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!