Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sacred Sex: And a Ritual for Letting Go of Shame

The animal body is good! 

Our human-animal bodies are magnificent, graceful and beautiful, complex almost beyond imagining and as mysterious as the far-flung stars . . . and yet nothing is more familiar and accessible to us than our own bodies. It astonishes me that a religious person can praise his or her Creator and champion intelligent design and still think of sex as dirty, disgusting or immoral.

In Polytheistic Animism, the sex act is sacred. It’s sacred in the same way that all of our bodily functions are sacred, and like the Jews, we recognize the holiness of everyday life with gratitude.

As animists, we know that everything is both material and nonmaterial. Therefore, the sex act is also material and nonmaterial. If sex is only engaged in as a physical activity, an entire facet of the sexual experience disappears and sex becomes dull, even boring. Marital relations begin to deteriorate and intimate experiences constantly disappoint. This can lead to a frantic search for sexual titillation, or its opposite, ennui. On the other hand, sacred sex engages all facets of ourselves, body and soul, and is therefore rich, satisfying and fresh every time. It provides partners with ever increasing pleasure and delight through the years, and is an offering to our Creator worthy of the gift with which he has endowed us, the gift of the flesh. This post is the first in a series about sacred sex.

Polytheistic Animism (Poly-Animism), because it is a theological, or god-believing, religion, allows for the existence of a Creator, a greater-than-human being who created humanity on purpose and for a purpose. In other words, we believe in some form of intelligent design. Humans may have evolved from less complex organisms, and all life on earth may have started as a bit of flotsam floating on a primordial sea, but behind it all is a grand intelligence, and this intelligence is the source of the marvelous design and functionality of our genitals.

We give thanks to the Creator of the Flesh!

We begin our Poly-Animist practice of sacred sex with gratitude for the gift of our bodies and our genitals, and the physical pleasures they offer us. Gratitude makes us humble. Gratitude reveals what we value, and what we value, we will work for and care for.

As we seek to feel and express gratitude for our bodies, we may get in touch with all the ways we’ve denigrated, damaged and ignored the needs of our flesh in the past. Are we really grateful for these bodies? Or do we think of them as an annoyance and source of discomfort, never living up to our expectations or hopes, never quite good enough or good looking enough or strong enough or young enough or smooth enough?

Once again we can return to the animist reality for understanding: the body itself is not only a material thing. Like all things, it is imbued with intelligence, emotion and soul. I’m not talking about our brains, here, which we imagine houses the mind, but with the cells, organs, bones and other material substances of the body. The body itself is alive, intelligent and ensouled, so when we send our living body messages of anger and hate, it reacts with depression, illness and withdrawal. We lose our health and wellbeing. And we lose our erotic edge. Gratitude is an antidote to the poison of self hate.

It might be difficult at first to give thanks for your body. You’ll need to work at it and practice loving your body like your body really is your self, but gratitude for the body is not only pleasing to our Creator. It will pay off in better health and amazing sexual pleasure.

Feelings of shame may also arise when we express gratitude for our bodies, especially for our genitals. As sexually liberated as Americans think we are, many of us are still deeply mired in shame, yet shame will quickly freeze our sexual response. Shame is learned very early and may be difficult to remove, but since letting go of shame is essential for a happy sex life, here’s a ritual to help you let go of shame.

The outcome:
Your body gets the message that it is sexy and good, and that you are grateful for its existence.

What you need:
Privacy, a place to bathe, a towel and massage oil or lotion, the best you can comfortably afford. If you are not able to acquire these things, you can improvise in any way that enables you to give the message to your body.

The steps:
Enter sacred space. Take a bath or shower, taking your time and soaping your body with your hands instead of a washcloth, so you can feel your skin, your hair and your flesh. Notice any feelings of revulsion or shame as they come up and consciously challenge them. Your body is beloved of your god! 

Then, dry yourself off, sit comfortably naked on the towel, and begin to apply the lotion or oil to your body, all the time speaking out loud to your body and giving it messages of affection, kindness and love. You might begin with your feet and work your way up to your face.

Expect to feel overwhelmed by emotion the first time you attempt this, especially if you’ve been giving your body hate messages for years. You may, on the other hand, just feel silly and not be able to bring yourself to speak out loud. That’s ok. Take your time. Pretend at first that you’re not ashamed. Act as if you were not ashamed. Start partly clothed if you need to and remove your clothes a little at a time. Start with just your arms. Start by loving your body for just two minutes, or without speaking the words out loud, but start. If you can do this, something deep inside of you will shift and you’ll naturally begin to eat better, treat your body better and enjoy sex more.

As you gently smooth the lotion on to your skin, speak out loud to your body, as if your body had a mind to hear. Like this, “Good body! You’ve carried me through life. You’ve put up with my bad habits, the bad food, the late nights. You’re an amazing creation. I love you. I’m grateful for you and want you to live a long time. In my eyes, you’re beautiful.”

Or, you can speak to your genitals in particular, even as you massage lotion into all parts of you. “Genitals, you are clean and good and sweet smelling. You can feel the most exquisite pleasure and I am going to give you lots of love!” (This isn’t necessarily the time to massage your genitals, but if it happens, hey, that’s fine, too. Just remember to use oil, lotion or lube that’s not irritating to your most delicate skin!)

That’s how to do the ritual. Do this weekly for a year and your sex life will be transformed!

Please keep in mind that this is a religious practice. This is not a secular website, we are a church, and although this practice is useful for people of all faiths or no faith, our gods, the gods of Polytheistic-Animism, approve of and encourage a healthy sex life. Our Creator made us sexual on purpose, and our pleasure is a sweet offering to all the gods of love.

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