Is this what the 1960s felt like?
That was my first thought when entering The Park Theatre on Aug. 25 for the Sacred Sexual Music Festival. A kirtan, a type of ancient Indian chant, was being held in the lobby with flower children dancing and old-school hippies embracing one another.
The first Winnipeg Sacred Sexual Music Festival was a gathering of musicians, creators, healers and spiritual leaders for a day of learning, exchange, experimentation and healing.
The Sacred Sexual Music Festival was a beautifully messy celebration of the intersection between sexuality and spirituality. Mesmerizing sessions and events combined music, art, dance and therapy.
Emily McDougall, also known as Emi Lovely, opened the day with a hypnotic stilt burlesque act. Local tantric massage therapist and sexological bodyworker Jasmine Michelle talked about the “Wheel of Consent,” discussing power balances and exchanges.
Nicole Mapu held an exotic chair dance session and an orgasmic freedom circle. Alongside these were many other sessions and performances by other creators and teachers.
Kirtans, songs, yoga sessions and music performances continued throughout the day.
It was a strange, but ultimately wholesome experience.
The Sacred Sexual Music Festival’s founder and organizer Wendy DeMos described the festival as “a place where you can feel and know the innocence of your sexuality.”
DeMos put on the first Sacred Sexual Music Festival in her native Vancouver in 2018 as a response to the #MeToo movement and harassment scandals throughout Hollywood and politics.
“I really felt called to create something that brought back the sacred back and respect back […] We need to shift the sexuality paradigm, especially in North America,” she said.
When she began the Sacred Sexual Music Festival, DeMos felt trepidation due to the taboo nature of the topic, but community support and her belief in the necessity of this event pushed her forward.
“I had to heal too, from shame and guilt,” she said.
She now has little concern about how mainstream society will view these Canada-wide festivals.
DeMos has since held a second Sacred Sexual Music Festival in Vancouver this year, as well as one in Edmonton.
DeMos believes that by acknowledging the shame and guilt tied to sexuality we can heal and open up become our more authentic selves.
Healing trauma and breaking mental barriers was a major theme and goal of the festival and many in attendance.
Maria Dutra, a local spiritual healer, was a central figure of the event.
“I assist people through the tools that I have in transcending trauma, shock, panic, issues that have occurred in the past that are stuck,” said Dutra.
Dutra also helped bring together many of the major leaders and organizers for the Sacred Sexual Music Festival.
Local activist Wendy Scheirich’s powerful talk about forty years as a social worker delineated how she went from sex-trade abolitionist to sex-worker advocate and somatic sex trainer. She eventually came to the realization that sexual pleasure can be the antidote for sexual trauma.
Somatic sex education involves relinquishing the shame attached to sexuality and reclaiming sexual pleasure, incorporating massage, breathing exercises and other forms of body-based therapy.
Joseph Fedorowich, an apprentice shaman with the Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society and certified somatic sexological bodyworker opened the day and led many discussions and meditations.
Fedorowich said he intended to take “people on a journey to bring balance to the masculine and feminine within their body” and provide “teachings of protection and how we energetically connect with our environment” at the festival.
Fedorowich often combines various traditions and philosophies from Buddhism, Hinduism and Indigenous spiritualism as avenues for healing.
“What I really love is to find the similarities between all the various spiritual faiths — I tend to find a common ground with them,” said Fedorowich.
Business owner Bradley O’Neill, the master builder for a Manitoba-based eco-village, embraced me in the most cathartic hug of my life.
While hymns were sung in the background he sat down with me to describe the philosophy and ideas that inform his community north of Teulon.
“We are a conscientious group of high-vibers looking to make the change in the world that we wish for, as Ghandi said,” said O’Neill.
“We are doing things that are for our inner health and our inner beauty and we’re also trying to do that which effects the world in a positive way.”
Some of the initiatives undertaken by O’Neill’s company Beyond Creative: Design & Carpentry and his peers include permaculture, eco-villages, tiny-homes and intentional living.
“We want to keep in this harmonic flow of all things,” he said.
This festival introduced me to a community that nurtures an environment of openness, intimacy and limitless love.
While open to anyone, yet maybe not for everyone, it is impossible to leave the Sacred Sexual Music Festival without learning something valuable about yourself and your sexuality.
Information on future festivals along with links and information on the organizers and participants can be found at jaigopalkaur.wixsite.com/sacredsexmusicfest.