In the Season of Sex

These days, I find it’s difficult just to navigate the world without getting sex all over me.

The flowering trees and plants are airing their perfumes. When I get in my car in the morning, the windshield is covered with a fine dusting of yellow pollen. Fortunately, I am not subject to allergies, so it’s amusing, rather than oppressive.

Meanwhile, there is all the usual hypersexualized nonsense in our media, of course: the objectifying inside-out world of a repressed people.

And then, there is the disgusting story of Kenny Klein.

It’s a steamroller, sex is. Grabs a person right by the lizard brain. So much sickness I see in our world is rooted in it.

As I’ve reflected before, it’s a sticky, steamy mess…that nearly all of us want to be in, right up to our necks.

I see the prudish nature of our culture here in the United States as a major driver of abuse. The conflation of “forbidden” with “arousing” is an intoxicating brew: one which can distill to obsessive and soul-eating shame, or consensual and mutually respectful BDSM…or far darker imaginings. Imaginings that should never become real.

Here in the spring, when sex is everywhere, sometimes I find myself shrinking away from it; away from the part of me that is a sexual being. Not because I think it’s wrong—I don’t—but rather because of the suffering, the harm I see in the sexual realm in our world.

It is like a haze clearing, like waking from a drug-infused dream. And when I do this, the tragic absurdity of sex becomes so clear: the pursuers and pursued, the conflicted and tormented. The joyous…and the lost.

In the wake of the Klein arrest, we’ve been having a conversation in the Pagan community about consent and the accountability of “leaders”–a term which tends to mean “anyone with a recognizable name” in our subculture.

Those conversations are important, and I’m glad we’re having them. I hope we are evolving into a culture that embraces not only an affirmation of sexuality as a healthy element of life, but of affirmative consent as the principle through which sexual encounters are negotiated. The unconscious, male-dominated free-for-all of the Sixties, whether or not that is a significant aspect of where modern Paganism began, must be dispensed with.

We must learn protocols to protect ourselves from one another. From ourselves.

I ask myself, what does it all mean? We’re saddled with it: it is baked into us as meiotic beings. We are neurochemically predisposed towards sexual impulse and behavior; exceptions are rare.

Sex is a sacrament. I know it. And I know, too, that it can just be recreation, and that’s okay, given consenting adults. It is and can be many things.

But however it manifests, being a sexual being is like carrying around a bomb.

Like a trembling vial of nitroglycerine that each of us must carry across the tightrope of desire.

On Mirth

As I have referenced before, these are challenging days.

Much  is at stake, and fools are at the wheel. For someone prone to depression like me, it can be hard to keep my chin up and headed forward.

This is why Atheopagan Principle 5 is so very important. Because it reminds us that the world of humans is not only tragic: it is absurd. And absurdity is hilarious.

I’ve never heard any—perhaps they do not survive—but I guarantee that German Jews in the mid-1930s had Nazi jokes: not only because Jewish culture is generally lively withh humor, but because this is what humans do. We make the unbearable bearable, we knock our problems down to size, even if only for a moment, by making fun of them.

And for the freest and happiest of us, this includes mockery of the greatest “problem” each of us confronts: ourselves. By willingly being silly, making jokes at our own expense, we embrace our delightful, flawed humanity, warts and all.

There is a time for dignity, don’t get me wrong. There are times when seriousness is and should be the order of the day. But honestly, those are few when compared with the number of occasions when tension-easing humor is both appropriate and welcome.

Humor brings humanity and perspective into moments that we would suffer through without it. It reestablishes the relative importance of things. It is not frivolous or trivial. It’s important.

April Fools’ Day is coming up (April 1, for those of you in other countries—I’m not sure how widespread the tradition is), and I encourage you to be as big a fool as you can get away with: to dress outrageously, make silly jokes and go for the guffaw.

This world is serious enough. Even if our humor is of the gallows variety, I’d rather go having inspired a grin and a chuckle.

Wouldn’t you?


Embracing Joy in Dark Days

Where I live, we are right at the fractal edge of spring: winter is stuttering, and between rains come bright, fresh days in the 70s, rich with the scent of flowering trees and lush grass. There is no doubt: the Wheel has turned. Winter has run its course.

It’s days like these when the urge to be outside is almost irresistible: to breathe that scent, stretch out my limbs and welcome the warmth of the long-gone sun. To walk in shirtsleeves and feel that sensuous, liquid air flowing around me.

It’s heady stuff, and it conjures forth optimism and energy. Things are looking up!

Then I see a headline. And the pit of my stomach sinks. Until I catch myself, and let myself enjoy again.

I have spent a long time in the political world, and have experienced personally how it can eat your brain. Tracking what is going on in the news and responding to it both emotionally and politically can become an obsession. And for those whose path demands of them not only reverence, but activism, it is easy to feel it is our duty to remain ever-focused on the harm that is being done in our society, to be unswerving in our attention, effort and comprehension of that harm.

Well, let me go on the record here to say that is nonsense.

Living in times when terrible things are happening is not the occasion for wearing a hair shirt. We need not feel guilty for enjoying the sensual pleasures that are in our lives. In fact, they are what will help to sustain us as we fight the fight we must fight. There is no reason to feel badly about having a wonderful day, despite the latest abominations of the Trumpenfuhrer. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you’re just riding along in your privilege and being a “good German”.

It means you’re living your life. Even as you apply your caring and effort to changing the direction our society is going.

Both are necessary. Both are valid.

I don’t in any way advocate losing sight of the plight of those who are exposed to harm by this reckless and ignorant administration of dunces. Including our beloved planet itself.

But I have seen what happens to activists when all they can think about is the ain’t-it-awfulism of the daily news. They lose sight of the point of living a human life, which is not only to be of integrity and service, but to be happy. They become bitter and greyfaced, and seem to draw a grim satisfaction from terrible developments in the news, as if they feel personally validated by tragedy instead of motivated by their opposition to it.

Don’t be one of those. Throw your arms wide and welcome the pleasures of the world. And then do the work we all must to make it a better place.

It’s spring, fer cryin’ out loud!