Redefining Sex and Intimacy in the New World We Are Making by Caryn MacGrandle

TRIGGER WARNING: Post divorce, I find myself redefining my relationships and want to share some discoveries I have made about sex and intimacy, and how that relates to my spirituality and identity as a feminist. I freely admit they might be a bit shocking.

Post divorce, I have had three ‘relationships’. Okay who am I kidding, I’ve had sex with three men.  I suppose you could call them ‘relationships’. We talked. We texted.  We fucked.

All three were painful in their own way. All three were pleasurable in their own way. 

I’m redefining this area of my life just like I am redefining all the areas  in my life.  ‘Cernunnos’ points the way. This is one of my favorite cards in my Druid Craft Tarot deck, and I pull it often. 

‘Cernunnos’ is the Lord of the Animals. “This card represents the raw power of the instincts and of Nature, and also the dangers of delusion and excess, but offers the potential for achieving both freedom and abundance.”

Like so much else in life, it’s all about the balance.

“It teaches us how to live effectively in the material world without becoming trapped by the glamour and illusion offered by a world obsessed with wealth, status, sexuality and violence.”

Last night, I had a video call with a friend of mine who did her own deep dive into the topic of sex and intimacy when she started her post-divorce journey a decade ago.

She encouraged me not to beat myself up on my experiences thus far.

“It’s like house-hunting. When the realtor shows you all the crappy houses first. So then when you get to a decent one, you’re like, ‘I’ll take that!’”

“You’re exploring the crappy houses now.”

And I don’t mean the three men were crappy, but our ‘relationships’ were.

And that is all about the expectations.

I have observed how other single people in their 50’s are either looking for ‘the One’ or have shut down this area of their life and gotten as happy as they can without it.

Like most of life, I am not content with this black and white view, I believe the ecstasy is found in the gray.

How do I navigate this gray? First off, it involves a lot of dismantling previously held beliefs. Most of which involve ‘good girls don’t …’

Uh, yea, we do.

There is so much power in your sexuality. The power to say yes, and the power to say no. You have to be strong and comfortable in both of those. 

In original tarot decks, Cernunnos is the Devil card. The Druid Craft Tarot craft has renamed it, because the forces it represents are not evil.  … “in Druidry and Wicca the powers of the animal, instinctual, sexual and material worlds are not considered evil.  In fact, they represent the very forces which govern life on earth in all its abundance.  However, it is undeniable that many human beings find it hard to accept, mediate and utilize these forces in responsible ways …”

Instead it offers a different way that “respects and reveres the life force, and does not seek to repress it [but rather to] integrate or channel it to bring creativity, health, pleasure and ecstasy in appropriate and responsible ways.”

Yes, please.

My friend and I ended our call last night by her sharing a suggested exercise. Rayellen learned this exercise at a workshop held by an organization known as ISTA (she says she valued that workshop but doesn’t recommend them right now while they work out some accountability issues). This exercise is to be used when you want to establish a physical, intimate relationship with someone.

It’s called ‘Desires, Fears and Boundaries’. 

First, you each speak of your Desires but with clearly defining that you are not asking for these things. From “My back hurts. I’d like a back rub.” To, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination, but whatever floats your boat. Say it.

Next, you speak about your Fears. “I’m afraid of STD’s.” “I’m self-conscious about my thighs.”  This is great, because if/when you do become intimate, they will know your thighs need a bit of extra love and attention. 

And then last, you hit your Boundaries. And this might be “I just want to hold hands.”  But what a great exercise, because now the other person knows that even though you’d like to [whatever you said in the Desire portion] for whatever reason, you don’t trust them yet or are not comfortable enough or whatever, this is what you’re willing to do right now. 

We also talked about establishing what exactly you are looking for: sex, love, commitment, emotional intimacy, companionship and touch. It may be all of those.  It may be just one.

The Cernunnos card goes on to say that the challenge in this card is to accept ‘Nwyfre’ (the life force) in all of its power without becoming obsessed by it and without using it exploitatively.

What is your intent?  And can you communicate it?

Like all the areas of my life, this one is requiring work, patience, acceptance and acquired wisdom. 

But oh my, the potential.

BIO: Caryn MacGrandle is the creator behind the Divine Feminine App which has been connecting and inspiring women [and other genders too] throughout the world since 2016 as a directory to find Sacred Circles, events and resources.  Women find the app each and every day, and it currently has almost 8000 users from around the world.  Caryn has also hosted Sacred Circles and events for the past nine years and is passionate about the power of a Circle to heal individuals and the world.  She has participated in numerous online and location events such as the World Parliament of Religions in September of 2021 in which she presented a workshop on Embodying the Goddess:  Creating Rituals with Mind, Body and Soul and just recently a webinar/panel with Dale Allen presenting Dale’s Indie film award winning “In Our Right Minds:  Leading Women to Strength as Leaders and Men to Strength without Armor.”  Each and every day, Caryn (aka Karen Moon) works tirelessly towards her belief that the most important area to first find equality and balance is the divinity found within yourself.

Categories: Feminism, General, Herstory, Relationships, Women's Voices

Tags: , , ,

12 replies

  1. Hmmm – interesting essay – I like your honesty regarding exploration – we hopefully do learn from our experiences. Just use car with crappy houses please!

    One point I need to make as a single woman for 30 plus years – after leaving my second marriage I had simply had enough of wifehood. I wanted my own life and I chose it very conscientiously. I did not want another man – period.

    What I did want was to go to grad school and become an analyst, teacher and writer – all of which I did. Sometimes I was lonely at first. As time passed I began to glory in living alone -( well I have never lived alone – I have always had animals and plants).

    In retrospect I see that this choice was never either or – but simply my choice – I would do it again and am so grateful that I was courageous enough to make the leap and stay with it.

    And I doubt that I am the only woman who feels this way. It seems to be a well kept secret the many women like living alone!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hello Sara thank you for the comment. I like living alone, too. I’m just not willing to give up sex and intimacy. And I think in the past, it may have been an either/or but we are moving past that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • yes, we are moving past that point – and intimacy comes in many forms – I have it with animals plants and nature and with a few – very few dear friends. I think personally sex is/was less important to me than relationship – and my experiences in relationship were simply not sustaining. I do know a couple of people that have really good marriages so it’s possible for sure! Wish you the very very best!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you Sara, and by no means am I implying there is only one way; the important thing is that we all feel we have the freedom to find our own way. Also, I had a talk with a friend today that ‘intimacy’ to me really means just the extent of feeling free to be yourself, vulnerable, trusting, supporting each other. It does not need to include sex and yes, I agree it comes in many forms. Much love, Caryn

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting timing of this post – a few days ago was the New Year of the Animals in the Hebrew calendar.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “…or have shut down this area of their life and gotten as happy as they can without it.”

    so apparently you believe happiness is directly related to sex – more sex = more happiness…

    and of course next up in pathetic patriarchal conditioning – love is directly related to sex…

    get a clue – neither Love nor happiness have anything whatsoever to do with sex…

    when the sense of distinction and separation is absent, you may call it Love…

    and from Love flows true happiness – not the patriarchal faux-happiness…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah I stand corrected. You are right of course you can be happy without sex. I happen to like sex. And get tired of it solo. As well as thinking that there is great growth potential with intimate sexual relationships. I just do not wish to define them in the traditional ‘patriarchal’ sense.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for talking about this. We need more freedom to explore this aspect of ourselves and all the ways it can be nurtured beyond the predetermined patriarchal “either-or.” I struggled with this after my divorce. After years of emotional neglect, I felt literally starved for physical affection. Could have been dangerous if I didn’t have boundaries. I have gotten remarried, but for a while I lived alone. And LOVED IT! I was very worried about moving in with my husband (we mostly married because I needed good medical insurance and his was better than mine). But, he is one of those rare men who respects my independence and allows me space when I need it, so while there has been a learning curve, with mutual communication, we have navigated things effectively so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kristin. I very much agree. I always know I am on the right track when something makes me uncomfortable to write about or share. I have spent the past nine years working through those things regardless: the concept of ‘Mother’ God, leaving Christianity, unfairness and bias in organizations, religion, etc. Now this is a subject of interest to me, and I believe it is just as worthy a subject of feminist exploration as the other’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how honest you are in this piece, thanks for the great read :)


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