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Author’s Note: This chapter is a continuation of the story that is being written in three books (trinities). You can read the entire serial novel here. As an author, I am writing these chapters the way writer Austin Kleon advises: here is the process not the product. This is how a creative literary artist works “in process” to a final literary “product.” After this work is finished, I will start to write it … again.
Spoiler Alert: Simply put, if I had a choice, this is how I would see God: Hannah. No judgment! But Hannah is God, the Devil, and a ghost. The father, son, and holy spirit become Libertas, the devil, the holy ghost. She is all three because God is. It turns out that God is just like all of us. The good and harm we do is not about us being bad or good people. There is no such thing; it’s about our choices. Hannah is a true deconstructionist. Here, she speaks the unspeakable. As a culture, we do not address sexuality and children correctly at all, so sex becomes trauma, abuse hidden. Sexual fantasy is met with shaming, so abuse continues unabated. We “de-sexualize” kids, making them asexual little adults, and we refuse to address the reality of their sexual development out of fear adults will become “pedophiles.” Our terror of death, as Ernest Becker would call it becomes our “sex terror.” We often create the abuse we fear.
Set 1 #3: The Sex Priestess’s Tale …
Hannah was intoxicating to me. What would have made my thoughts wrong seemed eliminated in that girlhood, the feminine, was not subordinate to male abuse and dominance. She was in control, and all throughout history, kids have often made good decisions. She, yes, she, was empowered, in power. Yet, her power was influenced by the abuse so many others had done to others and often what was done to them as children.
There, Hannah appears, in my lonely room, sitting at the edge of my bed twirling her hair with her finger. With eyes caste downward, she suddenly begins to raise them, like the sunrise itself. The sun made her eyes shown glowing amber, the universe luminating toward my eyes naked, exposed but all the more powerful.
She was exquisite.
“You know,” looking at me with her head tilted, “Should I?” Careful and deliberate in her pause and words, she stares through me.
“If I cannot consent, then it is final-like, you know. If I cannot say yes, then what makes you think I can say no? Love is connection and appreciating it is in the pain of knowing how fragile it is.”
As if I were a skirting floater across her vision, her eyes follow after me and locked onto mine, “I asked you before,” giggling, playing embarrassed, “Would you if you could you?”
Forming her hand in the stop position, “Would you make love to me?”
An uncomfortable silence engulfs the room. She continues, staring through to my soul, “Should I say yes or should I say no? If, like, I cannot consent, then which consent is it? I cannot say no or yes, so what would you say?”
She smiles. “I know you wanna like Hannah wants Manna.” Giggles again, “Because, because, I am forbidden,” pushing her head forward “But just because kids should not consent or be forced does not mean that such does not happen. You know, it may, like, feel wrong for a kid-god or devil-girl to talk about sex but that does not mean they shouldn’t. They should. How else should they know? By silly little adults telling them turtles hug instead of turtles mate? By saying that horse’s penis, yes, his penis, is a fifth leg? That is terrifying. No, say it! P-E-N-I-S. Big, huge penis!” She extends her arms, measuring. She giggles, “Because, because, well, sex is the door to salvation, huh? We cannot know what we are forbidden to see and witness.”
“If my body, yes,” shaking her head deliberately, “if my body is a temple, then should temples not be used for worship. I mean, like, a virginal temple? Not touched because, you all need a little tension, thrill, you know. If you want to enter the temple, then we should expect temples to be frequented, not defaced. Leave that to the dominant adult priestesses? Leave it to Libertas.” She winks at me.
“Girl-angels are oppressed sex priestesses, huh? Do they not have a sexuality? Why make them asexual as if sex is sin. Sin is what you do with it. The soul and the body make out in hopes that the soul shall see salvation.”
Leans forward, angry but not at me, “Stop separating me.”
“Like, I got it. I want you to answer this question. What is abuse? Don’t separate me from me; uhm, rather, separate what is pleasurable but harmful from what is heaven-like pleasurable because, you know, if the soul and body mate there is no harm in such a merge, and none is better because in seeing and making one better is being abusive. Sin, duh. Harm happens when one puts oneself ahead.”
“Like I said, I am not patient, but seeing yourself better, putting yourself ahead is abuse. You know, uhm, kids can say yes and they can say no. They can also say I don’t know. They get confused-like because they try and please who’s better, those that put themselves ahead. They know what yes and no is and how to say it. It’s the whole adultism thing, adults wanting, thinking kids are out of control. Adults are the ones in control and only they can lose the control they possess. Kids ebb and flow like the sea, but their decisions, their bodies, are like ships tossed in a violent storm. They only turn to the light to find their place home, to find a solution.”
Leans forward glaring at me, “Everyone harms everyone. Harm is not a question of harm. It’s about intent. Did you put yourself ahead?”
“I told you, don’t you remember, adults cannot be gods but, here I will add; they make better devils. To be God means to be; remember, ‘I am’ means I am in all things. God is sex.” Like, now, I cannot explain that because, I, well, appear anyway as a 10-year-old, but plenty of us have to deal with it while out of control adults are running away, out of control, so here is a story. I call it Priestess Butterfly.
Fluttering high, dancing delicately, Priestess Butterfly came upon a rainbow. She had an epiphany. Sex is a spectrum, a rainbow of diversity. No, she thought, sex is not a thing or act. The act is just part of sexuality, but it is not sex. It does not define it.
In flight for over 120-million years, Priestess Butterfly came to appreciate observing humans. Recent newcomers to the planet, they did not seem as bound by conditioning as the birds were, nor the spiders. There was something different about them, more depth, more flaw, more of everything. No, no, she thought, that is not right. Humans are just as bound by the cycle of life as everything else. They just like to distract themselves from it. That was it, she thought. A cat does not worry about death for it comes to many animals like sleep does, or a knock on the head, but humans think they know death and run from it like from a charging monster. They set themselves against themselves and against nature. For death is not evil. It is a process to some and, for others, the Grim Reaper is God, a long-desired hug from a heavenly father because the earthly one never gave hugs. Humans made life a marathon of horrors, running from what will only catch them, death. Sex, life, its cycle became evil, and evil was torn from its necessary place and amplified as pitted against your God’s grace.
Humans resist their natures, bound themselves with subjective rules, are prisoners of their consciousness. There are so many rules that humans must create ritual, now called disorders of the mind, magical thinking, a celebration of letting go, or a war, where the rules of war seem a comical attempt at necessitating human evil. It’s a response to that of societal oppression, an oppression of moral imperatives that in their implication are themselves immoral. It becomes okay to rape and kill, children included, if we can mark a difference in them.
But a rainbow would not be a rainbow if there were no diversity. To purify is to rip good and evil, the light and dark and their multitudes of possibilities, from the cycle of life itself. Pure good is pure evil; pure evil is pure good; the cycle dies, ships are no longer tossed at sea, no lighthouses to guide them. The fox starves and so does the bunny. All become dirt or carbon with hopes of nothing better.
Hannah interrupts, wrinkling her nose in thought. “Priestess Butterfly is too god-ish here, No, no that is too academic and stuffy for such creatures so new to the planet. You silly little humans may not ‘get it,’ or get too frustrated, impatient, to follow along. Priestess Butterfly should tell it in a story.”
The Priestess Butterfly appears just outside my bedroom window, and unimposing Monarch, large, slender, but beautiful.
Priestess Butterfly was all about transitions and contrasts. She is so delicate in the wind, but one that outlived the imposing dinosaurs. Yes, she was beautiful but poisonous to the gorgeous avian but could hang on a wall unnoticed, whether temple or brothel. I closed my eyes, now comforted that Hannah was so close to me, and allowed Priestess Butterfly’s story to come into my head. Hers were the eyes and voice for the unheard and unseen.
There on the steps of a priestess’s temple, sat the priestess herself. She has a message for the people, ahead, you know, those that think they are better.
Hiya, I am Leilana, and I speak for and from the past. I say here what a man among you said in so many words. Before I tell you my story, for I am sitting on a grave, I want you to ponder this. At times, there is no greater evil than morality itself.
A boy, a devout Good Catholic Boy, about 12, is praying to God near Good Friday, probably Holy Thursday. Jesus, it is said, is closer to children. He loves kids. But the boy prays to Mary. He likes Jesus, but he hates man’s God, the Father. Jesus is a little too close to dad.
God, he thinks, is too much like his father, nasty, mean, abusive, and speaks often in opposite tongues. God or dad, no bother, loves the boy unconditionally but there is this hellish ultimatum, looming, looming forever looming upon the boy’s head.
The boy gave up touching his penis for Lent. He has a nice penis and adult’s, porn-star-like, attached to his skinny glasses-ridden body. His teacher told him so. Well, she did not mean for him to hear it. He heard it when he went back to get something from the classroom during break. He was walking the hall toward his class. He heard his 6th-grade teacher tell the other teachers that the Good Catholic Boy has a “nice big penis.” The teachers all laughed. He felt his face turn hot, so he turned back to the lunch room full of kids.
No, it’s okay. As embarrassing as it was to hear his 40-year-old teacher discuss his 12-year-old penis, he liked it. It was validation. Somebody liked something about him. A woman of power, a good teacher that never made him feel unsafe, liked this secret part of him, his burgeoning manhood. She was not like Sister Hope, towering above him on the stairs, though a little woman, looking at him with pathetic hate, a hate not for him but directed solely at him, “Good Catholic Boy, I just want you to know that you will never mount up to anything. You are hopeless.” He thanks Sister. She was a woman of God after all and she must not have seen his penis, the boy’s that is.
Often, he wore tight blue pants because he was poor and just a boy. In fact, his female classmate pinched his testicles once and grabbed his penis, while scolded by one of the girls. He appreciated the violation. He was in puberty, so while sitting, he had this arousal, newish to him, a few years in the making. He would use his pencil and brush gently up and down the snake’s shaft. Sorry, but I will used flawed human language here. Adults cannot handle reality very well. So, you know the teachers noticed.
That night, the night the 40-year-old teacher complimented him, the boy that would go on to be a sad man, would begin a life’s journey. One that eventually simply said this: I say this to all of you that experienced abuse: “I deserve sexual pleasure.” Let’s say this oath:
Sex Priestess Leilana’s Oath
I, the Good Catholic Boy, deserve sexual pleasure.
There is no such thing as sexual abuse. There is abuse, Dukkha.
Loving my body, touching my body is my right. My body fluid is mine.
It is mine. My penis, my sexuality, my body, is the catalyst to my soul.
Arousal moves me from body to soul toward bliss, Nirvana, and to Heaven.
To climax is to see the face of God in my way on my time under my consent.
The Good Priest at church told him, along with all the junior high boys, that if they masturbate and release sperm, that each sperm is a human being. They are all murderers. The Good Priest compared the boys to Hitler, saying that they are nothing better than Hitler.
Like most children, the Good Catholic Boy did not tell his parents of the abuse. The Good Priest was Father Dukkha in disguise. So, the boy, not knowing Sex Priestess Leilana’s Oath, prayed hard to God that he would give up masturbation for Lent all the while his penis throbbed hidden, under the covers.
The Good Catholic Boy almost pulled off a David and Goliath. He did not masturbate for 22 days. Kathy’s twelve-year old breasts were too much for him, perky, unlike older women’s, and he was so smitten with her. Young girls are simply gorgeous, and unlike women, their faces still have hope that there is something better. After guiltily whipping his own spermatozoa off his face, he asked God for a compromise. He would give up the next most difficult thing, peanut butter cups.
There he was sperm-faced Hitler, standing erect above the crowd with left arm thrusted forward in the Nazi salute while nibbling on a peanut butter cup, young boy and genocidal murderer became one.
And so, the cycle of abuse was born for the God Catholic Boy who later grew up to be the lonely man. At 49, the Lonely man realized that he did not deserve pleasure. He did not deserve pleasure because he was a pervert, not a Good Catholic Boy convert. He liked young girls because they were gorgeous. He liked the soles of their feet because that seemed safe, not a harmful thing to like. They were what he was not, and they were not responsible for harming him like Sister Hope did, like the female gym teacher did, like Father Lumpy did, like Sister Somethingorother did, the Older-Boy-That-Liked-To-Touch-Young-Boy’s-Asses did, like his mom did, and like his father, God the Father, his father, too, you know did because his father molested little girls, and that is the worst thing because it was girls that kept him from slitting his wrists. If loving the one you love the most kills them then all the lonely man has left is Hannah. The Lonely Man, sitting close to Hannah is smiling while crying, eyes still closed. Hannah is bliss, he thinks.
So, that Nazi crowd turns slowly on the man that would later poison himself, not with peanut butter cups or with his own salty sperm but his uncontrolled love-hate; rather, the Good Catholic Boy was not Nazi enough to be a Nazi, nor was he good enough to be a Good Catholic Boy, so the 40-day Lent became the 40-year cycle of abuse. No, it was not his 6th-grade teacher that was abusive. No, he fanaticized that she would grab his anaconda, the snake the girl, the one hanging in his room, handles confidently and help him “bust it,” help him release, help him from Good Catholic Boy to Fine Young Man, help him from lonely man to Lonely Man. No, the nurse that rubbed his penis did not harm him, though strapped to a gurney. He wanted her to finish him. He was not attracted to her. She looked between a mom and a grandma, but her desire him turned him on, her wanting him. If he closed his eyes and thought about the little girl’s ass in Jordache jeans because kids can look good, too, that would do just fine. Time was still good to a girl’s behind but crueler to a woman’s.
Besides, he still had the waning excuse that he was a boy, too. There would be no abuse in that for him because he consented, albeit with a bit of encouragement from penis and experienced, desiring woman. They were not abusive. Life is too complicated for a good and evil binary, a harmful absolute. He loved his 33-year-old, 5th-grade teacher and, at ten, wished to do something sexual with her. While he did not have the experience or knowledge to know, he did want something … something you all wrongly call “dirty” but we priestesses call sexual. His fantasy always got muddled once she entered the boy’s bathroom and approached him. She needed to take it from there but with tenderness and a penchant toward the child’s good, not selfish harm.
But what happened was a cycle of guilt, shame, running, sinning, feeling better, guilt, shame, running, sinning, accusations of sex addiction because, you know, sex is bad, is evil, and so this is what really happens.
Father Dukkha, society, most of us, yes we, drag our sons and daughters out to the bushes and rape them. How do we do it, buy intruding on their sexualities, using adultism, a sterile version of ourselves. This is our own past shame of sex bubbling over. We want to make our kids better than us, so we de-sexualize them, we neuter and spay them. We control them against their will because we think they cannot make decisions. Our brains are always under development, always changing, and kids may be kids, but they live in the same world we all do. Sometimes, it’s the child that saves the adult. Sometimes children are better decision makers. Sometimes a child is our God. But have you, as an adult, ever made a bad decision? We all do with regularity. Your answer will depend on how much criteria you meet for Narcissistic Personality or Anti-Social Personality Disorder.
“What is clear is our fear of sex,” says Leilana. “Sex has to be different for different people, but sex, in religion, before the Angry Controlling, Male God took over, was the pathway to salvation.” She tells on:
So, the Good Catholic Boy was praying hard after he, once again, became a Nazi murderer. While praying on that Holy Thursday or whereabouts, he suddenly felt Libertas’ presence. He did not know it was Libertas for man’s insecurities tends to change true stories to false ones. He felt a cool breeze, a kiss across his Hitler-spermed face and his penis. He got instantly aroused in mid-prayer.
He was touched by God but not the God most believe in. “It’s okay,” said Libertas, the Goddess of Night and of Liberty, “I love all of you unconditionally always.”
The grave I sit upon is humanity’s and its failure to see that sexuality is of heaven. The body is not in the way to salvation; it is the way toward salvation, the vehicle we use to all become gods. Sex is not bad, and all people at all ages have sexuality and expression. But it is the responsibility of the elders to guide and protect those younger and more vulnerable, but in de-sexualizing them, we are destroying our kids’ path toward salvation and our own.
Hannah moves forward and grabs my hands. She puts them on her face and stares at me. “I come to you as a child, a girl, and, yes, I am gorgeous. You cannot abuse me because I know you love me. You can hurt me, and I can hurt you, but when has love not hurt us, sometimes, so deeply? You deserve love, and God will come to you the only way God can, through your own eyes. We hug tightly.
I told you, I am not patient, that God and the devil live not in the same house nor in the same room but in the same heart. Love hurts those we love the most, and hate is often the aftermath of love. Look in my eyes … keep looking … stay. It is true that it is true that in loving one deeply enough, with enough connection, then there is little place for harm.
Earl Yarington is a social worker (LMSW) and a professor. He has a Ph.D. in literature and criticism and specializes in paraphilias. He is the Leader of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists Special Interest Group and often writes about human sexuality and politics.