Nature has always been her primary spiritual relationship, says Sarah Belzile of the Red River Gorge region in Kentucky. It’s always been her way to connect with God or The Mystery or the Beyond. During the last decade, her love of nature led her to the practice and enjoyment of eco-eroticism.
“I was raised Catholic, but when I realized that there were spiritual traditions that could support sexuality, that’s when I think I started on the journey that I’m on now,” she recalls. “Then I learned about tantra, the first spiritual tradition that I had heard of where sex was part of life and part of spirituality and was not something that needed to be self-suppressed but needed to be learned and mastered.”
According to WebMd.com, “Tantra is an ancient Indian practice that dates back more than 5,000 years. In Sanskrit, the word tantra means woven together. People who practice Buddhist and Hindu meditation may also practice tantric sex as a way to ‘weave’ the physical with the spiritual.”
All of her eco-curiosity and inquisitiveness inspired Belzile to study yoga, including trips to India to master her practice as much as possible. But that was just one component of what she wanted to learn and master. Next came eco-eroticism.
In a blog entitled “What is eco-eroticism? Can it enrich your love life?” on her website, Belzile deftly defines it for you: “Eco-eroticism is any practice which co-mingles erotic pleasure with attraction to nature. The intention of this practice is to honor the Earth while healing and strengthening your spirit. The more I practice and contemplate eco-eroticism, the more I realize that eroticism and the impulse for deep nature connection are not actually separate at all, they are both expressions of life’s longing for itself.”
Belzile’s in-depth tantra studies led her to the Body Electric School. Born in the midst of the traumatic AIDS epidemic in San Francisco in the 1980s, the School offers professionally guided workshops that “inspire and support participants toward integrating their emotional, sacred and erotic lives.”
As she has much of her adult life, Belzile was already spending abundant time climbing, hiking and being outdoors “because that’s just what I do,” she affirms. Roughly ten years ago, she found herself evolving through a process of reintegrating spirituality and sexuality while eventually realizing that nature was also a vital part of the wholeness of her life. Taking her first in-person Body Electric workshop was a slightly confusing but definite turning point for her.
“My first workshop was like an initiation, and it’s a pretty intense experience,” she says. “It was all women, and I’m pretty straight, and afterwards I thought, ‘Wait, because I felt erotic energy with other women, does that mean I’m gay or bisexual?’ But then I realized you can raise erotic energy in all kinds of situations and that eroticism lives in me, not in other people.”
Belzile went on to teach workshops for Body Electric. Drawing on her couple decades of business experience, including owning a chain of coffee shops in Cleveland until she sold them in 2020, she guided them in hiring effective board members and refining other organizational practices.
Today, she also teaches her own workshops. (You can join her emailing list on her website to keep informed about her ongoing workshops. She is now planning one located in a tropical location for January 2023.) Each day, Belzile enjoys time in her lovely back yard or the trails through the woods and meadows in her region.
Finding erotic experiences in nature is just, well, natural to Belzile now. She is even open to feeling the touch of an insect on her skin as a stimulant, and she even finds plants sexy and enjoys conversing with them when she sees a particularly beautiful or interesting flower.
She’s seen interest in eco-eroticism continue to grow. For example, in 2019, while cleansing herbs burned and drums thumped rhythmically, 25 ecosexuals solemnly declared their vows to the Earth in a mass wedding ceremony at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to marry our planet and thus celebrate Earth Day. While they did declare that the loving relationship was “not like genitally having sex with the earth,” the symbolic message of the ceremony was clear: Get earthlings to view the earth as an equal partner.
Belzile suggests couples who are interested in incorporating eco-eroticism into their lives discuss all of it first, primarily what elements of nature they most enjoy such as wind, water, deserts or even fire. Then explore venturing out into nature together.
“Everyone feels drawn to different ecosystems, so it can really be done anywhere,” Belzile points out.
For heat-seekers, she says one of the most erotic experiences she has had is starting a friction fire. You had us at “friction.” She recommends checking out an instructional video on how to use a hand drill approach to starting a friction fire.
“In an upcoming retreat, we’re going to focus on how we relate to the elements,” she says. “Fire is a very deeply eco-erotic experience, like lighting the fire and watching how it moves and changes things, or putting ashes on my skin; that is also a tantric practice as a way to embody the fire.”
For a wild (and fireproof) film romp and fun introduction to eco-eroticism, Belzile recommends Water Makes Us Wet – An Ecosexual Adventure. “With a poetic blend of curiosity, human, sensuality and concern, this film chronicles the pleasures and politics of H2O from an ecosexual perspective. Travel with Annie [Sprinkle}, a former sex worker, Beth [Stephens], a professor, and their dog Butch, in their E.A.R.T.H. Lab mobile unit as they explore the role of water.”
Also known as an influential feminist and great innovative performance artist, the infamous Sprinkle was an early influence in Belzile’s delving into eco-eroticism.
Closer to home, you might also enjoy this lovely guide to creating “A Garden of Erotic Delights” from Wonderground.
So, check these options out, whether you’re exploring partnered or solo. Then get outside and go natural!