I was raised in a very repressive culture here in Utah. Though my family lived more on the edges of the dominate religion it affected me in many ways I have spent decades trying to find ways to deal with. When I left that cult behind I looked into Neo-Paganism. Where I had been in a culture that felt men must be in charge, some Neo-Pagans feel women must be in charge. Though many try to find a balance in life. I have always liked this idea, balance. Even when the religion I was following didn’t really teach it, I tried to find balance. Here was a religion that at least some of the teachers were saying we should strive for balance. No wonder I was drawn, and no wonder I was again disappointed.
A few days ago I saw a tweet from Sacred Ed--Thankful For Good Positive Sex! (@SacredEd2018) commenting on an episode from Casual Swinger podcast (@casualswinger). I will admit I haven’t been listening to podcasts much lately. I listened to the episode. The Casual Swingers had been at Hedonism and were approached by a couple who happen to be pastors. Most of the episode was an interview with this couple. Though they used many Christian terms they also mentioned that Yoga and Tantra were good spiritual practices. They also mentioned that religion has been weaponized.
I’ve been watching this change in our culture over that last two or three decades. There has been a movement away from religion but many are seeking spirituality. When I was young, I and many others, considered them to be the same thing. If you wanted to be spiritual, you were religious. For many centuries there have been those who weaponize religion but it has become extreme again in recent years. Spirituality on the other hand is individual, and can be sex positive. Some of the Pagan books I read and some of the paths I learned about had a different attitude towards sex than the conservative path I was raised in, but I’m not sure I would classify all of them as sex positive. Some of those paths had also been weaponized.
To understand why the ideas that came out in the interview affected me enough to want to write about them you need to understand what my view of spirit as evolved into. I see a person’s spirit as a part of their personality. I really don’t care if there is something inhabiting the body or just the unique combination of the inherited ways a body works and the experiences they have that determines a particular person’s spirit. There are practices that are called spiritual which help that person deal with the struggles of life. They let us think about and feel what life is doing to us. They are as much a part of the body as they are of the mind. Our emotions and thoughts affect what our body is doing. What our body is doing affects our emotions and thoughts.
This view of a person is a duality. A marriage is a duality. One person’s desires aren’t entirely the same as the other person’s desires. The two come together to form a team or partnership where they can do things together and to help each other, but they are still two separate individuals. I have really been struggling with seeing a person as two separate beings, a body and a spirit. Just as I don’t think a couple can completely become one, but can work together, I don’t think a person is other than one. I don’t see a person as a duality, but as a single person. I don’t want to say spiritual practices won’t do someone some good. I’m saying spiritual practices will affect us physically. Physical practices like exercise or sexual activity will affect us spiritually. Each of us is one being. The pastors call this a holistic view rather than a dualistic view of an individual.
I have been reading a Star Trek novel written by Diane Duane in the 1980’s about joining up with some Romulans to solve a problem. In the process of telling this story the author brings out that though Spock has a human parent and a Vulcan parent he isn’t half of one and half of the other, he is a whole being. I’ve read this novel a number of times but haven’t understood a whole being in the same way as I did this time. The holistic view the pastors mention has shown me a way to discuss a whole person.
So we are each an individual with our own wants, desires, and goals. Sometimes we need to choose between some wants and desires to set our goals to take ourselves to the experiences we want. The noise of day to day life, not just the sounds but also the different people trying to get our attention, can make it difficult to clearly figure out which wants and desires we need to use as we set our paths. Most spiritual practices I’m aware of help us block out that noise so we can work through conflicts between different wants and desires. Yoga can be practiced in ways it is spiritual, done correctly it is always good physically. That connection between body and spirit again. Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, is another spiritual practice that can help us quiet things so as to really listen to what we need to hear from our own spirit. Tantric sex is also a spiritual practice. The spirit and the body go together, even during sexual activity.
Whether a person chooses to have that sexual activity with someone of the same sex, of another sex, or by themselves, it can be a spiritual experience. They may choose to always be with the same person, or with a group, or with a different person each time, etc. It will always affect the spirit but at times can be more physical so we may think of it as just a physical, or bodily, activity. As I pointed out before, the body affects the spirit. Our state of mind will determine whether an activity affects the body more, or the spirit more, but both will be affected.
Many spiritual traditions, and many religious paths, see this time of year as special. Whether you celebrate Yule/Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or another holiday, I hope it is enjoyable for you. I hope you have spiritual experiences, and urge you not to be afraid to engage in appropriate sexual activity as part of those spiritual experiences. Most all who read this will be honoring the New Year in some way. I hope it is enjoyable for you and that 2020 brings you closer to understanding yourself as a whole person who uses spiritual and physical activities to help make the whole year great.