoy reading memoir, especially sexuality memoir, than you are in for a most satisfying read. If you’re like me and prefer the typically structured non-fiction sex book, I still recommend the read. I did end up skipping to the end of a few sections but overall the book gave me a lot to think about in my own relationship with spirituality and sexuality.
The authors don’t define what spirituality they are going for in the book beyond their own experiences. They encourage readers to find their own words and definitions as they explore and to become intimate with them. Though it’s a lofty task to be so abstract and, well, transcendent, I think the book does a good job at holding onto the thesis throughout.
I personally enjoyed the first part of the book the best, this was where I took the most notes for myself.
I think this book does a good job at illuminating why we feel spiritual where sex is involved. If you’re like me who always felt completely wrong for establishing so much of your spiritual life in or around sexuality, you’ll likely find some gentle guidance in this book. The answers, however, will be entirely up to you.
Easton and Hardy are comforting voices in my kinky journey. I still go to my bookshelf and just look at my copies of The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book. These books arrived into my life at just the right time and it’s just like I was given kinky fairy Godparents in the author’s words. Magical, comforting, and secure. And this book sets along nicely with those, in my permanent collection.