Understanding Neo-Pagan Views on Sexuality

Understanding Neo-Pagan Views on Sexuality

I just had an interesting interaction with a non-Pagan man who was under the impression that most Wiccans are polyamorous (have or are open to multiple lovers).  He was apparently interested in my affections.  While that is flattering, it made me think about how to explain Pagan culture to him in a way that would a) help him talk to Pagan women (he needed help), and b) help him understand the way many of us think about ethics, morals, etc.

As I do a lot of conversing and e-mailing with new seekers on the Wiccan path, I thought I'd share some stuff about the culture of Wiccans in particular and Pagans in general.  Readers may or may not be familiar with these things and please note that I'm not suggesting that *all* Wiccans nor *all* Pagans will agree with me on these points.  Pagans are rabid individualists.  That's about the only thing all of us will agree on 100% of the time.

1.  When interacting with Wiccans and other Pagans, don't assume things regarding someone's love style.  Neo-Pagans in general are supportive of all sex and love styles involving consenting, informed adults, but that doesn't mean that we are all the same.  Some of us are straight, some of us are bi, some of us are gay.  Some of us are monogamists, some are poly, some are in closed poly relationships, some are in open marriages/relationships, some of us are in traditional heterosexual marriages, some are in various configurations of love relationships that defy neat definitions.  Wicca is not about "sharing partners" or about "free love."  However, various love styles are respected within our communities.  I myself am in a traditional heterosexual monogamist marriage.  One of my students is a gorgeous young woman who is voluntarily celibate as tribute to a virgin Matron Goddess.  We are nothing if not diverse.

2.  Yes, Wicca is a fertility based religion and therefore sex-positive.  Sex-positive means being unashamed of human sexuality.  That's all.  Most Wiccans do not have sex in ritual.

3.  For non-Pagan men who want to approach Pagan women:  Women and men are seen as equals by most Neo-Pagans.  This means that you don't ask a woman/girl "Do you have a boyfriend/husband?"  First of all, she might have a wife/girlfriend or several of them.  Asking whether there is a man in her life is irrelevant.  You're not going to win points with her by asking a question that implies that if she is partnered by a man, she's that man's property.  She is your equal.  Treat her like it or be prepared to be immasculated most painfully (or at least ignored).

4.  There are some forms of Paganism that are considered to be "on the fringes" of Pagan society when it comes to attitudes about sex.  For instance, the Frosts (search Gavin and Yvonne Frost) have attitudes about sexuality, age of consent, and how sex and Wicca are interrelated that are not shared by most Wiccans.  One Wiccan doesn't speak for another.  99% of us do not condone sex with people under 18, for instance.  Please don't assume that when you come across books or stuff on the net about these extremist, fringe groups that all Wiccans or all Pagans have those beliefs and practices.

5.  Wiccans and other Pagans do not associate nudity with sex.  We can be nude or partially nude around one another and it isn't sexual in the least.  Not all of us are naturists but plenty of us are.  If you go to a Pagan festival (such as Free Spirit, Pagan Spirit Gathering, etc.), be prepared to see some nakedness.  I myself don't take my clothes off at Pagan fests, and plenty of us don't.  But bodies are not shameful to us and our men don't leer at our young women who may be in various stages of undress.  They see them as vessels of the Goddess' energy and they respect them as such.  Again, just because we *can* walk around naked doesn't mean we all do.

6.  Some Pagans practice ritual nudity and some don't.  Some of us who do worship skyclad do so only in certain situations, such as for initiations.  If you are a guest at a circle, you will usually be told if people will be skyclad so you can decide for yourself in advance whether you want to go to such an event.  Most groups I know practice robed.  It is appropriate to ask your host whether the event will be robed, "street" (as in street clothing), or what. 

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Comments (3)

  1. mandamo85

    Not only was this very informative but your story-telling is quite humorous as well! Thank you!

    November 20, 2012
    1. gaiagirl

      Thank you. Glad you liked it.

      November 20, 2012
  2. gaiagirl

    Thank you. I don’t consider this stuff to have to do with “feminism” so much as just being intelligent. I mean, men and women are equals and always have been. Folks can recognize it or not. Most Pagans support legislature that works against suppression of women’s and men’s personal rights. Pagans generally prevent pregnancy to begin with, with herbs and with safe sex practices so you don’t hear about a lot of us needing abortions. Did you know that Neem, taken correctly, prevents a man from causing conception and has no ill effects on his fertility later on? True. They’ve been using it in India for hundreds of years. Surgical means to prevent pregnancy and abortion aren’t generally necessary if people have the facts (abortion is often necessary in cases of rape and in religions where women are shamed into not planning for birth control, so that’s why many Pagans support the right to choose). Pagans respect life and many of us probably wouldn’t end a pregnancy with an abortion as we are all about the holiness of Life and such.

    December 12, 2012
  3. trickiegypsiepixie

    i still say what does it matter if a person is homosexeual? let them be.

    May 02, 2013
  4. elizabethelias

    I don’t completely agree with this. My ex is Pagan and he views women as just sex. That is all we are. I found some of his attitudes to be quite disturbing. I am a sex positive person mind you, but I have a different idea of what that means. I don’t believe that a womans purpose is to entertain men sexually. I don’t think that money and sex should be exchanged. We are mind, body and soul. We are teachers, doers, nurturers, mothers, aunts, sisters, doctors, scientists, homemakers, etc..we have more to offer than just sex. There is more to life than sex. I was with him for about 10 months so I was exposed to his religion and friends and the way of life in the Neo Pagan world. I have to say that it isn’t for me. To each their own though. I believe that you have every right to live your life that is best suited to you. P.S. In the Neo Pagan world, you see a lot of bi women who are in a relationship with a man, but bring a woman into their bed, but you rarely see a bi man in a relationship with a woman who brings a man into their bed. So, what I am saying is that I see women that have FFM threesomes to please their man. That is what bothers me. I feel like Neo Pagan “bi” women are doing it just to please their man, to entertain them sexually. It does hurt the woman that is brought into the mix. I have read it time and time again on several blogs. The additional woman is hurt because she feels like she is just added to the threesome so the primary woman can please her man.

    May 03, 2013
    1. gaiagirl

      Hmm…You know, I’m betting that the folks of whom you speak were not formally trained traditional Pagans. Your experiences are not even remotely close to my experiences in the Neo-Pagan world, and I’m acquainted with hundreds of Pagans. I’m not in any way invalidating your experiences of course. Obviously, you found yourself a group of people who identified as Neo-Pagan and behaved in the manner you describe.

      I’m quite sure that that there are people out there who interpret “sex positive” to mean “I don’t need to have any sexual ethics.” I’m also betting that there are a fair number of people who mistakenly think that the perceived permissiveness of Neo-Pagan values means that it’s o.k. not to be respectful and kind. But as far as the Neo-Pagans that I know, I have not EVER seen a Pagan man whom I knew treat a woman as though she was there for his sexual entertainment unless that was her attitude as well, nor have I witnessed most poly people doing a disproportionate number of FFM escapades.

      This is just one of the many, many reasons that I am a fan of formal training in Wicca and other Neo-Pagan paths. Real Wicca is HIGHLY ethical and has MANY rules that are there for the purpose of ensuring personal safety, well-being, empowerment, and well-developed ethical principles. In the absence of such training, you get a fair number of folks who completely misinterpret and misrepresent Pagan philosophies. That is not to say that some self-trained Pagans aren’t very clear on the teachings, of course. I’ve met many who are great people and very talented witches and Pagans. But you’re always going to get the fringe contingency who think “just because I can, that means I should.” And that’s not what Paganism is about, at least according to my training.

      I’d also like to point out that while Pagans respect people’s right to choose their sexual lifestyle so long as no one is harmed, that doesn’t mean that we are all poly. We just simply aren’t. My coven only has one poly person and the rest of us are married and monogamous. In my home coven (the one that trained me before I hived to create my own coven), I trained an initiate who is a 36 year old voluntary virgin and plans to stay that way. So please understand that polyamory is not universal in Paganism. My husband and I are 13 years together and do not take other lovers.

      I’m very sorry that you had a negative experience with your ex. I do however invite you to consider that he and his cohorts would not be welcome at any Pagan group that I was in charge of, based on those attitudes and behaviors that you describe. That group of folks is not representative of Neo-Paganism as a whole. Not by a long shot.

      May 27, 2013
  5. loveinkindness

    Stumbled upon this post completely by a fluke. Thank you for your refreshing clarity in the space of your open-mindedness. The eloquence behind your post and comments/responses is wonderful. Wish I had something constructive to say too, but we (my wife and I) are always looking to surround ourselves with educated & intelligent (those two things are distinct), free thinking & free spirited, loving & kind, live-and-let-live type of people, no matter what their relationship status, religious choices, as long as we all respect each other. Respect is missing in today’s day, and it’s such a simple thing, yet so complicated to live and execute in day-to-day life. Again, thanks for your stand and this post.

    May 12, 2014
  6. ameliehaire

    Well, all of such relations are nothing but complexities I assume. As such kind of information is also found in the cheap essay writing service ’ writings. So to know about Wiccans and pagan is not that hard of a task. But still, having social relations are good I think.

    August 24, 2016
  7. gaiagirl

    No offense taken, Greg. I took a look at your bio and am pleased to make your acquaintance. I am a published writer too and am always happy to meet other writers, free thinkers, religion geeks, and so forth. Great when all that is rolled up into one person! I respect Buddhism very much. Would love to talk more.

    December 13, 2012