Reclaiming The Erotic


In Audre Lorde’s seminal lecture from 1978, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” from the book Sister Outsider, she beautifully articulates the essential need to return to living within the broadest reaches of creativity, sensuality and intuition. This piece was crafted during the seventies when some Feminists had their own  ‘Backlash” again the masculine, but this piece is ultimately a call for all of us to reclaim the power and potential of embracing our connection to ourselves, our work, and others through a broader definition of The Erotic. With primal respect to Ms. Lorde and her original expression I am moving this into inclusive language….

“We have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge….We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused, and devalued in western society. But The Erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the person who does not fear its revelation….The Erotic is a measure between the beginning of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.…It is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing…We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.”

My work is Erotic. It is also a political act to live from deep within a radical and simple return to each of our authentic knowing.

When I began my self-portrait photography it was a way to explore my own sense of power and identity through the camera lens. I was still in the resurrection process after my husband’s death from cancer, and most of my ideas about life, stability, trust, safety, justice, hope, faith, and love had been blown apart.  The initial Earthen Body photographs were my search for who this woman was now that she had been thrust out of the castle. I had been ensconced in the Princess/Knight “white-picket-fence” paradigm, and now had been released to find my own truths.

I used the ritualistic photographic process to claim who I was beyond external opinions or expectations. Because I was alone, I was able to really open up and release most of the self-consciousness I can be controlled by. This new woman was much fiercer and more intense than I had previously recognized.

What I really came into contact with during my work was my own internal sense of The Erotic. By being nude and exposed on the land I remembered a deep knowing of my place within the earth. I was the soil and the raven and the stream; my boundaries became permeable and I returned to the oneness of all that is.

Melissa Weiss Steele Earthen Body photography series-Capitol Reef, UT 2007

I gratefully “lost” the sense of self that can be constricting and became a wild and free dervish on the land. It was a place where I can meet the “chaos of my strongest feelings” in a non-linear, visceral, primal way that allows movement and integration from those unconscious and hidden realms.

I also reenter the sacred place of joy and union that is constantly available through stepping deeply into anything that makes us really alive. I stepped into The Erotic.

Melissa Weiss Steele Earthen Body ritualistic photography series-Anatoki River New Zealand 12-29-07

This blossoming into my passionate  creativity opened the doorways for The Painted Body images here in New Mexico that have been some of the richest work I have done to date. When we open to our larger potentials, we never know what may magically and blessedly materialize. My emergence into my Erotic Self has transformed every aspect of my life from dancing to dreaming, to loving and grieving. I am awake, and it’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a blessed journey we are on, and I want to experience all the twists and turns.

This is Eroticism lived.

  3 comments for “Reclaiming The Erotic

  1. BG
    October 27, 2009 at 6:13 pm


    You, your words, your art, your life, and your fierce love, are an inspiration.

    BG ox


  2. mwsteele
    October 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Wow!!! “an aura that pervaded and permeated your life.” YES!!!! xoxxx M


  3. October 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    To me creativity & eroticism are intertwined and intimately connected. At a point in my life when I was most creative, I also concurrently tapped into a stream of erotic energy that seemed like a vital life force that was driving my creativity.

    The content of my creative output was not erotic, but the same energetic eroticism that I felt flowing out of me was also that energy that allowed me to be creative. And this energy was in no way about bedmanship, quantity or conquest but was like an aura that pervaded and permeated my life; in fact it wasn’t about sex so much as about the energetics of sex.

    It was raw creative life-force unleashed in every area of my life. It was glorious and it was carnal in the best sense of the word; I felt in my body and in my soul in a natural way that perhaps the other creatures of this world that are unburdened by an ego feel on a daily basis. Thanks for this writing, a reminder of what that felt like.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: