This is the second installment of interviews with speakers from the 3rd Annual AltSex NYC Conference, which was held on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the Jerry Orbach Theater in Manhattan. 

Source: James Lawer, used with permission

James Lawer presented on “The Effective Use of BDSM in Male Psychological Development,” in which he detailed his integration of shamanic rituals and BDSM practices in helping individuals overcome life-long sexual hangups. James has extensively studied and was initiated into tribal traditions in North, Central and South America as well as the indigenous (Druid) traditions of Great Britain. After years of fulltime hospice work with HIV/AIDS patients, he has devoted himself to teaching participatory earth-centered spiritualities. James is a Certified Instructor with the Cuyamungue Institue, in which he teaches and facilitates organic ecstatic trance states. He is an Advisory Board member for the Center for Optimal Living Psychedelic Integration Program, and a founder and teacher of the Druid College, teaching direct experiences of nature in New York City and in Maine. Note: Mr. Lawer is not a licensed psychotherapist and does not provide psychotherapy. He has been trained in an official capacity by other shamans to provide shamanic services.

Q: You have quite an interesting background, with training in theater, spiritual counseling, and hospice work. How did you come to shamanism, what is it, and what have you found so powerful about this approach?

A: I came to shamanism quite slowly, though in looking back over my life there were signs that the shift started early.  My first experience in altered consciousness was when I was six years old.  I had an out of body experience in which I left my body and flew out over San Diego harbor, then looked back and saw my body standing on the far hill.  Immediately I realized that consciousness was pliable and that “personhood” can be a fluid term.  I saw for myself that seeing things from different perspectives certainly contained more possibilities than what I was being taught.  Knowing alternate realities gave me access to bandwidths of wisdom that might be helpful.

For myself as a kid, that access was intriguing, and I wanted to explore it.  With increasing experiences of the uncanny, I began examining how the narratives we live in shape and can determine what we understand to be “reality.”  Later on, the question—What in the world do I do with these experiences and this awareness?—then turned towards a focus on how I might be an agent in helping others shift their own awareness, when they were unhappy with their life narrative (to which they felt obligated by external structures and forces), and when they actively wanted to shift.  With that question, my personal journey became a matter of service to the wellbeing of others.  And in particular, shamanism invoked powers of nature, blood ancestors, spirits of place (“mud ancestors”), healing, imagination, and fundamental questions about the nature of relationship that ultimately lead into personal and communal ethics.

Read the full article: 

Making the Unconscious Visible: BDSM and Shamanic Ritual by Dr. Michael Aaron

June 6, 2018