taiWelcome! I’m Tai Fenix Kulystin (previously known as Scarlet Lotus), I am a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and my pronouns are they/them. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the joys and pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

Outside of this blog I am currently finishing up a Master's degree to help me launch into my career as a Gender & Intimacy Coach and Somatic Sexuality Educator. I am passionate about working with people of all bodies, genders, sexualities, and relationship styles to help them move toward experiencing the (sex) life of their dreams.



On Writing a Thesis Focused on Embodiment and Emotions (thesis excerpt)

This is an excerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, and Body: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Introduction

To say it is difficult to write about embodiment is an understatement. Writing is a tool of the mind and splits us off from bodily experience. Language cannot fully capture the essence of being embodied, of being in a body, or of bodily sensations and emotions, but it can try. For the most part, language brings us out of our bodies and puts us apart from ourselves, especially language in an academic framework where one is compelled to be aware of sentence structure, word choice, proper citation methods, and so on. The question of how I can write an academic work on embodiment is one I have been grappling with since before I began writing it. The language that most closely aligns with the body is imaginal and poetic. With exception of the praxis chapter, my use of poetic imaginal language has been limited. I have not engaged with the imaginal and poetic nearly enough. Here is an attempt.

I really value each of the realms of spirit, soul, and body and the various ways they each manifest in the world, and I know that of these three realms the body is the most denigrated. This culture has a body problem. It has a problem in all three realms, really, but the way we approach the body is so much more backwards and twisted in my experience. We do everything we can to avoid focusing on our bodies, and that includes me. I have spent a lot of my own life hating my body, treating it as separate from my essential self, or ignoring its needs, feelings, and warnings.

My body has stiffened from the chore of sitting in front of a computer, writing (or attempting to write), while fighting against all the internal blocks I have against doing this work, my work. I can feel it in my shoulders and the back of my neck in the tension that creeps its way up and down from my head to my lower back. I get hit with it when I stretch, arching my back to hear the cacophony of crunchy popping sounds as my vertebrae realign themselves, and suddenly the release of tension sends a momentary throbbing spiraling up all the way to my temples. I can feel it in my knees and hips, the way I hold myself as I walk, where on my feet I place emphasis. I can tell when I am resisting the process and when I am not coming to my work with all of my strength by the way that I sit, passively and slouched or tall and engaged. I can feel it in how I am holding my teeth and tongue, the crack of my jaw when I yawn, the bend of my left knee when I take a step (am I fully bending it, or dragging that foot as I move?), or the pop of my right ankle when I get a twinge or stiffness in it that needs to be rotated out. My body tells me things, and I choose to listen to it or not, though the more I do this work the less I can ignore it. I notice the tension, I breathe, I move.

I do not claim to be perfect at my own methods, or to have mastered embracing the theories and praxis described in this thesis. In fact, what is driving me to do the work that I am dedicated to doing in the world, the work that this thesis is but a fraction of, is my own struggles with embodiment, connection, and belonging. I have been experiencing my own process as I have been writing about it, articulating only as far as I have been able to traverse my own self. Thus through this process I have had to feel my way through it just as much as I have had to work my way through it. I have had to nurture my own self, to build up the strength and self-love and self-compassion. To bring awareness to the things that I do, conscious and unconscious, and the patterns that I am enacting and reenacting within myself and with my lovers, friends, and family. I have gone through some major shifts and realizations within myself through this process, and also know that it is not over. This is just the beginning.

In going through this process of embracing my emotions and letting them flow, of excavating my own shadow and my own past, of working to understand the patterns laid inside of me back in the time of childhood and pre-verbal processing that still run me, of attempting to experience exquisite embodiment of the Self that is called Tai in this incarnation, I have had to confront most if not all of the parts of myself that keep me back. My self-sabotage. As with everyone, all of my issues are interlocking, threads in the tapestry of my life that interact and intersect, not just discrete problems that can be approached completely independently of each other. I have had to face head-on my own fear, grief, shame, anger, some nasty patterns of internalized oppression and repression. I have had to confront my fear of taking up my own space and what it looks like to put something so large as a personal sacred erotic manifesto into the world. This work details the entirety (so far) of my life’s purpose and my understanding of spirituality, sexuality, psychology, and their interactions with each other, and I am really taking up my own space by declaring my own mastery of it. I have also had to process and move through the grief I experienced surrounding the very sudden death of my father, and the emotional and psychological patterns instilled in me generationally and personally through him. I have recognized the shame I have held on to around being my true authentic self in a society that reviles people like me in multiple intersections of my identity. I have had moments of intense jealousy and shame around my relationship with my primary partner, and due to our interlocking patterns around intimacy and attraction we have, on occasion, fallen down the rabbit hole of destructive behavior.

Shame has been a large factor in my excavation process, and shame is necessary to face when doing this work. Emotions are necessary to face when doing this work of the body. To this end the work of Brene Brown and Karla McLaren have been indispensable to me. I have realized the amount of emotion processing that goes on in the face of change, and know that is a vital aspect of becoming. All emotions are particularly powerful, necessary, and important. They each have a reason for coming up when they do and a particular purpose or gift to share with us, if we are open to them. This entire thesis process has been an emotional one, and has impacted my body as such.

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Stream of Consciousness Life Thoughts

Instead of attempting to do a catch-up post before I write the “real” post by trying to recap all the things that have happened since the last time so many ages ago that I posted on here, I just need to write. I’ve been doing so much writing the last few years, but so little personal writing. Grad school has sucked up all my writing time and now that I’m writing my thesis I’m going a little bit insane. I am having a difficult time getting words down on the page, however, and I’m hoping that a bit of a free write will assist with that.

I’m struggling. As always, it seems. I have had so many epiphanies and breakthroughs and beginnings of changing long-ingrained patterns, but it never seems like it is enough. And I suppose it will never be enough, because if it was I would have nothing else to work on or nowhere else to grow. I would like a breather, however. Can’t there just be a time with a bit of a relaxing, settling down, and not working on any major shit? No? Okay.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, even just in the last year. I used to be terrified of, well, just about everything. Of myself. Of other people. Of getting what I want. Of my own power. I’ve been on a path of discovering and rediscovering my own personal power and shedding those things that have been in the way of my embracing and expressing it. My pathways were clogged for so long, and finally some bits of my own light are able to come through them and shine out of them. Still not all of them are clear, and others are gathering new gunk, but that is one of the continual processes.

Golden Dawn spiritual work, grad school, my father’s death, relationship changes, explorations in polyamory, coming into my own as a Hierophant and High Priestess, all these things have shifted and changed me internally to the point of sometimes I actually realize how strong and competent I am. Other times I am still frightened of the world and my part in it. I’m still insecure. I’m still socially anxious, self-deprecating, and uncertain of myself a lot of the time. I have worked on and healed a lot of wounds and changed old patterns for the better, but I still fall into the old pit of depression sometimes.

Aside from the stress of school and relationships, however, I am arguably the most content and least depressed that I have ever been, or at least for as long as I can remember. I am doing my work in the world, and sometimes failing at it. I am at least moving toward my work in real and tangible ways, and getting better at what I do.

I am not as enlightened or close to my ideal self as I would like to be, but I’m at least working on it. That is something. I’m grateful for the chance to be getting this really ridiculous self-designed degree in a subject that doesn’t even seem realistic or plausible to the majority of the world. I realize the privilege in that and am astounded by it. I think I’m calling it Sacred Erotic Psychology now, though even that isn’t quite right. It’s gone though a bunch of different iterations.

Relationships are consistently a struggle right around the end of the quarter. It’s like all the stress likes to get saved up until right at the end. So that’s fun. Onyx and I have had some rough patches in the last few months specifically, though we always go through alternating rough and smooth times, as is the nature of long-term relationships it seems. We had a period of really great connecting after a major shake-up in our relationship due to a rather major breaking of our agreements just before the end of last quarter. We both have come to a lot of insights of our own patterns in relationships and the patterns in our relationship with each other that we need and want to break. It has been really useful and there have been lots of growing pains. The period of connecting was really lovely and some of the best moments of our relationship in recent memory, but that too was broken and we’re now in a slightly awkward phase again. Yet not as awkward as a lot of the last year has been, so I don’t know. Only now there is a limited amount of time and energy available to really get back to smooth due to thesis writing.

So. Thesis. Yes. I need to be writing about the theoretical orientations that are foundational to my thesis, as well as historical background related to the body that informs my thesis, and the beginnings of articulating my own theoretical synthesis as well as my praxis approach. It’s a lot.

My current thesis statement/elevator speech is this: I am articulating how I as a practitioner can present eroticism as an embodied experience of love that promotes and nurtures intra-, inter-, and trans-personal connections. By integrating our embodied and mythological experience of our minds, hearts, and body/genitals though the process of identifying the disconnected parts needing to be integrated and using a variety of psychological and bodywork techniques to foster mutually beneficial relationships between ourselves and these parts we move toward experiencing and expressing our Whole Erotic Self through embodied sovereignty. This is important because loving connection and embodied erotic experiences can advance our own developmental learning, enhance our quality of life, and benefit the earth.

Not bad, right?

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Light at the End of the School Tunnel

For those of you who don’t know, I have been attending Antioch University since the Fall of 2011 working on a self-designed Masters program in Psychology. Last Wednesday, the 12th, I had my Application Project Plan Approval Degree Committee Meeting (yes, apparently the name is that long). I met with the three other people who will be assessing, evaluating, and helping me through the process of my Applied Thesis in my last three quarters at Antioch.

My plan for my thesis was approved, which means that today I am submitting the syllabus for the next three quarters of my Application Project! This is a big deal.

This means I am nearly at the end of my time at Antioch and will, at the end of the year, have a Masters in Integrative Studies in Psychology, focusing on Sacred Erotic Somatic Psychology. I plan to graduate at the end of Fall Quarter 2014.

The proposed timeline is: I will begin working on my Applied Thesis next quarter, starting in April, and I will finish in December, giving me nine months to work through the nine credits of my Application Project. I have been referring to this as my Grad School Pregnancy (“I’m pregnant with grad school,” I’ve been saying) and I plan to birth my Thesis Baby in December.

This also means that my time from now until December, with the exception of the breaks between quarters, will be extremely limited. I don’t yet know if this will be more limited than it has been in previous quarters, but I imagine that may likely be true.

I do at some point want to get back into writing on here on a regular basis and reviewing on my other site. I have aspirations, but I will likely not have time for that until December.

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What’s Going On

Because I apparently can’t be bothered to write a proper blog post, even though I work on dozens of drafts in my spare moments (though those aren’t many at this time in the quarter, which is almost over), I’m going to list a few of the exciting things that have developed in my life since I’ve last written.

Work Stuff:

  • My Sexological Bodywork Training Program is almost over. The end of module three of that will be this Thursday, and I am planning on being finished with all the work for it that day. Thus soon I will be a Certified Sexological Bodyworker. There will be a post more directly about Sexological Bodywork before Thursday, also.
  • I’ve begun seeing clients, primarily as part of the aforementioned module three. Currently I have three clients I’m seeing weekly, though that will shift a bit for the next couple of weeks for the end of the quarter rush-to-write period I always end up in. I’ve put up Embracing Pleasure, my professional site, but it is still under construction. I plan on seeing clients in a part-time way until I’m out of school.

School Stuff:

  • I’ve changed the name of what I’m studying since I first wrote about it. I’m now calling my degree Sacred Erotic Somatic Psychology. Technically it will simply be a Masters in Psychology, but my final project will reflect what I have been studying. I have a Paint-made venn-diagram of my degree program here (one of my degree committee members loves venn diagrams):
  • The current (Spring) quarter will be over June 21st, and then I’ll have a few weeks off before summer quarter starts. I’ll be taking only one class this summer at Antioch: an independent study focused on the work of Dan Siegel and Brene Brown. This is part of why I love my school. Still ironing out the details for it, even though the independent study contracts were due already (oops).
  • Also this Summer I will be attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society at the University of Amsterdam! I have plane tickets already and will be heading over there on July 11th and returning to Seattle on August 12th. I’m so amazingly excited about this! It will be a fantastic experience, it feeds right into my degree (the credits should1 just transfer over), I get a neat certificate at the end of it, and I get to study in Amsterdam for four weeks! So much awesome.

Blogging Stuff:

  • I changed my online names from ScarletLotus to TaiKulystin2 in social media places (such as Twitter and Fetlife). Kind of working on a rebranding thing, I guess. It isn’t my “real” name, but it’s the name on my business cards and the name most people in the world know me by. Even at school I go by “Tai,” but not Tai Quyn Kulystin. Kulystin is the last name Onyx and I chose for ourselves quite a while ago, though we are not married and are not planning on getting married, but we go by the same last pseudonym online. This isn’t really that new of news, but I haven’t talked about it on here.
  • There’s a newish layout on this blog that I haven’t mentioned in a post. There is also a new layout on my sex toy review blog, which is now called Shameless Pleasure (used to be Wanton Lotus Reviews). I haven’t posted on there in ages, but I do have a number of toys to review. That will happen eventually.
  • There’s a new banner/navigation ribbon thing up at the top of my pages that link to each other. If you’re looking at the site, rather than reading through email or a reader, there should be a red ribbon up at the very top of the page linking to my professional site, my sex toy review site, pleasurists, and this site. I unashamedly stole the idea from Erika Moen‘s sites.

Other Stuff:

  • There have been some changes and shifts in my relationship with Onyx again (as per usual at this juncture). I’m still seeing three other people, some more frequently than others. He’s started seeing someone regularly. Life is going on as it goes. There will eventually be a blog post about all this. Probably multiple.
  • My birthday is coming up at the end of the month3. Two of my closest friends who both live in Oregon are going to be coming up here for it, which I’m quite excited about. I’m planning on a bit of a birthday bash out and about around Seattle, which will include dinner, table top games, and then dancing at the local private goth club. This may be the most excited about a birthday that I’ve been in years.

The finer details of all of these things will be shared as they happen… probably. I’ve got so much to write about and so little time! Hopefully you enjoyed this little update of my life.

  1. crossing fingers as I will have to have them evaluated once they’re awarded to me, but there probably will not be any problem with it. []
  2. though I’ve been contemplating using TaiQuyn or TaiQuynKulystin instead for the sake of continuity as I can’t have TaiKulystin on Facebook… Hmm []
  3. I would not say no to some items from my amazon wishlist if you are so inclined []
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Grad School

I’ve mentioned this a few times in previous posts, but I am currently going to Graduate School. I am in the Integrative Studies in Psychology program at Antioch University Seattle studying the Psychology of Sacred Sexuality, or some combination of Pychology, Spirituality, and Sexuality (and probably gender too since I can’t do anything without gender). I don’t know exactly what my thesis will be on at the moment, I have about a year before I *really* have to know what that will be, but it will deal with those three or four topics in some way.

I am really loving this school. I’m near the end of my second quarter and aside from a lot of the shifts it has made to my own lifestyle and the workload being intense1 I am still happy with it and excited about it. I have recently finished a prospective timeline which will have me out of school in March of 2014, so I’ll take two and a half years to go through the program, which is about what is expected2. I’m planning on going for a Ph.D. afterwards, which will probably be in the Fall of 2014 to give myself a little break, but not much of one.

This program is very self-designed. I can do independent study classes and just about anything I would like to around Psychology, Sexuality, and Spirituality. I’m building off the existing Psychology & Spirituality degree (which is awesome), but adding my own twist to it bringing sexuality and gender into the mix. I’m probably going to be focusing on Depth and Transpersonal/Integral Psychology and looking at Sacred Sexuality from a variety of viewpoints.

I’ve already learned so much. That is cliche to say, perhaps, but very true so I don’t care. I love the amount of self-analysis I’m required to do in my classes (I know, shocking, I’m usually not one for self-analysis, right?) and although I’m not always doing as well as I would like to as far as keeping up with everything I’m still getting a lot out of it.

So, obviously my posting has been erratic in the last year or so. I have shifted a lot of my goals and aspirations for life in some ways and not in others and I have been processing events and feelings much more verbally these days than through writing as I used to. I think it’s a testament to how awesome my relationship with Onyx is at this point, we talk about anything and everything and rarely are able to hold on to something for very long if it is bugging us. I don’t feel the need to explain things on here before bringing issues to him, and there are far less issues than we used to have back in the day (though now the biggest issue for us is time, of course).

The drifting away I’ve done from this blog isn’t only because of what I wrote above. I start so many drafts it’s not even funny, but I have a difficult time finishing them and getting them actually posted. This is mostly because I keep telling myself that I can’t blog until I do this, that, or the other thing for school, and yet I then turn around and don’t get all my school work done. Sigh. I have plans, though, and I hope to achieve them some day.

  1. though no more than any other grad school, no doubt []
  2. you could technically do it in two if you really wanted to rush it–I don’t []
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