Wiccan Views on Sex
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: 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
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
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
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.
What's Your Opinion?
Is sex for married couples only?
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