Written March 28, 1998 for P-Form for their “Illness” issue. Published in P-Form #46, Fall 1998.
Chero is the physical life energy.
I created the word “Chero” by combining “Chi” and “Eros”.
Magic is the science/art of nonlinear change.
In Cherotic Magic, it is the practical focus of the person
to reshape reality into more humane forms by using the
magical dynamics of relationships.
It is funny to be asked to write about art as healing. It is funny
because when I went to grad art school, one of the main “criticisms” I got for the work I did was, because it “heals”, it must be therapy, not art. That was news to me! I always thought one of the functions of art is healing.
For the purposes of this essay, my work consists of rituals. These rituals are in the contexts of public performances, of shamanistic training, and of private performances.
There is an attracting, pleasurable, excited, calming, healing energy that I call “chero”. In these rituals of body play, one of the things that often occurs is a healing transformation. One of the channels of this transformation is aroused “chero”.
In the western culture, chero is known as “sexual energy” or as the “sexual urge”. This is because in this culture, adults usually call chero forth by means of sex and use chero mainly for sex. However, sex is just one way to use chero. Moreover, sex is just one of the ways to call forth chero.
Chero is the life force. It is what attracts. Chero is what attracts other people to you. It is what the shamans used to heal and melt other realities into the normal reality. It is what Tantric Buddhists used to reach the higher spiritual spheres. They use the sex act to arouse chero, which they then use in their spiritual quest. Sex is a cherotic act. But Chero is by no means simply a/the sexual energy. There are many ways of calling forth chero, and many ways of letting chero direct or guide you.
Within these rituals, chero is aroused by various physical/magical (“tanpanic”) trances. One of these trances is eroplay.
Eroplay is not foreplay, even though foreplay is eroplay.
Kids play very physically both with their own bodies and others’ bodies. They get turned on by this play, turned on both physically and mentally. This turn-on is not sexual in kids. Studies have shown that babies who are held, touched, and played with are more healthy and alert, weigh more, and have a lower rate of death than babies who are denied this eroplay. Studies also show that old people who live alone, who don’t get physical and emotional contact, are less healthy and die sooner than people of the same age who live with others and get that physical contact.
When we grow up into adults, eroplay is linked to sex, maybe to assure procreation. But there may be different results when eroplay is not connected to the sexual orgasm.
Foreplay is eroplay, but eroplay is not foreplay. We need a certain amount of straight eroplay (not connected to or leading to sex) to be as healthy as possible.
Foreplay leads to orgasm…eroplay leads to being turned on in many different ways and in all parts of the body. It can be different every time.
Skin touching skin seems to be what releases the full impact of eroplay.
There are some physical health and lifestyle advantages of using eroplay to arouse chero in your body. These advantages are caused by the physical and psychic changes in the body started by aroused chero. Over the years of experimenting, we have often noticed that people’s physical appearances change, sometimes radically, after they eroplay. Their physical features soften, the way they hold their bodies relaxes, their bodies have a glow very similar to the glow that many pregnant women have. All of these signs are visual, physical signals which attract open people to the chero‑enriched person…and thus attract more opportunities to him. It is also important to point out that these changes are temporary, lasting from a few hours to a few weeks depending on the physical and emotional environment. Continued release of chero is needed to have these changes be longer and longer lasting.
There are other changes that occur during eroplay. By touching, rubbing, rocking, moving, the energy centers of the body are randomly activated, releasing a flood of blood with chemicals that produce the sense of well‑being in all parts of the body. This is a warming well‑being. This is deepened by the special breathing that is gentle laughing. This is why eroplay is playful and fun at its most healing level. Laughter has its own special healing quality.
Sometimes the release of chero is blocked by confusion and guilt when the person feels the pleasurable, turned‑on feeling which he in the past associated with sex. But now he feels it in a nonsexual, nonromantic situation. If he can just let the pleasurable turn‑on wash over him without thoughts, it carries him to a new realm of relaxed enjoyment.
Eroplay as a spiritual, healing technique balances chero through all the energy centers throughout the body. This is different than other techniques such as Kundalini Yoga in which the energy which I am calling chero is raised through a very dangerous process from the base of the spine to out the top of the skull. In eroplay, chero is called forth in all parts of the body, creating an energy center out of the whole body.
There is a widely held misconception that the physical and the spiritual planes are in opposition to each other, that to reach the spiritual, you have to avoid the physical. This is overlooking a great number of disciplines that use the physical in various aspects to reach spiritual treasures. The physical is one aspect of the spiritual, the aspect most accessible to us.
As we eroplay, many changes take place. The changes are both physical and psychic. We have already talked about some of the physical changes. One of the physical signs that can occur is the male erection when certain energy centers (and not necessarily the cock) are aroused in certain ways. This male erection has become the most sexual symbol in our culture and perhaps the most taboo. The female erection is not outwardly visible, and hence is usually ignored. But in reality, the “sexual” organs are no more or no less sexual than any of the other energy centers in the body. In eroplay, erection should not be thought of as sexual or a turn toward sex. This region of the body is just one of the main centers of energy.
The other physical changes caused by the arousal of chero through eroplay are a slight enlarging of the pupils, a slight change in scent from the sweat glands and nipples, the chero blush, and a difference in body tone. All of these are so slight that they usually are only picked up on the subliminal level. The changes in one body can be transferred to the bodies of others through these subliminal sensory signals. This is one reason why physical nudity is important in this work. It gives these signals a more direct channel to affect others.
But to understand better what is happening when chero is aroused by eroplay, it should be remembered that the physical is only one aspect of what we are. Around our physical body there is a force field made up of thoughts, emotions, and other psychic material. This field is usually a fraction of an inch out from the body, but we have the ability to broadcast this psychic force outward.
When we release chero through eroplay, we focus this force and with the willingness to be unlimited, we radiate this force outward, creating a rapport into which others can be drawn. This rapport has physical, mental, and psychic qualities.
In my performances, this rapport, in the form of an altered reality or a spell, is created by arousing chero between two people by rubbing bodies, by rocking together, moving together, making noises. These two generating people are sometimes isolated in a tent or a box. But the rapport generated physically and psychically by these two leaks out of the enclosed space, putting those on the outside into an altered state. The deeper the chero rapport is between the two, the more complete the outer reality will be.
At first, the generating chero rapport may feel uncomfortable, forced, and/or strange. This is because we are using things that in the western culture are usually contained only in sexual and/or romantic contexts. One should not be thrown by this forced, uncomfortable feeling. It is the breaking of old patterns. It is one of the first stages of this work. Each energy center “breathes” several kinds of energies in and out, very much like the lungs‑nose breathe air in and out. Each center both takes energy in and projects energy out. Some energy centers are commonly thought of as one‑way channels. The eyes obviously let in visually the outer world to our brain, our mind, our inner reality. But the eyes also visually let out what is happening inside us, who we are, and our personal power into the world. All of the centers work on this breathing principle.
Chero healing as eroplay is a two‑way channel whether in play, art, magic, or everyday living. It must be this way to be effective. To create this deep two‑way chero breathing you must be willing to both deeply project and deeply take in chero with anyone who is willing to do the same.
In eroplay, the centers of the body are randomly opened up so that this chero breath can be free and deep. Eroplay creates a complete cycle of chero. This cycle is created when you touch your own body. But it becomes more dynamic when this chero cycle is between two people. This interplay opens and relaxes the centers of both people, letting them both cherotically breathe deeper and easier. This deep, easy breathing is what is healing. (We will get into the difference between healing and curing later.) Both people get healed in this interplay and the energy released through the interplay helps to heal the outer world. This is important to understand because many people think healing is a one‑way helping/giving channel. Because of this, they are careful “not to give too much”. “I must protect myself and my personal power; maintain my own space, my control over the situation.” This attitude is thought to be individualism.
We are now turning to how to use cherotic rituals in healing. The principles are the same whether we apply them to apprenticeship, performances, or bodyplay as a healing method.
Healing is not necessarily the same thing as curing. Modern western medicine is focused on curing illness, solving health problems, restoring normalcy. It is a very logical, goal‑oriented process.
When we talk about healing, we mean becoming better able to cope with and adapt to the life situations we find ourselves in. This may or may not mean curing. When we are healed, we are in the position of actively accepting the situation. This puts us into the realm of all possibilities in which we are more open to cures, if the accepting itself has not become the “cure”, or we find happiness within the situation.
We will get technical in this. But we should always remember that at the root, the student comes to the teacher, the audience comes to the performance, the person comes to the bodyplay to be deeply and intimately with a flesh‑and‑blood person or a group of flesh‑and‑blood people in a way that is usually denied to her in normal polite social life. She comes for touching, holding, rocking, playing, having fun, and healing. This has been usually forgotten under rigid serious rituals, techniques and theories. Again, western medicine is a prime example of this forgetting. But even spiritual methods of healing in our culture have put the rituals and techniques over the playing and fun.
This is why, before we get into the techniques of chero bodyplay, we have to be clear about what we are doing. By doing the apprenticeship, by doing performances, by doing bodyplay, we are calling forth the liminal state of controlled folly. Controlled folly is liminal because it is a combination of the awake reality and dream reality. Rituals make this combination possible.
In the state of controlled folly, the activities of playing and creating fun are intensified and expanded, because rituals take the place of the normal rules, taboos, fears, and inhibitions. This makes it possible to go into the unknown where anything is possible. Ritual is what makes this magical playing safe by giving the playing a living, breathing structure. Playing is only possible within a structure. But when ritual becomes important in itself, rigid and serious, it starts limiting and killing the play and fun. So it is important to remember that the ritual is just the channel of the play and fun.
Playing is a primal state in which things are drained temporarily of their normal meanings. Life goals for a time fade in importance in this state. Tensions and stresses of normal life are safely transmuted into creativity. In play, newness appears. This newness is translated into inspiration, into new ideas, new ways of doing things. The young, both in the higher animals and humans, learn the most through the state of play. Both man and the higher animals use play to transform violent energy into safe acting out. The human mind and civilization were evolved by playing.
In bodyplay, chero is aroused by playing with the body. Fun is created and released by this play into the world directly. Fun is energy focused upon itself, rather than upon some goal. The fun we are talking about in this work is a deep, intense fun that corrects imbalances and induces newness. This kind of fun comes from risk‑taking and work. This deep fun feels very different from the surface, light, fast fun of the world of politeness, glamour, romance, and social rules. This difference confuses people.
In bodyplay, this deep fun, which is focused chero, brings about a balance where there was an imbalance; it slowly moves things into balance. People usually think the healer heals the sick, the teacher teaches the student, the performer entertains the audience. This mistaken concept has the chero that heals flowing from a source (the healer) to a passive container (the sick) for the benefit of the receiving party. The truth is the two, by touching and playing, create a complete chero circuit, allowing the chero to flow freely finding the needed balance in both. When this balance is reached in the two people, the special fun of controlled folly is released into the world, inching the outer world into balance. This world balance is the ultimate purpose of these healing rituals of magical play. This ultimate purpose is usually hidden from awareness by focusing on healing the person.
To understand the nature of balancing, we must understand the true qualities of Yin and Yang. The popular notion about Yin and Yang is they are feminine and masculine with tints of negative and positive. Yin and Yang really are parts of a continuum, called the Tao. Everything has a Tao. When we were talking about the chero breath, inhaling is Yin and the exhaling is Yang. Contractions are Yin; expansions, Yang. The backbrain is Yin with its deep, intuitive, long‑range vision; the frontbrain is Yang with its practical knowledge of how to live day by day. Within each person there is the Tao of Yin and Yang. There is a certain point in each personal Tao where there is a balance between Yin and Yang. This point is different in each person. It is rarely at the middle of the Tao. When a person can find and maintain this balance, he has erour, the vulnerable strength. The vulnerability in erour is Yin; the strength is Yang. As a rule of thumb, in our modern western culture, imbalance is usually caused by too much Yang.
This means “health” is not a fixed point of perfection or normalcy that you reach and maintain. Health is the ever-changing dance of balance among the dynamic taos of the body. This dance of balance is the state the body tends to be. Healing is putting the body back into this dance. Within this picture, “illness” is often one of the paths back to health. Also death may be the natural outcome of health. This flies against the western misconception that holds that health is a static state, something you get to, maintain, or lose…that health is being unsick, untired, balanced, grounded, normal, undying. But the truth is health is a dynamic state of interaction of the seven centers, each operating as close within its Tao as possible. Sickness, contractions, mistakes, death are as equally parts of the state of health as wellness, expansions, doing the right things, and life are. There will be no state of perfection, only the process of living, the art of living.
Through bodyplay, erour is slowly reached by calling forth chero in all parts of the body by eroplaying. This is true not only in the “receiver”, but also in the “healer”. Moreover, through the energy released through these magical sessions, a collective social erour is gradually created for the general world. This is the ultimate reason for this work. The chero released as focused fun “writes” upon the place in which this magical play is performed. It transforms the place into a magical site. The more play is done in a place, the more chero is stored in the physical site. The more chero that is contained in a physical site, the easier it is to perform more intense play.
Each touch and gesture and movement in bodyplay has its own Tao of Yin and Yang…its own qualities of calming and arousal. Each touch has both calming and arousal within it. One of the secrets of bodyplay is finely using these two qualities in the right balance within each firm touch of playing.
The hands are transmitters of chero. This is because your hands are the only parts of your body that can touch almost all of your body. They are healing wands of chero. Laying on of hands is powerful magic. But rubbing body centers together is much more powerful, therefore more taboo. This magic requires two or more people being physically intimate together.
Cherotic bodyplay releases, frees, creates new possibilities. This is true for the people who are actually directly playing together. But this is also true for the society, the people, the world, the outer reality surrounding the eroplaying people. This makes bodyplay not just an individual problem‑solving therapy. Instead, it is a playful but powerful ritual that has effects on many different levels. There is a danger in focusing too much on what it will do for the individual, how it will affect his life, what it means in terms of his life, how it will help him.
You who are reading this are aware to some degree that you create at least your own reality. But you look around at the reality that you find yourself in, and it does not match your ideal of how things should be. This has given rise to bad logical thinking which has sealed many people (especially in the growth movement of the ’70s) back into being victims. According to this bad logic, since a person creates his own reality, he must somehow want the reality he finds himself in. If the reality does not match what he thinks should be, then he must not really want what he thinks should be, what he wishes should be. So he does not really want what he thinks he should want, what he wishes he wants. Just writing down this bad logic is confusing!
This way of thinking is a padded cell. It comes from the premise that there should not be any “shoulds”. This premise originally applied to false “shoulds” coming from outside of the person. But over time, it bled into the personal inner shoulds, what is right inwardly. This leaves no base upon which the person can create. He is left with guilt for creating a reality that should not be…or worse, he proudly takes “responsibility” for doing what he knows he should not do…takes responsibility for continuing to do it until sometime in the future when he magically can start doing his ideal. This is absolutely false “taking responsibility”, the worst kind of double‑think.
It takes one magical fact, the fact that you can create your own reality, and uses this fact as the foundation for a prison of victimization. It simplifies freedom, power, and real responsibility out of life again. If you really do not want what you yourself think you should want, what you wish you want, your only option is to give up on yourself, to see yourself as inferior to your ideas, to settle for less, to be less, to wallow in self‑indulgence within guilt and fear and doubt. So you project guilt, fear, and doubt out into the dynamic interplay of ultimate reality. So you are personally responsible for guilt, doubt, and fear in all reality.
What this bad logic does not take into account is the influences of the dynamic interplay on the person. If a person gets cancer, it does not mean that he secretly wanted to get sick or that he did anything wrong to cause the illness, or that this sickness is a lesson that he has refused to learn in any other way. If he thinks these things, if he thinks in this cause‑effect linear logic, he takes on the illness as himself. This makes healing much harder to take place because there is no place within which to do battle. It is him…it is the cause of his doing, his fault, or God’s wrath.
In reality, there are many, many factors that create such a situation. Many of these factors are “invisible”, impersonal. For an example, in our cultural frame, there is an expectation that has the title of “statistical probability” that a certain number of people within a certain time frame will have cancer and die. Reality tends to fulfill strongly held expectations, so that number of people will die within that time frame. This is just one of the factors. The person does not need to understand these factors.
We have said a major secret in healing is acceptance. What the person with cancer first (as any healer) needs to do is to accept the situation (but not the surrounding expectations) he finds himself in, accept the cancer, accept death, but more importantly, accept living. This acceptance creates a level battleground. Next, he should find out what he envisions should happen (but not just should happen for him, but what should happen)…how should he live, how should he die, what should the cancer do, what should life be like, what should dying and death be like, what should things be like. Then he has to act and live in passion and in faith as if things are as they should be. There is always a risk of failure, of losing the battle. But by doing this healing battle, even if the person “loses”, he is still within power.
I explore these ideas more fully in my book Cherotic Magic. And I’d love to hear from you.