Standing on Kīlauea Caldera, a powerful, sacred place on Mother Earth.
The story goes that…
Eve – you know, the one in the garden with the scaly close confidant – bit into a big, red, juicy apple – based on advice from said confidant. I know it was a big one; not the apple, but the bite.
Eve wanted that apple. She had a big desire. She wanted to bite down hard. She wanted to devour that apple.
How do I know? Because I am Eve – a woman who desires.
The juice. The red. The big fat bite.
I used to think…
there was something wrong with desire and having the kind of appetite desire requires. I used to think that I needed to hide it. I used to think these things until I met myself in the crater of a volcano and began to let it sing to me of the truth of hot rock, undulating lava, and brand new earth. Something happened there on the lava bed, there on the floor of the southern edge of Kīlauea Caldera on the big island of Hawai’i when I visited a few weeks ago.
A caldera is formed by the collapse of an emptied large underground pool of liquid rock, a liquid that snakes its way along, voraciously devouring everything it runs across. Can you imagine the hotness of this heat? Can you imagine that is the hotness of your heat, too, of your desire? Because this same underground pool of liquid rock is what forms out of your own existence, the same lava that snakes its way up and out of the ground of your own erupting desire.
When I feel my desire, I feel waves rolling up out of the deep ground into the sonorous caverns hidden deep under the surface sense of my body. And, when I ride these waves, sensing their exquisite rhythms, what I see and know and feel is the overwhelming desire to bite down into life I want to bite down into life – just like Eve, just like the volcano. We aren’t that different, Eve and I. We aren’t that different, you and I.
My appetite for life is big and full and healthy – when I am in touch with it. But, often that’s problem. Often, I’m not in touch with it. It can disappear in the blink of an eye when I tell myself it is wrong. I can grow cold in an instant, muscles tightening like lava cooled for centuries.
In the past, I’ve often…
felt embarrassed by my desire, like it is something to be ashamed of – after all, I am Eve. It is my relationship with desire, my physical, somatic experience of the potency of desire itself, that most frightens me. Desire in my body feels too big, too much, too out of control. Desire itself feels dangerous. And then it’s a fast track to sensing that if I desire I am dangerous. Like a volcano – a mix of beauty, heat, fire that both destroys and creates. Often we as women are more comfortable with water, air, and earth, but fire? Fire can wreak havoc on the world, bringing down structures that no longer serve and never did serve.
Ultimately, under my embarrassment, fear, and shame, like under the dirt of the earth, is this real, alive, vital connection to the source of creation. Just like lava flowing into the ocean creates new land, hot desire flowing through my life creates new territory, a new expanse of land and life yet unexplored.
The volcanoes in Hawaii are different than ones in other parts of the world. They are Shield Volcanoes. They flow. Like the Feminine. They have broad gentle slopes. They are built almost entirely of fluid magma flows – highly fluid lava, which travels farther than lava erupted from Strato Volcanoes. This low-viscosity lava travels great distances; spreads itself out across the land, creating these broad gentle slopes out of this brand new earth.
This is how I feel…
I don’t erupt when I express – in the bedroom or otherwise. Instead, I flow. I spread myself across in broad strokes. I become larger and more connected to this earth. I become a more fertile field. I am like a woman giving birth, the womb expelling new life, new ground, the new flesh of a human being, into this world, not sure at all just where that new life will travel.
But I’ve allowed my own flow to be constricted and restricted. I take up way too little space. The expanse of my soul is yet to be known. I feel cramped up, reigned in, contained.
Something’s got to give…
This mountain of flesh and blood and bones has got to give. I’ve got to give what I’ve been gifted with – the capacity for fire and the cycle of destruction and creation, for to have the creation of something new, something must first be destroyed. We don’t like that word, but this is truth. Destruction can come in small ways. And it can come in big ways.
Often life does it for us, leaving us in the wake of destruction where we find ourselves in a new fertile bed of possibility.
Desire is the force of creation, the creative force of the universe. It is the seed in the seedbed of Eros and when the seed splits open desire pours forth and creation creates the blueprint at the heart of each desire. It is power. No wonder we are taught, as women, not to desire.
When we are very young and the purity, innocence, and truth of our love is questioned and mistrusted, we come to question and mistrust and eventually fear the intention behind and the safety of our own love, the love that is the flowering of what we really are. We come to no longer believe in the innocence and purity of our true nature. Eventually, though, we can come to see that this is where we erred…that the light within that we fear never did lose its luminosity and brilliance – never did lose its fire. Indeed, this fire is the radiance of our love.
We come to fear what is at the heart of what we are here to offer and create. This fearing brings great grief; we must then grieve the loss that comes with fearing our own nature in order to remember and touch back into the purity of desire itself, the innocence of Eros, the longing that is at the heart of love.
To take back your pleasures,
to take back your sensuality and eroticism is to take back your power, joy, fulfillment – and fire. To take back your appetite is to take back your ability to feed and nourish your soul and quench the thirst in your own heart. To take this back is to remember that it was never anyone else’s.
You belong to no one. You belong to life. And it is the life in you that is the source of your fire and appetite for life.
Desire wants to spread itself out across the territory of life, consuming experiences that expand the soul’s capacity to be here, fully. When hot lava pours itself across the land, it does destroy, but in the path of that destruction, virgin soil appears, seeds crack open, take hold, and grow. In the fire of desire is an intense love for this world, for the earth, and for all of Creation.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within. — John O’Donohue
We will work with desire at our “Writing (and Trusting) Your Heart” writing retreat at a beautiful retreat site in Lake Elsinore, California.
Desire is a fire that can ignite your writing. Desire felt fully in the body, for yourself and your own creativity, is a gorgeous threshold into yet unknown places in your creative world.
This isn’t just for writers. It is for women who’ve longed to look within and find that it is easier and more pleasurable to do so surrounded by other women who long for the same.
I will be co-leading the weekend with my friend and fellow-writer, Ronna Detrick. In our work with women, we both work from this perspective – that it is through kindness that we best come to know ourselves as we truly are. When our gaze toward ourselves is filled with tenderness and acceptance, everything changes. It doesn’t make it easy, but it becomes simple. And it is easier surrounded by women who also hold you in this gaze.
We still have space and I would love to have you there. I feel it is going to be a remarkable weekend.
It’s in Southern California from 9/30-10/2. If you’ve been considering coming, now is a good time to think it through as flight costs begin to increase.
If I can answer any questions you might have, please reach out.