How often do you have sex?

snuggling with B

Yesterday, Michael and I fell into conversation about sex.
Big surprise.
The interesting thing about it is, we will never have that conversation again.

The question,
“How often do you want to have sex with me?”

Both of our answers were the same. “A lot.” “Daily. “ “More than we are now.”

So why aren’t we?

That seemed the next logical conversation prompt.
So we talked at length that afternoon about,
“What is in the way?”

Time, energy, kidless environments, body pain, exhaustion, stress, our mutual affection for watching both seasons of Ted Lasso (for the 5th or 6th time)…

We made a date for later in the evening & set an intention to play with ropes and surrender into our bodies when we had the house all to ourselves.

After 3 hours of devoted presence and cosmic sex, we had a huge ahah! moment. Who wouldn’t!

This time, we agreed, we are not going back to the way it was before the rope came out and fire was lit.
Something shifted big time for us.

The question of “What’s in the way?” is defeatist.

We were looking at the entirely negative side of the challenge and turned our lovemaking into problem. Nothing is or was lacking.
So the questions isn’t, “What is in the way?,” instead it’s:

“What is the way?”

Quality over quantity. More intentional, devoted times of exploration and playfulness is what we were desiring. Get our bodies turned on and tuned into each other. That!

So now at the end of the day, when we climb into bed, recognizing that we don’t have 3 hours of devoted time or energy in our system each night, we ask the question,

”When can I take you IN?”

Kind of like taking each other out on a date, but instead, closing the doors and falling into each other with whatever intimacy & sxx shows up. The key being intention. Emphasis on IN.

Turning the question of “What’s in the way of us having more sxx together ” inside out
and instead ask:

“What IS the way?”

Daily. Nightly. INtentionally. With the knowledge that under all the perceived limitations, is desire, not lack.

Writing this & sharing it here as a reminder to myself more than anyone.

xoxo- Lara

To Forage

To forage, to go out and seek, involves more than bringing home plants in a bag.

Often when I forage, I don’t pick any plants at all. I gather information, feeling into the land and the interaction of ground and sky. I seek out the tucked away small places and learn where the wild lilies live on the hillside, their blooms always tied to Easter; where trout lilies carpet the forest floor, tucked onto the S-curve of a streamside trail,  leopard spotted leaves and golden yellow flowers ephemerally heralding Spring’s arrival.  

Angie with her famous Fire Cider.

In my thirties, I lived next to a state park. Acres and acres of land to pretend I belonged to. Not the other way around, lol. At the river by the trail, I would recline in the stone chair that I always imagined women birthing in. My worn, barely holding together, lichen covered chair was a wide arrangement of rocks, situated to create a seat complete with back, arm rests and a gradual down-turning slope below the seat for the ease of the one catching the new baby. I can find no evidence that this was ever a birthing chair, but I do know that across the country, far away from North Carolina and Durham’s Eno River many years later, I was taken on a trail above Boulder, Colorado and shown another chair uncannily similar to mine. Their interpretation of the chairs’ use, of course, concurred with mine.

This is foraging. Gleaning information and energy and stories from the land and plants and the stones themselves. First person knowledge.

picking dandelion flowers

Of course, it’s necessary to read and study and learn what others say and feel about the plants. We must know which plants may harm and which may help before we interact intimately with them. Never, ever, ingest any plant until you are 110% sure of its identity. Poison hemlock looks an awful lot like wild carrot to the uninitiated eye. As a young girl in the grocery store, I was sent to look for a head of lettuce and came back with a cabbage. Green, round…to the untrained eye easy to confuse. You get my drift. My next post will be a detailed one on how to identify a dandelion. If in doubt, shoot me a picture and I’ll confirm.

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale and Taraxacum erythrospermum, were introduced from Europe and now propagate as wildflowers. Both species are edible in their entirety.

And as a general rule when I forage, I usually offer a gift in gratitude for the abundance that Nature generously shares with me. A song, my hair, tobacco, cornmeal…given in return to Her, acknowledging the huge appreciation in my heart for all that She provides to us so graciously.

In our demo on 3/31 (information listed below) we will be preparing a tincture of dandelion root. If you are able to go out and dig your own, that’s great. We will need about 2/3 of a pint jar full of fresh, cleaned root, coarsely chopped. In the spirit of meeting you where you are, if you are unable to dig your own fresh plant and want to play along, drop me a PM via Facebook or an email (see below) with your address and I will send you an ounce of dried dandelion root via snail mail and you can make a tincture from dried plant. 

dried dandelion roots

We’ll talk about the differences between using fresh and dried plant in class. I will try to get packages out by Wednesday Mar 24. Any requests received after that will be sent as soon as I can but may not arrive in time for class. The Post Office has been struggling in my neighborhood lately.

I encourage you to dig your own if you have access to pristine plants. Feel the soil on your hands. Beneficial microbes that may alleviate depression live there. Appreciate the effort you must put forth to pull that long dandelion taproot from deep down inside the earth. Smell the scent of dark earth and acknowledge the creatures that work to create the soil on which life depends. Work for what you are taking.

Freshly foraged dandelion, root and all.

The rules of foraging also dictate where we do and don’t procure plants. In general, avoid collecting plants from roadsides, railroads, residences, and run-off areas (The Four Rs). Roadside plants are contaminated with petroleum and other chemicals from cars and trucks; railroads use creosote/chemically treated ties and spray to keep weeds down along their lines. Residences (unless your own and you know the history) can be treated with a variety of chemicals and folks aren’t always knowledgeable or helpful about sharing that information. Run-off (next to parking lots, for example) and disturbed areas (like construction sites) can easily become contaminated. There can be rules and laws against gathering in parks so know the legal status before you pick. Also, cities may spray for weeds in parks, so again, know your land. Signs may be posted prior to herbicide application, or you may contact your city/county government to inquire about its pesticide and herbicide policies.

This is part of the land stewardship we assume in return for harvesting Nature’s bounty. Get involved in your local open space/neighborhood park group (you’d be surprised how many are out there in Facebook land!) Reach out, sign the petition to Save Guilford Woods (~10 acres of hardwoods next to the University of Maryland in College Park) that is slated for development down the road from my house. Rip out invasive plants where you find them. Plant native plants for the insects that live on them. If you don’t know what’s native and what’s invasive, let’s talk! I am taking Maryland’s Master Gardener training and can provide tons of resources and access to educational materials. Small things that individuals can do to impact a larger picture always make me smile.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the 31st. It will be an honor to share time and space with you.

Dig Deep & Fondly Forage,

Angie Porter,  Herbalist & Integrative Pharmacist coming soon!

Lara Blackin, Tantric Educator, Master Gardener & Herbal Alchemist , Host at Temple in the Trees

Register for our Event:

Foraging & Seasonal Tincture Creation | March Women’s Circle

🌿 A botanical harvest of health! Learn to make a seasonal tincture together under the full moon. 

🌿 Wednesday March 31st 7:30-9:30pm EST

🌿 Online live event

Register on Eventbrite:
tendrils of green tantric arts + temple in the trees

Make Water Your Lover | bath ritual

Cleopatra, renowned for her luminous being & leadership

Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, was renowned throughout history for her radiant skin and her stunning beauty. She was said to bathe in donkeys milk infused with honey & herbs to keep her skin soft and beautiful . 

Both moisturizing and exfoliating, milk leaves skin feeling silky soft & feels incredible floating within it & flowing over the skin. 

A few specially gathered & mixed ingredients come together to infuse a truly delicious experience.

w e t •

First, begin with creating your wet 

ingredients for milk mixture base. 

3 ingredients that your skin will love

m i l k • 3-4 cups whole milk (cow, goat, coconut, almond, buttermilk) 

Using whole milk will be more exfoliating and moisturizing than low-fat or nonfat milk. 

  • 1/3 cup baking soda

Baking soda is antimicrobial and has anti-inflammatory properties.  It is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antibacterial, helping to eliminate toxins and neutralizes skin acidity. It softens dry skin & is a very effective detox, rehearsing the body’s toxins through our largest organ, our skin. 

pour in honey…
  • 3/4 cup honey

Honey is also antibacterial,  great at reducing inflammation & brings a silky sweetness to your skin. 

  • 10-20 drops of essential oil 

lavender can be used for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties helping to heal minor burns and bug bites. Useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. It is a flower of royalty, known to represent purity, silence, devotion serenity, grace and calmness.

The drip of honey in milk
  1. Close the jar and shake it to mix. If necessary, open the jar, and stir the milk, baking soda, essential oil and honey with a spoon. You want the honey to dissolve in the milk, and not settle at the bottom.
Pop the top!
  1. Uncap the jar! Pressure will have built up with the baking soda becoming activated. Leave cap off for 20-30 minutes before storing or using. Store in cool dark place before & after use in tub. 
  1. Add milk, baking soda & honey mixture to the bath. 

Avoid using water that is too hot, or it will destroy the beneficial properties of the honey & it may cook the milk.

  1. Do not use any soap in this bath. When you are done soaking, drain the bath water, and rinse yourself off using soap and fresh water.

d r y  •

Add dry ingredients of herbs, flowers, Epsom salts to the bath water after milk & honey has been poured & stir gently. 

Calendula, rose & lavendar

Dry ingredients can be placed whole in muslin bag & used like a tea bag in the bath. 

Muslin fabric bag • fill with dry flowers

The dried flowers, herbs & salt can be placed directly in the water to float and sink around your skin. 

  • 1/4 cup each dried flowers & herbs
  • 2-4 cups Epsom salts

Herbs & flowers can also be ground and added to epsom salt creating a highly scented infusion & finer silt residue in the waters. It can mixed together & stored in an airtight container for more use in the future. 

Ground calendula, rose & lavender

All of these methods when added to the bath give beautiful coloration to the milky waters and infuses your skin & being with nourishing & adorning scent, healing & sensation. 

Rose quartz in Epsom salts & rosemary

In adding to the healing & sensual waters invoke & honor the plants properties & gifts: 

Lavender • “Lavender, lend me your serenity.” “I am safe. I am serene. I invoke your calm.” “Spirit of serenity, I invite you here.”

Calendula • “Calendula, bring me your purification. Bring me your bond, your binding together of the powers that heal my wounds.” 

Rose • “Rose, bring me love of myself.” “Bless this body & strengthen my self acceptance”

“Rose, blossom open my heart & allow me to fully receive abundant love. “

p o u r . 

peace within me. 

peace surrounding me. 

peace from me. 


Using a small pitcher  s l o w l y  pour the silken milky water over your body, hair, shoulders, chest, arms, toes, fingertips…everywhere you desire to revere & relax. Whispering the affirmations, blessings & invocations of love into your experience. 

e n j o y . 

you are born of water. let it carry you. let it nourish you. let these waters be your lover. 

created with deep love ~ Lara 

6 kids, sex and why we get three hotel rooms when we travel

bedside table drawer • ok to open

Our children know which bedside table drawer not to pull open or they will find sex toys and not the Apple TV remote.

Our favorite blankets are the silk & fuzzy velvet water repellent blankets I bought from Liberator when sex moved beyond the bedroom for me and outdoor experiences were abundant (I still keep them in the minivan and if the kids ever read this they probably won’t use them anymore).

A really tough one for me in these past years, is the knowledge that they know the sounds of our lovemaking. I love sound and have often been told to be quiet by lovers, that I’m too expressive, too boisterous. No longer. Sounds, words, written or in conversation, are a super power and make all the other senses become more alive. I’m not longer screaming into a pressed palm and feeling silenced and shamed. I’m using my superpower fully.

don’t hold back

A really important component in addition to the power of words & communication, is clear and obvious boundaries. Our children respect a locked door. They know when not to knock and when to lock their own.
Yes, they know we have sex.
And we as parents know they also need time to explore their own personal intimacy.

Six kids + a family who loves to travel = three hotel rooms. Although the Blackin children have the uncanny ability to fall asleep anywhere (Bontempo boys not so much) beds are best. Ensuring we can do more than fall asleep, means Michael & I get to have a room just for the two of us so we can enjoy our time together as adults. It’s really important, especially on family vacations. (As are baths and walking around naked in resort hotel suites.)

As a blended family with six children, they all know they were each conceived in love. They have all witnessed each of their parents fall in love and marry new partners in life. How incredible is that! How I would have loved to see my parents first fall in love.

kiss on mardi gras day

If you know us, you know that we kiss openly and often. And if you know us really well, you know we don’t wear pajamas to bed. When goodnight hugs are given after Michael & I have tucked in, or when morning hugs arrive to wake us, Michael and I are happily naked. Knocks on our door and covers up, hugs are still protocol and abundant around here! No one goes to bed without a hug goodnight or walks out the front door without a goodbye squeeze. My favorite are the ones when we each arrive home after a time away enjoying not being together. Those embraces linger the longest.

I love the way we respect each other and talk openly about sex at meals together. With 6 penis owners in the house it’s inevitable that the conversation somehow steers its way to this topic. Julia & I have strength in our sexual ownership and often remind the boys that we have the responsibility and pleasure of the stronger & more mailable parts of anatomy.

Simply & with full disclosure, our children know that we love sex.

They know we adore each other. They know we adore them. We also get pissed off with each other. Not much happens behind closed doors around here. And if it does happen behind closed & locked doors, it usually can be heard. They see us get angry, frustrated, argue, cry. They see us kiss deeply, spank each other’s butt, nuzzle each other and cuddled up on the huge purple beanbag.


We know as a family that loving relationships take enormous effort and uncomfortable, vulnerable communication. We all survived divorce.
Then something awesome happened as a result. Our children witnessed their us as their parents – someone who unconditionally loves them – fall in love with another life partner that wasn’t their original parent.
How incredibly powerful is that!

Sean, Alex, Julia, Daniel, Will & Matthew are each curious, sensitive and adventurous. But most of all, they are living their life with eyes wide open knowing that their bodies are powerful tools capable of unlimited experiences, pleasures and adventures and that there is nothing bad about feeling good.


We believe fully that more they see pleasure expressed around them, the more respect and understanding they have for their own self love.

I share this because I feel strongly about public displays of affection. I care deeply about not hiding what you care about, about hearing the “ewwww” from the back seat when we kiss at a stop light. Of course they are looking, they’re learning. They are learning that it’s ok to be loved openly. They are learning radical self acceptance.

Please, kiss around your kids. Let them see your love. They more we hide, the more the ugliness happens behind closed doors to one another. The more we muffle our pleasure for fear it will disgust others, the more shame we promote within ourselves around feeling good. The more we negate and whisper the words penis & vagina around our children, the more boys and girls are made to feel separate from these life giving parts of themselves.
Talk about sex. Real, vulnerable, noisy, messy, happy sex. And see what that openness can bring to your relationships. It’s how we made these small humans after all. Let them know they were made in love and see them love themselves more because of it.

My hope for our next generation is that our children know more love and experience more joy than we have in our lifetime.

May we all learn to express what makes us happy more fully.

More Love – Lara


Writing poetry today & attempting to unravel the word ravel. I’ve discovered that ravel & unravel mean the same thing ~ what happened to the prefix -un-? 🧶

Some paradoxes are paradoxes in and of themselves!
Much like biology ~ where division & multiplication exist at the same time. 🦠

Kinda tied up about it. 😈

:: ravel ::
rav·el /ˈravəl/
to tangle or entangle.
to involve; confuse; perplex.
verb (used without object), rav·eled, rav·el·ing, rav·elled, rav·el·ling.
to become disjoined thread by thread or fiber by fiber; fray.
to become tangled.
a tangle or complication.

un·​rav·​el | \ ˌən-ˈra-vəl
unraveled; unraveling; unravels
Definition of unravel
transitive verb
: to disengage or separate the threads of : DISENTANGLE
: to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of
: to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up
unravel a mystery
intransitive verb
: to become unraveled

writing again | seize the fucking day

Seize the fucking day

My journal.
In the mornings when I wake & in the evenings when I am by myself, I write.
I lose sense of time when I put my pen to paper. My imagination becomes heightened to the point of visions even in my waking hours & My dreams fuel my mornings pages.
It’s become a passion. Cathartic.
There are fierce characters: Friends, lovers, a husband, a son, a father, an evil stepmother. People who changed my life. Many who have quietly -and not so quietly – faded away and their echoes still rattle in me.
Their abandonment taught me much. In every one of them I recognize through my writing that I could not grow with them anymore. It was my choice to live differently as much as it was theirs.
Divorce, adultery, deceit,
perversion, violent control,
hypocrisy, alcoholism, depression,
illness, codependency,
religion, judgement, sanctimonious sarcasm
and most of all
the inability to be happy for other people’s happiness.
These all are the characters. They all have names & surnames. They all hurt me like hell.
I hurt them too.

Last night I vomited pages till nearly dawn. When the sun rose it was as if a light went on inside me. Today the story line has changed.
I’m not asking why.
I’m saying thank you.

And the story is now a love story, without changing a single word.

flowing in watery tendrils

anger . forgiveness . hunger

waking to my tattoo

“Yoga is the process of becoming established like a mountain in ones essential self.” – Patanjali, Yoga Sutras •
We, as practitioners of this art, are the mountain. Not the traveler seeking the guru at the top.

pillow & skin where I sit & breathe
pillow & skin where I sit & breathe

I’ve been practicing my yoga with a new fervor and daily commitment these past few weeks and something is stirring in me and I want to share it’s discomfort. Like the process of a tattoo; the pain, the rush of the endorphins, and the permanent outward message it displays, I too have been in acceptance of a pleasurable pain that needs to be acted on.

Patanjali, Yoga Sutra 1.3

I had my first tattoo carved into my right upper arm 10 years ago. It is the yoga sutra written here above. I see it first thing every morning when I wake while lying on my belly looking out the window over my right shoulder onto the soft cradle of my arm tucked around my pillow. And it tells the truth in black ink.

I have been in process.

The process has been that of anger, forgiveness and hunger.
Anger that I allowed so many voices to shut me down from my yoga. These voices, including the one inside my head are primarily the self absorbed money & number driven studio manager, the scowling faced hyper paced athletic must-sweat-and-go-upside-down student, the bikini clad yoga practitioner that twitters during savasana and declares what a yoga body should look like, the adults who ask if that’s how I really make a living and support myself.

That ugly anger. The anger that comes from listening to the recording of “you’re not good enough” and turns you inward for awhile. I like myself. I like being inward, tucked in, quiet and listening, creating and alone with myself. And what I’ve found inside that inward turning, like huddling in a cave on the side of a mountain for a spell, is forgiveness. And I like the way that feels so much better than what proceeded it.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness to myself for allowing my yoga to go dormant. Forgiveness to those persons whose voices I felt were harsh to me. Forgiveness for my own hypocrisy. Forgiveness to my body which knows what it needs and is only asking for it in the language it knows best.

Hunger. Hunger to practice, to feel good, to connect with other beings, to teach this powerful practice.

yoga gives me wings
yoga gives me wings

Reading the outspoken and renowned Brooklyn NY Abhyasa Yoga Center owner and teacher J.Brown’s recent writing, Yoga and The New Dicipline, I was compelled to write this and share. He’s spot on.
As he writes, “Like it or not, we just can’t get away with the same old shit anymore. Those rising to the challenge by providing an example of transparency and honesty, are the ones inspiring new generations of earnest aspirants to carry the torch forward.
The new discipline is inner-knowing. Teachers are only so good as they are conducive to a person no longer needing them. The veil has been lifted just enough that there is no pulling it back over our heads. Time has come for us to get clearer about what we are doing and why we are doing it. Effective yoga teaching is becoming less about imposing an arbitrary catechism on someone’s experience, and more about stirring the kind of inquiries that lead to students being able to make their own determinations.”
Read on…. it’s brilliant.

Yoga & The New Discipline • by J. Brown

Lela & The Swan mural. Art Garage, New Orleans LA

 So, I’m getting more tattoos. I’m getting uncomfortable again and putting myself out there once more. I’m being honest with my body. I am being honest with my teaching.

I’m writing class sequences, researching new music, chanting loudly, listening to stand up comedy, making art and mixing it all up into a disciplined movement of authenticity that I move & laugh to. I’m waking up early to practice my yoga and when I don’t, I stay up late. I’m creating a space where our family can gather in practice together, and a space where each of us can go inward. It’s too important not to share the power of this practice. But most importantly, I must practice.

Yin yoga training under my belt and soup in my belly.
Yin yoga training under my belt and soup in my belly.

My hope is you will enjoy joining me or in simply witnessing.  Be hungry with me.

expand & get your hands dirty- love – lara

reflections: the cost of freedom

photo credit: Frank Relle
photo credit: Frank Relle

Under this full moon, in the shadow of our country honoring its living veterans of war who have fought for our freedoms (Veterans Day 11/11), I urge you to listen to Maggies Koerner’s song Neutral Ground (see link below) while reading Mark Twain’s verse (see below excerpt from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”)

Then …close your eyes and reflect on what you just saw, read & heard.  Feel the Louisiana air run across your fingers, smell the factory air & the swamp green tendrils rise from the murky waters and hear the soulful sound of a songstress that pulses with the ballads of our ancestors.

Rise up and over…

Crossing over the Mississippi
Crossing over the Mississippi

…The Mississippi River. A life line of industry and ecology in our country, it once beat with the pulse of slave drums and songs within the walls of riverside plantations. Plantations that churned out sugar from the blood & sweat of  the enslaved. Poison created to make the white man wealthy.

Today it is no different, except the poison is chemical not cane.

Spooky shit. Chemicals and Christ along the Mississsippi. Dow, St. Charles Operations LA
Spooky shit. Chemicals and Christ along the Mississsippi. Dow, St. Charles Operations LA

Cemeteries abutting chemical plants. People live and die like this. The rumbling and churning rhythms of the monster of a plant creates eerie sounds as you walk through the tightly gridded maze of graves of hundreds of families gone way too soon from this earth.

What does our freedom cost? It costs lives.

What is freedom to you?

For me it is the ability to speak out against injustice. To create without constraint. To breathe deep and immerse myself in clear waters. To be able to worship in any way I wish. To define my sex & have sex, how I choose to, with whomever I choose; and he,or she, the same. To be free, is to be in the pursuit of happiness.

Above all to me, personal freedom is the ability to transform. To create a future not based on the past.

So I urge you to exercise your freedom. Someone died so you could live better than they did. Fight like hell for it!

With Love- Lara



“It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie–I found that out.

reflections of a setting sun in a petroleum waste ditch

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn’t know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I’ll go and write the letter–and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.


I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell”–and tore it up.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The red glow of sunset fire along the Mississippi from a Dow chemical plant. Brimstone on the river Hades.
The red glow of sunset fire along the Mississippi from a Dow chemical plant. Brimstone on the river Hades.

I seek neither permission or forgiveness


A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep. – Vernon Howard
I didn’t ask permission. I don’t seek forgiveness. It’s just something I have to do.

There have been those seminal moments in my life when I couldn’t sleep, eat, or focus on anything other than that pulsing feeling that urged me to create something. It had to emerge from me & take whatever time necessary to come into being, or I would feel confused, sick, lost or empty. I’m so glad I listened & acted upon them, for it was in those moments that a change occurred in me. Usually a very big change. Altering.  Moments of discovery of hidden information, artistic transformation with a new medium, cracking wide open with a partner who allows deepening intimacy and falling in love deeper than I ever thought possible, sitting up with a sick child who you simply have to watch breathe, bathing in the ocean under moonlight, creating a new business, walking the neighborhood streets at 3am in the rain…

…and you? Have you ever felt that? What was it? What did you discover?

CLITeracy | magic within us for the sole function of feeling good



THE INTERNAL CLITORIS: where the magic is

Consider this: In over five million years of human evolution, only one organ has come to exist for the sole purpose of providing pleasure—the clitoris. It is not required for reproduction. It doesn’t have a urethra running through it like the penis, and thus, does not urinate. Its sole function—its singular, wonderful purpose—is to make a woman feel good!


Sadly, it is precisely because the clitoris has no function apart from female pleasure that science has neglected to study it as intricately as the penis. One piece of pertinent information lacking that science had not yet discovered, until recently, is the true size and scope of the clitoris.

Try asking the next person you encounter to tell you where the clitoris is located. Having posed this question to others many times myself, I’ll guess that the majority of answers you receive will sound something like, “It’s that small bulb at the top of my lips,” or, “That’s the button up under the hood.” Although these responses aren’t exactly wrong, the interesting truth is that the majority of the clitoris is actually within the pelvis—that is, it’s far more internal than external. Most  women I know,  who are generally worldly and well-informed about their own bodies, have a combination of fascination and confusion learning that the clitoris extends deep within them.

The scientific name for the external “little button” or “bulb” is glans. Not to be confused with glands, glans simply refers to a small circular mass. This little structure contains approximately 8,000 sensory nerve fibers; more than anywhere else in the human body and nearly twice the amount found on the head of a penis! From reading her work, it’s clear that Marie Bonepart mistakenly thought that the clitoris was completely comprised of the glans; and because it is super sensitive and all anyone can see of the organ, her confusion is mirrored by most women today. The fact is though, that most of the clitoris is subterranean, consisting of two corpora cavernosa (corpus cavernosum when referring to the structure as a whole), two crura (crus when referring to the structure as a whole), and the clitoral vestibules or bulbs.

The glans is connected to the body or shaft of the internal clitoris, which is made up of two corpora cavernosa. When erect, the corpora cavernosa encompass the vagina on either side, as if they were wrapping around it giving it a big hug!

big hug clit

The corpus cavernosum also extends further, bifurcating again to form the two crura. These two legs extend up to 9cm, pointing toward the thighs when at rest, and stretching back toward the spine when erect. To picture them at rest, imagine the crura as a wishbone, coming together at the body of the clitoris where they attach to the pubic symphysis.

Near each of the crura on either side of the vaginal opening are the clitoral vestibules. These are internally under the labia majora. When they become engorged with blood they actually cuff the vaginal opening causing the vulva to expand outward. Get these puppies excited, and you’ve got a hungrier, tighter-feeling vaginal opening in which to explore!

What does all this mean? Well, for starters, we can finally end that age-old debate of vaginal vs. clitoral orgasms.


The erect internal clitoris: 

In 1953, Kinsey wrote: “The vagina walls are quite insensitive in the great majority of females … There is no evidence that the vagina is ever the sole source of arousal, or even the primary source of erotic arousal in any female.”

Then in 1970, Germaine Greer published The Female Eunuch, which scoffed at Kinsey’s theory. She wrote, “It is nonsense to say that a woman feels nothing when a man is moving his penis inside her vagina. The orgasm is qualitatively different when the vagina can undulate around the penis instead of a vacancy.”

Interestingly, they’re both right. The vagina is not the sole source of arousal, though to stimulate the inner clitoris you can greatly do so by manipulating, displacing, and exploring the vagina with a penis or other apparatus.

Many women can bring themselves to orgasm without ever inserting anything inside of themselves. They are causing their internal clitoris to become erect and likely stimulating their glans, bulbs, and crura by rubbing themselves on the outside. The corpus cavernousum is the additional erectile tissue encompassing the vagina, and greatly erogenous when stimulated internally.

Sketch of the erect internal clitoris:

erect clit sketch

Let’s also remember, female orgasm is not solely about the clitoris and vagina either. It is far more complex and also involves the workings of multiple nerves, tissues, muscles, reflexes, and mental effort. Some women can think themselves to orgasm. Others can orgasm simply by flexing their pelvic muscles. Considering all the components involved plus the variability of human beings and their anatomies, it’s extremely important to remember no two people are the same. What works for one woman may not work for another. In other words, it’s all custom under the hood.

What really blows my mind is the plethora of misinformation that exists in textbooks, professional medical guides, and on the internet. Take for example, in one of my undergraduate textbooks titled Understanding Human Sexuality, the clitoris is depicted merely as just the glans. The sad fact is it wasn’t until the 1990’s that researchers began using MRI to study the internal structure of the clitoris. By then, the intricate details of the penis were already well known.

Urologist Helen O’Connell of the Royal Melbourne Hospital set out to better understand the microscopic nerve supply to the clitoris using MRI, something that had already been done for men with regard to their sexual function in the 1970s. In 1998 she published her findings, informing the medical world of the true scope and size of the clitoris. Yet ironically that same year, men in America began popping Viagra to cure erectile dysfunction.

Sketch of the clitoris at rest:

clit at rest

In 2005 The American  Urological Association published one of Dr. O’Connell’s reports on clitoral anatomy. The report itself even states, “The anatomy of the clitoris has not been stable with time as would be expected. To a major extent its study has been dominated by social factors … Some recent anatomy textbooks omit a description of the clitoris. By comparison, pages are devoted to penile anatomy.” The report also mentions how seemingly impossible it is to understand the internal structure of the clitoris with just one diagram. Several are required to truly get a comprehensive understanding of it.

Alas it wasn’t until as recent as 2009, French researchers Dr. Odile Buisson and Dr. Pierre Foldès gave the medical world it’s first complete 3-D sonography of the stimulated clitoris. They did this work for three years without any proper funding. Thanks to them, we now understand how the erectile tissue of the clitoris engorges and surrounds the vagina—a complete breakthrough that explains how what we once considered to be a vaginal orgasm is actually an internal clitoral orgasm.

And so we teach our children well….

3D clitoris sculpture

3D Model of the Clitoris is making a big sensation in education in France

Paul Verlaine celebrated it in his 1889 poem Printemps as a “shining pink button”, but thanks to the sociomedical researcher Odile Fillod, French schoolchildren will now understand that it looks more like a hi-tech boomerang. Yes, the world’s first open-source, anatomically correct, printable 3D clitoris is here, and it will be used for sex education in French schools, from primary to secondary level, from September.

From Fillod’s sculpture, pupils will learn that the clitoris is made up of the same tissue as the penis. That it is divided into crura or legs, bulbs, foreskin and a head. That the only difference between a clitoris and a penis is that most of the female erectile tissue is internal – and that it’s often longer, at around 8 inches.

“It’s important that women have a mental image of what is actually happening in their body when they’re stimulated,” Paris-based Fillod says. “In understanding the key role of the clitoris, a woman can stop feeling shame, or [that she’s] abnormal if penile-vaginal intercourse doesn’t do the trick for her – given the anatomical data, that is the case for most women.”

Emerging GoddessThe Goddess Emerging by Jelwery Artist Lizzie Goodwin

“It’s also vital to know that the equivalent of a penis in a woman is not a vagina, it’s her clitoris. Women get erections when they’re excited, only you can’t see them because most of the clitoris is internal. I wanted to show that men and women are not fundamentally different.”

Fillod had been working with Toulouse-based V.Ideaux, creators of an anti-sexist web TV series, to create a modern sex education video when it struck her that the clitoris was never presented correctly in school textbooks. This catalyzed her to develop her 3D model at the Fab Lab, of the Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie in Paris.

bronze jewelry of the clitoris

Fillod’s 3D clit has come in the nick of time. This June, Haut Conseil à l’Egalité, a government body monitoring gender equality in public life, published a damning report on the state of sex ed in France. The report revealed that sex education is rife with sexism. Current official guidelines state that young boys are more “focused on genital sexuality”, while girls “attach more importance to love”.

Clitoris activism is hot in France right now. The feminist group Osez Le Féminisme has been vocal in combatting the silence around it since 2011. While in Nice, a group of sex-positive feminists, Les Infemmes, has created a “sensual counter culture” fanzine called L’Antisèche du Clito or The Idiot’s Guide to the Clit. There are funny drawings of “Punk Clit,” “Dracula Clit” and “Freud Clit”, as well as facts about the organ.

Meanwhile, jeweler Anne Larue has created a bronze clitoris pendant in conjunction with Les Infemmes artist Amandine Brûlée. “The clitoris has been the hidden, shameful organ for so long,” says Larue. “My necklace brings it to the light of day.” She reassures that the more timorous should not be worried about wearing it: “For the uninitiated, it looks like an octopus or a Neolithic goddess.”

Jewlery withIN and out of the body:

bronze clitoris pendant

The Australian doctor Helen O’Connell is often credited as being the first person to show the complete anatomy of the clitoris to the modern world in 1998. In fact that achievement belongs to LA-based activist-artist Suzann Gage, who realized, while looking for images of the clitoris to illustrate a book called A New View of a Woman’s Body in 1981, that her best information came from medical textbooks of the 1800s – when anatomical drawings were done from cadavers. So images of the clitoris might have existed for a long time but, on realizing that it played no direct part in reproduction, the medical profession chose to ignore it.

Fillod has hopes that doctors as well as school teachers, will use her sculpture to learn – and teach – the truth about the female body. “France has the reputation for being sexually sophisticated, but often it’s about male sexuality.” However, she is optimistic about the future. “Understanding that they have an erectile system just like men, I think women will start to experiment more. They will understand that pleasure is not some magic that only a partner knows how to give.”

  • Excerpts from articles by Ms M, sex educator & contributor at The Museum of Sex, NYC and Stephanie Theobald,  writer, The Guardian August 2016



blood & suspended peppered sunlight

marlo marquise

The Fountain of Blood

Charles Baudelaire, 1821 – 1867

A fountain’s pulsing sobs—like this my blood
Measures its flowing, so it sometimes seems.
I hear a gentle murmur as it streams;
Where the wound lies I’ve never understood.

Like water meadows, boulevards are flooded.
Cobblestones, crisscrossed by scarlet rills,
Are islands; creatures come and drink their fill.
Nothing in nature now remains unblooded.

I used to hope that wine could bring me ease,
Could lull asleep my deeply gnawing mind.
I was a fool: the senses clear with wine.

I looked to Love to cure my old disease.
Love led me to a thicket of IVs
Where bristling needles thirsted for each vein.


I am in awe. This woman inspires, seduces and bemuses me. Marlo Marquise is a sinuous petite china doll with a forked tounge, cantilever strength & dedication that stops you dead in your tracks.

She taught me how to walk and press my flesh into broken glass in New Orleans this past winter at the Snake Oil Festival and shared time after the workshop to sit and talk with me about her life, history and passion. It is our conversation that made an impression on me more than the feeling of shattered glass against my skin. Although my pubise still recalls the sensation with the writing of these words, remembering as muscles do, how it felt to crush glass bottle necks during bow pose with my pubic bone. I remember too how Marlo’s smile glinted on the left corner of her mouth as I lifted my gaze to her affirming stance beside me. I was doing something that frightened & thrilled me, and she knew what that felt like. It felt really fucking good!

She knew she wanted to be “a freak”. Sought it out at an early age and made it her own. She owns it. She unapologetically surmounted its bigotry and continues to rise to unbelievable heights of expression in her career as a Showgirl of Extreme Variety. She shared with us her study of the faquirs, stories of the jeers of men & women who felt threatened by her pursuits and her tender friendship with Bob Flanagan, renowned performance artist and poet whose life & infamous autobiographical film Sick, fashioned art from his pain.

She’s not a paradox, but perfection. Her body a living, writhing art form.


Seen tonight through the eyes of my husband in San Francisco, Marlo was suspended from the grids of the Masonic Theatre thrashing on hooks through her back above Jane’s Addiction. Michael, in his pure pleasure, shared live video and stills and “holy shit!” exclamations via text with me while I tucked into bed on the east coast. An unreal and awe invoking sight, I was like a cat watching catnip on a string. With phenomenal athleticism and discipline in action, Marlo, was the heartbeat and breath of the show.

I feel high just watching the performance. Even on my phone’s 3×5″ screen 2800 miles away from Masonic’s stage. I am in awe of her devotion and knowing, her artistic expression and intensity. Her beauty and unapologetic, raw spotlight on the human form as flesh and blood and transformation – her fucking pain – as verb & adjective.

4:00am est, I lay to bed and will dream for the next 3 hours until my alarm goes off,
of flying …
next to a goddess …
who suspends herself above peppered sunlight.

soar & bleed- lara

If you enjoy Marlo’s work, take a moment to support her work:



The Well Within


The Well Within

a ripple across the water
a touch lightly caressing the skin
a spark ignited
within me
there is a well
ever flowing
within me 
there is a fire
stoked by breath
flames licking upwards
at the walls of my chest
my heart
within me there is a passion
that can expand
my wildest imaginations
a weft of chords
against the shuttle 
of our desire
weaving together 
his breath
his moans
his touch
tendrils of the loom
like the slack rope of the well’s pulley
dark depths

january 2016
kripalu, lenox massachusetts