Art & Eros

Craig Cullinane

Pairs of men are seated in chairs facing each other in the Temple at Easton Mountain. They are in various states of undress with white towels laid over their shoulders.  One man is gently applying dripping rectangular swaths of mask-making material (porous, white, and paper-like stuff used to make a cast when a bone is broken) to the face of the other man.  It is an intimate endeavor.  You must wet the material and gently apply it to the forehead, cheeks, and nose. The men are talking softly to each other. This is Art & Eros, and we are deeply in our process.

We had spent the morning exploring our masks to the world, the various projected personalities we use to engage with others, to keep ourselves safe, and to navigate the complexities of our lives. We journaled and then shared about our inner saboteurs, those defenders within who strive to keep us safe but who often block our aliveness and creativity.  From there we flowed into our mask-making adventure, visually creating expressions of our inner lives.

The invitation of Art & Eros is to tap our erotic energy – our very life force – and let it flow through our bodies to activate our creativity.  From there we express whatever wants to flow out of us through painting, movement, poetry, music, and sculpture.  How does the activation of erotic energy dance with creative energy?  How can the tools we work with in Body Electric – the welcoming of pleasure, intentional breath work, erotic massage, and process work – unleash our creative self?  Who am I as a creative being?  What can happen when we explore all of this in a safe, brave community of other creatives?

Very soon into the 3.5-day workshop, which I co-facilitated with Body Electric facilitator William McMeniman, I realized that this experience was what I always wanted to be a part of.  I grew up a very sensitive and creative being in a very insensitive and uncreative family system.  In my family, everything was about sports, which I was terrible at. I did not engage my creativity, which was a source of grief that I could not understand in my childhood.  Only when I finished college and the desire to express creatively became overpowering did I begin to explore who I was as a creative person.  I began with theater, taking musical theater and acting classes at the Studio Theater in Washington, DC.

Through my twenties, I noticed a nagging thought that dogged my creative engagement: “I started too late.”  I would shut down my creative impulses with that belief.  This dissonance lived in me strongly.  Creative expression is a human need where many find true meaning and satisfaction.  This was shrouded by beliefs about my creativity that I somehow developed or absorbed from others.   In Art & Eros, we brought to light unconscious beliefs that block or limit creative expression.  We encouraged our participants to be very curious about those stories.  We used breath and erotic massage and the Big Draw to release these limitations so creative energy could flow more powerfully. 

Each evening of the workshop we would gather to share and reflect. Some would read poems that had poured out of them.  One person offered us an amazing dance he had created, set to the original music of another participant. We told stories and we reflected on our creative processes.  This was an experience that was deeply nourishing to the Creative Soul.  How rare it seems in this world to give oneself the gift of time and community to explore who you are as a creative being, as an erotic being.  Eros and Creativity are the same energy.  How do I experience my life if I am connected to these deep, generative energies within?  What a beautiful contemplation!

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