Temple of the Red Lotus Vending Tent

Temple of the Red Lotus Vending Tent
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Dark Side of Sex

Inara de Luna (c) 2007
Temple of the Red Lotus

In the world of sacred sexuality, there is a lot of focus on how sex can lead to enlightenment, how it can bring you closer to the divine, how it can help you and your lover overcome difficulties, how it can be used in magic to help you attain your goals. It is described in light, bright, airy terms, which seem to ignore or dismiss the darker aspects of the sexual drive. We have all experienced, or known someone else who has experienced, sex as violence, sex as control, sex as manipulation, sex as self-medication, sex as addiction. There is desperate sex, immoral sex, irresponsible sex. There is mediocre sex, uncomfortable sex, painful sex. How can we possibly say that all sex is sacred when it also carries all these dark colors?

I also believe that all humans are sacred; that everyone is a representation of the divine. Does that include serial killers, rapists and terrorists? Yes, actually it does. Some of these people become these things because they experienced neglect and/or abuse at the hands of their caretakers and society. Although as adults they are responsible for their actions, I believe the rest of us bear some measure of responsibility, too, for allowing these kinds of abuses to take place. But more than that, each one of us represents an aspect of the divine, and not all of those aspects are rosy and cheerful. The darker, shadowy aspects have lessons to teach us as well. And it could even be argued that those darker lessons are necessary in order to be able to appreciate the lighter aspects. Light and dark are intertwined, as lovers. They are two sides of a whole. You can't really have one without the other. But to call the darkness bad or evil or wrong or "lower", etc, is to assign human judgment to something that simply is. We could just as easily choose to see the darkness as primal, instinctual, animalistic, and not bad at all.

Look at Kali, the Destroyer; Zeus, the rapist; Dionysus, the insane; Lilith, the baby-killer. Many of our Gods have darker sides to their natures as well. Does that make them any less divine? Do we simply dismiss those dark aspects that we find unpalatable? Do we explain them away as metaphor? What are the lessons we can learn from the dark Gods? What can we learn from the darker sides of our own natures?

We've been taught that what brings us pain must be inherently bad. But that's not true. We wouldn't grow or evolve or improve if we didn't have pain, if we didn't need to survive pain and learn its lessons. Look at Inanna, hung on a meathook in Ereshkigal's throne room for several days. Look at Sysiphus, forever pushing a boulder uphill. Look at Odin, sacrificing his right eye for the gift of knowledge, or hanging upside down from a tree, in order to attain wisdom and power. Each of these beings, which we call Gods, endured pain and sacrifice, in order to attain or learn something that in the end improved them at some level.

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. That cliche is true, up to a point. But I believe it is only half of the truth. The rest of it is that what could make us stronger can only do so if we allow it to. We can choose to allow our pain and hardships to make us better people. If not, we are destined to repeat and relive those harsh experiences until we finally learn the lessons inherent within them. A piece of steel must be thrust repeatedly into the fire and must be beaten over and over before it becomes a sword, wrought through intensity into a thing of beauty and usefulness.

I do not believe in a God or Goddess who does not love us. I do not believe in a God or Goddess who exacts retribution on us, who cannot forgive us, who is harsh and demanding, judgmental and punishing. I rejected that form of divinity when I walked away from the Christian church. I do believe that we have free will, and that the Gods allow us to make our own choices. I believe that the Gods send us opportunities all the time; we choose whether to see them and grasp them. I believe that all of the experiences we endure, both positive and negative, are intended to help us hone ourselves, to grow and heal and improve ourselves, so that we can eventually become the best manifestation of the divine that we can possibly be, each in our own individual ways.

Yes, sex can be used cruelly; yes, love can be manipulated, neglected and abused. Yes, the darkness is there. But without it, would we be able to identify the light? Would we be able to appreciate the light? Sometimes enlightenment is not enough. Sometimes, we must proceed with endarkment as well, both in the realms of sexuality and in spirituality. It is our choice and our responsibility. Will you turn away from the Darkness, or will you embrace your Shadow, and be transformed?


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