Anne O Nomis examining artifacts at Idalion Museum in Cyprus
I have always had a strong interest in wisdom which lies in the taboo domain of sexuality. Women's sexuality (and in addition any non-normative sexuality) has been the subject of shaming, aggression; religious, state and social control. Sexuality is an area of our humanity which has traditionally been forbidden, repressed and censored.
In 2013 I wrote the book on the Dominatrix's history and her erotic arts. I use the term 'Dominatrix' as an archetype of female sexual power, as well as a secretive craft profession which was passed down from senior Mistress to apprentice - the special knowledge and practices of the psycho-sexual realm of bondage, domination and submission, cross-dressing, fetishes and erotic fantasies.
My research took four years, of dedicated internship in a top dungeon learning from the collective knowledge of the Mistresses, formal research in the British Library and Museum, and into the underground sources of hidden knowledge - to discover the Dominatrix's history and arts. Image permissions were sought out from the world's top museums and libraries, vintage polaroids and contemporary art, and brought together for the publication.
What drove me was the desire to share this important information to the world's academic libraries and to the women themselves. It has made its way around the world, into bookshops, dungeons and training institutes, and the hands of the Dominatrices themselves who write to me - thanking me for telling their history. (A few of the photographs I receive every few weeks from around the world.)
Following this publication, I embarked on another ambitious project. Gathering together texts, images and history on the ancient Goddesses of sexuality, from Mesopotamia into the Levant and Cyprus, her rituals and art, over 3000 years, to share with the world.
From some of the world's oldest poetry and hymns, to beautiful artwork, knowledge of rituals - of bathing, beautification with sacred symbolic jewels, the setting up of a ritual bed for a Goddess sex ritual with her male consort God or King, meeting in a garden, and the Goddess's symbolic linking to the efflorescence of abundant growth, and radiance and power.
It is precisely her power however, that threatened the establishing patriarchal monotheism, who would seek to have her symbols burnt and violently cut down. As part of my research I travelled to the site of one of the most important sanctuaries of the ancient world, the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, and traced her journey on the island of Cyprus from where she entered the Greek world.
Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Kouklia, Paphos.
Aphrodite marble sculpture at Paphos Museum, Cyprus
The Goddess Aphrodite riding on a swan painted on kylis drinking cup, from Rhodes.
This research has been compiled into my new book, Flight of the Goddess. It seeks to share the ancient Goddess rituals and artwork with all, which had been negatively painted and violently targeted by early Christianity, who sought amongst other things to cut out God's consort, and yet her presence lingers in writings, references and artifacts. (Yes, God had a lover and consort / wife, named Asherah.)
Clay model with man and woman on a bed, which may have represented the sacred sex ritual of Goddess and God.
Sexuality is an important part of humanity; put not only to reproduction, but also to pleasure, social bonding, ecstasy, spirituality, identity and connection.
It is for this reason I am so determined to share knowledge and wisdom of sexuality with humankind. To recover sacred erotic hymns, rituals of the Goddess, and wisdom of practitioners in the erotic arts, in defiance of taboos which seek to shame or prohibit female sexuality.
I don't see it as a female or feminist cause, but as a people cause. In addition to my writing, I teach as an educator and speak on topics I have researched, including speaking at major BDSM conferences, museum talks, and in salon rooms of erotic boutiques around the world.