saints, healers and beasts

I have written on this subject before, as well as about my limited experience of contributing to a certain kind of art.

I have great respect for porn, and for sex work, and sex workers. I view the latter as having a sacred function in a world that has trouble according Nature its due, and the former (potentially) as art that exists below as well as above the belt. And that’s probably why it is taboo, because we are all both vulnerable and blissful below the belt, and our society has a long standing stake in dividing our natures against themselves. That may be religious in origin, though its puritanism has been vigorously taken up by identity politics, or it may be an underpinning element of a wider authoritarian mind-set.

So I am very interested in the overlap between “pornography”, art and artistic creativity, and magick. I consider this to be a sacred form of art, one which certainly may not be achieved (or aimed for) in all porn, but it is implicit in the territory, just as a form of sacred service is implicit in the field of sex work.

We have a long way to go in living free lives as the human beings we are, though many people are bravely attempting to do so in their personal and private lives, while others are hoodwinked by politics into propping up more forms of division and fabrication. I thank anyone for honestly trying to be themselves at this deeper level of sexuality, being and relationship. Pornography and sex work are not ends in themselves (anymore than other forms of art or vocation are), but services towards the wholeness of life. Extrapolated to magickal spirituality this area has many resonances in our lives, beyond pornography, sex work, or indeed literal sex. This is some of what I was alluding to in my post on Babalon* also.

The real work is our being human.

painting2

landscape, person or art?

This post is dedicated to Freya, Babalon and Set.

* indeed Babalon might be one of the “saints” of the title of this post.

29th October 2016: post edited

this little piggie

Overnight I got a message from Tumblr that one of my posts had been taken down for a “content policy violation”.

The video you posted on Sep 26th, 2015 2:29 pm was removed for violating our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, which you can skim over at: https://www.tumblr.com/policy/community

Long policy short: We don’t allow sexually explicit videos to be uploaded to Tumblr.

Too many violations and you get banned.

This post was made on a blog I have on Tumblr (flagged by myself as having adult content) called “magickpig”. My description is shown as follows:

this is my “adult oriented” tumblr blog, where I can express my reverence for sexuality and the erotic. it will include some of my art work, plus other things – I think many things considered “pornographic” are a sacred and particularly intimate form of art, and I view desire, individuality and imagination with great respect. I also share some personal things here as an expression of my inner nature

It’s a blog which seeks to address the sacredness of the erotic, and its relationship to individuality and imagination, in a personal and poetic way.

I kept this blog password protected (thus private) for many months this Summer and Autumn, as I was feeling too vulnerable due to things I was going through. Thanks to the healing and growth I have been going through recently, I have considered making it public again, but am still holding back on that.

Here is the soundtrack to the video:

This morning the video was removed for being “sexually explicit”, despite showing no sexual act, or explicit depiction of sexual arousal. I rewrote the comment on the video as follows:

this video was taken down by Tumblr as being “sexually explicit”
I made it to be artistic, with a sound track I composed, and posted it back in 2015
it was made at the time to be modest self-revelation and poetry, art
you see my buttocks, my back, and my anus in close up
I am guessing the sight of my anus is “sexually explicit”
I’m quietly complimented

It’s funny when someone as shy and sexually unassuming as myself gets this kind of reaction to a modest piece of art.

Who knew an arse had such power?

4434f5f63b3a0994a4e8412d178a29ac

penn_state_university_pigs

Penn state university pigs by George Chriss (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 us (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

* 5th October 2016: post edited

scandal, tolerance and “rights”

Today I was watching a snippet of daytime TV with a friend, and the subject was a discussion of a “scandal” that had peeked out of the political establishment, of the old fashioned politicians and prostitutes type. I tend to find the reactions to these things puerile and moralistic, often deeply disingenuously so. It’s like virtue signalling, but made in the threadbare image of the Edwardian era.

In this case the politician was a “family man” who it has emerged had been consorting with male sex workers, and he’s now resigned.

The daytime TV program (Loose Women) had some varied opinions, the one I sympathised with most defending the politician on the basis that this really was not a public issue, and he had not acted hypocritically when measured by his stated positions on things like sex work, and we should just stop this kind of media circus. Others felt more critical, and one of the issues (aside from the public service angle), was the issue of the moral aspect of his “cheating” on his wife.

One person said she thought “in this day and age” people could be openly gay, and they should be able to live openly, and this kind of thing should not be happening. But I really think this misses the point of how far we have to go in bringing about real, meaningful freedom for people, not in terms of gay rights, or anything that can even be primarily tackled by the whole “militant” rights type of thinking, but in terms of how many people aren’t free to live as themselves openly. This man might not be gay, and sexuality is far more subtle and nuanced than ticking one of three boxes. He might specifically gain a certain kind of fulfilment from liaising with sex workers, as people have for thousands of years. He just isn’t the idea of a “family man” that people have. We don’t know, and it isn’t our business, and aside from maybe conjecturing that he and his wife might or might not have some communicating to do about their respective needs, no one knows, or should know, anything there either.

It really points out to me how our society has and hasn’t changed. Yes, we do have equal rights for gay people, and that is something to be proud of and grateful for. Honestly, we have it good. But there is a great deal else to question with compassion and openness, such as why not polyamory, validated sex work, alternative relationship forms, and a release from this whole thing of gay, straight or bisexual, stamped and sealed or else (get judged as something shady, confused or dishonest). This isn’t the stuff of politics,  it’s the stuff of hearts and minds. How much greater could we be, if we appreciated the real tapestry of human nature, sexual and otherwise?

What we need is a sexual humanism.

The Great American by Jasenlee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Great American by Jasenlee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Babalon

Everyone comes to their own understanding of spiritual principles. For me the place of love and sexuality in spirituality has always been a key question, and one which I knew had crucial answers.

Certain faces of “the feminine” are very important to me, in that they coincide with my deeper nature, and the meaning I carry within me. Thus they carry an intimate and very personal meaning for me.

To be a man who loves men is not always an easy circumstance, for it really has nothing to do with being “gay”, and to be all that you are, often without social guidance or validation, and find true relationship, can be a challenge. But life is miraculous, and if we are true to ourselves, we can be taught directly, and find our loves.

Babalon is a modern Thelemic goddess, based upon a positive interpretation of “The Whore of Babylon” of the Book of Revelation. I used to find parallels between her and the Hindu goddess Durga, but I find it better to look at her uniquely now. I would particularly like to focus on the “whore” or prostitute aspect, and its relationship to a certain kind of feminine individuation¹.

The Roman Venus was a patroness of many things, but amongst them were prostitutes and homosexual men. The link between homosexual men and prostitutes is really quite long and abiding, probably because we are both manifestations of the feminine (at some level) that goes beyond the “respectable” and socially acceptable, or at least beyond the procreative family. In both our cases there is something conventionally “missing” or mismatched, but on a deeper level there is also something that convention cannot provide. Also, we both tend to find our meaning in a form of service (I think that is a reasonable if inevitably non-comprehensive generalisation*).

When I say homosexual men, to be historically (and maybe psychically) valid, I mean men who primarily love and desire men in a devoted and receptive way, as there are many men who are able to have active sex with another man without being “homosexual” or “gay”, and who may want to for many reasons. This kind of homosexuality doesn’t necessarily have outward feminine characteristics though, it being a much deeper and instinctive orientation within someone who is male, and little to do with superficial appearances. These of course cannot be definitive generalisations. Our modern categories are just overly controlling and inaccurately labelling.

Love engages all of us. Body, heart, soul and spirit. This kind of love is a fire that brings us alive and burns down our constraints, transforms us, and offers us the chance of both ultimate fulfilment and complete destruction. You have to be courageous to take up such a challenge, such a risk, but to not do so is to never live.

In my own life Babalon is an exemplar, of how to live from my heart and soul. And of how to have the strength to truly love, even beyond need, and beyond calculated safety. This same great force leads people to love purely and with absolute “fidelity” (which can mean many things), and to the madness of obsession if our own needs and blocks are not burnt up for the sake of love. Only through this fire do we understand the nature of union, and how we love with our whole body and soul, following our true meaning, with those we are truly bonded and intimate with.

tattoo of Leilah Waddel, magician, musician and Scarlet Woman to Aleister Crowley - by Rosa Laguna

tattoo of Leilah Waddell, magician, musician and Scarlet Woman to Aleister Crowley – by Rosa Laguna

¹ meaning individuation along a feminine pattern of experience, whether for a woman or man.

* it is striking that homosexual men do tend to end up in service occupations, whether it is retail, health care, counselling, mediumship, therapies or sex work. I think this is in many cases an instinctive orientation, rather than that we are “better with people” etc.

21st August 2016: last paragraph edited “needs” to “needs and blocks”.

the chemistry of union

I have been saying for some time that I would do a follow up to the posts on Tammo de Jongh and Richard Gardner, and their work with the elements, so here it is.

If you’re new to this subject, you can find a bit of background here, here and here. What follows is a summary of information contained in the chapter on “sexuality” in The Future Will Be Green by Anelog (Tammo) and Brother Sebastien, with just a little of my own reflection. I will refer to Anelog as Tammo during the post, because though he was called Anelog towards the end of his life, most people searching for him will know him as “Tammo”.

Reading this chapter I am really reminded of Richard Gardner and his vision, expressed in books like the Purpose of Love or Evolution Through the Tarot. Tammo clearly did his own work and researches, but there are points in this chapter where Richard’s spark really shows through. I remember writing to Tammo in 1981, saying how much I was interested in transformation and bringing about mutations in consciousness, as per Richard’s ideas. He wrote back and told me that he was not interested in that. I think I can now (happily) see that was not entirely true. The reason I am choosing this chapter is that it has that spark so clearly, and deals with something that is also at the core of Richard’s teaching.

As I summarised in a previous post, Tammo’s scheme involved the ordering of the elements within a person, in terms of their relative strength, with the different positions working very differently to each other. So someone could be earth 1st, water 2nd, fire 3rd and air last, for instance. 1st element dominates the essential nature of a person. 2nd element is repressed and is a kind of shadow element (even though it is the 2nd strongest). 3rd element dominates the personality, and can easily become a relatively negative or superficial manifestation. 4th element is the one we reach fulfilment through, even though it is the weakest.

Tammo sees sexuality as being about an exchange of sexual energy, and one which can be miraculous in its effects:

“wonders happen where there is genuine love, expressed in a natural and spontaneous way as a true response”

Anelog/Sebastien The Future Will Be Green, 1996

Which sums up a great deal, and incidentally is pure Richard Gardner to my ears. What follows is a working out of the what and how of elementally magical relationship.

In Tammo’s scheme everyone is one of 24 types, based upon elemental orders and combinations (the above mentioned earth-water-fire-air order would be one of these 24).  The sexual relationship dynamics are strongly based upon polarity, but not the polarity of the biological sex of the people involved. It is a polarity of elements which is effective, not a polarity of genitals. Tammo here introduces two terms which encapsulate this polarity, while getting away from the idea of “men” and “women” (which is simply not relevant in itself). Depending on a person’s elemental ordering, they are either dard or voy. “Voy” we would think of as conventionally feminine in various respects, while “dard” we would think of as conventionally masculine, but we need to understand what we are describing by these terms, because they are not in actuality tied to a person’s biological sex. There are 12 dard types, and 12 voy types (making up the total of 24). What really determines a person’s nature is their last element, through which they gain fulfilment. If their last element is water or earth, they are voy. If their last element is fire or air, they are dard. The reason someone is dard  is not because they necessarily behave habitually in a “masculine” manner (they might or might not), it is because they gain their fulfilment through an element which is “masculine”. Similarly with someone who is voy. They may or may not behave habitually in a “feminine” manner (and there is a lot working against the expression of real femininity in our culture, especially for men), but their means of fulfilment lie in a “feminine” avenue of being. The terms “masculine” and “feminine” are of course misleading at the same time, because of conditioned association with one “sex” or the “other”, which is why using “dard”, “voy” and the elements is useful.

“each type has one of 12 essential natures which are the opposite of what he/she WANTS to be, once he/she becomes conscious of it. Everyone needs their ‘opposite’, the type they feel drawn towards – ‘opposite’ from an inner, psychic point of view – the kind of person they need for their inner growth and fulfilment”*

Ibid

 “From a psychic point of view therefore, sexual attraction exists between dard and voy types primarily and generally between types opposite to each other, irrespective of gender”

Ibid

Further:

“If people generally could become aware of the full potential of divine, receptive sexual intercourse they would be astounded at the power of love and the magic that would be released”

Ibid

I think many occultists would not be surprised by the valuation of sex and sexuality here, and most people who have held on to a sense of innocence and romance instinctively understand the gist of this, but in the cynical, airy society we live in, sex has been reduced to reproduction, power plays or a superficial sport or recreation. That isn’t what drives sex though. We only become aware of what drives sex when we are opened by love to the inward. It is only in that state of innocence and defencelessness that two people can truly experience sexual love, and its transformative potential. But to whatever extent we can come closer to understanding ourselves and our own deeper desires, accepting ourselves and others, and welcoming love into our lives, we benefit thereby and live more fully.

Tammo divides the 24 types into three groups with different sexual dynamics: Nomadic, Agricultural and Urban. These don’t necessarily reflect actual social or economic lifestyles in themselves, they are more associative and suggestive. For simplicity I will use the archetype names for the element combinations shown in the diagram below.

circle of the 12 channels of consciousness painted by Tammo de Jongh, from "The Purpose of Love" by Richard Gardner

circle of the 12 channels of consciousness painted by Tammo de Jongh, from “The Purpose of Love” by Richard Gardner

The Nomadic group contains people with earth-fire (Slave) and fire-earth (Warrior) as their essence or nature, and attracts their opposites with air-water (Patriarch) and water-air (Child) as their essence or nature, so they complement each other. This group is described as relating to “animal force” or vitality, which we benefit from by controlling. “We have the image of the herd led by the Patriarch, the stag” (Ibid). This group unconsciously reflects characteristics of nomadic tribal attitudes according to Tammo, and finds monogamy difficult.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are conquest and surrender, and domination and submission. The dynamic is one of aggressor-victim, or master-slave. But these have to be understood in the context of love, sexuality and permission of course.

The Agricultural group relates to the “vegetable force” or kingdom, and a way of life determined by coupling and pairing, rather than living in a group. It contains people with earth-water (Mother) and water-earth (Enchantress) as their essence, and attracts those with air-fire (Magician) and fire-air (Joker) as their essence, who also form part of this group. These elemental “channels” are associated with cultivation, production, crafts, settled communities, growth and change. These elemental combinations tend to lead settled lives and relate monogamously.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are penetration and absorption, and manipulation and sensitivity. These involve a “total compensation” between the “masculine” and the “feminine”, as one partner has entirely “feminine” elements in essence, while the other has entirely “masculine” elements in essence. This is probably the most hetero-normative of the groups by tendency, though that doesn’t mean that its members will necessarily be heterosexual.

The Urban group relates to the “mineral force” or kingdom (characterized by dependence upon minerals and fossil fuels interestingly), and is more individualistic, with its sexuality tending more towards masturbation and stimulation. It contains people with air-earth (Observer) and earth-air (Old Woman) combinations as their essence, and attracts people with water-fire (Actress) and fire-water (Fool) as their essence.

The underlying emotional-sexual “themes” of this group are observation and display, and abandon and restraint. The dynamic here is of the desire for independence, and freedom to break with restrictions.

You can just see people being horrified or embarrassed by all this, because we still live in a society that demonizes sex and sexuality, even as it tries to use it in a distorted fashion to sell products and manipulate people. Difficult as it is to credit, we still believe, somewhere inside us, that sex is both primarily for reproduction, and yet also dirty in itself. We think producing babies in an overpopulated world is sacred, but that love is somehow perverted.

“For many centuries the connection between our psyche, or soul, and our sexual nature – which may include desires paradoxically considered to be ‘unnatural’ – was ignored and the majority of people today would still be frightened of and hostile towards it”

Ibid

That really has to change.

***

How Does It work Out?

So we have people with different essential natures, who attract their “opposites” in an elemental sense, most crucially in terms of being dard and voy, and who can be grouped into a number of characteristic types. Remember though, we are not all equally self aware, and it is quite difficult for some types to be freely self aware in our present society. Some elements come to dominate our personality (notably the 3rd place element), but this will not lead us to our essential nature, or our way to fulfilment. My third element for instance is air, and I am superficially very airy, and sometimes that is what people latch onto. I write, I think a lot, I problem solve, I analyse, I think too much, I am too judgemental. And that is neither my essential self, which is far more earthy, nor my way to fulfilment, which is watery. If I identified with my 3rd element, and tried to relate from it, then I would probably be trying to act as a false dard, and it would not work, because I am actually a voy with water last. Similarly, if I sought out someone who say had a really fiery or airy personality (fire or air third), but who deep down needed to develop their earth or water, and where that fire was not part of their essence, it would not work, because they also would be a voy, and we would not fulfil each other.

I would not condemn or criticize anybody’s relationship where there is love, as love is always the teacher, not a theory, by Tammo or anyone else. But I think it is an uncomfortable truth that many miss their opportunity for deep happiness (when they aren’t denied it outright by our phobic and deluded society) through misunderstanding themselves, and the nature of real, deep, attraction. Most people know what it’s like to see someone and know, deep inside, that you have met your corresponding other, where the chemistry locks, and there is just no doubt of that chemistry. Relatively few people, unfortunately, believe in it with enough understanding, to know that “this is it”, when put in competition with credibility, ego, prejudice, cynicism, peer pressure, lifestyle, or past hurts. It’s a strange angel that helps us through this maze, but it does happen.

It seems that the things to watch out for negatively in this regard are:

 – relationships based on 3rd element, on superficial “personality” – because they will tend to be neurotic and unfulfilling

–  relationships between two voys or two dards, because these again do not provide the deep fulfilment that is sought in relationship

Tammo goes so far as to say that “the only valid relationships are in terms of the last elements”, meaning in terms of the kind of soul fulfilment we have been talking about. In terms of dard and voy, I understand where he is coming from. What I’m a little unclear on is how dogmatic he is meaning to be, in terms of which specific of the 24 types can fulfil which other types. I think the poetry of love can be surprisingly adaptable myself, but above all there needs to be chemistry.

To illustrate some of the dynamics, Tammo gives the following examples:

– the “Patriarch” (essentially air-water) who wants to rein in his/her fire third opposite (which also helps his/her opposite actualize their voy last element).

– the “Warrior” (essentially fire-earth) that wants to blow up the icy detachment of his/her air third opposite (and ditto).

– the “Fool” (essentially fire-water) who seeks to shock their air 3rd opposite and bring them to life.

– the “Observer” (essentially air-earth) who has to remain impassive and not react to their fire 3rd opposite, so that their voy nature can emerge.

Note here: if I am reading Tammo correctly, then when you reverse the order of the 3rd and 4th elements, you get an archetypal combination which is really important for the person’s fulfilment, and this seems to be something which is facilitated in these “live” relationships. So when you switch round the personal self (3rd and 4th elements) you get something very magical for the person. It seems as if this is where the weakest 4th element is able to flower into the fulfilment it can really become, while the superficially over-developed 3rd element is able to dissipate and retreat somewhat (along with its associated neurosis), and allow the deeper voy or dard nature to emerge spontaneously. A personality-based self characterized by the Patriarch (air-water) would give way to the Child (water-air) voy expression. A personal self characterized by the Slave would give way to the Warrior (fire-earth) dard expression. A personal self characterized by the Mother (earth-water) would give way to the Enchantress (water-earth) etc.

So you can see here, even really compatible people could have challenges, working with each other sincerely and with honest and deep feeling and regard, to overcome the dominance of personality, and give each other the support to bring out their element of fulfilment (the last element).

With respect to sexual emotions, desires and fantasies, Tammo says:

“If these are objective and true, such feelings must become an aid to discovering a deeper part of ourselves, apart from being helpful to those to whom we are attracted”.

Ibid

The price of not helping people through a soulful understanding of love and sex is immense, as it underlies so much of our dysfunction. As Tammo says, we all too often punish or leave vulnerable someone seeking out the fulfilment of consciousness through sex (whether it is through destructive laws, scandal, prejudice or other kinds of small mindedness), but we encourage the violent criminal expression of the same elemental forces, and with less of a sense of moral outrage (fire 3rd is a placement which according to Tammo can easily lead to criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, when it needn’t). But the basic elemental drives which we all experience are always open to the fulfilment they are actually seeking in love.

Tammo, like Richard Gardner, saw our problem as largely being due to what he termed fire consciousness, which (amongst other things) has reduced what sexual freedom we do have to a vision of frivolous license, unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease and statistics. What they both wanted was for us to embrace the poetic and romantic world of water consciousness, which would see sex through the eyes of imagination, intuition, deep feeling, symbol, and beauty, as it sees other parts of life also. Tammo felt that there was a brief flowering of Water consciousness in art, from the end of the 19th century until the First World War.

I think fire consciousness has given us a great deal; modern medicine, technology, modern freedoms, insight into all manner of things, but at a price, and one which is ravaging our world. We need the dynamic of water consciousness,  deep feeling, imagination, healing, intuition, romance, innocence. We are beyond both ultimately (represented by both The Fool and The World in the tarot), but we can’t live with just one and not the other. We need to be guided by Love.

“The Age of Pisces …….. was characterized by division, two fishes swimming in opposite directions, ‘a man is this and a woman is that’. With the Age of Aquarius and Natural Psychology, the knowledge of dard and voy, sex will be better understood and therefore with a more honest and conscious approach to it people will consider the consequences of their actions. This is what is meant by conscience. Aquarian spirituality will not be a denial of sexual feelings, but an imaginative and truthful expression of these”.

Ibid

Amen to that.

“The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

* These 12 natures are shown in the diagram of the wheel of “12 channels of consciousness”. There are 12 of these, consisting of two elements each. The 24 types refer to the ordering of all four elements within a person.

coupled

I was happy to realize that the Sun had gone into Gemini on Wednesday, as it feels like we are on the fairground slide straight to Summer when we get to this point. I always feel that Mercury’s signs take us in and out of the middle of Summer. The Cardinal Grand Cross disengaged a little while ago (I think it is about a week, but it feels ages ago already) and I can truthfully say that I really felt a big difference, and Mars has gone direct now, though it will be July before it comes out of the shadow of its retrograde (ie goes past the point where it originally turned backwards).

The mythology of Gemini is generally related to the twins Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces in Greek), “born” of one egg to their mother Leda after congress with Zeus in the form of a swan; however whereas Pollux was the immortal son of Zeus, Castor was the son of the mortal king Tyndareus. The twins were inseparable and had many adventures together, but eventually Castor was killed, and Pollux grieved so much that Zeus reunited them in the Heavens as the constellation Gemini. Castor and Pollux are also two stars within the constellation itself. Hyginus and Ptolemy though associated these two stars with Apollo and Heracles, also half brothers.

Sign of Gemini – Giovanni Maria Falconetto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are intriguing resonances with the myth: the egg that hints at the alchemical, the twins mortal and immortal, dark and light. We can recall other “twins” or pairings of sames that are crucially different: Cain and Abel, Set and Horus, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Jesus and John the Baptist, Thelma and Louise, on they roll, receding into the twilight.

On a related note (this will make sense, promise) last week I saw an article that brought about a change of mind with respect to Jungian psychology. Like many people of my generation, as a youngster I found Jung a delightful and open minded ally, as someone who found so much meaning in the occult and paranormal. Just his idea of “synchronicity” was an immensely useful tool in validating the way that meaning unfolds in our lives, independent of rational-materialist causation. At some point in my twenties though, I finally tired of the apparent inheritance from Jung in the counterculture, most especially in the way it related to gender, sexuality and the psyche, with what became the soft dogma of anima and animus, or the internalized “opposite sex” elements within people, and what they were meant to signify.

I don’t know how many times I have been faced with a reader (or similar) who would say “and as a man you would feel x, function as y, the feminine would mean z to you” etc. It was as tiresome as it was both smug and inaccurate. And when it came to a psychological understanding of homosexuality, astrologers and others would again serve up a secondary causative explanation, seemingly taken from Jung’s own lack of understanding. No one seemed to stop and ask: “if we still subtly look for an etiology of homosexuality, then why didn’t we ever look for an etiology of heterosexuality, and what does that say?”. Psychology should ideally extend perception, deepen insight, empathy and compassion, and help us to listen and see. Unfortunately amateur psychology can devolve into a method of avoiding all those things. Even without the “amateur” element though, there were enough qualified Jungian therapists with seemingly no insight into the processes that might be true for gay people. It was a two tier psychology, however promising it might seem in other regards.

Carl Jung, standing in front of building in Burghölzi, Zurich – See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But last week I got directed to an article at the website of The Institute for Contemporary Uranian Psychoanalysis which for the first time showed me Jungians really getting their feet wet in issues that spoke to me as a gay man. So much so that I was taken back to an earlier, less disenchanted self, that felt able to look to Jung with some sense of excitement, as I did back in the early 1980s. That sense that somewhere in here, maybe there was a Rosetta Stone, translating between alchemy, astrology, art, tarot, magic, healing and the whole mystical thing I glimpsed as a teenager. It was a really good feeling. The article was written by Mitch Walker in 1991 (over 20 years ago!), and looked at theories of individuation for gay men. He acknowledges and lists some of the distorted theories about male homosexuality that Jung himself expressed (eg that it is due to psychological immaturity, a “mother complex”, “anima identification” etc). He then notes:

“Nowhere in his writings does Jung articulate a soul psychology for homosexuals …… But starting from his viewpoint on individuality, such a soul psychology of gays can be responsibly developed. This is the task now facing analytical psychology, to grasp the idea of becoming and being gay in salutary terms of the improvemental growth of valuable personhood, that is, to conceive of individuation as gay, in which the realization of the Self occurs through becoming and being homosexual. Models of gay individuation can then be articulated and explored, as has been done so profoundly in the work on individuation as heterosexual (that is, the coniunctio and the anima/animus as soul-image)”¹

Mitch Walker 1991

That gets to the heart of it really. Analytical psychology had come up with profound models of straight individuation, and these models have become part of the lexicon of psychological spiritual growth for quite a few people both inside and outside esoteric studies, as if they were the universal human form. But these were not models of homosexual individuation. There were no formulated models of homosexual individuation, yet there must surely be models to be found for an entire (but historically marginalized) section of humanity. Mitch Walker goes on to say:

 “becoming gay and living as gay must then involve the individuation of a homosexual relationship between the ego and the Self parallel to the heterosexually organized relations Jung has articulated, especially that concerning the Anima as soul-figure. Indeed, in a gay person the structures of personality organized by the developing libido will constituently individuate homosexually”

Ibid

We are not just talking about sexuality, but about structures of personality, and relationships with and within the psyche that fit the developing life, and achievement of maturity, for a homosexual man. There is a point at which one realizes this, without explicit reference to psychology as such, but through one’s experience. You need a language that comprehends that you are a valid person, who grows and matures and makes mature relationships, and homosexuality is as central to that growth and language for a gay man, as heterosexuality is to a heterosexual. It is so simple and so obvious, and yet utterly invisible unless one sincerely takes the beginning and the end to be the individual meaning which is real for that person within their experience. Jung, who was so concerned with meaning, I do think appreciated this in essence, but he was maybe born too early to see how much he was excluding.

“Monick also identified Jung’s views on sexuality as in some aspects completely inadequate and outdated, especially his (non)treatment of masculine sexuality ………. ‘ in fact, there is an ‘avoidance of focused attention upon male sexuality’ (1987, p. 55). Monick suggests that ‘Jung was leery of physicality,’ but whether true or not ‘the fact remains’ that Jung did not engage in ‘significant direct research work on phallos,…[which] has resulted in a fundamental disservice to the importance of the archetypal masculine, a theoretical imbalance that cries out to be redressed’ (p. 56)”

Ibid

Further more:

“Jung emphasized the feminine in his analysis of homosexuality, just as he did in many other areas, such as his treatment of parental origins (Monick, 1987, pp. 51ff). Perhaps in actuality gay male psychology is deeply involved with the masculine. This is suggested by Jung’s third theory of homosexuality, that it represents “an incomplete detachment from the original archetype of the hermaphrodite” (Hopcke, 1988, p. 75), a symbol of wholeness, of the Self

Ibid

I do think this is all really very interesting, and starts to point towards areas that could be of use and relevance. As the author continues, he outlines the understanding that both gay and straight boys identify as male from early on, then:

“in the subsequent stage differentiate alternative yet parallel sexual selves. Thus, in gay boys’ development just as for straights, sexuality and the self are not to be separated and in conflict but intertwined and interdependent, mutually fostering a lifetime of personal growth and fulfillment as gay. Both straights and gays are capable of the adult maturity described by Erikson and Kohut”

Ibid

It seems extraordinary that this would even be in question, but that is how far a lot of theory was from the lived experience of gay persons. In many ways this is reflected in persisting mainstream attitudes towards gayness, which conflate it with a form of transgenderism² and being not-truly-men. The reality of a gay man though is every bit as male as any other man.

On the organization of the libido:

“The concept of a homosexual organization of the libido, as distinct from a heterosexual organization, then, would likewise underlie any analytic attempt to understand important issues concerning psyche in gay people today, such as the relationship with the unconscious. For a homosexually organized man, the ‘orientation’ of the god Eros would have to be gay, the relationship to phallos would be homosexual, the relationship with the feminine and the Anima would be a gay rather than a straight one, the actions of the libido, for example in the constellation of complexes and symbols of transformation, in the transcendent function, and so on, would occur through homosexually differentiated forms. The inner universe would be gay.”

Ibid

Bravo, because actually, that is how it is if you are gay. You are not “fitting in” to a heterosexual unconscious. You are not seeking a dispensation from a heterosexual Eros etc, like getting a sick note to be able to watch from the side lines of your own world. Everyone gets their own, authentic relationship and process. Getting it without support can be hazardous, but there aren’t any second class citizens of the psyche.

Walker asks on what kind of basis a Jungian model of individuation can be constructed, where the libido has a homosexual organization?  His answer is:

“Such a basis can be developed through analytic research into homosexually organized archetypes, as they can be studied in symbols and motifs from literature and other arts, mythology, dreams, visions and so on”

Ibid

He cites an example from Plato’s Symposium which talks of Aphrodite Urania (daughter of Uranos) as the goddess of homosexual love, and Aphrodite Dione (daughter of Zeus and Dione) as the goddess of heterosexual love. Each of these goddesses had their own sons, an Eros each, one of homosexual and one of heterosexual love.

“Plato, thus, proposes two ‘homosexual archetypes,’ one female and one male, counterparts of two heterosexual archetypes, who embody and express a homosexual organization of gendered love and libido as counterpart to a heterosexual organization”

Ibid

Then he goes on to describe the famous story of the origin of the emotion of love, where the original doubled humans are split in two, to make the two armed and two legged humans we are familiar with. Those who came from an originally two sexed individual strive to reunite with their other half in heterosexual love, while those who came from a doubly same sexed individual seek to reunite with their other half in homosexual love. Love is the yearning to regain the original unity. The former follow Aphrodite Dione and her Eros, the latter Aphrodite Urania and her Eros.

“In Jungian terms, the original Platonic hermaphrodite broken into male and female describes heterosexual development and the Anima/Animus dynamic, as Jung and other writers have discussed. It is all too typical that, in contrast to this treatment, the ‘union of sames’ in Plato’s story has not been discussed by these authors, or, as in one case, was mentioned but in a distorted, trivialized version. But Plato in his Symposium provides the outline for an archetypally-based image of homosexual love: ‘Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish, is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his other half’ (Plato, 1956, p. 355)”

Ibid

Entwined Geminis, Safavid Dynasty. Persia/Iran 1630-1640 C.E. – See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You can feel that we are really starting to get somewhere here. Walker continues by making reference to the alchemical image of the coniunctio as the Royal Pair, the King and the Queen. He notes that this same royal pair can be seen in the astrological sign of Gemini, and in The Lovers tarot card.

 I. CLAVIS, the first key, engraved by Matthaeus Merian (1593–1650) - Chemical Heritage Foundation [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

I. CLAVIS, the first key, engraved by Matthaeus Merian (1593–1650) – Chemical Heritage Foundation [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

But Gemini is also “the twins”, sames as well as opposites, and The Lovers card is ruled by Gemini (which is ruled by Mercury). In fact Aleister Crowley refers to an alternate title for the card of “The Brothers”³. Walker notes that there are thus two occult images for the same position (carrying the meaning behind the coniunctio or sacred marriage). And in Gemini of course, we meet the Dioscouri again, Castor and Pollux, born from Leda’s one egg, placed in the sky by Zeus as a testament to their love.

“Thus, that image of the ‘union of sames’ articulated by Plato as a basis for homosexual love can be seen amplified as the figure of Gemini. The celestial Twins, therefore, express a symbolism of mutual relationship in which libido is homosexually organized. Through analyzing this symbolism, then, a homosexual organization of the developing gay personality can be exploratorily studied”

Ibid

Mitch Walker notes that the Anima is a soul image in classic Jungian psychology, but that when Aphrodite Urania rules romantic love, then the situation of the feminine is going to be different. This has always appeared to be so for me, and the constant harping on the feminine and what it must mean for every man has always been one of the real drags of Jungian theorizing. Walker turns away from the motif of the King and the Queen here, and towards Plato’s image of two sames, “the Star Twins“, as a better expression of archetypal gay soul relationship.

 “This image describes a symbolic situation of a man having a special, erotic, twin ‘brother’ who is felt to be the alluringly personified ‘source of inspiration.’ I have previously termed this male soul-figure the Double, a term first proposed by Otto Rank in 1914. It is a different figure than those described by Jung as the Anima, the Shadow or the Self, but can and does enter into the constellation of these other archetypes in a way analogous to the role of Anima”

What he then says about the history of the idea of the soul as a “double” is very interesting. He cites the Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a myth which I think probably holds resonances for a lot of gay men:

“In that story, the Sumerian king Gilgamesh is redeemed from a wasteful, purposeless life by, and subsequently goes on great heroic adventures with, a strong man named Enkidu, specifically created by the gods as a ‘second image of Gilgamesh: may the image be equal to the time of his heart’ (Gardner and Maier, p. 68). Their love and union is explicitly likened to that between husband and wife, indeed, it is portrayed as ‘the paradigm of primary social relationships: male bonding, husband and wife, brother and brother’ in one (Gardner and Maier, p. 42). Ultimately, it is through passionate love for manly Enkidu, a same-sex figure too grand and bright to be a Shadow, yet too weak and mortal to be the Self, that every-inch-a-man Gilgamesh finds spiritual realization and maturity”

Ibid

Gilgamesh and Enkidu By Bepege (from Mark Zulawski/University of Nicolaus Copernicus Emigration Archives (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When he turns to Ancient Egypt we find ourselves delving into the subtle anatomy as envisaged by that culture. Within each person was an invisible being, a “source of life and breath” called the Ka. The Ka was shown as an idealized image of the person themselves.

“Your Ka was born into life with you, always embracing and protecting you with his love, and connecting you with the world of Paradise, with the deity. The Ka served in this capacity because, as the image of the beloved soul, it was itself a body containing within it a soul, just as the person contained the Ka within his or her own body”

Ibid

This soul within a soul was called the Ba, and was usually depicted as a small bird with the idealized face of the person. The Ba flew down from heaven during pregnancy and brought the “Light of God”, the Akh into the body of the Ka within the fetus.

“The Ba inseminated the Ka with the seed of Light, from which flowed the Waters of Life, animating the soul. In this way, it was actually the great Akh which brings life to mortal flesh, only to be withdrawn back into heaven upon the person’s demise. However, the Egyptians held an even more sophisticated view of the soul and its workings. They held that the Ka itself was actually the summatory expression of fourteen constituent aspects, each itself considered a Ka. These fourteen Kas, in turn, were grouped in seven pairs as the incarnation of seven distinct Bas, each with its own aspect. The qualities of the seven Ka pairs can be seen to portray a developmental sequence ………… Through development of these fourteen aspects of the Ka, the soul could thereby be ‘perfected.’ Perfection of the Ka was conceived of as a spiritual ‘ladder’ of development, up which a person could move, and thereby obtain a form of spiritual self-realization, portrayed as eternal residence with the Ka soul in heavenly paradise”

Ibid

Egyptian Ba Bird – Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly, this “spiritual ladder” was thought of as belonging to Horus and Set, who helped the ascent up it.

“Horus and Seth are among the most ancient of Egyptian gods, and were seen to personify the workings of the eternal opposites, as they represented light and dark, just and unjust, in and out, and all such dyads. Their eternal struggle yet ultimate reconciliation has been aptly characterized by Joseph Campbell: ‘Mythologically representing the inevitable dialectic of temporality, Horus and Seth are forever in conflict; whereas in the sphere of eternity, beyond the veil of time and space, where there is no duality, they are at one’ (Campbell, 1962, p. 81)”

Ibid

  According to Campbell the union of Horus and Set was known as “the Secret of the Two Partners”, and their united form was called “the double god”, shown as a single body with the heads of both Set and Horus. Walker also notes that there are texts where the pair are specifically likened to a man and his Ka, and to a man and his sexual partner.

“The relationship between a man and his Ba soul is also repeatedly likened to that between husband and wife in ‘The Dialogue of the World-Weary Man with his Ba’ (Jacobsohn, 1968, pp. 29-34). In the latter text (ca. 2000 B.C.), the Ba says to his man, ‘In that stillness shall I alight upon you; then united we shall form the Abode’ of spiritual rebirth (Reed, 1987, p. 83)”

Ibid

As Walker says, the Egyptians held a belief about the development of the soul which involved the struggle and integration of opposites, and this is actually a feature of the coniunctio, which can be related to the unconscious and “soul making”, but based upon a marriage of man and manly double; “a sacred union animated by a male-male eros, which leads to the integration of opposites and to psychic wholeness” (Walker 1991).

“Your soul, BA, become[s] conscious little by little in your incarnate KA. Our texts tell you that “he rises from your vertebrae”; from the dual fire in them, that is. That “he quickens your spiritual heart, opens your mouth and eyes to the Real”; that “being realised in you and having at last stripped you of your transient names, freed you from the humanity that is in your members,” he will “reveal your true face,” your face of Maat, and “make you one of the KAs of universal Horus.” (Schwaller de Lubicz, 1967, pp. 198-99) The idea of gaining this “perfection,” that is, individuation, through a gay sort of love echoes down from these original Egyptian and Sumerian ideas through subsequently recorded mythologies. Plato, of course, discourses at length on how this love leads to union with God, and similar ideas can be seen in Gnostic and Sufi thought. When the eye of homosexual libido is regardfully opened, its worthy manifestations can be meaningfully perceived, and thus more accurately studied and better understood. Far from nonexistence, the phenomena of homosexual Eros have always been expressed by humanity, and can be reasonably observed when they are approached with respect and openness. From studying such phenomena an accurate conception of a gay male soul- figure and his workings in psyche can be (re)constructed”

Ibid

This is a quite extraordinary passage, both poetically, and with its resonances with Hindu ideas of the raising of the kundalini, leading to a form of enlightenment.

Walker sees the Ka as an inspiring double through which a person can come to the Divine (in accordance with Egyptian teachings), and similar themes of coming to the Divine through a beloved “twin” or partner he sees reflected in Gilgamesh’s love for Enkidu which leads to “his initiation as a shaman”, in Socrates’ knowing “the truth” through his relationship with a beautiful youth, in Ibn Arabi finding Allah through his “Angel-Soul”. These are relationships of growth and realization, that occur “through a cyclic rising and sinking of homosexual libido”.

“Jung has formulated the concept of Eros as the secret operator of the transformations by which the processes of individuation occur, a figure who both inspires and guides this process, and he has also seen this operator in the Egyptian Thoth, the Greek Hermes, and the alchemical Mercurius”

Ibid

 II. CLAVIS, the second key, engraved by Matthaeus Merian (1593–1650) - Chemical Heritage Foundation [Public domain]

II. CLAVIS, the second key, engraved by Matthaeus Merian (1593–1650) – Chemical Heritage Foundation [Public domain]

And here it is interesting to note that Thoth is himself in some myths considered to be the child of a homosexual congress between Set and Horus, the “son of two fathers” as Walker says. Walker refers to this figure as “Eros as teacher”, and says that in terms of the soul the Egyptians referred to this kind of teaching figure as the “divine ka”, who guides his man towards spiritual self-realization, and a union of the human and the divine. Of Thoth (Tahuti) Walker says:

“He represented the “fruit” of the sacred union of the Great Opposites: spiritual realization and knowledge. As such, Tahuti was considered the original shaman, the first alchemist, the first gnostic, the archetypal initiate of the Wisdom of God, who is both the originator and product of the developmental process of self-realization gained through union with the Ka soul”

Ibid

The Ka here starts to look like the inward divine presence in the heart, the Lover or Beloved of various mystics.

On the European alchemical Mercurius Walker says he is:

“the cause and result of the operations which complete the opus. In fact, to effect the operations Mercurius, who is “duplex” (CW 13, par. 267), splits himself up into an active half and a passive half, and it is those two halves that are then called the King and the Queen, and it is they that combine to recreate Mercurius on a more refined level, that is, the process of “perfection” we examined previously, here gained through Mercurius’s submission, by his feminine half, to the inseminating union of his masculine half”

Ibid

So the King and the Queen are the two sides or phases of Mercurius, separated so they can recombine at a higher level. But Mercurius is the start and Mercurius is the end. Walker further claims that during the Middle Ages and Renaissance the figure of Hermaphroditos (“the basis for the alchemical combination”) may have been considered an allusion to homosexuality, as shown in woodcuts depicting the alchemist being inseminated “by the masculine spirit” in an act of anal intercourse. In similar vein, the story of Zeus and Ganymede was also employed by alchemists to represent “alchemical union and transformation”.

Ganymede abducted by Jupiter – Rubens – photo by Jérémy Jännick (Own work) [Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

“the twinship union could be perceived of as procreatively potent, as enacting a form of generation in its own right. Otto Rank was the first modern psychologist to identify ‘the self-creative tendency symbolized in the magic meaning of twinship. As the twins appear to have created themselves independently of natural procreation, so they were believed to be able to create things which formerly did not exist in nature;’ the twinship union has an ‘inherent creative power’ making the twins ‘independent of [hetero]sexual procreation’ (Rank, 1958, p. 92). Such generative capability gives the twinship union ………. the viability to sustain and further the individuation process in gays in a productive manner valuationally parallel to that occurring through heterosexual procreativity”

Ibid

In other words, the twins or doubles are an expression of a profound and primal psychic reality, and their union is erotically, magically and spiritually potent in a way which parallels the motif of heterosexual union envisaged as the marriage of the King and the Queen. Their procreativity is not physical, but then neither is that of the King and the Queen alchemically.

The last thing that Mitch Walker deals with is the question of “the feminine” in gay men, which is important both for the weight placed upon the feminine by Jung, and on account of popular conceptions and misconceptions about gay men and femininity. To do this he goes back to  Plato’s placing of homosexual love under the protection of Aphrodite Urania. Whereas in classical Jungian thought a man’s femininity is projected as the soul figure or Anima, for a gay man under the influence of Aphrodite Urania, the feminine falls into place as “a helpful attitude toward the masculine soul, that is, one of receptivity toward feeling love well”. Walker sees such a feminine homosexual orientation in Gnostic thought about Sophia and Jesus, and in the tale of Amor and Psyche.

Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid’s Garden by John William Waterhouse (1904) – in Public Domain. Via Wikimedia Commons

“It is the Sophia, the Psyche in a gay man which allows him to orient to and gain union with the divine Eros (J. Clark, 1987, p. 11). From this perspective, the positions of Psyche and Ganymede are metaphorically the same. It is not a question of effeminizing an otherwise properly masculine person: In becoming and being gay, a gay man’s ego becomes attitudinally “wife” to his masculine soul “husband,” he attends raptly to psyche organized homosexually, so as to undergo the processes of union and transformation with the Angel within”

Ibid

Thus a gay man does not become less of a man, but in alliance with the feminine (not polarization and projection) realizes his own receptivity as a man and:

“becomes the crucible for psychic change and maturation via congress with and insemination by the Spirit of God, that is, the Self, in subsequent order to productively bear the Sacred Child of the Two Fathers. Through quickening relationship with this transformative union a gay man can meaningfully progress towards an individuated androgyny, and thus wholeness and completeness of being”

Ibid

Thus there is a homosexual alchemical opus.

***

Jungian writing can appear very wordy, cerebral and over complicated, but I do believe it is useful, when mulled over poetically, digested, played with. In many ways this is connected with what I was trying to get to in posts on a morning of the magicians, the medicine beast, and a flag stained with earth and wine.  There is a way for us to mature and reach higher forms of human realization as gay men, and while they are not unconnected with the masculine and the feminine, they involve our own relationships to them, but those relationships still have to be genuinely soulful. Similarly the androgyne holds keys here, as it does with other forms of the alchemical opus, though I feel for us it holds particular virtues and particular hazards or pitfalls. The source Mercurius and the goal Mercurius are not the same, even if outside of time they ultimately are. Separation must still occur before recombination, for a higher form to be reached. I have for quite a few years been intrigued by two contrasting visions of the androgynous: the mercurial spirit that is reflected in the youthful, flighty, almost asexual sense of androgyny, and the realized, fully embodied, mature form of the androgyne, which I provisionally called the “gynander” to distinguish it from the former, though it most essentially is an inward realization residing fully in one’s own body at peace. And lastly, as gay men, we can come to a state of true peace with being male, being men, in erotic, libidinal and loving relationship with other men. This single-genderedness is part of our meaning and our functioning, and the mature form of our life.

Let’s dance on to the heart of Summer, and find our own meanings.

Mercury on island of Källskär by ReinerausH (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

PS 25th May 2014: I have drawn heavily on a single article by Mitch Walker for this post, but have tried to select quotes,  comment on and illustrate it in the hope of making the subject matter more accessible. If you wish to follow up on Mitch’s sources or see the full article, you can find it here.

¹ Not that Jung was ill disposed towards his homosexual patients, he was progressive for his time, and he expressed forward thinking ideas eg  “an individual’s homosexuality has its own meaning peculiar to the individual in question and that psychological growth consists of becoming conscious of that meaning”.

² The psychic processes of gay transmen are something which I do not have enough personal insight with to be able to offer any added or alternative suggestions for here, but every individual will have their own valid individuation process, and every grouping must surely have their own characteristic inner patterns.

³ Aleister Crowley – The Book of Thoth.

sacred ass

You can’t really have any contact with modern Paganism and avoid the selective religious blessing given to the body and physical existence. That there is any perceived blessing of the body is a good thing. We’ve had so much condemnation of the body and the flesh from religious sources over many, many years, that it’s high time the blessing was brought back.

Yet we seem to hang on to old sentiments and old prejudices when it comes to the flesh. How long did it take us to rush to worship at the altar of procreation? No time at all, for it was right there in the anthropological and psychological fixations on “fertility cults”. Back then it looked like the good wannabe noble savage was gonna have to get down to baby making, or at least going through the motions with spiritual intent. And what was the one form of sexuality traditionally endorsed by the Church? The one leading to childbirth. Admittedly with other controls and binds and dogmas attached. But if you are coming down to sexual nuts and bolts, what the Church approved of was heterosexual vaginal sex with a reproductive outcome. Which kinda makes them a fertility cult as well really.

I don’t think that Pagan revivalists meant it, or saw it quite that way though. They just inherited a sensibility, and poured their counterculture into it. But the fact is it’s there. And they were trying for a kind of liberation, and hopefully found what they were looking for. We don’t get most places in just one leap, after all. But neopaganism as a whole has I think got stuck with the inheritance of sacralizing procreative sex above all others. We want people to have choices, but we still put it there at the middle. We justify this by linking it to birth and life and saying well, isn’t that what Paganism is about? We ameliorate it by cultivating tolerance. But really I don’t think it washes well enough.

I think we need to push this a little further, because we will never understand or experience sexuality fully and freely unless we decouple it from procreation, and it does not help us if we iconize sexuality as the procreative process. I think babies are awesome, wild things – it’s like looking in the eyes of an astronaut that just went through the most gut wrenching re-entry, but that’s about them, not about sex and sexuality.

The “what we need to look at” sexually is I believe everything that isn’t the procreative process. That will include all such  sexuality (including the majority of instances of heterosexual sex), but will also put it in the “condemned” category in old Church teachings, and the “class B” of neopagan iconography. Where such sexual expression is intentional, you could sum it up in the traditional term “sodomy“, in the broader meaning of the word. In fact sodomy is a word with a fantastic, almost piratical ring to it. I suggest we reabsorb some of its positive and life affirming content.

At various times the term sodomy has meant a range of religiously or legally prohibited sexual acts and behaviours, that separate sexual intention from procreation (in addition to other “vices”)*. I’d say that it is exactly the intention to separate sexuality from procreation that we actually need. Sex is no reason to have kids. Procreation is not what makes sex sacred. It’s time we broke the equation, especially given how appallingly overpopulated the world is. We don’t need to add alternative sexuality around the edges of “sacred procreativity”. We need to accord the non-procreative its own place of supreme sexual honour. I say supreme, because we then don’t confuse sexuality and reproduction. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with …….. sacred sodomy!

Of course, when most people hear the word sodomy they think “anal intercourse”. Now penetrative sex of any kind is not everybody’s thing, but the anus is indeed an interesting door to our relationship with sex and the body. There are few parts of the body quite as despised, yet also commonly desired, and like it or not, it is a sex organ (and guys, whether you know it or not, you do have a g spot up there). In itself it is neither male nor female by nature, which is to say it is common to all sexes and genders.  Not only is it a sex organ, but you’d also die without it (surgical stoma formation apart). Put simply, if the penis and the vagina may be accorded iconic religious status (and they historically are), then so can the anus. If we talk about the sacred lingam and yoni, then we should talk about the sacred anus too.

In fact where we tend to find it more is in demonological and apocalyptic illustrations, where its taboo and despised qualities are maximized and given a nightmare edge. It does turn up in the kama sutra, but that tends to be glossed over in public reputation. And then there is the “obscene kiss” of the Witches’ Sabbat, where the participant must kiss the Devil’s behind. It betrays a potent power over the cultural psyche, but it is not exactly roses and light. I would argue though that a rose is still a rose, and the hidden light can be the most enlightening.

illustration of the

illustration of the “obscene kiss” – image in public domain

Interestingly anal intercourse as a magical formula was attached to the XI degree OTO by Aleister Crowley, while the heterosexual (and non-reproductively intentioned) practice of intercourse during menstruation was associated with this degree by Kenneth Grant. As some people have noted here, 11 is the number of magick and the “passionate union of opposites”. It is not the number of reproduction in the ordinary sense. To some traditions the number is viewed as “evil” because it goes beyond the “perfection” of 10, tipping it into the unbalanced and “demonic” (and here we see the features of some traditional anti-gay arguments reanimated and twitching to life). In actual fact, balance does not come from abstractions and maintenance of taboo – rather the opposite. 11 is also viewed as a “master number” in numerology. It is as well the number of the sign of Aquarius, and the Age we are meant to be heading towards. Its component parts are equal, and it indicates a union between two levels of being (seen either as 5 + 6 or 1 +10). There is in its form a reflectiveness, a symmetry and a balance, yet also a presence that is more than the sum of its parts. But it is a departure, into one’s own direct experience. Katon Shual gives a nice reflection on some of these matters in his book “Sexual Magick“, and a good deal else besides.

Of course, sacred sexuality and sexual magick need have nothing to do with the anus or penetration, and there is much else besides, and much to be explored and discovered with an open mind and a clear heart. We have so much to unlearn, and so much to explore, with love. But I would like to give the anus its place of honour, as a representative of so much that could be, need not be, and could be otherwise. In Nature’s sacred vocabulary, it needs no introduction.

Here’s to the ass, and the many colours and tastes of love without conception.

By Klearchos Kapoutsis (Flickr: Santorini's donkey) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons - image electronically altered

By Klearchos Kapoutsis (Flickr: Santorini’s donkey) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons – image electronically altered

* from what I can gather the accusation of “sodomy” has been used primarily against men, but the quality of deviance (or creative inspiration) that it traditionally embodies can be taken to include women in its moral sweep, especially when it comes to include non-procreative, unsanctioned sexual behaviour.