VIII. Spectrosexuality Survey: Satisfaction

“Honestly, why have a human partner LOL!”

That’s a quote from the comments section. Spectrosex and spirit spousing may not be for everyone, but those respondents who took this survey seem to enjoy this most of the time. 55 out of 100 people said they were “very satisfied” and 33 out of 100 people said they were “often satisfied.”

Data_Q8_190403

Very positive comments included:

I’m in love with them!”

“Always extremely satisfied.”

But these types of incidents and/or relationships  do have their challenges. Some are challenging because there are other life complications:

“Saying often satisfied since I do deal with clinical depression and chronic pain that aren’t related to the relationship but do have an effect on my wellbeing.”

Some are challenging due to the confusing or overwhelming nature of spectrosexual encounters:

“Loki is quite present in my daily life, and although I cleanse and ground frequently, taking on his sexual energy so frequently can be difficult for my body to handle. If we have sex at night and he orgasms, I absorb so much energy from him I often can’t sleep.” 

“When it happened, I was confused and so sure I was going crazy. When I got confirmation, I was elated—for a little bit. Then I got overwhelmed by everything (his constant presence, me freaking out all the time, lack of communication) and we decided to give it a break. I’m not sure if that break will ever end, but I’m glad I experienced what I did.”

Some people experience emotional support from a god or spirit just as they might with a human partner:

“Sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me and can cut off my communication with Thor. From what I’ve experienced Thor has been incredibly paitent [sic] with this and has helped me forward. As a spouse, he’s very passionate, very affectionate and will make you feel like the king/queen of the world 10/10 would recommend lol.”

“…my husband is clinically depressed and most of my time is spent taking care of both his emotional and physical needs. My emotional needs tend to be met by my patron who kinda took me under his wing and adopted me.”

Emotional ups and downs are also possible:

“Had been through a very rough few years and now rebuilding relationships. Going well, very happy.”

“At the time, I was satisfied with incorporating offerings of sexual energy into those spirit relationships. In hindsight, given that things didn’t necessarily end on the best of terms with either Person, I’m not really sure if I’m satisfied or not. Sometimes, I do miss having that clear direction of intent and connection to Someone, though.”

One person spoke to the complexity of a very long-term god/spirit spouse relationship:

“In 14 years of marriage and nearly 20 years of intimacy with the same being, I am still at an utter loss for words as regards how to discuss my satisfaction and “physical happiness” as you put it.”

And there may be a significance that transcends human concerns about sex or intimacy:

“The sexual encounters I have had with spirits seemed to be more about other things than about the sex. It’s never been about the intimacy or because that sort of relationship was going to be a regular thing (if they weren’t simply dreams), but rather something closer to initiations or power transference than anything else.”

If I’d done a survey with more questions and a larger sample, designed to be scientifically accurate, there are so many nuances I’d explore: definitions of satisfaction; comparisons of human and spirit relationships or encounters; more specific questions about sexual beliefs and practices; and so on. But for a start, it’s interesting to know that among these 100 respondents, most are having positive experiences.

Stay tuned for Question 9.

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V. Spectrosexuality Survey: Intimate Partners, Physical Sex

Question Five begins to collect specific responses about spectrosexual experiences and god/spirit spouses. I begin asking about current intimate partners, both spirit and human. By using the words “intimate relationships” instead of “sexual relationhips,” the question was intentionally broadened to include emotional intimacy and partnerships that aren’t physically sexual (physical sensations for human beings can occur whether the partners are spirit or human). I did not want to exclude people who identify as asexual, demisexual, or any of the other subcategories of asexuality. (Please see AVEN – the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network for more info.)


Data_Q5_190318

Before I get to the twenty-four “other” comments, I notice that there could be some unintentional overlap between the first three answer choices. That is, some people could have answered all of the first three. I should have written “only one or more human partners,” “only one or more god/spirit partners,” and “currently both human and god/spirit partners” to avoid unintentional overlap. That’s a flaw. I’ll be taking a look at the individual responses to see how much overlap there is.

I’ll also be checking to see how many people who say they are god/spirit spouses or consorts overlap with “both human and god/spirit partners.” But that’s a future blog.

Selections From the “Other” Responses

Notice how the respondents address such issues as monogamy, non-monogamy, dating, various sexual or asexual orientations, and disclosure to human partners.

Both Human and Spirit Relationships

“Cis-hetero with a marriage to a cis-hertero husband….but a strong presence of Loki within our sexual intimacy.”

“I used to have a partner with whom we used to channel each other’s gods. It sometimes included getting intimate too. Now, my husband isn’t into such things but I do suspect he has been taken over a few times…. it’s not a regular thing however and seems to be completely random.”

“My physical partner and I are physically intimate. I have had a few sexual interactions with deities.”

“God spouse, plus human partner. Human partner is unaware of God spouse.”

“I have a human partner-my husband. I don’t know how to class my experiences with god/spirit partners: apart from one real life experience where I felt an interaction with a deity, all the others have been in the realm of ‘fantasy.'”

“I have a wife and I am occasionally intimate with Loki.”

Spirit Relationships

“I’m asexual as far as physical people go but it doesn’t seem to apply as strongly with spirit partners.”

“I have had sexual encounters with spirits, but none currently and none that I would label as a true partnership.”

“I am not currently seeing anyone other than Loki. I don’t have much of a desire to date humans right now, but if someone who was right for me came along, I would not reject them because of my relationship with Loki.”

“Spirits usually get ‘daydreams’ of various focus/attention, or dedicated sex toys.”

“My relationship with Loki was not initially sexual, but became so over a period of time. I’m of the opinion that it is more natural for relationships with the Divine to have some sexual aspects than not, since sexuality is an essential part of how we perceive the universe, and of the creation of new life. Based on my own historical studies it appears to me that sexual relationships with gods were more normal than abnormal in the pre-Abrahamic world, but that the Abrahamic faiths scrubbed any and all sexual references from religious theology and ceremony.”

“I have ongoing intimate relationships with a number of spirits, currently these are sexually intimate…I know it is possible to be sexually intimate with spirits.”

“My tradition was initiated by the sex with the Devil-Witchfather as many Scottish Trads are.”

“All my life I have been in touch with spirits. At times I am overcome with their sexuality in my sleep.”

“In the past, I have had romantic non-sexual, non-romantic sexual, and romantic sexual relationships with spirit partners. At the time, I was ‘exclusive’ to my spirit partners and did not have simultaneous human partnerships, whether romantically, sexually, or both.”

Gods or Spirit Spousery

“I have an interesting experience with godspousery. Loki has told me we’ve been married for a very long time, and I could do with that information what I will. He expected nothing from me. At first I was uncomfortable with the idea of being a godspouse because I did not fully understand it. I warmed up to the idea as time went on.”

“Married to a deity; functionally monogamous for 14 yrs.”

“I am married. But I’m celibate physically. I no longer have sex with my husband.”

“I’m a Thor spouse. Thor is the only person I’m committed to right now and I don’t have any physical people I’m committed to, but I am dipping back in the dating scene.”

Discomfort with Spirit Intimacy

In a later question, a few people reported non-consensual experiences with a deity or spirit. This response to Question Five shows how one person is not happy to be sexually  pursued by a god:

“Herne/Cernunnos claimed me as one of his consorts. I’m not entirely sure what it means, but he tends to bring a very sexual energy with him when he appears to me. I’ve taken to using a protective barrier against it because I’m not comfortable with it and I’m not willing to commit to a relationship like that with a spiritual being. He seems to think I’ll come around eventually, but I’m just not seeing it anytime soon.”

Beyond Sleep Paralysis

Only one person mentioned being “overcome by [spirit] sexuality” in their sleep. This is the only comment that resembles the classic incubus and succubus narrative (now thought to be caused by sleep paralysis). (However in a later question some respondents do mention dreams.)

Most of the other responses to this question indicate a conscious state of mind, or at least conscious thought regarding intimate spirit relationships or encounters.

Stay tuned for Question Six.

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IV. Spectrosexuality Survey: Neopagan Practices

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.”)


 

Data_Q4_190318


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.”

“Practice Demonolatry…”

“My practices involve mainly divination and meditation.”

“As far as a label goes, the closest would be ‘Rökkrtru.'”

“Buddhist Hawaiian.”

“HIndu.”

“Homebrewed and eclectic.”

“Anderson Feri.” 

“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.”

“Gardnerian.”

“Chaos Magick.”

“Devotional polytheism mainly according to the Northern Tradition.”

“Traditional Witch.”

“Animist.”

“Shamanic.”

“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

traditions and with many pantheons and spirits. The phenomenon of spirit intimacy is
not limited to “Loki fan-girls on Tumblr,” as so many people say.
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I. Preliminary Thoughts Re: Spectrosexuality Survey

Survey Data Collection is Closed as of March 18, 2019. Thank you.

Introduction

At first glance, a lot has changed since 1587, when poor Walpurga Hausmannin, an aging midwife, was tortured, mutilated, and burnt at the stake in the town of Dillingen for witchcraft and other crimes, including a long-term sexual relationship with a demon (Stephens, pp.1-3). Naturally her confession was gained through torture. We cannot know what (if anything) was “true” and what was not.

But in other places, not much has changed after all. In West Africa (and perhaps other places) some children are being tortured and killed as a result of witchcraft accusations and “deliverance” rituals. (See the UK agency, Child Safe Africa, for information and ways to help.)

However I have the privilege of pretending things have changed for those actually practicing witchcraft (and for those suspected of it). I can sit here at the Pacific edge of the United States–an older white woman with New England ancestors, a professional as well as a self-proclaimed witchy person–calm and unafraid to run an online survey about other neopagan computer owners’s sexual experiences with gods, angels, demons, and other spirits. And I do not worry that my small village will be coming after me with pitchforks and torches.

It’s a blessing to be free to practice my own religion and spirituality, and to be able to conduct a sexological inquiry without fear of much in the way of reprisal. However, the topic of spectrosexuality and god/spirit spousery is still misunderstood and controversial even among practitioners in many neopagan and allied magical traditions. (And it may not be well-received among human sexuality professionals either.) People who claim sexual experiences with gods or spirits (either sought or spontaneously occuring) may be bullied, trolled, suspected of being super kinky, or “having a screw loose,” or outright mendacity. Of course, we’re still living under the shadow of America’s last Satanic Panic, so real world consequences for anyone “out” as a spectrosexual or god spouse could certainly ensue without much warning.

It is from this awareness that I perform this act of service–gathering and presenting information via an informal, non-scientific survey and through a series of blogs which will discuss the results, as well as overlapping contexts, which I hope will advance greater understanding.

This is the first in a series of blog posts which will expand on this topic, but not without some preliminaries. Let’s get ’em out of the way.

Note: I am writing in a deliberately conversational, non-academic way but my reference list is APA style.

Personal Context

I am a practitioner and student of neopagan and witchcraft traditions. I consider myself a Lokean (my patron deity is the Norse Loki) but my personal practice is devotional and polytheistic and blends western neotantra, Norse traditions, eclectic witchery, ancestor work, and other traditions.

I have written several relevant blogs, including Spectrosexuality: Spirit Sex and God Spousery. I have explored why Loki Pushes my Neo-tantra Buttons. I have also described my personal practice of neo-tantric meditation, energy, and visualization exercises that incorporate the “spiritual transformation template” of my patron deity. And more.

I am a sexologist. As such, I am also no stranger to writing about unusual sexual orientations and topics. My article, Love Among the Objectum Sexuals (2010), has garnered international attention and is still a popular introduction for journalists and scholars who are interested in people who are affectionately and sexually partnered with objects. In 2009-2010 I wrote a year’s worth of weekly columns called “Love’s Outer Limits” for Carnal Nation (an NSFW online gazette, longer published). A third of those columns have been collected in Sex Squicks. Topics were quite varied.

I am a professional hypnotist and hypnosis instructor. I do trancework. I know how the mind and imagination can create sensations not grounded in external physical experience. In fact, I teach erotic hypnosis as a sexual enrichment technique to individuals and partners.

The above combination gives me a unique perspective on the topic at hand.

I Act “As If” Interactions with Spirit Beings are Real

My approach to the many amazing things that have happened to me, as well as the things I’ve heard from others, is to say what happens when I act “as if” such and such is true? What are the practical and emotional results? Is my life enhanced? Diminished? Is my thinking clearer? Do more things make sense? Or do I feel muddy and murky and confused? I keep an open mind, but I explore the premise.

Common sense comes into play when I look at the vast amount of religious, spiritual, historical, anthropological, and even sexological material dealing with the impact of spirit beings on humanity. I have to say “why would we make this up if there wasn’t some truth in it?” Surely evolving human beings didn’t “need” to create gods, angels, demons, faeries, ancestral spirits, and others just for entertainment or comfort. However, we live in a cosmos which is now known to be made of matter infused with consciousness. Scientists are aligning with animists.


So, yes, Virginia, your egg beater does have a demon… offer a little milk and honey. You’ll get along fine.


Accepting an animist reality for the inexplicable happenings and for my personal relationships with deities and spirits has been overwhelmingly positive, once I got my bearings. Now that I am at the stage of cultivating such relationships, it has been very rewarding. I now understand people who are religious, who say they have a “personal relationship with Jesus” or Lucifer or some other divinity or spirit. My response now is, “Yup. Seems to be how this works. Just don’t tell me who I can and can’t hang out with.” And I go on my merry way with Loki and the gang.

The “Research Question”

Because this survey is not academic, and not a scientifically structured inquiry, my question is very loose: “what do people do [re: spirit intimacy] and how do they feel about it?” The survey has a small sample size (100 n.) and gathers open-ended responses as well as rough numerical data. I want to inform the neopagan community first and the sexological community second (the general public a distant third). And I hope to uncover some data that could be used as a precursor to a more truly academic inquiry.

The Draft Reference List

With one exception*, these are all books from my personal and sexological library. I’ll be exploring and positioning the results of the survey using material in these books for context and perspectives. There will be other sources, but I post this draft reference list in the preliminaries so you can sense points of entry and perspectives for consideration. What I write in the next several blogs won’t be based on an exhaustive literature search, as I don’t have much spare cash to order more books or access to journals in a university library. I know I’ll be missing key texts, especially magical ones. But between what’s below and what I can find on the internet (references to be added later) I hope to present a roughly comprehensive consideration of the topic.


 Anand, M. (1995). The art of sexual magic: Cultivating sexual energy to transform your life. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Connolly, S. (2006). The complete book of demonolatry. USA: DB Publishing.

de Quincey, C. (2005). Radical knowing: Understanding consciousness through relationship. Rochester VT: Park Street Press.

Grundy, S. (2015). God in flames, god in fetters: Loki’s role in the northern religions. New Haven, CT: Troth Publications.

Ho’oulumahiehie & Nogelmeier, M.P. (2006). The epic tale of Hi’iakaikapoliopele: Woman of the sunrise, lightening-skirted beauty of Halema’uma’u. Honolulu HI: Awaiaulu Press.

Kaldera, R. (Ed.). The jotunbok: Working with the giants of the northern tradition. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press.

Komisaruk, B. R., Beyer-Flores, C., & Whipple, B. (2006). The science of orgasm. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lacquer, T.W. (2003). Solitary sex: A cultural history of masturbation. New York, NY: Zone Books.

Loptson, D. (2014). Playing with fire: An exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press.

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of unusual sex practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Baricade Books, Inc.

Marsh, A. (2010). Love among the objectum sexuals. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality. Vol. 13.

Miller, J. (2015). Sex, sorcery, and spirit: The secrets of erotic magic. Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books.

Naphy, W. (2004). Sex crimes from renaissance to enlightenment. Gloucestershire, UK: Tempus Publishing Ltd.

Pukui, M.K. and Handy, E.S.C. (1998). The Polynesian family system in Ka’u, Hawai’i. Honolulu, HI: Mutual Publishing.

Roach, M. (2008). Bonk: The curious coupling of science and sex. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.

Shaw, M. Passionate englightenment: Women in tantric buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Stephens, W. (2013 ) Demon lovers: Witchcraft, sex, and the crisis of belief. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.*

Tannahill, R. (1992). Sex in history. [No location]: Scarborough House.

Taylor, T. (1996). The prehistory of sex: Four million years of human sexual culture. New York: NY: Bantam Books.

Tedlock, B. (2006). The woman in the shaman’s body: Reclaiming the feminine in religion and medicine. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

U.D., F. (2001). Secrets of western sex magic: Magical energy and gnostic trance. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

Wade, J. (2004). Transcendent sex: When lovemaking opens the veil. New York NY: Paraview Pocket Books.

Wachter, A. (2018). Six ways: Approaches & entries for practical magic. [No location]: Red Temple Press.


See you for Part II.