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Author Topic: Sexuality and Paganism  (Read 10509 times)
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« Topic Start: February 08, 2008, 03:01:06 pm »

This post is inspired by the following article:

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswa&c=gay&id=12197

More than once when the term Paganism or Pagan has been mentioned in conversation with a non-Pagan they have given me a strange look and said something along the lines of: 'isn't that just a load of orgies..?' (the ones that come to mind are a friend from my history class, and also my step mother).

It can be said that Paganism can often draw such connotations. Sexual orientation is consquently not often thought of as 'a big deal' in Paganism as it is in say Christianity or Judaism. After reading the article, what are your thoughts on the importance of sexual orientation in the Pagan religions?
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« Reply #1: February 08, 2008, 03:18:19 pm »

It can be said that Paganism can often draw such connotations. Sexual orientation is consquently not often thought of as 'a big deal' in Paganism as it is in say Christianity or Judaism. After reading the article, what are your thoughts on the importance of sexual orientation in the Pagan religions?

I think, if you're asking in context of the article, that what you're asking about is not actually "Paganism", it's Wicca and Wiccish religions.  There are plenty of Pagan religions that don't really have the same concept of polarity and duality as the article describes.  While those religions might or might not have anything to say about sexual orientation, if they do it will be from a completely different angle.  Also, the word "Paganism" covers such broad ground that I doubt you're going to come up with anything really unified for Paganism as a group unless you narrow it down more.  (Well, and even then you might not, but you know.)
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« Reply #2: February 08, 2008, 04:13:02 pm »

I think, if you're asking in context of the article, that what you're asking about is not actually "Paganism", it's Wicca and Wiccish religions.  There are plenty of Pagan religions that don't really have the same concept of polarity and duality as the article describes.  While those religions might or might not have anything to say about sexual orientation, if they do it will be from a completely different angle.  Also, the word "Paganism" covers such broad ground that I doubt you're going to come up with anything really unified for Paganism as a group unless you narrow it down more.  (Well, and even then you might not, but you know.)

I realised the article was from a pretty much Wiccan point of view, but I thought it would be good to bounce off from. Personally, I agree with what you have said. There will be absolutely no unified Pagan view of sexual orientation, but that's ok. It would just be interesting to hear how those who are Pagan view the stigma of 'sexually liberal' that is attached to Paganism (albeit mostly Wicca- but that does seem to be the one in the media's lime light).
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« Reply #3: February 08, 2008, 05:10:49 pm »

This post is inspired by the following article:

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswa&c=gay&id=12197

More than once when the term Paganism or Pagan has been mentioned in conversation with a non-Pagan they have given me a strange look and said something along the lines of: 'isn't that just a load of orgies..?' (the ones that come to mind are a friend from my history class, and also my step mother).

It can be said that Paganism can often draw such connotations. Sexual orientation is consquently not often thought of as 'a big deal' in Paganism as it is in say Christianity or Judaism. After reading the article, what are your thoughts on the importance of sexual orientation in the Pagan religions?

Speaking from my own views I donít really hold much importance to gender or sexuality and gender in my religion.  One of the reasons why I left Wicca was because I donít believe in gender polarity: since a lot of our views on gender are socially constructed, not to mention that every one has to fit in to ďtotal maleĒ and ďtotal femaleĒ. Thatís psychologically speaking.

Of course a lot of people donít fit in to male or female biologically speaking (XX chromosomes and XY chromosomes).  I watched a programme about intersex on Channel 4 in the UK which some experts predicted that 5% of the population are born intersex.  So people with Turners (XO) and Kleinfelters (sp) (XXY) donít fit in to clear male or female.

It fits people in to gender roles which are not always a good thing.  It can be very damaging.

Most pagans I have met are open minded i.e. couldnít give a crap about what sexual orientation you are, it doesnít effect how you worship.  To me my religion is that religion, not a social movement.  The gods donít seem to care Iím gay (well Hathor doesnít anyways Tongue).  That of course doesnít mean I have encountered like minded people, I have met one Wiccan who was very homophobic. So to kind of conclude that attitudes are far are far ranging from the fruit nuts who claim every one is bisexual to narrow minded bigots.

There are also plenty of pagans who have Christian attitudes to things like sex, just because one leaves a religion behind doesnít mean they leave everything behind especially if itís enforced heavily in society.  Like polygamous relationships, Iíve never met a pagan in one (or chatted to one online).  Also lets be honest a lot of Christians and Jews have the same sexual behaviour as any one else, in the UK its rare for some one to remain a virgin until married (though maybe that explains why we have the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rate in Europe).

Hmmm I think Iíve rambled on about nonsense.  Time for more liquid crack aka coffee to wake me up.



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« Reply #4: February 08, 2008, 05:15:44 pm »

This post is inspired by the following article:

My first comment is that any group that is going to use any type of sexual activity during ritual needs to let people know about it in advance.

Quote
It can be said that Paganism can often draw such connotations. Sexual orientation is consquently not often thought of as 'a big deal' in Paganism as it is in say Christianity or Judaism. After reading the article, what are your thoughts on the importance of sexual orientation in the Pagan religions?

I don't have any thoughts on it at all as there are too many different Pagan religions for an general discussion to make sense.  Look at the differences of opinion between liberal and conservative Christianity -- and that's just one religion.
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« Reply #5: February 08, 2008, 05:59:24 pm »

Speaking from my own views I donít really hold much importance to gender or sexuality and gender in my religion.  One of the reasons why I left Wicca was because I donít believe in gender polarity: since a lot of our views on gender are socially constructed, not to mention that every one fits in to ďtotal maleĒ and ďtotal femaleĒ. Thatís psychologically speaking.

Yeah, I think that's a good point. In particular, I find gender roles to be completely socially constructed. It's almost as if little girls and boys are put into a category before they've even hit puberty of what 'role' they are to fulfill in life. A study such as sociolologist Sue Sharpe's study of the gender roles seen in children's books really shows how society can shape and construct young minds. But this of course can be seen as a biased study, as Sue Sharpe was already a self proclaimed Radical Feminist, and so she was no doubt hunting to find gender stereotypes to begin with.

Also lets be honest a lot of Christians and Jews have the same sexual behaviour as any one else, in the UK its rare for some one to remain a virgin until married (though maybe that explains why we have the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rate in Europe).

Yeah, we do. It's a shame. I would say where my husband is from in the US, a much higher percentage of people stay a virgin until they are married than they do in the UK. But that's because he's from the fringe of the so-called 'bible belt' and so Christianity evidently plays a big part in that.

But then again, look at somewhere like the Netherlands. They are just SO open about all aspects of sex, and the teenage pregnancy rate there isn't anything like ours! It's as if it isn't taboo anymore, and so teenagers aren't as inclined to 'do it' just to p*ss off their parents.

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« Reply #6: February 08, 2008, 07:00:16 pm »

Yeah, I think that's a good point. In particular, I find gender roles to be completely socially constructed. It's almost as if little girls and boys are put into a category before they've even hit puberty of what 'role' they are to fulfill in life. A study such as sociolologist Sue Sharpe's study of the gender roles seen in children's books really shows how society can shape and construct young minds. But this of course can be seen as a biased study, as Sue Sharpe was already a self proclaimed Radical Feminist, and so she was no doubt hunting to find gender stereotypes to begin with.

Yeah, we do. It's a shame. I would say where my husband is from in the US, a much higher percentage of people stay a virgin until they are married than they do in the UK. But that's because he's from the fringe of the so-called 'bible belt' and so Christianity evidently plays a big part in that.

But then again, look at somewhere like the Netherlands. They are just SO open about all aspects of sex, and the teenage pregnancy rate there isn't anything like ours! It's as if it isn't taboo anymore, and so teenagers aren't as inclined to 'do it' just to p*ss off their parents.



A good book that explores one of the biggest myths is, When She was Bad by Patricia Pearson, exploding the idea that women are all, innocent, passive and not at all violent (she attacks both misogynistic men and feminists. Men who overlook female violence because they cant see women as powerful or to be feared and feminists playing the victimhood card).  Itís an interesting read.  I think here the biggest button that can be pressed is female violence such as murdering or torturing children. 

I think that gender roles are incredibly enforced in various pagan traditions. Iíve seen a lot of examples of ďall loving mother goddessĒ, title thrown on beings such as Tiamet total twisting how they were worshiped in the past.  Seeing Tiamet as that is like saying that Zeus was completely faithful to Hera.

Its also laughable how some who worship deities that gave birth to everything as ignoring the sex myths and the gods sexuality.  Personally Iíve always wanted to ask a fertility goddess after giving birth to various beings etc, what happens to the after birth.  Yes I am weird. 

On a side note one thing that does annoy me is placing one gender above the other.   I donít see how the discrimination of men is any more valid or reasonable than discrimination of women.  Looking at Wicca in its origins was sexist.  A priestess was supposed to step down when she was no longer young and pretty.

I can remember watching the childrenísí TV show my parents are aliens, the only show that actually showed the exploration of gender and sexuality.  I was actually shocked when I saw to men kissing on it.  Anyways Iím rambling againÖ

From my school we got limited discussions about sex which I think is a big problem.  What we where taught was not helpful. The teacher was too embarrassed to teach so just shoved on a video from the 1980s.  We got taught nothing on sexuality.  Surprisingly we got a few teenage pregnancies lol.
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« Reply #7: February 08, 2008, 07:22:25 pm »

A good book that explores one of the biggest myths is, When She was Bad by Patricia Pearson, exploding the idea that women are all, innocent, passive and not at all violent (she attacks both misogynistic men and feminists. Men who overlook female violence because they cant see women as powerful or to be feared and feminists playing the victimhood card).  Itís an interesting read.  I think here the biggest button that can be pressed is female violence such as murdering or torturing children.

We did a module 'Crime and Deviance' in my sociology class, and one of the things we looked at was actually women and violent crime. You're right, it was quite shocking to read about. And I do think it was so shocking (perhaps more surprising to hear about than a male violent crime) was because of society's views of women as the more passive, less aggressive, gender.

However, if you look at something like the prison population of the UK, the majority of women are in prison for stealing. There is a much higher percentage of men in prison for violent crimes. That can either be because of three things: one, women are in fact the less aggressive gender. Two, women are less aggressive because they are brought up to believe that they are (a type of self-fulfilling prophecy) or three, women are less likely to get caught.

Gosh, what a tangent this thread has gotten on to..!

 
From my school we got limited discussions about sex which I think is a big problem.  What we where taught was not helpful. The teacher was too embarrassed to teach so just shoved on a video from the 1980s.  We got taught nothing on sexuality.  Surprisingly we got a few teenage pregnancies lol.

I went to an all-girl, Catholic high school and therefore we had extremely limited sex education (the only thing we were told was that the best form of contraception is no sex at all...) And yes, there were one or two pregnancy scares... *shrugs* Perhaps the Netherlands have got it right.

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« Reply #8: February 08, 2008, 08:13:37 pm »


I really hate the idea that I'm some kind of easy lay 'cause I'm Pagan.  I ran into that a lot in college.

Of course, I was the virgin of all my friends .. many of whom were Christian or Jewish. Tongue
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« Reply #9: February 08, 2008, 11:16:49 pm »

Yeah, I think that's a good point. In particular, I find gender roles to be completely socially constructed.

I do not agree. I think men and women are hard wired differently, biologically. I think the sexes hold different priorities and think and communicate very differently. I also do not think there is anything wrong or weird about that, one way is not better or worse than the other. Odd as it sounds after that statement, I also believe each person has both male and female aspects to their personality, or perhaps a better way to say it is people have what society would label male and female aspects within themselves. I do agree wholeheartedly that social constructs are a big factor in unnatural gender roles, however, and can lay very silly limitations on people.

Quote
Yeah, we do. It's a shame. I would say where my husband is from in the US, a much higher percentage of people stay a virgin until they are married than they do in the UK. But that's because he's from the fringe of the so-called 'bible belt' and so Christianity evidently plays a big part in that.

Although teenage pregnancy is not anything to be desired, I believe a great deal of it comes from lack of education, frank talks about sex and being afraid to get birth control (both male an female) because of what parents might say/do.

However, I would never have wanted my children or anyone I knew to get married with out having sex with their future partner. Lots of it. Sex plays a huge role in life and I could not imagine making vows with a person I knew so superficially and never slept with!. Perhaps this is where the concept of Pagan Orgies comes from, it's an all or nothing sort of thing with so many repressed people, either you are a virgin or a slut. Silly thinking, IMO. How about intelligent acceptance as sex as a wonderful and vital part of life, useful for so many things, and not to be shared lightly? I think being a virgin till marriage is a very stupid thing to do and I also think have sex irresponsibly and with anyone walking by equally stupid. My own kids lived for a year or more with the women they later married, I would have been very concerned otherwise for the relationship. Now of course none of the preceding mini rant is pointed at the posters here.

I have known only one Wiccan group who, although not homophobic, was very into the necessity of both genders being present for rituals or magic. They were the only group in the many, many Pagans and witches I have known who felt that was necessary, however, everyone else could have cared less about sexual orientation, as long as the energy was good. I personally have only done sex magic or skyclad rituals with my husband alone, I have never found a group of people I felt I knew well enough to do anything like that in a group. But then I haven't found a group of people I felt I knew well enough to do run of the mill magic with either  Grin

I am what you'd call a social witch, I work solitary almost all of the time but celebrate holidays with a group of like minded folks. Most of my friends are Pagans of one sort or another.
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« Reply #10: February 09, 2008, 12:57:36 am »

Speaking from my own views I donít really hold much importance to gender or sexuality and gender in my religion.  One of the reasons why I left Wicca was because I donít believe in gender polarity: since a lot of our views on gender are socially constructed, not to mention that every one has to fit in to ďtotal maleĒ and ďtotal femaleĒ. Thatís psychologically speaking.

That's also one of my major incompatibilities with Wicca-derived religions.

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Like polygamous relationships, Iíve never met a pagan in one (or chatted to one online).

Hi!

(Well, technically not polygamous; I'm only engaged to my second partner at this point.)
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« Reply #11: February 09, 2008, 02:31:20 am »

Speaking from my own views I donít really hold much importance to gender or sexuality and gender in my religion.
One of the problems I had when I first started delving into pagan religions is they were almost always wiccanesqe. Goddess/God. Male/Female. Sexual polarity. I was interested in Wicca at the time, but I couldn't jump that hurdle. I couldn't make sense of sexual polarity. Gender roles.

I self identify as genderqueer; I'd totally throw off the group energy. One of the things that drew me into the Kemetic religion was the gods aren't really assigned gender roles as such, and their sexuality isn't really all important.

Set: "Hey, nice ass, Heru"

And Hapi as well. Masculine deity with female properties.

I'm rambling, sorry, but I see this as a clear example of as above so below.

Just my opinion.

I've recently found that Feri* tackles this very well, but that's just from the public materials I have. It's been extemely challenging and immensely healing.  Self awareness is a frighting place right now. And that's just the public stuff!


*I'm not Feri; just using publically available stuff for self awareness.
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« Reply #12: February 09, 2008, 02:56:19 am »

I realised the article was from a pretty much Wiccan point of view, but I thought it would be good to bounce off from. Personally, I agree with what you have said. There will be absolutely no unified Pagan view of sexual orientation, but that's ok. It would just be interesting to hear how those who are Pagan view the stigma of 'sexually liberal' that is attached to Paganism (albeit mostly Wicca- but that does seem to be the one in the media's lime light).
I deal with it the same way I deal with a person who assumes that because I self identify as submissive & poly I'm eager to do their laundry and have sex with them in wild abandon.

The death stare.

But seriousy, I think being steroe typed happens with every group. I correct their assumption and move on. Hopefully the person will cotton back that not all pagans have indescriminate sex. Heck, I'd wager not many at all.
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« Reply #13: February 09, 2008, 01:46:28 pm »

I do not agree. I think men and women are hard wired differently, biologically. I think the sexes hold different priorities and think and communicate very differently. I also do not think there is anything wrong or weird about that, one way is not better or worse than the other. Odd as it sounds after that statement, I also believe each person has both male and female aspects to their personality, or perhaps a better way to say it is people have what society would label male and female aspects within themselves. I do agree wholeheartedly that social constructs are a big factor in unnatural gender roles, however, and can lay very silly limitations on people.

I agree that that men and women are 'hard wired differently', as you put it. What I meant when I said 'gender roles' are the roles that society forces upon the genders, as you're right: they put limitations on people.

One example (a very silly example, I admit) of such a socially constructed gender role that has recently begun to confuse many men that I know, is the idea of chivalry. My grandfather for instance, always insists that any woman goes before him through a door, and seats her at the table, and takes her coat etc. He does this because when he was brought up he was taught it was the thing to do.

Nowadays, some men still like to do this. And some women like for them to do it (which is fine). But then again some women don't (which again is fine). Consequently, I've heard men grumble that they just do not know where they stand anymore. They don't want to seem rude by not doing it, and yet they don't want to appear condecending if they do.

When I was first seeing my husband he actually asked me if I wanted him to do those things or not! His dad had told him that he always must, and he felt restricted by that, but he also didn't want to offend me. I just told him that I couldn't care less, and he should just do whatever feels natural to him. As a result, he always lets me walk through a door before him, but never seats me at the dinner table. And that's fine with me!

Anyway, I rambled on a bit didn't I...
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« Reply #14: February 10, 2008, 07:20:17 pm »

After reading the article, what are your thoughts on the importance of sexual orientation in the Pagan religions?

Well, I thought the topic was interesting, but the article was a bit poorly conceived. How do we get from talking about someone's experience with uncomfortable touch to gender and sexuality? Because a man kissed a lesbian? Would it be different if it was a heterosexual woman uncomfortable with kissing another heterosexual woman?

Thoughts in random order...

1. It was dishonest of that ritual leader to not give full disclosure on that ritual until everyone was there and nude. I would have walked out. Nudity and touch are comfort issues for many people, as are the use of drugs or alcohol in ritual. Waiting until everyone was ready to begin was a blindsided ambush.

2. Gender does not equal biological sex, and things will be much easier when people realize that. The duality of Wicca is NOT simply a duality of male sex vs. female sex for the purposes of biological reproduction. There are whole other levels that can be found in the duality, both metaphorically and as relating to gender.

3. Being Wiccan, I believe that all acts of pleasure between consenting adults are fine and dandy.

4. Many times, I feel as though the gay and lesbian community purposefully pulls away from mixed company. I can't entirely fault that, since I'm on a couple women's spirituality email lists that are only open to women. I just think it's also important to stay in touch with a diverse community. I've been in circle with gay men, and lesbians, and bisexuals, and probably some otherkin, and people in polyamorous relationships, and straight folks, and... it was fine. Then again, my coven does not often do work that would put people in a sexually uncomfortable space, and if something along those lines IS planned (such as a skyclad ritual), we're warned ahead of time so we can choose whether or not we'll be comfortable enough to attend.

I think I'd like to see that article revisited and fleshed out a bit more. Gender studies are a pet topic of mine, and that barely scratched the surface of an interesting topic.

Karen
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