When you think of the word pleasure, what comes to mind? For many it likely has threads connected to some form of yummy, juicy sensuality or even sexuality. As a culture, we’ve largely agreed that this is true. By definition on the classic Mirriam-Webster Dictionary pleasure is:
- A state of gratification
- Sensual gratification
- Frivolous amusement
- A source of joy or delight
Clearly the experience of states of pleasure are vast. House of Origins has come to the conclusion that pleasure is a birthright. Of course life isn’t always going to be pure joy and delight, however the state “sensual gratification” is one that we should be striving to embody as a baseline. Our sensual self is the self that is connected to the senses and present within our own embodiment; it is a natural state and only through dissociation have we become disconnected from it.
By this point we’re mostly all aware that the late-stage capitalist ethos that many societies are entrenched in has people so stressed, tired and wound-up that dissociation runs rampant. I mean, who doesn’t want to disconnect from their experience when in a state of tension, anxiety or depression? With this paradigm centering the body as a machine rather than as a vessel for a joyful and comfortable somatic experience, these states have become evermore common. By striving towards embodying pleasure we are taking a stand to reclaim our self-sovereignty and bodily autonomy. The reclamation of pleasure is an opportunity to embody our authentic self.
Our authentic self is our self expressed beyond all the masks, conditioning and holding patterns that serve society but not necessarily us at a core level. To be soft enough to access this space within ourselves requires, for many, tonification of the nervous system in order to be relaxed enough to get there. From here we actually become more effective because we are more easily able to tap into a state of flow where creativity naturally pours into the kind inspired action which is genuinely beneficial for both ourselves and the world we live in. The more we fortify our authenticity and listen to our inner knowing, the less we are able to be manipulated by conditioning, or futile societal expectations. In this way we are able to push beyond convention and contribute to effective innovation and co-create culture that supports the thriving of both people and the environments we live within.
So… as much as pleasure can be an erotic or sexual experience, our capacity to experience pleasure runs so much deeper than this and in my opinion has a much deeper evolutionary function! It helps us activate our creative potential and embody purposeful and mutually beneficial actions in our life. Using aphrodisiac herbs is one tool that can support us tapping into deeper states of pleasure which then fuel our inspiration and support us accessing solutionary flow states.
But how? If pleasure isn’t only about sexual arousal and eroticism than what do aphrodisiacs have to do with anything? While some aphrodisiacs directly stimulate hormonal changes that lead to states of arousal, or promote blood flow to the genitals, many also or in addition to these factors, relax our nervous system and make us generally more sensitive. Does this sound supportive if one is blocked and in a deep state of dissociation? Absolutely.
Now, obviously there are instances where taking an aphrodisiac is not going to erase deeply entrenched somatic patterning from trauma. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to re-patterning the body. For instance, there are people for whom working with a practitioner to support reprogramming challenging holding patterns may be a crucial piece. For many, the plants can act as supportive allies. When we have help in relaxing the nervous system as well as increasing sensitivity we have an opportunity to move beyond dissociation. And if we allow ourselves to move beyond this during an intimate experience, we are allowing ourselves to be all at once, present, vulnerable and trusting.
Being present, vulnerable and trusting help us tap into those flow states and access the authentic-self described above. Why would our bodies be able to experience pleasure if it wasn’t evolutionary useful? Pleasure embodied provides an opportunity for us to move beyond the paradigm that the body is a machine that is a core factor in so much dis-ease, anxiety and depression. Moreover, when we practice vulnerability we become far more compassionate, which promotes altruistic behaviour rather than harsh individualism. If we are going to get ourselves out of the profound mess we are in as a planet we are going to have to learn to work together and find a balance between acting for ourselves and making choices that benefit all our relations, both human and non-human.
Whew. All to say, taking a trip to Pleasure Town might not only help you be more effective in your life, but also help live in harmony in the web of life in general. Plus, life will be more joyous and delicious. So, why not give it a go?
Some of our Favourite Herbal Aphrodisiacs
(To work with internally… we could have a whole other list on smells but that is for another day!)
The sensual and sexual exeprience is incredible dynamic and so are the ways that herbs work to support the body in those experiences. Sajah Popham defines aphrodisiacs into two main categories: stimulant and relaxing:
“The stimulant aphrodisiacs are those that increase blood flow and circulation through heating up the body, they can be stimulating to the nervous system and thus enhancing physical sensitivity. A relaxant aphrodisiac are those that calm you down and open you up to be more receptive, thus they are more Venusian or feminine in quality. Examples of this are Rose, Passionflower and Hops. Damiana is unique in that it is equally a stimulant and a relaxant at the same time.”
Blue Lotus (Stimulating & Relaxing): Definitely a magical and mysterious plant shrouded in much lore, Blue Lotus supports our dopamine and serotonin through its powerful alkaloids nuciferine and aporphine respectively. Through these alkaloids it affects our 2HT2A receptors, the same ones psilocybin effects, which some think is what induces the visionary and euphoric effects of this plant. It also contains some of the same constituents that are found in viagra and is profoundly relaxing on the body. It is helpful for dissolving boundaries and supporting psychic connection between partners. Shop Blue Lotus in the apothecary!
Cacao (Stimulating): Keeper of the “bliss molecules”, contains several powerful mood altering constituents that can support greater states of elation and are definitely pleasure inducing. Anandamide is probably the most famous, its name comes from Ananda- the Sanskrit word for bliss, joy or happiness. It helps regulate pain and is uplifting. Cacao also contains PEA (phenethylamine) which releases endorphins and opiate-like neurochemicals that are produced naturally when we fall in love or during sexual activity. Cacao also boosts the serotonin, a crucial feel good neurotransmitter and is a vasodilator - promoting increased blood flow throughout the body.
Damiana (Stimulating & Relaxing): A warming aromatic herb that stimulates vitality and vibrancy, is relaxing to the nervous system, and brings circulation to the pelvic region. Damiana helps us feel at home in our bodies; she helps us feel confident in our expression and being seen. An amazing herb for growing our relationship to intimacy. The nervine quality of Damiana gives you a very uplifted feeling; some herbalists use it in the treatment of depression. This herb is potent and can help bring on delayed menstruation and increases sexual vigour in all people. Damiana is contraindicated in pregnancy. Find damiana in our Kinection Elixir, a blend to help you embody and express your authentic self.
Kava (Relaxing): Home in the South Pacific Islands, Kava is profoundly relaxing to the mind and body, helping to quell social inhibitions. Primarily a muscle relaxer, Kava helps ease tension that can often get in the way of intimacy. Drinking Kava & alcohol together can cause damage to the liver and should be avoided.
Maca (Stimulating): “Aphrodisiac” is not the first thing most people think of when they think about Maca. It certainly is a potent tonic that can support adrenal health and hormonal balance. Maca’s combined effects of increasing testosterone and dopamine, decreasing cortisol, and nourishing the body with powerful antioxidants and rich nutrients can definitely lead to heightened experiences of pleasure.
Rose (Relaxing): More than an aphrodisiac, rose is a heart opener. When it comes to those states of vulnerability necessary for expanded states of intimacy and connection, the energetics of Rose can be incredibly helpful. Rose is wonderfully aromatic and uplifting. Her slightly sweet and floral notes combine well with the other plants on this list. In the body, Rose is astringent and strengthening; yet the strength is in the softness. Rose supports the integrity of the structure that holds the flowing nature of the body. Think veins and arteries, the digestive tract; and how these are structures that hold and allow movement inside them. Have you tried our Triple Rose Tincture or Rose Powder? Each a drop of heaven in their own way!
Shatavari (Stimulating): A sanskrit word that translates roughly to “she who possesses a hundred husbands.” It is an adaptogen with antioxidant properties. Shatavari is largely used as a tonic for female bodied people but can also be used by all sexes. Shatavari is an estrogen modulator, increasing blood flow and sensation in genitals and enhances vaginal lubrication. Can be especially helpful to promote libido in menopausal females. Generally, it is a powerful female reproductive tonic.
Yohimbe (Stimulating): Is predominantly worked with by male bodied people as it is widely used for erectile dysfunction. Yohimbe works by stimulating blood flow, dilating blood vessels, stimulating the pelvic nerve ganglia and providing adrenaline supply to the nerve endings. It can be used by those without erectile dysfunction to increase sensation and stamina. It can also be used by female bodied people as a pelvic stimulant. It can be a mild hallucinogen when smoked. Yohimbe should not be used by anyone with problems in the heart, liver or kidneys. The effects of Yohimbe have not been studied in pregnancy however we would not recommend using it if you are pregnant.
By Magdaleine Alice