By Arthur Versluis
The 1st publication to bare the historical past of Western sexual mysticism
• unearths the key sexual practices which were used on account that historic Greece to accomplish mystical union with God
• information the sects and people who transmitted the novel sexual practices that orthodox Christianity by no means thoroughly silenced
• Distinguishes among sexual magic and sexual mysticism
Beginning with the traditional Greek secret traditions, Gnosticism, and the practices in early Christianity, Arthur Versluis uncovers the key line of Western sexual mysticism that, just like the Tantra of the East, seeks transcendence or union with God via sexual practices. all through antiquity, and correct into the current day, sexuality has performed an immense, if mostly hidden, function in non secular traditions and practices. This comprises not just Christian but additionally kabbalistic and airtight alchemical currents of sexual mysticism, many mentioned jointly right here for the 1st time.
In the secret culture of hieros gamos (sacred marriage) and the Gnostic culture of non secular marriage, we see the potential for divine union within which sexual union is the relevant signal or image. Key to those practices is the internal or archetypal union of above and lower than, the intermingling of the revelatory divine global with the mundane earthly one. Versluis indicates that those mystery currents of sexual mysticism helped gasoline the increase of the troubadours and their erotic doctrine, the esoteric teachings of Jacob Böhme within the overdue sixteenth century, the 19th-century utopian groups of John Humphrey Noyes and Thomas Lake Harris, the unfastened love circulation of the 20 th century, and the fashionable writings of Denis de Rougemont and Alan Watts.
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Extra resources for The Secret History of Western Sexual Mysticism: Sacred Practices and Spiritual Marriage
The non secular marriage as a symbolic time period describes the reunion of humanity with the divine, and, because the time period, marriage implies, this reunion may well hardly ever be limited as an adventure to simply one gender. Authority inside of small mystical circles hence accrues to those that have skilled the internal or non secular marriage, and the main skilled are the elders or publications in the culture. normally, it's a topic of indifference even if that particular is male or woman, a viewpoint that aggravated church fathers like Irenaeus or Tertullian simply up to it as a consequence annoyed the representatives of the Inquisition who set approximately investigating teams just like the Brethren of the unfastened Spirit, who held comparable perspectives in the course of the medieval interval. What issues to adherents of such mystical teachings is the level to which an elder has direct internal wisdom of the non secular marriage, for that, of their view, is the only beginning of actual authority. one of these standpoint has been usually traditionally linked to antinomianism, that's, with the experience that those that have had a profound and life-changing internal event aren't any longer topic to traditional ethical, felony, or social strictures for his or her personal sake, yet at the moment are unfastened to behave in accord with their internal non secular wisdom. we discover a phenomenon at the very least similar to antinomianism inside similar Asian gnostic traditions; one thinks of the “crazy knowledge” Tibetan yogis and yoginis and of the varied Zen Buddhist koans and anecdotes that decision into query or expressly violate traditional morality or social strictures. the executive distinction appears that while Tibetan, jap, chinese language, and maybe Korean cultures allowed for often it sounds as if antinomian knowledge traditions, Western cultures for the main half didn't make such allowances. yet this cultural distinction reduced through the creation of Asian non secular traditions within the West, and with the common adoption of words like loopy knowledge, in addition to the broad and deep interpenetration of Western societies by means of Asian spiritual traditions and practitioners. What for 2 millennia of Western historical past were in most cases anathematized and depicted because the “bogeyman”—that is, attainable traditions of antinomian wisdom—finally will be visible in a distinct gentle. during this diversified gentle, those traditions may be obvious as a minimum of potentially the expression of direct non secular adventure of the divine that typically shatters traditional methods of seeing the area. If at the one hand antinomian knowledge can be visible as risky, at the different it will probably good be a technique of invigorating a sclerotic or ossified spiritual culture. certainly, the extra one thinks approximately it, the extra some of the adherents of sexual mysticism long ago look mainly to have lived ahead of their time. such a lot of in their ideals or even a few practices could have appeared outlandish of their personal time yet aren't so any further within the wake of modernity (and specifically, feminism), with its common dissolution of prior sociocultural inhibitions.