Recently I have felt my spiritual ship turning in a different direction. I am incorporating aspects to my approach very different from those of the past. My Rosicrucian studies are coming along fine; after a year of commitment to this path I am now beginning First Degree studies. This has been my first opportunity to work with an established egregore from an initiate perspective. In addition I am preparing for Mussar studies (Mussar is essentially Jewish ethics, a form of self-examination and purification of character traits in preparation for the study of Kabbalah), and I am reading about Modern Kabbalah.
So what does all this have to do with being a witch? From the first day I began blogging, six years ago, the subject of “What is a witch?” and “What kind of witch am I?” has been a recurring theme. My pendulum has swung from one extreme to another as I have explored multiple paths. As I said to a friend, in order to define the middle path, one must traverse the boundaries of the extremes. One thing I have learned is that the middle path is not synonymous with following the herd, or joining the crowd, or doing what everyone else does. For a start, my middle path may not be yours. I have opened myself up to the spiritual paths of others – Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Vodouisants, Gnostics, Satanists, Sorcerers, Necromancers, et al – and I have learned something from each lively discourse.
But I remain a witch. I am anchored within the cycles of the natural world, the seasons, lunar phases and astrological movements. I still address the Egyptian Aakhu, the spirits of the dead, the elevated and blessed souls who have passed the test of Ma’at and walk the Duat, ready to assist us here on this material plane. And crucially, I still practise magick.
However, my definition of magick or more specifically my magickal construct has changed, become more and better than it was. When I say “better” I am not making a judgement regarding the way others practise magick, I am referring solely to how I experience it and benefit from it.
Now I would describe my magick as “attunement”. My focus is on attuning my soul with the divine to allow divine influx to radiate through me, by means of continued purification. Encounters with the divine, especially within Kabbalah, are often described in terms of light and fire: a burning face during prayer, the halo of divine light around the head of a student, the words of Torah as flame issued from the tongue, the bright light of a Tzaddiq …
I have never been much interested in results magick. Occasionally it has been useful, and with the contractual aide of the Hoodoo spirits, the efficacy of my results magick doubled. But the question to me was always, what do I want? What do I need? And there is a gaping crevasse between wants and needs. Over the past year I “discovered” Minimalism and realised that it has always been part of my make-up. I want very little and my needs are basic.
While studying Social Anthropology at university many moons ago, I was taught about Maslow’s triangle.
This was a revelation to me and again reflected what I instinctively knew. The key to Maslow’s triangle is that each of the needs of the lower layers must be met first before being able to achieve the higher layers. E.g. if you suffer prolonged periods without food or water, then a job is not going to be on your list of priorities, unless it is an immediate means to attain food and water. Likewise if your living conditions are at threat due to war or personal catastrophe, then you are less likely to focus on spiritual development; indeed spiritual movements rarely evolve during war-time.
So our aim as spiritual beings is to meet the lower needs in order to be in the best place possible to receive and engage with a spiritual life, i.e. self-actualisation. Now, our personal definitions of the lower level needs will vary. Some may get stuck on believing that having a car (or two!), a large house, a wardrobe of fancy shoes and money to go out on the town forms part of “security of resources or property”; if you are such a magickian, then no doubt you could expend months or years of energy trying to call so much STUFF into your life. If you define yourself by STUFF the STUFF becomes vital. But this is a skewed perspective because THINGS do not ultimately contribute to your existence, nor do they elevate your soul or polish your personality.
Likewise, note the two references to sex and sexual intimacy. So does that mean that if you’re not getting sex, you can’t work towards self-actualisation? Absolutely not. The fact is that I have seen many people (mostly men) who pursue sex as an unquestionable need, with multiple partners, with a drive bordering on addiction, and yet they lack the commitment of real friends, they have a yawning hole in their emotional lives and an aching emptiness which they don’t know how to fill. Over and above the physical act of sex I would emphasize sexual intimacy, expressed best by the German word “Geborgenheit” (a feeling of safety, emotional security, comfort, freedom from danger). This is a level of deep trust, an intertwining of souls and minds, an intimacy with another human being where your hearts make love because you experience expansive belonging with that person or persons, because there is no social morality at this level of sexual intimacy, of “Geborgenheit”, that would limit you to being sexually intimate with only one person. It is THIS side of sex that leads to self-actualisation, not the mere pumping and wet thrusting of genitalia, however distractingly pleasant that may be (and of course physical sex with someone with whom you experience Geborgenheit is a joyous meeting of soul-mates – without Geborgenheit you might as well ejaculate into a toilet or use a battery-powered gadget to stimulate your clitoral nerves).
As you see, Maslow’s triangle is not necessarily as straightforward as it might appear. It deserves some thought and consideration as to what really is a NEED for you. What do you need as a foundation from which you can then free your soul to pursue attunement with the divine? The less you need, the quicker you can get on with the real business of living; and for me, the fulcrum of life is to be filled with the divine, to radiate the bliss of Light, by whatever name you wish to call it … God, Yahweh, Lucifer, Ra. I am a moth drawn to the divine light and dying by such fire is a step towards the ultimate fulfilment of all my existential needs, because then I shall BE the Light.
This afternoon I watched a talk on “the art of seduction” by a tall, slim, beautiful Hispanic American female dancer. She travelled between the US and Cuba to study with the best dance teachers and she had a message to convey, namely that we should all be playing at the art of seduction to get what we want and it was all about desire, confidence and arousal.
She began her talk by twisting and grinding a lap dance on a male talk host who stood there looking faintly mortified, not knowing where to put his hands or eyes which eventually settled somewhere above her head staring out into the distance at the audience.
She said that seduction was not about being sexual, so why begin her talk with a lap dance which she said was intended to get us thinking about seduction “in our guts”? She said it wasn’t about women sleeping their way to the top either; and her focus was predominantly on women doing the seducing although men got a brief mention too. So if it’s not about sex why did she enact the Rumba as a conversation between a man and a woman with the woman saying, “You want it? You want it? Come and get it!” and the man thrusting his hips towards the woman with “the intention of getting her pregnant”?
She held up Cuban society as a paragon of the art of seduction saying to start with that no woman had body issues in Cuba because there is no advertising (and therefore no negative media influence) since Cuba is a communist country; consequently women of all sizes used their bodies seductively and freely. She emphasized that seduction should start “as young as possible”, describing adults dancing at a social gathering and tiny children “grinding” (her word) next to them and being complimented for how beautiful they looked doing their seductive thang. She neglected to mention the high rates of child prostitution in Cuba …
This latter example reminds me of the hoo-ha surrounding the TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding where viewers were horrified to see how children as young as 6 were up on the dance floor wiggling their hips and grinding their genitals while drawing attention to their little, flat chests. If this is an example of seduction at work in a sociological group, then one should also look at the lack of education amongst women in those particular gypsy communities because getting married and breeding carries more social standing and kudos than leaving school being able to read and write. But hey, if this dancer lady is right, why do they need an education when the art of seduction can get them what they want?
But at what price? She coquettishly described how Cuban men pursued women, seducing and seducing them over and over until “the desire began to burn”. She said that “A no turns into a maybe turns into a yes, and that’s so sexy!” … but what if a no is a no? Sexual harassment is not sexy in any country.
She claimed that any woman could play the art of seduction and be sexy … she looked down at herself and said, “I choose to be classy.” And I thought, “Just because you’re wearing trousers doesn’t make you classy.” She was undoubtedly a beautiful woman and I think she has just been brainwashed into thinking that because she has got a lot of what she wanted from men by using her looks, that she is somehow in a position of power and control. She’s not. The flirting seduction game will work until the guy wants you to follow through and calls you a cock-tease (at best) for not giving him what all your actions have promised him. The seduction game works as long as you are attractive – is she really naive enough to think that a dumpy woman with average looks stands as much chance of seducing her way through life as an exotic, standard-beautiful dancer?
And why should I have to lap dance a guy to get what I want? Why can’t I ask him as an equal and lay down the intellectual reasoning for why I should have what I want? Working for what you want need not be drudgery; getting what you want need not involve semi-prostitution of your self.
I’m not going to cite the source of the talk because frankly I don’t want to send any more attention her way. I found her talk to be naive and irresponsible. Sex is not a tool for bartering, not necessarily for any moral reason, but because in our society we are not bartering from positions of equal standing. Encouraging all men and women to seduce each other as a means of communication is ridiculous … how many men think with their heads once their cock is engaged for a start? The last thing we as women want is to encourage men into thinking that our “no” is merely a segue to us saying “yes”. And her suggestion to teach girls “as young as possible” to communicate through seduction is frightening and sickening.
There’s nothing wrong with flirting. There’s nothing wrong with being sexually active. But seduction cannot and should not become the predominant language because we have fought too long to be viewed as more than the sum of our tits and slits. At university I was probably the most vocal woman on my course which intimidated my male peers who used to flinch when I spoke and one even said, “I thought you were going to hit me then.” Why? Because an intellectually passionate woman can be scary as hell to men who are used to a simpering, flirtatious “yes-girl”.
So I do not advocate “the art of seduction” as a means to “get what you want” … you may get more than you bargained for… verbal abuse, sexual harassment, rape, to name but a few things. Instead learn to say “no” and mean it. Learn to stand on an equal (or higher!) intellectual platform than the men you engage with. Don’t treat him like a walking dick – he deserves more than that too! And don’t act like you were made from Adam’s rib – your bone to his boner. You are more than that and if you associate with the right kind of man, he will treat you as if you are more than that and not expect you to manipulate your breasts and vagina before he pays you any attention.
Oh-oh-oh, holy is Whore, but happier yet the manless Whore who touches Herself in an empty cave. She sinks under the covers of Her courtesan bed and revels in the cool space of freedom to sleep alone.
Women come to share their passion and love, to parade the man of their dreams before Her; but She sees the cautious, trepidatious look of frightened prey in the woman’s eyes as she wonders if her wild creature will behave, flex his claws or drool on the floor.
I know that look, She says, and holds a mirror to Her face, admiring the brightness of Her eyes that no longer hold the look of fear. Satisfied that only Her spirit resides within, She puts aside the mirror and returns Her cool gaze to the woman before Her.
The Whore gives her blessing because it is asked for. Each woman must whore herself in the way she best sees fit. Who is She to point out the risks and flaws, the endless fights that lie before the woman? Some people need to stand pushing against the wind, they are forever crooked and without the wind to battle they would fall down. Maybe she is a crooked woman who needs the childish moaning and futile breezes of a man’s ego to keep her straight.
The woman passes, the man leads, and the Whore sighs and reclines back in comfort. Holy, holy, holy is the Whore. Whole, whole whole is the Whore.
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 FEEL 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.
© starofseshat 2008