My latest column for The Triangle!
Dearest Dualistic Thinkers,
I’ve been hearing and reading a lot lately about a need for separation between sex and spirituality. This seems to be backlash, or perhaps reclamation, coming from kink and queer communities especially. And I understand why that would be the case. As a proud card-carrying member of these communities, I hear their valid arguments and I choose to take a different stance – I, for one, want to remain open to the possibilities of sacred sexuality. And I believe that there is no need to think dualistically about this matter.
Why must it be one or the other? I’m a more-is-more type of gal. I often say that when faced with two or more agreeable options, my answer is “Yes, please!” Why should we have to choose one over another? I understand that terms like “spirituality” and “energy” can be quite nebulous, but I see that as a positive. Language open for interpretation can be welcoming to more people because it is malleable and, hence, can fit the individual more readily. I consider carnal lusts and deeply physical pleasures to be just as sacred as the less tangible (but no less real) energy exchanges and powerful sense of being one with the universe, especially when they intermingle.
Allow me to give a concrete example of something that can be extremely difficult to put into words. Language can be frustratingly limited, especially when trying to describe something that may spring forth from the mind, but is incredibly rooted in feeling – feeling both on a deeply physical level and on a spiritual plane.
My lover may not physically possess something between their legs with which to penetrate me, but when they’re thrusting away and my hips rise to match their rhythm, I can certainly feel them entering me, even when we’re fully clothed. The ways in which we connect spiritually open our physical bodies to even more sensations. This could never take away from all the amazing physical connections, which in and of themselves are mind-blowing, but rather, by staying open to something sacred, it helps to introduce other fun and profound experiences to which we otherwise wouldn’t gain access. This is a prime example of how the mental, physical, and spiritual can get delightfully tangled up in each other, if only we are willing. Quite the exciting threesome, if you ask me.
Given this example, the age-old question of which came first, the cock or the egg, comes to mind. There’s a possibility that it first sprang forth from the depths of my lover’s beautiful mind where issues of sex, sexuality, identity, and gender are contemplated on a regular basis. But the physical and spiritual couldn’t be far behind. And although fun to contemplate, the question may never be answered. It doesn’t have to be. Because part of the ecstasy of sacred sexuality lies in the unknown. It’s about trust and openness and believing in something beyond what we can prove.
Many folks can learn to come into and fully embrace their sexualities by approaching sex as a spiritual practice – being able to view sex as a gift to be cherished, not shamed. Many (but certainly not all!) religions have inflicted harm upon practitioners and innocents raised with sex-negative indoctrinations, but embodying spirituality can serve to free one’s self of shame around sexuality. Our communities could only flourish if we open our minds to the notion that there’s no need to choose between the two – that, in fact, sex and spirituality can be exquisite separately or can also be interwoven, each expanding the definitions of the other. Sex can take spirituality to new heights just as much as the opposite is true.
Writer Chris Hall believes any commingling of sex and spirituality is inherently sex-negative and he makes a compelling argument in his recent article “Why Sex Is Not Spiritual” in SF Weekly: “We cannot afford for sex to be sacred. Sacred things sit on altars to be worshiped from afar, not to become part of one’s everyday life. They are not to be touched, played with, fondled, mocked, examined, or questioned.” I don’t know whose brand of spirituality he’s referring to, but it’s definitely reminiscent of sex-negative mainstream religions. My sense of the sacred is just the opposite. It begs to be fondled and questioned. It yearns to be handled, examined, and reexamined. I spent years toying with different aspects of spirituality after I left mainstream religion behind, starting off as agnostic and slowly finding my way toward my own unique brand of (what I affectionately and playfully call) woo.
I greatly appreciate Hall’s point of view and I think his article is both riveting and essential to this discussion, despite the fact that I see his dualistic way of thinking problematic. My daily life is continually filled with spirituality and not only is the sacred within my reach, it’s an intrinsic part of my play. I think that spirituality ought to be woven into the everyday. I believe that we cannot afford to not (at least have the option to) view sex as sacred! Our very bodies are sacred! There is so much joy and celebration to be found in sex. Combining that with spirituality can only magnify these pleasures. The feelings of bliss and ecstasy we can experience when connecting with our own bodies (and then those of others) create such an intense exchange of energies that these connections are, in fact, otherworldly. Ethereal. Divine.
Now I’m not saying that sex has to be spiritual – to each their own – policing sex of any kind (that is safe, sane, and consensual, of course) is a slippery slope and is none of our business unless it is the sex we personally are having. I’m merely suggesting that we all keep an open mind to possibilities and step away from the black and white thinking. Being open to the idea of sacred sexuality is just one way of expanding the rainbow of opportunities in our magnificently varied lives. Dualistic thinking only boxes us in. And while there’s certainly something to be said about black and white being classic, the options of shades of grey or Technicolor are certainly exciting! Possibilities are endless when we embrace not only the mental and physical aspects of sex, but also the spiritual. Consider the possibility of staying open, of creating space inside yourself, of saying “Yes, please!”
In lust, love, and all things woo,