Our Readings

Here are the four readings we chose for the ceremony

Excerpt from Audre Lorde's 1978 essay Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, see Sister Outsider (1984)

(read by Sarah Canner)

The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.

Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy, in the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, harkening to its deepest rhythms so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, or examining an idea.

That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.

This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

Hymn to the Sun by the Great Plains Indians

(read by Carol Canner)

O Morning Star! When you look down upon us, give us peace and refreshing sleep

Great Spirit! Bless our children, friends, and visitors through a happy life.

May our trails lie straight and level before us. Let us live to behold. We are all your children and ask these things with good hearts.

somewhere i have never travelled by e. e. cummings (1931)

(read by Carl Canner)

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Aphrodite of the Flowers at Knossos Coming Down from Heaven's Mountain by Sappho (translated from the Greek by W. Barnstone, 1998)

(read by Ross Barnett)

Leave Crete and come to this holy temple
where your graceful grove of apple trees
circles an altar smoking with frank-

Here ice water babbles through the apple branches
and roses leave shadow on the ground
and bright shaking leaves pour down pro-
  found sleep.

In our meadow where the horses graze
amid wild blossoms of the spring and
anise shoots fill soft winds with a-

of honey, love godess, pour heaven's
nectar carefully into gold wineglasses
and mingle our celebration with sud-
  den joy.

We found Daphne Rose Kingma's book Weddings from the Heart (1995, Conari Press, Berkeley, CA) particularly useful!