Ekstasy Vine
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Introduction: The Sensual Landscapes

Welcome to the Ekstasy Vine Podcast! In this introduction, we begin our exploration of the sensual landscapes of nature and the body. I share a little about who I am and why I am so passionate about returning to the wildness that is our birthright.

Would You Rather Read This Episode? Here's a Transcript.

Hello! And welcome - my name is Ekstasy - and this is the introduction to the Ekstasy Vine podcast, where we explore the sensual landscapes of nature and the body.

And since this is the first time we might be meeting, I thought I’d share a little about who I am and why I am so passionate about the relationship between nature and the body.

I think that most people can relate to having a meaningful relationship with at least one place in nature - so maybe it’s a forest from your childhood - or a mountain you visited once on vacation - or maybe there’s that corner of a park in your city neighborhood. Either way, something about the earthscape - the smell, the colors, the plants - it resonates with you. It unlocks a wildness within you and the mere idea of if makes you feel as though you've come home.

My own, first experience of belonging to a place was in the woods behind my childhood home in Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States. It was there, crafting potions of mud and roots and dancing along the creek, that I first felt the power of place. My tiny pagan heart whispered its secrets to the rocks and trees and I felt rooted in my skin and in the ground.

But then something happened when I started going to school - as I think it does for many people. My wild nature - that core human experience of being a body connected to the earth - had a really hard time fitting into the world of classroom desks, scheduled recess, and forced socialization.

And I suddenly found myself the target of relentless bullying. My body, my voice, my walk, my hair - all became objects for teasing. And my personality - so naturally curious and expressive - was way too much for my teachers, my peers, and even my family to handle. I started to feel less and less at home in my body - and more ashamed of my very nature.

And so it began, the slow and steady domestication of my wildness. I felt like an outsider in school, at home, even in my own skin.

As I got older, my shame spilled over from my body - to my personality - to my sexuality - to my relationships. I started second-guessing my opinions, my desires, my ideas. I started worrying about everything I did or said. I felt anxious about making social mistakes. I doubted my abilities, both physical and intellectual. And it wasn’t long before my anxiety turned into loneliness, and my loneliness into depression, then my depression into an eating disorder as I struggled to make sense of how my body was supposed to fit in the world.

I now know I’m not alone in this - as an adult, I’ve met many people who’ve experienced a similar kind of domestication by their families, their religions, their schools, their governments, their media. We’re all constantly learning lessons about what it means to fit in - to be a good son or daughter, to be an acceptable person, to be a productive citizen.

And many of us are funnelled from school to university to jobs to families - not completely sure what we want - riddled with self-doubt and loneliness - and aching for belonging, meaning, connection.

Some of us don’t even realize that our feeling of alienation comes directly from the shame we feel about our bodies: the way they look, feel and desire. We’re constantly judging ourselves, we’re policing each other, and we’re believing that some bodies and some identities are acceptable and others are not.

So what does this mean - how do we overcome our shame and reconnect - or rewild - ourselves so that we can feel at home in our skin? How do we reclaim a sense of embodiment and power so that we can show up in our lives with purpose and vitality, instead of feeling empty or lost?

This is where our connection to landscape comes in. Personally, returning to those earth-centered practices of my childhood is what brought me back to a sense of belonging. That wild creature who danced along the creek and talked with the trees — she knew what it meant to feel at home in her skin and on the ground. And I have taken my lessons from her: using my senses, exploring nature, and dancing.

I’m going to get into more detail about my own specific practices in future episodes, but I will say that my personal mythology - meaning the symbols, stories, and traditions that have shaped my daily practices - they’re deeply rooted in mediterranean soil. As a Greek-American now living in Greece, I am inspired by the land and lore of my ancestors and you’ll be hearing a bit more about those myths as we go forward.

I’m also a pole dancer and I love finding the connections between dance and the raw power of nature. You’ll also be hearing some stories about the way freestyle movement has brought me into a deeper relationship with my sensuality and my body - and how overcoming body shame is both a political and a personal quest.

We’ll also be covering topics like trusting your personal authority, coping with loneliness as a solitary practitioner, identifying your own ethics, avoiding cultural appropriation, and more.

So it’s my deepest hope that you find inspiration and liberation from the ceremonies and stories I’ll be sharing. I welcome you to submit your questions, comments, and suggestions for future episodes by going to EkstasyVine.com/podcast.

Thank you so much for listening and I hope you’ll join me next week in exploring the sensual landscapes of nature and the body - and returning to the wildness that is your birthright.