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Secret Garden Publishing - Kenneth Ray Stubbs
Women of the Light
The New Sacred Prostitute

Edited by Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Ph.D.

To learn about our newly released documentary THE SACRED PROSTITUTE, see

Women of the night—women of the light:
the sacred prostitute,
the temple priestess,
the sexual healer,
the embodiment of the archetypal Goddess.

Who is she today?

Without a continuing lineage, without a temple, the contemporary sexual initiator/healer/teacher has many faces. Today she is

The Sex Surrogate
The Porn Star
The Tantra Meditation Teacher
The Visionary Artist
The Masseuse
The Group-Sex Hostess
The Call Girl
The Shaman
The Nurse

Nine women share their work, their lives, and their insights. Their personally written stories bring us to a deeper understanding of our sexuality and our humanity.

(to contact the women)

Secret Garden Publishing - Kenneth Ray Stubbs

The Nurse
by Kathryn

When I met Jonnie, my new patient, the first thing I noticed was his warm, radiant smile. He had short black curly hair and an amputated leg. His body was paralyzed with no movement and sensation from his shoulders to his toes.

From the age of eighteen, when he was suddenly paralyzed from an automobile accident, Jonnie had lived in institutions for a total of thirty years. Nurses, doctors, and physical therapists made up his social life during his late teens, early, and middle adult years. All of his family members had died, and he no longer had outside visitors.

I became Jonnie’s primary nurse, which meant I was assigned to him on a regular basis. We felt at ease with each other instantly. He was a quadriplegic; thus it was my job to assist him in almost all of his bodily functions: to move, bathe, dress, undress, eat, urinate, and defecate.

Since Jonnie never left the hospital, the outside world came to him through his caregivers. Jonnie's social and sexual development had come to an abrupt halt with his accident. So when I told him that I was also a graduate student in sexology, a wide range of questions poured forth. “How do people feel when they are in love?” “What do they say to each other when they are in love or sexually attracted to each other?” “How does the body feel when in love and sexually aroused?” “What can my body feel?” “How can I have more physical sensations and sexual feelings?” I answered what I knew and was honest with what I didn’t know.

Jonnie's greatest desire was to experience sensation in his mostly paralyzed, numb body, something to give him feedback that he was physically alive. His motivation was very strong when he asked for my assistance. There was a potential problem however. If I helped him, I could lose my job were the explorations perceived by hospital administrators or coworkers as being in any way sexual.

Never having attempted this type of education/therapy before and because each person's potential is different, I really did not know what his body could experience. Drawing on my backgrounds in sexology and in meditation, I felt two approaches might be best. The first, known as sensate focus, would be simply to focus, to concentrate, to be aware of the physical sensations of taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight occurring during an activity. The second method was to be open to an attitude, a feeling of unconditional love. I explained that awakening the love that has no conditions, boundaries, or limits is a love that is available to all human beings. Jonnie began focusing on unconditional loving thoughts centered in his heart area. I invited him to visualize white light saturated with love filling every cell of his body and continuing to radiate beyond his skin surface.

We decided to focus fully on the activities already being experienced in his daily life. Eating became a new experience as his attention was drawn to the food during mealtime. There was the sight of ripe, red, juicy, sweet strawberries topped with whipped cream, and the sharp smell of pickles. There was the sweetness of chocolate frosting swirling over his tongue, and the crunch of fresh, firm carrot sticks. The key was to appreciate the aliveness of the senses.

After food is processed by the body, the remains have to be expelled, and quadriplegics do not have the ability to activate the peristaltic wave of the intestines on their own. In order to produce a bowel movement, a caregiver must stimulate the nerves in the anus with an inserted finger, a process termed digital stimulation. Hospital protocol calls for a minimum of five minutes or whatever time it takes to empty the bowel of its contents. From my experience, five minutes never had much effect on my patients in regards to stimulating the undulant wave; it always required a good twenty to thirty minutes. An effective bowel movement is absolutely crucial to a spinal cord injured person because a full bowel could cause a condition called dysreflexia. This comes on suddenly from irritations such as a full bladder, full bowel, or skin pain. If dysreflexia is not relieved quickly, high blood pressure can cause further disabilities from a stroke. Death can also be a consequence. Every quadriplegic quickly learns that a good emptying of the bowel is paramount to staying alive, while a poor emptying can be life threatening.

With a positive attitude toward our body, particularly the anus and prostate gland, our brain will usually interpret stimulation from this area as pleasurable. When receiving digital stimulation, most people recovering from a spinal cord injury are not encouraged to focus on any sensation. For the purpose of our exploration, I encouraged Jonnie to focus on any and all sensations during the bowel program. I sometimes played soothing music to help create a sense of calmness and to help the oftentimes spasmodic muscles to relax. Since early childhood, most of us have been taught that eliminating feces should be done as quickly as possible, as unconsciously as possible, and with a feeling of disgust. When children are taught attitudes of fear, avoidance, and disdain in connection with learning bowel control, emotional scars are left in the psyche, which poisons their feelings for their bodies and affects sexual and general health. Some spiritual work is definitely needed in changing these attitudes.

I stressed the sacredness of every cell in Jonnie's body, which included the cells that were no longer needed and must be released to keep the body healthy and alive. I also stressed the sacredness of all sensations wherever the sensations existed. We were on a journey exploring where undiscovered sensations might exist, and we hoped to find pleasurable physical feelings along the way.

After thirty years of being unconscious of his sensations in his anus and prostate, Jonnie discovered that he not only had physical sensations, but that they were indeed pleasurable. He was delighted, after such a long time of living in his body with so few sensations, to find a treasure hidden in his depths. In order to amplify the sensations, I suggested that he focus his attention on his breath in addition to the other physical sensations. As Jonnie drew in a deep breath on the inhalation, fully inflating his upper lobes of his lungs, and then relaxing with the exhalation, the intensity of the sensation began to build. His entire body began to sense a different awareness. Even though he did not have a name for it, he was becoming aware of his ability to build his own life force. The deeper he breathed, the more extensive were his sensations. Jonnie's daily bowel program of digital stimulation became his meditation time-a time when he was unfolding the mysteries of becoming more alive.

The shower room was about the only place a patient could find any privacy. Jonnie loved long showers. Even though he couldn't feel from his nipples down any sensations from touch, he enjoyed my playfulness as I sprayed water over his skin from head to toe, soaped and scrubbed his body, and briskly dried him off with a towel. The shower was the place where he felt safe in breathing more deeply, allowing his breath to carry a sound. I encouraged him to focus on any and all sensations. While receiving a shampoo, Jonnie loved having his head vigorously massaged and scratched. He felt new tingly sensations in the skin covering his ears, face, neck, and shoulders. Some bath times were filled with laughter and play, while others were quiet and serene.

One day in the shower room, I suggested to Jonnie that he move his shoulders in such a way that his arms could stimulate his chest and nipple area. At my suggestion, he closed his eyes to decrease the visual stimulation and to allow more attention for his sense of touch. He soon entered into a very deep, quiet space as he focused on his breath, sensations, and love feelings. As I massaged his entire body with soap and water, I spoke softly to him, telling him how powerful every breath carrying the energy of love was in awakening his body. I whispered how relaxed and gentle his face looked, as he opened his heart to a deeper appreciation of his body, exactly the way it was in that moment of time. Inhaling and exhaling in unison with Jonnie's, I focused my attention on activating and intensifying my heart energy of unconditional love.

As the energy streamed out my fingertips, I could feel tingles and warmth in my arms and hands. His breathing quickened in pace as I washed his soft penis. When I rinsed his pelvic floor and anal area with the water nozzle, I noticed rapid eye movement under his closed eyelids. Jonnie was experiencing something very new and different. The rapid eye movement lasted for about a minute, then a peaceful stillness enveloped the whole room.

When Jonnie's eyes opened, he immediately asked, "What happened?"

I asked him the same question. He recalled that he was drifting in space, breathing, and melting into a sea of love. He felt connected to everything in the universe. Suddenly, wavelike pulsations had streamed down his entire body, down both legs, and out his toes-electrical impulses vibrating from both his physical and "phantom" leg. His "energy body," which interpenetrates and surrounds the physical body, was obviously intact and included both legs.

With a broad smile I said, "I believe you just had an orgasm."

Jonnie's unexpected and yet very welcome orgasm opened up all kinds of questions. First of all, he wanted to know how he could have an orgasm without an erection or ejaculation. I told him that there are numerous types of orgasms. An ejaculatory orgasm is just one type. I explained that he apparently had a type of orgasm called by various writers an energetic, metasexual, total body, or cosmic orgasm. Whatever the name, I was sure that he had experienced an orgasm. Love, breath, and movement had unleashed his orgasmic energy.

This wondrous gift of life needed to be kept a secret from everyone. Sadly, Jonnie did not have any friends to share this momentous event, and he knew that to tell any of the hospital staff could lead to repercussions. Jonnie hoped, however, that maybe he could somehow have another experience similar to this one. That dream would never be realized.

Soon after his orgasmic experience, Jonnie learned that he had developed an untreatable cancer. The outcome was clear; his physical body would soon stop functioning and death would come. We talked about the meaning of life and death, how some people experienced those last few days and hours before the last breath.

One night one of the nurses called me at home to inform me that Jonnie appeared to be in his final hours. I immediately went in to be with him. When I entered the room, the first thing I noticed was his big, wide open, terrified eyes. His breathing was labored, like a person going through a frightening experience. He was conscious and aware of my presence, but not conversant other than with a yes or no. I could see and feel how frightened he was, in a room all by himself-dying.

I told him that I would stay with him and would not leave until he had finally let go of his body. I gently stroked his head, face, neck, and shoulders and began softly speaking into his ears. I knew that the sense of hearing was one of the last to function, so I kept talking. I talked about his life force not needing this physical body anymore. The hours ticked by in the darkness and quietness of the night. His eyes were closed and his breathing became peaceful and rhythmic. I reassured him that he could let go and merge with all in the universe, just like he did the day he had his orgasm. I reminded him of that life-force energy that had streamed through his body—that life energy that sometimes has form and sometimes does not.

Jonnie and I had talked about white light before, visualizing it entering and flooding his body. Now it was time for him to merge with the white light in a way he had never done before. I reassured him that his spirit, his body, his mind, his total being was unconditional love. I stayed with him throughout the night, supporting his consciousness in being as comfortable as possible as it separated from the physical form it had inhabited for over fifty years. His one orgasmic experience had come to him as what seemed to be a preparation for the biggest letting go that we as humans get to experience.

His breaths became more shallow and fewer in number; a look of deep relaxation and serenity appeared upon his face. I encouraged him to invite family members who had passed out of their physical bodies years before to assist him in his transition and welcome his spirit.

Jonnie's body became totally motionless, quiet, and serene. There was not another breath, as the soft light of dawn began to penetrate the black veil of night.

women of the night - Women of the Light

© 1994, 1997 by Secret Garden Publishing
You have permission to print a noncommercial copy for yourself,
but please refer others to this site rather than sending copies.

You have permission to quote up to 100 words from this chapter.
Email us for other permission.

To contact the Nurse

(to order the book)

Secret Garden Publishing - Kenneth Ray Stubbs

Introduction: Of the Light
by Kenneth Ray Stubbs, Editor

It just happened to be Halloween night, 1976. As I walked up the stairs to the artist’s loft of a stately San Francisco Victorian in the outlandishly gay Castro district, it was unusually quiet. Outside, Halloween in the Castro, an annually spontaneous local version of a sexual Mardi Gras, had not yet begun. Inside, I was about to meet Betty Dodson.

Betty had written, self-published, and self-distributed Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Selflove, a small book dedicated to women. Being outrageous and a fine artist, she had included fifteen of her drawings presenting various shapes, colors, and sizes of female genitalia, or cunts, as she preferred to call them. The book had quickly become an underground bestseller, eventually selling over 150,000 copies before becoming the mainstream hardcover Sex for One of today.

In those early days of women’s liberation and the feminist movement, Betty was storming the barricades with her book in one hand and a vibrator in the other. Her messages were revolutionary: cunts are beautiful, and women cannot be truly liberated until they take responsibility for their own orgasms.

Betty’s book was by a woman, about women, for women. But it was also a book for me, a man who enjoyed being with women. Liberating Masturbation was teaching me about variations among women, about a wide range of sexual possibilities. Moreover, in contrast to a fairly common theme of the times, Betty’s book did not point a finger of blame at the male gender. Subtly, her words and art invited me also to open up, to grow. Betty celebrated sex and orgasm and sensuality and pleasure and exploration, and I wanted to learn more.

In my late twenties, after teaching music in a Virgin Islands junior high school and sociology in an upstate New York college, I had moved to San Francisco to study Jungian psychology and massage. San Francisco was alive with evolving ideas, avant views on sex, and new experiences integrating the spiritual East and the scientific West.

Attending massage school was to become one of the important decisions in my life. Touch, presence, and connection began to bring me back to my body after spending so many years in my head in academia. Massage became my medium to relaxation, to meditation, to forgotten pleasures.

Massage is intimate, no matter how therapeutic the technique names may sound, no matter how many sheets drape a client’s supposed modesty. In a really good massage, it would be quite possible for either the giver or receiver to experience a variety of basic human feelings, including sexual ones. Yet, in the massage profession, “down there” is regarded as the caste of untouchables. The psychological denial of sexuality and genitals might be far more obvious were it not for the pervasive sexual repression/suppression/oppression throughout our Judeo-Christian cultures.

Sooner or later, doing professional massage, one has to come to terms with sexual energy or burn out and quit the profession. Most just dig their sexual repression trenches deeper. A few quietly choose to include genital massage when they feel it is appropriate. A few feel sexual massage is not for them personally to give but compassionately support the client in finding alternatives.

Eventually, rather than denouncing sexuality, I came to terms with the issue by developing a weekend course in erotic massage for couples: gentle, flowing touch that accepted and nurtured all parts of the physical-emotional body.

This was my background I explained to Betty in a phone conversation arranged by a friend who had taken Betty’s women’s masturbation seminar. Being a total stranger to Betty, I was surprised when she accepted my invitation to get together to compare notes on my erotic massage seminar and her women’s seminar, which as a male I could not attend. As I walked up the San Francisco Victorian stairs and reflected on her provocative book, I was anticipating meeting an extraordinary person.

From the moment Betty opened the door of the artist’s loft, I saw her grounded in her body, both legs planted on the floor. Her voice was earthy; her manner was frank, forward, and self-assured. Her presence quickly communicated that her sexuality was not a commodity used simply to titillate or to manipulate. Nor was her sexuality to be owned by others. As she had intimated in her writings, sexuality was a path where she was discovering her potential, her wholeness.

On a covered foam pad that served also as a floor bed, we removed our clothing and began our evening of sexual revolution show-and-tell. With massage oil, a few vibrators, and a few other accessories, we demonstrated our genital techniques on each other and ourselves. It was not to become an evening of what most would term sex; there just happened not to be any fucking or sucking, but it was very sexual and more.

What we were really showing each other was far more than technique. We were sharing a knowledge of a way of being, a paradigm where sexuality resides at the center of the sacred circle. Somewhere deep inside, both of us had sensed as youths in the ’50s that sex does not equal sin. Yoga, massage, meditation, sex, and orgasm had become our teachers. We had both been learning lessons from the body: our own, our friends’ and lovers’, and what we had observed from our clients’ and students’ bodies. That evening we shared our visions. Near midnight I walked back down the Victorian stairs, out into the carnival. On the Halloween streets there were men dressed in long, golden locks, with watermelon-sized red lips, and glitzy, sequined dresses that even Marilyn would have envied. Through unzipped leather jackets, women bared their breasts and revved up their motorcycle engines, the butchest of vibrators. Hairy buns peeked out of purposefully tattered jeans. All consensual sexual activities and orientations were out of the closet.

Halloween is really a sacred festival time from the Old Religion (a name sometimes used for a variety of European spiritual traditions predating Christianity). This festival celebrates the sun’s transit between the autumnal equinox (equal day and night) and the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere). Unable to eradicate the older holy days and nights of often Earth-centered, Goddess-oriented cultures, the patriarchal Church of Rome had to co-opt the celebration, modifying and claiming the festival as one of its own. There in the Castro that Halloween night, probably very few of the participants considered their earthy festivities a sacred rite. Symbolically, looking back now, I see that evening as a pilgrimage for me. I had visited the archetypal temple priestess as a part of my personal spiritual quest. Having learned from her wisdom in her private chamber, I reentered the temple grounds where a joyous celebration of our primordial pulse, our sexuality, was taking place.

These were my beginning days on a path where my sexuality was a primary catalyst in my spiritual quest. The promise of paradise in the Southern Baptist world of my childhood had become a prison of the soul by my late teens: dogmatic moralities had procreated only shame and guilt and rebellion with a cause. Life had to have more meaning than what I had found in church.

In sex and massage I began to find some of that meaning. Then my path crossed those of Betty Dodson and other women and men who were tasting forbidden fruits only to discover that not only is the tree of knowledge available to each individual but that the roots of this tree are firmly planted in the pelvis. As we gained from within ourselves and from one another more knowledge of our sexuality and our spirituality, some of us became somatic teachers, our pedagogy utilizing direct body contact rather than just talking-head verbalism. Over the centuries the role of sexual teacher/healer/initiator/catalyst has been more often served by women than men. However, as I met more contemporary temple priestesses, I realized that much of what I was doing and teaching was similar to their sacred sexuality practices. (My path has led me to teaching erotic massage and sensate therapy, giving a six-hour sensual pleasuring ceremony, and leading an intensely participatory seminar on Love/Sex/God.) Through meeting these visionaries of sacred sexuality and through my experiences in my own teaching and ceremonial guide roles, I began to realize and appreciate the profound nature of the temple priest/ess, the archetypal sacred prostitute. My purpose in editing and publishing this book is to share my understanding of the women and men dedicated to this service and the role they serve as the new sacred prostitute in the modern world.

Women of the Light is primarily a collection of personally written stories by nine women whom over the past two decades I have come to know intimately, sometimes as professional colleague, as student, as teacher, as friend, as lover. Throughout the centuries and across cultures, they might have been known as sacred prostitute, temple priestess, sexual healer, sacred whore, Tantrika, or FireWoman. Euphemistically, today they might be called women of the night—in a general sense, they all exchange sex for money. For me, they are women of the light, not light in contrast to dark or black or night, but light in contrast to unaware, unconscious, repression/suppression, and denial.

What makes these friends unique in contemporary times is not that they are compensated for their sexual expression in some way most of us enter somewhere into the equation of time, attention, affection, security, and other indirect exchanges for sexual connection, marriage being the predominant form in our culture. What makes women of the light unique is that they exchange consciously. Even more important, they provide a context of compassion and wisdom in the exchange. They are teachers of the heart. They are visionaries, stepping outside of constrictive, traditional beliefs about women and men. Their bodies are their temples, to which they invite others. Their purpose is to support a deeper discovery of the spiritual flame that burns within us all. Sexual energy, in a broad sense, is this flame.

In Paleolithic and Neolithic times, when “God” was more likely to have been female than male, it seems to have been common for women and men to serve in the temples as spiritual-sexual teachers, healers, and priest/esses, at least in European and Middle Eastern areas prior to the rise of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Today women of the light no longer have a public temple where they can share their sacred ceremonies openly. There is no lineage down through which the sacred mysteries can be revealed from high priest/ess to initiate. Legally, socially, and religiously, the sacred prostitute is out in the cold.

Women of the Light is written by seekers who have discovered within themselves, often by trial and error, a sense of the ancient teachings where spirituality fully embraces sexuality, where the heart nurtures the senses. Without the temple, without an unbroken lineage, these women have been pioneers in a reemergence of these ancient teachings and now are becoming the elders, the holders of the wisdom, as most enter their fifties, sixties, and even their seventies.

These women have enriched my life, and I wanted others to know them at least through the printed word. For this book I asked each to write down in her own words a short version of her sexual and spiritual background, experiences, and insights. In most cases, the autobiographical stories remain as originally written with minimal editing. So the reader might have an even broader sense of these unique teachers, I introduce each with some of our personally shared experiences and my vision of some of her contributions. While each chapter title (The Porn Star, The Sex Surrogate, The Group-Sex Hostess, The Call Girl, etc.) represents a possible contemporary occupational title, none of these individuals can be reduced to a simplified caption. These pathfinders represent both what we have been and what we can become, sexually and spiritually. Each has risked and stepped outside the common culture and found a more meaningful path that others might also explore. Touch, the body, the sensual, the sexual, the spiritual—these are the common themes throughout all the chapters, for these temple priestesses are embodiments of profound teachings. Beyond these themes, the stories present a wide spectrum of human sexual experiences. Their sexual lives are far from the ordinary. To the extent that we have repressed our sexual feelings and expressions, we may find reading about these lifestyles to be challenging, possibly deeply confronting.

My hope is that these personal accounts will open doors of understanding. These women of the light have chosen a different path than most and have discovered a wisdom available to us all. Their lives, if we are willing, can shed light on our own.

Women of the Light
© 1994, 1997 by Secret Garden Publishing
You have permission to print a noncommercial copy for yourself, but please refer others to this site rather than sending copies.
You have permission to quote up to 100 words from this chapter.
Email us for other permission.

(to order the book)

Copyright © 2001. Secret Garden Publishing. All rights reserved.

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