The Sensual, The Sexual, The Erotic
So what do we mean by "erotic"? Isn't that the same as sexual, the same as sensual?
In this culture, we often use these three terms interchangeably. Or we use "erotic" as a euphemism for "sexual". I propose that the three terms are related, but not at all interchangeable. I think we do a disservice to the erotic when we see it as the same as sensual or sexual, we limit its scope.
My definitions of the three are a work in progress, but here is where I am today: I define the sensual as stimulation which is pleasing to one or more of the five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch), and sexual as stimulation which is pleasing to the genitals (notice that I didn't say stimulation of the genitals). The erotic is stimulation which is pleasing to the soul. One can have sex that is neither sensual nor erotic. One can indulge in sensations that are not sexual. And certainly one can receive erotic stimulation that does not make you want to run out & get laid.
The erotic is our life force, our chi, our kundalini. When we are cut off or disconnected from our erotic voice, we are cut off from an enormous well of power, a well of knowledge, a well of healing. As old as this essay is, and as much as I disagree with some of her take on pornography, Audre Lorde's essay "The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power" remains an eloquent treatise on the importance of the erotic, especially for women.
For me, the erotic is definitely accessed through the senses, and does often manifest as a certain juiciness down below, but I'm aware that it's my bliss, my joy, my inner being that is being stimulated. I can also access the erotic through the breath. I use the breath as a vehicle, to take me down, take me inside to my core. I use the breath to feel my inner being, my life force, my creative energy.
When the erotic melds with the sexual & the sensual, is when the gong rings, the universe explodes inside our heads, and we feel the Creatrix's breath upon our brow.
"The erotic is the nurturer or nursemaid of all our deepest knowledge."