Everyone knows that Pagans are out having orgies with total strangers all of the time…well, not really, but they do have a certain reputation for, shall we say, having great sexual liberty? About the only established rite for our spiritual path is the Great Rite, which is the sexual union of the God and Goddess. Obviously sex between Divine Beings must also be a divine and sacred act. It is certainly not considered a sin, as the Christians consider sex to be a sin except within very specific limits, based upon their religious beliefs. Keeping that in mind, let us explore the concepts of sex and sexuality within Paganism and how it compares to Christianity.
I would like to make the allegory that sex can be compared to eating. Everyone eats, and usually three squares a day. As a child, your parents made all of your food decisions for you. Once you reach adulthood, you are able to make your own decisions about eating. You have the ability to choose and procure your own food, you make the decisions about when to eat, where to eat and what. You choose whether you will eat at home by yourself, or meet a crowd of friends out at a restaurant. You decide if you want to have a quiet intimate dinner with your beloved or have a raucous feast with strangers. You select what kind of regional cuisine you want—Chinese food, Indian curry, or American hamburgers and you can learn about the world by choosing unfamiliar food from other countries. You can cook for yourself, or let someone else do the work. You can starve yourself or you can be a glutton or you can walk somewhere between feast and famine. In other words, you can make a multitude of decisions about your own personal nutritional needs and how they will be satisfied.
Now take everything you know about eating and apply that to most Christians’ concepts of sexual activity. Imagine that your religious leader tells you that eating is a gift from God, a marvelous and sacred thing. BUT…you are not allowed to eat by yourself, because that is a sin and you will be condemned to eternal damnation. And you can’t just eat with any other person; you have to pick only one other person to eat every meal with…for the rest of your life. If you eat with anyone other than this chosen person, it is a sin and you will be condemned to eternal damnation. (By the way: As a Pagan, you may choose to eat with only one person for your entire life—but it is your choice and not a religious mandate.) You are not allowed to go out to restaurants or eat among strangers because it is a sin and you will be condemned to eternal damnation. You are not allowed to choose different foods, but can only eat the few foods that your religion permits. For each and every meal. For the rest of your life. And you are not allowed to eat whenever you choose—and certainly not three meals per day. You must limit yourself to only eating when you are starving hungry, perhaps only once every two or three days. Should you ignore any of these restrictions, you are committing a sin and you will be condemned to eternal damnation.
If you put it that way, most Christians would convert to Paganism on the spot…
Psychologists have determined that our sexual being is an enormous part of who we are. Our sexuality defines us more clearly than almost any other characteristic. When we describe someone, we can immediately establish gender just by saying “he is…” or “she is…” Our pronoun choice has already alerted our listener to make certain assumptions about the person in question. Sex is so basic a need that it is on the first level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, along with food and shelter. The drive for sex can overwhelm almost every other instinct, including self-preservation. Think about all those jokes about men clutching their clothes and running naked from an irate and cuckolded husband. Sex certainly took precedence over keeping one’s skin intact. We are most assuredly controlled by it, as Madison Avenue exploits it in every aspect of advertising, writers ensure large royalties by having it in their books, musicians get platinum records by singing about it…people get rich off the fact that we are essentially a sexual being.
How foolish then, to try to subjugate it into occupying a mere corner of our being. How blindly idiotic to cast it in a minor role, ignoring it until it threatens to overwhelm us and then using brute force to beat it back into the little closet we supposed to be keeping it in. No wonder there are sexual aberrations, crimes, and problems almost as numerous as stars in the sky…repression does make things poke out at the oddest times. How canny to use a specific set of religious beliefs to channel that sexual energy into an orgasm of worship and church-approved activities. It’s so sly to use threats of eternal damnation to push that power into other methods of expression, such as religious fervor and the passion for proselytizing. If you can successfully subdue that important a component of a person’s very being, you can control everything else about them with almost no effort at all. They will march to any beat you choose.
Paganism frees each individual from religious despotism, especially as regards sexual activity. If you are the ultimate source of authority for your life, you have the right to choose whatever works for you. You are responsible to choose wisely, to understand the consequences of your actions and be willing to accept them. You should make these decisions with the awareness that we are all interconnected and that what you do affects other people. You should seek the truth and worship the sacred in all that you do and you should do this almost more within the context of sexual activity than with any other activity or decision you choose.
As with any other aspect of Pagan beliefs, sexual decisions are based upon the Wiccan Rede and the Three Fold Law. This means that there are definite limitations to the orgy all the Pagans are supposedly enjoying. Sex, regardless of the form it takes, must not exploit another’s innocence or ignorance about the act. It must not be done maliciously, to hurt or control another or to create chaos within their life. It must be done with awe and the appreciation of the sacredness of each moment of the encounter. Love is not necessary, but respect is mandatory. It must be based on mutual consent as being forced to do something with which one does not agree is an act of appalling disrespect and shatters the sacredness—that is to say, it is then profane. It must be done with deepest concern for each other’s health and safety since spreading disease or causing injury is certainly a profanity.
Let me also address the concept of sexual activity with a child—that is wrong, period. As with many other aspects of sex, it is not so much about the physical act itself as it is about the destruction of innocence and involving someone in an activity about which they cannot make an informed and adult decision. They cannot agree to the consequences because they have NO idea about those consequences. Sex is something that absolutely requires knowing what you are doing and agreeing to it prior to participation. The minute force or coercion is applied it ceases to be a sacred joy and becomes a profanity, therefore unacceptable to any moral person.
You will note that I say nothing about requirements for marriage, committed relationships, or the gender of the people involved. These are certainly aspects of sex that can be part of the decision making process, but they are sort of ancillary to the basic choice: do I have sex with you, and if we do, is it an act that affirms our sacredness? And if you cannot say yes to both parts of that question, you might want to reconsider doing it at all. Giving freely of yourself to another person, sharing your body and hopefully your feelings is something that should not be done on a whim. If you accept the consequences of your actions and take responsibility for your own life, that has to include every aspect of your life, and definitely any sexual activity.
And there is no sexual activity that is not acceptable so long as everyone involved agrees to it. As the joke goes, it only feels kinky the first time. Whatever form your sexual expression takes, it is sacred—but only if it has been agreed to. This covers the entire scope of sexual activities, from masturbation (solo or mutual), the famous missionary position, and heterosexuality, up through sexual gymnastics, unusual positions, public sex, bondage, domination and submission, fetishes, doggy-style, role-playing; then continuing through anal sex, threesomes, groups, homosexuality, bisexuality, toys, whips, chains, pornography—anything goes, as long as it goes for everyone who is participating. The use of drugs is probably not a good idea as harm definitely can come when one is mentally impaired, but again, if you have it all worked out before starting and everyone agrees…it’s your life and your consequences.
Part of being able to make our choices about participating in sexual activity is having good, clear, correct information about sex. We need to lose our useless inhibitions about sexual knowledge. Studies are being done that show today’s teens are better educated about sex AND are choosing to wait longer before starting sexual activity. Knowledge is power, and we need to empower our youth and ourselves. We also need to learn to appreciate how beautiful everyone is, regardless of size, shape, or age. We have bought into the media’s idea of Beauty for far too long, and we suffer for it. There are too many of us who aren’t supermodels to continue to perpetuate false conceptions of what is attractive. People tend to forget that Marilyn Monroe, famous as a sex symbol even after her death, wore a size 14; she had thighs, hips and a little belly. She was shaped like a real woman, someone you might actually know in your daily life.
Men seem to have a little more leeway in what constitutes Male Beauty, but there is still the pervasive idea that young and thin is the only way to be sexy. While maintaining physical fitness for health’s sake is certainly a good idea, most of us do not have time for the six-pack abs and thinner thighs—we have jobs, chores and other obligations that take priority. And if you’re male and a little older, well of course you must need medical help to have an active sex life, as witness all the ads for Viagra. Not having adequate basic physiological facts and letting the media define both Beauty and what is “normal” sex combine to create a false base of information that we use to make our sexual decisions. No wonder they aren’t very good choices!
Let me repeat: sex, any sexual activity at all, is a sacred and wonderful thing, given to us by the Divine. It defines us, motivates us, gives us untold pleasure, lets us connect with each other on an incredibly intimate level, and reinforces our own sacred being. Whether it is the marvelous exploration of a stranger’s generosity or the pleasurable affirmation of an established relationship, whether it is with a single partner or multiple participants, regardless of gender, age, race, or any other categorization, it is an act of worship. It is holy and a prayer of thankfulness and joy. The Goddess Herself tells us that “all acts of love and pleasure are (My) rituals”. We commit no sin if we approach this very powerful act with the reverence it deserves. By acknowledging the holiness of what we do, we acknowledge the holiness of who we are. Let the orgy begin!