Wiccan Views on Sex

Updated on August 10, 2017
WiccanSage profile image

A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.

Wicca for Beginners: Wicca and Sex

In many religions, sex is seen as sinful to a large extent. In the more mainstream world religions it's reserved for two married people and not up for debate. Most people don't think about their God having sex (in most major world religions, God's sex life is non-existent; it's believed he brought forth the universe by his word, and in one major group of religions (Christianity) even his son was brought forth by immaculate conception).

Things are a bit different in Wicca, which is why it is sometimes misunderstood. Wicca is a fertility religion, so sex has a prominent place within it. Sex is intertwined with many Wiccan beliefs, rites, rituals and myths. Further, there's so much more to sex than just the sex act.

Let's take a look at some of the complexities of this subject, and see how it fits in the Wiccan religion.

Mother Goddess, Fertility Symbol

Wicca Rituals and Sabbats often include invocations of fertility deities.
Wicca Rituals and Sabbats often include invocations of fertility deities. | Source

Wicca: A Fertility Religions

If you ask most people what Wicca is, you'll probably hear it's a 'nature-based religion'. One has to take into consideration that, in Wicca, nature is not blinked into existence. Nature means sex.

Sex, of course, is pleasurable, is an expression of love, and it's how we bring children into our lives. But think beyond the mechanics of human sex. Sex ensures the propagation of most species and the continuation of life. Fruit-bearing plants reproduce sexually. Life on the planet hinges on it being a fertile planet. The birds and the bees have it right: sex is not just part of life, it's not just life affirming-- it is what life is about.

You will find fertility symbols and symbols of sexuality everywhere in Wicca. They reflect the fertility of nature. As the man plants a seed of life in the woman, so the farmer plants the seed in the ground.

Look at the Wheel of the Year-- it revolves around the agricultural cycle, which are the cycles that revolve around the Earth's fertility. Common mythology associated with the cycles of the seasons revolves around sex. The Goddess and God have sex, she becomes pregnant, he dies and is reborn of the Goddess. Thus the cycle is perpetuated.

This is not to be taken as advocating incest between mother and son (indeed, we don't take myth as something that literally happens). What Wicca teaches us is that the energies of the Divine duality -- sexual energies-- are intertwined with the fertility cycles in nature.

Blatent Fertility Symbol

The Maypole at Beltane, the Wiccan Sabbat, is a giant phallic symbol. The wreath and the Earth it's plunged into are yonic symbols. Beltane is one of our 3 annual fertility festivals.
The Maypole at Beltane, the Wiccan Sabbat, is a giant phallic symbol. The wreath and the Earth it's plunged into are yonic symbols. Beltane is one of our 3 annual fertility festivals. | Source

Sexual Symbols in Wicca

When learning about Wicca for beginners, we're introduced to the various altar tools. Looking at Wiccan tools upon the altar, you'll find a lot of sexual symbolism. The majority of tools are aligned with a gender. Wiccan tools associated with the female gender represent the vagina and the womb (yonic symbols). They're generally passive and receptive. Tools associated with the male gender represent the penis (phallic symbols). They're generally active and projective.

Wiccan Tools and Sexual Symbolism

Gender Association
Athame/ritual knife/sword
Projecting and directing energy
projective; active; Element of Air (masculine); phallic symbol
Projecting and directing energy
projective; active; Element of Fire (masculine); phallic
Holding things (namely, liquid)
receptive; passive; Element of Water (feminine); yonic symbol
Pentacle/disc symbol
Holding things; things placed on it for blessings
receptive; passive; Element of Earth (feminine); yonic symbol

Great Rite Pumpkin Carving


"As the athame is to the male, so the cup is to the female; and cojoined, they become one in truth."

-- The Witches Bible Complete, Janet and Stewart Farrar

Wicca for Beginners: The Great Rite

While in some religions, polarity as seen as the battle between good and evil. In Wicca, polarity is seen as the intermingling of genders-- equals yet opposites. The goal is not for one to destroy the other, but to bring them together in perfect harmony and balance.

Phallus is the Latin for penis, and it's is the generative force in nature. Yonic is the ancient Sanskrit word for vagina or womb, and it is the receptive force in nature. The meeting of these two symbols is displayed in a part of the Wiccan ritual called The Great Rite.

The most common form of the Great Rite is performed symbolically. The ritual knife is plunged into the ritual chalice. This is symbolic sex-- not just the physical sex act, but the union of opposites, which represents the creative forces of the universe. It is the meeting of the masculine and the feminine, the positive and the negative, the yin and the yang-- two parts that come together equally to form a new whole.

The Great Rite is usually performed symbolically in Wiccan rituals, but not always. In some covens, the High Priest and High Priestess may perform the actual Great Rite during ritual. This is usually performed by the High Priest and High Priestess, who are usually an involved couple. It's also generally performed in private-- other ritual participants exit, or there is a private place prepared for the rite.

Not all Wiccan covens reserve the Great Rite for romantically involved couples. That would miss the point of what it means to be a High Priest/ess. When 3rd degree is reached, the High Priest and High Priestess are acting as vessels of the God and Goddess invoked. The point is to put your own ego aside and channel the deities. But hang-ups about sex are hard to shake, even for some Wiccans. Having sex with someone purely for ritual religious purposes -- though it may be perfectly fitting within the context of Wicca -- is still something few Wiccans pursue (most likely because they fear the criticism it would draw from outsiders). As such, this practice is so very rare these days some Wiccans will insist it's never happened and never will.

Sex Magic in Wicca

Aside from the Great Rite, sex is sometimes used in Wiccan ritual for the purpose of magic. This can be performed by anyone who wishes to engage in it-- not just High Priests and Priestesses. This is not about channeling the divine to perform a sacred act in ritual, it's simply a very practical means to an end.

The premise behind a work of magic is that the practitioner(s) raise energy and directed toward a goal. Sex is considered a powerful way of building energy and releasing it at climax. It's often something couples who practice magic together will do in the privacy of their own home. Solitary Wiccans may achieve the same effects through masturbation.

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Wiccan Views on Human Sexuality

Because Wiccans view sex as a natural, positive, life-affirming act, we generally accept our sexual nature as part of being human. We don't see anything wrong with nudity -- the naked human body is merely the natural state. There are no distinctions made in Wicca about having sex before or after marriage-- a healthy expression of physical love between consenting people is perfectly acceptable.

This doesn't mean that every Wiccan chooses to be sexually active, or to have multiple sex partners. Some still opt for abstinence, celibacy or they reserve sex for serious relationships. Everyone must make their own choices about their own bodies. While there are no wrong decisions, sexual activities are not decisions that should be taken lightly.

Likewise, few Wiccans have hang-ups these days about sexual orientation. It should be noted that when Wicca began to develop in the 1940s and grow in the 1950s, homophobia wasn't uncommon. People were still largely a product of their own time. But attitudes have changed, and you'll find the vast majority of Wiccans are very liberal about various orientations and identifications, and supporters of LGBT rights.

"Promiscuity is not sexual freedom-- it's just slavery to a different master."

-- Family Wicca; Ashleen O'Gaia

Open Doesn't Mean "Anything Goes"

Just because Wiccans have open and progressive attitudes towards sex, it should not be assumed that it means we think 'anything goes'. Wicca's key tenets are finding a healthy balance in life and taking personal responsibility for oneself. Sex may be natural, but nature can be exploited and misused.

Sometimes, sex can be considered unhealthy:

  • When there's an imbalance of power. This is why reputable covens do not engage in ritual sex initiation of neophytes. If the coven is performing the actual Great Rite, it's performed between two people in equal positions of power. Any Wiccan coven claiming you're required to have sex with someone to join is a coven you should run away from-- quickly.
  • Imbalance of power extends to beyond the coven; sex between child/adult, teacher/student, employer/employee and the like is always sketchy, if not outright inappropriate, and potentially damaging.
  • When sex is not about sex. When it's not about a personal, intimate connection to someone else, but used as a tool of manipulation; used fill a void left by something else; sometimes it's an obsession/compulsion or a cry for attention. When sex essentially becomes like substance abuse, a person needs to deal with the underlying issue.
  • When sex is not consensual. Sex that is forced or involves manipulated is not an act of love or life-affirming, but an act of violence and control.
  • When a person is irresponsible about it. When they expose themselves to diseases, or - worse - expose others, or have unwanted children that they're not prepared to care for, this is neither balanced nor responsible.

There are some other topics that are more hotly debated. For example, some would say pornography is healthy for the most part because it's consensual and a fantasy indulgence; others would say the porn industry exploits sex, and people, for profit. There's always room for debate on the details.

The Charge of the Goddess Recital

Wiccan Attitudes Towards Sex

Overall, you'll find Wicca a religion in which we're free to embrace our sexuality and express it if we choose. This is not because we want to go wild and get crazy, but because we respect and value sex as a natural force, and part of our human nature. As with all things, it's not about blindly following arbitrary guidelines, but in using judgement and wisdom when acting and making decisions. As long as we're acting in a responsible and thoughtful manner, and keeping a healthy balance, our sexuality is something we can embrace without guilt or shame.

Beginner Wiccans should realize, we don't believe our Gods think sex is sinful, nor do we believe they expect us to fight our true natures and desires. As it says in our main piece of liturgy:

And ye shall be free from slavery;

and as a sign that ye be truly free,

you shall be naked in your rites;

and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love,

all in my praise.

For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit,

and mine also is joy on earth;

for my law is love unto all beings. -- Charge of the Goddess; Doreen Valiente

© 2014 Mackenzie Sage Wright


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    • profile image

      Mike Ess 5 weeks ago

      I really appreciate this article. It sheds a lot of light on something that really should be discussed more and at length.

      As I'd mentioned elsewhere, I was soured on Wicca for quite a while due, in large part, to toxic leadership. This included my involvement in a sexual relationship with said leader. 20-year-old me had quite a lot of fun and learned a lot as well, but it came at a price.

      Filtered through hindsight, the relationship hits quite a few of the unhealthy points listed above. After we broke it off, I couldn't help but feel bitter about the whole thing for reasons I couldn't properly articulate.

      Almost 20 years on, I now know that there was very much a power play going on and that I was being used and emotionally manipulated. I'm hoping it was for nothing more than some ego strokes, but I can't say for sure. I do know that it messed me up in little ways that I'm still discovering.

      If this article can help someone recognize a similar situation and avoid it, then you have my everlasting gratitude.

    • Carrol Pugh profile image

      Carrol Pugh 2 months ago

      Blessed Be.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 8 months ago

      Hi Alan; I concur, freedom of choice is a beautiful thing. Thanks for your comment!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 8 months ago

      Okay... I'm pretty sure that's what I said. Again, I'm at a loss for why you keep reiterating what I've already agreed with.

      I was sexually molested growing up by Catholics... it's not like every time I talk to a Catholic I feel compelled to remind them that people in their churches molested children. I'm not going to blame all Catholics for the perversions of others... I don't even bring it up normally, because people today had nothing to do with the people that hurt me as a child, and I don't pretend that this is somehow condoned by Catholic doctrine when it was clearly an aberration of the doctrine and people acting out of their own selfish desires.

      So again, I guess I just don't think like you, so your point of repeatedly trying to drive this home escapes me. We've both agreed anyone can find bad, unethical people in all walks of life.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 8 months ago

      Of course what I practice is not practiced by all Wiccans. Again, what is your point? I keep saying, I know there are terrible people who do terrible things, Wiccans included.

      What does that have to do with what I'm teaching about, though?

      It's like when people blame all cops because some cops are crooked. We know that, but why do you keep bringing it up? Are you saying that because some Wiccans you knew did disgusting things, that somehow we're all guilty by association?

      If that's what you're implying, I would have to say I disagree with the concept of guilt by association. If that's not what you're saying, I'm at a loss for what you mean.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 8 months ago from Tasmania

      It sounds to me like the Wiccan belief system is not bogged down by all that controlling circus, the Christian church. Anything of human nature which is able be used as a controlling instrument, IS used. Fear being the major one. Wiccan and most non-abramic religions direct themselves at this life in the present instead of a mystical life hereafter. "Thank God" for freedom of choice?

    • aradia2u profile image

      aradia2u 8 months ago

      There are all kinds of people-some ethical some not-in all groups of people whether a race a religion or a sexual preference group. some Catholic bishops and priests molesting young boys is now widely known and can no longer be hidden or denied. Prodestant ministers and decans engaging in sexual misconduct has also come out. Wicca is not exempt. I know firsthand that there are many kind ethical and loving Wiccans, Catholics, and Prodestants. Same goes for all religions.

    • aradia2u profile image

      aradia2u 8 months ago

      Again I must point out that what you practice and advocate is not shared by all Wiccans. I was born into a hereditary BTW coven that practiced generational incest as part of sex magic rituals. Though I chose not to carry that forward with my own children.

    • profile image

      Johann bormet 16 months ago from Chicago

      I want to learn magic and other things meet some friends maybe relationship.I'm to point in my life I'm 59 thinking my life's over a friend told me about magic so I want to see if it helps my eyes and heart since I've not been happy after getting burned so many times in my life I have copied 100 of grimoures and need some one to teach me I live in Chicago I don't drive that's one problem. Hope I didn't bore no one

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 22 months ago

      Thanks for the clarification, Fixit.

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      Fixit 22 months ago

      Just FYI, Christian doctrine is not that the Son of God was brought forth by immaculate conception. The doctrine of the immaculate conception refers to Mary's conception (through absolutely natural sexual means) without the weakness of original sin. She is born as a second Eve and perfect mother, with an absolutely perfect human nature. So to clarify, the Immaculate Conception is about Mary, not the second person of the Trinity. Among Christians, it is only officially promulgated as dogma by the Catholic Church, although Orthodox are not hostile towards it. It is rejected by all Protestants as contrary to the belief that all of humanity, without exception, have either committed actual sin, or at least have inherited original sin.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 22 months ago

      Hi OSIM; like I said in the article, Wiccans don't have any arbitrary sexual laws or rules. There is no list in what's allowed and what's not allowed. We do have ethics, such as behaving responsibly and thinking about the consequences of our actions, but it's up to the individual to interpret that and decide for oneself when making choices for one's own life. A lot depends on the situation.

      You and your husband have to decide for yourselves whether this desire for threesomes or an open marriage is a healthy expression for each of you. You have to look at it together and figure out if you're enhancing or damaging your relationship, or if this expression of lust is an unhealthy expression for one (or both) of you (or anyone else involved). Basically, your sex lives are your personal business, no other Wiccan can dictate to you what to do or not to do. If nobody's getting hurt, being taken advantage of, being exploited or treated in some manner that's manifesting in an unhealthy way in their lives, there doesn't seem to be a problem with ethics; it's more of a matter of comfort zones and opinions.

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      open sex in marriage 22 months ago

      Hi im a wiccan women who is into wicca very much im married and do fantasise about having sexual relationship with another partner and my husband is open to 3somes is this acceptable within wiccan sexual laws

    • profile image

      Mark 2 years ago

      WiccanSage ... I have been studying this Hub as I am on the seekers path to Wicca ... this article and all your other ones have been very inspirational and make me want to delve further into what I am adopting as my faith. I am formerly Catholic and have come to the conclusion that all forms of Christianity have gone far away from what they are meant to be. Wicca has always been in the back of my mind, and I have a friend who was raised as Wiccan. He got me started on this path. Again .. thank you for your inspiration.

    • profile image

      Creole 2 years ago

      May I say thank you for this Hub. It is a grat way to talk about a subject most avoid. I am hoping to become Wiccan, but will be doing this on my own. So now that I know this Hub thing exist, I have a place to come to when I have questions. Blessed be.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 2 years ago

      Thanks very much jonnycomelately. It's definitely a misunderstood topic from those outside of our faith so I'm glad you found it informative. I appreciate your comments.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      WiccanSage, this is a fine Hub. Thank you for presenting all the information so clearly. It approaches various aspects in a way that I can relate to. It gives voice to some of the basic principles which I support in everyday life.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks M, I appreciate your comment from your unique point of view. I agree, it doesn't have to be one extreme or the other the way some people make it sound. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Random Witch Named M 3 years ago

      This is a perfect article! I was raised as a Muslim, and I still respect it and other religions. I recently turned to Wicca, and this article was very explanatory. I was always comfortable skyclad (privately) if not in my own skin, and in my opinion, safe, sane, consensual sex is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Not that you should be.... well.... promiscuous. In my personal opinion, sex is a private and beautiful thing, and it shouldn't be classified as 'shameful' or 'slutty' if a woman has consensual sex before marriage. I have a large amount of interest in this particular topic and will be reading further. Many thanks for this comprehensive article. Blessed be. -M

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks for commenting. Individual people's sex lives are pretty irrelevant to the point. If you're concerned about your sex life, or a little too concerned about other people's sex lives, please seek counseling.

    • profile image

      evonne 3 years ago

      Very interested. Reading about the sex being natural. Seems okay. More info tho. How often do you have sex. Don't mind. Would like to learn more. Thanks

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      True, poetryman-- it is quite a potent experience.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 3 years ago

      The combination of sex and magic is quite intriguing.

    • profile image

      Rayne 3 years ago

      Loved this article! I'm about to start the conversion to Wicca (I've been thinking about and researching it for over two years and I know I'm ready for it), and this actually made me feel more confident in my decision. I'm quite open/comfortable about sex and sexuality (though at this point I'm still wanting to hold onto my virginity), and I don't like being made to be ashamed of things that are programmed into our brains before we're even born. It just irks me to no end. So thank you for writing this and, dare I say, helping me "seal the deal" with making the choice to become a Wiccan. :)

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks for commenting Weeping-River. Sex doesn't have to produce in Wicca; that's just one of the main reasons it's celebrated as natural. Sex is also revered for the intimacy it brings between two people, and in general, healthy acts of love between consenting individuals is not an issue. There's no "official doctrine" on homosexuality but most Wiccans see it as perfectly natural.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      Weeping-River 3 years ago

      I enjoyed the article, and it summs up everything nice and clear! I just have one question though: what are the views upon homosexual sexual activity? It's still love but it can't produce?

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Thanks Sarah, glad you found it interesting. Thanks for your vote, and comment!

    • SarahLMaguire profile image

      SarahLMaguire 4 years ago from UK

      Interesting and clear summary of Wiccan attitudes to sexuality. Voted up!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Thanks DzyMsLizzy. I think it's all about finding your own comfort level, rather than ones imposed upon us by society or by any religion (including Wicca) as absolute. If someone's uncomfortable 'letting it all hang out', I don't think it necessarily means the person has an unhealthy view of their body, just that they've drawn their own lines. We all have to determine how much of ourselves we are comfortable revealing to the world (the inner and the outer selves). I think it's great that you gave a nudist colony a try, a lot of people wouldn't be that brave. Though I'm with you, walking around naked casually in crowds is outside my comfort level as well.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very nicely done. A well-presented piece on a touchy subject.

      I agree that it is all about consensuality, and there are aspects that are "sinful," and you outlined those perfectly as well.

      We all are, however, a product of our upbringing, regardless of our current views, and many still have hang-ups. For myself, I'm not terribly comfortable with nudity...I was raised to believe that one should only be nude in front of one's spouse....however, I have been to a nudist resort...and no, I was not terribly comfortable while there. But at least I was open enough to 'try new things.' ;-)

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Thank you blueheron, I agree that it probably had a lot to do with control. I think conservative religions rose out of reaction to Pagan cultures that were getting wild, like the Romans with their lust for sex and violence and all the wars, rapes, illegitimate babies left to die of exposure, etc. that they left in their wake. They took it from one unhealthy, destructive extreme to another. It's always unfortunate when society/cultural norms force an imbalance on us. I'm glad we're in an age in which things have changed, and continue to change. Thanks for your comments!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Thanks Emma, I appreciate your comment. I'm going to have to look at the structure of that sentence; I understand Judaism and Islam don't believe God has a son the way Christian denominations do, I was trying to collectively group various views. I didn't mean to imply it was a shared feature. Have a great day!

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      This is a wonderful presentation about sexuality. Christianity--and I suppose other major religions--do promote the view that sex is bad or dirty. Yet, as you say in the article, sex is very much who we are as biological beings. The whole nature of living creatures is to continue life by reproducing their kind--and it is a drive that often supercedes even survival. A religion that says sex is bad is a religion that says WE are bad, and even that life and the perpetuation of life is bad, dirty, sinful, and evil.

      I suspect that this business of teaching a religion's adherents to think think they are bad through and through is largely for the purpose of control. You have to submit to authority, because you are utterly corrupt and require the yoke of authority to keep you from being utterly degraded by your evil and sinful nature. Your only chance for salvation is to be completely submissive and never get to thinking your own thoughts or doing as you desire.

    • Emma Lindhagen profile image

      Emma Lindhagen 4 years ago from Stockholm, Sweden

      Interesting article and great to see people writing about sex in such a positive way. Although I don't consider myself Wiccan anymore, the non-judgmental, open and accepting attitude paganism in general tends to have about sex was one of the things that drew me to it.

      Just one small criticism. This line is a bit odd: "in most major world religions, God's sex life is non-existent; it's believed he brought forth the universe by his word, and even his son was brought forth by immaculate conception". As far as I know, the belief in a son of God who was brought forth by immaculate conception is only a feature in Christianity and not any of the other world religions. That line sort of makes it sound like it's a feature many of the world religions share, which might put some people off.

      Nice article all in all though!


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