Some background on me first. I am a pagan going back a bit. I attended my share of pagan festivals / gatherings where I sold used books and very much enjoyed myself. I on the shamanistic path and my lovely mate is more classically pagan. I've seen and heard a lot about how sexuality plays out in the pagan landscape, and I have to say that I wonder sometimes.
I recently read a blog that started with the paragraph:
Love and pleasure, also known as sex, is a really really complicated thing. Sex means so many things to so many people. Some see sex as a holy relic, only brought out on the sacred holidays. Others see sex as a playground. Others see sex as an avenue to full realization of life. Many are just horny and like to get it when they can. This stew of motivations seems far to complex for a statement “all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess”.
My normally open attitude towards sex has issues with the statement I shared earlier: “all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess”. Why? It is with a heavy heart that I look back at the things I am aware of first and second hand. This spiritual expression of “love and pleasure” is fraught with peril for most involved. My pessimistic attitude about pagan attitudes towards sex can be traced back to my feeling that sexuality is complicated, people are fallible, and damn just horny. These three factors can combine in horrible ways when religious authority meets sexual desire.
The result of authority + sexual desire is the transformation of seduction into coercion. The mutual choice of two becomes the unwanted harassment of one. In the background of this travesty of “spiritual sex” is the drum beat that everything is OK. It is a dangerous combination. The positive message of “Sex positive” is replaced with sex demanded by authority, with the supposed support of higher spiritual powers.
If I'm pagan, why don't I buy into the “everything goes, no matter the means or outcome, because the spiritual is served? I'm not a prude. I bend toward the kinky side, with a dose of realizing that sex, in all its forms, is a beneficial attractor between us human types. I very much admire the beauty of the human body. I am enraptured by beauty and appreciate others doing so as well. The place where I deviate is that my spiritual mantra would be something like “all my relations”. This sentiment carries the demand for respectfulness, and when necessary, wariness. I may choose to indulge in many things, but I do it with respect for myself and the one or more other participants.
Are all pagans self-serving sexual predators because it is their spiritual mandate? Of course not! Most don't have the authority to pull the power trips required to coerce the unwilling. Most are decent horny adults with liberated attitudes towards sexuality. The actual percentage of predators is very small, but the warning I pass onto the reader is that these sexual predators are hidden behind positional power and a convenient spiritual mandate. Here are some warning signs (borrowed and modified from another blog) for the pagans you want to avoid:
• Does their advance scare or alarm you?
• Have you made clear made it clear to them that you are uninterested in their advances, and they still persist?
• Is their "spiritual message" just a uninvited assessment on your attractiveness/body/genitals?
• Does the context of this situation (spiritual truth, sacred ritual) make a direct sexual advance offensive or inappropriate?
• Are they just being a bit of a dick?
A yes to any of these should ring the alarm bells. All nos could mean that you want to play with the authority figure in naughty ways. Go for it! Remember respect for yourself, those you play with, and whatever spiritual path you may follow.