All the paganism, Tantra, meditation, sacred sex, and BDSM sex magic(k) books and workshops represent a step backward. They are very convenient ways of rationalizing sexual pleasure by letting people claim that it’s about “something more” than just making your body feel good. All the sweat and cum and juices and the delicious, confusing carnality of sex get shoved back into the closet in favor of much tidier abstractions so that we can believe that we’re not just shallow hedonists. And that takes us back to square one, where we were told by our teachers, priests, and parents that sex was good — or at least acceptable — when done for any reason other than physical pleasure.
Now, I haven’t gone back to the source on this, because this alone was enough to incense me with rage at the immensely gross misunderstanding of every spiritual revelation I’ve had thus far.
ALL SEX is inherently spiritual. It doesn’t matter if your intention is procreation, magic, religious ecstasy, or pure and unadulterated pleasure. If you don’t think sex is sacred, great, good for you, but demonising those who have a spiritual relationship with sex, whatever our reasons, by accusing us of taking “a step backwards” isn’t going to help anybody.
Pleasure, even just the “base” bodily pleasures of the body, are, or at least can be, spiritually significant. The first sensation to run its current through the universe, Desire, governed by Eros, and the offspring of that, Pleasure. These sensations are inherently sacred and spiritual, even if people don’t wish to acknowledge that. When we act “for pleasure”, our sensory area of the brain opens up a window for contact with those primordial forces and the deities who guide them; from then, we either reach ourselves out to it, or not, but it’s that opening by our genetic memories to the sacred energies and most ancient of Deathless Ones that ultimately brings that pleasure –it’s when we acknowledge that sacred that we have a spiritual relationship with not only sex, but all of life’s pleasures.
Do some people, of all sorts of religions, use that information (or some variant of it) as a crutch, limiting themselves with it? Of course. Do some people use it as a set of shoe lifts for the ego, in a flailing attempt to try and make oneself seem more important than one is? Of course. But it’s those people, for those reasons, that are taking the step backwards. By conflating the spiritual with the ego, and the evolution of the soul with self-delusion, that’s the step backwards. By denying that sex is both spiritual AND biological pleasure, and that even the pleasures that most people see as inherently “earthly” are crucially beneficial to the soul, THAT is the step backwards.
Furthermore, it really bothers me when people, even self-identified pagans, especially traditional polytheists (and this goes double for the Hellenists) use “hedonism” as a synonym for self-absorbed. This is why Aristippus’ ‘Kyreniac’ school splintered and Epicurus founded his own, people don’t get it, that it is those ‘little pleasures’ that become the gateway to Hedone, and ultimately Her Holiest parents, Eros and Psykhe, the eldest progeny of Nyx and the youngest of the Moirai. Through those pleasures, we learn our fates, and what by learning what we desire most, we learn our place in the great tapestry of the Cosmos. There is no such thing as ‘mundane’ or ‘shallow’ pleasure, unless that pleasure is taken without knowlegde that all of it is sacred, and knowledge can only be gained with experience. If one lacks that experience, then it’s cos one never took the opportunity to throw open the sash when the window presented itself; if one lacks that experience, it’s cos one mistook noticing the window and peering through it for actually touching the Divine.