Love Making as a Spiritual Experience, Part 2

Following are further testimonies to the Natural Ecstasy of sexual love as an experience of God.

Illustration by Maryam Gossling from David Granville’s choral production of The Song of Songs

From theologian Dorothee Soelle: “I remember a feminist group in New York where we tried to speak of our own religious experiences. A woman . . . spoke about her sexual experience, which showed her for the first time what might be meant by the word “God” — that oceanic feeling of not being separate from anything or hindered by anything, the happiness of being one with everything living, the ecstasy in which the old “I” is abandoned and I am new and different.” 

Jungian analyst and author of Women Who Run With Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, informs us that “The very idea of sexuality as sacred…is vital to the wildish nature. There were goddesses of obscenity…in the ancient women’s cultures — so-called for their innocent (from the Latin, meaning “not harming”) yet wily lewdness. . . .In fact, the dirty Goddesses represent that aspect of Wild Woman that is both sexual and sacred.”  

Terracotta Baubo figurine with a lyre, from Priene. “Baubo,” also known as the Goddess of Mirth, appears in early Greek myth as an old, bawdy woman, who sought to make Demeter laugh – thus breaking the grip of famine – after the kidnapping of Persephone. Wikipedia.

And again: “For some women, this ‘vitalizing taste of the wild’ comes during pregnancy, during nursing their young, during the miracle of change in oneself as one raises a child, during attending to a love relationship as one would attend to a beloved garden.” 

Estes laments how when “mothers broke the tradition of …welcoming their daughters into the most basic and physical aspect of being women, menstruation” the menstruation experience “became surrounded with humiliation rather than wonder. This caused millions of young women to lose their inheritance of the miraculous body and instead to fear that they were dying, diseased, or being punished by God.”

Father Bede Griffiths says: “The sexual origin of the lingam is, of course, obvious, but this only brings out the extraordinary depth of understanding in ancient India. Sex was always regarded as something ‘holy’ — I think that it still is, except where the Indian spirit has been corrupted by the West. The lingam was therefore a natural symbol of the sacred ‘source of life.’ . . .the awareness of the essential holiness of nature and of faith in her generative powers.”  

“India: Thanjavur: One of the 108 Lingams from Varanasi (Lingam symbolizes Shiva)” by Patrik M. Loeff, Flickr

Again, from Fr. Bede: “In human nature there is an instinctive urge to transcend the physical level of sexuality and realize it at a deeper psychological and spiritual level. Ultimately, sexuality is the energy of love in human nature, and this can never be satisfied at either the physical or the psychological level, but always seeks fulfillment in the depths of the spirit, where it encounters the source of love.”

Citations from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, pp. 280, 299, 283, 290, 251, 236.
Banner Image: “Song of Solomon“ study H, a 1923 work of the German artist Egon Tschirch. His heir Wolfgang Adler provided permission to publish all his works  under the licence Cc-by-sa-3.0-de.

For Deeper Contemplation

Estes speaks of “humiliation rather than wonder” having overtaken our understanding about sexuality.  Does this mirror your experience?

She also speaks of our “miraculous body.”  Are we aware of our “miraculous bodies” and passing that sense on to the young?

Father Bede talks of a “corruption” in the West that separates sexuality from spirituality.  Are you in agreement?  What are the consequences of that separation?  How can we heal it?

Meditate with Father Bede on seeing our sexuality as our search for love and depth of spirit — it is “ultimately . . . the energy of love in human nature.” Do you see sexuality this way? What follows from this understanding of sexuality?

Recommended Reading

The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.

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4 thoughts on “Love Making as a Spiritual Experience, Part 2”

  1. Avatar
    Diane Villafane

    Most people these days are focused solely on the physical satisfaction. I am a 63 year old female, and over the years, I have never found a male partner who approached sex as more than that. There was no real desire for a communion of souls. I have also experienced that men thoroughly enjoy a lewd woman, but they condemn her for being so. Humanity as a whole needs to evolve spiritually, but the males of the species much more than the women.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Diane,
      Thank you for your comment. Surely the kind of eroticism to which Matt is calling us is elusive. I believe that tHe bent attraction to lewdness you describe is a misguided search for the attraction of a sacred experience within sex. We have so far to grow in our sense of sacred sexuality. It touches our deepest regions of self, existence, and soul. While we certainly are not there, Matt has given us something to look for in our relationships, a direction towards beautiful, erotic, and sacred sexuality as an alternative to what our culture now encourages. To even hold this as an ideal could be prophetic action.
      Gail SOfia Ransom
      For the DM Team

  2. Avatar
    Elaina Hyde-Mills

    This is such powerful consciousness raising and teaching, Matt. I’m noticing the feeling that comes up for me as I read it. Its not really “humiliation”, but certainly some embarassment and shame of my own sexual nature. The whole topic seems to have gone into the secret recesses of our cultural psyche, and even now in my later years, I cannot think of either a friend or a group with whom I could actually openly address the topic. We need you to continue your open exposure of it.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Elaine,
      Yes, thanks mostly to religion, sex is often regarded as a dark and shameful act in our present culture. As you so beautifully wrote, our sense of sexuality has “gone into the secret recesses of our cultural psyche”. Its time to bring it out of the hidden crevasses and take another look. Thanks for writing and sharing your experience.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

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