April 27-May 3, 2006
Sex : Paper DollLet's Get (Meta) Physical
The gathering, which runs today through Sunday, draws dyads, triads, quads, groups and singles from as far as Hawaii and Canada to a 200-acre retreat near Havre de Grace, Md., 90 minutes south of Philadelphia.
George Marvil, the brains behind Beltane, says sacred sexuality is about "ecstatic communication" and making connections: "That can be six hours in a bedroom with scented candles or in the backseat of a Buickhowever you're able to define it."
What started out eight years ago as a family-friendly Pagan fest with flower garlands and naked hippies dancing around the maypole has evolved into a pansexual, clothing-optional retreat offering workshops and lecturesat least half of which are Pantheist-oriented and taught by instructors with names like Puck, Freeheart and Wilddragon.
The teachings cover a wide range of topics, including spiritual S&M, Chakra orgasm, advanced spanking, tarot reading, foreskin restoration (aka Take Back the Turtleneck!), sacred prostitution (aka hooking for the good of the Temple), Taoist handjobs and the always popular Tantra.
For the socially conscious, there are classes on overcoming homophobia and other "sex-negative demons"; for the anal-retentive, there's "Exploring the Rosebud and Pelvic Cradle," a two-part series on tailbone adjustment and starfish massage. The lick-a-witch workshop explores the wondrous vulva, and a women-only circle of love is being co-priestessed by two bisexual Wiccan feminists.
Other highlights: A class on making peace with jealousy (the attack of the green-eyed poly monster is serious business) and an afternoon frolic in a grassy field where ecstatic folks can make love in the open air. Nightfall brings drumming and dancing around a lakeside bonfire.
As organizer of the annual Poly Living Conference, Marvil is 100 percent out about his polyism. He has a wife at home and a girlfriend on the side, and his wife has a lover who lives with them and is the biological father of their 2-year-old daughter. Likewise, loverman has a girlfriend. It's complex, sure, but they keep no secrets.
If it all sounds like so much crushed velvet and smudgesticks, look in the scrying mirror: Have you ever been cheated on? Or tempted to cheat? Madly deeply with one person, yet strangely drawn to another? Why fight it?
Beyond the faerie wings, crystal staffs and neo-hippie mumbo of yonis and lingams, it all seems quite logical. Polys don't nurture bullshit notions of needle-in-a-haystack soulmates or happily-ever-after serial monogamy. They thumb their noses at Hollywood romantics who believe love is a Klimt painting, and point to high divorce rates and rampant infidelity when accused of corrupting family values.
Never to be confused with swinging (all about the booty) or polygamy (all about the wifeys serving the man Big Love-style), multimaters like Marvil base their relationships on honesty, equality and respect. Making it with the neighbor is only cheating if you lie about it.
And that, my friends, is something to get ecstatic about.
Questions? Comments? Are you the most ethical slut you know? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls.