Eve Lady Apples
Eve Bradford is an educator, artist and oracular practitioner working at the intersections of art, activism and magic to create work primarily intended to call upon the true capacity of our most authentic selves in service of full-spectrum health, embodiment, expression and ecstasy. Eve has been producing events, curating content, facilitating community ceremony, creating ritual theater and generally contributing to the evolution of west coast underground culture for the last 15 years. With Isis Indriya, she is the co-founder of Living Village Culture and The Compass at LIB. She graduated from the Gallatin Division of NYU with an independently designed BA in Art Making and Cultural Process, and from California College of the Arts with an MFA in Creative Writing. After a series of profound life-changing events in 2017, Eve began training intensively and stepped into being both a teacher and staff member within the Mogadao Institute, an original lineage of qigong, depth sexuality, martial arts, meditation and Post-Daoist philosophy created by her mentor Zhen Dao. She is also a core player in Zhen’s SACRA Immanence Theater, a radical troupe dedicated to theater as the apotheosis of the work of Mogadao. To learn more about her work and her incredible offerings, including weekly online Qi Gong classes and her upcoming course Reclaiming Eros: Sex as Medicine, Art, Activism & Prayer, visit originalskin.org.
"The web of erotic relationship is the same web that you connect to through ritual. It's that same web that I'm always, like, looking to reweave us into because when you have an understanding that you're woven into the web of life, then you want to serve it."
On Ritual & The Erotic Web of Being
Eve's Spiritual Beginnings: Secular Judaism, Evangelical Christianity, and Tarot
New Orleans spirituality
Indigeneity and urbanisation
Beginnings of capitalism
Women, sexuality, and history/capitalism
Transcription: Part 1
Eve: And so there's this way of, then, when you attune to your desire as a roadmap to your destiny of, like, who you were born to be and what you were born to do, and suddenly, that's what you're orienting towards, then you're much less likely to get sold a bunch of bullshit that you don't need!
The web of erotic relationship is the same web that you connect to through ritual. It's that same web that I'm always, like, looking to reweave us into because when you have an understanding that you're woven into the web of life, then you want to serve it.
Lianne: I'm Lianne. Welcome to Strippers and Sages.
Today's guest is very special, a very special person, and a very special person in my life. It's a real honor and a delight to have her on the show. Eve Lady Apples Bradford is an educator, writer, artist, and experience designer utilizing extensive studies in art, language, performance, cultural theory, spiritual practice, and permaculture to create interdisciplinary events. Her work exists in the liminal space between activism and prayer, science and art, chaos and structure, transmission and collaboration. With her long term creative partner Isis Andrea, Eve is the co-founder of Living Village Culture, a collective dedicated to bringing art, immersive experience, and activism to build awareness, strengthen relations, and align in service with each other, the planet and the sacred. Living Village Culture produces and curates all of the content for the compass at Lightning in a Bottle and has collaborated on symposia and events with Bioneers Indigenous Environmental Network, Nexus Global, If Not Us, Then Who?, Unify, and many others. They also facilitate deep dive retreats each year focused on ritual practice as a foundation for a life of sacred activism and service, and on ritual theater as one collaborative manifestation of that work. Eve is currently apprenticed to Zhen Dao, and is a lineage holder and teacher of MogaDao, a tradition of post-Daoist philosophy, archetypal Qigong, depth sexology, and spiritualized martial arts. She is also a player in Zhen Dao SACRA Immanence theatre troupe.
So you can see why I want to have one, and many conversations with her. Eve, thank you so much for making the time for this conversation.
Eve: Thank you for having me.
Lianne: We're here in Santa Fe, in Eve’s home with a crackling fire. And if you hear that crack, well, we hope that that the beauty of that energy transmits to you.
So Eve, you're someone who I consider a spiritual badass.
Eve: Why, thank you.
Lianne: And I choose those words very deliberately. Because I think that you capture your... you have East Coast roots, like me.
Lianne: You went to NYU Gallatin studies, you have the edge, that maybe a lot of foundationally New Age people, let's say, is not typical of them. And yet you have a very deep and very thoughtful and very genuine spiritual practice. And our conversations about prayer and spirit have really enriched how I see the world and relate to those practices myself. So I'm really excited to get into some of these deep questions with you. I want to start with just learning a little bit about your upbringing, and sort of what the trajectory was for you to become the Eve Lady Apples before us today.
Eve: Well, I think that might be the first time anyone's ever called me a spiritual badass. So I'm gonna carry that one in my pocket for a while.
Lianne: You should get business cards.
Yeah, I was born to classic East Coast hippie parents, which is different than West Coast hippie parents. They were back-to-the-land people in the 70s. They both grew up in New York and moved to Vermont in the 70s, built a log cabin. I was born at home in front of the fire in the log cabin, which had no electricity with a midwife, like, the whole thing. It was actually a stone-and-log cabin. And so I was raised in that environment with people that had really felt called to go back to the land, to leave the city, to just live close to the earth. They were not explicitly spiritual people. Both of them were kind of culturally Jewish, I think you use the term “secular Judaism” which feels very apropos. Neither of them were Bat Mitzvah-ed or Bar Mitzvah-ed, I was not Bar Mitzvah-ed.
But there was an atmosphere of cultural Judaism in our house growing up. So like, that means we lit candles on Hanukkah and, like, went to my grandmother's in Long Island for Seder on Passover, you know, that was like the extent of it. And I loved it. I especially loved Passover, because it was a ritual meal, you know, and that was always like, suddenly I was living in a magical dimension that felt so familiar, and felt so much more like home to me than normal life. It... I don't know, I just... ritual was always like, the little moments of ritual that I got in my life as a child were like, manna to me.
Eve: But I wasn't really conscious of that, like, I wasn't cognizant of it at the time, I just knew that when it happened, I loved it, you know? And, and so I was kind of in that environment. like growing up with animals and nature, an only child in Vermont and just, like, spent tons of time by myself outside playing with the non-human world, like that was a huge part of how my childhood was spent. And my parents got divorced when I was very young and moved away from the very rural place where I was born into a slightly larger town, but my... still quite rural, I mean, still Vermont, you know. And, and, um, and when I was in sixth grade, we moved to a new town and the people there… there was like this clique of born-again Christians at the school that I actually got pretty sucked into for a minute. For a couple of years, actually. And I think what happened, when I reflect on it in retrospect, is that they were the first people who ever really, like, treated me as someone capable of mystical experience and, like, validated my capacity for an unmediated relationship with God, which I think is a lot of the power that evangelical Christianity has with children, actually. I don't know if you've seen that movie “Jesus Camp”, but it's incredible and freaky. And Christians really validate childrens’ capacity to have religious experience, which, in and of itself, I think is a really positive thing. It's just when that then gets manipulated that it gets really weird, which happened to me over time.
Lianne: With this group.
Eve: Yeah. So I got really into it because suddenly I was like, Okay, I'm allowed to like have spiritual experience, which was not happening in my home. In my home, intellectual experience and artistic experience were very supported and validated. And that was kind of where I always went, was like, academics and art. But I was very mystical as a kid. And I didn't even really know it. I just, it's like, whenever there was an opportunity to like, have a spiritual experience, I like, wanted it. And this was how it showed up was like with this crew of evangelical Christians. And so I like started going to youth group and church because they were, like, one of those families with a huge white van that like, took all the kids to church for youth group on Wednesday, and church on Sundays. And it was social, too. And I like lived in the middle of nowhere in rural Vermont and didn't have much of a social life. So it was like a chance to be with other kids.
Lianne: How did your parents react to your newfound Christianity?
Eve: They were not thrilled. Um, my mom was more, like, tolerant and supportive. My dad was very skeptical of the whole situation. But he handled it very intelligently, to his credit, which is that he didn't tell me I couldn't do it. Because I think he knew then I’d just rebel blatantly. But he consistently asked me very pointed, like, relatively merciless questions about what was going on and what I really thought about what was going on. And he kept a pretty close eye on me. And needless to say, towards the end of my time in that group of people, when they invited me to come to a book burning at the church, my dad drew a line. He was like, Eve, that's what the Nazis did. That was pretty hard to argue with.
Um, but, but there was something that happened there that sparked something in me around basically just talking to God, like actually being empowered to talk to God myself, and that that was something I could do. And I actually used to pray that when I got older and stopped being a Christian, that God wouldn't believe me and send me to hell. As like a sixth grader. This was my prayer. So like, I kind of knew it wasn't gonna last, you know, even then, and that freaked me out because I was like, shit, if I lapse, then I'm gonna go to hell, you know? There was a lot of hell fear going on.
Eve: So needless to say, that started in sixth grade. And by eighth grade. The family that was at the center of this whole thing totally fell apart. And it turns out that like, both the parents were alcoholics, and they were both having affairs, and... so classic, you know? And I was like, Okay, wait a goddamn minute. So you're trying to tell me that my parents, who are decent, honest, loving, generous, are going to hell. And you guys are the moral paradigm? You know? I was like, No, fuck that you're full of shit. And, you know, there's I think there's maybe like few forces on earth stronger than the righteous indignation of a 13-year-old. So I just got pissed, and, and I felt really betrayed. Because these people had been, like, claiming to be moral pillars and to tell me what morality was. There was a lot about morality in the mix, you know? And so I kind-- the pendulum really swung the other way for me after that, and I was like, No, Christianity's bullshit, organized religion’s bullshit, I don't want anything to do with any of it. Simultaneously, around the same time, like even younger actually, probably when I was like, maybe in like fourth or fifth grade? My aunt, my dad’s sister had gotten me a tarot deck. And so I'd been reading tarot cards since I was very young like, it was nothing. Like I saw no contradiction. And had always been very sensitive and very intuitive, and so was she, and I think that's sort of like why she got me the cards and she'd been kind of like seeing that in me and wanting me to feel nurtured and supported in that. And I kind of just moved away from all of it in high school and just, like, went into scholarship and art, because that felt like something I could trust that wasn't going to, like, betray me.
Lianne: So along with the religion that betrayed you, what happened with your sort of direct line to God, in that time?
Eve: Totally disconnected.
Lianne: Okay, God’s on hold
Eve: [Laughing] God’s on hold. Yeah, I mean, it sort of felt like what happens to sex when you get raped. Like really, you know, like, that's what it felt... I felt, like, violated at my core by what happened there, you know, and it was... it was traumatizing, because I had gone pretty deep into... like, it was less about Jesus for me and more just about, like, how it felt to be in a group of people praying, because I'm so empathic, I now know, that like to be in that environment, it was like, it felt so different than it felt the rest of the time. It was like, all these people's hearts were open, and none of them were like tripping out about anything. We were just like, in this spiritual space together, and it felt so good to me. And that's what I loved about it. I loved singing together, you know? So, anyway, all that went away and I got really into like theater and film and philosophy and art and literature and all of the things that are the places where mysticism kind of hides in, like, decent high school education, you know, which I had.
Lianne: You went to boarding school for high school, right?
Eve: I did, I went to Andover. Which I chose to go to, because when the whole thing happened where the whole thing fell apart with the... I was like, I'm getting out of here, like, I'm tired of being smarter than my teachers.
Lianne: I need to go read Nietzsche.
Eve: Yeah, exactly. And so I did, so I got myself there and had an amazing experience in high school, particularly because of the theater department, and because of the availability of high quality psychedelic drugs. And…
Lianne: Not something Andover is marketing very much!
Eve: Shockingly. But that was great, you know? I'm so grateful that I wound up with the people doing acid and mushrooms rather than the people, like, chugging eighths of vodka in the closet, which was also happening there.
Eve: You know, but that was not my scene. Never was. And it was great. I mean, we literally used to walk out into the woods together and read Nietzsche in the snow out loud to each other on acid, you know, like that was part of what was going on in high school for me.
Lianne: Thank you, we can stop this interview because now everything is explained.
Eve: And so that was expansive and amazing. And, you know, a whole different approach to what it felt like to be spiritual. I wasn't thinking of myself as spiritual at all at that point. I thought of myself as a wild bohemian artist, that was like my self-identified archetype at that point. And I just wanted to like, be wild and free and, and bohemian, I was very into the idea of being bohemian.
Eve: In high school, I didn't even really know what that meant. I've read a lot of Tom Robbins books, and like, a nice man and was just like, sure I belong somewhere in the middle, you know? And, um, and so part of what that looked like for me was, I was very clear, much to my parents’ chagrin, that when I graduated from high school, I was going to move to New Orleans, which I did. And that was then a whole other layer of everything because, you know, I just spent four years at the same high school that George Bush went to. Like, and I was like, you know, like, I was a big curvy girl, and that did not fly at Andover, surrounded by, like, horse-faced field hockey players, you know, and like, I never thought of myself as attractive, like, no one I liked ever liked me back, you know, with a few very, like, important exceptions. And then suddenly I was in this place with a Black standard of beauty. And like, my body wasn't gross anymore, like, and suddenly I was like, oh, like that was different. And there was this woman who I got to be friends with who was a stripper and a witch and she kind of took me under her wing. And, like she was also like, super voluptuous, and just loved that about herself, like was so into it and she was bigger than I was. And I had never been around a woman who was like, into the fact that she was big. And that was revolutionary for me at that age. It had never occurred to me that I could be attractive or sexy, like, and at the same time she was also like, had been raised a witch, like raised Wiccan by her mother. And she... her relationship to the spirit world was so, like, matter-of-fact? Like there was just no question that there were all these other things going on all the time that you couldn't see but you could hear or sense. And it was just such a part of her vernacular and a part of how she moved through the world. And I was so, like, enamored of her that it reintroduced me to having a connection to the spirit world in a way that like, short-circuited the trauma that I had from Christianity. Because she was like, the furthest thing from them that anyone could possibly be. And yet she was super spiritual and a very integris ethical person, within being a stripper, which you know. And so, so suddenly I was like 18 and I was like, having my mind blown by this person who was just showing me that none of the rules applied, or had to apply, and that like, you could absolutely... like that I was a magical person and that the things about me that were magical, that didn't fit into norms were like the best things about me. And it really has so much to do with her and with the group of people that I kind of found in New Orleans that I feel like brought me back into a way of being mystical that actually, like, was authentic to my being. And I actually wound up... I was working as a short-order cook at this place that like, the kitchen closed at three in the morning, and like, I was just... I never saw the sunlight. And so I quit my job for Mardi Gras and never went back and wound up getting a job as a phone psychic.
Eve: Because I had been reading tarot cards this whole time. I never stopped reading tarot cards. All through high school, even, I kept reading tarot cards. Somehow that was like, still, okay. I don't know how that happened. But I had such a connection to the cards. And so I got a job working for the Jacqueline Stallone psychic network.
Lianne: Does it still exist?
Eve: I can only imagine. She's Sylvester Stallone’s mother.
Lianne: [Laughing] Oh! Little known fact.
Eve: And so I was a phone psychic at 18 for like, a couple of months. And it was a pretty good gig. It was surreal.
Lianne: So, what was that like? And pulling tarot cards is different than...
Eve: Being a phone psychic?
Lianne: Last time I checked my spiritual dictionary, which is maybe outdated.
Eve: I… yes. And I did use cards. I basically, I just winged it. I just, you know, I'd get a phone call, and I would pull cards for them. Like I asked them to tap in, and I would pull cards for them and I’d read the cards that I pulled. And just tell them what I saw. And like, that's what I did, you know? And who knows, like, how well these things work at a distance, but I really did genuinely like, try to tap in and try to pull their cards and try to follow my intuition.
Lianne: I mean, I at once have like deep faith in you in that role, and also you're affirming my suspicion that phone psychics are just like, fired former short-order cooks, looking for the next gig.
Eve: Which, you know, who’s to say that that's any less psychic than anyone else. I mean, I don't know how bad I could have been and still gotten the job.
Eve: I don't know. It was not, like, super rigorous. I had to give one reading to get the job. But the reading was good. So I... that's what I mean, I don't know how bad it could have been and still gotten the job. So, so I was a phone psychic for a while, and sort of like coming back into things. And I mean, this could go on and on. But basically, like, I would say that was the major turning point of like, reconnecting me to what felt like my own authentic connection to the more-than-human world and that the combination of like, weirdo magic people and psychedelics and my own, like, genuine curiosity, and like awe and wonder. Like at that time in my life, I used to see flocks of birds flying overhead and just start weeping. And there was this one bookstore, this big open two-floor bookstore in the French Quarter that I used to go into, and I would just start weeping. Like being in the bookstore and like, feeling all the words, and all the thoughts and all the care that people had about communicating with each other and being engaged with the world in a way that was like lyrical and meaningful. And so, like, that was at the heart always of, of my sense of aliveness, was just, like, meaning-making as a way to be. And the same was, you know, at Andover, I got to take a class in existentialism with a woman who had just come there from teaching grad school, you know? So I was like, I read the Brothers Karamazov as a teenager and, like, that book changed my life, like I... this character named Grushenka, who's this like, amazing, sensual kind of fallen woman archetype. But is also like, in a way, the heart and soul of the book. She was like this hero to me, she had this line: Tomorrow, the nunnery, but today, let us dance. And that was like my battle cry in high school, you know? And so there was just this sense of like unabashed aliveness and connection to creativity and that we were responsible for generating our own meaning, that that's not something that's going to get handed to us from God. Like, we... like that was what I got from existentialism as a teenager was that like, if I'm going to live a meaningful life, it's because I'm choosing that my life has meaning, and that I'm engaging with the world in a way that creates meaning. And so, like, all of those kind of situations, I think, fed into like that general way of being.
Lianne: Wow. I have so many beautiful images from this story. Reading Nietzsche in the woods, weeping with the birds, being in the bookstore... I don't know, I picture you in a basement when you're answering calls and tarot cards.
Eve: Pretty much. It was like a New Orleans shotgun apartment and it might as well have been a basement.
Lianne: Um, you know, it's jumping ahead a little bit, but this idea of meaning-making, I'm curious if you can speak about that in terms of ritual. And you know, something for me as I'm coming to learn about ritual, and engage with ritual in my own life is... in some ways what you're talking about, which is this tension between inherited practices that are already imbued with some meaning, especially in sort of today's hodgepodge spirituality of spiritual cultures where we're also drawing on so many traditions, like to make those things feel personal. And do they have this abstract meaning, right? Like, I'll find myself... Okay, if I don't have the tobacco in my hand, then the prayer’s not going up, right? And then at the same time you can think of so many… because I hold so many different spiritual traditions in my mind, then you're like, well, the Daoists meanwhile aren't praying with tobacco, but their prayers are going up. So I guess none of it matters, right? So I'm curious what your own path to ritual has been, and just on a more intellectual level, how you think about meaning-making as a ritualist.
Eve: A casual question.
Lianne: They're all the most casual I have.
Eve: I love it. I love thinking about these things. Um… I think where I want to start is just with this… like that building a relationship with ritual practice, for me, is itself an experimental journey of meaning-making. Like, the ritual practice is the meaning-making. It's not like you, you know how to make meaning and then you do the ritual. You know, it's like, for me, this, what I was just talking about, of like this way of being engaged with the world…. like, ritual is just the most natural obvious application of that way of being. And I think part of where that comes from for me is a real, like fundamental intuitive draw to pre-imperial culture, you know, and to Indigenous culture, and to my own ancestral roots, pre-imperial roots, pre-Christian roots. And like just feeling this, like, soul pull towards cultures that clearly have a relationship with reality that just makes way more sense to me than the one that I was born into, is really what it comes down to. Like, capitalism and patriarchy just make no sense to me. Like, on a really basic level, like, I'm so confused by the fact that that's the thing that we got to as, like, the way to do things. I mean, I've studied it all, I see how it happened, I get it on an intellectual level, but on like a soul level, I'm just like, what? Really? This is what we're doing? It just… it's like tragic to me because I can see the beauty that humans are capable of. And so much of that I see in, you know, older, more original culture all over the world.
I mean, I've studied it a lot, you know, I… for better or worse, I will say that I studied for 10 years with a man named Martin Prechtell. It's not a relationship that ended well, we had a pretty significant falling out. But I still have huge respect for a lot of his teachings, even though I find him problematic as a human. I think he's holding a lot of real potency and meaning and beauty. And he taught me a lot about understanding the dynamic between imperial and Indigenous culture and, and what ritual is and how it functions.
Lianne: Who is he?
Eve: He actually lives here in New Mexico. He's a… I mean, I don't really want to get into it to be honest. But he's a spiritual teacher.
Eve: And he's a... he's half-Native, half-non-Native, and he lived for many years with the Tz’utujil Maya in Guatemala, and was, like, taken into their whole world. But he teaches a lot about, like, Indigenous culture and ancient history as a whole and how it... the trajectory of it into the modern era. And so a lot of what I understand about ritual, I learned from him. And that has a lot to do with offerings, and with offering-based culture, and how there's, like, in pre-industrial cultures, there's this understanding that we're in debt to the natural world, and that we make offerings as a way of, like, not trying to get out of debt, but actually just trying to stay in debt beautifully. Like acknowledging like, I get everything from you. Here is a part of what you gave me that I took and made into something beautiful to give back to you, you know? And this way of being in relationship with the more-than-human world. And that just makes so much sense to me.
Like this, you know, as I said, I grew up spending so much time alone in nature. So it's unthinkable to me that we would feel outside of that, and that we would think we're above it, or it's like a resource for us. Like, it just doesn't make any sense to me. Like, it seems so obvious, that there's this magical web of life that we are embedded within, to our great blessing, you know, and we just seem to want to put ourselves above it. And be outside it and be masters of it. But like, to me, and what I see, like, so many people who live close to the earth feeling, is like, no we want to just be our one little small part of the big thing. And that one way to do... that ritual is a way of being in relationship with the web of life. That's animals and plants and weather and possibility and sentient forces beyond ourselves that are shaping our world. And that the only way to really be in relationship with them is to, like, give them gifts, and talk to them, and, like, try to, like, meet them part-way. And so if they're operating in a magical reality, then in order to like be in relationship with them, you have to also at least partially be hanging out in a magical reality, because otherwise how are you supposed to be in relationship with them? So ritual is like this pathway into a mode of relationality with all of existence, that's what it feels like to me. And it's a way of participating in the web of existence and showing up and being like, Okay, I'm on board, like, I want to be a part of the magic, I want to contribute to what's good, I want to feed what needs feeding, I want to serve what serves me. You know, it's like you want to be embedded in the reciprocity that you see everywhere, the minute you just start paying attention. And so it just feels like ritual practice, whatever that is for you, is a way of being deeply engaged with the fact that like, there's a lot going on all the time beyond what's immediately obvious to be able to see or hear.
Lianne: Beautiful. Do you think about ritual, then, as metaphor? Again, as in, because, you know, you study and I think engage so many rich lineages that have these deep traditions. And for me, again, coming at it from living in the secular society, it's like, Okay, do I think about that, as... these are embedded technologies that have a very specific function in each of these cultures and they are functioning in this codified mystical way? Or is it, as you're saying, I almost take away, it almost doesn't matter what the ritual practice is, it matters that there is a ritual practice and that it's personal, and it's about those central tenets of reciprocity. And I think that's something often you know, how literal to take the practices in spiritual practice where metaphor comes into it.
Eve: Yeah. Such an interesting question. I mean, I think metaphor is what post-industrial late stage capitalist culture has instead of ritual. It's like, we're so divorced from the fundamental multi-dimensional nature of reality because we've been so conditioned into a commodity-based consciousness that when we see a bowl of water on an altar, we can only understand it as the ocean as metaphor. Like, it's like we’re not capable of what most, like, people in cultures that are, like, village cultures that you know are not navigating in the same kind of conditioning that we are, have no problem seeing that bowl of water as the ocean. Like, it's not a metaphor. Like, in a ritual context, that bowl of water is the ocean. There's no problem.
Lianne: Not a representation of it.
Lianne: But it, as in we're bringing that into this space.
Eve: As in it is that. And it's so interesting because, again, it's like one of Martin’s biggest teachings is about the verb to be, and how Indo-European languages have the verb “to be”, and most old Indigenous languages don't. And that that's part of why we struggle with this metaphor thing because without the verb “is” there's no problem, right? Nothing is anything. There's no is, but we're so conditioned to think of it that way that like, we can't think outside of it. It's… English is so verb “to be”-oriented that like, we are held within a frame of is-ness. And we don't know how to think outside of it. But if you can imagine even the idea for a moment of a consciousness that never had that concept, in the way that language shapes consciousness, so that instead of something being anything, like, something carries the ocean, or holds the ocean like the bowl of water holds the ocean. Like, it isn't anything. So there's no problem with it being something else.
And so it's like, in a ritual context, like metaphor is this like, it's sort of like the starved version of ritual. It's like, we're like, Okay, this is like that in a way where we can kind of tap into the way this connects to that. And we can sort of intellectually justify it to ourselves. But that's ultimately, I think, incredibly limited. And that the truth of how reality is actually operating is so much more interesting and so much less codified than that. Like, the way that communication is happening between trees, and the way that we're not sure how electrons can be in two places at the same time, and all this stuff that's so wild, that just blows that idea that like…
I don't think ritual is a metaphor. I think that's a limited way of viewing it, even though it's understandable and maybe is like a pathway towards something. But I don't think it's the end point. Because I think if you're operating within a context of metaphor, then when you're praying, it's like, that means your prayer is a metaphor. And that's not what I think is happening, actually. I think... because if it's a metaphor, then how are you actually participating with the shaping of reality? If it's all a metaphor. It's like, it's like saying that you're like, pretending, you know?
Lianne: Versus: “this ritual is doing something.”
Eve: Yeah, this ritual is participating in. And I think part of why it gets so starved is because so much ritual and prayer has been reduced to, like, trying to get what we want, trying to manifest abundance, you know, thinking that the purpose of like engaging is to have what we want. And so then the whole thing just gets shrunk down to so much less than what it's supposed to be. Like the real purpose of human engagement with ritual is to, like, feed back into where we get everything from.
Gratitude. It's about gratitude, and recognizing how blessed we are, and wanting to like, make it known to whoever it is that's giving us this crazy profusion of beauty called the world that we get to be in that we notice. And we're not taking it for granted. And we're not thinking that like, we're special. But that we're just like, so aware of the blessing of our lives that we can't help but want to give back. Like that's at the heart of what I think of as, like, authentic ritual practice. Is, is like feeding the magic, not getting what we can from it.
Lianne: Right. Feeding the gods.
Eve: Yes. Feeding the gods rather than…
Lianne: Extracting, as is our current cultural M.O.
Lianne: I'm thinking about how... about what you were saying earlier about living in connection to nature. And certainly, that's been my experience as I've grown up, you know, right outside of New York City, and gradually found my way to now, the mountains of Santa Fe, where I also have a fire to heat my house. And I recently went back to New York a few weeks ago, and just... it's so striking to walk around in a metropolis where it's all built environment, and so disconnected. And I'm not saying that about the people, there are beautiful people there with deep spiritual practices and the earth worshippers and everything. But just to be in that… and as you know, we're nearing a point of 50% of our planet being urbanized? And are people living in cities --
Eve: Is that true?
Lianne: Please don't rely on me for any statistics until… when I have my research team assembled.
Eve: Totally. Fair enough.
Lianne: But something to that extent. And so -- this is a big one, but I know you can do it -- which is for someone who maybe is listening and like my mother, who when I first brought up speaking about capitalism, in the same way, almost as a, like, of course, do I even need to explain myself, well, what's wrong with capitalism? Is the response. Right? And to say it's been distorted we have corporate capitalism, right, there's a lot of problems with it. But maybe for -- obviously, so many of us are still mired in these problematic paradigms that you're talking about. And can you help us understand, in a very cursory way, of course, but how we got to this point from your understanding and your depth of studies?
Eve: I mean, the real answer is big and long and complex and vast, and goes back to Rome. But, um… and the Phoenicians and, I mean it, there's a big, long historical trajectory that got us where we are. And the roots of it are kind of mysterious, on a certain level. In terms of like what it is, that caused some people to want power over other people in a way that made it seem justifiable and reasonable to ruin their way of life in order to get what they wanted. And so the like, psychological roots of that I don't claim to know. But, you know, empire… it's like, that's the roots of it. Is imperial culture and the way that empire like, you know, Rome is kind of the big classic ancient example. Just started to subsume authentic cultures in order to have power over them and to tax, you know, taxation, they forced nomads to settle so that they could tax them because you can't tax nomads when they're nomads because they're moving. And it's old, you know, and so then it perpetuates itself. And you... and then at a certain point, you get in, you desert object-based economy for money-based economy, and that's a big shift. It's a big one. That book Caliban and the Witch that you borrowed from me is this amazing kind of like, critique of the burning times from a kind of post-Marxist, like, anti-capitalist framing of like, understanding that part of what was going on there was the shift to a cash economy. And what happened when suddenly labor was, rather than working in direct exchange for what you need to live, you're working for money to buy the things that you need to live. And that that's, you know, the roots of capitalism, the roots of a market economy. And it changes everything, especially because it means that there's a difference in value between labor that earns money and labor that doesn't earn money, namely, men's work and women's work at that point, right? Because men’s work earned money and women's work didn’t. It just raised the children and cooked the food and made everything else possible. And before there was money it was all like, none of it was for money. So all the work just made life possible. So it was all equally valued. And then suddenly money comes into the picture. And like, there's this difference between work that earns money and work that doesn't, and these power dynamics start to develop, and these hierarchies start to develop, and this way of relating to the earth as something that like, you can exploit if you're smart, and you can get money. And, and, I mean, it's big and vast, but I think it's, it's slow. Part of how it happened is that it was slow.
Eve: And it happened gradually over time. And many, many choices and many, many, like, small things happened that kept moving us in this direction to the point where now we are all so entrenched in it that we actually don't have other options, actually, without being willing to just completely sacrifice what we think of as our quality of life. And so the way that shows up for people is that they think they don't have options. They just play the game. Because they don't feel like they can do anything else.
And it's something I think about all the time. I mean, it's not like I have answers to this, you know, but... I do know that when I walk into a store, and there's an entire wall of different options of small cardboard boxes of grains with flavor packets. Like single-serving grains in plastic bags with little flavor packets in plastic bags, and there's like, 150 different options of like, rice pilaf.
And then on the next wall, there's 150 different options of sugar-coated cereal. And that's like, the accomplishment of our culture that's like, abundance, you know? It's like... that's where we got to from all of these series of like getting gradually more and more divorced from
growing food and, you know, living simply.
Lianne: Well, and what I'm thinking about again is how that then compromised our relationship to the numinous and spirituality. And I think a lot about capital and the extractive quality of it, and empire, and how that then led to... how it relates to scientific reductionism and materialism because that again, you know, I hear myself speaking and I, the binary is in my voice, which is to say, spirituality is non-rational, or I have to suspend rationality in order to engage with magical practices. And, again, why I'm having you here is because I, I love how you speak about these things where they start to feel entirely rational, and in fact, the only sane way to engage with the world.
Eve: I do think that's true. And I do think that the kind of lie that we've been sold that, like, places… like a mythological relationship to reality, and a mystical relationship to reality at odds with being reasonable and practical and intelligent and like functioning in the world, is... it's a mechanism of control. And because when people become divorced from their practices and from their root in an embodied relationship with… spirit that is Earth, like when those two... when all of that is integrated, you have a power that cannot be exploited or manipulated or conditioned into a consumer paradigm. You know, you're just not going to buy the bullshit when you have that kind of root, you know, and so that just won't do. And so that gets attacked very effectively over time. I mean, it took time. You know, there are still people on this planet that have that root, but they are being systematically divorced from it in one way or another, whether it's their lands being stolen and destroyed or their way of life being made impossible in some way, you know?
But it really took time because when you have that kind of relationship with the earth, and an understanding that that kind of relationship with the earth is a relationship to the numinous, that they're not separate. That's, that is a real source of authentic power. That will stand up for what it knows to be true at the expense of all else, because they know nothing else matters, actually. That they're not susceptible to like....
Lianne: It's to the earth and then to also your own embodied power.
Eve: That they're not separate, that they're the same thing. And there's an understanding that your body is the earth and the earth is your body. And that, that you can't draw a line between them.
Eve: You know?
Lianne: Well, it feels like a good segue to… I know you recently offered a workshop at Spirit Weavers called Reclaiming Eros: Sex with Self, Sex with God.
Eve: It's true.
Lianne: And you’re now on your way to becoming a Daoist sex monk. Less true, but not entirely inaccurate. You know, deeply engaged in the erotic basis of being programmed at MogaDao. So how do you see our sort of relationship to our sexuality as supporting what you just named about power and intrinsic power and connection to Earth, and the numinous.
Eve: Yeah, I really see it as a way back into that way of being. Because I think one, you know, one way of looking at what we're talking about is this notion, really, in what we understand as post-Daoist philosophy, of the Jing, which is the procreative sexual energy from which all other energy is sourced. And there's this understanding that the Jing is like when we’re talking about that aspect of the self that is immune to manipulation and exploitation, that's the Jing. And that when you are connected to your Jing, when your Jing is being lifted up into the field of Qi, then you're sourcing the energy that you're using to live from the part of yourself that cannot be manipulated and exploited. And so while on one hand likem ecstatic practice is amazing and this incredible pathway to the numinous, at an even more fundamental level, why I'm so interested in this work is because I feel like repairing the Jing-Qi bridge, which is clearly so damaged in our culture and in ourselves as individuals, and getting that connection healthy and flowing and really vital again, so that the Jing and the Qi are flowing up into the Shen and that fountain is moving and the energy is being sourced from that place, then that's a very concrete way of beginning to resource people into a place where they're going to be less susceptible to the bullshit. Because they're actually sourcing power from, like, what actually is power as opposed to what they've been sold.
Lianne: Procreative power.
Eve: Yeah. And so there's this way of then when you attune to your desire as a roadmap to your destiny of like, who you were born to be and what you were born to do, and suddenly, that's what you're orienting towards, then you're much less likely to get sold a bunch of bullshit that you don't need. Because the only way you can get sold a bunch of bullshit you don't need us if you're not in touch with that, and you don't think you're enough, and you don't believe in your own beauty and your own power and your own worth, and that you need to like buy the next thing in order to bandaid the pain of not being good enough, that they are perpetually keeping fed. And when you come into relationship with the Jing then suddenly that like, it just doesn't land as much. That's what I found in my own life and have watched happen in other people, that like, it just doesn't have the power it had before. Because, like, you have come into a relationship with your erotic nature, which is also the thing that embeds you into that web of life that we were talking about earlier, because that web of Eros, the web of erotic relationship is the same web that you connect to through ritual. It's that same web that I'm always like, looking to re-weave us into. Because when you have an understanding that you're woven into the web of life, then you want to serve it. It's really that simple. So whatever I can do to help us like, remember that and know that we're a part of that, and that all we really need to do is like nurture that in whatever way we're good at doing. Like, that's it. That's all I really know how to do. That's all that like, makes sense to me to do.
Lianne: I want to read a post of yours recently on Instagram that I think really beautifully captures what a lot of us are navigating in this time. You wrote: “Our house was on fire, and I love making strange magic art love, and I can't tell if it matters anymore, but I have to believe that it does. I am here to serve the wild mystery that dances between opposites, and I can feel the beauty we are capable of, and I can feel how far we have strayed from its true capacity. And I'm inspired every day, and I'm heartbroken every day, and how are you supposed to feel okay dancing, singing, cooking, loving, making, thinking in the kitchen when the whole damn house is on fire?”
Lianne: How do you... and how do you continue to think about ritual in this time? I know the course that you are offering with Isis is called Practical Magic for Strange Times, or Potent Times.
Lianne: And again, you know, I can feel the reductionist thinker in me wanting to get at: Well, is ritual saving us? Is it doing? How do you keep believing in the magic that you're sowing when, look who we have in office, and look what's happening in the Amazon?
Lianne: And as you say, how… I think a lot of us also, I mean, this is why Adrienne Maree Brown’s Pleasure Activism is so important because the impulse… it does feel like to watch this world, almost... How can one feel pleasure? If you feel pleasure, then are you actually plugged into the web of reality? Because the web of reality is suffering pretty hard right now.
Lianne: So how do you think about your magic? How do you… do you ever get caught up in that sort of outcome-oriented modality for the rituals that you create? And how can magic serve us in these times?
Eve: Yeah, I think about it all the time. And,you know, part of what I was getting at in that post is one of the things that I feel like I grapple with a lot, as I'm engaged in this deep study of
mythopoetic healing practice and ritual work and… is, you know, the way that the current state of affairs, the way that climate chaos and the ecological crisis, have this capacity to make things that otherwise feel so meaningful, seem irrelevant. And that that is such a strange thing to be grappling with, that it's like this work that I'm doing right now just feels like the most amazing, fascinating, meaningful work and at the same time, like, does it even matter, like, if the house is on fire? Like, does it matter that I'm meditating in the bedroom, you know, like, how does that work? And…
Lianne: And when you're creating your mandala of artifacts and praying around them and then seeing that the house is still on fire.
Eve: Totally. So the way that I have come to navigating this is -- and this came from a lot of really, like, deep kind of agonizing contemplation and inquiry and ritual practice is that it's actually… the trap is to have it be outcome-based. That's the thing that keeps you caught in the loop of relevancy and irrelevancy. It’s like, if the only thing that makes what I'm doing relevant is if it stops climate change, then I'm fucked. You know, because, like, that's not the scale that I'm operating on as a human being. And so this is where, like, attuning to the Dao is actually like, incredibly helpful for me because the Dao is this notion of like ultimate harmony, right? It's like the big, the biggest version of harmony. And so by orienting towards the Dao, towards this notion of harmony, and by cultivating sensitivity as a religious vocation, as a spiritual quality, that you cultivate sensitivity to such an extent that you can attune to the greatest harmony of any given situation and orient towards that, towards feeding that with everything that you do. Then I can't think of anything more to do than that. And you're not doing it because of what it's going to do. You're doing it because it's the right thing to do. Because that... it's the only thing to do. And if along the way it does some good, which inevitably it will, great, but that's not why you do it. You do it because it's bringing you into harmony with the largest forces.
So, for example, like a really small example, is like, if I stop using single-use plastic water bottles because I think it's gonna save the world. I'm just gonna get depressed, you know, because like, they're being used all the time. But if I stop using single use plastic water bottles, because it is clearly the way to come into harmony with the sacred elements of life and with the forces of the universe and like, how water moves and what plastic does, and that like, that is not the way for me to participate in the web of life in a way that brings me into harmony with the web of life, then that feels, like, really good. That is the right thing to do, and that's going to bring me one step closer into being in harmony. And so, and then I'm not getting caught up thinking about like, oh, but this and that and the other thing, which is not helpful. And it's a subtle shift in perception, you know? But it's like what I need to do in order to be sane. Because otherwise I just get caught in this loop of like, nothing I do is enough, nothing I do is enough, nothing is enough, nothing I do is enough. And, and instead, I have to orient towards participating in harmony within the largest web of life.
Lianne: Makes me think, that “practical” in the name of your course, the practical magic is really about practice. And what you're saying, you know, you create the ritual, not to have an outcome, but because living, doing ritual is the way to feed the Dao and is the way to live.
Eve: Absolutely. And in that core -- in the sermon path retreat, which is what you're talking about, there's a very clear progression of cultivating ritual practice as a way to come into alignment with your own own self. And we like, do ritual practice. First we travel up the kabbalistic Tree of Life, right, that's the serpent path is the path up the Tree of Life. And so the first... the beginnings of that journey are personal work. They're like engaging the intellect and the emotions and like clearing out the stuff that's like on a personal individual level using ritual practice, using prayer, using ritual technologies to like, clear out the personal so that you can begin to travel into the archetypal and align with -- we work specifically with the archetypes of the Healer and the Warrior as like, primary archetypes of the time that we're living in -- so that you can be available, so you clear out the personal so and then you use ritual practice to attune to the archetypal and to be able to align with these larger archetypal energies which allow you to participate with power in a harmonious way, with these forces, which then align you with your own purpose work, which allows you to be of service. So it's like this progression of utilizing different ritual technologies to do personal work, to put you in service something larger than your own self. You know, that's actually what's happening in that retreat. And so it's like, it's this... It's a journey of getting to the place where you're doing exactly what we're talking about, which is like, living in a way where you recognize your power in such a way that you want to put it to use on behalf of Life, you know?
Lianne: And when I find myself wanting to understand, okay, a ritualized technology, like, what is actually happening? How is that clearing my… you know, there’s sage, there’s whatever the technology is. So often I've been in ceremonies where we do this and it's like, I hereby release this thing, I release it! Right? And I say it. And then I, I wonder, right? Did I... did something just happen? Did I just release it? And I think about what you once said to me about prayer, which is echoing what you're saying about ritual, which is participation, that you're adding your voice to the liminal space and voice itself having a mystical quality and a resonance and a vibration. But… and this will be just the last question is, again to help tell the literal amongst us understand how a ritual technology works on us to do that work.
Eve: I mean, I'm certainly no expert. But, and there's many different ritual technologies, but since you spoke about the voice, and that's such a foundational one, you know, there's like, the only thing really that all the mystical traditions agree on is that the world is made of sound, right? Vibration. And there's so many different practices and technologies that have to do with utilizing sound vibration to participate in the shaping of reality. Whether it's the mouth harp, and the way that shamanic practitioners journey with mouth harp that vibrates the whole skull and like creates this crazy field of vibration. Or throat singing, or crystal singing bowls, or spoken prayer, or, you know, sacred seed sounds in Hebrew and in Sanskrit, you know, there's so many different ritual technologies that relate to sound and relate to sound vibration. [crackling noise] And...
Lianne: It’s our fire.
Eve: The crackling of the fire. And that first conversation that we had, you know, there's this way in which, really, some of my early experiences with psychedelics showed me what is now, like, I understand to be kind of foundational Daoist theory, philosophy. Which is this notion of like the space between opposites. And there's this force field that gets created between chaos and order, between action and reflection, between steadfastness and risk, right? There's these, like, dynamics that exist. And if you take that onto the larger scale of like the nature of reality, the thing that I feel with sound and language, like when you are using language to speak something into existence, I feel like language is this very fluid, very malleable, very flexible thread of sound that can find its way into those spaces between opposites, which is what -- the liminal, right? That's the space where reality is getting made. And it can find its way in there and participate in the reality that's getting made. And we don't know exactly how that works. But certainly there's, like so many traditions and so many practices that have to do with this very sophisticated understanding of the way sound vibration participates in the shaping of reality, right? Like 100,000 mystics can't be wrong, you know? It's like, there's something happening there.
And I don't claim to, like, scientifically understand it though there are some amazing many amazing things that have been written about it. For me I'm more speaking from this like, gut intuitive place of like, I can feel myself participating in the formation of reality in a way that is of service to something bigger than myself, and is calling out into the fertile void of like, this is… this is the sound that I'm making into the web of sound that's making everything and, and the way that language shapes consciousness and the way that consciousness shapes reality, there's a way that I do feel like holding it as mode of participating, that feels like, fertile and true. Because I'm not trying to be a master of anything. I'm not trying to tell reality what to do. Because I don't know what's best. I really don't. I just want to contribute, and I want to participate in a way that feeds the Dao. That feeds that largest possible harmony. And, and so these different technologies feel like ways to do that that's aligning with the multi dimensional magical nature of reality rather than fighting against it. With things that are counter to its fundamental nature, like single-use plastic water bottles.
Lianne: Mic drop.
Lianne: I would love to end it that way. But I just wanted to say… again, our culture also, which is so... Science has become a religion. And so there is this need that if there isn’t empirical evidence for something or if there isn't a fully scientific rational explanation for how the prayer and the sage function, then it is delegitimatized. And, you know, I think even part of reframing how we live is reframing the demand or the hubris that we have to know and to understand. And that you can't come at ritual and magic and spirit and this incredible web of life that is still more complex than we have the science to explain, there has to be a humility in coming to it and saying, I don't know how this works, but I know that what I've been given and told is the only thing that does work or can work certainly doesn't work, and doesn't even pretend to answer to the mystery of my soul. And so, again, it's like I have such a fierce rational intellect and a skeptic that wants to understand and have an explanation. And then I think at a certain point, you have to have the self-awareness and the reflection of the cultural paradigm that has shaped your consciousness with which you are coming to these practices to try to understand.
Eve: Totally. And I think, like, when I hear you talk, it's like, that part of you wants the rational explanation. But then there's this other part of you that would be so disappointed if there actually was a rational explanation for all of it. Because we need something that's beyond rational explanation, like we need it so much more than we need the hard science. Like, our soul needs to feel the vastness of the mystery that is so much bigger than the electron microscope. And that is so much bigger than the stock exchange. And that is so much bigger than anything the human mind can quantify. Because we feel it, we know that that's true. And so if every piece of magic could be like, reduced and explained, we’d be so sad. You know, we'd be so sad because it's so much bigger than that. And we're so small and we need that. It's actually like the most comforting thing is like, thank god it's so big.
Lianne: Right. Totally. Cuz mystery and vastness contain infinite possibility, which there is hope in that where there is not a lot otherwise. At the same time, I often think about magic as a classification, just like... as soon as, right, anything that we can explain we therefore say is no longer magic. But I can't explain how computers work. Most of... many people can, but I can't. Right, like at what point does that stop being magical, right? That all of we... I turn a knob and a waterfall comes out in my bathroom to cleanse me, I flick a switch and I bring light into darkness, right? These incredible... what is modernity is actually founded on incredibly magical phenomenon over and over that we just have found an explanation for. And god, imagine if we did find too much of an explanation for these more mystical powerful forces, we might not yield to them to the best use as we're seeing.
Eve: As we're seeing. Absolutely.
Lianne: Well, thank you so much, there's so much more. So I'm actually going to say that this was the part one. Because I would love to talk to you about village culture and culture-making, and mythopoetics and archetype, and really get so much more into your work and some of these ideas. So I look forward to having you back. And I'm just so grateful to be in conversation with you in this life.
Eve: Thank you, so rich and deep and such a beautiful opportunity to just explore ideas that we so often just don't take the time to really, like, navigate into. It's really, it's really a pleasure. So I look forward to more as well.
Lianne: If this episode turns you on, please subscribe, rate, and review us. It makes a huge difference. Then head to strippersandsages.com to learn more about our guests, sign up for our mailing list, access special resources and become a Patreon supporter, which would be very sexy of you. Special thanks to Ben Neufrat for scoring and mixing these episodes and to Lillia Tam and John Wolfstone for their production support. Stay sexy, folks.
Voice: I reach inside myself to know myself, to touch a self, to touch the world. To hold that impossible face inside my hands. I reach inside to hold the impossible world. I reach for the face of the world inside the horizon, inside my name, and touch a tender, unnamed, unknown thing.I reach inside myself in search of something real to know, in search of some remembering, some whispering, some pathway towards the one I'm meant to be. Reaching slow and tender towards the lover, inside the one who must come first. Fingertips brushing the petal tips of flowers wet with dew, pine boughs just after a rain, shaken onto the skin of my neck, enveloping my senses in the opening water. Asks of us always, allows for us always. This reaching is my only voice for now. These long arms are my language, my only language, to call your name. I reach inside a place I've never been, a place you cannot go to and return unchanged. The only place there is to reach, the only way there is to know. Born of desire, of necessity, of no other way to go. The muscles of this expansion reach beyond their own capacity and into unknown asking, seeking unknown offering. Quiet, careful exploration of cave walls in the dream-damp darkness. Markings here and there, left by those who came before, speaking across time into these hands that linger, follow, falter, halting only momentarily. Then seek a place deeper than finding. For now, this reaching is all I know, all I have, and all that I can offer. Open palms asking only to be filled with empty soft curves. To become by being filled, to be made in the reaching, to be turned into offering the moment contact is made.
Transcription: Part 2
Eve: We all come from sex! Like, nobody doesn't. And so there's this like, really tragic, internalized self-hatred that develops.
Sex is bigger than sex. Something is happening here that is sacred, and that is mysterious, and that deserves a ritual context. That it isn't just procreation, that it isn't just pleasure, that it isn't just even ecstasy, that there's more to it. There's something mystic, there's something spiritual, there's something ritualized that can happen there.
Lianne: I'm Lianne. Welcome to Strippers and Sages.
I'm so thrilled to welcome Eve Lady Apples Bradford back to the show. This is part two of our conversation and we go a little deeper into this concept of the erotic basis of being. Eve talks about her work in depth sexology and as a linear carrier of the MogaDao tradition. She also shed some historical light on how we arrived at our current state of sexual affairs. To be in conversation with Eve is always an intellectual tour de force and I hope that you find this conversation as nourishing and enlightening as I did.
Hi, Eve, welcome back.
Eve: Thank you, so glad to be here.
Lianne: So I'm back with Eve, sitting in front of her fireplace in Santa Fe. So you might hear the crackle, which I think is very romantic and erotic, apropos for this conversation. And Eve gave a wonderful interview that got cut short and we're sort of just getting into the erotic. And Eve also recently certified as a MogaDao sexology, Daoist sexology teacher. What is the term, the title that you have?
Eve: Depth sexuality.
Lianne: Okay, so you are -- and a teacher of?
Eve: Yes. Certified teacher of depth sexuality.
Lianne: Well, that seems like a great place to just dive right in. What... the term depth sexuality, what does that mean to you and within this tradition?
Eve: Yeah, so it's definitely intentionally linking itself to the notion of depth psychology. And so, in the way that, you know, when Zhen was creating MogaDao, she was very steeped in Jungian archetypal psychology and people like James Hillman have been a huge influence on her along with, you know, Daoist... traditional Daoist texts, and also, you know, Walt Whitman and Sappho and there's a wide variety of influences, but... So this notion of really, like, validating sexual as a field of depth, inquiry depth work, is really the intention behind that name. And this understanding that sexuality itself is this field as vast and intricate and integral to health as psychology. So that sexuality is not just the art of pleasure, it's not just orgasmic skill. You know, it's, in fact, this field that is foundational to notions of health, notions of wellbeing, notions of vitality, and also, like, on the personal individual scale and also on the social cultural scale. So that, that our relationship to our sexual energy and to sexual expression, sexual embodiment, is integral to societal and cultural health as well as personal individual health. And so this field of depth sexuality intentionally engages and addresses all of that.
Lianne: So for someone who might not see what those connections are, what does my sexuality have to do with our society and how it functions? How might you expand on that relationality?
Eve: Yeah. So there's a couple of ways to look at it. One... in the most obvious, I mean, it's interesting in this moment, right, Harvey Weinstein just got, you know...
Lianne: Somewhat punished?
Eve: Yeah, I mean, he, you know, he actually was booked. And so, if we look at, like, this cultural moment, it's this moment where there's so much awareness around the brokenness of our shared sexuality. And that, you know, one perspective on the wounding within our culture is that it is an Eros wound, and that this approach to sexuality is one approach to healing that wound, that, that there's not... that our relationship culturally and individually to our sexuality is so broken from such a profound history of oppression and repression and vilification and misunderstanding and shaming and religious dogma and generational accumulation of trauma and, and wound around these issues, that there's just a huge, like, dearth of health around sexuality. So that's like one very obvious thing.
The maybe perhaps less obvious way in which personal relationship to sexuality and to our erotic nature is implicated culturally and socially has to do with this understanding of the Jing of the post-- of the procreative energy, the sexual energy that is the foundation of Qi and Shen, of lifeforce energy and cosmological energy, that they’re in fact all Jing as it moves up through the body, up through the field of energy into the field of expression. That the Jing... there's this understanding particular to post-Daoist philosophy that the Jing is pure potential, it's inviolable and therefore it is not susceptible to manipulation, to exploitation, to conditioning, and even to trauma. That the way we understand it, that there's a pathway that the Jing travels on its way to becoming Qi, that we call the Jing-Qi bridge, that is damageable. That is what gets impacted by trauma by conditioning by exploitation. But the Jing itself is inviolable. And so when we engage in practices that connect us to our Jing and begin sourcing the energy that we're using to live on a day to day basis from the Jing, then that creates a certain inviolability in the self.
And as the Jing-Qi bridge gets healed -- which most people in our culture at this time, as I was talking about with the Eros wound, have some damage, some trauma, some shatterment in their Jing-Qi bridge -- as that becomes healed through practice, which, you know, we have specific practices that are for healing that, then... and as you become more connected to the Jing, as the Jing becomes more fluidly connected to the field of Qi, then there's a way in which our own sovereignty grows, because we're sourcing energy. And, therefore, embodiment and intelligence and intuition and sensitivity and power, all are emerging from this inviolable source. And so that means that we're less susceptible to things like marketing, and late stage capitalism, propaganda and cultural conditioning and ideas that don't actually originate from our own authentic source, which is the Jing. So they... what I find personally, and in observing people in these practices, is that it's like those aspects of being don't have as much traction. They're not as sticky when you are really in intimate communication with the Jing.
And this has happened for myself, one really clear way that that's happened has been with my relationship to my body and body image, which is something that I've struggled with my whole life, as so many of us have. And it was one of those things that seems sort of like impossible to actually address on a baseline level. Like, I could tell myself that I accepted myself and love myself a million times, but it didn't really feel true, actually, if I'm really honest about it. Until I started engaging in this work. And it's almost hard to explain how it's like, almost hard to remember how it used to be. Because it's just not like that anymore. And it's so foundational, that it's, it's below the level of intellect. It's below the level of will. It's not something that I willed. It's like somehow these things that don't originate from my authentic truth just don't really stick anymore. Because the source of my energy is my authenticity. And so anything that isn't my authenticity, like, just kind of doesn't really have a grip.
Lianne: Including toxic thoughts about your own body and your own self.
Eve: Definitely, profoundly so, and that's one example. But there's many.
Lianne: Of course. Yeah, and as you were talking... also less susceptible to our own cravings or our own... how, if we do not have a self, a healthy or intact sexuality, how that manifests, as we see with the Weinstein trials and so many others, and so that it's less susceptible, we could say, to the dark, inauthentic side of human sexuality as well. And I'll probably just say this in the intro, but I'm gonna slip it in now, which is, you know, for, for listeners who maybe are unfamiliar with these terms and this idea of Jing, or maybe don't know how to engage with them or believe in them, at its core, what we're talking about is just your own body knowledge and your own desire and how that manifests in your body. And it's similar to intuition, right? And so I think you said in Part One, how it's just simply being in touch with the desire but really an authentic, pure form of that that can also lead us to our destiny, and make us as you're saying, less susceptible to these traps. So.
Lianne: Thank you.
Well, while we're on the topic, what... if someone wants to practice with you like, what does it mean? What does it look like to... what are the practices that help one restore that Jing-Qi connection, or in general terms just connect deeply to their authentic sex?
Eve: So, as you might imagine, it's a many-fold path. When there is acute trauma in the field, or even, maybe not even necessarily biographical trauma, but enough influence of what we sometimes call atmospheric trauma, which is like not something that happens specifically to you in your life. But the impact of, you know, having a president that talks about grabbing women by the pussy for example. If... that can also result in shatterment of the Jing-Qi bridge, it doesn't have to be acute biographical trauma. So, but if there's, you know, if we... like if I'm working with someone and it's clear or if someone is clear that there's that level of foundational work to do. Then we begin with a Qigong set called Three Pillars Qigong for anxiety and trauma that is a really beautiful set of fifteen Qigong forms organized into three sets that are for, like, extremely acute trauma. And then that's called parasympathis, and then neurogenesis, which is like beginning the healing process, and then reintegration, which is like when you're ready to kind of like actually integrate back into risking desire again.
Lianne: And before you get into other forms, for someone just tuning in to the conversation, what is Qigong?
Eve: Well, Qigong is an ancient Daoist energy practice, it's a moving meditation, it's a medicine, medical form. As well as Mogadao Qigong in particular, this lineage that I work inside of, is also a mythopoetic, and a psychospiritual Qigong, which is one of the things that kind of makes it distinct from most other lineages. There's some conjecture among us that, that most likely, this is actually true of the route of Qigong, though we don't know it for sure. But we do know that under Mao in the Cultural Revolution in China, that anything dubbed “superstition,” which was basically anything spiritual or mystical, was criminalized and stripped from the culture. So it's, it seems likely that that is when the kind of deep spiritual mysticism that is clearly inherent in Qigong was stripped from it, and became a kind of like calisthenic medical Qigong that is most common in the US and in China today. So this is Qigong that, you know, one way of seeing it is that it has been reunited with its authentic shamanic route as a mystical practice. But it is also medical, it's working on the organs based on five-element kind of TCM, traditional Chinese medicine theory. But at its heart, it's a, it's a moving meditation and healing practice.
Lianne: Beautiful. And so you start with... there's a trauma series for acute trauma, for the shatterment of what we call the Jing-Qi bridge, but also our connection to our authentic sexuality.
Eve: Exactly. And then there are other forms. So then once that initial healing work has been done to create, basically what that form does, is it, it gets us to a place where we have an embodied understanding that the body is a safe place to be. Because so much trauma makes us leave the body. And it's very hard to do deeper work with your sexuality when you have a hard time staying in your body. So for people who have a hard time staying in their body, this is where we start. And this form really, it's profound, how effective it is in that in terms of helping people stay in their body, and begin to develop the internal neurological, psychospiritual resources to be able to navigate the general normal risks of life. Which, when you're deeply traumatized, will just re-traumatize you. So, you know, you get back -- with this form, you get to the point where you're ready to engage with desire. To engage with the risks of disappointment and of hurt, you know, of pain that go along with risk of desire, you know? That are a part of life, that when you're deeply traumatized feel like too much. Feel like you just can't even go there. Right? So this first form is to get you to the point where you're like, ready for that. And ready for the non-disappointment, the ecstasy and the pleasure and the joy also. But with an understanding that that's, that's what you kind of sign up for when you, when you enter into the states of vulnerability that are necessary to engage with authentic sexuality. And so that's Three Pillars. Then you actually emerge into the field of depth sexuality work proper. And there are
multifaceted approaches to that, so -- that all really work together. So the foundational practice is something we call Jing Retrieval, which is a seated, usually seated breathing meditation, working with the Wein Gate. Which is the pubococcygeal muscle complex, sometimes called the perineum, like, sometimes understood as the muscles used to do a kegel, though, there's a slight difference in what you're actually doing with the musculature, but it's, it's a familiar musculature to people that are at all familiar with sexual practice.
Lianne: So go -- so once you've evolved past the trauma series and gotten to a state when you're ready to engage, now you're in the realm of depth sexology.
Eve: Right. So basically, we're working on lifting the Jing into the field of Qi and beginning to... and so basically, connecting to authentic desire and allowing it to move up into the body, into expression, into not only sexual expression, but also creative expression. Also the vitality, lifeforce, vibrancy. And so there's a meditation practice called Jing Retrieval that works with breathing and with the musculature of the sexual anatomy in time with breathing. There's something called erotogenic yoga, which, there's a real understanding in this work of the importance of bloodflow, and what a role bloodflow plays both biophysically and psychologically, in terms of, you know, notions that male-anatomied people work with in terms of so-called impotency, so-called premature ejaculation. Blood-flow plays a huge role in that, as well as with female-anatomied people in terms of arousal patterns, accessibility of arousal, lubrication, all of these like, foundational sexual issues. And so erotogenic yoga is this amazing program that works with that and is not itself a sexual practice, but it's, it's like training for sexuality. And it's a really beautiful practice. And then there are sexuality Qigong forms, two different ones. One, the Eros bridge form, that's for bridging into and out of intense sexuality, for working with sexual trauma, for really just connecting to your erotic sensual body. The form itself is not explicitly sexual, but it engages and sort of builds our relationship with our sexuality.
And then there's the epicene form, which is a Qigong form that itself can be an intensely sexual practice with arousal as a part of it. Though, again, there's a spectrum of how you can practice it. And then in addition to that, there's the depth sexuality massage protocols for both male and female anatomies which also are incredible for just general health of the sexual anatomy, bloodflow, tissue health, making contact with your, like sexual nature with no pressure for performance, no pressure for arousal, it's really just about building the relationship. And all of these practices exist on a spectrum from therapeutic to ecstatic, and, and can be practiced kind of anywhere on that spectrum, depending on your needs, on any given day, in any given moment.
Lianne: Thank you. As a student of this tradition myself, I want to say, what you just said about the engagement, that I can span the spectrum, and any of the practices can, and that a lot -- it's practice. And I'll say that my own engagement with this work, without even without even buying into the philosophy or the energetics of the Jing-Qi bridge, I think there's something really powerful about doing -- in some ways any practice, though this tradition is quite potent, and has a lot of layers to it, to spending that time with yourself in a way that is not goal-oriented, and, you know, about learning and toning the body. And that, I think for listeners, you know, there's so many people listening to the show with their own different stories, but something that I think a lot of people, and perhaps a lot of women can relate to is performance anxiety, including with yourself, with your own self-pleasure practice. And so getting to intimately start to spend time down there, as like a granny would say, and, you know, intimately starting to spend time with the energetics of your sex, and with these physical... the massage and the yoga and just starting with bloodflow has been a really great gateway for me into, then, the practice of self-pleasure and the expansion available there.
Eve: Yeah, I, it's so important. The, the lack of pressure to perform is so crucial for sexual health to allow yourself in -- I mean, when do we ever find ourselves in a context where we are engaging sexually without some pressure? It doesn't really happen. And so when you first enter into that space with yourself, and you kind of realize the spaciousness that exists around like, there's no pressure for me to even get turned on. Like, I'm just... this is self care.
Eve: You know, this is making contact with this part of myself that it's so easy to feel so far from in life for any wide variety of reasons, be it trauma, be it insecurity, be it stress, be it, you know, challenges in your life outside of your sexuality that just keep you from being able to feel sexual at all. And that's the amazing thing about, in particular the massage protocols, which are very specific to this lineage and come from, you know, decades of exploration by our teacher Zhen. They are so nurturing. You know, it's like this incredible way to love yourself where, like, just to engage with your sexual anatomy, in this loving way where there's no expectation of it to do anything or to like, get anywhere other than where it is. And in fact, what you're doing is like,
just nurturing its health. It's such a different way of relating to our sexual body, you know? And
our sexual body requires loving care, you know? And then what you realize is that when you engage in this way, when the... when arousal feels really far away, that's actually the place that builds pleasure potential more strongly than anything else. Because what you notice is like, it gets closer.
Eve: You know, when, especially when you engage in a way where it's like, it's fine if it doesn't get closer.
Eve: Then it actually just starts to happen because of that openness, and that lack of pressure.
Lianne: Mmhmm. Yeah. And it it speaks to that horribly oppressive history that we are all climbing our way out of right now, that self-care in that region would not be a given and a granted, right? Like we have Phys Ed, we're dealing... every other part of our body’s got a specialist and a thing, and we're like, yeah, I gotta do my foot reflexology. So I'm wondering for you personally, well, we heard about your upbringing a bit in the first part of this conversation. I don't know that Eve at Andover would look forward a couple decades and see, yeah, I'm going to end up a depth sexologist.
I would love to know at what point you started to think about sex as an -ology, and with depth behind it. Whether that is something that emerged from your encounter with MogaDao or prior, and you know, if you could just speak more about the influences to that and how you think about that, also, beyond this tradition that we're talking about.
Eve: You know, it's funny actually, I think the Eve at Andover wouldn't have been a bit surprised. When I was five years old, I asked my mother if I could watch her have sex. So...
Lianne: What’d she say?
Eve: No. [laughter] But to her great credit, she did not shame me for asking. She, she honored that it was a reasonable thing to ask, you know, that, that there was nothing wrong with me for asking that of her, which, I have great reverence and respect for that.
Lianne: Hmm. Do you remember that time? What was...?
Eve: Oh, yeah. I mean, I was fascinated by sex at it from a very young age. And that has never changed, really. And when I was young, kind of a... I mean, all the way through my childhood and my teenage years, I had, like, more sexual energy than I knew what to do with and it was hard because I was also like, struggling with body image and was kind of bigger and not seen as conventionally attractive in my very like, you know, white, skinny blonde lacrosse player high school. So it was hard because I had all this sexual energy and not a lot of, like, outlets to explore it.
Lianne: Did you, did you identify it as sexual energy?
Eve: Yes, totally. And I was really attracted to women from a young age, and didn't really know what to do with that, also. And I mean, I was kind of attracted to everybody, truth be told. And I just wanted to be so much more sexual than I had the opportunity to be, you know, I always masturbated. But I also, like, wanted more. And I wasn't necessarily being given access to more and that was really challenging as a young person. And sometimes it led to me making some kind of less than super great choices for myself in order to be able to explore sexuality, sometimes I would make choices to do that with people that maybe weren't the best partners for me. Because I was so interested in what was happening, you know, that I would make compromises. And so there's a way in which it has always felt to me, like sexuality had something to do with what I was up to.
I've had a connection to this sort of like, you know, priestess-whore archetype since I was very young, and had no idea what to do with it. Anywhere that I saw, sort of, like, quote unquote, “Sacred Sexuality” being repped in the world, I was pretty turned off by... it either seemed cheesy, or sketchy, or super heteronormative and none of those things, like, interest me at all. And so I was sort of walking around with this, like, archetype, like banging around inside my skull not knowing what to do with it. And I remember, like, having conversations with my aunt who has always been sort of this like, mentor guide in my life, she like got me my first tarot deck when I was eight, you know, and she's kind of been that person in my life. And I remember I was in a relationship in my 20s. And I remember having a conversation with her where I was, like,
just grappling with the fact that there was like some part of me that knew that this was not the only way that I was meant to engage with sexuality, like in a one-on-one intimate relationship, that there was like more to it. But I didn't know what that was. And I didn't know how to locate it, and how to explore that. And, you know, I did some reading, and I like... but I just, I think part of me just maybe was waiting. Because in my life, that's how it's kind of gone, is like. when it's time for something, it shows up. You know, and I'm pretty proactive about things, but I also like, I'm attuned to how things arise, you know?
And so when I came upon the work of MogaDao, and Zhen, as a trans female hermaphroditic sexuality teacher, there was something about her, and her archetype, and her being, that I immediately was like, Okay, this is someone I can learn from, actually, because I was always so confined by the gender norms within sexuality, they just have never rung true to me. It never made sense to me, that someone's gender would be the thing that determined whether or not I was attracted to them in a really fundamental way, and my partners have been the full spectrum. of the... of gender. And I love that. Like it, it really honestly makes no sense to me why you would only ever be with one kind of person. And I know that that's not true for everyone and I, no part of me thinks it should be. But it's very true for me personally. And so there was something about someone who had lived as a cisgendered man for the better part of their adult life, and then gone through this transition, and was hormonally intersex, so had this understanding of arousal patterns of both male and female, so-called, people and was able to translate across those borderlands in a way that was so perceptive and so intelligent and nuanced and subtle. That suddenly I felt like I came into a place where my sexuality was actually allowed to be itself. And to not be trying to get categorized and restricted and turned into like, some kind of like men are from Mars, women are from Venus kind of nonsense, which like, never made sense to me.
And so then, you know, and I've done a lot of ritual work, I've done a lot of ceremonial work, I've facilitated a huge range of individual and group ritual work. And it always felt erotic to me. So this notion, this phrase that Zhen uses, “The erotic basis of being,” that was the phrase that got me here. I saw an ad online for a workshop and all I saw was the phrase “The erotic basis of being,” I didn't know anything about her work, I didn't know anything about who she was as a person. But I saw that phrase and it spoke deeply to me, because I was like, okay, somebody is thinking about sexuality in a way that is more expansive than anything I've seen. And so that phrase is really foundational to, to what's happening here for me, which is this understanding that sex is everything, and that it's also... like, the sex act is not the point. And you know, I teach this class now called Reclaiming Eros: Sex with the Self, Sex with God. And it's been this incredibly beautiful journey of coming into relationship with this archetype that I have sort of been grappling with my whole life of, like, what it really is to be a mystic in the modern world who is fully engaged with their sexual energy in a way that is healthy. That is feeding vitality, that is feeding inspiration, that's feeding sovereignty, that's feeding sensitivity and power and ability to harmonize. You know, all of that actually comes from sex. And when sex gets integrated into the whole in a healthy way, then yes, there's extraordinary potential for like, insane, ecstatic experience. For sure. That's awesome, you know, and it's hugely contributing to vitality and joy, and life force.
But it's also actually not totally the point, for me. It's like a bonus, right? The point is what happens when you come into a healthy relationship with your sensual body and your erotic nature and your sexual capacity as a person. In... every aspect of your life gets influenced by that. And that's what I'm really interested in, is that... is the healing of the interconnectedness of all of it. So that sexuality gets healthily integrated into everything, which is where it belongs. As opposed to, like, shut off in a corner of the bedroom or the closet or the strip club, you know.
Lianne: All right. So everybody pause and go sign up for that class, Reclaiming Eros. Um, gosh, there's so much I want to ask you. Let's start with... we're gonna loop back to five-year-old you at some point. I have more, fill in the blank between then and now. But as you're, as you're speaking about this idea of, you know, sex in the corner of the bedroom, which is probably where most people think it belongs. And because I know that you're a brilliant academic as well. Can you... why? How did we get here? What are the many influences when you reflect on how we got stuck in this corner in our culture?
Eve: Oh, yeah.
Lianne: You want me to get you a drink? For that one?
Eve: It's so big, and like, kind of heartbreaking, you know, because, like it didn't have to be this way. You know, and it just, it makes me so sad. But it's a complex combination of, basically the intersection of the historical development of capitalism and religion. And those two forces working together to demonize sexuality and in particular female sexuality and female power. Which, by disempowering female sexuality and female power, you equally disempower male sexuality and male power, because they actually aren't separate. And so while it might seem on one hand, that, you know, men got away with it, and women didn't, it's actually not true at all. Everybody suffered. Everybody's broken. Everybody's sexuality is compromised because of that wound.
And there's a book that you borrowed from me once that I can't recommend highly enough, which is called Caliban and the Witch, which is a brilliant kind of historical survey of the intersection between the development of capitalism and specifically kind of the burning times in Europe is what it focuses on, but it really makes clear this intersection of the insidiousness of, of commerce and capitalism and market-based economy with religious dogma and Christian, particularly Christian notions of sin, and the body as separate from the spirit. And women as, you know, base, more base creatures who are more at the whim of sexual, sensual urges closer to the earth, closer to the body, closer to the devil, and men as creatures who are further from those things and closer to the intellect and closer to the pure spirit and closer to God, and how that separation and the devaluation of women and women's work and women's way of being was essential to capitalism. And it's, it's a very illuminating survey.
Lianne: How is it in service of capitalism?
Eve: Okay, so basically...
Lianne: I've tried to have this conversation with my mother, who, I know you're listening. So now we're going to the source. ‘Cause I’ve failed.
Eve: So basically as I understand it, before a cash-based economy, there was a much more equal valuing of labor. So everybody was just working to make life happen. Men were working the land, women were tending the home, raising the children, and it was all equally important, because it was all making life possible. When the system shifted, and instead of people working land in exchange for the fruits of the land, property was privatized, and people were made to work land that they didn't own in order to be paid money in order to buy the things that they needed, then this division began to exist between work that was paid and work that was not paid, which was basically men being paid for their labor, and women not being paid for their labor. They were just raising the children and tending the home, which was necessary, but it, it wasn't paid. And so that was where the kind of division began. And that was the roots of capitalism and the roots of a market-based economy where we're in that shift away from labor to money.
Then, at the same time, and this is where things get complex and where this might be like a deeper critique than we really have time and space for here. But basically, the devaluation of women was also necessary. Like it didn't just sort of happen organically, it was necessary to control certain aspects of the population who were not down for this, you know, who, and, and women in particular who were not down for this, you know? And women in particular were not down for this. And so there was this kind of really top-down, I mean, what eventually became a massacre, but it started gradually, of women, as, like, there were all these insidious ways to devalue and to undermine the inherent intelligence and value of women that created the kind of schism that was necessary in order to make capitalism work. Because as long as women were as powerful as men, like, that arrangement wasn't gonna fly. And again, this book like, breaks it down really well.
There's also another book called Women and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin. That's profound and amazing, and it's like a book-length prose poem. But it's also meticulously researched. And there's this section in the, in the first section of the book where it lists all these dates that are interwoven, like it's the same period of time in Europe that it'll be like, you know, this day, I think it's like, it's from like the 13th through the 1500s. And it's all these overlapping dates of this scientific revolution and the burning times. And how they utterly are interwoven with this separation of spirit and matter, and the separation into like, you know, the kind of Cartesian, like Galileo, like these early scientific thought pioneers who created everything into like a system that could be understood and quantified, was happening at the same time that women were being vilified for having traditional knowledge and for contradicting those ways of being and were in fact, like, you know, burnt by the thousands. And so all of that is to say, there was this inextricable association of women with sexuality that was created by the church. And this... particularly because, you know, priests were celibate, right? So they couldn't have sex. So there's this vilification of sexuality that happens meticulously over generations.
Where... yeah, I mean, it's so sick, you know, because it's like, we all come from sex! Like nobody doesn't. And so there's this, like really tragic, internalized self-hatred that develops, because every one of us comes from sex. And so when sex gets vilified, then, you know, this concept of original sin, that like we start out bad, right? And our whole life is like, trying to make up for that, and part of why that's so useful is if you think about systems of control and manipulation on a cultural societal level, if people believe that they're somehow flawed, then they’re... they start out divorced from their sovereignty. They start out disempowered automatically. And especially with the church, if the church is the one that can help them save themselves from their inherently like, sinful nature, then it sets up this very effective power dynamic. Where people are beholden to the church to try to like get their asses into heaven and save themselves from the eternal damnation that they are bound for simply because they come from sex, right? And so, it becomes this very effective method of control. And then, you know, moving onwards if, if there's this association of women with sex, then there's this lack of powerful cohesion within the familial unit, particularly when we're talking about people who are working poor. That their... it undermines the potential of people to unite against these systems of control when there's these internalized divisions and associations where it's like, you're keeping yourself at a distance from someone because they're closer to the devil than you are.
Lianne: Hmm. Yeah. And for those of... I mean, for those of us who don't come from the church, right, it's irrelevant because we're all in this complete aftermath that has also become quite globalized.
Eve: Absolutely, I mean, even if you have no affiliation with any kind of religious dogma, you're in it. It pervades our entire culture.
Lianne: And so do you have a sense of time before that cultural phenomenon occurred? Whether there were moments of history when, I mean, as I asked this question, and I want to also hear like, what does a sexually healthy society look like in your fantasy of utopia? And are there moments in history where sexuality was... when we were in right relation with it? In European history.
Eve: I mean, yeah, it's hard to say with any kind of, like, actual certainty in a way, certainly healthier. I would say, you know, and it tends to be kind of... you know, there's... it's complex. You know? I mean, if you look, from what I understand, like in ancient Egypt, there weren't really stigmas around incest, there weren't really stigmas around, you know, men and women both like shaved their heads and went naked, wearing only, like, perfume and jewelry and wigs, you know? I mean, so, there have been these times of like, much more freedom around sexual expression. To know what it really felt like to live inside of these cultures is trickier. I mean, there were also like, huge amounts of slaves in ancient Egypt. So it's like, it's not like there's some soft-lit utopia, you know? But certainly pre-Christianity, certainly pre-industrialization, certainly pre-imperial takeover. There was less of a, or rather there was more of a reverence for women, for sexuality as part of life. I mean, from everything I understand from researching pre-Christian Europe, that was definitely more present there, it’s not like everything was perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But certainly, if you basically, if you go into most cultures before Christianity showed up, and before imperial culture showed up, things are much more interesting, much healthier. It doesn't mean there aren't still some strange gender dynamics at play. For sure. It doesn't mean there aren't some strange social hierarchies at play. You know, I don't want to over-romanticize it, but certainly healthier. Yeah.
Lianne: So there's two questions I want to ask you. I'm going to ask them both on record here. And then you can either answer one or both.
Lianne: How long your answers are, to be mindful of your time. One I want to ask, I would love for you to tell us about Mary Magdalene. I see, I know she's come up in our private conversations and is a mystery to me. And I think a lot of people ask in regards to this topic. I would also love to hear how you personally, in learning this history, and let's say before you came into this work with MogaDao, which we've heard so much about, like how, how did these, how did these, how did these histories play into your personal life, and how have you worked to evolve beyond them?
Eve: They're definitely connected, those questions. Magdalene is this very sort of shrouded historical figure in terms of any kind of like factual surety. There's lots of conjecture. There's lots of stories, most of which I've read at this point, about different ideas about her life and who she really was and what really went down and, and I think more important than any kind of like, historical accuracy is this clear necessity for the archetype. And how interesting it is that the archetype that has presented itself as the female counterpart of the most influential male spiritual figure in recent history, not so recent history, you know?
Lianne: Christ, not Obama, guys.
Eve: Right. [laughing] Christ. And you know, he's in an elite club, maybe with like Buddha and Muhammad, Moses, you know, there, there's a gang, but he's right up there for sure. And how interesting it is that, that the archetype that really presents itself is of the priestess-whore. You know, and that that's such a part of her archetype, that sexuality is this necessity in that field somehow. And obviously, there's a lot of contention around this, particularly when you look at narratives around the early Christians, and the way that the church got formed after the crucifixion. You know, and again, there's like, whether you believe it was historical or not, like if you go into the archetype of the story, and different versions of how it went down. And how Magdelene was kind of invalidated or made lesser than, when in many of the narratives there's a lot of pretty clear indications that she was an equal to Christ, and was a healer and mystic and leader in her own right. And, and so, I think she holds this mystique for a lot of people, a lot of women in particular who don't have an identifying archetype in that story, right? And, and so she's become this kind of like, beacon of what that might be, you know, of what, like, where we fit into the story, you know, not just as like the virgin or the acolyte, you know, but as like a fully empowered figure of spiritual depth and potency in her own right. You know, and, and the fact that there's this thread of the, of the sexual priestess in her archetype is, you know, of extreme significance.
And so, one of the ways that I've heard her story told is through this notion of being able... like, making a spiritual practice out of being able to find the beloved, the sacred beloved in any human, and serving that as an embodiment of the deity of the Divine Principle. And that being a role of the sacred prostitute, the sacred whore, the sexual priestess, and the notion of sexual rights as a part of the religious mysteries, as a part of the spiritual mysteries, and why would that be? You know, what's that about? The ancient fertility rites involve these embodiments of divine principles in human form as a way of reenacting creation stories, reenacting fertility rites reenacting the like... you know, in many different cultures, in all different traditions, there's an annual, like, revivification of the world, a reenactment of the creation story, a bringing back to life of the world in some form. This is across cultures.
And, and so I think there's something about her that holds this potential for those of us who have a felt sense that there's more to sex than sex. But we look around and it's like, hard to find any teaching or any evidence or any like, way to follow that thread. You know, it's really hard. And, and somehow, you know, she has become this kind of beacon of that, I feel like, for many of us. You know, I was like, okay, we're not crazy, we can feel that sex is bigger than sex, that something is happening here that is sacred, and that is mysterious, and that deserves a ritual context, that it isn't just procreation, that it isn't just pleasure, that it isn't just even ecstasy. That there's more to it. There's something mystic, there's something spiritual, there's something ritualized that can happen there. And, and so, again, you know, for me personally, that's what drew me to her, was this felt sense of like, I don't even know how to explain what I'm feeling, I just have this knowing that there's more to this.
And I even at times have gotten myself into situations where I was sort of playing out stories of hers without realizing it, because something in me was like, needed to find this. Like some pretty questionable things, you know, like engaging with total strangers in semi-public situations. Like, almost as if I was in a trance, you know, and because there was like something that my, my soul was driving towards, that I didn't understand and that I didn't have any mentorship in. And, and so I think there's this necessity to bring this kind of like, what to me I've come to understand as like, ritual transgression into the field, as a way of reclaiming power from these oppressive ideologies and dogmas that have so, like, disrespected our power in these areas for so long, that it feels like there's this real necessity to reclaim that in some way that is undeniable. And that that takes power back in this way that says no, your rules do not apply to me, actually. I am not held within the framing of my sex, or my gender, or my capacity, or my spiritual potency, like no, actually. And so, I think it's from that place that, that we begin to reach towards these archetypes that are both spiritual and mystical and even religious, and are also sexual and transgressive and unacceptable in a certain way.
Lianne: Well, ending on ritualized transgressions seems like a really good idea. I just wanted to ask, what age did you encounter Mary Magdalene?
Eve: Oh, I think my first real, like, experience of her as like, somebody that was a part of me was probably in my early 20s, mid 20s. I... again, a book, The Moon Under Her Feet, was kind of the first, like, Magdalene narrative that found its way into my world. And it's an amazing book. I've read it many times, and there's many others, but that was the first one, by Clysta Kinstler that really sort of started me kind of noticing that. And the other one that I really recommend, as are called the Maeve Chronicles. It’s a four-book series, it's a big commitment, they're big books, but they're so good. The first one is called Magdalen Rising, and it takes... it's four books, and it takes you through her entire life and they're profound, really, really amazing books.
Lianne: Great. Well, we will attach a reading list to this episode for sure. And perhaps in a few months, we can do a Part Three and get deeper into... now we've gotten so, so big with these ideas and how they played out personally, because I think that that will be a really inspiring and enriching narrative for listeners as well. So thanks so much for, again, sharing yourself with us, and it's always an honor to be in conversation with you.
Eve: Thank you, so mutual.
Lianne: If this episode turns you on, please subscribe, rate, and review us. It makes a huge difference. Then head to strippersandsages.com to learn more about our guests, sign up for our mailing list, access special resources, and become a Patreon supporter, which would be very sexy of you. Special thanks to Ben Neufrat for scoring and mixing these episodes, and to Lilia Tam and John Wolfstone for their production support. Stay sexy, folks.