March is a month of devotion — the practice of commitment, reciprocal nourishment, and loving attention. As spring unfurls, all around us we find the magic of devotion reflected in nature; the dense rain stretching deep into the soil to cradle eager tulip bulbs, the soft afternoon light tapping on the butterfly's chrysalis, the wind shaking the trees awake from their winter slumber. As the wheel of the year turns towards growth, the living world is turning towards itself with offerings of pleasure and celebration.
Through the practice of self-devotion, we too can turn towards pleasure and celebration this spring season! All acts of self-pleasure are acts of self-devotion, witch. When you devote yourself to something or someone, especially if that someone is yourself, you open a portal of sensual attunement. The practice of self-devotion invites us to offer up our fullest attention as an act of honoring, causing us to stretch our capacity for pleasure-full presence and awareness in our bodies.
Living a life of self-devotion is as simple (and as complicated) as remembering to engage your senses in moments of enjoyment. Most of us live in a dominant culture that de-prioritizes self-pleasure as a value. We also live in a late-stage capitalist economy that commodifies our joy — considering the circumstances, it's no wonder most of us have forgotten how to consciously be present with our pleasure! How much of your pleasure are you actually conscious of? How much of this conscious pleasure is non-sexual pleasure? How much of this non-sexual pleasure did you intentionally seek out for yourself?
When our bodies are experiencing joy, we're inherently experiencing sensual pleasure. All pleasurable, body-based sensation is sensual — it's in the word! Sensuality is rooted in the senses. And while sensual pleasure can include sexual pleasure, sensuality and sexually are not synonyms. Break up with the idea that pleasure has to have anything to do with sex! In a world where sex and sexuality are treated as ubiquitous human experiences (spoiler alert, not all people experience sexual desire or attraction) it's vital that we create frameworks for pleasure that exist beyond the bedroom. This too is an act of devotion, for self and community.
Sensual Practices for Pleasure's Sake
Treat your body as a sensual medium or oracle. Instead of reaching for your tarot deck or another divination tool for answers, look to your body for insight. Ask your body a question about your pleasure (i.e. What would make me feel really fucking good right now? Why does my pleasure matter? How can I take actionable steps towards self-devotion?) While you wait for an answer, make yourself comfortable and bring as much of your attention as you can towards your senses. How is the question echoing in your mouth? How does it taste? How are your muscles tightening or loosening in response? What thoughts are bubbling up, and are they even related to the question? Practice witnessing these responses with neutrality, but jot down anything that seems important or surprising. Like any divination practice, you'll learn to read your body's symbolic language with time, patience, and practice. Try and practice this as often as you might practice with another divination tool!
Hone your attention to euphoria. Being able to recognize when you're experiencing pleasure is the first step towards accessing the full spectrum of your joy! When we become aware of our pleasure, we can transform from passive witnesses into active participants, and widen our capacity and tolerance for sensation. Building bodily awareness and sustaining inner focus is a skill, so begin by honing in on moments of euphoria. The next time you're eating a really delicious meal, give your full attention to each individual bite — envision all of your taste buds reveling in the flavor, your belly filling with nourishment, and your heart softening as you experience what it's like to be fed. Let your senses (and your capacity to receive sensual information) be an offering in and of itself.
Leave yourself offerings on the altar of your body. If you keep and tend to a physical altar space, you know how it feels to create a sanctuary for your body to safely exist in without expectation. This is your invitation to treat your body with the same reverence! The next time you take a ritual bath to prepare for a spell, or cleanse your home in honor of a witchy holiday, prepare your body the way you would your altar space. What would it look like to create sacred space within your own skin?
Prompts for Further Reflection
This is your gentle reminder that self-devotion is always an option, babe. We can turn towards our sensual bodies with curiosity at any time — it's never too late or too early to start thinking about why our pleasure matters, how we can cultivate more of it, and what that would mean for our lives.
Where do you find enjoyment? How conscious are you of your enjoyment when you're experiencing it? What would it mean to find joy in the enjoyment?
What stories does your sensual body want to share with you about your capacity for pleasure?
What feelings or beliefs (known and unknown) do you carry around your desire? How do you feel when you notice yourself desiring?
How do you define pleasure? What is the lineage of this definition? How much of this definition reflects your own experience? Does this definition feel true?