In a recent article, I had pointed out how some discoveries in both physics and the psychology of consciousness have had striking similarities to things that mystics had been talking about for thousands of years. Last week, the gang here ran into another article that struck my interest. Apparently, a study by researchers at McGill University found that women who had frequent sex scored better at memory tests than women who didn't. There's no reason to think the same doesn't apply to men. Sex improves your memory.
Now the thing is, this is something that was known from ancient times by secret tantric sects. They used sexual activity as a way to impress certain profound symbolic imagery and metaphysical concepts.
It doesn't even have to be sex! Masturbation has been shown to help your health and wellbeing.
ALL of this stuff was understood by a variety of ancient sects. The Tantrics of the Himalayas were probably the most famous of the bunch. But there were also the Taoist sexual magicians of China, the inner alchemists of Europe, and others. For the most part, ancient religion tended to be relatively anti-sex, but many secret inner orders and esoteric groups made use of sexuality as part of their 'magic'.
How Does Sex Magic Work?
Sex magic is just about any occult ritual that incorporates sex as part of the fuel for making it powerful. This could in theory include things like focused meditations, where you aren't actually doing anything sexual with your body at all but are having sexual visions of goddesses or other iconography in your higher consciousness. It can also include ecstatic worship of certain deities or spirits, which we see in some Hindu or Buddhist tantric practices, as well as Afro-Caribbean occult practice.
But the sex magic most people imagine is the kind where you have literal sexual activity going on. This might involve solo sex (masturbation), or sex with a partner. This partner might be a regular-life romantic partner, but in traditional occult systems it often wasn't. It was more often someone who belonged to the same occult group as you did, who you didn't have sex with outside of a ritual context; this was important because in that way you wouldn't have the distractions or problems that could occur from having a complex romantic or spousal relationship with the other person. That sort of stuff can get in the way of the practice working. It was even possible that the partner in your sex-magic rituals wasn't actually a part of your occult group, and maybe didn't even realize that you were engaging in sex for ritual purposes at all.
Yes, you might have already had sex magic with someone, and never even knew it.
What is it That Gives Sex Magic its Power?
Well, sex obviously! But the reason for that is the power sex has over us. Sex drives a ton of what we do. It can define us, outside of our control. With sex magic, we can use that to redirect ourselves, within our control.
Sex is also taboo; and many of the historical sexual-occult groups (like the Tantrics) used that taboo or forbidden aspect of sex to do a double-whammy: they were tapping into both the basic intensity of sex itself, AND the intensity of 'breaking the social rules'. The Hindu Tantrics, for example, would do things in their ritual like eat cow meat or have sex with people from other castes; but of course neither of those would be taboo to us. In our modern times, this has lost some of its power because we have become much more open about sex; so there are few things that feel really shocking to any of us that have access to the internet, anymore.
So here's the basics of what gives you power in Sex magic:
1. NOT having sex can give you powers: If you've ever gone a long while without getting off, and then suddenly did, you'd know that this is intense. Sex magicians made use of this in their rituals. One of the basic parts of sexual rituals was engaging in long periods of chastity beforehand, sometimes days, weeks, or even months. Generally speaking, the more intense the sexual ritual is, the more powerful its effects will be. And of course, while you're not having any sex, you can redirect all that pent-up energy you'd usually waste on internet porn into doing everything else with much more intensity. Most magicians think avoiding sexual activity because some god told you to is stupid; but avoiding sexual activity to let you do other stuff with more power is totally legit.
2. Having a LOT of sex can give you powers: On the other hand, there are some sex magic rituals that are based not on intensity itself but on putting you into a state where you are completely zoned out of the grip of sex energy all together. Crowley called this "Eroto-comatose lucidity", where you have so much orgasmic activity (as much as possible) in a very short time, until you enter into a deeply altered state of clarity. It's a kind of intense mystical trance where you can suddenly tap into profound truths, receive visions, solve problems not by trying to think your way out of them but by having "aha" moments of being open to the answer already lying in your subconscious, or see openings in your physical space and time that you weren't aware of before.
3. Having sex that breaks the rules gives you power: As mentioned above, the taboo is something that binds your personality. Breaking those taboos unleashes a ton of pent-up energy. There's two kinds of taboos: personal, or societal. The ones you personally wouldn't normally do, and the ones no one 'normal' around you would usually do. Breaking the former kind, properly directed in the form of a magical ritual, can lead to huge transformations in your inner self, and not just in the "now I like this fetish" kind of way! It's usually got nothing to do with the taboo itself, you redirect all your hung-up energy about that sort of thing over to the real change you're trying to make in your life, and suddenly that change happens. Breaking societal taboo can create huge changes in your life around you, allowing you to remake your environment, relationships, work, finances or other parts of your life.
4. Even self-pleasure can give you powers: masturbation is not as exciting as real sex, and in the occult sense is usually not as powerful as sex-magic with a partner. But there are times when it will be able to do things (in the occult sense) that sex-magic with partners just can't. For the Tantrics, there were rites related to connecting to 'secret inner deity of the heart', your true or inner self expressed in the form of a goddess (or god), which you couldn't reach through ritual with someone else. Stuff about self-discovery, deeply personal goals, or exploring your inner worlds, as well as anything that you could never see yourself 'sharing' (literally in speech or energetically in intercourse) with anyone else is stuff that magically can only be accomplished by solo-sex-magic. There's also Sigil Magic, which these days is usually done mainly by masturbation, though that may be because Chaos Magicians have trouble getting dates.
We'll be revealing the secrets of Sigil Magic further down in this article.
Sex Magic In Brief
Sex is a big deal in occultism because it is a fundamental power, related to one of the most basic human impulses. When you want to tap into the Will, the force that allows you to create effective change in yourself and your environment, you need to hit one of these fundamental forces: either sex, death or god (that is to say, the impulse to unite to some consciousness much larger than our own, the desire to transcend ourselves). These forces are interconnected; there's a reason people call sex the 'little death'. There's also a reason why people shout "Oh god" when they're in the throes of passion!
The impulses around these forces are so intense they make change easier, because the emotions that fuel them: desire, fear, ecstasy, etc. are so powerful. In all three, you can break out of your usual state of consciousness. Whether you're overwhelmed with passion, rushing with fear or danger, or rapt in some cosmic realization, you slip off the surly bonds of your usual little mind and enter into an altered state, where crazy shit can happen. For most people, it happens by accident; for a wizard, it can be directed to make specific things happen.
In the olden days, sex magick needed to be hidden from prudish society. It was something available only to very special initiates. In India during some parts of its history, Tantra was publicly known, but even then only those who went through long training periods were clued into the secret rituals related to sex (or for that matter, to those other fundamental forces). In China, the Middle East, and Europe, the teachings were hidden behind layers of symbolism. When true Alchemists talked about the Sun and Moon, Gold and Silver, they were talking about the masculine and feminine forces.
In the 19th and 20th Century, these teachings gradually became more available in the west. First through certain semi-secret societies that advertised publicly, like the groups run by Paschal Beverly Randolph (who was also the first great western occultist of mixed-race ancestry), Theodor Reuss, Austin Osman Spare, and the legendary Aleister Crowley.
In the 1960s the introduction of popular gurus from India in both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions made Tantra commonly known in the west. While some of these were quite impressive, many others watered down sexual alchemy into a kind of pop-psychology 'couples therapy' as though the goal was to have better orgasms with your lover, rather than transforming reality or achieving cosmic consciousness.
And then came the Chaos Magicians.
Let's Learn Some Sex Magic (Chaos Style)!
In the 1980s, the "Chaos Magic" movement tried to bring one type of sex-magic into the occult mainstream by laying open an incredibly simple yet often effective type of sex magic to the general public: sigil magic. I'll leave it to famous comic book writer and occultist Grant Morrison (Animal Man, the Invisibles, Justice League, X-men, Batman, etc) to explain the basics of how it works:
Now here's the thing about Sigil Magic: it can really work, but it doesn't work quite as consistently as Morrison or other Chaos magicians pretend. This has led some more traditional magicians to criticize it and the 'chaos magicians' who push the method. Among these are another famous comic book writer, Alan Moore (Green Lantern, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, etc) who is also an occultist and has been in a magical feud with Morrison for about 20 years now. In his comic book "Promethea" he more or less speaks through one of his characters, criticizing Chaos magic by pointing out that "in the '20s, magicians had style; it was turbans, tuxedos and tarts in tiaras. Now it's all sigils, stubble and self-abuse".
But notwithstanding, the reason people use sigil magic is that it works... sometimes. For the early chaos magicians and serious occultists like Morrison, it probably works almost all the time! But they didn't consider the other training they have.
You see, for Sigils or Tantra or the secret rituals Crowley devised or any other kind of sex-magic to work, you need three basic ingredients: the sexual energy is only one of them. The other two are necessity and concentration. Necessity means that you have to have an intense focus of your Will; the more you build up the sense of need to accomplish what you're trying to get done with the magical act, the more likely it will be to succeed. So if you are just using sex magic for curiosity, for kicks, or to get around something you could otherwise accomplish by more normal means, your subconscious will know this and the practice probably won't work. On the other hand, if you're trying to accomplish something that is serious, really important to you, and there's either no other way to get it to work or all other attempts have failed and magic is a last resort, it's more likely to succeed.
Concentration is the third ingredient: You have to be able to focus all your consciousness on one single point. That's tough in NORMAL meditation, mysticism or magical ritual. Now imagine trying to do it while you're having an orgasm (alone or with a partner)! It takes training. There's a reason why the ancient Tantrics and alchemists made their students go through years of daily basic focusing exercises, meditation, physical practices and study before they taught them the juicy stuff. It was because without all those basic tools of concentration, the juicy stuff does nothing.
So that's the bad news: the less training you have in meditation or other forms of concentration practices, the less likely sigil magic, or any other kind of sex magic, will be to actually work for you. The "chaos magicians" of the 1980s were rebelling against more traditional curricula of practice, which they assumed were just 'hoarding power' or being elitist. But actually it was only because most of them had spent some time going through these schools of occultism that the sigil magic did the job for them. When they shared the techniques of sigil magic with 'the masses', most of which had NOT gone through more traditional occult basic-training, the success rate dropped a lot.
Still, now you not only know a method, you also know what you need to get good at it. Giddy-up!