If you think that sex and sexuality can be something spiritual, then what does it say that something so entwined with carnality, desire, bodily separateness and its transcendence, is spiritual?
I ask this question because there can be a wishful assumption that making sex spiritual will make it nicer, more fulfilling, super ecstatic but ever so clean. All the “good bits” of sex and eastern mysticism, with any shadow of this world’s limitations banished. In fact, people in neopagan and New Age circles often seem to think that viewing this world as other than an essentially beneficent Eden (before the horrible men on horses came) is a “patriarchal” slur. But I do beg to differ.
The material world, incarnation and Nature may be beautiful, wondrous and mysterious, but it also has limitations for us. It is hard. Both it and spirituality involve suffering as well as joy. Magick is one of the most flexible and experiential forms of spirituality, and we do not shy from enjoyment and pleasure, nor from the supernatural, or the individual creative will. But we all know there are limitations and hard lessons, failures that also serve, sometimes the most potently of all. Life is an unresolved equation to us who travel and seek what is in our hearts.
I think it should be clear that sex with a spiritual dimension would involve greater challenges than simple carnality does. More work, more growth, more forbearance, and a greater chance of suffering. No free lunch. No cake kept and eaten.
That sense of entitlement to a great new dispensation of “all you can eat” nirvana was a particular hubris of parts of the hippie generation, and you can see some of the same delusion, in a different field, passed on to identity politics with disastrous effects. Confusing material reality and Nature with political “oppression”. It’s a blight which can give rise to neither freedom nor happiness.
But to return to the subject of sexuality, there are different ways to approach the sacredness of sex and relationship. One is through marriage, and it is a fine one, with recognised trials, and plenty of time and life to temper youthful ideals into what is actually there. Great props to marriage in my view. But the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s was pretty dismissive of marriage and its fetters.
Another approach sought the transformative power of sex and sexuality, and considered this in some ways allied to the idea of “tantra”, with the subtext that we could make all of life spiritual, and have the greatest sex ever, heaven on Earth, preferably with a “soul mate”, and though we’d have things to “work out”, it was the promise of happy ever after*. This sometimes got combined with the idea that we should be “returning to the garden”, that Nature and the World was a blessed place (contrary to Christian ideas of it being “fallen”), and that we could be freed of this mistaken idea of past generations. Free eco-love with the fruits of meditation, and it could all be really cool.
But of course it can’t be. Such an approach is an avoidance of both spirituality and the nature of sex and relationship. It is an avoidance of the material world we live in, and the deeper forces of the soul. It asserts that Nature is other than itself, is beneficent and convenient, and that what stands in the way of fulfilment is man-made teaching and organisation, when what stands in some of the way is just reality. Certainly things like religious teachings have contributed to unnecessary suffering and need to be dispensed with, but Nature is not just beneficent, and certainly not convenient, and things of value are not easy or free.
There is absolutely no doubt that sex and sexuality do constitute a powerfully transformative force, and one which we need to face, for it is so bound up with our deeper natures, and those parts of us that are found in what we term “the unconscious”. I believe that these areas are key to understanding the Thelemic True Will, or what Austin Osman Spare called “the inherent dream”. But never forget that the substance we transform is a poison, and some of the most wondrous and potent aspects of life lie in areas we consider horrific and painful at one time or another. Note here that I say it is a force we need to face, not use. This is deeper than our conscious identity, and in the face of this we need humility. If there is any area that seems to have a respect for it in modern life, I suspect it is in BDSM.
Even if you are not a Satanist, it is demons that will hold the keys to those things you have lost and seek to reunite with.
The enemy of love is not hate, but the counterfeit of love.
* in fact such ambitions are not part of traditional tantra.