… a thought making crooked all that is straight.

Hieros Gamos

There is a difference between feeling sexual and being sexual. We all know this. We have all felt sexual without having sex, and (dare I say especially women) have had sex without feeling sexual. And yet the ‘feeling sexual’ part of ourselves is always driven to completing the act. The goal is always physical union.

What if the actual goal is to feel sexual? To hold onto the buzzing energy that we get when we feel in tune. This feeling, I think, comes when we unite body and soul in ourselves. The spark for this internal union may be someone else, in fact is often sparked by the mutual (or one-sided!) affection for another person. We learn to love ourselves through the love we feel from another (imagined or real, and whatever the “quality”/sincerity of that love). We forget for a moment the imperfections of our body and stop beating ourselves up for not being this, or that. For a moment we just ARE, and bask in the affection of another, and revel in the union of our Selves.

The danger here is in thinking that physical union with the other is inevitable or necessary. We all know how the initial frisson fades after years or days (!) or a one-off sexual encounter (!). Suddenly we start seeing the imperfections of the other, and by logical deduction we believe our own clay feet to be revealed. Of all the women who have spoken to me about their sex lives over the years, not a single one has hoped that the actual sexual physical union would continue. Most are relieved when it fades out of the relationship and is replaced by a comfortable friendship (if they are lucky), and others suffer because they force themselves emotionally to give up their bodies for use on a regular basis, just “to get it over with” or just “so he stops pestering”.

Maybe it is not surprising (although I’ve only just realised this while writing), that those women who have spoken to me about the wish to remove physical sex from their lives (bearing in mind I have friends who have NOT spoken about their sex lives!), these women have all had affairs. You might then think that in fact they did want sex, they were just bored with their partners or in unhappy relationships. But I don’t think this is the case. Again, without exception, all the women have remained with their original partners who they love with all their hearts. I think that what they were chasing after was the non-substantial feeling of being whole. Someone walks into their life and makes them er was the non-substantial feeling of being whole. th their original partners who they lFEEL sexual. The hum-drum split between employee and woman, between friend and mother, between all the roles that women have to play, becomes one. They are Goddess. They are sexual, whole and admired. This is the Hieros Gamos (the sacred/holy wedding) of the Self. But chasing after this feeling through another person, even if that person is the spark, will only take you away from the unity with self. The grass is hardly ever greener on the other side. The man (or woman) you fall in love with is just a man (or woman). They are ultimately not the source for the sexual feeling; they are the spark, you are the kindling. Without a spark, the kindling stays unlit. Without kindling the spark extinguishes.

How amazing to maintain the sexual feeling, this Hieros Gamos with self, and to then use it in ritual! Remember what I have just written. I am not talking about a rite involving sex or some great orgy. I’m talking about harnessing a beautiful energy to bring us closer to deity. The physical and spiritual union with ourselves, surely has to precede any union with another, and more importantly with deity. Actual physical union in a ritual context would I think tie us more to this world and ultimately blind us to the real potential of sexual energy. I think it was David Conway who said that when sex enters ritual, any serious spirituality flies out the window. But to be in a state of Hieros Gamos with self, to share that feeling with others, to harness it to move closer to deity – could there be anything better?

Life is an initiation, a process of polishing our souls for ultimate union with God. I long for this union, and it is reflected as a speck in the feelings of wholeness I get from feeling sexual. My mind cannot conceive of the ultimate Hieros Gamos – but this is what I want, no less than total union with God.

Β© starofseshat 2008

31 responses

  1. Peace Star of Seshat,

    Thank you for an interesting post. Strangely enough, I was reading something from a work by Ibn Arabi recently on this broad topic.

    The human sex drive is an immensely powerful energy. Used correctly, as you say, it can lead us towards healing and wholeness/union. Used less wisely it can cause great harm. Allah!

    There is much within the Islamic tradition on the meaning of marriage, sex and physical union as a metaphor for union with the Divine. Sexuality in the Islamic tradition does not have the same negative connotations as in the Christian tradition. That said, the sexual act is lawful only within the confines of marriage.

    July 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm

  2. starofseshat

    Thank you, Abdur. It’s a tricky subject to write about. These thoughts have been brewing in the back of my head for a while.
    Interesting that Islam doesn’t have the negative association with sex that Christianity does. Maybe in this respect Islam is closer to Judaism where sex is a mitzah (a good act) if done with love and in a marriage. Indeed in some traditions it is expected for couples to have sex on Friday evening to mirror the Hieros Gamos of the Shekinah uniting with God on the Sabbath. It is sacred and holy in this context.
    I think it’s also worth looking at the sexual feelings we may have within and without relationships. It’s natural and does not necessarily lead to extramarital sex. If we understood the potential spiritual urges behind some sexual urges, we could maybe turn the energy towards something good, rather than doing something potentially harmful. Of course, some people just want sex! But I think there are just as many people who are looking for something else and mistake these feelings for a physical itch.
    Personally, I’m a great advocate of celibacy. It always gets a bad rap – I think even religions that value sexual relationships have a hard time with celibacy which has an almost political radicalism to its sexual solitude.
    What’s the opinion in Islam on celibacy?

    July 31, 2008 at 1:21 pm

  3. Peace Star of Seshat,

    It is a tricky subject to write about. Islamic attitudes towards sex are very similar to Jewish ones (indeed, Islam has many similarities with Judaism). Sex is a natural and enjoyable part of human life. Hence, it is a good thing in and of itself. That said, it is only to be part of a marriage.

    The Prophet’s attitude to celibacy, as a deliberate strategy, was broadly negative. That is, he (peace be upon him) felt that it was generally a bad thing to deliberately exclude a natural side of life from ourselves. He explicitly forbade Christian forms of monasticism.

    That said, there were a number of distinctly ascetic companions who practiced celibacy in one form or another. Moreover, the Islamic tradition has always understood that there will always be some people who do not wish to marry. That’s fine and dandy, of course, but not as a generally advisable rule for everyone.

    Within marriage, sex is a right of both partners. Indeed, impotence and denial of sexual fulfillment has been considered suitable grounds for divorce – on the part of women that is.

    Abdur Rahman

    July 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm

  4. starofseshat

    That’s very interesting. I grew up around celibate Christian monks and nuns (although some I found out were only nominally so!). For me celibacy has always had hugely positive connotations of focusing sexual energy in other areas than physical sexual practice, namely the spiritual life. I think this is PART of the underlying idea behind my post, as well as a response to things I was hearing from friends.

    I have also read a lot of feminist literature where celibacy (even for short periods) was viewed as hugely empowering, and again where the talk was of harnessing sexual energy for something other than sex – which is actually quite a Tantric idea.

    I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of sex as a “right” within marriage – although I can see the logic behind it of maintaining a mutual sexual relationship, and so one partner doesn’t end up going elsewhere. Still, sex as a “right”? Hm.

    However, this throws up some interesting questions: Could a spiritual person effectively “replicate”/enact union with God through sexual union in marriage, with someone not of their faith or of no faith? I’m doubtful, which actually makes me see the benefit of inter-faith marriage – although I think even then it’s rare to get people so spiritually attuned to each other.

    So if you cannot enact a SPIRITUAL sexual union of the kind I’m talking about with your partner/husband for the above reasons, what do you do? I don’t think it’s enough to say that where there is love and sex, there is God (although I think that’s true to a certain extent – but that’s not Hieros Gamos, I think). From a witchcraft/ritual magic point of view, there is more to the Hieros Gamos than “just” loving the person you have sex with, in fact sometimes that doesn’t even come into it for some.
    The Hieros Gamos is apparently enacted physically by some people in a ritual environment (although more often it is symbolic, e.g. knife blade into a chalice). I’m thinking more of SPIRITUAL union off the back of sexual energy in a ritual environment without the physical act – purely as an idea to harness a natural energy for ritualistic/spiritual purposes – which sound very much like Kundalini!

    A difficult topic to discuss, but one worth having I think.

    Thanks for your input, Abdur.

    July 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm

  5. The Green Witch

    I don’t know where to begin with the higher aspects of the hieros gamos – what I do know is that your original post might have been written about me directly and I thank you for it – you are full of insight and intuition!

    I read it and shied away, and I will have to sit over it and read it again until I feel comfortable to face the facts contained herein. And then, I can get to work on the Hieros Gamos idea, which appeals to me greatly.

    July 31, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  6. starofseshat

    Hello my sweet, I don’t want you to feel discomforted by it (Is ‘discomforted’ a word? If not, it should be!). These are feelings flying around in me, but I thought friends might benefit from me voicing something which I think we (women) all deal with to one degree or another, and are afraid to say.
    I would like to talk to you about this on Saturday if that’s okay. Not to pry into your feelings, but to share mine and hopefully get some grounding input.
    much love

    July 31, 2008 at 7:23 pm

  7. This is a marvellously interesting post and one that is immensely timely for me. I do believe your insights that what women (particularly, as I read this) seem to crave is that wholeness, the amazing surge of energy and pure liberated joy that hieros gamos brings.

    Of all the women who have spoken to me about their sex lives over the years, not a single one has hoped that the actual sexual physical union would continue

    Well, it’s lucky we haven’t spoken or I should have been the one to spoil that tally of everyone, but I do think I have a strong animus and even as I start the journey to cronedom, it’s not going away. There certainly is a distinction between feeling sexual and being sexual, but I wonder if by separating the two things, we create problems?

    Certainly, the tedious nudge in the back when we’re not in the mood doesn’t constitute anything more that a mechanical action, but it is my firm belief that it’s possible to marry the two aspects of being and feeling, and in doing so, we achieve more than the frisson, reaching an amazing power.

    I have had the privilege, albeit not currently, of working with someone who was my sex magic partner and it was the most truly astounding experience. It wasn’t about the mechanical act, nice though that was, it was about each of us closing circles within ourselves and at once becoming a source of such amazing power and beauty that it still takes my breath away to think of it.

    In a context like that, the act of feeling and of being mesh together, and then the disparities that you talk of, like wives loving their husbands and having affairs, just don’t happen. Certainly, it takes effort and thought to prevent ennui creeping in, but it’s not that difficult.

    I don’t have a perspective on sexual relations that stem from one of the major orthodox religions – I spent three years in a convent, and though it was a repressive regime, they saved me from my mother’s very warped and bitter perspective on the subject, so I have something to thank them for.

    This is the timeliness of your post – I miss this terribly and have lost both the being and the feeling. In loosing both, I find that so many other parts of me have diminished and dulled. This will change soon I believe; it has to.

    I do hope this hasn’t been too personal, bold, embarrassing or explicit for your blog, and if it has, please delete it, as I would not with to cause any of those things to you.

    July 31, 2008 at 8:17 pm

  8. starofseshat

    Not at all Shepton Witch. It’s exactly this level of honesty I was looking for – without it, how can we discuss anything.
    A fascinating perspective from you – especially with your experience of sex magic (that’s something I’d like to hear more about, if you’re willing to share). I haven’t had any affairs either, but I still find it a prescient subject and I do think there are uses for splitting feeling and being.
    I will go into it tomorrow, but for now, I’m on my way to bed! … oh, to sleep, to sleep! πŸ™‚

    July 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm

  9. starofseshat

    Okay, the reason why I’m wondering if a split would be beneficial is for practical reasons. I, and others, have non-pagan partners. If I want to really experience Hieros Gamos in a ritual way, it cannot be with him. Even if he was willing to give it a go (which he would be!), I would be constantly aware that while I was thinking of higher things, he would be thinking, “Nice bum!” Somehow that would get in the way, don’t you think? πŸ™‚
    So, 1. you would need another partner, but an affair/cheating is not an option.
    And 2. how can we focus the natural feelings of sexual attraction that pop up for people other than our partners?
    So many women have thought their relationship was over because they found they were attracted to someone else, when actually, that is natural and should not threaten their commitment to their partner if dealt with honestly.
    Ignoring these kind of things will only make it fester: the desire to experience a form of Hieros Gamos could turn into resentment against a non-pagan partner; the feeling of attraction for others if not looked at honestly, could lead us to do something stupid.
    So, here I think a split between feeling and doing is very important. And I wonder if by harnessing the feeling/the energy in a ritualistic context could attain the same results.
    I do believe there is an aspect of Hieros Gamos in the state of “being in love” – but that is often transient and slightly dellusional. How great would it be to actually harness that energy and use it ritualistically, rather than just let it spiral out of control and reak havoc like a whirlwind in your life?
    Those are some thoughts – again, I repeat, I have no answers – but I do want to discuss this and think about it all seriously. For such an important aspect of life, we can be terrible coy about it…
    Whaddya think?

    August 1, 2008 at 6:47 am

  10. You have hit the nail on the head – having a partner who isn’t attuned to one’s spiritual path makes it hugely difficult, as I can attest. In that situation, splitting is a sensible option and it’s what I’m doing now. However, I’m finding it rather challenging, as I know what not splitting can be like.

    I’m totally with you when you talk about people doing stupid things because they’re not honest and can often mistake lust for love or the initial thrill for something deeper. I believe in monogamy and don’t just pay lip service to it. That, I guess, is the source of my dilemma. My partner is not a magical partner and I doubt that will happen in this incarnation. I need a magical partner but can’t deal with the prospect of either duplicity or a second partner, and I know my current partner would not cope with it either.

    The energy that you talk of “spiralling out of control” is pretty much what one harnesses in sex magic. Very much like building a cone of power in circle, one builds this huge energy, but always keeping the focus on the intent and how one is going to use it – it’s not about wild, mindless bonking, but very deliberate, thoughtful use of the power one can generate for healing, peace or whatever the objective. It’s not the thrill of infatuation or the pallpitations of the first flickering of love, but a much deeper, earthier and totally deliberate action. I hope that makes sense? It’s what I know, though I don’t pretend to be any sort of authority on the subject!

    Certainly, a passing thrill of attraction is no bad thing, provided we keep grounded and don’t follow every whim. That energy is wonderfully healthy and makes us remember that we have a pulse! It can also be harnessed in circle if it’s a healthy and open instict that does no harm to others.

    I don’t think this has provided a single answer, but it is helping me to become clearer about where I stand at the moment, and so I think you deeply for your wonderful blog!

    August 1, 2008 at 10:27 am

  11. Peace Star of Seshat,

    Allah! Another interesting discussion opening out here. I would like to add a few more thoughts, if that’s OK.

    Sex as a means of attaining union through ritual may well form part of some Muslim practices (though I am unaware of examples). That said, sex outside marriage is forbidden (though, of course, people being what they are, it does happen). I have no experience of such things and so I simply don’t know if it would be possible without seriously damaging a marriage. I do feel, though again without experience, that great danger lies in such things – humans being what they are.

    As for celibacy, I think perhaps we are talking about two distinct things. The Islamic tradition is broadly negative about celibacy for the whole of adult life. I suppose the idea is that it seems to deny a normal and natural element of human life. Moreover, Islam sees itself as a spirituality very much in the mundane world of ordinary life. However, celibacy for certain periods of time, is very much recommended, such things being an inherent part of the fasting process. Ramadan is swiftly approaching and abstinence from sex is an integral element. The Prophet (peace be upon him) recommends fasting for unmarried young people, as a means of channelling sexual energy appropriately.

    As for sexual rights, I don’t mean that in a negative sense (though some have certainly understood in such terms). Rather, both man and woman have an equal right to sexual fulfillment and that the denial of sex for all time, as a kind of weapon, is seen as wrong.

    Spiritual union is the central theme of sufism. Indeed, if you read Sufi poetry you will see that it is full of sensual and often sexual imagery – wine, love, beautiful women and men, etc. Although most understand this as metaphor, some have practicsed forms of sex ‘magic’ (can’t think of a better word here at present).

    Abdur Rahman

    August 1, 2008 at 12:41 pm

  12. starofseshat

    Mereth, that’s so interesting. It’s good to hear from someone with first hand experience. Do you think there is a possibility of accessing and using that energy with a partner in a circle without “doing the horizontal tango”? Could you do that with a woman (if one is heterosexual)? Would the act of using any sexual energy in circle constitute betrayal of a partner? This is posing more and more questions!

    Hi Abdur, It is a minefield to navigate but one worth finding a map for rather than avoiding crossing the field at all. If you get my drift?!
    Okay, so celibacy for short periods is acceptable in Islam, but not a life of celibacy? Interesting. So what is the premise behind short-term celibacy? Is it a form of discipline? A form of denial? Or a positive “storing” of sexual energy?
    Sex magic is I think the most appropriate term – although for me that always implies coitus and not the pure use of sexual energies that may or may not include coitus.
    But sex in Sufism is used only as a metaphor for spiritual union, yes? Or is there an implication that you can get closer to God through actual sex (in the right moral context). There is a big difference between looking at it as a metaphor for union with God and actually believing that the physical sexual energy could enhance your spiritual path and bring you closer to enlightenment…

    Thank you both for your comments.

    August 1, 2008 at 4:08 pm

  13. I have to say that I like the pragmatism of Islam on the subject of celibacy; an occasional fast is a healthy thing and we all benefit, but lifelong abstinence goes against nature and whether you call that higher thing, nature, Gaia, Allah or G-d or the Goddess, depending on where you stand, it’s only the Christians (as far as I know) who suggest total abstinece.

    I believe that Christain abstinence for clergy was purely a matter of the church ensuring wives of clergy did not inherit property that would otherwise belong to Rome. A nifty strategy that soon spiralled into a powerful weapon that ensured the power of the church pervaded every aspect of people’s lives.

    Isn’t it astounding that in Britain, at least, Islam is seen as an oppressive religion that grinds women under the heel of the male oppressor. No offence intended Abdur, you only need to stick your nose in the red tops to get that impression, and yet, when you peel back the ignorance and stupid mythologies that the gutter press perpetrate, it’s easy to see that is far from the case.

    A friend of my partner, Q’sai, a delightful Muslim man, and my partner were talking one day. My partner, who didn’t know about such things asked about polygamy. Q’sai laughed and explained that you could certainly go for it, but there were certain conditions that you had to fulfil to conform – each woman must be treated equally, and each woman must be given the life she wants and deserves and none must do without for the sake of another. (that was very inelegantly paraphrased, but you get the idea). By this time, my partner was laughing. So, it’s not that anyone says you can’t but nobody in their right mind would even want to think about trying to fulful this criteria! Anyway – that long ramble was just another demonstration, to me, that women enjoy an interesting equality in Islam that I don’t think that many people really understand.

    As a child of the 70s, (1957 vintage no less!), I suppose we grew up through a particularly secular time in this country and people were casting off the strictures of religion, so monogamy, celibacy and many of the values Islam holds dear were being cast aside in the great quest for individuality, freedom and female liberation. Sadly, the baby got thrown out with the bathwater, but that’s another discussion.

    I think that what you describe of Sufism sounds fascinating. It’s a harder path as you don’t have the option to decide partner A isn’t working out and looking out for partner B, you work with one person only and that must ultimately be amazingly rewarding if you can get it to work. The things that strikes me is that Abdur, as a Muslim, is deply comfortable talking of such things as sex and sexuality as they are accepted as a natural and integral part of Islam. For people who started their life journey in Christianity, I think it is harder to put aside the negative connotations of sexuality that were ingrained from the earliest age.

    Seshat, I can’t honestly answer your question about whether this would work in circle with another woman – I know I have not met one with whom I could do that, whatever the level of physicality or not. This is, for me, where the balance of male and female energy that we advocate in The Craft is so important and so relevant. For all my strong animus, I am a woman and need a complimentary male energy, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask!

    Sex magic does not have to result in coitus, and I have happily stood face to face with my partner, chakras wide open and spinning in synchronisation and it was the most wonderful experience. We were fully clothed and could have happily been observed by any passer-by, so it’s not necessary; though, if you have the right partner often it happens. πŸ˜€

    August 1, 2008 at 6:11 pm

  14. starofseshat

    Just a quickie, more tomorrow.
    Ah yes, the balance of male and female – too true – somehow I keep forgetting that. Maybe because I like to think i can do it on my own. I mean, be independent. Not, erm, anything else. Ahem.
    Chakra spinning sounds great! Is it like plate-spinning? (I am very much joking πŸ˜‰ )
    I shall formulate more tomorrow.

    August 1, 2008 at 7:09 pm

  15. The Green Witch

    I think it would be possible, for me at least, to find this power with another woman. I see the need for balance, but I think there are elements of the masculine and feminine in all of us – blended and hybridised in women, perhaps?

    August 1, 2008 at 7:52 pm

  16. starofseshat

    Even though I don’t think of myself as bisexual, it seems natural to me to use such sexual power in a circle with another woman – a magical partner is a magical partner. And if it is not about coitus or explicitly sexual attraction for that partner, surely it shouldn’t matter, should it? I open up more readily (on a deeper level) to a woman than to a man; I know I’d have to work harder to have the level of trust required to work with a man. TGW has a good point about how there are elements of both in each of us.

    August 1, 2008 at 10:25 pm

  17. starofseshat

    Hi Mereth,
    Originally the idea of celibacy in Christianity came from St. Paul. He was hugely influenced by Greek philosophy that elevated the spiritual over the physical. At the time of the early church they were living in a period of anticipation of the second coming of Christ which they thought would occur within their lifetimes. Since sex was viewed as a means to procreation and less noble than the spiritual life, St. Paul advised people to abstain to focus on spiritual preparation for the second coming. He did however say that if you can’t manage abstention, to get married and do the business that way! I agree that celibacy has been abused by the church over the centuries: not least by monks pretending nominal celibacy and as a result achieving some kind of spiritual hierachy over their flock, when in actuality they have a mistress or master (what is a male version of a mistress?! I quite like the sound of having a master! πŸ˜‰ I am, once again, joking!).
    More after breakfast πŸ™‚

    August 2, 2008 at 8:42 am

  18. starofseshat

    So would you view any sexual expression with another (even entirely hands-off) as a betrayal of your partner? Would any kind of sex magic basically be impossible when you have a non-pagan partner who would not/could not be your magical partner?

    August 2, 2008 at 9:05 am

  19. starofseshat

    Another question (maybe for Mereth as you have actual experience): What level of acceptance for your own body do you need to do sex magic? Does the sex magic help achieve a state of acceptance, or do you need that beforehand for it to “work”?
    This is partly why I mentioned the feeling of “being in love” where (even if only momentarily) you feel beautiful – physically, spiritually and emotionally – you feel whole. But this feeling is dellusional as then you catch sight of yourself in a mirror and are shocked at the descrepancy between what you were just feeling and what you actually see. [I say “you” but obviously I mean “me”!]
    But this feeling of momentary wholeness is addictive and desirable, and can make you feel like you have been hooked up to the national grid as there is so much power and energy surging through you (you/me, whatever!). I’m finding it very hard talking about this from the first person perspective – “you” = grammatical distance! I am just a virtual voice of dispassionate theorising not a woman with a body! πŸ™‚

    August 2, 2008 at 9:19 am

  20. First of all, the unfaithfull/betrayal question. It’s a difficult one as people view different things as betrayal. I tend to work in black and white with very little grey area in my life and so any physical contact would feel wrong to me and a betrayal. Having said that, it doesn’t ahve to be physical and that’s when, in my case, I would want to sit and talk to my partner to discuss what we could agree as mutually acceptable and what would create strains and tensions between us, therefore being unacceptable.

    I did know someone once, who loved her husband and whenever they engaged in intimate relations, she would imagine he was some film star or other (I can’t remember which one) and had been doing so for years. Now, when I heard that, I was really rather shocked, as that seemed like a form of unfaithfullness to me that I had never even thought of! So, I think it very much depends on the person or people and what they are comfortable with or not. It is totally about having a discussion with a non-Pagan or non-magical partner to define what will work best for the pair of you.

    Body acceptance – now there’s a thorny question and one that I could probably write about for months! At the time I was working in a partnership, I was a similar size and shape to what I am now, i.e. a large, squished-barrel shape. I was unselfconscious, felt womanly and powerful and very attractive. I didn’t catch sight of myself in mirrors and have a fit of the horrors, and because I felt so marvelously womanly and centred, I think it shone through everything I did. It is not the transitory feeling of temporary unselfconsciousness that one experiences while in the throes of lust, it keeps going.

    These days, I totally understand the shock and horror that you talk of when catching sign of myself in the mirror! I haven’t felt beautiful or womanly for several years and I’m even starting to forget how it felt from before. There are times I feel that I am greiving for the person that I was and it’s not a great place to be, hence this is a timely discussion for me!

    The feeling of energy that surges through one isn’t a delusion, it’s how you should feel and when you are there you are reconnecting with your inner Goddess. It’s the self-horror that is alien and wrong and what we should be moving away from!

    August 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

  21. starofseshat

    No, I don’t see the point in imagining you’re with someone else, film star or not.
    “…unselfconscious, felt womanly and powerful and very attractive.” Wow. I’ll have some of that! I have felt that way when I used to go jogging through the woods in Germany. I used to do 2-3 miles a day and 7 miles on a Sunday and never see a soul. I loved the burn and thrum of my body and felt completely a part of the wood. I felt beautiful and powerful. This is what I’m aiming for as I work through my ill health, shed the pounds and the causes for it. I get a taste of it when I do yoga. But I’m greedy and want that ALL the time. That internal “wow” makes the superficial appearance seem irrelevant. Without the internal “wow” the superficial appearance feels like everything and just drags you lower and lower (you/me whatever, dudette!).
    I assume you mean the energy in sex magic isn’t delusional? What about the energy of “being in love”, although as I was discussing with someone today, I guess that is just a polite way of saying “sexual arousal” and that is exactly the energy I think could be harnessed.
    I really, really like what you say about “self-horror is alien and wrong” – logically I know it, but something clicked when I saw the way you phrased it.

    August 2, 2008 at 5:00 pm

  22. Peace Star of Seshat and Mereth,

    Allah! An interesting conversation indeed! Long may it continue. πŸ™‚

    Seshat: I certainly do understand the need for a map! Allah! As a man, and being the person I am, I’m not sure I would be able to maintain a sex ritual without straying over into a purely physical act. In any case, it would constitute a betrayal of my marriage vows – made before my wife and before God. That said, yes, there is great energy in the human sex drive and it can benefit us greatly if it is channelled in positive, life-afirming ways. As for the use of my personal sexual energy in a non-physical manner, I’ve not really thought about that before. That said, I think that our sex drive is engaged far more often than we would like to imagine. I drove to London on Saturday to collect my children from their grandparents’ house: as I was driving I was listening to Qawwali (Indian Sufi music – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan). It starts off slowly and ends in a frenetic and almost orgasmic glee. It struck me that music is a powerful means by which to engage our sexual energies.

    Although it is very hard to summarise (or speak for) a 1,400 year old religious tradition (to which well over 1 billion currently belong), there have been and are some groups which practice celibay – or rather, their spiritual guides do. This is the Bektashi tradition of Turkey and Albania. That said, it is looked at askance by more ‘mainstream’ groups.

    Celibacy for short periods is joined with abstinence from food and drink. Some people might forego sex for a time, for their own purposes. The fast of Ramadan (starting on 1st september this year, insha Allah) entails this kind of abstinence for a month, between sunrise and sunset. Given the special night prayers and other things, even at night, the opportunity for sex is limited! Celibacy, though used for certain periods, is not seen as a desirable life-long practice, for all people.

    I know the feeling of suddenly being in love and indeed, I would contrast it with lust. We desire things because we have physical needs. We enjoy them and used correctly, they bring great relief. Desired for themselves all of the time, and to the exclusion of all else, these things become an addiction. For me, and the path I struggle to walk, I seek to transform myself into always ‘being in love’ – in the full, complete and transformative sense. Sufism has much to say on love. Allah!

    Peace Mereth – I’m not in the least bit offended. The truth, as you say, is far more complicated. Yes, the Quran specifically states that men may marry four wives. In context, though, this was actually a restriction on prevailing Arab tribal norms. Also, you are right to refer to justice. I have seen this in action and I have to say it was worked out in minute (and I mean minute) detail! Moreover, Muslims are required to obey the law of the land in which they live. I live in the UK and even if I felt inclined to do so (which, Allah, I don’t), I wouldn’t be allowed by the infamous Shariah to break UK law. Some do, but I think it actually is an unjust thing for second wives – as they have no legal standing in UK law. Islamic law takes such things very seriously.

    As for sex as a metaphor and the use of actual sex, well…both really. That is, sex is a metaphor of union with God – the equalling of all opposites and the joy (ahem) of meeting the Beloved. Actual sex does bring us closer to God, and thus to union, too. It builds a healthy relationship, releases (ahem) tension and thus helps man and wife to become one through life. The Prophet himself (peace be upon him) said: ‘Marriage is half of faith’.

    Abdur Rahman

    August 4, 2008 at 12:02 pm

  23. starofseshat

    That’s a terrible cough you have there, Abdur! You really should do something about it πŸ˜‰
    The idea of experiencing sexual energy through music is a timely reminder for me as I definitely get a “physical” kick from some music, where I feel like my heart is about to burst out of my chest it is so beautiful. There are some musical refrains where I feel the tension build and as soon as the (often discordant) harmony is played I collapse into a pool of pleasure – and yet nothing overtly sexual has happened. This is probably also the reason why I love dancing (or doing the Anglo Saxon shuffle as you so greatly put it!). And yet maybe it is indicative of my state of mind, that I only dance and really get down and groove (baby) when I’m on my own.
    I agree, pursuit of any feeling can lead to addiction, hence many relationships can lead to obsession. Unfortunately I have been on the other end of someone else’s obsession and it choked the life out me, the supposed “object of love”. Maybe this explains my simultaneous desire for union and independence that actually has me running from pillar to post, rather than look inwards to see if both are achievable simultaneously.
    Wow, that phrase “Marriage is half of faith” is a very interesting one … something to ponder.
    Passing you a lozenge…

    August 4, 2008 at 12:16 pm

  24. Hahahaha! πŸ˜€ Oh dear Abdur, you did make me chuckle with all the coughing, but I liked your reply. Take a bit of coltsfoot for the cough. πŸ˜‰

    Song and dance, particularly, are similar expressions of the amazing energy that we humans can generate. Like you Seshat, I sing like a lark when I’m in my car and on my own, and yet am silent at other times. I used to dance every week at middle eastern dance class and that was the most liberating and uplifting experience. For a fleeting moment last Saturday, I recaptured a grain of that feeling when dancing with TGW. Today, after writing a long missive that has been brewing in my mind for a long time, I am playing music, singing and smiling like a child with no cares – I might even jump up and dance about!

    Obsession is unhealthy and not something that’s good for either party – it is a fertile breeding ground for oppression and unhappiness, and it’s certainly not what I’m talking about. “Marriage is half of faith” – that’s nice and in marriage you make your own magic in your own private and special way.

    I do believe that what many of us experience is a sort of half life, where we withdraw from things either as a defense or in fear, and then we loose touch with how to go back and reclaim them. Often the process is a slow errosion by tiny degrees and we don’t notice it happening. Sex magic, dance and song are wonderful ways of breaking out of those cells of limitation and they put us back in touch with the spark of divinity within us. Whether one believes that every creature contains a spark of divinity, or whether they are God’s creatures at his will, the sheer ecstasy is a reflection of the divine. That’s my view, though not one that I culled from any formal source.

    Abdur, thank you for the hint – I have just been on iTunes and listened to a snippet of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and downloaded the album – I shall listen to it on the way to London tomorrow – that’ll stop my shoulders getting all tense in the traffic!

    August 4, 2008 at 5:32 pm

  25. starofseshat

    I never had the opportunity of dance classes, and thinking back very hard, I think the only person I really, properly danced with (excluding fumbling boys as a teenager!) was a 70 year old man in Germany (about 15 years ago), who whirled me round the dance floor in a fast waltz. He certainly matched my stamina and had me utterly breathless and fired up afterwards! Maybe we three witches can repeat the release of dance magic together at Samhain? I’m up for it … and I wouldn’t mind a dance either. (Ahem) Arf! πŸ˜‰
    I really, really identify with your comment, Mereth, about “half a life”. Over the last few years, in spite of being very happy in many ways, I have been living less than half a life. Sorry to keep going on about it, but being ill ironically made me forget how important it is to live through our bodies AS WELL. I guess, for me, because my body has been such a source of pain (physically and emotionally) I blocked it out. Something is now being unlocked, and I am giddy with the energy and potential power of wholeness. Yes, I am back in touch with that divine spark!

    August 4, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  26. Peace Star of Seshat and Mereth,

    Thank you for the lozenge and the coltsfoot! Much appreciated! πŸ˜‰

    Music is very much a part of Sufi practice (where, in a formal ritual sense it is called Sema or ‘hearing’). You can find many examples on my blog.

    Does music form part of your respective traditions? And, if so, how is it used?

    I suppose what we’re talking about is the difference between sexual energy and the use to which that energy is put.

    Abdur Rahman

    August 6, 2008 at 9:00 am

  27. starofseshat

    Shalom Abdur,
    As you have maybe guessed from that resounding silence to your question, there is no established or set part played by music in witchcraft.
    Music can be inspirational and is used by each individual (or not) in their individual way.
    Personally I like chant, but then I grew up around Gregorian Chant, so it is a natural way of worshipping for me.
    Otherwise I do my rituals and workings in silence. I need to focus and at these times I find music distracting.
    If I am doing a meditation or visualisation (talking to a guide, exploring symbolic imagery) then music can be helpful.

    Yes, that is exactly it – the difference between sexual energies and how we put it to use. It is a force that can be used for great, life-shattering harm, and also as a source of healing and life. I struggle to think of another human energy that can be used for such extremes…

    Back to the subject of hieros gamos – symbolic enactment or physical?
    Surely a symbolic enactment would be just as effective as a physical enactment, otherwise what power do symbols have? If symbols really are the focus and cipher of particular powers and energies, then by developing our “symbol consciousness” we should be able to achieve the same effect symbolically as actually doing the deed.
    I don’t know, as I have never taken part in hieros gamos on any level.
    Mereth? Anything you can add here? Would it/could it be the same done symbolically as physically? From a sex magic perspective? (Although I know that is not the same as hieros gamos, but I’m still interested)


    August 8, 2008 at 4:16 pm

  28. I found this interesting extract from The Hierosgamos Theme in the Images of the Rosarium Philosophorum and thought I would reproduce it here:

    The term hierosgamos is used generally to refer to the union between two divinities, or between a human being and a god or goddess, or between two human beings (under certain special conditions); more particularly, it is used to refer to the ritualized, public sexual union between the king and a hierodule (β€˜sacred prostitute’) in ancient Mesopotamia. [5] This union was accompanied by the belief that the human partners became divine by virtue of their participation in it. It was thought, for example, that the priestess who took part in this ritual became the goddess Inanna in the same way as ordinary bread and wine are thought to become the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Roman Catholic celebration of the Eucharist. Both ritual forms entail regeneration and transformation; in Mesopotamia, the hierosgamos was thought to insure the well-being of the king, the prosperity of the people, and the continued fertility of the land. [6]

    The belief that human beings could participate in the ontological condition of divinity through sexual union, through the body, is exceedingly ancient, but the hierosgamos is not merely an important element in an archaic religious tradition. It is also exceedingly persistent And, in my view, its persistence indicates more than a merely superficial connection between its manifestations in the ancient Near East and in the West; it has become associated with a spectrum of symbolic meanings so rich and compelling that they continue to reassert themselves over and over again. Although the hierosgamos did not find its way into the official teachings of Christianity, for example, it is present nonetheless in the symbolism of Mary as the Bride of Christ. [7]

    The major difference between the significance of the hierosgamos in the ancient Near East and the Christian West is that its expression in the former context was bound up with an explicit, embodied praxis that necessitated ritual sexual union. This gives rise to certain hermeneutical difficulties. Scholars of religion sometimes deny or ignore the presence of the hierosgamos idea, or pronounce its use as a conceptual category invalid. [8] Even those who do recognize its presence may yield to the prevailing wisdom that encourages the substitution of a part for the whole, and thus interpret the hierosgamos according to an allegedly higher, spiritualized ideal, having nothing to do with the body. [9] Analogous interpretations are offered for the hierosgamos theme in alchemical texts. Yet, many of the alchemists appear to have undergone a complex experience involving mutual reciprocity between the events in the laboratory and within themselves of a kind that harkens back to, and carries forward, the imprint of a religious tradition that combined physical and spiritual levels of transformation. [10]

    Heiros Gamos is the holy marriage and represents the transformation that union bestows and also the fertility aspects of the earth when God and Goddess join. Whilst there are times that the symbolic representation by athame and chalice can be appropriate, how far divorced from the original should one become? Reading this article reminded me that the value system we live with these days is very different from before.

    For me, the symbolic does not work as well as the physical – but I’ve never been all that great with symbology. I canot tell you what is right or wrong for you, only you can determine that. For me, it has given me a timely reminder and kick up the bum that I have to reconnect – so my partner is in for a bit of a surprise!

    August 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

  29. starofseshat

    thank you, thank you for putting up so much information.
    In some ways this ties in perfectly with thoughts I’ve been having re. authoritarian/humanism according to Fromm, and releasing myself from irrelevant and unhelpful concepts and philosophies that don’t belong either to my current path, or to who I am today.
    I think I need to stop trying to justify and analyse a real, concrete spiritual urge with the shadows of morals and inhibitions belonging something I abandoned for good reason. But darnit, it’s hard! (Ahem)
    I will trust in the guidance of God and Goddess and attempt to be true to my Self.
    I wish you happy reconnecting! πŸ™‚

    August 10, 2008 at 4:00 pm

  30. I trust you have now found the answers to your questions. πŸ™‚

    September 5, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  31. starofseshat

    Yes, and the answers are more questions πŸ™‚ I never seem to find answers these days, just more precise questions that lead to more precise questions. Ultimately the proof of the pudding is in the eating πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I could philosophize all my life and not do anything. The universe is guiding me here.

    September 5, 2008 at 4:50 pm