I don’t often talk about my spiritual Self with anyone I’m not terribly close to, but I feel some thoughts bubbling up from that area in the last few days might be applicable to Community as well. So here we go!
The eclectic temple that I belong to draws a Tarot card every moon. We work together to interpret its meaning and as a group set an intention to use in ritual that night. This past Dark (New) Moon the card drawn was the Six of Pentacles.
Traditional meanings are: abundance, balance, benefactor, charity, dominance and submission, drawing to you what is needed, energy exchange, flow, getting assistance, gift, giving or receiving money, managing time wisely, patronage, prudence, reciprocity, repaying a loan, responsibility, sharing resources, sound judgement and winning a legal case.
Traditional meanings are often worth pondering in Tarot. However one member of the temple that specializes in this type of divination, and is often very inspired in her readings, latched onto a certain thought: Reciprocity through generosity. The whole idea is that when we give, we get back. Pentacles are often seen as a symbol of material. But when I looked at how the intention could apply to my life and how I relate to my temple, I found myself thinking more about the other aspects of the sociological concept of human ecology.
A section from the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on “Human Ecology”:
Human ecology views the biological, environmental, demographic, and technical conditions of the life of any people as an interrelated series of determinants of form and function in human cultures and social systems. It recognizes that group behaviour is dependent upon resources and associated skills and upon a body of emotionally charged beliefs; these together give rise to a system of social structures.
Do you see where I’m going yet? Remember that mention of “Community” in the introduction? 😉
My spiritual community has given me a lot. But as it relates to the forums I’m posting this writing on, the kink community has given me just as much, albeit in different ways. It may seem hokey to those who aren’t necessarily as deeply entrenched in the lifestyle, but I have in some ways been transformed as a person by the acceptance and nurturing souls that I have found here. I am closer to being my Authentic Self than I could have been through years of therapy alone because of the people that I have met here. I am stronger and better for it, and eternally grateful for it.
So Reciprocity. Without sounding too full of myself, I feel like I do a pretty good job of giving back to my Community. Or at least the best that I can. I started volunteering at events pretty much as soon as I found out I could do so. A few years ago I started an alternative social group for kinksters (which took the form of a slosh) in the Dayton area. It was right around then that I realized that an unobtrusive outreach to those new to the lifestyle, and quietly fostering the growth of those already in it (again, the best I could), was something that was a big deal for me. In being a leader of sorts I had to step up my game in representing good behavior and ethics. Not that it was ever really an issue, I just became more conscious of it. When I left Dayton last year I lost that outlet for Service, and have missed it dearly (I would like to note here that after leaving the group to new leadership it has gone in directions not outlined in its original mission statement). I still volunteer at things, but that slosh was sort of my baby.
In the last few months I have had the opportunity to give back in some new ways.
At a RopeLab that was dedicated to newbies I was pulled in by its leader on a whim to demo for single column ties. He asked me to share a few things about bottoming, and it turns out I’m pretty good at talking about it. Like maybe a little too excited about it, because I blathered on a for a few minutes about things that have absolutely nothing to do with single column ties. After calming down a little bit I sat down and got tied up, then circled around and helped people tie others up. Later that night I got a text from him saying that he was impressed by how well I spoke on the subject of bottoming, and after some more talking I was lined up to co-present at the next meeting. I got good feedback from several people at the presentation, and left the venue with a gigantic smile on my face. It was such an honor and a joy to share what I know of this thing I’m so passionate about.
Not long after, I had the chance to guest speak at a human sexuality course at the Ohio State University. I did it with a partner, and we talked about rope bondage, fetishism, consent, D/s, S/M, polyamory, and a WHOLE bunch of other stuff. Toward the end I was answering questions from the students while hanging upside down, which I found particularly amusing. Again, I got some really good feedback.
I am now lined up to present at two more events here in Columbus. They will be small things, but I am so excited to be sharing what I know about kink. I feel like I am starting myself in a new direction in the lifestyle when it comes to serving Community, and I am elated to be doing so. Service is a BIG deal for me.
So maybe, just maybe, this is what Reciprocity looks like. Maybe, within the ecology of our own little subculture, my “emotionally charged belief” is that I should give back to the people that have given so much to me. Maybe our “interrelated series of determinants of form and function in human cultures and social systems” dictates that our involvement in community is one in which we make an effort to contribute what we can.
Reciprocity, folks. It’s a totally a thing. And I’m trying my very best to do it!