Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 8-Fold Path, Sex Magic & BDSM


As a practicing witch, I used to separate my spiritual journey from my BDSM practices until that felt too much like living with multiple personalities and far too stressful. In the end, I decided to join them together! Erotomancy, sex magic, is a passion of mine that I wanted to share with you. 

The Eight Fold Path of the Gardnerian Tradition
  1. Meditation or Concentration
  2. Chants, Spells, Invocations
  3. Projection of the Astral Self or Trance
  4. Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc
  5. Dancing
  6. Blood Control - use of cords
  7. The Scourge
  8. The Great Rite

Raven Digitalis in Goth Craft says of the 8-fold path, “Gerald Gardner and his associates understood ‘sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll’ to be spiritual gateways – codes of ascension – and applied this knowledge to early Wiccan teachings.”
The Eight-fold Path is also called “Eight Paths to Reach the Center,” the Center being the Higher Self or connection with the Divine through the Self. Digitalis goes on to explain that there are five unmentioned things needed in the Path and these are “intention, preparation, invocation, consecration, and purification.”
These unmentioned points can be explained as deciding to perform an act such as a sex magic ritual for healing, and preparation by creating a sacred space, calling quarters and any deities desired, and cleansing and consecrating any tools (i.e. floggers, candles, massage oil).

In the Gardner Book of Shadows, the use of the 8-Fold Way is vaguely explained with a few cautions. In the end, however, it is left up to the initiate to learn these ways from others in the coven or through their own experimentation and pursuit of these mysteries.

The First step on the Path – Meditation

“This in practice means forming a mental image of what is desired, and forcing yourself to see that it is fulfilled, with the fierce belief and knowledge that it can and will be fulfilled, and that you will go on willing till you force it to be fulfilled. Called for short, Intent.”
This is a pretty basic definition of what Meditation meant to Gardner. In sex magic and BDSM, meditation can also be put into terms of preparation. This is the act of turning inward to prepare yourself for what is to come – be it a sexual rite to bring abundance into your home or your first time being whipped with a dragon tongue.
This is also a key step leading into #2…

The Second step on the Path – Astral Projection and Trance

Instead of Trance, in the subject of BDSM, I’d like to use the word Head Space.
We’ve all heard of SubSpace, DomSpace, even Littles-space. This is when the submissive, Dominant, or little is in the mindset in which they can truly release themselves to the role they are in.
The Submissive Guide has a fantastic article on sub-space: Sub Space: The Ultimate Frontier

The Third step on the Path – Chants, Spells, Invocation.

This can be anything from mood music to a mantra.
One of the best uses of invocations I’ve ever read was on FetLife in which the submissive was used as a vessel and she and her Master invoked their patron goddess into her through meditation and through ceremonial whipping to bring her into a spiritual frenzy of passion and sexuality. It was a beautiful ceremony.

The following is from PaganBDSM site, author was not posted and could be used as a chant or mantra before sex or bondage magic:

Prayer for a Slave
I offer myself to your will,
To better serve your needs.
I offer myself to be your tool,
For my path is one of usefulness.
I offer myself to be used,
For to be used is to be valued.
I offer myself to be honed
To give me a finer edge.
I offer myself to be changed, 
That I may become a vessel,
A manifestation of your will.


The Fourth step on the Path – incense, Drugs, Wine, etc.

According to the Gardnerian Book of Shadows:

“Whatever is used to release the Spirit. (Note. One must be very careful about this. Incense is usually harmless, but you must be careful. If it has bad aftereffects, reduce the amount used, or the duration of the time it is inhaled. Drugs are very dangerous if taken to excess, but it must be remembered that there are drugs that are absolutely harmless, though people talk of them with bated breath, but Hemp is especially dangerous, because it unlocks the inner eye swiftly an d easily, so one is tempted to use it more and more. If it is used at all, it must be with the strictest precautions, to see that the person who uses it has no control over the supply. This should be doled out by some responsible person, and the supply strictly limited.)”

In BDSM, the use of alcohol and recreational drugs (even those used for spiritual purposes) is usually frowned upon and prohibited in a public setting such as a club, dungeon, or play party. This falls under the association with SSC – Safe Sane and Consensual. It is understood that someone under the influence of drugs and alcohol is unable to safely consent to what is about to happen to them in a BDSM scene. Also, alcohol and drugs that cause thinning of the blood can cause more bruising or even bleeding than would normally be considered safe.

That being said, the ritualistic used of drugs has a long history. Ayahuasca and peyote (Lophophora williamsii) as well as psilocybin mushrooms all have a history of magical use in shamanic and magical practice. Alcohol also has a magical history from wine to mead to ale used in ceremonial rite.

Digitalis explains the use of drugs and alcohol in Goth Craft as such:

“Alcohol and other natural drugs do not exist just to ‘fuck you up.’ Everything is designed with a purpose, and each substance can serve as a conduit to channel spiritual energies and open gateways of perception in the user…Some groups of Witches and spiritualists gather to use certain drugs other than marijuana for specific spiritual purposes. Reasons include vision quests, astral voyages, energetic healing, and extreme divination, to name a few.” However, even he has a few sentences of caution, “All participants in group circles must be completely honest about their current states of being with the other members involved. This includes being under the influence of a substance, even if the magickal procedure at hand is only celebratory in nature…Certainly, if a ceremony is centered on the use of a particular drug for spiritual purposes, then all participants must be aware of the other members; states of being, including their limits, before using and their states of being during the high…What I’m saying is, be smart about what you do. Be cautious and aware of what you put into your body and how it affects the whole of your person.”

Of course, for those who do not wish to participate in the recreational and spiritual use of drugs and/or alcohol, incense can be used to influence meditation and trance. As many who have used it know, incense sets the mood just as much as a romantic bottle of red wine. Scents like patchouli and sandalwood are fantastic to set the mood for a bedroom scene as well as a sacred space for sexual rites.

The Fifth step on the Path is the Dance and Kindred Practices

The Dance in the paths of sex magic can be taken literally with an act of sensual dance – think Strip-tease or even Belly Dance. Sensual dance, much like ritualistic dance, raises energy. If you’ve ever been to a strip club and felt the energy of the room you can almost tangibly feel the ache of the men and women there watching. This is similar to the energy that can be raised in a ritual setting for sex magic.
This could also loosely refer to the dance a submissive does as she is bound to a rack and squirms beneath the lashes of a flogger.

The Sixth step on the Path is Blood Control, Breath Control, and Kindred Practices

The use of blood control with cords and breath control in BDSM is a practice surrounded by a lot of excitement and taboo.
Just as it is used with great care to the delicacies of the human form in pagan ritual, so too should great care be taken when using blood control and breath control in sexual practice. 
Jay Wiseman, author of SM 101: A Realistic Introduction wrote a fantastic essay on safety in breath control play HERE called The Medical Realities of Breath Control Play. 

Some traditions believe that the 6th step is control over the body in general - everything from bodily fluids, bodily reactions, to controlling dreams and developing psychic powers. This can be taken a step further in the realm of BDSM in that a submissive could take it as controlling the self during a scene - not allowing the pain of the moment to control the body but rather a mind over matter situation. 

The Seventh step on the Path is the Scourge

Anyone who has participated in impact play during a BDSM scene can remember the feel of the scourge. In this case the scourge can be an O-whip, a flogger, or a cat-o-nine. Being scourged with one of these tools can bring blood to the skin, give a rush of endorphins, and send the recipient into sub-space.

Digitalis defines the scourge in its own section in Goth Craft:

“The Witches’ scourge is quite a bit milder than the early Christian versions and is quite ‘fluffy’ compared to the ancient Roman scourge. Instead of being made of metal and knotted with hooks, rocks, and bones, it usually is now in the form of a relatively soft cat-of-nine-tails, and is not designed to tear flesh and punish heretics! The tails of the Witches; scourge can be made of leather, faux leather, or thick string. A number of knots can be tied in each string, each holding the energy of a different blessing the person being scourged should receive.
‘For modern Witches, scourging is also used as a tool to exorcise deamons, diseases, and malignancies from someone, and a quick cleansing smack of the scourge is a requirement to enter the sacred circle for some Witches…
‘In traditional initiation rituals, the scourge is used to induce a small amount of sharp, momentary pain to remind the initiate of the vulnerability of the physical body and to increase blood flow to strengthen a trance.”

The Eighth and final step on the Past is the Great Rite

The Great Rite – here referring to the actual act of union. In the sacred circle this could simply be the symbolic act of the High Priest lowering the tip of the athame into the chalice held by the High Priestess. However, in regards to sex magic, this is this is the culminating sexual act. This could be an astral union between two people or a magical practitioner and an astral being such as a succubus. This could also refer to the act of masturbation by a solitary practitioner. Usually, though, it is an act between two or more people after raising energy with the previous practices.

Digitalis explained the Great Rite:

“Witches also traditionally perform the Great Rite, a ritual procedure in which the male practitioner (or person honing male energy) draws the God into himself and the female practitioner (or person honing female energy) invokes the Goddess. While in a fully drawn circle, the two unite the masculine and feminine currents, cultivating the energy of fertility, physically or mentally…To Pagans, sex is seen as a metaphor of divine union and the connection between the heavens and the earth.”

As for the concept of sex magic, Digitalis states, “ritual sex is often used either to heal the land and the earth or as a means of encouraging ‘inner’ fertility and personal growth…Sex magic should be performed between two consenting individuals of legal age. I strongly believe that both individuals making love should be aware if sexual magick is being performed…if one party is uninformed of energy work, it may as well be considered magickal sexual abuse.”

He goes on to say, “Sex magick is a very powerful force indeed. When two people come together in a physical bond, a certain essence is created due to the fusion of two energy patterns…When physical sensations increase during sex, spiritual gates open. During the time building up to climax, energy is woven between the two individuals and finally projected upward in a cone of power…Where this energy is directed is entirely up to the couple.”

Combinations and Short Cuts

The 5 unmentioned essentials and 8 Paths or Ways cannot always be combined in one rite. Meditation and dancing do not usually combine well (unless you are skilled in the ways of walking meditation), but forming the mental image and the dance may be well combined with Chants. Spells combined with scourging and blood or breath control, followed by the Great Rite or sex, form a splendid combination. Meditation, following scourging, combined with Chants or spells and drugs/incense/alcohol and dancing are also very Good. For short cuts concentration, Dancing, Blood or Breath Control, Scourging, and the Great Rite are excellent.

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