Sex, Nudity, Magick, and Community Participation.

One of the more appalling aspects of the community, for me anyways, are people getting taken advantage of sexually. And it’s not that I don’t care or think its not as bad when people are taken advantage of another way, like say financially. It’s that people getting taken advantage of sexually, at least from what I’ve seen, is a much bigger problem in the community, partly because the behavior has become somewhat acceptable in the community.

I’m a very strong proponent of both sex magick and skyclad practice. Sex magick is a valid form of magical practice. It can yield results and their are a lot of unique aspects to it and interesting things to try. Inside of the right environment and with the right partners it can be a very spiritually rewarding experience. Plus I really like both sex and magick. In my eyes the fellow who first put the two together is a genius of the same caliber as the guy who thought to put a hamburger patty inside of two Krispy Kreme donuts.

As for skyclad practice, I’ve practiced skyclad in the past and actually prefer skyclad practice. I think it’s a spiritually beneficial practice and the positive aspects far outweigh the negative ones. I also think that there may be other non-spiritual advantages for at least some people, such as increased self-esteem and a more positive body image. Plus I think whatever it is you happen to be doing, you’d probably enjoy doing it more if you were naked.

Good luck putting together a skyclad group though (unless you hope to include only gay men or straight women). It’s even getting hard to have a serious discussion about sex magic in a group. And the big reason why we can’t have these things, why people aren’t willing to participate or at least experiment and try these things, is because we allow sexual predation in the community.

Most women are at least a little bit cautious about putting themselves into situations where they might be raped in some way. Most straight men won’t show up to a skyclad ritual unless there are at least a few women, which usually has more to do with either a fear of being tricked into showing up to a gay orgy or a fear of being labeled gay because they attended the event. And there are valid reasons for both men and women to be cautious of being raped or otherwise sexually used by both men and women, since sexual predators can be either gender and of any of any sexual orientation.

And attending an event where you and everyone else is expected to be naked isn’t really the safest situation not to get raped in. The only people who will attend those types of events (without some kind of manipulation at least) are people who feel relatively safe within the group, or people who would actually like to have sex with everyone present, men and women.

With a large mixed gender group of a dozen or more people, most people under normal circumstances would feel safe. In a group that large, you would expect that if one person grabbed you and tried to take you somewhere, or tried to rape you right in front of everyone, or even tried to take advantage of you, that the rest of the group would be completely appalled by their behavior. Not only would they defend you against the individual, but the individual would be ostracized from the group, and the group would cooperate with police which would probably result in the person being punished and ending up in prison.

That’s the case with a normal group. Not with a magical group. Go look at some magical groups within your local community. Within a lot of these groups, there is sexual predation happening, and the other group members accept this. Within the larger community there is also sexual predation happening which individual practitioners also accept. This may not be outright rape, but it’s still predation and it’s still wrong. The fact that this happens doesn’t inspire people to believe that if an outright rape did happen that the other participants would help them at all. They might allow it to happen, and even help to cover up the fact that it did happen. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s implied by the fact that they allow lesser offenses to happen.

Think about it, how many group leaders, teachers, and supposed community elders are requiring sex from certain people for initiation or teaching or other services? How many people are using spiritual arguments to convince people into sleeping with them that normally wouldn’t? How many people are playfully groping or touching others in ways that make them feel uncomfortable? And how much disgust do we see because of these behaviors?

Seriously I can’t remember the last time someone in the community, man or woman, talked about this stuff and was really upset that it was happening to someone else. Meanwhile I can’t even begin to count the amount of times people have jokingly referred to an older group leader’s habit of sexual initiations with teenage girls while at the same time having the utmost reverence and respect for him (and yes there was a specific guy like this in my local community to which I’m referring, who is still very well respected, but fortunately dead now).

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that many people look at alternative (ie non-Christian) spiritualities as doing away with a lot of oppressions, one of the big ones being sexual oppressions. Under our new spiritual beliefs sex is no longer typically a bad thing. Premarital sex is okay. Casual sex is okay. Homosexual sex is okay. Alternate sexual practices are okay. We come to the conclusion that the rules against sex inherent to Christianity and other religions were created for no other reason but to repress us and limit our pleasure, and not put into place because of some valid (at least at the time) concerns about certain sexual practices. Ultimately a lot of us have come to the conclusion that any kind of consensual sex, at least in regards to legal adults, is okay or even righteous and beautiful and shouldn’t be judged.

But that is simply not the case. Sex is not always an amoral act. Sex can be a very hurtful and destructive act, and engaging in consensual sex can be wrong.

There are of course little wrongs and big wrongs. People make mistakes within romantic relationships and other people get hurt, and sex is part of that. We’d all have to remain celibate and never so much as entertain the idea of dating anyone ever if we want to be safe from screwing up and risk hurting other people. At the same time I think most sexually active people can think of a time when they shouldn’t have slept with someone or did some other sexual act with them because it hurt someone they cared about.

The problem is the big wrongs. These are things any moral person knows is wrong before they do it, where they know they’re going to hurt the other person, and they do it anyways because they don’t care. When a person in their forties is having sex with an eighteen year old, there is something very wrong with that sexual relationship. We know the eighteen year old is being manipulated and taken advantage of.

Sexual harassment is wrong. It’s not wrong to express attraction or sexuality and people do sometimes get their signals crossed and maybe overstep a boundary and do something that is unwelcomed. However when a person makes it clear that certain advances or acts are unwelcomed and the second person continues to do them anyways, or when a person is put into a situation where they’re intimidated or otherwise led into believing that it would be unwise for them to express their discomfort this is harassment, and it’s wrong.

Basically any time that you get someone to have sex with you for any reason other then the fact that they like you, find you attractive, and want to have sex with you it’s wrong. When someone uses spirituality or spiritual arguments to have sex with someone else, that is wrong. In my eyes that’s one of the worst things you can do spiritually, because you’re trading your spirituality to almost rape someone.

We all know this argument. It’s used by lots of different predators. They use it to convince straight people to experiment and have homosexual sex. They use it to convince young people to have sex with old people. They use it to convince attractive people to have sex with overweight withered old hags. They use it to convince people to be polyamorous. They use it to convince people to engage in deviant sexual acts they normally would never want to try.

The arguments usually come in the forms of moving beyond your boundaries and doing things you normally wouldn’t do, or things that may outright disgust you, because this will give you greater magical power. I’ve also seen arguments along the lines of you should be willing to have sex with anybody because it will open up your options in regards to things like having sex with a demon possessed person during a ritual.

It’s one thing if a person makes the decision on their own that they would like to try new sexual acts they normally wouldn’t because they believe this may improve their spiritual self and then they go and seek out those acts. It’s another thing for a person to try to convince another of this for the sole purpose of having sex with them (under no circumstances should you ever take advice about who you should have sex with from someone who wants to have sex with you, unless they’re your spouse).

It’s also wrong for someone to withhold spiritual training, teaching or initiation from someone unless they have sex with them. It’s also wrong to try to convince someone that the only way to follow their spiritual path, reach their true potential, or achieve true initiation is through sex or a sexual act.

Most of the people in the community are not sexual predators. Most of us know these acts are wrong and would never do them or participate in them. The problem is that the vast majority of the community tolerates this behavior, or at best remains silent about it. And we shouldn’t do that, if not because it’s wrong then because we all end up labeled as sexual predators and we are all ultimately punished when we are no longer allowed to do or even talk about anything spiritually that may involve nudity or sex because no one will show up to our group or function because of it.

What we need to do is very simple. If we don’t tolerate this behavior, it will get better. If someone in your group, even a leader, is taking sexual advantage of people speak out against them. Talk to other members of the group, speak with their intended victims and offer your advice, and confront the person. And if the group does not kick the person out and make it clear that there behavior won’t be tolerated, leave and take as many members as you can with you.

If you know that the local shop owner or someone on their staff is taking sexual advantage of people, stop shopping there and inform as many customers as you can.

If you know someone is a sexual predator, don’t associate with them. Don’t allow them into your group. Don’t allow them at your functions. Make it very clear that you are not going to associate with them, and that you look disfavorably on anyone who does.

When people make light of and are generally accepting of a situation involving sexual predation, confront them about it. Make a scene and make them ashamed of the way they’re acting. Make it clear that they are doing something wrong by accepting this behavior, even if they aren’t the perpetrator, and that people in the community like yourself find this unacceptable.

And above all, talk about these things. With sexual predation or any other type of manipulation or fraud in the community, the thing that allows these people to continue to get away with this stuff is that people in the community don’t talk. The largest communities out there are still fairly small, small enough that word of mouth can move through them very fast. If you know someone is a sexual predator or if you know a group allows sexual predation, tell everyone you know. Ruin their reputation. I don’t understand it with all of the drama and bullshit and rumors floating around the community, but when it’s something important like a high priest/ess that rapes new initiates, no one ever wants to gossip about it.

We need to cut off membership to the groups that support this behavior. We need to stop shopping at stores that support this kind of behavior. And we need to ostracize and make it clear that no respectable person in the community will associate with or help people that are sexual predators. When we do this the worst of the predators will be kicked out of the community, and the rest will at least be restrained out of a fear that their actions will have very serious consequences.

BTW I apologize for the series of community rants that has recentally overtaken my blog. Next up I promise something that specifically deals with practical magic. Expect either a spell or ritual of some sort or an article on the properties of common herbs.

10 Responses to Sex, Nudity, Magick, and Community Participation.

  1. We carefully screen everyone before they are even allowed in our Outer Court, where we do robed practice. The real problem is that too many coven leaders are unwilling to say, “No,” to people. In my group, skyclad practice is reserved for initiates only, and you do not become an initiate until we completely and fully trust you, and vice versa. That “perfect love and perfect trust” thing isn’t a joke or a clever thing to throw around because it sounds cool.

    • Rob says:

      Although I agree with you that some sort of screening process should be mandatory for any group, especially one wanting to do serious ritual work, as far as sexual exploitation goes the best screening processes won’t help when the perpetrators are part of the group leadership, or some other person who has attained a position of respect or authority within the community.

      At that point the only way to fix the problem is for community members to stand up to the groups and leaders who are causing problems and making it clear that their behavior is no longer going to be tolerated in the community, and also for other group leaders not compromise and allow a known perpetrator into their group because of the reputation, lineage, knowledge, or power they may be able to bring to the group.

  2. Yeah, the only problem is, that solution empowers gossip mongers and busybodies. Given the level of maturity I’ve seen of far too many people who claim status in pagan practice, I think I’d rather have the occasional sexual predator.

    • Rob says:

      Being part of a community where most group leaders are sexual predators and this is considered acceptable behavior by all, I’d rather have the gossip.

      Gossip alone isn’t enough though. You have to confront these people and stand up to them. Too many people in the community are quick to gossip, but even though everyone talks about having power and being part of the elite, almost no one has the courage to confront someone and stand up to them.

      • I have this rule when dealing with people. If someone I would trust with my Paypal password (that is, very few people) tells me they’re rotten, I’ll avoid them. Otherwise, I take each person at face value, and until they show to me personally that they are rotten. It doesn’t take me long to figure it out; I trust my witch instincts implicitly.

        I have had to take this approach, especially among the larger pagan population in my hometown, because there are so many people accusing so many other people of every shameful thing you can imagine, including but not limited to pedophilia, passing out racist/white pride literature, intimidation, threats of violence, rape, and theft. I’ve known firsthand that many of these accusations were false and bred from contempt, not truth. I’ve seen it up close, and it’s very ugly.

        Unless someone is well trusted by me, their words are meaningless when it comes to accusing others, as well they should be. I charge seekers to take responsibility for their own well being. Don’t join groups with people that suck. If you find out that a group’s leaders suck, leave that group and find one that doesn’t suck. I’ve left groups with leaders I felt sucked – their authoritarian, cult-like mentalities were what made me say, “Uhh, no” – and never looked back.

        Ultimately, each person is responsible for their own safety, personal growth, and well-being.

        I run a coven, I keep a blog, and I sometimes teach public classes. I guess that makes me a “community leader.” I, however, am not a judge and jury. I certainly wouldn’t want someone taking my word at face value on something so damaging as accusations of sexual misconduct. I don’t and won’t give that kind of power to other people, and it shouldn’t be indiscriminately handed to me.

  3. zevenster says:

    I would like to subscribe to this blog via the feed sign, but when I click it, it gives me pages of HTMLprogramming instead of the usual info to subscribe. What is going wrong for me?

    • Rob says:

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems. The feed button is not something I programmed or have any control over. It’s supplied by my webhost I’m guessing the problem has something to do with the way your browser is set up since the feed button works fine for me. If you’re using a separate program you could try highlighting the URL to my blog and dragging it into the program (with most programs that lets you subscribe to the feed). If you’re using Google reader you can search for my blog and it’ll come up and you can subscribe that way.

  4. I am in a pretty wonderful pagan community. There is one guy on the fringe who claims to channel the Horned God. He is in a relationship with two women, whom he claims channel “Goddesses”. He has told me he “must” sleep with who ever the God tells him to. Now he has started trying to tell me who is “in me”. Uh, hello, does he think this will really work? This is just another form of sexual predation. I’ve stopped talking to this person, but I do expect he will show up at open group functions. I’ve considered painting a warning sign on him “caution – dark god at play” NOT! He does seem to have an inner radar in regards to finding people who have been victims of prior abuse, and then he latches on to them. Any suggestions on how to deal with this guy?

    • Rob says:

      You could always actually channel the goddess he says is in you. Depending on the goddess, it may not work out very well for him. I can think of some interesting things to do with a reverse glamour here, or with some nasty love spells I know. Those can be used for things other than bring you the mate you desire :)

      Possessed sex is a real practice, and there are legitimate ways to practice it, but it’s become a tool of certain predators in the community. I’ve usually seen it used to convince straight people that they should have homosexual sex when they are uncomfortable doing that. As for his inner-radar, it’s not a hard thing to do. There are certain behaviors and personality traits that are common among victims of sexual abuse and people who are dealing with other psychological issues that make them more susceptible to these sexual manipulations. I’m obviously not going to post what these behaviors and personality traits are, but they’re fairly broad and are easy to identify if you know what you’re looking for. He may not even realize that he’s targeting sexual abuse victims. He may just have noticed, through trial and error, that girls who act that way are more likely to sleep with him.

      The first thing I would do is talk to the group leaders about his behavior and about banning him from future events. Even if it is an open meet-up and held in a public place, a lot can be done by the group, under the direction of the leadership, to make him know that he’s unwanted there and he won’t be tolerated. The leadership may refuse to do something. A lot of times group leaders don’t like causing waves, especially with established group members who may take other group members with them when they leave. If that’s the case, start talking with other people in the group so that you can approach the leaders with a large number of group members. When it’s a choice between dealing with him and possibly losing a large amount of group members, the leadership is far more likely to act.

      Beyond that, there are a lot of things that can be done to stop other girls from becoming victims. When my sister was in college, her sorority had a lot of different tactics that they taught the girls to make sure no one got taken advantage of, and a lot of it is common sense. Don’t let the girls go off alone, keep them in a group. This deters guys who don’t already feel comfortable with the group from approaching the girls within it. Make sure all of the girls who came alone or in a group have a ride home so that no one is stuck having a guy they don’t know take them home. If you do see someone being taken advantage of, make it a point to intervene. I’m not a girl, so I don’t know all of these tactics, but I’m told most girls have some idea how this all works.

      The other thing is, make sure girls aren’t left as easy targets at your functions. If you see someone sitting alone who isn’t really getting along with the group, go and talk to them and welcome them into your own little clique within the group. Also if you see a girl who seems susceptible, talk to her about how pretty or nice she looks. The thing is, a lot of times the fact they feel they’re desirable, and the self-esteem boost that comes with that, will make the difference between whether or not they sleep with a guy like this.

      Also be vocal and warn new people about this guy and the creepy sort of stuff he does. It will help them be on guard about him, and they’ll form a negative perception of him before he even gets a chance to make a first impression. And use peer pressure to your advantage. New group members aren’t going to want to be known as the person who slept with the guy everyone in the group thought was gross.

  5. Pythia says:

    When my partner and I refused to force our initiates to have sex with us for their elevations, as was supposedly “required” by the trad in which we’d trained, we were summarily blacklisted within said trad and denounced for sexual impropriety. In our current practice we are extremely, possibly excessively, vigilant, and have gone out of our way to achieve transparency so that no one coming up even has to worry for a moment that there will be an unpleasant naked surprise sprung on them at a later moment.

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