I’m interested in the idea of intimacy and surrender: the two aspects of sexuality that we often crave but don't know how to get there, or even what to do once we are there. Some women are so hurt by previous bodily experiences to truly let go and to truly be seen, some men are so brainwashed by pornographic and masochistic sex to really ever be swallowed by the idea of true intimacy. While this self-protection can assist us it can also enslave us in our sexuality. These photographs capture the intimate yet spacious mutual respect between this beautiful spiritual couple who i had the pleasure of getting to know for 3 weeks in Ecuador during our Tantra Yoga Teacher Training. Each conversation with them seemly enriched my soul and taught me something raw about myself and others. They completely surrendered to each other, allowing each others hearts to become their home, full of so many beautifully crafted rooms I wanted to explore. I admitted to them I had never enjoyed sex in my entire life, and how it was always this grueling, objectifying chore I felt I had to endure for men. I felt reassured that Jess had felt similar before she had met Eddie and they began their Tantric journey together. Prior to our conversations, I had previously no idea that: men could have full orgasms without ejaculating, men could have multiple types of orgasm during sex including a whole body orgasm, that a man could spend 2 hours merely caressing a woman and expect absolutely nothing back or that through a heightened mental connection and controlled breath you could create a unified orgasm that was ‘cosmic’. This was all completely fascinating to me and my conditioned Western brain. I was so curious to know why all of these ancient secrets about sexuality had been hidden away from the general public. It was most likely declared ‘too pagan’ by some patriarchal asshole somewhere down the line and subsequently swept under the carpet. We spoke for hours and hours about past sexual experiences and what they represented in the broader context of society. I learnt that Eddie’s life was very different before he found spirituality, as he grew up in Brixton in a crowd where drugs and violence gave you a certain power. He admitted he had always previously taken the same power stance into his sex life, making the so-called unemotional ‘fucking’ a place to expel his anger. It wasn’t until years later, mid way through his journey towards spirituality, that a friend handed him a book on Tantric sex and his whole mentality shifted. I timidly opened up about my own history of sexual abuse and then later in life my experience of being in love with a boyfriend who was completely addicted to porn. It’s taken me years to understand how both of these completely destroyed my connection towards my physical body and sexuality. We spoke about how touch was so entirely sexualised, how if I was lying in a bed with a man and felt his tickle in the middle of the night, I knew exactly what was coming and what was wanted from me. In this shoot, I wanted to capture their understanding of bodily equality within romantic love and this sacred respect for each others sacred sexuality. It was similarly important to nourish the idea that being utterly naked with your partner can also be a beautiful and de-sexualised event full of respect and love. To me, this is a home.
Words by Melissa Sanger