The Sacred Marriage: 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

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 of the Goddess. This emphasis on the Divine Feminine is perceived as a necessary corrective to the preexisting imbalance in our patriarchal culture.

Nevertheless, erotic polarity is an important principle in Neo-Pagan thought. Many Neo-Pagans visualize the universe as fluidly moving between two equal and complementary opposite poles: the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine. These correspond roughly to the yin and yang in Chinese Taoism, shakti and shiva and the yoni and lingam in the Indian Tantra, and Greek Empedocles’ concept of cosmic Love and Strife. In each case, the former is receptive, yielding, enveloping, while the latter is active, penetrating, initiating. These are not prescriptions for gender roles. All men and women, of any sexual orientation, have both poles within them. The principle of polarity is intended to structure the universe in terms of encounter and transformation, rather than hierarchy and dominance.

The complementary nature of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine is expressed mythologically in the hieros gamos or sacred marriage and ritually in the Wiccan Great Rite, which may be performed symbolically or in actuality. The sacred marriage of the Neo-Pagan Goddess and her consort is an affirmation of life and sexuality. The union of the Goddess and the God encapsulates the union of male and female, spirit and matter, heaven and earth, and death and birth. In Neo-Pagan thought, the hieros gamos cannot be understood separately from the death of the god which follows the sacred marriage. In the Neo-Pagan mythos, these extremes of human experience — intense joy and intense suffering — are inextricably intertwined. Together, they move us toward a greater understanding of the immanence of divinity in the material world.

The issue of erotic polarity is a controversial one in Neo-Paganism, especially since Neo-Paganism attracts significant numbers of gay, lesbian, and transgendered persons. 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 in nature. Some flowers, for example, have both male and female “genetilia”, and some animals have been known to reproduce asexually in a process called “parthenogenesis”. For Neo-Pagans today, erotic polarity is not the same thing as gender polarity. As modern Tantics recognize, the need for a “ravisher” and a “ravishee” 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 at any time.

Related Pages:

Neo-Pagan Theology

The Divine Feminine
The Divine Masculine
An Erotic Religion

Revised 5/13/14

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One thought on “The Sacred Marriage: Erotic Polarity

  1. “hieros games”
    to be honest, I’ve only seen this spelled ‘hieros gamos’ — which on reading further down, I see you used.

    “The issue of erotic polarity is controversial one”
    I’m thinking of inserting an ‘a’ after ‘is’

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