The Neopagan Spectrosexuality and God/Spirit Spouse survey (March 5-March 19) asked respondents to describe some or all of their spiritual orientation and practices. Of course the umbrella term, “neopagan,” is impossibly large and sometimes controversial. When thinking about how to phrase Question Four, I reviewed a Down at the Crossroads interview with John Beckett from about two years ago. His “big tent” take on paganism (aka neopaganism) asked listeners to imagine the kinds of people who attend PantheaCon. I decided to err on the side of the “big tent” rather than list dozens of specific religious and magical traditions and risk upsetting people by leaving things out.
So the question contains a few general categories. Respondents could check as many as they liked. The “other” comment box invited respondents to be more specific or to include things which were left out of the general categories. The Question Four illustration below indicates twenty-two respondents left comments in the “other” box. But there are actually fifty-three. More on the qualitative responses in a minute.
Neopagan vs Pagan
I have adopted the use of “neopaganism” over “paganism” in a large part due to the distinctions described in Sara Anne Lawless’s blog post, “For Sale: Neopaganism: As Is.” She writes:
“The words ‘paganism’ and ‘pagan’ are used by the rest of the English speaking world mainly in reference to ancient polytheistic pagan cultures, such as Greece and Rome…”
“Neopaganism is an umbrella descriptor term for the paths falling within it…It is not a path or religion in and of itself.”
This made sense to me so I have revised my language use accordingly, though I understand these categories can also be controversial. (I’ve done the same with “tantra” and “neotantra.”)
Spirit Sex is Not Just a Lokean “Thing”
Many of the survey respondents reported working in several different types of traditions and with more than one pantheon or type of spiritual being.
Though the invitation to participate in the survey went mainly to members of Lokean and Heathen Facebook groups, you can see from the photo above that there is a lot of variety in traditions. Keep in mind that this survey focused specifically on people who have experienced “sexual” or “energetic” intimacy with a spirit or a god. These experiences range from a single, spontaneous incident all the way to ongoing relationships (e.g. god/spirit spousery). Some people seek out such experiences and for others, “it” just happened.
This is also not a scientific sample. Aside from posting in my blog, I deliberately did not post survey announcements in some social media groups due to my perception that certain groups had a higher level of “trolls” or because they were groups I had recently joined. Posting an announcement would have felt intrusive to me, as I was not yet a known participant in that particular community. I have no doubt that I could have gotten many more respondents from other groups if I’d overcome feelings of reluctance.
I’ll be comparing overlapping practices in a future blog.
Selections From the Comments Section
Because some of the comments were very specific and contain information that could lead someone to identify a respondent, I am not posting the comments in their entirety. I will quote snippets instead, to preserve privacy and confidentiality.
Here are quotes from a number of respondents:
“I’m Lokean, and I’m not restricted to a purely Heathen path.”
“I’m very eclectic, acting more based on personal experience and instinct than on established traditions.”
“My practices involve mainly divination and meditation.”
“As far as a label goes, the closest would be ‘Rökkrtru.'”
“Homebrewed and eclectic.”
“I’m a rather new Lokean who was visited one night by the God of Chaos and taken by storm.”
“Heathen/Pagan with Celtic influence.”
“Devotional polytheism mainly according to the Northern Tradition.”
“Hoodoo & folk magick.”
“…also work with the Kemetic pantheon and am working on learning Hermetic magic.”
As you can see by the above, many of the respondents to this survey work in a variety of