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A Review of 'Radical Ecstasy'

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

A book about the intersection od BDSM and mysticism

cover of Radical Ecstasy

I have to confess that, at times, I have felt a little bit jaded about the whole scene thing. You know, the old “being there, done that” feeling. So reading this book was like a breath of fresh air: it showed me how much I have to learn, and how much further I can go in the world of BDSM.

It’s titled “Radical Ecstasy” and its authors are two hardcore, old-time players, Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy. It’s published by Greenery Press, a company that has put out there a bunch of books on kink and sexuality.

The “radical” in the title doesn’t mean that Dossie and Janet are to revolutionaries like Che Guevara. Nor does it means that they propose something outrageously out of the ordinary – although that is closer to the truth. Radical stand for “root”, the root of life at the base of the spine, where we have our genitals and our anus. The first chackra.

The chakras, according to the mythology of Yoga and Tantra, are seven centers of energy aligned along the axis of the body, from the crotch to the top of the head. Kundalini, the mythological energy serpent, lies asleep in the first chackra. When it is awakened, it travels upwards, lighting up the chakras in bouts of mystical experiences.

Do I believe in all that stuff? Well, yes and no. You see, I’m as rational, scientific and skeptical as anybody can be. I don’t believe in souls, astral bodies, reincarnation, life after death… you name it! Nor I believe that there is some kind of mystical energy, “prana” or “qi”, that we can use to do magical things. Having said that, I do know that we can experience altered sates of consciousness that can bring a lot of meaning to our lives. I said I “know it” because I have experienced them myself. The fact that they are real, and important, doesn’t mean that they are otherworldly or “paranormal”. They are just states of our brain that do not contradict in any way the laws of physics, chemistry or biology. After all, when Einstein came out with the theory of relativity, that was “just” a state of his brain, wasn’t it?

You may be growing impatient at this point… What does all this have to do with BDSM? Well, the central message I the book is that in the scene may be another path to achieve these mystical or spiritual states of consciousness. To make this point, Dossie and Janet draw on their vast experience with BDSM, on the one hand, and with yoga and Tantra, on the other. They explain all this in a very down-to-earth way, with an intimate tone. They talk about their troubles in life, their suffering, and how they found a way to confront it by opening up, letting go, “peeling away the skin” – in Janet’s metaphor. And they do this by whipping themselves silly, by dominating and submitting, by having orgasms.

By far the best part of the book is the account of their scenes. In many of them Dossie and Janet play together, but they also play with others. The intensity and sophistication that they describe is just amazing. It’s also very comforting that these are not two young gals – Dossie must be well into her sixties. So there is still time to play for those of us that have crossed the half-century line. Yes, even for women that have said goodbye to their last egg!

Well enough for today’s blog. I’m quite sure that I will return to the things I learned from Dossie and Janet in future postings. For now, I leave you with an inspiring phrase from their book:

“We want you to make yourself a promise. A sacred vow that you will take care of yourself, be kind to yourself and listen to yourself with compassion. Do that now, and then you may continue.”

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