Sacred sexuality. Sacred sexuality. I’m really not sure what to say about this one. Do I believe sex, passion, pleasure, sensuality, etc. are sacred? Yes! Do I believe they put us not only in touch with the Deity without but Deity within? Yes. But I’m also uncomfortable talking about sex.
Which reminds me of something my mentor Francesca had us do recently – which was loudly announce to the world that “My name is Eidolon and I’m a sex Goddess!” And mean it. Boy, did I blush. And internally the five year old me giggled that I said ‘sex goddess’. And then I blushed harder that I said that I was a sex goddess. Because, really, I’d never tell people that about me. Ever.
As a point of fact, I’m probably blushing right now. Our society has so many taboos in regards to sex that its hard not to squirm a little a the thought of having to talk about sex. In public. Where people might, Gods forbid, see it. And here I’m not even discussing graphic sex acts, just about the idea of sex being sacred. To further muddy the waters (here comes a deep dark secret folks, please don’t judge me to harshly!), a few years back I was very active in fandom and wrote yaoi and slash fanfiction. Graphic fanfiction. Dirty, nasty, bad, wrong, dirty fanfiction. (I say this last sentence in jest, not because I believe that what I wrote was naughty or wrong.) Not copious amounts because I’m never all that prolific with my ‘art’, but i did it and I never had a problem tacking my name onto these stories and I waited with bated breath for comments to roll in about what I had produced.
So, why were graphic stories about sex OK and talking about sacred sexuality something that makes me shy away? I think part of it is because sacred sexuality is about my beliefs, about how I enjoy sex, and how I might be a sexual creature. Fanfiction is about those characters being sexy and having sex, nothing to do with me… right? Somewhere in my brain it doesn’t connect that if I’m writing something that I think is sexy, then perhaps I am a sexual being and that others will be aware that the author likes sex. Enough to write about it at least.
In point of fact, I used to joke that writing my stories were homage to my Goddess Inari as she is often the patroness of sex workers… and writing what was basically porn was an homage to her. Or maybe it was just a way to try to legitimize what I was doing. *laughs*
In reality, I do find sex sacred and divine. I also think that sex is dirty – not because it’s somehow tainted but because it’s sweaty, fluid-y, magical, sublime, holy, and dirty in a wholesome way. Did that make any sense? Sex isn’t meant to be clinical but for the most part we have to treat it that way in society because if we don’t then we’re being perverted. It doesn’t always make sense to me that we live in a culture that is worried about sex and what kind of sex people are having and ways to limit people from having the ‘wrong’ kind of sex.
Because not only was I recently made to shout that I was a sex goddess, but this is also being written during a time when Chick-fil-A is coming out as being against homosexuals and the resultant bru-ha-ha that surrounds that statement. I believe in equality, because I think I have more to lose than most if homosexuals are ever relegated as ‘less’ than the general population. Not because I’m gay, but because I was born with a birth defect that makes me less than the female I appear. According to the medical community the correct term for me is intersex since I have MRKH (also known as Mullerian agenesis or vaginal agenesis). If people who have sex other than ‘normal’ man/woman sex aren’t eligible for rights, what about people who have a shaky gender identity?
Perhaps my MRKH also makes me shy away from sexual topics because for most people I know, when you’re a teen you either plan to have sex as in find the time when the parents won’t catch you OR you don’t plan and it ‘just happens in the heat of the moment’. Not only could I just plain NOT have sex for a while until I had surgery to help ‘fix’ my MRKH, once I had the surgery there was no way to abandon myself to the heat of the moment. I had large scars that were hard to miss and I had other problems that made having sex something that had to have a Talk with someone before I got intimate with them. Awkward and bound to ruin the ‘moment’. So sex has always had a patina of uncomfortable awkwardness attached to it for me.
It was made more awkward by the fact that the society I live in still has the idea that the main goal of a woman is to have children. I would love to have kids. I always wanted kids. However, MRKH assures that I will never be able to have children. My husband and I don’t make enough money to adopt. I’m becoming more comfortable with having MRKH, but children are still a sore subject with me. And sex is the way you make babies. It isn’t just for fun! It tears me up that all the dreams I had growing up of having children, of continuing traditions, of having a continuation of my mother line all end with me. I have dreams sometimes of being pregnant and that ensures that my poor suffering husband has to deal with a bitchy witch of a wife for a few days afterward.
But what does this have to do with sacred sexuality? Because I tend to repress my feelings about not being able to be a mother, I think I tend to shy away from talks about sacred sexuality. Modern Wicca is very Goddess oriented, specifically the Mother Goddess. It’s all about fertility, they’re always very quick to say that this can be creativity or nurturing – it doesn’t have to mean fertility as is giving birth! But that the first thing that fertility means seems to be pregnancy is a problem for me. Fertility is something that I’ll never have. There are feminist groups that deny entrance to their group to women like me because since I was born without a uterus I wasn’t born a ‘real’ woman.
Because of all of that I shied away from Wicca. The fertility aspect made me feel that gawky, awkward, broken teen who found out at 15 that she’d never be a mother and that in order to have sex I’d have to have several operations that would ensure that the summer between Junior and Senior year of high school was spent entirely in the hospital. At this point I’d been reading bits and pieces about Wicca and paganism for two years before this and so much of it was focused on women loving themselves, in finding power in your moonblood, in reveling in the fact that when you started your period it marked you as leaving the Maiden phase of your life and coming into your full fertility as the Mother. At 15, I felt like I had skipped the Mother phase and gone straight to Cronehood. At 15 I felt like I had missed most of my life. Now, at 39, I still feel a bit cheated. Add to the fact that the school system was teaching us young adults that this was the time when we girls were going to start bleeding and how dirty it was and how it was a curse that had to be hidden… it was confusing. Then I turn out to fall on neither side of the divide… female, but not. Female, but will never have a period. Will never have PMS. Will never align my monthly flow with the moon, or my sisters, or anything. Female, but barren. Never Mother, never a mother, never anything that paganism or society seems to think I should be.
So, sacred sexuality is still kind of tied into fertility for me. I try to see it as the fertility of the Earth. I try to see it as the fertile creativity that flows from Goddess. But I still see sex as being linked to procreation. Yet, my birth defect did do something for me that many women don’t ever get – a sense of freedom about sex. AIDS was just becoming an epidemic that people worried about when I was ready to start thinking about sex as something as less than an abstract. I might have to worry about STD’s, but never about pregnancy. We were all given vague warnings about catching diseases but the thing that would end your life before it began was teen pregnancy. It was a dark, dreadful secret that had to be kept hidden at all costs. Yet I could enjoy all of the pleasure and never fear that I would have to tell my parents that I caught the most dreaded of all sexually transmitted diseases – pregnancy. If I could manage to have the Talk about my scars and convince the man that I was, really, sterile… then sex was just good old fashioned fun. I’ve never met a man who believed me that I couldn’t get pregnant, none of them we willing to believe that that wasn’t a lie to trap them into a relationship that they weren’t sure they wanted. Even with condoms, we all knew they weren’t 100% effective. Even with the pill, pregnancy was something that could still happen. Sex was never just sacred, even with pagan men, it was something with an edge of danger and a dollop of paralyzing of fear.
Because I have kind of an outside view on paganism and fertility, I can see why there aren’t many men who are active in Wicca and paganism. There is something that feels very limiting and exclusionary to people who don’t bleed, who can’t bear children. This is made even more so by groups that exclude one sex or the other, especially when they start decided who is or isn’t man or woman enough for them. It hurts and, especially for me, makes me doubt myself. Being effectively genderless is a scary thing, it makes you feel like part of who you are has been stripped away, something so constant and obvious that it’s hard to believe that it could ever NOT be a part of you. So often we rely on the tried and true ‘if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck; it must be a duck!” Well, I look like a girl, walk like a girl, sound like a girl – yet somehow I’m not. How limiting it must feel for pagan men being told that they are second, like the God. Wicca, with it’s emphasis on Goddess creating God and him being relegated to Consort, it must be hard to identify with as being equal but somehow lesser. I get that, more often than one would think, that because I can’t have children, because of my birth defect I am woman but somehow lesser because I am missing a few parts. Men are missing those same parts but at least they have other parts to compensate.
Now all of that has come out of me, I’m surprised by some of the things that have come to light. I still see sex as sacred. I’m grateful that my birth defect has given me a certain amount of sexual freedom that allowed the younger me to throw myself into sexual situations with sensual abandon. I was also lucky enough to have a friend (female) who knew and did her best to make sure that the awkwardness that came from the scars from operation were not always something I had to explain away. She helped me to see them as a badge of courage (for having the operation, which was something that still isn’t generally seen as the norm for my disorder) and as something that meant that I could indulge in pleasure without fear. She helped me learn that sex and love may be different, but they are intrinsically entwined. All the things I see as holy and divine about sex, she helped me to see.
Last night at work I kept thinking about what I might possibly write about sacred sexuality. It came to me that I could just draw something instead of tackling a subject that I felt so adverse to facing head on. What I came up with is in no way overtly sexual, yet I do feel that it helps to encapsulate how I feel about sacred sexuality. I don’t know what all the imagery means, it just spoke to me.
that which gives is never
diminished by the giving
the heart of fire only grows
some fear the conflagration
will consume them
while others abandon themselves
to the flames
come! be reborn in the fire
give of yourself
give to yourself