The sacred art of relationship and intimacy
Art by Arna Baartz

Most of us were never taught the sacred art of relationship and intimacy.

Instead we are thrown into a fast-flowing current of romantic relationships at puberty, a time when our identities are still fluid, and we’re exploring not only who we are, but the nature of the world around us.

Our dominant Western culture doesn’t value the teachings to show us how deeply we belong to ourselves, to the natural world around us. So by the time we reach puberty many of us ache with un-belonging, with a sense of lostness. And then we are offered so much to fill that gaping hole.

We are bombarded with messages about how ‘love’ should look, how we should look and behave to attract a mate. We are urged to buy products to ensure we fit in, or stand out in just the right way.

Our world reflects back values that are not at all rooted in the sacred.  If we get any messages at all from those who should be our elders, those messages may be tinged with judgment or fear or prejudice carried down through generations. 

So it’s no wonder, as we grow into adulthood and find partners, that even the most loving relationship begins to falter under pressure. Often couples don’t know where to turn, and sometimes there’s a resistance even to seek help, as if that were somehow to admit failure, a fall from grace.

What a relief it is when we can step out of believing that we have to do it all ourselves – that we have to have the perfect relationship, be the perfect partner, have the perfect children – and all without calling in anyone to share and help and support us!

Sobonfu Some, the African author, teacher and activist who sadly died in 2017, had these powerful words to share with us, to support us to reset our relationships in a sacred context, held within a greater family and community.

“Intimacy in general terms is a song of spirit inviting two people to come and share their spirit together. It is a song that no one can resist. We hear it while awake or sleeping, in community or alone. We cannot ignore it… Two people come together because spirit wants them together.

What is important now is to look at the relationship as spirit-driven, instead of driven by the individual… Once a relationship is taken out of its spiritual context, it faces many dangers. A deep disconnection is created, not only on the spiritual plane, but also at the personal level…

Sobonfu Some

So relationship becomes a crucible for the workings of Spirit through us. We are taken, with this understanding, out of our narrow individualistic perspectives, into a vaster field of possibilities.

We can let go. We can begin to learn to trust one another, in a new way that allows our hearts to be revealed to each other.

We were never meant to do this alone. In other cultures that have retained their ancestral practices and traditions, a couple is offered the support of the village, through ritual, practical support, ceremony and the listening ears of many elders.

It’s time to recreate our villages, here in our culture. To remember our relationships as sacred and to honour each other as mirrors of the divine.