“You are like a god, like an immortal one,’ she whispered to me one night in our bed, her naked body pressed to mine, our sweat golden and glistening in the candlelight. ‘Oh, my love,’ I whispered back to her, ‘I am more mortal than all. It seems that a part of me dies every night that I lie with you.”
― Roman Payne
All sexuality is sacred but not all sexual acts fall under the category of “Sacred Sexuality.” I’d like to take the opportunity to distinguish those interpretations and help define for newcomers to Paganism as well as seasoned individuals. We will be discussing some different cultural references to the hallowed act of coupling. For me, this article is difficult to write but that’s exactly why I have chosen to do so as a way of confronting the personal challenges that lie within my mind’s deepest recesses. A lifetime of sexual abuse from family members and past lovers almost completely extinguished the passionate fires within my being but I keep pushing on, trying to find my niche in this wholly spiritual act.
When speaking of the act of Sacred Sexuality, it does not matter if the participants involved embody Chalice to Athame, Chalice to Chalice, Athame to Athame or the single aspect of Chalice or Athame. These symbols of divine masculine and feminine do not need to be taken in the original context to be valid. It does not discriminate against the amount of partners or lack thereof contained within the act. What does matter is distinguishing what is a part of our spirituality and what is not. Lumping all acts of sexuality into the same category does not help define for the practitioner or the outsider what makes an act sacred or not. It is true that what is considered a divine is a wholly subjective process but that does not mean that the concepts of carnal deeds are not discriminatory.
In our mainstream society, the word “discrimination” usually carries a context that is construed as “bad” or immediately associated with the word “hate.” It does not, however change the original and more archaic definition of the word within the boundaries of the English language. To be a person who is discriminating in their acts and thoughts is defined by Dictionary.com as “recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.” In this context, we are merely setting apart the acts of mundane sex from what is defined as sacred. This is an important notion to follow if we subscribe to the idea of forming a Pagan culture that stands apart from all others in the contemporary arena of practiced faiths. We are often judged by our peers as as well as our perceptions of self based on what we see as true and worthy of our attention. Knowing how to properly answer the question, “What is sacred sexuality?” is just as important as the foundational and ever present inquiry, “What is Modern Paganism?”
I believe to look forward at the future of Paganism, we need to dig deep into our historical roots. While we have lost so much of our cultural roots to the incendiary philosophies of monotheism, we still have cultures who subscribe to polytheism whose ideals embody and capture for us the ideals of our ancient ancestors. While traditionally many Wiccans subscribe to the beliefs of Gerald Gardner, not all polytheistic belief systems align with his unique contribution to Paganism.
It is generally acknowledged and accepted that not all Pagans identify as Wiccans but understand that all Wiccans do indeed identify as Pagans. In terms of other cultures, Gardner stood apart them with his views on woman which by many modern definitions could be construed as sexually biased. In the process of his famous views on gender roles and acts of sexuality, Gardner empowered many women and created a generation of badass witches. This is not in any way meant to discredit Gerald Gardner but simply saying that his ideas spoke of the time period from which he grew up in and a vision of Paganism and Witchcraft that was many years beyond his contemporaries. To him, we owe a great debt of gratitude but it doesn’t end at Gardner.
Let us also ponder how ancient Hinduism viewed sacred sexuality. The relevance of Hindu Shaktism has a very real and dramatic effect upon our culture as a whole. If you’re not familiar with the word “Shakti” it is translated from ancient Sanskrit as “to be able.” It is often associated with the sub-tradition of “Tantra” which works on the approach of empowering your partner not only through various sexual techniques but also through encouragement, support and meditative challenges. The ancient Hindus were experts at using sexuality as a vehicle to communicate with their numerous deities. Lord Shiva, for example was fueled by His Shakti, Durga (or Kali, or Parvati, etc.) It’s a beautiful concept that does not incorporate romantic love but a deep respect for the powers and uniqueness of the partner involved.
Sacred sexuality does not have to involve romantic love in any way, shape or form. It is distinguished by duty, honor to the tribe and the values of the participants involved that have been aligned for a pure, magickal purpose. During the Wiccan “Great Rite” a High Priest and Priestess engage in a erotic act that does not necessarily bind them in authentic legal marriage but it does incorporate a sincere respect and appreciation for each other’s strengths and abilities. Each acknowledges the divinity in each other which is the vehicle used to promote the symbolic and actual deed of sexual consummation. This is why we can not lump every single sexual act into the category of sacred sexuality.
So as Pagans we separate, we discriminate what is sacred when we embody our Gods and Goddesses in our most intimate and hallowed acts. It does not matter if we are using masturbation to charge our monthly spell work or engaging in a sexual orgy to empower a larger magickal goal. What does matter is that we engage ourselves or our partners with trust, sincerity and respect. We do not subscribe to the idea that pedophilia, non-consensual sexual acts or any other thoughtform that does not value the individuals involved as a part of sacred sexuality. It is up to us, as Pagans who are reclaiming not only our land but our ideals in the process to have these thoughts accurate. Appropriate responses to the inquiries of outsiders are just as important as what we teach each other inside the community.
Honor your Gods, Honor your mates and partners and most importantly, Honor yourself in the act of sacred sexuality.
Thank you again for reading along! I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this subject or any other subject in my blog that I’ve written about. I consider myself not only a teacher to others but also a student who is painted a lesson from every aspect of this lifetime. Please comment below and don’t be shy! I only touched on some of the assertions of this topic in an attempt to subscribe to word conservation. 😉