Welcome to Full Cow, a podcast about leather and kink where your host, Edge (he/him), shares his 30+ years of experience in the community. This time we're exploring the connections between leather / kink and spirituality.
The episode opens with Edge sharing his journey to a practical spirituality that's deeply integrated with his leather / kink life. Then he offers some tips on how to do this for your self. Finally, we interview Rob Carabelli, who has written a book about sex and spirituality.
Some useful links:
Ask Edge! Go to https://www.speakpipe.com/LTHREDGE to leave ask a question or leave feedback. Find Edge's other content on Instagram and Twitter. Also visit his archive of educational videos, Tchick-Tchick.
Let's talk about spirituality this podcast contains material intended for a mature audience before proceeding please check your local laws and confirm that you are an adult. Welcome to full cow a podcast about leather kink and BDSM My name is edge My pronouns are he him, and I'm your host. As always, I am grateful that you are joining me for yet another episode as we discuss spirituality, specifically in the context of leather and kink. As always, we'll start with my own personal journey around the subject. Before offering my advice on how you might integrate spiritual practice and leather kink practice. We'll wrap up with an interview with Rob Kara belly who has written a book about sexual energy, and spiritual power. I think it's a great episode. So let's get started. It might seem odd to be talking about spirituality on a podcast about leather, kink, and BDSM. But for me, these things are intricately linked. And leather is a core component of my spirituality. And I don't think I'm alone in that I think for many others, leather and kink can be deeply spiritual. At the same time, this is not at all required, leather and kink may simply be hot sex for you, or it may simply be fun. There is no mandate that it'd be spiritual for you. And so if you are of that ilk, I hope this episode provide you some insight through the differences in our experiences rather than the commonalities. At the same time, I want to acknowledge that for many queers and kinky people, organized religion has been deeply damaging and traumatic, and that many people may in fact be triggered by an episode like this. So I can certainly understand if you choose to skip it entirely. And I do understand how damaging organized religion can be. I was raised Catholic, and we were Easter and Christmas Catholics. And for my early life, I attended a Lutheran School because it provided a better education than the public school and my parents wanted to give me a leg up. But that meant I went to catechism. Every Saturday, early in the morning, I was not watching my favorite Saturday morning cartoons. I was going to an extra school to learn how to be Catholic. And what I learned there is that my parents were going to hell. My dad had been married before he married my mom, he had divorced his first wife. And because of that, my parents could not go to heaven. That was the message. My organized religion delivered to me as a child, what a horrible thing to say to a child. So I was never completely on board with Catholicism. But I participated. Because my parents made me and I went through some Catholic education. I went through confirmation, I went through many of the motions of the church because I was told to, but it did not feed my soul. And I did not connect to it. Even though I think even then, I wanted to I longed to connect to something that's not at all surprising for queer people is it? I think we want to know that we're not alone, because we sense we are different. And so we wanted both that validation, that confirmation, that connection, that will allow us to find a community of support and love, which is something theoretically religion should do. My relationship with Catholicism ended in my late high school years when I realized I was gay. In fact, I think one of the last things I did Catholic Lee, is I had a co worker who was going to visit magic Gloria. And if you're super Catholic, you'll know this is one of the sites where the Virgin Mary appeared and gets into the whole cult of Mary. We're not going to get into that. But you know, this co worker was seeking anyone who wanted to send prayers to the Virgin Mary at Magic Gloria and I wrote on a sheet of paper, I put like, please, please, I pray I don't want to be gay. And I was I think 18 At this point, very young, but very filled with shame and fear. Also, this is the height of the HIV pandemic. So a lot of fear and a lot of shame. And some point after that, when I realized that prayer which had been offered up to the Virgin Mary, for her intercession with her son, when I realized that prayer was not going to be answered, I abandon Catholicism. Now, at this point, my dad had become super Catholic, that was his midlife crisis was to become super Catholic. And that caused quite a bit of conflict for us very early on. Once I came out to him in particular, and we remain distant for many years, although we ended our relationship to the more importantly, as I was abandoning Catholicism, that was also the point at which I was entering into the leather community in New Orleans, I came out and came out into leather fairly simultaneously. So I was both sending off prayers to magic Gloria, and discovering the local leather bar. And at first, there was nothing spiritual about leather, it was just so damned hot. You're talking about a very horny gay young man in his late teens and early 20s, in a city of sin and temptation, with a lot of alcohol and fairly small, but fairly decent leather community. So I reveled in that. And for most of my leather journey, I did not have anything like religion or spirituality, I did not have a concept of what those things would mean to me. But I do think there was a kind of emptiness inside as well. Things didn't really shift for me until the early millennium. And the first thing that happened is when I started topping, when I made that turn, somewhere around the turn of the millennium, there were scenes where I was topping a man that were so intense, primarily pain scenes, but also mindfuck scenes, there were moments when I felt something moving through me and I don't have better words for that. And that's a beautiful sign that I can't name specifically what happened. But I could sense within me that something was happening, the energy I was putting in and the energy that the man was putting in combined into something, the sum became greater than simply adding the parts together. And I realized there was something deeply magical about that. And that's when I had an inkling that leather allowed me access to something greater than me. I didn't need to name it, I didn't need to understand it. Sometimes I thought of it as the leather gods, sometimes I thought of it as hyper masculine energy. I didn't have a word for it. But I knew suddenly that there was something that could convene, when two men were interacting in a leather kinky context. And I didn't have a lot of answers that I just knew, that was something. And I spent a lot of time thinking about it. But I don't think I ever came to understand it. The big change for me is when I finally got sober, I had developed an addiction. Well, let me rephrase that. I had realized I was an addict, my drug of choice was crystal meth. And in 2006, I began a journey and 12 step recovery. And, you know, I'm thinking about doing a whole episode later about addiction and recovery, because there's a lot of addiction in the leather and kink community. And I think that might be useful to share my journey. But for now, what I'll say is, if you're not familiar with 12 step recovery, it's not simply about being sober. It's also about changing the person you are through some sort of spiritual program. The 12 steps are a set of tools that are specifically designed to produce a spiritual awakening. Now, what is that awakening? That's for you to decide? What is that higher power that is up for you to decide. There is no mandate in 12 Step programs about what that should be or what it should look like. And it varies considerably across people pursuing recovery. For me, I began to develop a spiritual life. And I realized that I had always had this aching emptiness. That was the kind of God shaped hole. In fact, I can remember before I got sober. I just moved down to Fort Lauderdale. And at that time, I wore boots every single day. I was in full gear every day. I went to the bar. And there was a night when I went to the ramrod and I was in here. And I felt utterly invisible. And it wasn't because I wasn't attractive. It was because no one in that bar understood leather the way I did, no one could see me. I was not legible to anyone. And I remember driving home, crying and screaming to God, this God that I didn't even really believe in this God that I didn't even know, out of anger and anguish at being so alone and so unrecognized, that aching emptiness, specifically in relation to leather to leather presents to being at the leather bar. That is the thing that began to be healed and filled through the spirituality I discovered and developed through my 12 Step Program. Today, you know, the last step of the 12 steps say you practice these principles in all your affairs. So you develop this, this new way of living, you become a better person, you become a principled person. And then you practice that in everything. And that means that today, God is with me at the ramrod God is with me in the playroom God is with me when I'm fisting someone, Goddess with me when I'm beating someone, and I do choose to call my higher power God. My apologies, if that's a little triggering for you. It's just a handy term for me. What I have discovered is that it at its heart, spirituality, for me is about connecting to something bigger than me. And that doesn't just happen through some abstract notion of the Divine. It happens for me through leather practice, not only do I get to connect to someone in a deeply intimate way, not only do I feel like I connect to my forefathers, since I'm a gay man, I have forefathers, my forefathers in the community. Not only do I feel like I connect to this body of tradition, I have inherited around leather, but I connect to the larger community, even if I don't know them all. That sense of connection was that God shaped hole that I was missing. I learned how to be legible in this community by finding others like me, and that was a process that took time. But I also learned to be at peace with who I was. And to understand that even if I'm not in the presence of all those others Eve, I'm not visible on any given night at the ramrod that doesn't ever mean I'm alone, that I am never alone. This manifests frequently, in my leather play. It's part of the reason I'm able to come from this place of loving dominance, instead of ego based dominance. It's part of the reason I build various little rituals around my leather practice, for example, and I mean, you talk about not religious but totally spiritual, no item of leather gear, when I buy it gets into the leather closet until I've put my seed on it. My boots, when I come home, they spend the night with me in the dead room. These are small rituals that enhance my sense of connection to the larger values and principles of the community. And that therefore feed my spirituality. Leather is not the whole of my spirituality, my spirituality is expansive. But critically, leather is not outside of my spirituality. And in fact, it is deeply inside of it. I see this a lot through the work I do in the community, as an educator, as a mentor. And often I feel like I am called, I am called, I am called to certain people to show up in their lives to help them on their journey. I can't explain it. I know it sounds a little woowoo that I'm okay with that. If you've listened to this podcast, you know, sometimes I'm a little woowoo. But I like to pretend I'm not Woo. But the truth is, I'm a little woowoo. I feel called into the lives of certain men, and women and others, to give them something they need to know, to give them an experience to start them on the journey to move them on their journey. And I'm not even sure if I want to share this, but I will share this with the least amount of woowoo possible. I believe that in some ways, I'm often called to help people heal. And I often think about what my role would have been, if leather were a tribe or what I would have been called in a more tribal community. I don't think there is a really good, non colonialist imperialist appropriated term for that role except to say, I often find myself in the presence of men who have experienced, hurt trauma. They've had their Trust broken, they've had bad experiences and kink. And sometimes I do healing by beating them until they are able to cry and I'm able to hold them. Sometimes I provide healing by simply showing them that there is more to deliver community than what they've experienced. Sometimes I provide healing simply by having an open heart and being present. It is deeply fulfilling to me, you know, the whole all of my social media stuff. All of this happened kind of by accident. And when people reach out to me, and I've had some amazing messages from people about how I've touched their lives, it blows my fucking mind. Because keep in mind, I'm just, I'm inside my body, right? I'm inside my life. And I'm just some guy, right now sitting in shorts, and a T shirt recording iMac, on Monday, January 9, at 540, in the evening, thinking about going to the cigars, right, I'm just a guy living his life thinking about dinner. And so the idea that, just this, for me, I'm a very ordinary person, because obviously, I've experienced my life as my life. And therefore it seems ordinary to me, I'm a very ordinary person, and to think that I can touch others, that I can have an impact on others. It is so moving. And that sense of moving Enos that sense of being touched, that sense of very special connection for people I don't know, and may never even meet is heart fulfilling, Soul fulfilling, incredibly spiritual. I will say, sometimes, I wish I didn't always have to be the healer. Because sometimes I would like people in my life that were already healed. And I have those right, I don't want to make it sound like let me backtrack on that a little bit. But you know, there are certain burdens sometimes that come with my spiritual practice, I'll just put it that way. They're burdens that come with my spiritual practice. But going back to my 12 STEP program, my understanding is that the deal was, I would be able to live and not die from my addiction. But in return, I had to live a life of service that is integral to the notion of 12 Step programs, most of that service happens in the rooms of recovery. But in general, we are service inclined people, because that's how we stay alive. So that was the deal I made that that I would get to live with that I would be of service. And one of the ways that manifests really right now one of the primary ways it manifests is in the community. And I don't regret that it's not without a burden. It's not without a cost. It doesn't, it's not that it sometimes isn't hard or tiring or time consuming. But what it gives me besides life, it gives me this beautiful sense of peace and serenity, meaning purpose, vision, connection, all of the great words you can imagine in your life, joy, happiness, love, satisfaction, satiate tea, all of these beautiful words, it gives me all of that, and said, ultimately, whatever I am called to do, I'm ready to step up and do it. And here's the other thing. I know I've been given what I need to do it, I've been given a set of experiences, and a set of talents that allow me to do the work I am called to do. I'm going to wrap this up here because that sounding extra woowoo to me, and, man, you'd have to really be inside my walls to hear the full version of what I think I am in this community or what I would call myself and, and all that, so I'm just gonna leave it at that. The takeaway here is, you can have a pretty damaging experience with religion. Now granted, I have friends who had so much more damaging experience with the religion. I mean, I have friends with actual PTSD from growing up with extremely religious parents. So I don't want to equate my experience to theirs. But I did grow up thinking my parents were going to hell that was not a great experience. Though it is possible for you to reject traditional organized religion and yet still find spirituality if we think of spirituality as connectedness, as reaching outside of ourselves as in participating in something greater than ourselves. And in the next segment, I'll try to provide some tips and tools on how to construct your own sort of leather spirituality. Regardless of where you stand in relation to spiritual practices, regardless of what your history is, with religion, and regardless of where you are on your leather journey. I truly, deeply honestly hope that your path and your journey is super blue. I just having a spirituality that incorporates leather and kink is certainly no sort of requirement for either spirituality, or for leather and kink. However, in my experience, integrating the two has made both of them stronger. And so in this segment, I would like to invite you to consider ways to incorporate your spiritual practices into your kink practices, or how to create spiritual practices that work within a leather and kink context. Now, my personal spirituality is developed out of the 12 steps. And so I will often be referencing them not because I intend to promote 12 steps as a pathway to spirituality, although I think it's a really good one, but simply because I want to provide examples of how to move between spirit and practice. And we are talking about developing a practical spirituality, something that can help you in your daily life. And in this specific example, in your kink and leather life. To start, it is going to be critical that we separate religion from spirituality, you may find your spiritual home in an organized religion. And that's fantastic. But I also know that many people have damaging histories with organized religion, and can even be triggered by discussion of them. Spirituality is something separate. And while I'd love to take credit for what I'm about to say, what I did was some googling. To look at sort of the general elements of spirituality, I will say they align very much with what I consider spirituality to be, so I will endorse them. But generally, you want to think about your values or principles, how you work or become, you want to think about connections and relationships, meaning and purpose, and then transcendence. So first of all, I think it's important for each of us to be able to name our values and principles, and whether or not you realize it, you have them because they motivate and stand behind the actions we take. naming them is a step towards integrating them in a more conscious way, throughout everything you do in your life, including your sexual life in leather and kink. So for example, the first step in 12 Step programs, the principle behind it is honesty. And as I bring this into my leather and kink life, it operates in a number of ways. First of all, in order to move into leather and kink, I had to be honest with myself, I had to admit that I had these desires, I had to overcome the shame around those desires, by being fully honest with myself about what I wanted. Today, honesty means that I communicate honestly, with my partners and potential partners about what my expectations are, what my desires are, what my experiences are, the what my limits are. And I maintain honest communication, when it comes to preparing for a scene, or following a scene, which means I don't ghost people, it means if I say I'm going to show up, I show up. That's one way in which you can take a spiritual principle honesty, and think about it in another context. So one thing you might want to do to start is make a list of the principles or values that are important to you. And that can be a good practice in and of itself. For me, there are 12 of them because there are 12 steps. My principles are honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, brotherly love, amendment, attunement, perseverance, and service, I think I named all 12 of them, I wasn't counting. Each of those motivates and guides all of my actions in the world. And each of them resonates within my leather and kink life. So after you've made your list of the principles that are important to you, and after you've thought about how they can manifest in your leather and kink life, the next step is to do work. It is a process of becoming, spirituality is often about personal growth, we try to become better people. In this context, we try to become better leather people, better kinky people. And the way to do that is to really live a self examined life, where you look at your principles, and you look at your actions, and you make sure they match. And when they don't match. You take actions to do better next time. And the 12 step process. There's a whole step, just concerned earned about listing all the resentments we've had, we do a complete moral inventory, we figure out what our part was. And then we make things right, it's actually several, it's like five different steps, 456789, maybe six steps, it's six steps, right? But not doing any work means you do not grow as a person. And I think personal growth is an important aspect of spirituality, and certainly is important when you think about having a journey in leather, or kink. Now, this will also mean when you have experiences with others in the community, good or bad, you reflect on those as well, and how well they align with your values and principles, what lessons you can learn, and what actions you want to take to to different, better next time. Taking this sort of personal inventory, will help you better connect to others, and form relationships. And for me, connection is at the heart of spirituality and connection is at the heart of leather. Spirituality is about knowing that we're not just ego based beings, that there is something more than us, and that we can connect to that something more. Obviously, in religions, that something more is some version of the Divine or a deity or God. But it can simply be the leather community as a whole, the traditions of leather as they manifest in your local community, you can connect to that. And in doing that you connect to something outside of yourself something bigger than you. And that sense that there is something bigger than you is core in sexuality. It allows us to be more than ourselves, and reminds us that we are not alone. And we do that through the connections we make with others. You know, one of my friends on Facebook actually will regularly post sexy photos of men in leather. And the tag is always the same. Leather is about connection. And that's been my experience, too, that there is a particular kind of intimacy that feels very sacred to me. And when I say sacred, I don't necessarily mean godly or divine. But I do mean extraordinary set apart from the normal world, that it takes on a special meaning that can resonate beyond where we are in that moment that can I can carry with me. So if I'm living by my values and principles, if I'm doing the work to become the leather person I want to be, then I can create very authentic connections to the community. And I can have relationships with others in that community, that connect me to something bigger than me, kicked me outside of my little ego self into a larger world. And that's pretty core when we think about spirituality. Now, the other thing spirituality offers, generally speaking, is meaning and purpose. That gives you a reason to live, there's a meaning to life, there's a purpose to your life. And this is simply equally as true in a leather and King context. That once you're connected to the community, you have purpose, to be a member of that community to be an upstanding contributing member of that community, to help it to grow, to foster it to protect it, leather and kink can be central to your life's purpose. Because it becomes a fulfilling activity that connects you to others that gets you outside of yourself. And that leads us to our ultimate goal of transcendence. Now clearly in religious context, that transcendence has to do with ecstatic states transformation, Nirvana, heaven, all of these things that are above this plane of existence. But transcendence simply can be something more transformational about the self, and transformational about the world you live in. And once you've done the work of becoming the leather person you want to be living by your values, making sure you continue to act by your values, connecting to a community and building relationships, which then give you meaning and purpose, to foster that community. To nurture those relationships. You can have that beautiful moment when you realize there is something transcendent there. None of this is particularly surprising. There are any number of religious traditions around the world that route transcendence and ecstatic experiences in kink and other forms of sexuality. The Kama Sutra self flagellation There are any number of ways in which religious communities have harnessed the same sexual energies, we use the same kink pain, transformative cathartic energies we use, to create that sense of transcendence. Now, I'd love to say that if you just make a list of your values, you do a check every now and then you make sure you're following them, you participate in your community, that then you're going to have that scene that just blows your mind and where your ego self dissolves, and you reach a complete sense of ecstasy. I can't promise that. But the truth is, in any spiritual practice, that true moment of transcendence is relatively rare. The ultimate value of thinking about leather and kink as a spiritual practice, or bringing your existing spiritual practice into leather, and kink, the ultimate value is the practicality of spirituality. Spirituality is part of what helps us make it through each day, there are days I wake up, and if I didn't have hope, I couldn't get out of bed. And for me, hope is simply the belief that things will not always be this way that change is possible. In a leather and King context. That means I believe, I can find a partner who will match me in energy and experience and love. I believe that's possible, I have hoping that that gets me through the day. When I encounter conflicts, I can step back from them. And I mean, at work at the grocery store, while driving, not just at the leather bar, I can move through conflicts, and seek peaceful resolutions, because I have set a set of spiritual tools, a set of principles that tell me how to act, a set of practices that tell me how well I am abiding by my principles, and a way of connecting with others. practical spirituality is incredibly beneficial, because it helps us live day by day. The added bonus of integrating spirituality and leather kink is that then in some way, we are also living our leather selves. Day by day, I think there's a great tendency to compartmentalize because of the stigma around other and kink. So we hide it away in some little part. And we try to make sure no one knows about it. And a lot of that makes sense. There's real physical risks that people can face if they don't do that compartmentalization. But if leather and kink is integrated into our spiritual practice, then in some way we carry with it, carry it with us as we move through the entire world. So I certainly don't show up to work in full leather. But I show up as a leather person, I show up as someone with integrity. Someone who is honest, someone who demonstrates courage, these are things I do in the playroom, these are things I do at work, because I've worked on integrating leather in kink, not in my dress, not in the things I say in all the world. But in my core, because I've done the work of integrating it in my core. That means I get to carry it with me everywhere. Now, I suspect, I don't know. But I suspect the inverse is true that if we don't do this work, then our leather and kink remains quite hampered, quite stilted, because we cannot carry it with us. And I'd like to invite you to think about changing that, if that is the case for you. Hopefully, this segment of the podcast has given you at least a start on how to think about bringing two things that seem really quite separate spirituality and other and kink, bringing them together into an integrated whole. That will harm Sorry, I just heard myself say integrated whole. Yes, yes. into an integrated whole that we can carry through our lives day by day, and that help us live and live better, and live more joyfully. And I hope that happens for you.Unknown:
Thrilled to be here with Rob Kara belly Rob. Welcome to forecast. Thank you for having me. Edge. Absolutely. So can you start by telling us how you identify within the community and what your personal pronouns are? Yeah, so I'm a leather daddy. And my pronouns are he and him. Great. This is a show about kink and spirituality. Could you maybe start by sharing with us your personal experience with that connection? Do you find kink to be spiritual for you? And how did that develop? Yes. Actually, after living a young life of, you know, being told that we're doing something wrong, that we are ungodly, and a lot of narrow minded people putting us down, I'm gonna come and say, that actually, we are closer to the Divine, and I'll say the divine, instead of God, because I feel it's more broad. You know, different religions have different names for he or she. So, I feel we're actually closer to the divine. The Divine gives us sex in orgasm, as a wonderful gift. Just like the trees, or any of the gifts that we get from, from nature, and we use it to the best. And we use it to the fullest. Because whether men and women do it better and more intense. So that's how I started off. How did you discover that personally, like what led you to realize that in your own play, you were changed mind? Well, actually, it's going to go back a little further than that. Besides being a leather man, I'm also in my other life, a physician. And I was always amazed how we studied the body. And we studied the mind, but the spirit was always some mysterious thing. What is it isn't just floating around on top of us, is it just out there in the ether? So I wanted to study what the Spirit was. And in my medical practice, I take in a lot of the Eastern traditions, and including acupuncture and other techniques. Well, I found that the Eastern tradition defines the spirit in a very understandable way, in different levels. And what I've tried to do was the correspond those levels, to what we do in play, because I feel there's a reason why we do what we do, why we're top why we're bottom, why someone likes to get fisted, and, and so on, and so forth. I don't think there's an accident that any of that. So bringing it back home personally. I just feel a real spiritual connection, when I'm having intense love or sex, because I'm taking the gift from the Divine and using it to its fullest. And down the road, if you want to talk about those energy levels, I think it will help people understand, because I've tried to outline it in my book, like kind of in a workshop a way, how you can tell where your partner is, has an energy deficit, and how to put that energy into the system that bring balance to the full system. And since you mentioned it, you did write an entire book on sexuality and spirituality. Can you tell us the title and tell us a little overview of what you cover? Yeah, the book is called sexual energy, spiritual power. And it's, it's a general book about this subject. It's not geared only two leather people. It's just a general book. And then, when I do talks like this, I gear it to the audience that I have. Well down the road. I also want to do a leather oriented book, to expound on what I already have written. So basically, I'm looking at the spirit and the seven energy centers. And the Eastern tradition calls them chakras. I like to call them energy centers. And when each Energy Center there's certain characteristics. For instance, emotional issues, physical problems, and then what energy we can put into the system. So you can balance that for your partner or partners. So that's basically what the book is about. So a lot of background and then at the end, I have this workshop II type of thing where you could plug into the seven sensors. So that's part of what's part of what sounds wonderful about it is it doesn't seem to require necessarily a belief in the Divine, simply a willingness to explore each other's bodies. Can you speak a little bit about that? Yeah, I don't believe it's necessary to believe in a divine power, or to be of any specific religious group. And some, sometimes those groups get in the way, because of preconceived beliefs. So it can work for anybody. But I do believe that these terms, the physician has this correctly, I think the sevens sensors make a lot of sense. And if you want to talk about one of them, you know, because it will take too long to talk about all of them, you could get the idea of what I'm talking about. Yeah, please tell us about one of them, and particularly how that center might play a role in a scene. Right? Okay. So we'll take, we'll just look at the first one for conversation that's at the base of us, located at the base of the spine, the anus director. And people with an energy deficit in this center might experience difficulties with confidence. Just look at one thing, physical. Now, that's the next category would be physical problems, people with the energy deficit here might have back pain, or leg and foot pain, because it also takes in that part of the body. And then what would be the remedy for this? Well, the most intense energy you could put into an energy deficit in the first chakra would be fisting. Because that's intense bursts of energy, intercourse toys, and there's something I like to do. If I have a boy laying on a bed, I will like to use those are like silver eggs. And I'll insert them and they think that that's it, that's that's the end of it. But then they're hooked up to an electrical device that does a vibration. And it really creates like a wonderful feeling. So that's really putting energy into that system. And each of these seven centers has the same thing has characteristics, emotional issues, physical dysfunction, and what you can do to put energy into the system. Because I don't believe it's an accident. I don't believe it's an accident, that whose top whose bottom who likes this, who likes that, there's reasons for it. And every once in a while will be can switch off. And I know I have in my own leather life pretty much at the top. But once in a while, I'll just switch off for a while maybe I'm sensing I need energy in that area. Rather than giving energy in that area, and, you know, so on and so forth. So then you might have specific questions about it. Well, what I love is that you're suggesting that the play we do can have more impact and simply the pleasure we receive that it can be healing, that it can foster connections, and I'm also with you but I feel like there's a reason we are wired the way we are as top or bottom or sir mistress or whatever. And that there's purpose and I think all of those things get a sense of the of the Divine even if you don't believe in the Divine. Right. Right. I mean, you know, if you don't want to believe in the Divine, then just enjoy the different things that we do and know there's reasons for doing it. And I think it works out. I mean, you described in one of your podcasts after an intense I think it was a intense impact play, and then coming close with the boy after that. I mean, there's nothing more spiritual than that. You exchanging that love after that intense play, and that's very close to God. You know? And the ones that narrow minded that want to tell us we're doing something wrong, we're doing something on godly? Well, you know, I think what they're doing as much is they're doing the wrong thing by judgment and hate. And that's ungodly to me. So good. And I love that you use the example of fisting because for me, it's so extraordinarily intimate. So you have to be so extraordinarily connected, interesting, that there really is a sense of energy moving between the two of you, and do you find that generally true, whether it's bondage or impact that you feel, do you feel the energy moving? You do and, and also, I'm sure you get this too, but the, the happiness, you get that someone is trusting you to do such an intimate activity with you. And you know, it's joyful to me. And the way I analyze it was that person really wants high energy input into that system to balance them off, basically. And I'm happy to do it, I'm happy to be trusted. And then the loving afterward is a beautiful thing. So I mean, you're using these words, trust, which is just another word for faith, joy, loving, these are spiritual words, apart from organized religion, are there other kinds of values or qualities that might resonate for people who've been really birthed by organized religion that you can talk about? What happens in a scene more genuinely, that might make them more open to being receptive to the possibilities? Well, that's a good question. And I think we're practicing what the divine wants, in loving one another, trusting one another, sharing with one another. And when I look at what the haters do, that's far from it, the judgments, the, hey, that's not what the divine wants. So I, I feel very good about it. And I feel it draws me closer to the Divine, to not be so intimate with one person, or multiple people, whatever works for you know, I've also encountered a number of particularly young men who have had traumatic experiences inside of kink. Is there a particular energy center where we tend to hold traumas or some place where they should be focused on as they work on their healing? Yeah, so we hold trauma in our body and our muscles in our spirit. And that's why we've talked about after an event, like a release, where people may tear up or cry, or that's the release of all that energy, when when someone just breaks down like that. And it's very intimate, most sensitive, I don't know of anything more intimate. You're, you're breaking down the walls, and you're letting your real self your real soul shine through. So I love that sense of authenticity, because I also think just being authentic in itself was very spiritual. If we use the term broadly, what is your own journey as a leather person been in terms of locating your authentic self? Has that been an easy journey for you? Has it been challenging? How did you find your way your authentic self? Well, I think my journey is probably a little different than most, I would say, 1010 years older than you. And when each decade things were a little more close, then, and I really didn't find myself in the leather world until about 40. So and in fact, before that, I would see leather people if I would go to a place like a town and I would think, you know, they're kind of real creepy, or, you know, I didn't really understand what it was about. And I was in a long relationship at that time. And then I had a relationship with a younger man, and he kind of brought me into leather. So when I had to act like I knew what I was doing, you know that situation you learn from the boy so I think I pulled that off pretty good. And so what do I do? I submerge myself in a national leather contest as the first thing I do in the leather community, and really not knowing a lot about it, and I was first runner up in the American Leather man contest. And after that I served two years in two different leather titles. And then I judged for five years, I particularly like judging the straight contest, they were very interesting. And I learned a lot from that. They can play very hard. And, you know, you know, I learned a lot through that. And then I took a little break. And now I'm back. And I'd like to do more educational activities, as I'm the grandfather of the leather world, and like to be a mentor, and that's, you know, doing educational things like this book. COVID was that, I mean, was horrible thing, but it allowed me to write this book. So I want to dedicate more time and time to maybe doing another one in the upcoming months. That's fantastic. And actually, I'm so grateful for you sharing your experience, because I do encounter a lot of men who don't get into leather until later in life, sometimes much later in life. And so for them to be able to hear from you, and that you did that as well. And that now you have the successful leather life is really, I think, quite inspiring. What advice would you have to anyone getting started in leather, and particularly if they want to move into it intentionally, in a way that leaves open a space for spirituality? Like what advice is there, if you're getting started, but you want to do it with some sort of meaningful spiritual intention? Well, I, that's why I opened up with, I don't want people to feel like they're sinning or doing anything wrong with having a healthy leather relationship, then, unlike me, I think it would be helpful to have a mentor. And, and that would be a good thing way to learn more than one of the goods of the many good things about your podcast is to reach people that don't have mentors close by, I think about the boy in Arkansas, that that really has no one to talk to. So they could listen to your videos and podcast and learn, then I think it happens naturally, I think incorporating the spiritual side into the relationship, just like straight people would or anybody else would. But only, like I said, we do it more intense. A workbook like mine will will help you look at it more scientifically, why we're doing what we're doing, and how to help your partner, knowing where there's an energy deficit and placing it in, there are other good reading materials out there. Carolyn meses, who I studied under, she wrote anatomy of the spirit, that is a wonderful book. I can't tell you how good the book is, in that she she looks at all these energy centers, and really expounds on it. I'm just looking at it from the spiritual side, she's looking at it at all aspects of life. So reading as well, so. But a mentor is very, yeah, I love that you started with this need to let go of shame. Because shame is so toxic and so pervasive, and not only blocks your sexual development, but I don't know that you can have a relationship with the divine if you're sitting in shame. So do you have advice for how people do that? How do they free themselves from these cultural messages that what they're doing is wrong? Like how did they move out of shame? Well, believe what I said, not only is that not shameful, you're closer to the Divine, because you're taking his gift and you're using, you're saying thank you and you're using it to the maximum. But if you don't want to take my word, read many of the good books, you know that are out there, meaning You know, religious books like the Bible, or the Koran, or it's all about loving one another. It's all there's should be no shame, we were made to feel shamed by a hateful vocal minority. You know, Friends, for instance, most Christians are embarrassed by this small minority that that puts all this hate forward. So just surround yourself with positivity. The main commandment is to love one another, it's, it's in the Bible many times, and focus on that not the Hey, and practice it with your partner or partners, and incorporate it in. And it, I always said to have a successful relationship, it has to incorporate mind, body, and spirit. And the ones of mine that have not worked out, there was one of those things were lacking. So I believe it's important to incorporate for a successful relationship. I also love that you talked about connecting with mentors, because I do think connecting with others who are like you is another way to get through shame, because then you find out you're not alone, you're not different. There are lots of people leading beautiful lives who have ink desires, and it's a way of de stigmatizing kink. And you also pointed out that, you know, if you don't have a mentor locally, there are their virtual options. But there's also so many rich reading resources and education can also be a powerful tool to help people move through shame. Are there any other tools you can think of? Well, you know, therapy would also if you have such severe shame, I think working with a therapist would be a good idea or life coach. These would be helpful things. Maybe leather groups, or meetings or events, sometimes they'll have workshops. So all of these could be good. As many as possible. We've been given a lot of hey, I went to Catholic school, grammar school. So you know, we've had a lot of things drilled in our heads. No, I agree. I also grew up Catholic. So I get that. And you're right, that there are incredible resources available to people to help them affirm their identities and move into them comfortably. Is there any other anything else you want to share about spirituality with the audience? Or any deep spiritual truths you've learned from your personal journey? Or? Or do you want to give us a sense maybe of what you're working on in your next book, any sort of concluding remarks? Well, what I would like to do is just expound upon the seven energy centers, and have it more geared towards lather and kink. Because there's so much more about these centers, I just felt like I couldn't speak about all seven of them, you know, you know, but there's different types of sexual input you could give to all these levels. So I want to expound upon that. There's many other things as well to like each Energy Center, as aromas that are associated with the colors that are associated. So when a play room, you could, you know, add those items. And another thing I would like to say is, before someone enters my playroom, they have to be free of substance, because that's the biggest divider between you and the Divine is to not be in your full mind, and to be on some type of substance. I've sent people home. I'm thinking I made a good judgment in the beginning, but but but I didn't, or they didn't get what I was saying. So I think that's very important. And, you know, I think it's very, very destructive and also agreeing in a contractual way. Not so scripted as to write something down, although that could be part of the fun if you make it that way. But what you expect in the play what you both are expecting out of it, because many times people misinterpret and it's really just better to spell it out. I will meet somebody first and discuss all that. It's just worth it. It's just worth it to do Yeah, I think one of the things we do greatest whether people is communicate, so I'm a big believer in that and I So I want to stress what you're saying about not being on substances. Even if you don't believe in spiritual or the divine, the ability to connect intimately is severely hampered if one of the people is not there. So I'm with you on that. Of course, I'm sober. So I'm slightly biased, but I do believe it's a precondition for intimacy more generally. Right? You're exactly right. If if we take the spiritual aspect out, and you're doing intense play with someone whose perception is is it is tainted, you know. It's just bad news. So that that won't work for me. And I don't suggest it for anybody else. So yeah, which is not to judge the decisions they've made. They have their own journey, and God bless them on it. But that's not going to intersect with my journey very well. Robins been absolutely fantastic having you here and telling us about your work and helping us to think about the sort of body rootedness of spirituality when we think about these energy centers, and how particular sexual practices can invest energy, I think that's a great concept for people to think about. I will have information on your book in the show notes so that people can find it. And thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for having me. And thank you for the work you're doing. I appreciateEdge :
and that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for joining me, please consider subscribing or you can send feedback to edge at full cow dot show. As always, may your leather journey be blessed