On unicorns and rabbit holes

On unicorns and rabbit holes

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Arfa, and for the last couple of years I’ve been a co-creator at Zwischenwelten – with Sidonia an Michelina. The Zwischenwelten train was already set up and running smoothly when I jumped on. So, my role has been mainly aimed towards being a masculine counterpart in this threesome, adding a little networking expertise to the process, and eventually coming up with new ideas. As a consequence of my engagement with the community, I initiated the concept of «Spieltrieb», a sex-positive Playparty based on a partnership between Zwischenwelten, Porny Days, Dekollektiv, and an amazing circle of friends. Now that I’ve recently decided to step down from my role as a co-organizor I’ve been asked by my fellow team members to state a few words in order to make my departure official. Which I’ll more than happily attempt.

I came in touch with Zwischenwelten in 2015, following an invitation from an acquaintance to join her at a «BDSM-Weekend» that was going to take place in a secret location somewhere in Zurich. I had heard about BDSM before, mainly from hearsay and porn, but I had never participated in any gatherings of the sort and didn’t know anybody in my circle of friends who had. I considered BDSM to be something you resort to when you run out of ideas on how to resurrect your fading sex life. I associated the term with gloomy basements, industrial techno, leather garment and torture. I guess I wasn’t too far off, but today I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to revise that somewhat trivial preconception. In hindsight, I’ve found my hunch to take a glimpse behind that curtain to be perfectly in line with everything that I was already pursuing at that point in my life.

Let me explain:

Over the course of the last decade an almost insatiable curiosity has led me to participate in a multicolored array of shamanic practices, ceremonies, rituals, retreats and workshops. I’ve tasted psychedelic jungle juices countless times, participated in sweat lodge ceremonies and drumming circles, voluntarily inserted frog venom into my body, shaken my senses off at ecstatic dances, snorted large quantities of Amazonian snuff, sat for hours in sensory deprivation devices, and exposed myself to self-isolation, prolonged ice baths and other kinds of mind-altering experiences. At some point down the road, I certified as a Yoga teacher and a Freediver and have upheld a passionate flirt with everything related to meditation and breathwork ever since. It’s safe to say that I’ve been busy squeezing every possible drop out of the esoteric repertoire.

Why, you ask? Firstly, I find the conscious act of actively exposing myself to the bewilderments and intricacies of my own existence pretty fucking exciting. And, secondly, I consider every confrontation with something new to be the death of an old preconception, the editing and updating of an old map, a chance to revise outmoded judgements and mindsets. In sum, most experiences mentioned above have allowed me to explore, understand and integrate new facets of myself and of reality in general. I find the process exhilarant to such an extent that I attempt to experience it from as many angles as I possibly can. It adds biodiversity to my representations of knowledge.

With growing experience, I’ve discovered these seemingly different activities, tools and techniques to have at least three things in common:

  1. they require a certain degree of commitment and mental or physical preparation,
  2. they demand from participants a willingness to step out of the comfort zone and
  3. they ultimately share the same objective: To properly help kickstart the journey of self-discovery by creating a safe environment to start from.

If applied under the right circumstances, well-orchestrated and ritualized immersions can provide for life-changing experiences. I believe that at Zwischenwelten, we attempt to do exactly that. Both Michelina and Sidonia are exquisitely skilled at creating safe ceremonial settings where anyone – independent from their gender, background or level of kink – is invited to step out of their comfort zone and to gracefully surrender to the experience. The unconference series, in particular, provides a playful approach and a highly inspirational context within which you allow yourself to step out of your familiar frame and let go. It does so by tackling one of the most challenging topics – human sexuality – through metaphorical images, competence and a little fairy magic. The unicorn is not Zwischenwelten’s symbolic representation without reason.

The unconference is an underworldly cabinet packed with queerness and curiosities, it’s Alice’s rabbit hole, waiting to be uncovered. As the name rightfully states, it’s an inverted forum in which gender can become fluid, contradictions may merge and prejudices will stop making sense. For me personally, it’s a playground where one can state desires and confront fears and ultimately be embraced either way, rather than judged.

To cite from the Zwischenwelten manifesto:

«In a land far, far away from beauty standard set by the media and socially imposed sexual morals, we are creating spaces where people have the opportunity to explore their own sexuality, deepen their connections with their body and expand their hearts. By doing so we wish to break taboos and fight existing shame and prejudice. It is our goal to empower people to own their desires.»

«To own your desires». I always liked the sound of that. So, for me, to sign up for the first unconference was a perfectly natural decision. During that weekend, I was simply captivated by the degree of trust and respect in the room. I learned a lot about the aesthetic beauty of surrendering, devotion and power dynamics and was met with respect, authentic intimacy and warmth. There aren’t many places you can encounter such mysterious topics like «Cell popping», «Sex with Mango», «Cock & Ball Torture», «Nettle Play» or «Wheel of Consent». If that doesn’t get your curiosity radar shrilling, I don’t know what could.

I’m not going to lie, the experience can be uncanny and confusing at times, and there are contradictions I still haven’t been able to resolve. It is, nevertheless, always entirely up to you to decide if you want to dive into the worlds between, and also, how intense you’d like the experience to be. You may compile your own personal screenplay and chose the depth of your rabbit hole at your own pace. If you’re a first timer, like I was, this definitely is an incomparable place to kickstart your journey into uncharted and mind-altering territory. All you need is intention and a little courage.

I’d like to thank Sidonia and Michelina from the bottom of my heart for their friendship and trust, for opening the gate and letting me participate in their enthralling world of individuals, kinks, gadgets, consciousness, uncanniness, unicorns, spanks and sweat. I come out at the end of this experience with an inestimable repertoire of fresh insights, ideas and tools to further twiddle and experiment with.

Because at the end of the day, we all want to play,

Arfa, November 2020

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