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Sexuality, Magic, and Perversion

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on October 11, 2010 | Comments (2)

Sexuality, Magic, and Perversion is the name of a book by Francis King that was originally published in 1972. It was eye opening for the time because it revealed practices of sex magick that had developed over the previous century or so. It is more of a historical and theoretical book where my Modern Sex Magick is far more practical.

But the thing I’d like to point out is that although it is a good book, it still has a very moralistic sense to it. The title itself shows what is being implied, that the use of sex and magick is somehow a perversion. A recent post by Frater A.I.T. in his blog, “Heavens Within Earth,” offers another view, that sex magick is fine, but that watching porn can be “disastrous” for a magician. Frater A.I.T. says that he’s not a Puritan and that this isn’t a moral issue. He gives very good theoretical reasons to support his view. However, I would respectfully say that they are rationalizations for presenting a Puritanical and moralistic view.

Lost Manuscripts

I once attended a workshop on “ancient Egyptian sex magick.” The leader claimed that many of the ancient writings were discarded as being “porn” by archeologists when, in fact, they were about sexual rituals. I don’t know if he was right. The obvious guess is that he was wrong because if they were discarded, how could he know? I’ve also heard that much of this “pornography” is simply filed away in the British Museum.

However, for me, it sounds like it could be true, what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.”  This is because there are ample records of sacred priests and priestesses who, in honor of their deities, sold sexual services to followers of the deities and turned the money over to the church of which they were a part. This was a holy, sacred task. When the authorities of the sex-negative Christian church overthrew Pagan churches and worship, these sacred practitioners were forgotten. When archeologists rediscovered that this had been a practice among some Pagan traditions, they were so shocked, due to their sex-negative conditioning, that they disparagingly referred to these people as “prostitutes.”

Be What You Are

I’m not criticizing either Mr. King or Frater A.I.T. for their views. They are simply views. In NLP there is an expression:

The map is not the territory.

In this case, the territory is sex magick for Mr. King and porn for Frater A.I.T. The “map” is the set of beliefs with which they interpret the territory. And yes, I have my map and you have your map.

Is sex magick perverse? Is porn a disaster for magicians? From an NLP perspective, it certainly can be if that’s what you believe. If that’s the box you’ve chosen to stay in, it certainly will be that way for you. By themselves, sex magick and porn simply are. It’s what we each add to it—our “perspectives,” our maps, our beliefs, our preconceived notions—that give it the impact to be perverse or disastrous for us. We give them power. In my opinion, the path of the magician is that of self-empowerment, not giving away one’s power to either a concept or pictures.

The closer our metaphorical map is to the actual territory, the more balanced and self-empowered we are. This brings me back to the sex-negative archeologists who could not conceive of sexual practices being part of a spiritual system and so referred to priests and priestesses as “prostitutes.” It immediately gives a negative view toward sacred practitioners*, however it also reveals a great deal about the preconceptions and morality of the archeologists.

And this brings me to the point of this post. First, I’d like to thank Jason Pitzl-Waters who brought this to my attention in his wonderful blog (which I highly recommend), The Wild Hunt. It seems that there is a magazine called “Vice” that also has a website called “Viceland” and runs videos on their website which they refer to as “VBS Television.” Currently, they are showing a a series of videos they call “Prostitutes of God.” The series is about some people dedicated to the goddess Yellamma. She is a goddess of the downtrodden. She represents the death of the ego and the mother who is compassionate for her children.

In her temples there a devadasis (literally, servants of the goddess) who are trained as artisans and courtesans. Just as people in mainstream Western religions are expected to give donations to support their church, the devadasis would also give money to the goddess. Those who do their holy work as courtesans—sex workers—do this work in honor of the goddess. But the videographer  from Vice (hmmmm), a Ms. Sarah Harris, clearly had preconceived ideas and an agenda to present, that the devadasis are just prostitutes being abused and harming others.

The devadasis aren’t standing for it. They’ve released an open letter charging that, “Instead of depicting this reality of empowered women going about their important work of dealing with violations of human rights, women’s rights, right to health and livelihood, Sarah Harris chooses to portray them as pimps or helpless victims.” They have also produced a short video for YouTube entiteld “VAMP responds to betrayal by Prostitutes of God film.”

And so it goes. The old sex-negative Puritan morality box holds on to people and lets them interpret things through a warped vision, far from the reality. They mistake their map for the territory. By only representing one view they are demanding that you be forced into their box and only read their map, too.

As a magician, I reject this kind of thinking. I reject being stuck in anyone’s box. The closer I align my map with the reality that is the territory, the more likely my magick will be successful. In fact, this is an aspect of Postmodern Magic that I describe in the new edition of Modern Magick.

I have no problem with a person consciously choosing to follow a set of morals. I do object when they deny that they have those morals yet want to impose them upon others. And as a magician, I choose to determine my own ethics based on freedom, respect, reality, and ecology.

What do you think? Do you recognize the boxes you are in? Are there boxes you’d like to get out of? How does being in a box help or limit your magick?

*There are some sex workers who are trying to reclaim the word “prostitute” and give it a more positive meaning, but the reality is that this change of interpretation of the word has not taken place.

Reader Comments

Written By lada
on October 13th, 2010 @ 10:21 am

I have read of the devadisi before, and am blocked at recalling the reference (but perhaps the New Yorker).
The upshot was a sad commentary in which the practitioners, born into the craft, were dying out rapidly due to a high rate of HIV infection.

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