By Zoë Stinson
“I really believe that our connection with our sexuality and our ability to orgasm as women is one of the most potent spiritual experiences that we can have. And trying to reclaim that for ourselves is the number one way to fight the patriarchy. “
Ella Noah Bancroft is a sexuality coach, mentor, yoga and mindfulness teacher, and activist. Ella teaches women to reclaim their sensuality, spirituality, and wellbeing. She is a proud Bundjalung feminist and environmental activist. Ella sat down with me to discuss her work, and I was captivated by her every word. Here’s our conversation:.
I’ll just get you to start by telling me your full name and title, and just a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ella Noah Bancroft, I live in the Northern Rivers on Bundjalung Nation. I am a descendent of the Djanbun Clan of the Bundjalung Nation and I also have Scottish and English descent. I work predominantly with women… one on one and in workshop spaces, to re-find their sexuality, reclaim their sensual space and their body. I also run an all-female retreat called ‘The Returning’ four times a year which is a female-lead space where we’re reclaiming and retracing our steps to activism, movement, wellness, land-based skills, gardening, and plant magic.
How did you become interested in working as a sexuality coach?
So, I guess since I came out as being a lesbian my sexuality has always been something that I’ve wanted to understand. Because I’m essentially going against the grain it’s something that I have questioned within myself. I wondered how I got here, to this place, or back then, where I was. It was probably, I would say my early twenties when I actually started diving into more conscious spaces of sexual education. And back then, we’re talking ten years ago, it was very hetero-centric, the tantric spaces and conscious sensuality spaces, and I really found that I didn’t have a place there because I didn’t resonate with what was being taught, and it wasn’t targeted to me. And, kind of since then, I continued to work in those spaces to learn as a student and to show up so that I could take that work out to the queer world and be a real support for other young women who wanted to be with women and wanted to explore that space. That’s kind of how I found myself in the sensuality space as a connection coach or a sexuality coach. And then also I think just being a woman in general, you know, you start that work quite early because we do get silenced in our exploration of our body, and a lot of women are walking around with trauma trapped in them from, well, it could just be very subconscious comments by family members or friends. So, I guess I’ve spent definitely the last 10-12 years unpacking that for myself. I just wanted to stand aside other women and to help them unpack that too.
How do the different aspects of your work, yoga, mindfulness, activism, come together to enhance sexual wellbeing?
I think as a woman or as a human being we need to fight for sexual liberation and that’s where activism comes in. I fight for a lot of things, but I guess the basis of it is body sovereignty and being able to make choices for ourselves as human beings, but especially as women. To have sovereignty over our own individual bodies, and to recognise that everybody is different. And then, mindfulness and conscious relating is important to me as a woman, but I’ve also noticed how significantly better sex is not only when I’m relating to my partner, or partners in the past, but my own sexual experience deepens a lot by being able to get out of my head and into my body. And I think mindfulness practises teach us that.
Sexuality is a very holistic thing, what other parts of your identity play into sex and sexuality for you?
I think for me wellness and health is the foundation of a good sexual space, and that’s really mind, body and soul. It’s not just body. It’s really looking at the whole big picture and how you can move forward in that space. But I think also, self-care and love are really important. Of course, having a healthy lifestyle, or a lifestyle embedded in wellbeing is important but so is talking positively to ourselves. Accepting that our body may be different from what we see in the media…but that in fact, everybody has the most beautiful body naked… All naked bodies are beautiful, all sizes and shapes and colours, and when we strip away whatever labels people are wearing, we get to see how we are all so unique but so the same.
What is it like to be an indigenous voice in the world of sex coaching?
I haven’t actually got that much criticism to my face, so I don’t know. But I haven’t got that much accolade either. I think it’s controversial being a fair-skinned Indigenous person full stop, let alone adding queerness and the taboo topics which I teach, so, I’m really comfortable with people critically assessing my work. But, I haven’t had a lot of pushback and maybe that’s because I tend to gravitate towards more like-minded communities where I’m more accepted. I don’t tend to necessarily put myself in super awkward situations. But, in terms of my immediate family, I’ve had nothing but love and support because I think, what you can see with sexuality, especially for women, but for men also, is oppression. And I think that there is understanding within the Indigenous spaces, of oppression. And I think again, it comes back to body sovereignty. Sovereignty over our voices, sovereignty over our choice to experience pleasure. And, that can tie in a lot with Indigenous activism and rights work as well.
How does Aboriginal spirituality interact with your coaching? Does it inform the way that you teach?
I think that my Indigenous spirituality is intrinsically linked to my connection to the earth, and that’s how I show up as a custodian and that’s how I plant my garden, and that’s how I walk through watering holes, and that’s how I pay respect to my ancestors. In that way, Indigenous practises and spirituality are the highest form of meditation, are the highest form of mindfulness, are there highest form of deep connection, which we’re all looking for. So, it intrinsically plays a part in how I walk in the world and therefore how I teach people too. And what I’ve found so much through my own returning and relearning of my Indigenous culture is really, how beautiful the nature of slowing down is. And a lot of Indigenous practise is about slowing down because we need to be in the rhythm and the cycles of nature which can often be quite slow. So, I think in that way it’s influenced me and then it’s influenced my work too.
How does your work as an activist interact with your work as a sex coach? Is it difficult to marry those two aspects or yourself or do they work together naturally?
I think the greatest thing about my life is that I get to choose everything that I want to fight for, you know? And I don’t ever really listen to what other people try to box me into. I’m an Indigenous activist but I’m also an environmental activist, I’m also a sexual activist, I’m also a women’s rights activist…I really believe that our connection with our sexuality and our ability to orgasm as women is one of the most potent spiritual experiences that we can have. And trying to reclaim that for ourselves is the number one way to fight the patriarchy.
The political climate at the moment makes me feel like we’re working towards some kind of reckoning, something is shifting, do you feel that too? Do you think it has affected your work in any way?
Yeah, I definitely feel shifts. I think and believe that we really are trying to stand beside each other, as human beings, and I have the utmost belief in human beings wanting to do the best thing that they can with the information that they have. I truly believe that we are not out to get each other, that there isn’t an intrinsic, insidious structure of humans hating other humans…I have hope that we’re moving towards a revolution and I do believe that we are moving in the right direction, but I also hope that we are moving with grace and integrity and not allowing fear to prevent us from really achieving what I think is the greatest goal, making sure that this planet is healthy for the next generations.