Pamela was recently interviewed in the Santa
Barbara News Press. The two articles below ran on the front
page of the Local section on Monday, September 10, 2001.
woman teaches art of sacred sexuality - Tantric sex blends
By RHONDA PARKS MANVILLE NEWS-PRESS
Raised as a Mormon, Pamela Madison was devoted to God, to
the church and to the practice of her faith. She embraced
the religious life wholeheartedly until she became an adult
and found that fear and shame kept her from enjoying sex.
Ms. Madison remains devoted to prayer and spiritual practice,
but not in the church and not in a conventional sense. Instead,
she is focused on the art of sacred sexuality and teaching
women how to integrate their sexual and spiritual selves.
"A lot of women want to feel sexually alive," said
Ms. Madison, 36, a native Santa Barbaran. "Many of my
clients have been working on spiritual and emotional growth
issues for some time, and they're very sophisticated. But
when it comes to sex, we're all kindergartners. We're all
Ms. Madison is not a therapist; she's a licensed acupuncturist
and has studied Chinese medicine. Her work on women's sexuality
was forged out of her own struggles to reconcile the religious
teachings of her childhood and her sexual yearnings as an
adult. She founded the Women's Sexuality Center on Mission
Street in Santa Barbara, and teaches workshops there. Since
she began her practice in 1993, she has taught thousands of
women around the country about the intricacies of sacred sexuality,
the G-spot and Tantra -- a spiritual tradition common to Hinduism
and Buddhism for couples.
Her local workshops -- intended to raise sexual self-esteem
and empower women to take charge of their sexual selves--
are held in a cozy, candlelit room and begin with prayer,
meditation and cups of herbal tea.
The women tell their personal stories, and Ms. Madison leads
them on exercises in breathing, sharing various ways they
can develop greater intimacy with their partners and awaken
the chemistry of love. There is no nudity or sexually explicit
activity, but the talk is frank and often humorous. Ms. Madison's
work has garnered respect from several local physicians and
therapists, and they refer patients who are having difficulties
with sex to her. "Women are often reluctant to discuss
certain things, such as sexual dissatisfaction and
"A lot of women want to feel
says Pamela Madison.
| incomplete fulfillment, with
their physicians," said Dr. Dan Joseph of Solvang, a
recently retired ob/gyn practitioner who has referred many
patients to Ms. Madison. His wife, Sara, has also attended
workshops. "I felt I didn't have the expertise. I knew
that with Pam my patients would be honored and cared for,
and the feedback I got was that they were very satisfied.
Pam not only taught theory, but she got down to the nitty-gritty
of the thing. But more than that, she taught women about honoring
themselves. A lot of disfunction comes from lack of respect
and knowledge." Clients learn in the workshops that they
are not alone in feeling that there is something missing from
their sex lives. Their teacher speaks of this from first-hand
"I was a poster child for sexual repression," Ms.
Madison says of her attempts to engage in sexual relationships
in her early 20s. "I got into bed and right back out.
I got very embarrassed and very nervous. After reading and
talking to friends, I saw a therapist and it didn't help."
Growing up, Ms. Madison was devoutly religious -- easily the
most religious member of her family, according to her mother,
Carol Anderson of Goleta -- and she loved spending summers
with her grandmother in Utah, the home of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which the family belonged.
But at a certain point in life, Ms. Madison discovered that
the church's teachings about sex -- which prohibited thinking
about sex or engaging in it before marriage -- filled her
with guilt and shame and made it impossible for her to engage
in loving relationships as an adult.
She bought all the sex books she could find at the now-closed
Earthling bookstore, but sexual confidence and satisfaction
eluded her -- until she found a book on the Eastern practice
of Tantra, or sacred sex, as it is practiced in Eastern religions.
| "It made sense to me
that this was what my wound was -- I didn't want to be sexual
until (sex) could be part of my spirituality," said Ms.
Madison. "I was thrilled that this could be part of my
spiritual world."As an acupuncturist, she specialized
in helping women and learned that many were just as unsatisfied
with their sex lives and just as "blocked." She
started sharing what she had learned about the Eastern spiritual
practice of Tantric sex and healing, and found that many women
were interested in knowing more.
Some women she worked with had suffered from traumatic events,
such as rape and incest, and one young woman from Africa was
trying to recover from the effects of female genital mutilation.
"That was a turning point for me," said Ms. Madison,
a single mother. "I vowed then that I would never abandon
my effort to help women be sexual and free."A support
group was formed in 1993 with 16 women, and Ms. Madison's
practice has grown rapidly by word of mouth.
"I don't think I can describe it without crying,"
she said as tears welled up in her eyes during a recent interview
in her Mission Street office. "We were all so starved
for being able to open up in a safe and conscious environment,
and to let everything come out." Some of her clients
come to her wanting to enhance their sexual energy, but others
are recovering from strict religious upbringings and sexual
trauma. "It's really difficult to articulate how powerful
it is," said one client, 42, who was excommunicated from
the Mormon church at age 16 because she had engaged in a sexual
relationship. "I could be sexual from the bottom down,
but not from here up," she said, gesturing to her waist,
"with my head, heart and body." In Ms. Madison's
workshop, "it felt safe. The first class I was sobbing
and felt ashamed -- there was a lot darkness. I feel I have
been lifted from the darkness."
|'I became electrified'
By RHONDA PARKS MANVILLE NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
Several of Pamela Madison's students said the proof of her
work is tangible in the form of better, more satisfying marriages
and relationships. They shared their stories in a meeting
at Ms. Madison's office one recent evening, choosing not to
give their names for privacy reasons.
"It's the best thing that ever happened to me,"
said one young woman, a member of an Eastern Orthodox church.
"I wasn't comfortable with the sexualness of me,"
she said. "But through the work, I came in touch with
the deep heart. I became electrified." One man said his
wife attended a class and then invited him to join her in
a couples workshop. He did so gladly after experiencing the
changes in their love life. Married 19 years and with three
children, he said their sexual relationship has gone from
routine to extraordinary.
"We used to make love every day, and then it dwindled
to one or two times a week," he said. "We always
made love in the dark and often when we were tired."Now
they make time to lie close together every day, not necessarily
| but to have a spiritual and
physical connection with one another. "Sometimes my wife
lays there naked and I just look and appreciate her,"
he said. "Here I am, almost 50, and we make love almost
every day, sometimes twice a day. It's a time to play with
the energy...to connect with my wife." Nurse practitioner
Sara Joseph, who worked at her husband's practice and now
works at Planned Parenthood in Santa Maria, said she took
several classes with Ms. Madison and thoroughly enjoyed them.
One evening, the women all dressed up in costumes to express
hidden parts of themselves, and some women danced for their
classmates. "It was a blast and a lot of fun -- you could
be as wild and as sultry as you wanted. For some it was terrifying
and dressing up was enough. But it was very liberating to
discover something about yourself that you didn't know before,"
"Pam is a real gutsy lady with a lot of knowledge and
sensitivity and courage," Mrs. Joseph said. "It's
a field of work that a lot of people don't want to talk about
or even know about. But her services have helped a lot of
women heal from past wounds and that has allowed
| them to become comfortable
in their sexuality, whereas before they felt it was wrong
or bad." Ms. Madison, a single mother with an 11-year-old
son, is passionate about her work, but says it can be lonely
and isolating. Her mother, Carol Anderson, is very supportive,
but her father disapproves. Any mention of her work is prohibited
at family gatherings.
"When I grew up, people never mentioned the subject,"
said Ms. Anderson. "But I've talked to several people
who said Pam saved their marriage. Everyone tells me what
a great teacher she is. I am very proud of her." Ms.
Madison said women who are in touch with the wisdom and beauty
of their sexual selves typically find more fulfillment and
happiness as mothers, working women and partners.
"My whole life I felt like I had a destiny and a purpose,"
she said. "It's elating and as thrilling as can be to
do your purpose work. I will have done my job if in 50 years
we talk about sex as being from a sacred, integrated place,
to see it as a beautiful, normal, healthy thing that can also
be a lot of fun."
Women's Sexuality Center
3905 State St. #209
Santa Barbara CA 93105