Welcome to the latest in our on-going column, ev0king the Question. Here, we invite regular ev0ke contributors and guests to share their thoughts on a particular question. Sometimes, it will be silly. Sometimes, it will be serious. Sometimes, a little bit of both.
Below, find this month’s question, and answers from Pagans and polytheists from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. Do you have thoughts of your own? If so, please feel free to share them below.
The Question: What is your opinion on sex magic, the morality thereof, and its effectiveness?
Laurelei Black is an American folkloric Witch, Aphrodite woman, and author. www.linktr.ee/laureleiblack
In my case, this question is a bit like asking a flower what it thinks of sunshine. I’m not sure what my own magickal practice would be, exactly, if sex magick were not involved. I mean, sure, it could exist via some other source of power, joy, and inspiration, but it wouldn’t be the same. Sex and magick have been linked in my mind (or in the very composition of my being) since I came to understand myself and my path.
Aphrodite is my patrona (to borrow a Latin term). She is the sponsor of a good portion of my magickal work, and she is a protector for me. She is a “foster mother.” I felt her presence in my life from the very beginnings of my magical exploration and education, and by the time I was actively participating with a coven, her influence was clear to both myself and the people around me.
The WitchFather, on the other hand, made himself known in my life even earlier, and there was a distinctly sexual flavor to our interactions. He was the driving force in my sexual fantasies as I awakened to myself as a sexual being, and he is probably at the root of why sex and witchcraft are so intimately linked [pun absolutely intended].
I have been a teacher of sex magick techniques and sacred sexuality practices. I view sex as healthy and positive (when it is consent-driven and engaged in by adults). I view sex magick as accessible to anyone who wishes to practice it, and I acknowledge it as a particularly powerful magick that taps into one of our basic human needs and drives.
Because of that (tapping into a basic human need), I think it is SUPER effective. My own mantic, goetic, theurgic, and thaumaturgic magick are all greatly boosted by harnessing and directing sexual energy. Anecdotally, I have heard of spectacular results for friends and associates, as well.
As for the ethics of sex magick, I take a typically (folkloric-)witchy view. If the sex itself is consentual, then the sex magick is ethical, as far as I’m concerned. I know not everyone will agree with that, but it is where I stand. After all, sexual partners are often not approaching the interaction with the same motivations, goals, hopes, etc. Moreover, those motivations, goals, and hopes are rarely simple – or and they aren’t always even expressed. Sex occupies space and power in many places in our physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. To expect two (or more) partners to be aligned and conscious of all those things is … impractical. (Although, sex magick partners who ARE aligned with each other and conscious of their own motivations as well as their partners’ have the potential for Godd-level results. This is the ideal, though, not the baseline.)
Perhaps it is worth mentioning, too, that sex magick doesn’t necessitate a partner. I’ve done powerful work with my own partner (who is also a magickal practitioner), but most of the sex magick I could name in my own practice has only involved me and a Spirit. This is an area of witchery that feels taboo and private to discuss, but it is one that more folkloric witches like myself are starting to have candid and open conversations about. (I’m looking forward to seeing what paths those conversations open up for witches and pagans in the future.)
Rebecca Buchanan is a regular contributor to ev0ke. Her poems and short stories have been published in a wide variety of venues, a complete list of which can be found at Eternal Haunted Summer.
For me, the matter of sex magic boils down to two essential elements: 1) consent and 2) intent. In other words, pretty much the same as any other type of magic, but with the added risks of emotional and physical manipulation.
Everyone involved must not only be an adult, but a consenting, fully-informed, fully-knowledgeable adult. No half-truths, no waffling, no manipulation or guilt trips or lies. Lay it all out (pun intended). Everyone must understand and accept what is about to happen, and why, and the potential consequences. Everyone must be perfectly clear on why the rite is being performed and what the ultimate objective is. As such, sex magic (in my opinion) should only be performed by people who trust one another and have known one another long enough to trust that judgement and one another’s intent.
It should go without saying, but I unfortunately have to add here that any sex should be safe. Take all necessary precautions against disease and unwanted pregnancy.
Ashley Nicole Hunter is the founder of ev0ke, and a regular contributor.
It’s been many, many years since I personally identified with Wicca, but I’m still fond of the old intonation “All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.” We eat, dance, make art, and sing to glorify the divine and in homage to the spirits, how can we fail to make use of pleasure in our rituals and ceremonies, too?
Are there safety constraints around the use of sex in rituals? Of course, but the same can be said of food and drink (we don’t hand alcohol out to minors, and we don’t slip belladonna into the cookies all willy-nilly). There’s a potential for abuse and suffering, but again, take a look at what horrors you can find in the arts world and you can say the same.
The fact is that life is fraught with peril, and its our good sense and willingness to look out for one another that keeps us safe. Let us not shy away from pleasure freely given and received between two consenting adults, then, as one more path to the Mysteries.
Irisanya Moon (she/they) is an author, witch, and initiate in the Reclaiming tradition. She has written books and blogs on magick, resilience, and dancing with grief. Irisanya cultivates spaces of self-care/devotion, divine relationship (whatever that means to you), and community service as part of their heart magick, activism, and devotion to the godds. She is devoted to Aphrodite, Iris, Hecate, and the Norns. www.irisanyamoon.com
Once upon a time, I was Catholic. One of the most magickal things to me in that religion was the way Jesus was born: through virginal conception. I was told that Mary did not have sex and yet was then pregnant with the son of God. I remember being horrified by the idea that this could happen, after all, having sex outside of marriage was a big no-no. How did God reconcile this? Was it only okay if he said it was?
Fast-forward to learning about witchcraft while still living in the Midwest. Sex was barely discussed as a part of the Craft I learned from local teachers. What I do remember was the whole chalice and blade reference in some older books, ones that evoked (or had? I can’t remember) pictures of this symbolic act of communion between a man and a woman. I was solitary, so I didn’t pay much attention. Though on some level, it did creep me out. It seemed too male-centered. Too rigid and binary, even though I didn’t really know much about that yet.
That’s the Catholicism talking, I said. And I was also clear that I would not be participating in any sexual activity as part of my witchcraft. That was for my partner and me, not for my coven or any other witchcraft activities.
Enter Reclaiming and Feri, from which I learned and worked with the Iron Pentacle, a tool of meditation and energy (and still do). A tool that starts its magickal flow with Sex. Lifeforce. Our birthright. I considered more deeply my relationship with sex, how it waxes and wanes. How I had blocks to that energy and how I had been overflowing. The energy of sex can be exciting, intense, and overwhelming, all in positively delightful ways.
I expanded my understanding of sex and gender and desire, moving away from the narrowness of Midwest thinking and into a broader landscape of possibility, connection, and configuration. And still, I didn’t hear much about sex magic in the places I was in. Maybe it was because it was thought to be too dangerous or seen to be problematic more often than not.
I have known sex to be used as a tool of control and domination. I’ve heard of witchcraft traditions that required/require initiates and members to have sex with each other, with those in power. Sex is powerful. Desire is powerful. Power is powerful. Like any powerful thing, it can be corrupted by the corrupt. Those in power like to see how far their power can reach. Some in power avoid conversations of consent in favor of their desires, all of them.
That is not sex magic. That is coercion.
If I can step outside of what is clearly abuse, we can move into sex magic as a tool in a witch’s toolbox. I think of the story of the Star Goddess, the one who looked into the curved mirror and fell in love with Hirself. In doing do, she birthed universes. From the great orgasm was born all that is known and loved.
Orgasms raise energy to a focal point to fuel spells and other workings. When sex is used as a tool of creation of this energy and held with intention and purpose, magick happens. Of course, it does. When consensual sex moves to orgasm and the partners focus on that energy driving a certain intention, this can be a powerful practice.
Of course, you can also do this practice on your own. It’s one that I will do in times of disconnect from my purpose. I gather my lost pieces and distracted selves into myself, and as the waves of orgasm build, I bring them into myself, together, sending out power to my future self with the orgasm. This allows me to be more focused and self-contained, more in alignment with my power. Like the Star Goddess, I can birth something new. I can fall in love with myself and create galaxies.
For me, this is one of the daily practices I am most consistent with, though I don’t really consider it a practice as much as a part of remembering who I am, the power that I am, and the power I can wield from within, from pleasure, from knowing and naming my desire. I find it highly effective when I am focused on my intention and clear on my direction. I have healed myself and I have remembered myself with sex magic. In many forms beyond this example.
And to be clear, sex itself as the act of asking for what you want and what you desire is magick too. Orgasm or not. Partner or not.
When sex magic (in its many forms) is practiced consensually, it is a powerful tool that witches and humans have always had available. It is the energy that can fuel birth, that can connect us back to pleasure, and can remind us of the wondrous spells we are — inherently.