Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Sexuality and spirituality

One of the things that first drew me to paganism was its take on sexuality.  After years of hearing how sex before marriage is a sin, how sex is dirty, and how you need to be celibate if you are to be spiritually enlightened, the pagan take on it was like a breath of fresh air.  I remember hearing Starhawk say, "All acts of love are sacred to the Goddess." 

This was so in tune with my own sense of the potential in intimacy, in those moments when we become interlinked with another at a profound level.  I loved the non-judgementality of it - all acts of love!  Any intimacy between willing partners of whatever age, ethnicity, gender.  Not just that, but I see it also in other acts of love - when a mother nurses her baby, when a father and his child unite in joyful play, when friends support one another wholeheartedly.  All these can be sacred moments, too. 

And yes, as suggested by the image shown here, there is something dirty about sex and sensuality.  After all, if you don't get messy, you're not doing it right!   But not only do I disagree with the saying that cleanliness is next to godliness, it has been proven to be positively harmful.  Children brought up in too sterile an environment not only have all the joy drained from them emotionally, but they also have a weakened immune system.  We are not made to be tidy, distant from the world.  We are made to be a part of the world, in all its glorious chaos and confusion.

True connection to spirit emerges from our interactions with the world, not from some tidy distancing of ourselves from reality.  It is at least as easy to merge with spirit in the throes of sex as it is through meditation.  Both have their place in a grounded spirituality.

Another aspect of this dichotomy, and how we live it, goes back to a previous post on weight conflict.  This splitting between body and spirit is so widespread in our culture that we often take it in, even if we don't consciously agree with it.  And then it's possible for spirituality and purity to become equated with slimness.  Think of anorexics, who avoid the messiness of womanhood and menstruation through their extreme thinness, or the buddha in his starvation phase.  At the other end, sexuality and "dirtiness" can become equated with curvaceousness.  This can be another aspect that holds us tied to a higher weight than our stated "ideal" - we want to be able to take pleasure in the sensuality of food and sex and everything else that is enjoyed through the body.

If we can unite these polarities of spirituality and sensuality as paganism teaches, then we may not only be one step closer to dealing with part of a weight conflict, but also to finding a grounded spirituality available in our day to day lives, highlighting joy and connectedness instead of suffering and sin.

Image from the Oracle of Shadows and Light.


  1. Great post. I agree. To connect with our spirituality, one must connect with not only our innerselves, but also our outerselves and our surroundings. What can be more spiritual than two bodies joining in an union to form one.

  2. Hi Cher,

    I love what you say about spirituality requiring connecting with both our innerselves and also our outerselves! What a great way of expressing it. It makes it so clear that our outerselves includes our intimate relations with others, as well as our connection with the wider community, which can be forgotten in our individualist pursuits.

    Wishing you a great 2011!