The greatest acts of self-love take the form of holding dear the parts of us we would rather not admit exist, much less look at with kind eyes.
Yes, falling in love with what we think of as our most shameful, horrific parts is exactly the spell needed to break the hex of self-criticism and remember ourselves as the god-dust we are.
But here’s the thing – accessing this kind of magic requires far more than an intellectual understanding of the opening statement you’ve just read. It requires a hit below the belt.
Below that belt – that Bermuda Triangle whose name we cannot speak in good company. That fountain of youth whose waters we desperately try to keep from running over. The lost city that is everyone’s hometown.
So go on then, take off your pants and see what all the fuss is about.
Welcome to the spiritual practice of genital gazing.
My First Time
The first time I ever looked at my pleasure parts in a mirror was in my early 20s. I had been steeped in reading about second wave feminists who drew their hand mirrors as a tool to combat patriarchy. Always an experiential learner, I had to know what it was all about.
I remember being alone in my room, gazing at the reflection of a young woman who had the habit then of shaving her head but nothing else. A primal feeling took flight in my spine as I parted my legs to see what I could see.
The muse that has inspired paintings and poetry had been with me the whole time.
This little ritual marked the day I fell in love with myself for the first time. And every time I’ve done it since, my love and reverence for my body has deepened.
A New Kind of Spiritual Practice
I call genital gazing a spiritual practice for two reasons.
First, no matter what kind of spiritual bent you have, it’s an indisputable fact that life begins at our genitals. Thus they hold the mystery of creation within them.
This is the very same mystery that has guided mystics to contemplate the origin of our existence. This is the same question that has inspired us to make a million human attempts to marry the unknowable (the spirit) with the known (the body). So perhaps it’s worth a bit of self-exploration to see what part of it lives in you.
Second, using a mirror for genital gazing pulls down the tradition of scrying, a divination technique that miraculously survived the pyres built for European witches.
Scrying is what is happening when we gaze into crystal balls, mirrors, or other shiny objects. It’s the act of looking by not looking, a way of peering into a reflective surface with the intention to get out of our heads and into the all-seeing eyes. Just as the yogis were saying 7,000 kilometers away, Europe’s witches knew that concentration on a single point of focus leads to clarity, direction, and purposeful action. Your genitals couldn’t agree more.
So won’t you join me in this new kind of meditation?
What Might Happen
The first time you look, you might fall in love. You might also feel repulsed. Both are the right response, because your genitals are loaded weapons.
One bullet is their mystery, their divinity in human form that can access profound bliss that one might compare to union with god.
The other bullet is dirty and devilish, the overwhelming lust that makes us lose our rational minds and return to our animal state.
Your genitals are not either/or; they are both. That is what makes them holy.
Gazing at your genitals is like standing at the gate between the heaven of pleasure and the hell of shame. At these kinds of intersections there is often a wise presence, an oracle who can ease your worried mind, so long as you know how to approach them.
Just like oracles, your genitals live on the outskirts of the mundane world. Just like oracles, they are shunned, vilified, and violently threatened.
Just like oracles, they are considered dangerous because they speak the truth.
If your oracular genitals are the representatives of the great mystery that have been shunned and cast aside, imagine what would happen if we made them our greatest allies. Envision the possibilities if we gazed at them not with disgust but as portals of awe and wonder.
We might see that the most vilified part of our bodies is divine, and therefore worthy of our gratitude and exploration.
We might realize that speaking of them in hushed tones is entirely unnecessary, but we could learn to call them with a soft reverence.
We might discover our erotic selves, devoting ourselves to ourselves as god manifest.
In other words, it could ignite a revolution of self-love that is nothing short of a spiritual awakening through the body.
How to Do It
If you’re new to genital scrying, I suggest treating it as a self-pleasure practice, but one that seeks to harness erotic energy rather than usher immediate release through orgasm.
If you’re used to laying hands on yourself, let this be a new way to create pleasure that adds to, without replacing, your existing self-pleasure practice. If you’re not in the habit of self-pleasure, looking at your genitals is a way to deepen your personal intimacy and find out what everyone’s talking about.
Begin with a short session. Maybe a quick peek with a makeup mirror. Then, extend your gazing – a bigger mirror, a longer period, a different angle. Gaze at the mirror with a soft focus, allowing whatever words, images, or other message to be. When you’re ready, you may care to ask a question of your genitals, just as you would with a tarot deck. No matter what, be sure you pause long enough in concentration for the mystery between your legs to respond.
If you get nothing from this practice but shame, I encourage you to try again. Go back for seconds (and thirds), because whatever we love becomes more beautiful, and love grows with time and attention.
Whether you fall in love or feel sick to your stomach, I invite you to stay curious. Hold space for both pleasure and shame to exist, though recognizing they speak in different tongues. When they meet, just like at all injunctions, there exists a sort of energy that can either be combined to create fuel, or separated to result in fury.
It all depends on how you look at it.
Wanna go there with me? I’m collecting anonymous stories about your self-pleasure practice for the purpose of teaching my corner of the world how to release shame and move into pleasure. Submit your story here and bring your act of self-pleasure out of the closet.