This blog post is doing double duty while I find some time to write. It is Week 24 at the Pagan Blog Project and this would be the second L post. I plan on finishing up and publishing my first one, which will now be the second, this weekend. I also am going to cross-promote this over at the Pagan Values Blogject because it is really their posts who inspired me to write about this: and that this is about a more general idea of what I feel my values are as a Pagan. Seemed like a good fit!
I am an eclectic Pagan, I don’t follow any one creed or group’s interpretation of the divine. This is not to say I have never; when I was younger and just starting out I certainly tried Wicca. There were many formulaic issues and beliefs that just never rang true for me, so I moved on. However, the “Charge of the Goddess” is something that I think can be useful when we talk about values. The “Charge of the Goddess” contains a definite value statement:
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
I would love to write about all of these value statements but for now I’ll stick to the first one. “All acts of love and pleasure” meaning that love and pleasure physical, spiritual, and emotional are valued. I came from a pretty liberal Christian upbringing so this was nothing new to me. My parents however were somewhat less than pleased when they asked what I had learned in confirmation class and I informed them that our church believes that the prohibition against adultery in the 10 Commandments means that marriage vows are sacred, not that sex is only for married couples. Obviously, I still believe this is a very reasonable interpretation. Even the Catholic schools I went to talked a lot of about Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. However, the overall culture of Christianity does not seem to value sexuality, sensuality, and this aspect of love. Of course, having love as a value doesn’t mean you would value these things because there certainly are aspects of love such as kindness, compassion, and forgiveness that are virtues in their own right. But for me, that is not the only kind of “virtuous” love.
I know this guy, he’s in his early 30s, and while we were at dinner with some friends someone let it slip that he’s a virgin. Now, I know she did not mean anything by and it and probably didn’t realize he might be embarrassed. Unfortunately, he was and went out of his way to say that it was “by choice.” I believe him, knowing the kind of religious background this group comes from, he was taught that only some kinds of love are virtuous. I think it is admirable that he has saved himself for this one true love, or real love, or marriage. However, I also think it’s sad that his church taught him to cut off a vital part of himself; a part that will be integral to maintaining that kind of relationship he was taught was acceptable. (I don’t know his personal reasons: I didn’t press the issue. I am just generally talking about the kind of religion that teaches these things, and I totally believe it was his choice this is just conjecture as to why he may have made those choices.) I believe that when we forget to include the kind of love that happens between “men and women”, or men and men and women and women, in our definition of “sacred” we are doing a disservice to ourselves. I believe our bodies are sacred vessels. We’re not “just sacks of meat” but the bodies we have are intricate parts of our experiences in this world. Sexuality should be treated with the same level of attention and “need” as our other bodily needs. People need love, sexual fulfillment, and emotional fulfillment. We should consider ourselves virtuous if we seek to meet these needs in our relationships, and we seek to fulfill those needs of our partners. Of course there are sexual acts that are less virtuous: ones where only one partner enjoys it, all kinds of rape, relationships where you are emotionally absent, any kind of forced sex in rituals, anything like that would not be a virtuous act. In fact, it’s very difficult to find a combination where your needs for love, affection, sex, and your emotional needs are met in a relationship but if that is the case, it is nothing less than virtuous to honor yourself and your partner’s desires. I have noticed over the years when I have had partners coming from less body and sexuality positive backgrounds, a lack of reciprocity in relationships. So, for me, honoring sexuality and all parts of our pleasure is a value. Part of this value is honoring not just my needs for love and pleasure but my partner’s needs for love and pleasure.