It happens that this blog post falls on Beltane, or Beltane eve depending on how you celebrate it. I hope that all of you who observe have a holiday filled with the joy that we have been given by the grace of having bodies.
I am always a font of advice and opinions when it comes to the way we conduct ourselves with our own sexuality. It makes me annoying, but since they’re my opinions, of course I want to inflict them on someone else. What’s the point of having an opinion unless there’s someone to roll eyes at them? See? There you go.
I have a lot of thoughts on self-image and how it manifests in our spirituality. Since Beltane is the sexual holiday, I think that self-image and sexuality is as good a place to start as any. I’m not going to play the blame game with how we’re taught to think of ourselves sexually within the confines of Western culture. If you’re reading this, you’re (hopefully) an adult and you have taken full responsibility for your actions and your spiritual growth. If you’re not legally an adult, come back when you are – right now your parents are legally and spiritually responsible for you, and you don’t actually get to have freedom of religion until you are legally an adult.
I don’t think that Western culture is oversexualized. I think it’s over-powered. Sex and sexual attractiveness is not about pleasure and connection when we see it in media portrayals; our modernized fairytales talk about sex as a negotiation of power. Either it’s sexualized violence – because there still remains the misapprehension that rape has a damned thing to do with desire – or it’s about sexual manipulation, and then we get treated to such gems (I mean this sarcastically) as Rock of Love and anything involving a plastic person named for a popular hard liquor.
I think that Pagans have struggled to correct this within the substrata of the subculture, but it keeps running into our own personal connection and the truth that a lot of those who convert to Wicca and other neopagan faiths do so because they feel powerless within their faith of origin. Casting a spell or spooking a stranger does feel pretty damned powerful. So does the claim that sexual freedom is part of your faith – and all too few really stop to talk about what responsibilities come with that freedom unless they’re part of a BDSM circle. For those of us who like our ice cream vanilla, however, there’s a lot of ingredients information still missing when it comes to engaging in sexual interplay because even while sexual attraction is mostly about biological preference, we still have the culturally instilled perspective that our strength and value to a group is dependent on how many people want us physically, or how many people we’ve been with.
I think we know the basics: some taboos are in place for excellent reasons, especially those concerning children.
Most of us are conscious about birth control.
I still think too few of us are conscious about our own self-esteem and taking a time out to identify why we’re attracted, if it is physical and emotional compatibility or if it is about a need for short-term or long-term partnership status. We have the sexual freedom, we know what we’re supposed to do to be sexually responsible with our partners, but we don’t know how to be sexually responsible to ourselves beyond avoiding birth control and disease avoidance.
In other words, one of the valid options of sexual freedom is the freedom to abstain, whether that’s permanently or until you are in the right place emotionally and physically to get the best benefits possible out of a sexual connection. If it’s really about power, the power to refuse is potent indeed – and it allows you to hold out until the sexual choice is about pleasure only.