Keynote Speech for C.O.P.E. 2011 – A Blessing

Dear Kinksters of Ohio and elsewhere,

When Barak and Sheba asked me to speak tonight, they told me that it should be fun, edgy, and have something to do with spirituality. Oh, yes, and be under ten minutes. Since my housemates claim that if I had an Indian name it would be “No Fun At All”, I don’t know how well I’ll do with the first requirement. Actually, I’m not so sure about the third one, either. While I am a northern tradition shaman and a Neo-Pagan priest, this is neither my church nor my sacred grove, and while some of you may be interested in (or even so devoutly ensconced in) a faith or spiritual practice, it’s probably that just as many of you … aren’t. And that’s just fine.

So instead of telling you something about what I believe and what I know, I’m going to use the word “if”. “If” is a wonderful word, because it brings us into a world of imagination and possibilities, without attempting to make us believe in anything. I’m going to ask you to imagine what it would be like if we all lived in a miraculous world where our lives were touched by Holy Powers. If we lived in this fantasy world, and if I was a channel, a conduit, for those Holy Powers, and if I had the power to bless all of you with that energy … what blessing would I lay on you?

First I’d bless you with lots of good orgasms. (Well, for those of you who are allowed to have orgasms, anyway.) Because this miraculous fantasy world would be populated with Holy Powers who want you to be happy and have good sex lives, whatever that means for you. I’d channel that blessing straight to you, if we lived there.

Next, I’d bless you with a love of diversity, so that you would be thrilled rather than freaked out when people of multiple genders and relationship combinations sashayed into your groups and circles. I’d strengthen that blessing until you weren’t even the least bit threatened when the people who had bodies and choices like yours weren’t the majority any more – when there was no majority, when the array of bodies and genders and choices in your circles was like a bouquet of wildflowers, few of any one kind but all complementing each other.

I’d bless you with compassion, so that you would be able to get beyond your own fears and understand that the kinks and chosen lifestyles of others really do make them happy, just as yours do, and that they are no worse for them than yours are for you. I’d channel that compassion straight to you, so that you could move beyond even your neighbors in kink and see new ways to change our societies, our cultures, our world to become more sex-positive and more tolerant of the many wonderful things that we do.

I’d bless you with wider vision, so that you would be able to see beyond your own convenience and find ways to extend this community to those less fortunate than you – the disabled, minorities, and people who must live below the poverty line, for example. I would also bless you with creativity so that you could find ways to do that. There is a huge untapped vein of creativity in this demographic – just look at all the ways we find to have sex! If we can go into a dollar store and discover ten pervertables to buy with our pocket change, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out ways to make the occasional wheelchair-accessible station at a play party, or figure out a way that the overworked single mother barely off of welfare can make it to the event of her dreams. I would bless you all with an ethic of “Together we’ll find a way!” – because I already see that in place when we’re figuring out ways to get off.

I’d bless you with courage – especially the courage to come out and speak about your experiences, whenever it’s reasonably feasible. You wouldn’t have to openly risk your jobs or having your children taken away, but there are hundreds of places where one can speak up without any risk except for a few funny looks, and I would bless you with the courage to do that. Because every time you speak out, you tell some lone person that they are not alone, and maybe – just maybe – you save their lives. If we lived in a world of miracles, I would ask the Holy Powers to give you the courage to save lives.

If we lived in this world of miracles and Holy Powers, I would also bless you with memory – the memory of what it was like to be a kid and know that these urges dwelt within you. Do you remember being thirteen, or fourteen, or fifteen, and knowing that what you beat off to probably wasn’t what most of your classmates beat off to? If we lived in that world, I’d probably channel an extra-large dose of that aforementioned creativity so that you could figure out reasonable ways to reach them as well, as many as possible.

And finally, I’d bless you with belief … in yourselves. Belief so strong that no matter what the outside world said, you’d know that what you were doing was the right road for you to be exploring. You’d never sit up nights wondering if you were sick because of your fetishes, or your choice of relationship style. You’d never purge your toys or “inappropriate” clothing, only to be driven out to buy them again, and then purge again in guilt-ridden sexual bulimia. You’d never be too frightened to tell your darkest fantasies to the person who sleeps next to you every night. If we lived in this world I’ve described, I would bless every one of you with that unswerving belief in yourselves, and no one’s judgmental words could ever take that away. Because before we can wholly believe in anything else, we need to believe in that voice inside us that says, “This is where I am supposed to be going.” That’s the voice that leads us into all the other places I’ve described.

That’s also the voice that leads us to lands of hope, populated by miracles and blessings. And I want that for you, my fellow kinksters. I want you to be able to say, “We are blessed,” whatever that means for you.

Thank you!

-Raven Kaldera