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Sex and Ritual

As I work on the final draft of Blind-Sided — the second of the Mesusa’s Consortium novels, I’ve been thinking a
lot about sex and ritual. Here are a few thoughts on the topic in this post from the archives. 

 

Carl Jung saw symbols and rituals as containers for numinous power. It’s a small step from our need for ritual to the idea of sex as ritual. It infiltrates our myths, it permeates our literature and it fills our fantasies. Many of the earliest religious rites were fertility rites involving either the sacred prostitute or the sacred couple whose sexual union insured abundant crops, cattle and children for another season. Certainly it’s not hard to see the ritualistic aspect of sex in the natural world. We’ve all watched birds or badgers or elephants going at it on nature programs. There are often complex courtship rituals before actual copulation.

 

Jung’s definition of ritual as a container for power intrigues me. The power contained in sex is astounding. It’s the power to pass on life. It gives us the ‘little death’ and the out of body experience. It elevates us to the level of heaven while bringing us back to our most primitive animal nature.

 

Sex is the ultimate mystical experience. The closest we can get to a power beyond ourselves is the power within ourselves. There’s a reason I chose to write my very first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly as a modern day retelling of the Psyche and Eros story. In the Greek myth, Psyche must undergo ritualistic tasks before she is allowed to be with her lover Eros. In achieving these impossible tasks, Psyche so impresses the gods that they not only allow her to be with her lover, but grant her divinity as well.

 

In Greek mythology sex usually involves one of the gods, most often Zeus, coming down to earth and ‘seducing’ a mortal female, who then gives birth to a child destined to do great things. Sex as the representation of the creative force permeates the Greek myths. It permeates the paranormal world as well, but what else are vampires and shifters but the modern representation of the mythical gods? It’s there in the Christian myth as well, the child of divinity and humanity destined to save the world. Tragically the power of sex is most of the time omitted from the Christian myth. Oh it’s there all right, but you just have to look a little harder to find it. When I wrote In The Flesh, one of my favorite scenes is Susan’s research into the sexual relationships between gods and humans. Here’s a snippet to illustrate what I mean:

I had little enthusiasm for the handbag sale, nor for lingering at the make-up counter. Instead I found myself back at the Starbucks, Mac open, researching God’s love life, which turned out to be a long history of seducing humans.

Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros came to Psyche in the dead of night forbidding her to look upon his face. Hades dragged Persephone down to the Underworld. The Virgin Mary was impregnated by the god of the Bible. In the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, and the church his bride. And the list went on and on. Perhaps even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just another way for divinity to experience flesh.

 

More than a procreative force, sex is a creative force. Its ritual act allows us contact with the power, contact we can have no other way. But who controls the ritual? We’ve all seen lories transporting heavily reinforced tankers bearing CAUTION: HAZARDOUS MATERIALS signs in big red letters. We know a breech of containment would be disastrous. The purpose of ritual is to keep the power contained so we mortals can interact with it safely. Religions have always tried to control the rituals involving sex, to dictate with whom the act may occur, how, and even when it may take place. Property and inheritance rights depended on controlling women’s sexuality.

 

These days the ritual containers set in place by religious superstition and prejudice are being breeched. Those vessels can no longer contain and control sexuality in all its vibrant varied guises. The ritual is being taken out of the hands of institutions and reclaimed on a more individual, more personal level. That means the creative force of our sexuality is being freed in ways we could have hardly imagined a few years ago.

 

The container for the ritual has changed drastically in recent years. In some cases it no longer exists at all, and we’re struggling to find safe containers, safe places to learn about, understand and explore all aspects of our sexuality. The ritual of sex is being reinvented to something vibrant and alive and open, and translating that into story a part of what makes our job a pleasure, whether we write contemporary erotic romance, historic, sex in space, paranormal romance, the container is new with each story we tell. How can that not be exciting?

 

Sex Magic Revisited

castlerigg6I’m thinking about sex magic this morning. You all know that I do write paranormal erotica from time to time and that sex magic figures into my plots quite often. But even when I’m not writing about witches and demons and ghosts, even when I’m writing a contemporary story, I’m still thinking about sex magic, and sex AS magic. I’m always struggling to get my head around why sex is magic, why human sexuality defies the nature programme/Animal Planet biological tagging that seems to work for other species that populate the planet. I don’t think I could write sex without magic, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. I’m not talking about airy-fairy or woo-woo so much as the mystery that is sex. On a biological level we get it. We’ve gotten it for a long time. We know all about baby-making and the sharing of the genes and the next generation. It’s text book.

But it’s the ravenousness of the human animal that shocks us, surprises us, turns us on in ways that we didn’t see coming. It’s the nearly out of body experience we have when we are the deepest into our body we can possibly be. It’s the skin on skin intimacy with another human being in a world where more personal space is always in demand, in a world where touch is not trusted, and contact is minimal.

When we come together with another human being, for a brief moment, our worlds entwine in ways that defy description. We do it for the intimacy of it, the pleasure of it, the naughtiness of it, the dark animal possessiveness of it. Sex is the barely acceptable disturbance in the regimented scrubbed-up proper world of a species that has evolved to have sex for reasons other than procreation. Is that magical? It certainly seems impractical. And yet we can’t get enough.

We touch each other because it feels good. We touch ourselves because it feels good, and sometimes intimacy with ourselves is harder to achieve that intimacy with another. We slip inside each other because it’s an intimate act that scratches an itch nothing else in the whole universe can scratch. During sex, we are ensconced in the mindless present, by the driving force of our individual needs, needs that we could easily satisfy alone, but it wouldn’t be the same. Add love to the mix, add a little bit of romance, add a little bit of chemistry, a tiny bit of conflict and uncertainty, and the magic soup thickens and heats up and gets complicated. I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that sex is a prime ingredient in story. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s any surprise that it is also an ingredient much avoided in some story.

Sex is a power centre of the human experience. It’s not stable. It’s not safe. It’s volatile. It exposes people, makes them vulnerable, reduces them to their lowest common denominator even as it raises them to the level of the divine. Is it any wonder the gods covet flesh? The magic of humanity is the fragility of human flesh, its very frailty is it’s power — the ability to interact with the world around us, the ability to interact with each other, the ability to penetrate and be penetrated.

So as I mull through it, trying for the zillionth time to get my head around it, I conclude – at least for the moment – that the true magic of sex is that it takes place in the flesh, and it elevates the flesh to something even the gods lust after. It’s a total in-the-body, in-the-moment experience, a celebration of the carnal, the ultimate penetrative act of intimacy of the human animal. I don’t know if that gives you goose bumps, but it certainly does me.

Riding the Ether Blurb:

Cassandra Larkin keeps her ravenous and dangerous sexual appetite secret until she seduces Anderson in the mysterious void of the Ether.  Anderson is the sexy, insatiable ghost who can give her exactly what she needs.

But sex is dangerous in a place like the Ether…

When the treacherous demon, Deacon, discovers the truth about the origin of Cassandra’s powerful lust, he plots to use her sex magic for revenge on Tara Stone and the Elemental Coven, who practice their own brand of sex magic.

Cassandra must embrace the lust and sexuality she fears and learn to use its power. Will she stand with Anderson, Tara, and the Elemental Coven against Deacon’s wrath or suffer the loss of friendship, magic and love?

 

Riding the Ether Excerpt:

(150-year-old ghost meets a succubus in the Ether)

Anderson was unsure if he had lost consciousness, but Anderson knew immediately, when he had gathered himself enough for the knowing, that he was in the Ether, though how he got there he could not tell. Immediately he cast the counting spell his mother had taught him when, at last, she agreed that even though he was no daughter, he had wit enough and was gifted enough in the Old Ways to walk safely in the Void. He had already crafted his own counting spell, for until she had relented, he had visited the Ether in secret without her permission. More efficient than his, her spell allowed him to set a small clock in the back of his mind, a clock that kept track of time in the World of Flesh, the only way to mark the passing of time in the Ether. If the counting spell were not cast, one could very easily die. While starvation set in, and the comatose body withered away in the World of Flesh, no time passed at all in the Ether. Time was simply not a concept in the Void.

Lakeland Witches 2 RTEAnd though he did not remember casting the special enfleshment spell, the one he always cast for himself in the Ether, he was fully in the flesh, albeit flesh that only had substance in the Ether. He was completely naked, and fully, nay, outrageously aroused. The pressure in his groin was both agonizing and exquisite. He reached for his manhood, knowing full well he was in need of wit that he did not possess when his lust was so great. But before he could stroke himself to release, a voice spoke out from the Void. ‘That belongs to me.’

He was not startled that the woman appeared out of nowhere. After all this was the Ether, but he was very startled, if most pleasantly so, that she was as naked as he, and it was no hardship for him to look upon her. Before he could utter even a cry of surprise, she knelt next to him, slapped his hand away and took his member into her mouth.

‘My dear woman,’ he gasped as her tongue snaked up the underside of his manhood. ‘I do not believe we know each other.’

She stopped pleasuring only long enough to reply. ‘We will very soon.’ Then she returned her efforts to his great need.

‘I fear this shall end quickly if you do not stop what you are doing.’ He tried, though only half-heartedly, to push her away. After all what manner of man saw to his own release before the pleasure of his lover?

‘I know you.’ As she spoke, she continued to stimulate him with her hand. ‘It may be over quickly this time, but then,’ she lifted her head enough to brush a quick kiss against his lips, enough for him to catch the tiniest glimpse of dark cinnamon eyes. ‘When it’s over we’ll begin again, and then,’ she gave him a squeeze. ‘Then I’m sure I’ll be well compensated.’

She spoke no more, but took the length of him deep into her throat and tightened her grip until there was nothing for it. He shuddered the weightiness of his release into her throat, and she drank it back like fine brandy. And when she had drained him as surely as if he had been the glass containing her drink of choice, she slipped up next to him, her tight roseate nipples brushing against his ribs. And when she kissed him, he tasted himself on her lovely tongue. This time she kissed him with all of her mouth, nay, with all of her body if that were possible, and he felt lust already returning to his loins.

When she pulled away, he spoke in one breathless sentence, fearful that if he did not find his voice immediately, the lady’s own greed for the pleasures of the flesh might make him forget that he even possessed the power of speech, might make him forget why his voice would even be of importance. ‘My dear woman, might I at least enquire who it is that pleasures me so well and in such unusual circumstances?’

Once again she held him with the deepest, darkest eyes he had ever seen on a woman so pale of complexion. ‘I’m Cassandra, Cassandra Larkin, and I’ve been waiting for you.’

‘Then it is clear you have most definitely found me, Cassandra Larkin.’

Though it was usually fear and uncertainty that drove those who rode the Ether to complete the task for which they had come and return to the World of Flesh as quickly as possible, those who were more adept at journeying in the Ether knew that passions and desires were always more difficult to control in that vast space. Therefore it came as no surprise that his desire should return with such intensity.

Though in truth, he had never taken his pleasure in the Ether before, and he was certain other practitioners of ethereal magic would not approve. But at that particular moment on his internal spell-induced clock, he could think of nothing in the Ether he would rather be doing than sharing pleasure with Cassandra Larkin. Though he was much more in control of his manhood after she had so deliciously emptied him, he would most definitely be the first to agree with modern theories on human sexuality, stating that the brain is the seat of desire. And this slender woman pale of flesh and hair, dark of eyes was truly intoxicating. He wondered if her appearance in the Ether was as her appearance in the World of Flesh. Some, he knew, chose to appear differently when riding the Ether.

He felt her hips shifting and rocking with her unsatisfied need, and as he lifted himself onto one elbow rising above her, for the first time he became aware of the bed on which they lay. It was devoid of colour, like the emptiness in which they found themselves, but it was a bed nonetheless. Anderson could not but admire the woman’s attention to function, much more important in ethereal magic than form. And at this moment, hers was the only form in which he was interested, though he wondered why that should be when there was important coven magic in which he ought to be participating.

She guided his hand to the soft warmth between her legs, and he eased a middle finger into the slippery wetness of her ardor. His thumb caressed the heavy node of her pleasure and she trembled like a leaf on water, honeyed eyelashes fluttering over dark eyes. She opened herself to him, shifting her buttocks until he could see the heavy folds and hillocks of her womanhood pouting open before him, until he could smell the heat of her rising up from below her belly at the seat of her desire.

She lifted her arms around his neck. ‘Anderson,’ she pressed his name up through her chest and past her lips with labored breath. ‘Anderson, it’s all right for me to have you here in this place, and I need you. Please. I need you.’

His own need grew with the feel of her beneath him, and he did not deny her the release she so needed. He cupped her buttocks, felt them tighten in his grip, felt the strain of her anticipation as he positioned himself, the head of his member pressed tight against her womanhood. ‘Please,’ she whispered again.

He pushed into her until the sigh of her breath was a sob, then she wrapped herself around him and pulled up to meet him, pressing her mouth to his, whispering against his lips. ‘Ride it with me, Anderson. I need you to ride it with me.’

The power of first contact drove fire up his spine and up into his head until the very fabric of the ether sparked with it. Then as he thrust, it was as though she had inhaled all of him into herself, right up through the very core of her womanhood all the way to the beating of her heart. And then she gave it all back to him again, each time driving the fire up into him hotter and brighter than the time before. His bliss was such that he wondered if it were her intention to burn him until he was but ash to be blown away into the nothingness of the Ether. But he was too far gone for his possible destruction by fire to matter, and when she began to shudder and tremble with her release, driving her heels into his kidneys, digging her nails into his back, he allowed himself to tumble into the abyss with her. The bed she had created quite literally vanished and they were falling, endlessly falling into the heat of their release.

For a time, they floated in nothingness, wrapped around each other. The clock in his head warned him he had been gone too long, that there were important responsibilities he must return to, but still he clung to her.

‘Are you all right?’ She whispered against his ear.

He chuckled softly at such a question. ‘As ecstatic as the experience of sharing pleasure with you is, my dear Cassandra, it was only le petite morte and surely you are aware that I am already dead, and therefore undamaged by even the power of your great ardor.’

To his surprise, she wept, only a little, but he appreciated the ways of women. Their ease with their own emotions was a thing much to be envied. And she did indeed weep, and hold him even closer to her, if that were possible. ‘Only le petite morte,’ she sighed. ‘Of course.’ She moved a hand down to rest against his heart. ‘I have to go now, Anderson, and so do you.’ She kissed him, and in that startling moment colours flashed before his eyes, steamy sunsets, nights dense with stars, an older woman with a cascade of white hair falling over a black robe, ghosts, memories, wild places. And the sharp crack of a bullwhip and fire that was cold and unnatural, and yet familiar in a way that chilled him even in his ethereal body. Then, as inexplicably as he had come to be with Cassandra Larkin in the Ether, he fell away from her into darkness.

When the darkness broke over him, he awoke on the dream bed looking up into the concerned faces of the rest of the coven.

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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