Erotic Polarity

xxPolarityaxis_mundi“Any significant form of consciousness, especially reli­gious, which is not capable of deifying both opposites in any polarity, including that of male and female, is one-sided and, so, pathologizing.”

— John Dourley, The Goddess, the Mother of the Trinity (1990)

There tends to be greater emphasis and attention placed on the Divine Feminine in Neo-Paganism than the Divine Masculine. Mythologically, this is expressed by describing the Neo-Pagan God as the Son or Consort (or sometimes both) of the Goddess. This emphasis on the Divine Feminine is a necessary corrective to the existing imbalance in the patriarchal mainstream reli­gions.

Nevertheless, erotic polarity is an important principle in Neo-Pagan thought. Many Neo-Pagans visualize the universe as moving fluidly between two equal and complementary poles: the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine. These corre­spond roughly to the concepts of Shakti and Shiva in Indian Tantra and Yin and Yang in Chinese Taoism. In each case, the former is recep­tive, yielding, and enveloping, while the latter is active, initi­ating, and penetrating.

The concept of erotic polarity is controversial in Neo-Pagan­ism today, especially since Neo-Paganism attracts significant num­bers of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender people. Brit­ish Traditional Wicca insists on a literal gender polarity, a male priest and a female priestess, in its rituals. However, this require­ment was largely discarded when Wicca was trans­formed by the American feminist movement in the 1970s.

As practitioners of a nature religion, Neo-Pagans should be aware that gender can be a fluid thing. Some flowers, for exam­ple, have both male and female “genitalia,” and some animals have been known to reproduce asexually in a process called “par­thenogenesis.”

It is important to understand that when we speak of the Di­vine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, these are not prescrip­tions for gender roles. All men and women, of any sexual orienta­tion, have both poles within them. Erotic polarity is not the same thing as gender polarity. Modern Tantrics teach that there is a need for a “ravisher” and a “ravishee” in every erotic encounter, but this does not necessitate a man and a woman, only two people, whatever their gender or sexual orientation. And these roles may shift back and forth between the two peo­ple over time and even in the same encounter.

Updated 2019

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