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In Pursuit of Polyamory

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on July 6, 2012 | Comments (11)

…King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites…
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines…

—I Kings, Chapter 11, The Bible

The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon by Edward Poynter
Currently on exhibit at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
(I searched a long time to find an image in the public domain that didn’t show the queen,
who is generally believed to have been from Ethiopia or Yemen
—although her title implies she may have been from India—
without the pale, extremely white skin associated with Europeans.
It is far more likely that, if she was historic and not mythic, her skin was swarthy.)

The Didache (“The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) is a short, Christian treatise usually dated to the late first or early second century, c.e. Although it was lost for centuries, there were references to it in other works as early as the fourth century c.e. where it was considered by some sects to be part of the Christian church’s canon. Some have called it the earliest surviving teaching or catechism, covering topics such as ethics, rituals (including baptism) and church organization. One of it’s instructions is: “”Share all things in common with your brother. Do not claim anything as your own.”

All things?

By the end of the 2nd century, this attitude had changed a bit. Tertullian (circa 160–circa 225 c.e.), the famed Christian author and defender wrote: “Everything among us is in common, except marriage.”

But was this a human instituted change or a spiritual one?

In 1582, famed magician Dr. John Dee, and his assistant Edward Kelly, were in contact with spirits they believed were angels. While staying in Trebon (in the current Czech Republic), a “child spirit” called Madimi began communicating initially with Kelly and then with both of them. Madimi said, “by the will of God, to share all things. ” This included their wives.

Dee and Kelley hated the idea. Their wives didn’t like it, either. However, the angel insisted that it should happen, so they dutifully followed the instructions.

Was this a true command from angels? Personally, I’ve always thought this might have been from some lesser spirits who just wanted to see how far they could pull the legs of Dee and Kelly. Whatever the source, it is clear that Dee and Kelly couldn’t handle it. Their partnership became increasingly strained. In less than two years Dee returned to his home in England without Kelly.

An Enormous and a Tiny Cause of
Changing Attitudes

Because the Earth is slightly tilted on its axis, our planet’s position in relation to the rest of the universe slowly evolves. The position of the constellations slowly changes. It takes about 26,000 years to go through an entire cycle, known as the precession of the equinoxes. This cycle is divided into 12 sections related to the astrological signs. At the time of the fall of Israel to Rome and the dispersion of the Jewish people (called the Diaspora), the world was moving out of the Arian Age and moving into the Piscean Age. Today we are moving from the Piscean Age into the Aquarian Age. The crossover period takes a long time. Thus, people who are strongly influenced by Piscean Age mentalities are often in conflict with those who have adopted Aquarian Age mentalities.

The red line from the upper left to lower right of each image
shows the apparent path traced by the Sun through the Earth’s year.
The red/green horizontal line shows a projection of the Earth’s equator on to the celestial sphere.
The crossing point of these two lines is the spring equinox.
In 1500 BCE it was near the end of the Aries constellation.
In 500 BCE it was near the beginning of the Aries constellation.
In 150 CE it was in the center of the Pisces constellation. Today it is at the end of Pisces moving into Aquarius.

The small cause of changing attitudes was the birth control pill. As we move into the Aquarian Age, for the first time, women could have complete control of their sexual lives without the concern of having children at times when births weren’t wanted. Women had always explored their sexuality, but now such exploration hit the middle class mainstream.

This has been a long preface to looking at the idea of free sexuality, and it’s important to look at the changes that have come along with it. If we look at the story of Solomon, he was in complete control of his partners. He was the king and there was no balance here. Some early Christian sects took the Didache literally, but in a very short time, this was changed. In the Piscean Age men are in control of women.

By the time of Dee and Kelly, even though they were told by an angel to share their partners, they weren’t ready. They couldn’t handle it. Even in contemporary times, with the use of “the pill,” exploring was put down to “cheating” and not telling your partner whom you were having sex with. This was still Piscean Age mentality.

My favorite example of this mixed message came with the T.V. show, “Three’s Company.” In this show, which ran from 1977–1984, you follow the adventures of two single women sharing an apartment with a single man. Even though it was supposedly daring (and filled with titillating jokes implying sexuality), these three people were some of the most sex-starved characters on television. Beneath the daring (for television) set up were three conservative, Piscean Age people. They could have just as easily been living in three separate apartments.

The Times They Are A-Changing

In the year 1990, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart wrote an article for The Green Egg magazine entitled “A Bouquet of Lovers.” In it, she described the concept which has become known as polyamory, an odd word combining both Greek (Poly, meaning “many”) and Latin (Amor, meaning “love”) words. Her husband, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, gives this brief definition of the term:

The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.

This concept is night-and-day different from previous forms of relationships:

  • It’s not a situation where a king or male has multiple partners. That’s “polygamy.”
  • It’s not a situation where one or both partners have outside relationships without telling their partners. That’s “cheating.”
  • It’s not a situation where you have a long-term romantic and sexual relationship without telling your partner. That’s “an affair.”
  • It’s not a situation where both partners have sex with others without a committed, loving relationship with those others. That’s “swinging.”
  • It’s not an agreement where both partners are free to have other relationships with or without (depending upon the agreement) the knowledge of their partner. That’s an “open marriage” or “open relationship.”

Polyamory is something radically new. In fact, it’s so new, that people are just beginning to explore and define it. There are already variations. In some cases, people have primary, secondary, and tertiary partners. In other cases it’s more about which lover is available at a particular time. In some polyamorous relationships love and sex are equally important, while in others love is more important and some of the poly partners don’t have sex with others. The key differentiator in polyamorous relationships, as opposed to previous relationships, is the concept of being able to truly and deeply love more than one person.

But S/He’s My Soul Mate!

It’s possible to love both of your parents. You can also love all four of your grandparents. If you have several siblings you can love all of them. You can also love aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members. Why, then, do we expect that people should only be able to love one person romantically and sexually?

Just because someone’s your soul mate doesn’t mean you can’t also love others.

Many people today think the concept of polyamory is horrible. And yet, they will have one boyfriend or girlfriend after another. As people become adults, this often means a sexual relationship with one person after another. It’s called “serial monogamy.” Is a person who has one partner for a few months, then another, either better or worse than a person who finds out that he or she is capable of loving more than one person at the same time? They’re different, yes. But I wouldn’t define either as better or worse.

Are You an Outsider?

Colin Wilson wrote a book called The Outsider. In it, he contends that the scientific, artistic, and philosophical leaders throughout history have always been outsiders, people who don’t fit in with the majority. I think he gives extensive proof that this is true. Being an outsider doesn’t make one exceptional, but it is a common trait among some of the most amazing, important, and unique people the world has ever known.

Magickal people have always been outsiders. They don’t fit in with the beliefs and practices of the majority. They’ve been shunned, mocked, and persecuted for their beliefs and rituals. The Zell-Ravenhearts are Pagans. A surprising number of magickal folk and Pagans have discovered the concept of polyamory—responsible non-monogamy—fits their beliefs, desires, and needs perfectly. Although there have sprouted up many books on polyamory, there is really only one specifically directed at the Pagan and magickal community. That is Pagan Polyamory by Raven Kaldera.

If you want to discover what polyamory is really about, especially from a magickal perspective, this is the book for you. Whether you want to see if polyamory is for you or if you just want to learn about it and how it may apply to Pagan and magickal lifestyles, this well-reviewed book is my recommendation.

Caveat Emptor

Although astrological and astronomical experts will debate the exact date we enter the Age of Aquarius, I think most will agree that we are still in the crossover period between Piscean and Aquarian Ages. That means you may have a greater or lesser draw to Aquarian Age concepts, beliefs, and practices. It’s important, I believe, to listen to your heart. Polyamory is not right for everyone. It is not right for all Pagans. It is not right for all ceremonial magicians. It is not required of anyone. Therefore, if someone tries to tell you that you should become poly with him or her and their partners, while it’s okay to listen to what they have to say, it’s most important to listen to your heart.

Be aware of what you’re getting into. If it sounds like something you want to explore, fantastic. If it’s something that you’d never want to explore, that’s fantastic, too. Don’t just buy what others are selling, listen to your heart. Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware.

Morning Glory wrote,

I feel that this whole polyamorous lifestyle is the avante-garde of the 21st century. Expanded families will become a pattern with wider acceptance as the monogamous nuclear family system breaks apart under the impact of serial divorces.

Is she right? Time will tell. However there is no doubt that polyamory is becoming popular in the magickal community. Almost every Pagan or magickal festival or convention has at least one talk on the subject. As a student of magick, it makes sense to find out what polyamory is really all about, rather than relying on rumors and mocking stories in the media. That’s why books such as Kaldera’s are so valuable and important. Polyamory may or may not be your path. Discovering the truth about polyamory—and the truth about how you feel about it—should be one study of all magickal people.

Are you familiar with polyamory?
Have you tried it?
Do you think it’s right or wrong?
If you haven’t tried it, would you like to?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Reader Comments

Written By Maegdlyn
on July 6th, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

This is an illuminating article, I always thought that the lesser spirits were messing with them horny cusses. it is true that throughout history the movers shakers and thinkers have not fit into a box, which has at times made them easy targets. We must be vigilant and seek to further legitimize the right to think freely with articles such as this…

Written By Gary moon
on July 7th, 2012 @ 9:01 am

i was in a poly about 15 years ago,two women and myself.it was an interesting dynamic i was involved directtly with one of the women,they were involved each other we were handfasted by a priestess of Erzulie i am open to doing a poly again but the partners would have to be better open and mature then we were at the time

Written By TS
on July 7th, 2012 @ 10:06 am

In a perfect world, I think this could work, but… this world is presently flawed. Imo, so long as modern man functions and perceives the world primarily from the intellect, rather than the heart and spirit, this will never work out well. Without a connection with spiritual consciousness, excuses will always be made for behavior which lacks compassion and understanding. Attachment to externalized desires will always rationalize choices that will later inflict emotional pain and suffering upon others and self. I don’t see polyamory in itself as right or wrong, but for people who are ruled by their intellect and emotion, I’d say it definitely provides more opportunities for destructive behavior.

Written By Blackbird BB
on July 7th, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

I’ll definitely be interested in this book;

I do alot of fiction writing set in a pre-patriarchal environment, and the women in that environment each have their own ideas about this issue; Most of my writing the last 5 years concern two sisters;

Pandora is utterly loyal to her Breid,

While her Sister Claudia would say the freedom to choose one’s owner is no freedom at all; both hail from a culture that sees lovemaking as “Sharing Bliss” which is IMHO one of the best idea’s to come out of the fiction; how different would our world be if we did not see lovemaking as propriety, or a matter of conquest, something a man does to a woman; but instead intrinsically and inseparably tied to a notion of sharing. I think this small shift in consciousness would have huge effects.

Thanks again. BB.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on July 7th, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

TS, thank you for your comment. I have a question for you: Since you say “this will never work out well,” how do you explain the thousands of people who are happily and successfully practicing polyamory?

Written By TS
on July 8th, 2012 @ 12:40 am

Mr. Kraig, I never doubted that thousands of people successfully practice polyamory.. the point I wanted to make was that it should not be considered as any sort of solution for the majority of people in our society who struggle with things as they are (particularly inward conflict). Imo, the idea of ideal polyamory while appealing and sensible, must also demand a truly conscious and incorruptible nature from those who practice it. Otherwise, I see a high potential for it to be warped and abused by those who are clouded and guided by false intellectual/egoic notions of right and wrong. I believe something like polyamory requires one to be genuinely connected with spiritual compassion and understanding, in order for it not to fail as yet another corrupted social model which lacks substance. So, when I look at the world as it is today… I just simply think the conditions are not yet favorable for it to be generally successful.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on July 8th, 2012 @ 3:05 am

TS, not only did I NOT make the claim that polyamory was for the majority of people, I clearly stated, ” Polyamory is not right for everyone.” In fact, I talked about the concept of the Outsider—people outside of the mainstream—and how some of them have practiced some form of polyamory. That’s certainly not the majority.

Could polyamory be “warped and abused?” I clearly warn readers, “Don’t just buy what others are selling.” Further, considering the number of people who currently practice serial monogamy and that according to The Enrichment Journal :
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
(others give higher numbers), it would seem that our current approach, monogamy, is already “warped and abused.” So for some people it may be time to try something different, no?

As I wrote, we are at the beginning of the Aquarian Age. Some people have moved into the thought processes of that era, some have not. That doesn’t make one set of people better than the other, just different.

But I do think you bring up a valid point: should we wait hundreds of years for the majority of people to (hopefully!) possess, as you put it, “a truly conscious and incorruptible nature,” or do those who chaff under what they consider unworkable give something else a try now?

I think each person will have to answer that question for himself or herself, don’t you?

Written By TS
on July 8th, 2012 @ 11:29 am

Mr. Kraig, I did not say you claimed that polyamory was for the majority of people. I emphasized that point in particular because our present social models (such as monogamy) are abused due to the corruptible nature of modern man, that is, a lack of spiritual awareness. So long as these conditions exist, I see polyamory as no different than any other relationship-structure.. I see it as a change of form, not as a change of substance. This is where we seem to differ.. it appears you think it is maybe time for some people to try something different because monogamy is warped and abused, whereas I strictly believe the individual finds contentment and success through inner-freedom first and foremost.

When I read your article, it struck me as a desire for change and improvement, because a lot of people are finding dissatisfaction in their lives. In that context, my viewpoint is that the roots of discontent with present day life run very deep… deep enough to the point where outward social changes (such as monogamy to polyamory) are by themselves ineffective and superficial changes. So when you say that polyamory is practiced successfully by thousands of people, I say that polyamory is not really responsible for that. Instead, I’d say that such people would likely find a way to be well-adjusted regardless of external situation. I’d also like to note here that I’m specifically referring to the quality of polyamory which exists as an ideal and incorruptible state of harmonious affairs (when compared with today’s “broken” monogamous system). Personally, I do not really consider anything less than its highest/undistorted expression to be worth thinking about… especially when it comes to prospective catalysts for improving ones state of inner-growth and prosperity/contentment.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on July 8th, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

Thank you again, TS.
From your latest post, I think our differences are more semantic than actual. Specifically, it seems that you are saying people need to change inwardly to make either monogamy or polyamory successful paths. I’d say that we humans are inextricably linked to universal evolution, and that some people have moved more into the thinking of the future, the Aquarian Age, than others. I would also agree that when people make up their own minds they can choose monogamy, polyamory, or some other form of intimate interpersonal relationships.
Where I think we disagree is in your repeated contention that for polyamory to work it “must…demand a truly conscious and incorruptible nature from those who practice it.” Besides using two terms in undefined ways (they could mean almost anything to anyone), humans ARE corruptible. We’ll always be that way. Likewise, unless someone achieved Buddhahood they’re not truly conscious of themselves. One of the things that makes living so wonderful, in my opinion, is simply realizing that we are on the path to achieving these things and working toward those goals. To me, “enlightenment” isn’t a place, it’s a path.

People don’t become fantastic baseball pitchers or hitters because their pitching or hitting abilities are perfect. Rather, they work toward perfection. They seek to improve. The same is true of people in any field of endeavor. So when it comes to picking partners, I don’t think we have to be “conscious and incorruptible,” just on the path of trying to improve ourselves and being better than we are. One way to do this, I believe, is living ecologically. By that I mean seeing that our actions are good for ourselves, good for others, and good for the world. No matter what we do, we can never be perfect at this, but we can strive to do better. And some people, within this work to do better, find that polyamory is better for them.
I’m not encouraging anyone to abandon who and what they are to suddenly drop monogamy and become polyamorous. What I’m saying is whether people believe polyamory is right or wrong for them, people should examine the reality of what it is, and not simply believe in the myths some people describe about its practice.
And that, TS, perfectly complements another of my beliefs:”You don’t die when you stop breathing. You die when you stop learning.” And we all have things to learn, don’t we?

Written By TS
on July 8th, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

Mr. Kraig, I believe you’re right in seeing that we disagree about whether or not polyamory requires a higher degree of inner-freedom, or spiritual awareness. You believe that it can be utilized (even by those who struggle with monogamous relationships) as a path towards self-improvement, likening it to how even pro baseball players need to improve because they’re not perfect. Firstly, perhaps I didn’t phrase it accurately enough, but I do not think one has to be fully enlightened like a Buddha or Jesus… to be more precise, I believe that a sufficiently high (and stable) enough connection with spirit is all that’s needed to secure a harmonious state of polyamorous behavior. To further define what that is, I’d suspect one would know for certain when it is possessed, in such a way that transcends the lower influences of intellect and emotion, on a purely spiritual level. As you might know, such states are difficult to describe, but they are certainly known when they are legitimately experienced. Perhaps ‘oneness’ is a useful word? I’d like to note that my original intention was to definitely not understate the quality of such states when compared with mundane intellectual perception.

Secondly, whereas you casually relate the path of polyamory with baseball training, I find it more akin to a situation with a high potential for hard consequences, that is to say, a situation which demands exceptional management skills. For example, if I were a soldier and I didn’t want to get killed, simply going into battle as an “okay” soldier is just not good enough, imo. I think we can both agree that there are times in life when a momentary lapse of judgement is more than enough to effect permanent unwanted outcomes. As a matter of fact, when this manages to happen to those of us who start out with the highest of spiritual intentions, I find its clear that a casual attitude will simply not cut it for most people. Here what I’m referring to in particular are the countless spiritual gurus/masters/teachers throughout history who end up being accused of abusing their students. Whether intentional or not, equal partnership or not… it just happens because its easy to fall and stay fallen. Again, the point I’m trying to make here is that even those with the highest of positive intentions are still vulnerable to the impulses of their lower energy centers so long as they are not yet securely aligned with spiritual consciousness.

Now, when it comes to learning and growing inwardly, I fully recognize that sometimes one has to take risks, make mistakes, and venture into the unknown. However, this is not to imply that I feel one should disregard the paramount importance of avoiding and preventing unnecessary life lessons, in particular mistakes which can greatly involve and impact other people negatively. With that in mind, when I think of monogamy, I see it as yet another one of life’s standard minefields to be navigated with care and respect. In comparison, I would say polyamory by its nature is an obstacle course that is far more complex and difficult to traverse, as opposed to being an “easier” alternative to those who find it more appealing but have yet to master peace and stability in less complex relationships. To reiterate, I’d say it requires a higher level of knowledge and expertise to safely navigate, which I would translate as spiritual awareness, or in other words, a deeper level of understanding and compassion for self and others.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on July 8th, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, you’ve really misrepresented what I stated.

I NEVER wrote that I “believe…[polyamory] can be utilized (even by those who struggle with monogamous relationships) as a path towards self-improvement.” I have never written that nor do I believe it. What I DID write is that ENLIGHTENMENT is a path and that some people choose to practice polyamory while on that path. I would not contend that polyamory or monogamy or any other form of relationship is a “path towards self-improvement.”

And again, I absolutely did NOT equate polyamory to the actions of pro baseball players because “pro baseball players need to improve because they’re not perfect.” What I did write is that people are imperfect and need to improve, yet they can still do things while being imperfect humans.

In both instances, my point was that contrary to the belief you’ve presented, humans do NOT have to wait until they are “conscious and incorruptible” before trying something that is not part of the mainstream.

I certainly want to welcome open debate, but that requires honesty and not misrepresenting another person’s opinion. That’s why I quoted your comments rather than make up things.

For example, you consider monogamy to be a “standard minefield.” I would suggest that this is a horrible approach to establishing a relationship! Why would anyone want to be monogamous at all if it’s such a minefield?

Then you add that polyamory (and since there are many forms of polyamory and you haven’t provided your definition, it could be anything) is an “obstacle course.” Indeed, if anyone sees any path as an obstacle course they’re going to try to avoid it.

Further, you say that polyamory as “far more complex and difficult to traverse, as opposed to being an ‘easier’ alternative.” Respectfully, where did this come from? I never claimed I thought it was easier, just different. So in reality, this is a form of “moving the goalposts,” throwing in new arguments to support your dislike of something.

And then yet again, you use undefined terms such as “a higher level of knowledge and expertise” which you translate as “spiritual awareness.” Without precise definitions this is meaningless but a nice attempt to say that there is something about polyamory you don’t like. “Spiritual awareness” of what? You write about “a deeper level of understanding and compassion for self and others.” Deeper understanding that what? Deeper compassion compared to what?

You write, “even those with the highest of positive intentions are still vulnerable to the impulses of their lower energy centers.” I say that happens every day whether a person is alone, monogamous, polyamorous, or involved in other relationships. You write, “so long as they are not yet securely aligned with spiritual consciousness” but do not say what this “spiritual consciousness” is so I really don’t know what you’re saying.

It seems to me that the big difference between us is that you want people to be perfect before they act while I recognize that we can still act while we are on the road to becoming better than we currently are. If one chooses not to act, he or she will never know if they are on the path.

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