Friday, October 30, 2015

Sex Positivity and Paganism


Recently on Facebook I was reading a discussion from Galina Krasskova, regarding an article written by Annika Mongan, “Sex and the Parliament of the World’s Religions”. The article and ensuring discussion gave me pause to think on some concepts and issues which had already been boiling around in my brain for the last few months. 

Most of the time when I have heard the sex positive statements, there has been a momentary eye roll from me ‘Gods, here we go again’ thought and then moving on with the discussion.  Invariably most of those discussion have centered on how free some pagan feel to express “sex”uality (wink, wink) and what fun!

You would find me solidly in agreement with Galina!  “I really dislike the excessive focus on sex in so many of the contemporary pagan religions.” LOL.  I mean t goes beyond the celebration of the embodiment.  I don’t want to know what your gender is, who you’re fucking, who you want to fuck or how much you like to fuck, or anything else.  I want to know what Gods you venerate.  I want to know about your ancestors.  Tell me their stories.  I want to know what your favorite offerings are to pour out at your shrines.  I want to know what you do for religion. I want to know what your Gods expect in your ritual praxis.  Everything is else is largely irrelevant from where I stand.  Fun, I grant you *G*, but irrelevant.

I suppose it’s good that we have theologies that venerate the physical- it is a much needed curative to the abuses of monotheism but I think we take it a bit too far sometimes.”

Normally you would get a ‘Here! Here!’  from me.  For the most part, as I had said most discussion wen the way of enjoying sex.  Yet there is truly more to sex and sex positivity then just that, or at least there should be.

Most will argue sex really does not have a place in religion.  It is about you and your walk with the Gods, Divine, Great Bran Muffin, whatever you wish to call the creative forces of the Universe.  While I might agree, largely that’s true, it really is not. It is about more than your walk with the Divine, it is about your relationship with yourself.  You are a spiritual being, ”force” manifested in physical “form” to experience “form” and learn. (Force, being synonymous with spirit for this definition).  As a spiritual being all of you as well as your relationship with the Creative Forces of the Universe are part of your classroom, homework, growth, test and understanding.   Yes, ALL of you!

As a being of “Force” in physical “Form” my spirituality is the key to my growth.  For years, this has pervaded my “Craft”, my studies, my walk with my Gods.  As I have grown each year my spirituality finds new nooks and crannies of my life that it has not yet saturated, so that it may resonate fully from me.  Every time it finds a new one, I am surprised there was still something left that it had not worked its way into.  This year’s lessons, were about sex. 

Not sex in the find a friend and let’s get down sense.  Sex in the foundations of my own thoughts, emotions, perceptions of myself and my relationship with others. Finally sexuality as the healer.   We all have “baggage”, “damage”, “walls” that we move through life with, accumulated from our various experiences and perceptions of experience.  For those of us really pushing our boundaries in our spirituality, both with ourselves and our Gods, we realize, these things MUST resolve if we are to move on and grow spiritually.  As a witch, the majority of my work is transformative. Creating the reality and “me” that I will.  As important as my walk with my Gods is, this work also helps bring me closer in tune with them and myself.   Most of our baggage, damage and walls sing the same songs of insecurities; rejection, self-worth, body image, separateness, acceptance, failure…….over and over they sing, magickally building strong blocks within each one of us.  Strong, tall and true.  Until we reach a point where we are so far removed from each other, The Gods and ourselves, we are overwhelmed and drowning.

The strong swim and the weak drown.  It is true.  We each have it within ourselves to swim and remove these blocks that keep us from what we really want and need!  Spirituality is the key to this.  I don’t care what your path is, just start walking it!

So what does this have to do with sex positivity and Paganism?  Many of the blocks stem from our foundation.  Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from school?  People will put themselves in danger to fulfill foundational needs, including sex!  That should hopefully sink in, how important sex is to you as a human being. It is also that important as a spiritual being. I am not talking about the act of sex, but sexuality in and of itself.

Remember those insecurities?  They stem from relationships.  Be they relationships with family, friends, perspective, past or current sexual partners.  They are created by our perceptions of these things.  We are our own worst enemies and we hurt ourselves far more than anyone person ever could.  Patriarchy, however, really nailed the coffin lid closed on all of this. The damage is not just to women, our men suffer just as much.

Think about this, how acceptable is it for a woman to express her sexuality openly?  Whether it is to appreciate her current partner or ability to be happily independent of emotional or physical ties or to appreciate an active sex life with multiple partners if that is her wish?  While some might be envious of her openness and wish they could do the same, outwardly the shaming would be obvious.  Words like ‘slut’, ‘whore’, ‘amoral’, ‘easy’ is she is open in her appreciation and enjoyment of that aspect of her life. If she is happily without attachment or in her own independence you would see words like ‘cold’, ‘shrew’, even ‘spinster’ is still used today.  Men suffer as well from the censure, you hear things like ‘he can’t keep it in his pants’, ‘womanizer’, or happy in his own independence “stuck on himself”.  There are hundreds of other words and statements that can be used. 

Yet this shaming is not truly about the person being shamed, they are the mirror for the shamer.   Our words are damaging though, and even though they are a reflection of our realities, they hurt others just the same.  They can easily sing the song creating all of those emotional blocks.  It takes a very strong and self-aware person to understand these statements for what they are.  Most of the time, understanding comes from years of being subjected to indoctrination and censure.  It begins with childhood.

American culture (as a general statement) is very uncomfortable with sexuality. Much of this stems from our puritanical roots.  However, you would think after 400 years of migratory influx, we would have loosened up a bit, Not really.  We are uncomfortable around nudity.  Most likely this stems back to vulnerability and all of those walls and emotional blocks.  We are uncomfortable with the public appreciation of sexuality, whether is it appreciating a person, situation or circumstance.  We cover our discomfort with slang and derogatory remarks.  Even when we engage in discussion (yes talking to the girls over the water cooler at work), we either play down our appreciation or we over emphasize it.  Very seldom do we acknowledge it as a healthy and necessary part of our life.  Procreation is a DRIVE!  There is no getting away from it.  You can repress all you like, it will come spilling out elsewhere, where you have no control.

So back to sex and spirituality.  If you are a spiritual being, it should resonate in all aspects of your life. Including, yes, in your sexuality.  I really see the world beginning, just beginning to wake up to this. Why are we waking up now?  And what does that entail?

We are waking up now, because we are moving from a patriarchal society into the balance of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine.  Mating, marriage and procreation through the last several thousand years has been controlled, arranged and cold. It is only in the last one hundred fifty years, that the idea of marriage for love have taken hold.  As we have moved slowly into that thought pattern we have gradually as a culture began to grow.  Marriages, mating and relationships have taken radical changes in the last fifty years.  As have our definitions of them, thankfully!  Today family structures are by choice; they range from heterosexual to homosexual unions, from single parent families to polyamorous and tribe or communal families.  In other words we are redefining relationships based on our needs and desires! This is a slow process and not without its problems, but it is moving forward.

So what does this waking up entail?  As we redefine relationships to fit our needs and desires we are also really just beginning to admit to ourselves what our sexuality means to our lives and growth.   For many, this started in a compartmentalized place of desire and enjoyment.  Sex for fun and pleasure.  You don’t have to go far on a dating site to find guys or girls, just looking for casual sex. As if that will fill what we really need!  It will a small part of it, but not all of it. Not by a long shot.

As we wake up, we are becoming more aware of what melding our spirituality and sexuality can bring into our lives.  For many it helps break down the last of those wall’s and reveals the emotional baggage that you still had not looked at.  Tantra, is the oldest form of this type of expression.  However, new modalities are being developed today for achieving the same integration.  What Tantra and the new modalities are doing is taking you out of your head (mental body) and putting you solidly into your physical body, in the moment and nowhere else.  It forces you to FEEL!  You think, well of course I feel silly.  Do you really pay attention to it?  I mean REALLY pay attention.  Do not think about the past, don’t worry about the future.  Simply be in that moment, and allow another human being to touch you.  ( I didn’t say have sex- I said TOUCH).

Touch is HUGE!  Sure folks touch me all the time, they hug me, kiss me, shake my hand, so what.  To truly let someone touch you, is to be vulnerable, accepting and appreciating all at the same time.  To know that another human “sees” you. Most people are uncomfortable with being touched.  Even sex today, require little touching.  The average is around seven and a half minutes, then you’re done and perhaps on your way to sleep.  How much real touching do you think was achieved there?

Until you have tried one of these forms of expression (tantra or the new modalities), there are really no words to describe it.  Let me try one though. HEALING. Remember all those blocks and insecurities. Suddenly and gently, they are revealed.  As you work with and through touch you find some very profound healing.  From there, unification.  Not just with another person, but with yourself and carrying it forward with the Divine.

Yes there are modalities, such as tantra and many other new ones that can meld that aspect of your spiritual body, with your physical body and unify yourself at a core level with the divine.  In doing this, it will shift your paradigms.

Many western esoteric traditions teach you to remove yourself mentally and emotionally from situations to rise above and watch with objectivity, so that you are not touched by any situation. 
There is merit in this, my experience (I can only speak for myself) is proving much different.  Integration and unification of all of me into anything, be it a person, situation etc.  Rather than divorce myself from my emotional, mental and physical body I reveal in them unified and find more power there, than ever have divorced.  I do believe we need to have a pure understanding of all of them, individually.  We need to be able to see objectively and appreciate the reality of situations and persons as well as their projections on us and our projections on them. Ultimately we are all here to learn.  Our bodies are our vehicles and our classrooms.  We learn through and with them, ALL of them!

For myself, I find sex positivity necessary in paganism.  If it is taught from childhood, we can alleviate some of the blocks that develop through growth.  Many of the ones relating to sex can be very damaging.  If we work to heal our relationships, with both women and men, who have suffered greatly under patriarchy, as well as ourselves, we can work to integrate all of our bodies and experiences and GROW SPIRITUALY!  That is the point right!

Touch does not have to be sexual, it should always be spiritual.  So be vulnerable, break down your walls, touch each other and HEAL!




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Elements and Experimentation

For many witches and Wiccans, the elements and their associated directions and correspondences are integral parts of their ritual practice as well as personal transformative work.  I would like to take a little time to devote to understanding the elements, how our use of and work with them should reflect what resonates deeply within us, and how to adjust our work with them accordingly. I do this with a bit of a story of my own development. 

My own official training in the "craft" began in the early nineties.  During that era most of the publications were very basic and foundational in their teachings, the "net" or "web" was in its infancy.  The information, regarding the elements,  readily available to me at that time, as a practicing baby witch in North America, was what I playfully refer to as "pagan generic";  meaning  that directionally; Air was associated with the East, Fire with the South, Water with the West and Earth with the North.  I faithfully learned all of the correspondences and began establishing my relationships with this as a foundation.  I was part of an established coven that worked with this system in this way for many years.   Our original coven, was an amalgam of Gardnarian, Irish/Welsh Celtic Eclectic, 1734 and Faerie.  I mention this only because the placement of our guardians at that time, (which are derived straight from 1734) did not resonate, for me, with the ascribed placement in our circle, at the time I had no idea why.   During those days, there was little enough information available, and of 1734, published, there was nothing.  So I simply went on and worked with element placement and our guardians as was handed down to me, without a great deal of questioning at the time.  I give you this of story at the moment, as it will make a great deal more sense later.

To keep, us all on the same page with elements/ directions and correspondences, simplified "pagan generic".

East Yellow Dawn Sylphs
South Red Noon Salamanders
West Blue Dusk Undines
Earth Green Midnight Gnomes

My original High Priestess became very ill, and eventually slipped past the veil.  She had been a strong Priestess and had been the glue which held us together.  Even though I was years now, into my path, I was not ready to lead or even to teach, there was still much for me to learn.  Our small coven fell apart and I eventually found a new teacher, from who I also learned a great deal.

 As part of our tradition, the elements as we worked with them had more of an alchemical placement.  Meaning, there were situated in circle opposed to their alchemical opposite; fire opposite water, air opposite earth. There was also a bit of a trick to fire and water.  Fire follows the Sun across the sky, much like the chariot of Helios, from midnight to noon, Fire was placed in the eastern quarter of the circle, representational of its rising and path; from noon to midnight, it resides in the western quarter, with its path representational of the setting sun.  Water of course is where ever fire is not.   This change in the placement of the elements, resonated with me quite a bit more, from my original teachings.  Symbolism, for myself is incredibly important, it easily helps my conscious mind, reach into my deep conscious and effect change through the pathworkings.  I found that my own magick, took quite the leap forward, things clicked more into place and the resonance I found with the change acted as an amplifier for my work.  For myself, I was finding the tune of the energies and fitting into the flow.  Magick works along the path of least resistance, much like electricity.  I was coming much closer to that path, for my own energy tunes, and it was working!

Draconian Elemental Table:

South Yellow
East                (midnight-noon)
West          (noon-midnight)
West         (midnight-noon)
East           (noon-midnight)
North Green

Our paths are am amalgam of our sum total of experiences, so after many years, of following the workings of my second tradition, growing and developing as a Priestess, I felt a draw back to my original teachings, there were still things there I needed to explore. In truth, there was also a path I wished to restore.  I dusted off, my old books, and began reworking the original tradition, infusing it with teaching I had acquired along the way, along with some of the working from my most recent work.  Bringing it back and creating a coven with which to work with it, I went back to the original template “pagan generic” to start.  For myself, though I ran back into the same issue with the original element placement.  With the workings we were going into and our Guardian placement, it just didn’t flow, as the previous traditions had. It wasn’t until, one of my students ran across “The Forge of Tubal Caine” by Ann Finnian and a Gods touched meeting with a wonderful individual named Pagan that many things began to come into focus.   Our original coven, had a base in 1734, it was where our Guardians (Gods) were derived from,  however, as I was learning, my original High Priestess in her own pursuit for tuning to elemental energies that flowed with her, had shifted placement and our Guardians placement from 1734’s original placement.   Now, my disruptions in flow began to make sense.  So I shifted them back.

In 1734, Air is in the North, Fire/ East, Earth/South and Water in the West.   This resonated with me far more than the previous “pagan generic” practices I had followed.  My friend “Pagan” was from Wales.  For them, he said, Air was seen in the North (different from both my previous traditions).  This association, came from the height of the mountains to the North.  Air is seen as up among the clouds, the cold North winds, that would blow through you, blasting the dust and cobwebs from our brains, and instilling knowledge and clear thinking in its place.  Earth, on the other hand was seen in the south.  The beauty if the ripe and fertile land, bursting forth with all measure of life. Additionally placement of the elements, were again alchemically opposed, which worked very well.

In shifting the elements into the 1734 view, aligned them with the Gaelic Airts.  To the Celts, the directions were seen as Airts.  Airts are Scottish Gaelic for Winds, or the four winds, or cardinal compass points. For the Celts they were Tuath (North),  Deas (South),  Aes (East) & Iar (West). The associated colors were also slightly different from the Greek systems which many Neo-Pagans works with today.  Tuath is midnight and the color association is black.  Deas is noon and the color is white.  Iar is associated with Dusk and the color is gray, Aes is the breaking day and associated with the color red.  

1734/ Gaelic Airt  Element Table
Tuath North Black Midnight Sylphs
Aes East Red Dawn Salamnders
Deas South White Noon Gnomes
Iar West Gray Dusk Undines

While enjoying and working, exploring within this framework of elemental correspondence, I still felt a bit of tugging back to the system of my second tradition.  For me what was missing, was the trek of Fire across the sky. Again, as I said, for myself, symbolism is very important and increases my resonance with energy flows and workings.  So I made this small adjustment to the Gaelic Airts and I find I am very happy, in the flow of the energies with which I work best!

Many individual systems for working with the elements are based on geographical location.  Obviously our brothers and sisters south of the equator experience the elements and directions in an entirely different manner than ourselves.  In fact, their “pagan generic” places earth in the south and fire in the north.  Working with your planetary geography as well as the flow of the elemental energy the way that you feel it, is working towards developing a system that resonates with you.  These ways of working with energy need not be static, but living, breathing adaptive and growing!  I am sure a visit to our Aussie families and a little down under magick would involve me, readjusting my elemental workings to fit my location.

The point of this little story, is not to convince you that my way of working is the best.  It may not be.  However it works best for me.  The point I want you to take away, is that experimentation is an important part of developing YOUR path!  It has to be what works and resonates for you!  Each person tunes and feels the flows of nature and energy in unique and individual ways, they also project them differently.  No one cookie cutter method will work for everyone.  The method that works, is the one that you work out for yourself!

I hope, this had made you think, and possibly evaluate the way you work with the elemental energies and how they, in turn work with you. May it inspire you to experiment!

Many Blessings, Good Luck & Have Fun!