I had been deliberately putting off this Day for for ooh, about a month now! Before you know it, I'm behind in a lot of writing. My torturously long hours at work are now over and I finally have time to write some more and a whole month to very carefully about Sacred Sexuality.
How we perceive ourselves as sexual beings can change and alter slightly with ebbs and flows just like in any other area of our lives. How I view my sexuality could depend on how I feel that day and my looking in the mirror on different days I'm viewing someone constantly evolving, changing, maturing and learning.
I just switched the television on to an old 1940s film where the woman runs into the arms of her lover, head tilted back in awe, covered in makeup and hair set into place almost in a pose of submission as he holds her wrists. How women are portrayed in the media as the seductee, is very different today and different again amongst various cultures. Separate societies are constantly changing and evolving to work around values, depending on where you live and also - just as importantly - the way we view our sexuality is affected by the media. How are we supposed to feel about our bodies?
The way we think is often affected by where we live and when, for example: during the 1800s, women would react to bad news by fainting whereby they would have to have smelling salts put underneath their nose to 'wake up' from their state of shock. Women then carried out learnt behaviour taught to them by society in the age of 'hysteria' which in the 1900s turned into 'schitzoid' behaviour (I'm not using my words there) which had women reacting to actions in a very different way. Anorexia in one side of the world is created for very different reasons - for example, in the Western world, women are usually anorexic because they are abhorred by their bodies and don't ever feel that they will ever be thin enough. However, in parts of Eastern Asia, the majority of women who become anorexic do so because they're simply unhappy - and rather than being thin all over have distended stomachs, much like the images we see of children starving in Africa. This has changed again thanks (or no thanks) to their access to Western media which now sees young women in Asian countries taking up eating disorders in order to actually be thin, rather than out of self-destructive sadness.
Thus, the Western view of sexuality changes and warps: what is the ideal figure for a woman, how does she approach a man and how do we choose to seduce each other and appreciate our sexuality and form? This afternoon I watched Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! from 1965 which features a triad of wild car-racing women, ready to take on the world with their huge hips, tiny waists and buxom pointed bras. Only five years later, the rail thin hippy look is in.
I've read several articles of late on how some men have a skewed view on what to expect from women in bed which has been badly affected by watching a lot of porn. The porn industry does not allow for the healthy, loving and rewarding experience of sharing sexuality which is instead a place of extreme fantasy, depicting an unrealistic appetite for carnal experiences which could be very out of the ordinary.
This is why I found this post so hard to write - sexuality is so changeable and interpreted by many in so many different ways.
A PAGAN'S VIEW OF SEX AND SEXUALITYWe are born into the world skyclad (i.e: naked, or clad only by the sky) as nature intended and are most beautiful in our natural form. Wiccans in particular are encouraged not only to perform magick amongst nature as much as possible but to also honor their diety skyclad if and when they can, particularly for Beltane. You are beautiful without makeup, without clothes, with all but the form you were meant to be. Pagans do not view themselves as being separate from the rest of the animal kingdom - we are one with every part of nature and recognise ourselves as being perfect as we are. We treat our bodies well and listen to them carefully to make for the strongest energy force to contribute our positivity to the world.
Pagans respect their bodies in their natural state, and approach sex and sexuality in much the same way. Our creativity also comes into play, thinking of how partners in arrays of pantheons would interact with one another, which is then filtered through our own personal aesthetics and particular Pagan belief system. Pagans that I have met are much more at ease when they unexpectedly put on a few kilograms, and thanks to that attitude, they can easily find healthy and constructive ways of remedying it if they want to and if it's necessary. One Wiccan woman that I know is close to her 40s and, having been slim her whole life, takes the approach that the Goddess is voluptuous and beautiful - so comparitively it's much easier for her to cope with.
My self image is very different to the average Western woman. I have found that over the years I avoid women's magazines unless it's a Pagan publication or about women's health. In general, I have become less materialistic and when I do buy something, the colour or shape resonate somehow back into my Wiccan belief system and thus have more value and meaning. Jewellery becomes more symbolic with images of bumblebees, cats, frogs, faeries or simply for their colour or the crystal that features in them.
The Great Rite is performed at the end of a ritual, which is a metaphorical performance of the sex act, putting the athame or wand into the chalice which represents the phallus uniting with the womb. This rite concludes the ritual to honor the balance of gender roles in the form of our chosen Goddess and God, and to generally honor the balance of life itself. Woman and man are equal, and their energies as Mother Earth and Father Sky make for the balance of the Universe.
I almost feel like apologising for making this post more about self image than sacred sexuality, so perhaps this will be Part I....
*My apologies for not putting sources into this article, I had an amazing article many months back on how mental disorders change and are intepreted across periods of time and cultures around the world. I just couldn't find it so that I could add quotes to this post!