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This is part of our Taboo Series.

I moved to the Pacific Northwest in large part because of a spiritual connection with the land around me that I first experienced when traversing through the hills of Ireland. Little did I know that I was beginning my exploration of what life partners and collaborators Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens call “ecosexuality.”

For those unfamiliar with the term, Sprinkle and Stephens offer nine different definitions in their book Assuming the Ecosexual Position: The Earth as Lover, including:

“1. A person who finds nature romantic, sensual, erotic, or sexy, which can include humans or not. 2. A new sexual identity (self-identified). 3. A person who takes the Earth as their lover.” Their last definition of the term: to “9. Other definitions as yet to be determined.”

While some of their definitions resonate more than others with my experiences connecting with nature, I’ve realized I’m a person for whom playing in nature awakens spiritual and sexual sensibilities.

In exploring why I feel such a primal connection to the lush greenery that defines both Ireland and the Pacific Northwest, I’ve come across women who work to help seekers like myself explore our intimate connections to the earth.

For example, in her work as a storyteller and facilitator, Katrina Marie focuses on helping people slow down, pay attention, and be intentional about sharing their energy with their physical surroundings. Instead of taking the conservationist view that one must be a caretaker to nature and the earth, Marie suggests we learn how to actually listen to it. “We miss something when we put ourselves in a position of authority over the earth,” she says, “instead of putting pleasure at the center and seeing what we can learn from the earth.”

The lack of human contact experienced during the earlier days of the coronavirus pandemic caused Marie to turn more towards nature’s bounty for energy. “Intimate moments with nature give us clues to what we want. Maybe it’s steadiness, maybe it’s gentle warmth,” she notes, adding that for anyone who feels nervous about connecting sexually with others, “ecosexual practices can help build a sense of safety and agency in receiving.” She’s developed an online ecosexual course along those lines.

How to practice ecosexuality

For Kriyanna Feyalove, a reiki master and facilitator in tantra and ecstatic awakening meditation, ecosexual means “being in love with being alive, finding God in nature and ourselves, and having a pleasurable sensual relationship with God through nature via our senses.”

Here are some ways you can begin to explore how to transform your relationship with yourself and the natural world around you. 

  • Walk barefoot to ground yourself to the earth as you feel the grass, dirt, rocks, and mud on your feet. Let your body relax and sink into the embrace of Mother Earth.
  • During a rainstorm, take your clothes off and run outside. Let the rain cover your body as you play in the mud puddles.
  • Take in the powerful scents around you and lick the petals of dew from flowers. “Feel the tickly texture of the petals on your lips and tongue,” Feyalove instructs. “Get into the experience as though you are kissing a person.”
  • Marie likes to sit under a tree with a sheepskin to provide comfort and connection. She imagines pulling the roots of her pelvis down into the tree’s roots. “This practice can help connect the core of the tree with your core,” she observes.
  • Add noise to your experience. Singing, shouting, and drumming can help connect your body to the vibrations of the earth. Feyalove recommends that once you’ve done this, be sure to pause and listen to what nature has to share with you as well.
  • Consider adding a plant ally such as cannabis or psilocybin mushrooms, which Marie finds can boost ecosexuality and help her get even more connected to nature. Consider growing your own natural medicinal plants (hemp is legal to grow in most states). Then turn them into medicine such as CBD topicals that can help heal your body.
  • Along those lines, Feyalove finds ecosexual pleasure in regenerative agriculture, where she develops a relationship with the food she grows, from seed to harvest. One of the ways she does this is by placing each seed in her mouth. This way the seed receives the information from her saliva about what her body needs and will grow symbiotically to support her life.
  • Be mindful of how the fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator are a part of nature. Marie suggests really sitting with the next piece of fruit you pick up. As you peel an orange, for example, feel the skin and the spray from the orange as you slowly savor each bite. Consider putting on headphones and playing nature tracks to further enhance this experience.
  • Get in touch with how your body feels when touching nature via the ancient rite of skinny dipping. Explore how this ritual can become part of a spiritual practice connecting you to the water and earth. Feyalove enjoys feeling the texture and temperature of the water in contrast to the temperature of her skin. Then she allows herself to float and be held by that water as she takes deep breaths and surrenders to nature’s embrace. Even further, Marie recommends tuning into what you feel the water would like. “Start treating the water as an active participant, so that you can be creating together.”
  • Participate in World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD) held the first Saturday in May. Samantha Montanaro, cofounder and CEO of the global feminist cannabis community Tokeativity, describes the empowering feeling of gardening naked: “It has been interesting to notice how I feel when I am out in my garden with no clothes on. It feels really normal, actually, and makes me think about how removed from the ancestral rights we have gotten. My body is beautiful and it needs sunshine to touch every inch of it! I feel turned on and excited by the playfulness of WNGD and it is really a regular practice these days.”

While you can do these ecosexual practices solo, having a guided facilitator along for the journey can help ease you into these new practices. Feyalove finds that practicing ecosexuality in a group amplifies the energies. “Each person is holding with their aura a magnetic field of energy that is drawing in what we want and also repelling what we don’t want,” she notes. “When people come together, those magnetic fields overlap and create open womb portals. The more people you have, the more portals are opening for us to manifest what it is we’re calling in.”

An earlier version of this article was posted at Spirituality & Health

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As a freelance writer with dual MDiv/MSW degree from Yale Divinity School/Columbia University, I focus on the rise of secular spirituality, religious satire, spiritual health & wellness, faith &...