A growing but still small cadre of environmentalists are taking on the final frontier: nature and intimacy.
Julie McIntyre, an ‘Earth ceremonialist’ and director for the Center for Earth Relations is an ecological visionary. Trained in plant medicine, Ayurveda, Reiki, medical herbalism, wilderness survival and holistic health, she’s the lastest to write a book about human relationships and the environmental movement: Sex and the Intelligence of the Heart: Nature, Intimacy and Sexual Energy (Destiny Books, 2012).
In this exclusive Earth Day interview, Julie shares her vision for falling in love with the planet, explains why she thinks the environmental movement has shied away from Ecosex, and how the Ecosex movement can mentor in greater environmental awareness in the Middle East.
Green Prophet: How do you foster a love affiar with nature?
Julie McIntyre: One of at least two ways: You have to want to have a love affair with nature, sometimes it happens spontaneously like going to a favorite spot in the forest or a beach and over time you notice you are falling in love with that particular place of Earth, becoming protective of it and calling it your special place where you go to sit, to think, to be inspired, to be stirred up or calmed down, to feel whole again, and be put back together when you may feel like you’re falling apart. This place becomes your friend, your confidant you tell all your secrets to and you find you are getting authentic knowledge and insights you have not had access to before.
To start with, slow down. Take off your shoes and feel the Earth beneath your feet; sand between your toes, pebbles massaging your souls, be in your body; how does it feel? Feel the air and sun on your skin; do you lean into the wind or brace your back against it? Really see the details in flowers and leaves, look with the eyes of a child as if you are seeing each pebble, each boulder, each tree, each insect as if for the first time. Feel them, smell them, let the experience fill your senses.
Become intoxicated with the sounds and scents flowing around and through you. Go to the Earth, as you would your lover; go the holy waters of hot springs and oceans, go to the tops of mountains, smell the pines, the air after a rain storm, use all your senses. Fall in love with life, with this experience of being a fully alive, fully sensing, fully playing member of the circle of life.
Green Prophet: What message can readers in the Middle East get from your book?
Sex is sex all over the planet. Sex is expressed in many ways and forms but when sex is repressed, the damage it causes goes deep into our personal, social and cultural psyches. Sex cannot be stopped or prevented even though there are attempts to do so. And because sexual energy can not be stopped, as energy it must keep moving and it must be released somewhere in some form; the ideal is to have out in the open, to own our sexual natures, the sexual nature of the Earth and talk honestly about it with each other and our children. Sexual health and freedom translates to healthier individuals and a healthier culture.
Green Prophet: Why has the environmental movement resisted authentic discussions about sex?
I believe it has resisted authentic discussions about sex because to do so would require that we actually start talking about sex, out loud. It would require looking at personal values, beliefs and behaviors about sex, contaminated baggage many of us carry into childhood into adult sexual relationships. It’s a slippery and wet topic that makes many people uncomfortable because we are uncomfortable about it ourselves, uncomfortable in our own bodies even.
Often in discussions about the environment there is a theme that sounds something like: Men’s sexuality is bad and aggressive and women’s sexual natures are vulnerable and need protecting. Language like: Mother Earth needs protecting; men (and large corporations) have raped and pillaged the land and forests; have created birth control measures on rivers with lock and dams, and so on. So for us to have honest discussions about sex and the environment, men have to own their sexual natures, all of it in its magnificence and beauty and power and the environmental movement must give up seeing women in the victim role and as women we must own our own inherent mysterious, creative and powerful force of our sexual natures.
If we were to actually have honest, real conversations about the sexual natures of ourselves and each other and the sexuality, and sensuality of Earth, our current behaviors would have to change to reflect new beliefs; belief that Earth is a living, breathing, aware, intelligent organism engaged in sexual reproduction on many levels.
Green Prophet: What has been the consequence of that?
The consequences have been dire. Omitting sex from discussions about the environment has created an insanity in our psyches widening the gaping chasm between human beings and Earth, human beings and the other species we live with. It has taken the element of the sacred completely out of the discussion; secularizing our relationship with the Earth. Discussions about the environment without discussions about sex is essentially a lie by omission.
Green Prophet: Share your understanding of intimacy, love and sustainablity in relationship?
Relationships are sustained because you want to sustain it. When you decide this relationship is what you want, you put energy into it, keep it alive and dynamic through intimacy and falling in love with your beloved over and over again; see them new each day. Notice the little things they do, really see them, wrap your heart field and love around them each day. For love to grow and flourish there must be a commitment to intimacy which is to say, you have a commitment to being vulnerable, to being undefended, to allowing yourself to be seen and naked in the deepest parts of you; who you were, what your hopes and dreams are, what secrets you’ve carried and not spoken out loud.
For intimacy and relationships to survive you must have an intimate relationship with yourself; what inspires you, what are your hopes and dreams and fears? What part of your body do you not have a relationship with or that you hate? What do you do with the fears and disappointments you have? Who would you trust your life with? How do you feel being seen naked? What do you do to get your needs and wants met? Do you hide your feelings and the deep parts of yourself?
Sex and the Intelligence of the Heart: Nature, Intimacy and Sexual Energy explores how nature underlies sexuality and intimacy. It is published by Destiny Books and available this month in bookstores and on Amazon. You can learn more about Julie at the Foundation for Gaian Studies.