Monday, August 24, 2009

Sacred Sexuality

I have been pondering the idea of sacred sexuality, and I have had some stumbling blocks set in my own mind by the prudish culture I live in. After all, Christian dominated culture, like so many other cultures, sex is a base, dirty, and sometimes even evil thing that so many Christians (saying Christian here because America is a Christian dominated culture, but this would apply to Judaism, Islam, and even Hinduism too) seem to almost fear. It is a strange and dichotomous thing, of course, because in the same cultures where sex is so prudishly handled, it is also a strong underground economic power house. If you think there isn’t a great deal of illicit sexual behavior going on in Islamic countries, for example, then you are fooling yourself.

The ancients also had their hang ups about sexuality itself, but sex itself does not seem to have been one of them, at least not among the Greeks and Romans. To them sex was a natural thing that everyone had, but there were matter of status, social standing, and the perception of “masculinity” that had to be considered when having sex. This could be, to those who were caught up in the wrong classes (the very high end and the slaves), a horror because for slaves, sex could be something that was constantly forced on them while for the very high levels of society, men and women were trapped in rather strict proscriptions of what was or was not proper sexual behavior. In the middle, somewhere, there was a sort of free for all where people could engage prostitutes, have homosexual affairs, and essentially fuck whatever moved without much fear of reprisal, except perhaps from a jealous lover or wife.

The concepts of “Gay” and “Straight” were not really defined forms then. People were not categorized, in general, by their sexualities as people were mostly free to partake of whatever sexuality they wished, the higher classes having the need for extreme caution and discretion. There were no gay communities. People did not identify as homo or hetero, they just did what they felt like doing.

One of the concepts that has come down to us through the filter of study, and no doubt partially tainted by Christian bias on the subject, is the concept of sacred sexuality. The field is not often studied, mostly because of the bias of our culture on the subject, but we do know that sex could often be part of a festival experience. That when our ancient forefathers practiced the honoring or celebration of the Gods it could become what we call an orgy of partying and sexual liberation.

But what is sacred about sexuality and how can we, as moderns, apply it to our lives, our worship, and our ideas about love, life, and the divine?

Allow me to say that there is a clear distinction between sex being itself a ritual and ritual evolving into an orgy-like experience. And to that add the fact that the word we get orgy from, orgia, was not seen in the same way, not defined the same way, as we do today.

When we think of the term “Orgy” in our modern parlance, we think of a sex party. People get together, they eat, drink, they have sex in a group which dynamically shifts and changes while it is alive with the sexual energy of the participants. In ancient times, however, the orgia was a religious activity which was expected not to be a sexual event, but an ecstatic event. When Pentecostals worship and go into their Dionysian talking in tongues, they are worshipping in a form of orgia. When celebrants of tribal religions in Africa, the Carribean, Brasil, and other areas heavily influenced by ancient African religion undergo what is called possession, they are worshipping in the form of an orgia. It is an ecstatic experience in which the human mind is elevated (some might say lowered) to a different state of being. In this state, the man or woman is lost in his worship. One can say that they are possessed in a way, moved by the spirit, the god, or the ghost that is being called.

In a group setting, in cultus, this kind of ecstatic unleashing of the primal aspects of our minds and bodies can easily lead to unbridled sexuality. The unleashing of the mind from the normal societal restraints leads participants into activities, not just sex, that they might not otherwise partake of, and here is where sacred sexuality comes in.

To me, simply setting up an sacred orgia because one wants to get laid is just an orgy, and if you want to do that, do it, it is fun, exciting, and an experience worth having, but don’t lie to yourself and say you are doing it for the god. If sexuality happens within the context of a religious experience, a spontaneous event, then that is truly sacred. That is truly inspired by the gods.

I admit to having often been carried away with myself in sex and once or twice lost myself in a kind of spiritual haze when I am with a man, or men, who touch me on a deeper level than just the physical, and that too is a kind of sacred acknowledgment of the bonds of sex, so sometimes it just happens to us without seeking it out, when we are falling in love as we make love, and that, my friends, is the greatest gift Aphrodite gives us all in the act of worship. The ability, if we are open to it, to get lost in one of the most basic of the activities of life and raise it to the heights of the sacred.

No comments: