I just found the most fascinating essay on the EBSCO database entitled, Inappropriate Sexuality? Sex Magic, S/M and Wicca (or ‘Whipping Harry Potter’s Arse!’)

Despite the tongue in cheek subtitle the researcher, Jo Pearson, is quite serious and has quite a few interesting things to say about the fluffier end of the Pagan spectrum. Here is a public domain excerpt I sourced from Sage Journals to give you an introduction:

Despite its often fervent claims to radicalism, openness and maturity, Wicca articulates a rather complex attitude towards sexuality. S/M concepts which have influenced the development of Wiccan ritual practice (through such figures as Algernon Swinburne, Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders) have been largely abstracted into symbolic forms which strongly deny the ‘inappropriate’ sexuality embedded in Wiccan initiation rituals   (specifically) and formative ideologies (generally). A brief comparison between Wiccan initiation and the S/M dungeon, for example, suggests a common conceptual ground. But, while a rhetoric of disruptive sexuality is retained in Wicca through the use of scourging, binding, ritual nudity, and the ‘Great Rite’, the emphasis lies in its symbolic value and ‘dangerous  sex’ is largely forbidden. Nevertheless, ‘dangerous sex’ remains an issue within Wicca. The overlaps between Wiccan S/M symbolism and rhetoric and the physical spirituality of some S/M practitioners remains unexplored, and issues of power, abuse, and gender are only just beginning to be recognized.

If you are interested in researching Wicca I recommend getting your hands on it if you can.

2 thoughts on “Wiccan Rites: Symbolic Sado-Masochism?

  1. It is funny. Wiccans stress ‘symbolic sexual intercourse’ in their Great Rite, not the actual thing.
    I guess they don’t want to scare off the grandchildren of Queen Victoria.
    Just as polygamy got the Mormons in trouble, Wiccans appear to want to avoid persecution for non-normative sexual practices too.
    In the end, even Wiccans remain, at heart, modern products of business-science-Christian culture.
    Seems no one can truly escape this culture to see what’s on the other side.
    Though there is a far scarier spiritual truths to Wicca than aberrant sexual behavior disallowed by Christianity, it is nice to know modern humans are firmly entrenched in the security of science first, keeping us tethered to our security so we don’t venture too far into other dimensions.

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  2. The real thing (sex magic that does involve intercourse I mean) is not entirely forgotten of course. Some local Pagans made me aware of the Euphoria Festival a few years back where that definitely goes on. Some of them are featured in the online photos in fact. See here http://www.euphoriapagan.org/pictures.html, especially Euphoria 2005 – Eleusian Journeys.
    But I am not aware that any of them were Wiccans per se. Wicans seem to be actively white (witch) washing their formative history and the more serious types down my way seem to want nothing to do with Wicca. At least that’s the impression I get.

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