Archive for September, 2011

The Corset Guide: Part I

Posted by Jessica Jewett 3 Comments »
Dita von Teese

“We all have a fetish! The difference between us and them is, they’re putting it out there where everyone can see. And I think it’s healthy and fabulous.” – Samantha Jones, Sex and the City, episode: La Douleur Exquise!

The amount of people who are unaware of the art of corsetry and tight lacing in the modern world is shocking to me. What used to be commonplace and normal has now shifted into the dark, underground world of sexual bondage, S&M, and fetishes. There is a bit of a stereotype of women who are interested in corsets, as if we’re all itching to whip our lovers or lead them around on leashes like pets. While I have nothing at all bad to say about those things, I would like it pointed out that not all of us in the corsetry world go that far. For some of us, the corset is another piece of lingerie that we favor over the others because of the feeling it gives us. The interest in corsets ranges from fashion choices with little to no boning, to tight-lacing, to drifting into the world of bondage and S&M. Every type of woman can get into it. You don’t really even need a romantic partner to enjoy it either.

My introduction to corsets came in the backwoods of Tennessee. I’m a Civil War reenactor, so corsets are part of the job for women. Back in the 1860s, corsets were used to engineer the famous Victorian hourglass figure that emphasized the hips and breasts while keeping the waist tiny and delicate. This ideal feminine shape evolved from the belief that women with such curves were better equipped to conceive and give birth to dozens of children. The hourglass shape was also highly sexually desirable for men of the period as well. The 1860s corset also served as a strong structural base to support the weight of hoop skirts and heavy dresses. Tight-lacing in general was not in fashion prior to and during the Civil War, meaning it’s a myth that women were sucking their waists down to ridiculously small proportions. That practice did not come into fashion until after the Civil War, reaching its height at the turn of the twentieth century. As the bra was invented in the 1920s and the desirable female silhouette became straight and flat, corsets were thrown away and never used on a widespread basis again. Women became liberated and began to see corsets as symbols of restriction and oppression placed upon them by men.

1860s corset gives a natural silhouette

 

1890s-1900s corset gives a tight-laced unnatural silhouette

Today, corsets have come out of the underwear drawer into fashion for women who desire a tighter, hourglass silhouette for their looks. A lot of women into the art of corsetry feel that it empowers them, makes them feel more feminine and still powerful. A woman who has the ability to feel comfortable in her body and realize her potential as a force of nature may find herself attracted to the corset. There is something interesting about taking a piece of clothing that was considered oppressive and reclaiming your own feminine power, almost to say, “You cannot control me because I choose to control myself.” I often find that women who dabble in corsets tend to naturally tap into not only their sexuality but their self-confidence as well.

Additionally, some women, such as myself, find the corset to be sexy without strutting around basically naked. You are very covered in a corset but your shapes, lines and curves are still on full display. It pushes a man to use his imagination a little more. I am a woman who believes real femininity doesn’t give it away all up front. The true feminine woman will make him work for it, make him appreciate what he has, and make him fall in love with the strength required to be a woman. There is a big difference in a man finding a woman sexy and a woman finding herself sexy. For some woman, the corset allows natural self-confidence to exude from her, body and soul.

Now that we know why corsets are still out there and how they have evolved, let’s learn some terminology.

Coutil – A very sturdy and crisp fabric with a marked herringbone pattern. Made from twisted yarns of cotton. A traditional and common corset fabric. Although corsets today can be made of just about anything, the most sturdy fabric for long-term use is coutil.

Sateen – A cheap, alternative for expensive satin made from closely woven cotton. Has a lustrous, smooth satin-like appearance. A popular fabric for corsets in the 19th and early 20th century and was sometimes used with coutil in corsets as a lovely contrast.

Busk – A long stiff bone at the front of the corset that helps to keep it rigid. Early corsets up to 1860 used a straight rigid busk which could be made out of whalebone, ivory, metal or wood. These were sometimes ornately decorated and were inserted down the center slot of the corset. Later 19th century corsets and onwards use a “divided” busk, which although was invented during the 1830’s, did not come into general use until the 1860’s. The divided busk is made out of spring steel with loop fastenings on the right side and studs on the left side.

Curved busk – A popular spring steel busk in the second half of the 19th century. A curve creaties an indentation in the upper stomach at waist level, then flares out and over the abdomen. A curved busk gave a place for the displaced flesh from the waist to go to.

Spoon Busk – A pear shaped curved busk invented around 1873. The curved pear shape flared over the abdomen giving it more support and was favored by larger ladies who found it more comfortable.

Straight Busk – A perfectly straight busk which became popular around 1900. It was thought to be healthier than a curved busk as it did not press on any internal organs. (See Straight Front corsets).

Waist Tape – Also known as a Stay Tape. A horizontal tape sometimes made from a twill often found at waist level inside a corset. This is used to take some of the strain of the corset and prevent it from stretching out of shape.

Flossing – Embroidery found on the bone casings of a corset. Flossing reinforced bone casings preventing bones from fraying and working their way out, and provided decoration for a corset.

Eyelet – A small hole, often handworked, on early corsets up to 1860. Used for lacing up the corset. (See French Holes and Grommet)

French Holes – An ivory or bone reinforced eyelet hole sometimes seen on early 19th century corsets.

Grommet – A metal reinforced eyelet hole used for lacing up corsets. First used in the late 1820s on corsets and then in common use for the Victorian era. (See French Holes)

Bone(s)– Also known as a stay or stays. Used for stiffening the seams of a corset. This generic term can be apply to “bones” made out of any material such as whalebone (baliene), watchspring, steel, spiral steels, featherboning, etc. Types of bones:

  • Featherboning: A trade name for a patented boning manufacturing process made since 1884, and was a substitute for whalebone. Featherboning is literally made from feathers by using the shaft or stem of a feather or several feathers to make a long continuous “bone” which can be cut to whatever length is needed.
  • Spiral steels (or boning): A flexible steel bone or stay invented in the US in 1904 by Mr. “Pa” Beaman, where the metal is literally arranged in a flat spiral pattern.
  • Watchspring: A specially tempered steel which was very flexible. Due to it’s flexibility, it became a popular material to bone corsets with. Also used to make cage crinolines with.
  • Rustproof Boning: Before stainless steel, women in the late 19th and early 20th century had problems with the stays in their corsets rusting. As a soulution, manufacturers such as Warner’s, came up with the idea of “Rust Proof” or “Rustless” stays whereby a normal watchspring bone was covered in thick paper
  • Plastic Boning: In modern corsets, the boning has become either plastic or steel. Plastic is very flexible and considered quite light in the corset world. It’s mostly used in fashion corsets, not traditional corsets.

Cording – A method of stiffening a corset in which a cord made from cotton or other fibres is inserted into a corset instead of traditional bones. Each line of cording would be stitched into it’s casing. Cording provides a firm yet flexible alternative to traditional boning and was often used as a “healthy” alternative in 19th century corsets. Warner’s patented their own form of corset cording in 1873 when they invented Coraline, a cord made from the fibers of the Mexican Ixtle plant. (See Trapunto Work)

Trapunto Work – A method of quilting in which a pattern is outlined with a single line of sewing, then filled in with cotton or wool to give it a raised effect. Trapunto work is often seen in late Georgian and Regency corsets, and was a popular way to decorate a pair of stays, giving it a corded affect. Trapunto work also stiffened the corset slightly and gave some degree of figure support. (See Cording)

Overbust corset

This is what we stereotypically think of when the word corset is mentioned. The overbust corset is named that way because it quite literally comes over the bust, as opposed to the underbust corset. The boning comes all the way up and supports the breasts sort of like a strapless bra. Support is great when you’re wearing a well-fitted corset and it makes your cleavage secure like Fort Knox. Sometimes the style of fashion corsets has drifted into halter corsets of late, meaning there is a strap that goes around the neck. It isn’t necessary to have the halter strap around the neck unless you simply like how it looks or you feel the need for extra support if you have a very large bust.

Underbust corset

The underbust corset cuts underneath the breasts, as you can see in the picture on the left. It cinches the waist as little or as much as you want while leaving the breasts exposed, which is most often used in fashion over a blouse for an added edge. Underbust corsets are often called girdles as well, although they are not quite the same thing. In my experience, women who prefer underbust corsets in the bedroom tend to be a bit edgier and more likely to drift into other things like bondage and S&M. This is not always true though! Since the underbust corset cuts under the breasts, it is imperative that it fits correctly, otherwise you run a serious risk of injuring yourself. An ill-fitting corset can cause bruises and pressure sores as well as cuts if not fitted correctly. I see more injuries happen from underbust corsets than any other type. Worn correctly though, they can add some sexy spice to your wardrobe.

Straight Front corset

This is a historical corset style that is not used by many mainstreamers. It’s also know as the S-bend corset, due to the shape it gives the body. This style of corset became popular around 1900 but did not last very long because of how it harmed women. The straightfront front corset used a perfectly straight busk and diagonal seams to mold the figure into an “S” shape by thrusting the bust out forward and pushing the hips backward. It also extends much lower on the body than previous corsets. The hips are forced backwards and the breasts are pushed forward. Women certainly looked regal in this corset but doctors soon realized that prolonged use increased miscarriage rates and caused a wide variety of medical problems. As the world moved toward World War I and modernization, the corset became a thing of the past.

Summer Corset

A summer corset is one of the lesser known styles. It’s typically made out of a lacey lightweight cotton or linen mesh. Popular with Victorian and Edwardian ladies, the mesh provided some ventilation during the hot weather. The modern summer corset has evolved into the beautiful lacy see-through corsets often seen in lingerie shops today. Just as the summer corset was a private undergarment in the nineteenth century, the sheer lacy corsets today are usually worn privately under clothes or as a spicy treat for one’s lover. The lightweight sheer corsets are not so heavily boned today. I highly recommend that people new to corsets begin with these lightweight, lightly boned styles, as they will not be such a shock to the body. While the lightweight summer corset pictured here resembles window blinds and is not terribly attractive, there are a great deal more choices today that utilize sheer cotton, linen, beautiful lace, and so forth. Function is not so much the name of the game anymore.

Ribbon corset

This particular corset pictured at left dates from about 1905 and is a ‘ribbon’ corset, which means that it’s actually made of silk ribbon. This style of corset weren’t worn for tight lacing or for everyday use as they would have been too delicate for such brutal wearing. They were worn in the bodiour (i.e. for wedding nights, etc), for special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. They were popular with young ladies in their 20s and tended to be worn only by the very slim, as ribbon corsets couldn’t support a fuller figure. In other words, this corset was simply for decoration and would not support fuller figures. Today it would be like the underbust corset or a pretty decorative version of the modern girdle.

I bet you didn’t know there was so much to learn!

So now that we are more familiar corset terminology, we should learn about getting started with your own corset, some tips, and exploring how far you might want to go in “corset culture”. Tomorrow we will learn those things. Stay tuned!

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Do ghosts have sex?

Posted by Jessica Jewett 46 Comments »
This is one of the most common questions I get asked, whether there is sex in the afterlife or not.

Short answer: yes.

Aside from the need for procreation in the physical world, sex is the most intense expression of love that people can share. It’s healthy and nature’s way of relieving pain, improving moods, releasing endorphins, and so forth. The moment of orgasm is as close as we can get to exposing the soul and experiencing the level of bliss that souls experience in the afterlife. Sex is a gift from the universe, your higher power, God, whatever you want to call it, and should be enjoyed freely and safely.

Just as there are a million different types of sexual activity in the physical world, so too are there in the spirit world. Some are dangerous. Some are to express love. Some are recreation based on lust. Here is a basic rundown of the terminology.

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Spectrophilia – This is defined as sexual attraction and/or sexual activity with a ghost. This connection is between a living person and a disembodied soul. It’s an umbrella term that covers all types of sexual encounters that concern interaction between the living and the dead. Not to be confused, however, with necrophilia, which is sexual attraction to dead bodies. We are not talking about that.

Succubus – On the dark side of spectrophilia, an encounter with a succubus is a dangerous thing. Succubi (plural) are, according to longstanding mythology, demons that take the form of women and drain energy from living men by having sex with them. The Biblical figure, Lilith, is often described as a succubus and also as a vampire. She was Adam’s first wife but was cast out of Eden because she wanted to be on top, aka dominant, during sex. Her image became dominant after that and, depending on who you ask, she is now a succubus or a vampire taking out her anger on men and babies.

Incubus – Just as the succubus is a female demon controlling and draining men through sex, an incubus is the male demonic counterpart. He is known to lie upon a living woman, have sex with her, and according to some traditions, impregnate her as with Merlin.

While much of the incubi and succubi mythology is exaggerated and expanded upon over time, the basic concept is based in truth. There are a few known cases in the paranormal community of sexual assaults, sometimes rather violent, associated with hauntings. People who toy with the spirit world without really knowing what they’re doing often unknowingly welcome demonic activity and sometimes it takes the form of succubi or incubi. In many cases, people are quite embarrassed to speak of being sexually assaulted by something they can’t see, so many of such attacks remain unreported. It’s unclear how often this sort of thing happens due to the stigma attached to it.

Astral travel, astral projection, out-of-body experience – The majority of people are not aware of it consciously but we all can and do leave our bodies from time to time. Think of it like a vacation for your soul. Living in the restrictive confines of the body is like being stuck at work 24 hours a day and a break is necessary sometimes. While we sleep, we have the ability to leave the body and visit loved ones in spirit, see different places in the world, etc. Those who aware of leaving the body have reported merging with other souls at times.

Merging – Merging is the word most used to describe the sexual union between two souls outside of the confines of the physical body. We say merging because the act is quite literally two soul energies merging together. It causes the same euphoric release that people experience at the point of orgasm. It is possible to merge with a disembodied soul while outside of your body but it is rare. It takes an extremely strong emotional bond with the other soul and the right conditions. Usually the intensity of the act causes the person to retreat back into the body before they want to but they never forget the encounter.

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The need to express love in a physical and spiritual manner like sex does not go away when we die, as you can see. Death is not really the end. It’s just life taking on another form more comfortable for the soul. Sexual encounters with spirits don’t get talked about very much, but when they do, it’s generally with a snicker and juvenile giggling. It does seem a bit far-fetched until you’ve actually experienced it. However, those who have experienced it are quite serious and genuine in their claims.

I have heard several stories about spouses dying seemingly before their times and leaving widows and widowers behind. It appears that in cases of exceptionally close spouses very deeply in love, sexual encounters do still happen. Sometimes the person won’t see anything but goes through the entire sexual encounter feeling real sensations of hands, breath, lips, penetration, and so forth. The legitimate cases for me have a ring of truth when the person doesn’t know what to make of it and didn’t go seeking such a thing. While they feel love and physical bliss through these encounters, the legitimate cases tend to wonder why it’s happening and they become concerned that their loved ones aren’t moving on in death. Only when people seem overly excited about spectrophilia do I become suspicious about their claims. It is a romantic idea to think that your spouse loves you enough to continue making love to you in death, but the truth is, such activities should not be encouraged because it keeps people from fully living their lives. It is necessary for both parties to move on and continue their journeys when death parts them. Contact between spirits and the living should never be so constant or intense that it holds back the natural progression of life.

In addition to continuing sexual relationships in this lifetime, it also happens with souls from previous lives who are not incarnated at this moment. These incidences can be frightening for people who don’t have past life memories or the ability to really recognize a lover from a past life. Sometimes it can feel like violation or like something is wrong mentally if a person doesn’t understand it. Since nobody really talks about it out of embarrassment and fear, there isn’t really a fighting chance of figuring out the truth enough to resolve the situation one way or another. I have devoted my life to understanding the nature of the soul and even I didn’t know about these things until it happened to me and I worked up the nerve to ask my mentor. Luckily for me, I recognized the spirit involved by scent and overall feeling (my former husband, Joshua L. Chamberlain), so the potentially frightening situation was diffused quickly. His spiritual presence in my present life is as a background figure that sometimes makes more direct contact. Incidences this intense, however, are rare. I do not cling to the past like some people aware of previous lives and that is in large part because he keeps his distance enough for me to think of him lovingly but still desire new relationships and experiences.

I want to reiterate that incidences of spectrophilia are pretty rare. It takes a lot of energy for them to manifest in that way. They’re also not as wrapped up in earthly affairs as some might think, although the bond of love is not easily broken. Of course they miss us if we miss them. Sometimes love has to be expressed, even through the veil between spiritual and physical.

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The isolation of being an intuitive

Posted by Jessica Jewett 4 Comments »

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Last night I was looking at my calendar about a foot away from me when I saw a figure walk by my right side. It followed the path of my mother walking to her sewing table, so I started talking to her.

“Hey, are there any more of those mini chocolate cupcakes?”

No response. My mother is 75% deaf due to an accident with firecrackers as a child, so I thought she didn’t hear me. I asked again and still there was no response. I looked up and there was nobody there. Confused, I looked behind me and nobody was there either. A few minutes later, my mother came out of the bedroom on the other side of my apartment. She hadn’t walked by me at all, leaving me to the conclusion that it was another spirit.

Believe it or not, sometimes I still get creeped out even though I was born with this issue. I wasn’t in “intuitive mode” so I wasn’t even thinking about spiritual matters. It just happened.

I was up late last night again, unable to sleep as usual. There is nothing like the blackness of night to make a person feel completely alone in the world even under the best of circumstances. Slowly my thoughts drifted to what it might be like to actually live under the best of circumstances, a life not plagued by the feeling of responsibility for so many other souls. At any given time, I have dozens of people metaphorically pulling at my clothes asking for help because they just can’t handle things without guidance from a higher place. I remember sometimes when people used to look at me as a small child and tell my mother how eerie it was that I clearly exist with one foot in the spirit world and one foot in the physical world. I didn’t understand what they meant, being a little girl, but I become more and more acutely aware of it as I grow older.

I will be 30-years-old in February. As much as I have accomplished professionally, it seems like my personal life has been stagnate for a long time. Virtually all of the people who went to high school with me are now married with at least one child. Are they happy? I wonder that a lot when I come across them. That’s the thing about living in the South – you never really get away from the expectations people put on you when you were too young to really understand those expectations. I seem to be more aware now that I keep pushing off that ultimate personal relationship, not for a lack of desire, but more because of the underlying truth that the scope of people who would actually understand my life is so limited. The average person has no way of understanding what it means to live with an intuitive (or sensitive, medium, clairvoyant, psychic, etc., etc., etc.). We are night owls. We often struggle to sleep more than a few hours at a time. Some of us who are empathic feel crippling depression when worldwide tragedies happen. We are never really alone but we often feel lonely and misunderstood. We are basically “on call” constantly because spiritual problems don’t keep store hours. Regular people never seem to understand it enough to accept it as such a huge part of our lives. Giving it up is not really an option either, which is something that people rarely understand. It’s like trying to give up what you are, not just quitting your job. People can’t give up being their race or their gender any more than they can give up being intuitive.

I have so very few people who understand what my life is. Most of it is just because I simply don’t talk about it in constant detail. There are some parts of it that I talk about regularly but most of it I don’t – just as a doctor wouldn’t talk about his patients. I have two or three friends who I’ve known for so many years that I can talk about it if I need to but even then, my best friend since high school often says, “You’re the only one I know who has personal relationships with dead people.” I know. And when new people find out about what I am, I shrink into myself and clam up because I don’t know what they’re really thinking. I’m an intuitive, not a telepathic. For all I know, new people could be thinking, “This chick is crazy. Lock her up!” So that makes it tough to get closer to new people in my life. I live behind a wall and look out of the window at the rest of the world once in a while.

I’m not particularly interested in being married. I already went through that once with the big flashy ring and the man who walked all over me like a piece of property. Love is the joining of souls who enhance each other’s lives, not a piece of paper that says I’m legally bound to serve you for the rest of my life. Real, honest, genuine love from the purest place in the soul is so much bigger than the confines of marriage and even the short existence of this body. Love is holy. Marriage was invented for control. I want to find someone who loves me for every part of me, not just the “normal” parts. A big part of me doubts that I will find that in this lifetime. I have had it in previous lives and the burden of remembering it makes my standards high and I’m just not willing to settle for good enough. The life of someone who works with one foot in the spirit world and one foot in the physical world is fulfilling but lonely at the same time. I’m aware that I’m doing my best to help humanity evolve in my little ways but I’m aware that being public with who I am means I’m sacrificing a lot too.

Sometimes I meet some men who are involved with this way of living too but those relationships haven’t turned out well. I have found out the hard way that a certain level of ego skyrockets among some intuitives when they begin to realize their influence over people. It’s so easy to slip into taking the abilities into some dark place. If there is the slightest bit of an ego or something dark in a person, the realization of intuitive abilities is like throwing gasoline on that blaze. My ex-fiance didn’t bother to tell me until we were living together that he was involved in demonic activities. I only questioned him when the demonic activity he attracted started coming after my brother and me (a subject that I still can’t talk about openly without fear). Long after we broke up, I was involved with a man who was a medium and also had the ability to get into people’s minds in a way that I had never previously witnessed. Both of them turned their raw abilities into a means to exert control over things they should never have touched, whether it was other people or spiritual forces. I have yet to meet a man who uses his intuitive abilities for goodness and light rather than darkness and control in things that aren’t meant to be controlled. I know there are genuinely good spiritual men out there with honest intentions. I can name a few. I haven’t found one for my own though.

On another side of the issue, I have tried engaging men who are not involved with this way of life. That never goes well either. They’re either not strong enough to walk with me in the demands of my life or they refuse to believe it’s real by patting me on the head and pacifying me. I am not a woman to be patted on the head or pacified. While I am feminine and loving to those who I really do love, I’m also tough as nails just to survive coping with everybody else’s heartache – dead and alive – as well as my own. This is not a life for a sweet Susie Homemaker. It’s a long running joke with my best friend that I keep my feeling locked in a box with dust on it and she says I’d be bosom buddies with Pam on True Blood. I suppose a tough woman not willing to be totally dependent on a man to define herself can be a bit threatening to them.

So I go on doing my work because I have no other choice. I would like to know what real intimacy and trust feels like with another person but I seem to be a bit of a puzzle that men can’t put together right. Sometimes they force the wrong pieces together and I break. I can’t change what I am. I talk to dead people. I do readings for people to help my income along while I figure out what else I can do with these abilities. I write books with the sole purpose of helping people realize their own potential. My whole life is wrapped up in helping other people. It’s a full life but it’s an isolated life too. Who could really understand it? That question remains to be answered.

I write blogs like this, not because I particularly enjoy exposing my emotions and insecurities, but because there seems to be this romantic idea of what an intuitive, medium, psychic, etc., really is. People watch shows like Ghost Whisperer or see “TV mediums” like John Edward and think everything works within the context of that show and then the intuitive goes home to their loving family, having rescued spirits and their families from decades of turmoil. It’s never that simple. It’s not something you can just turn off, and not all bad spirits can be turned good with just a little reasoning and comfort. Our work follows us home much of the time. Our families have to put up with it too. My very skeptical uncle has been in my apartment and literally had his clothes pulled, heard voices, footsteps, etc., all by spirits. He always freaks out and leaves. And he’s my own blood family! My point is to help you understand this life and how difficult and rewarding it can be. I get tired and I get lonely but I do feel like I’m making a difference in my own way. Some people, I suppose, are just not meant to share their lives with someone else.

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