Beltane: Eroticism and Sacred Sexuality….. We All Just Get Naked….

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**Side note: I realize this article comes after Beltane. Not only was I busy celebrating it (see photos below) but I’d been really wanting to touch on this subject for some time now, while handling it with care, so, I took my sweet time in writing it ūüėČ ***

Well, we used to…. ok, maybe not us, as in modern day Pagans… okay, okay…some of us still do.

Most folks who are new to Paganism or who have been raised outside of Paganism seem to think that any Pagan gathering is inclusive of wild orgies in the forest (Hey, fun times!!), and drunken, drugged-out sex parties……. I’m not confirming or denying but I’ll get back to this in a moment.

Once, an old boyfriend of mine (who was Agnostic) extended the invitation to a Litha gathering at my home to a business associate of his. The business associate was a practicing Catholic (which makes no never-mind to me) but clearly he had a preconceived notion of who Pagans are and what we do at our get togethers, when he showed up with the largest box of condoms I’d ever seen, a case full of liquor, and a smile from ear to ear….

I can’t be certain, but I just KNOW I had THIS look on my face:

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One of the lesser-known celebrations, which are part of the earth-based spirituality cycle of holy days, is Beltane and¬†is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Beltane traditionally marked the arrival of summer in ancient times, and ¬†like Samhain, is a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds (the world of the living and the world of the other) are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and magic is it’s strongest.¬†

When the veils are this thin it is an extremely magical time; particularly at Beltane where a fairy sighting is more likely than at any other time of the year. It is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Beltane, however, is still a precarious time, the crops are still very young and tender, susceptible to frost and blight. The ancients believed¬†the Wheel {Wheel of the year} would not turn without human intervention. People did everything in their power to encourage the growth of the Sun and His light, for the Earth will not produce without the warm love of the strong Sun. Fires, celebration and rituals were (and still are) an important part of the Beltane festivities, as to insure that the warmth of the Sun’s light would promote the fecundity of the earth…… and so is sex.

 

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Sex, among Pagans during this time is a¬†Beltane tradition referred to as the Great Rite, which, along with Hindu tantra, is the most powerful example of sacred sexual practice known today. It isn’t sex for the sake of having sex. Sex at Beltane is an act of devotion.¬†There is no question that an intense sexual experience, whether or not there‚Äôs love present, can actually cause changes in your biochemistry, igniting cells, chakras and your energy field¬†as a whole and, as a result, often triggering significant transformation in your life. Sacred sex, however, usually activates profound transformation not only for you personally, but properly directed it also can have the same intense effect on the world around you….. which is the entire motivation behind the Great Rite. Because crops are still so young, tender and vulnerable, the act of sacred sex encourages that growth, by means of that act being devotional in nature, and because the Great rite has everything to do with fertility…. get it now?

So I wonder….. what’s the hang-up among some Pagans have about stripping down and getting it on?

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Well, there’s the whole STD thing, and unplanned pregnancy thing, and the feminist movement; sure, we should honor our bodies as temples because they are. And in honoring it we certainly aren’t going to just let anyone have their way with it. I get it, and if it’s any consolation, I feel the same. But I’ve come across some pretty uptight Pagans in my life when it comes to this subject. I suppose what it comes down to at the end of the day is individual comfort levels….. and the fact that not all Pagans are ritual Pagans. It’s the truth, not all Pagans are practicing, they simply have their set beliefs and live by them accordingly without ever having partaken in any type of ritual….not every Pagan is a witch, and that’s cool too. I mean, under normal circumstances, you couldn’t get me to strip down to my birthday suit in front of a group of folks I know or hardly know, even if they are all naked too…. but then again, after a few shots of Blackhaus, I’ve been known to be talked into crazier things ūüėČ ….. I’m finding out that this is the Westerner in me coming out. A friend of mine who is from France told me the beaches in France are primarily nude or topless, and they can pick out a Westerner from a mile away at these venues because the vacationing Westerners are the only one in the sand gawking. Makes sense, I mean, here in the states you get arrested for relieving yourself out doors because it’s considered “Indecent exposure”….. honestly, sometimes I think only in America can you be punished for being human (and no, I don’t really believe this… I don’t completely live under a rock, I’m well aware there are places much worse)….. it’s indecent to be the way you came into this world at any other time but arrival….. and they won’t let you go out that way either. The most interesting wake I’ve ever attended was that of a nudist. His express wishes were to be waked naked. the funeral home adamantly refused, and so the family settled for a Hawaiian print top and khaki shorts…. I sometimes suspect that ¬†it’s society that’s the problem: Magazines with beautiful, incredibly thin women, “Fashion experts” that dictate what is and is not attractive, Law makers (Primarily Christian followers) who hand down the order of what is and is not acceptable behavior (**Cough, cough… we won’t mention all those political sex scandals they find themselves in though, cough, cough**).

……. a rant I’d rather leave for political discussions… clicking heels together and moving on….

Typical Beltane celebrations today include bonfire gatherings on every hill, boughs hung over doorways as a sign to maidens living within that a certain young man is interested, the rather obvious symbolism of dancing around and decorating a Maypole and, of course, rowdy parties which conclude with plenty of sex and giggling¬†in the bushes‚ÄĒin the theory that all that lusty energy¬†will help motivate the Earth to bloom and grow abundantly…. yes, yes, some of those gatherings do¬†still exist…..

Now that we all have the image of a scene straight out of¬†¬†Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s dream in our heads, (those naughty, naughty nymphs ūüėČ ) or maybe even Hugh Heffner’s reality, allow me to move on to a subject that seems a bit “touchy” (puns, puns!) where Beltane is concerned:

One of the most common and most enduring myths surrounding Pagan women is the idea that we are all nymphomaniacs. (easy, boys… I’m about to shatter some hopes here)….¬†we’re not. Pagans, in general however, tend to be more open minded about sex than anyone else. ¬†We view sex as a normal and natural part of the human existence and human experience, and not as a dirty or immoral act, although we are often accused as such by more traditional faiths, mainly because sex to us in uninhibited and not limited to an act solely between a married couple. ¬†But for Pagans, sex isn’t taken lightly either. Traditional Wicca for example, views sex as the sacred union between the Goddess and God. In this case, sex is held to be very sacred, creating a strong spiritual bond. When sex is a sacred act, it becomes even more meaningful. To waste a sacred ritual for manipulation or any other reason, is to harm yourself greatly, which is one of the reasons I was so very annoyed with Mr. Condoms and cocktails. Another reason my nerves were plucked (and this is part of what I said I’d get back to earlier in this article) is that Pagans are often accused of a wide variety of sexual perversions, the most common being that orgies are held regularly at our ceremonies and gatherings. This is not at all true. Yes, we consider sex to be a natural moral act (even if it is between two individuals of the same sex—- but that’s another cauldron stirring for another time ¬† {for the record, I strongly support gay rights} ) we also view it as a bond of love. While casual sex (when agreed to and understood as such by both individuals involved) is not considered immoral by most Pagans, it’s certainly not considered to be appropriate for a religious or spiritual ceremony. As I said before, those kinds of groups do still exist, but you’d be hard pressed to either find them or get an invitation to one…. they’re pretty secretive, incredibly private and above all discreet and participated by people who are comfortable with each other. Suffice to say, those people know full well in advance what they signed up for and are completely fine with it…again, I guess this all goes back to individual preference and comfort levels.

Additionally, not all Pagans are gay or bisexual. I have a friend whose wife despises Pagan men (him being the exception, of course) because the last man she’d had any kind of relationship was Pagan and had an affair on her with another man…. that she walked in on. As unfortunate and traumatic as this was for her I am certain, it is most definitely not the case with all of us…. which may or may not make you wonder why there are so many gay or bisexual men and women among Pagans as opposed to any other religious or spiritual group…. the answer to this is easy…. can you guess, can you guess???

Because we are more accepting of people as individuals than most any other faith. We also do not tell anyone they are going to hell or are damned to torment for eternity in purgatory. ¬†We aren’t told we aren’t “True Pagans” (a statement I have come to despise) because of our sexual preference. With the exception of some rules among a certain group of bunnies Pagans/Witches who will not initiate someone who is gay into their path (not naming any names here, but if you know which group I am referring to, no names are needed ;)) most Pagans and Witches (because not all Pagans are witches) could give a rat’s arse who you lay with at night (or afternoon, or morning, or whenever the mood strikes).

Lastly, not all Pagans have open relationships. I have another friend who prefers the company of married women. I brought him to a Pagan festival with me just to get him out of the house and hopefully introduce him to a single woman. He said to me, “You know I prefer them married.” I responded with, “Well, then I wouldn’t attempt it with this lot. Pagan men often carry very large knives, and the head on your shoulders won’t be the only head you lose”. I will say here that many of the Pagans I know (and I know a lot of Pagans) are in long-term, committed relationships with each other. To this I will add that I have personally never dated a Pagan man who was okay with sharing me.

Pagans and sex combined is a delicate subject, no less. But in terms of Beltane, regardless of your sexuality and level of comfort, there are a plethora of ways to celebrate it. I would encourage anyone unfamiliar with Beltane, but curious enough to have read this or research it, to attend a public Beltane festival, such as the Long Island Beltane Festival I attended last weekend. I’d introduced two people that day to the way we Pagans celebrate, and they had the time of their lives. I have every confidence you will too. Enjoy the photos!

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Photo Credit: “Wild Embrace” by Hak Ukamizaki

Male Model: Alex Morrell / Female Model: Emily Thomas
Make-up Artist: Yoiwan Kong
Hair Stylist: Francesca Masters                                                                                                                                              
Photographer & Stylist & Editing: Hak Ukamizaki

Photography Assistant: Ivan Mastershttp://hakukamizaki.deviantart.com/art/Wild-Embrace-272858676

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About krystalmadison

Known as "The Witch of Sleepy Hollow", as a child, Krystal knew that there was more to this physical existence where black and white exist, that there was a gray area many still could not see. But she could. Even as a young child, Krystal was able to see and communicate with those who have crossed over, but at nine years old, a near-death experience thrust her head-first into a world that would make her realize that we really aren't alone. Visions became clearer and made more sense, the spirits that roam the earth would begin to seek her out to relay a message to a loved one she was simply walking past in a super market. She understood even then, that there was more to this life than just existing and believes that we don’t have to live with all the limitations we place on ourselves, nor fear our own mortality. A 10th generation natural born witch with close ties to Salem and New Orleans, Krystal comes from a long line of magickal roots, with grandparents who were Native American and Gypsy, and a mother who was a Santeria Priestess. In May 2012, she founded The Pagan Circle, an online social media community that has grown to 23,000 members world-wide. In May, 2013 the Pagan Circle website was launched. On November 15, 2012, she founded Pagan Parents Online, another social media resource for Pagan Parents. In May 2013, she launched Enchanted Hollows, an online store dedicated to offering hand-made, old-world alchemical and magickal products and in 2014, Deja-Vuduu. Her published works include articles and features in Inner Realm and Wisdom Magazines, and she has made appearances on Darkness Radio, Z-Talk Radio, HEX Education,30-Odd Minutes and other media outlets. Regularly volunteering her time to the Pagan Community, Krystal is also an Ordained Minister and High Priestess of the Raven's Wing Coven in upstate New York, and founder of The Council of the Serment Sacre' (Sacred Oath) the Corvin Method of Witchcraft, and Festival of Witches in Sleepy Hollow, New York as well as playing host to the weekly radio show, "Good Morning Goddess", and Nocturnas Paranormal Radio on Blog Talk Radio. You can visit her on her websites at: http://www.krystalmadison.com http://www.festivalofwitches.com http://www.hudsonvalleybeltane.com
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