This essay is dedicated to the Goddess of the Scales, the Starry One who ruled the Golden Age, Astraea and the Lord of Hosts and Categories, an Ithyphallic God and Remover of All Obstacles, Ganesh.
Prologue to Positive Sexuality
In many cultures, clans, tribes, spiritual paths and religions there is a basic level of behavior that is acceptable or tolerated. However, equally true, in many cultures, clans, tribes, spiritual paths and religions there is also elevated levels of behavior that guide and inspire peoples lives. What we value encourages and guides our behavior like the value of “be excellent”. However there are times we, as humans do not achieve behavior in accord with an espoused value. But the behavior still may be deemed as good, acceptable or tolerable.
Sweetwood Temenos views each culture, clan, tribe, spiritual path, and religion as having inherent basic values and ethics giving order and identity to their organization. These basic values and ethics, in part, form each organization’s morality. Some cultures, clans, tribes, spiritual paths, and religions claim their morality is the superior one, the right and only way of being and living or the only way to approach Divinity.
The religious approach of Sweetwood Temenos to Divine immanence is guided in part by the value of pluralism. It, consequently, does not claim its values and ethics, or its morality as the superior, right and only way of being and living or the only way to approach Divinity. Rather Sweetwood Temenos sees its basic values and ethics forming a morality that is essentially good but one among many, which also may be good. Its morality and values seek to foster a better human being and community through achieving ever greater self actualization and integrity or wholeness that is in accord with immanent Divinity.
Sweetwood Temenos envisions Divinity, in part, as interacting with the natural order and finding expression through immanence in our universe. Through its basic values and ethics Sweetwood Temenos seeks to foster a harmonious interaction and relationship with Divinity that is both a way of life and worship. Intrinsic to this relationship is a self-conscious erotic nature. One of Sweetwood Temenos basic values is what it understands as positive sexuality. Its value of positive sexuality recognizes the self-conscious erotic nature of Divinity immanent in the human soul. So Sweetwood Temenos’ value of positive sexuality seeks to foster and encourage behaviors that it considers to be in harmony with the Divine erotic nature inherent in each human soul. Sweetwood Temenos acknowledges that other cultures, clans, tribes, spiritual paths and religions may define or understand positive sexuality differently than it does.
For itself, Sweetwood recognizes the necessity of safety, sanity and consent as the basis for all ethical sexual or erotic behavior. However positive sexuality for SweetWood Temenos is more than this basic criteria for ethical sexual behavior, it is a value, a way of being, that it believes will foster self-conscious sexual behavior in harmony with Divine immanence. Sweetwood Temenos meaning of positive sexuality is a common understanding shared by its folk. As such, positive sexuality is a value that Sweetwood seeks to encourage in lifestyle and ritual.
Positive sexuality for Sweetwood Temenos is rooted in the conviction that sexual behavior is essentially good and an expression of Divine immanence. The word ‘positive’ used in this manner connotes mutual appreciation and enhancement of the self worth of the individuals involved in the sexual behavior. Sweetwood Temenos understands that the mutual appreciation and enhancement of self worth needs to be present in both the relational context and expression of sexual behavior in order for the sexual behavior to be positive sexuality. This positive connotation is seen as an expression of love, and as such, love is the ground that positive sexuality is rooted in.
Freedom and Consent
There are essential ethics that guide the participation in and expression of positive sexuality. Participation in positive sexuality occurs within the context of freedom. Basic to freedom is the principle that each individual is a sovereign being with equal rights. Freedom is also based, in part, on consent. The ability to freely consent to something means individuals have enough emotional strength to make decisions that preserve or advocate for their own sovereignty, equal rights, and self-interests. The ability to consent can be constrained by such limiting factors as criminal penalties, mental incompetence, and the developmental stages (i.e. childhood, adolescence, and adulthood) of the individuals involved. These constraints establish inequities that violate consent.
In choosing to be members in a community of freedom, people bring varying degrees of emotional, intellectual, physical and economic vulnerabilities that challenge their ability to consent. Each adult has the responsibility to protect and compensate for his or her own vulnerabilities in order to truly consent. Consent also requires adult individuals to cooperate in the fostering and sustaining of another’s’ integrity, so that being sexual together does not take advantage of another’s vulnerabilities. Such cooperation is essential to an expression of positive sexuality. The resulting sexual fulfillment, joy, and pleasure of positive sexuality serve to validate and bless individual sovereignty, equal rights, consent, freedom, and love of one another.
Sexual Safety and Reproductive Choice
Sexual safety is also an essential ethical aspect of positive sexuality. Each individual assumes the responsibility for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive choice. This means that before being sexual with one another, the individuals involved will discuss and agree on what methods are to be used to prevent sexual transmission of diseases (STDs) and what to do about the possibility of conception. This discussion will include an agreement on what will happen if the methods used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases or conception fail. Sexual health, contraception, and conception are shared human concerns that both women and men are individually and collectively responsible for. Sweetwood Temenos understands that this shared responsibility is an essential part of the cooperation necessary for consent in positive sexuality.
Positive sexuality means being supportive of reproductive choice. As the life and death experience of giving birth rests primarily upon a woman, the right to give birth (or not) is an essential part of her sovereignty and stewardship of her own body and the conceived. Positive sexuality supports men being mindful, when choosing women to be sexual with, that they share the same values concerning reproductive choice. Sweetwood Temenos hold that when a man, acting in accordance with the principles of positive sexuality, becomes sexual with a woman, he confirms her right of reproductive choice, and accepts the consequences of their actions together.
Safety, a positive attitude, consent, respect for individual sovereignty, equal rights, and love, form the ethical basis for the positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos and a free society. This ethical basis for positive sexuality allows human sexual nature to be expressed in a harmonious way within the larger culture that is dedicated to democracy and freedom. Sweetwood Temenos’ positive sexuality is to be a joy, blessing and celebration of democracy and freedom.
Gender is the inborn sense by which individuals experience and express their sexuality. Each human being is born with a gender. However, gender can be seen as a continuum. The “feminine – masculine” continuum is a biological expression of a qualitative differentiation. This qualitative biological expression creates, perhaps through hormone emphases, individual genders that vary from “feminine” through “inter-sex” (hermaphroditic) and “trans-gendered” to “masculine”. Inherent within this qualitative differentiation of gender is a varying ambiguity. For example, a minority of individuals of one gender will share predisposed psychological and behavioral generalities of another gender. This cross over and sharing is a natural expression of the inherent androgyny and ambiguity of the gender of each human being. In the context of positive sexuality, this is recognized as natural.
Gender self-definition is encouraged as part of self-expression and individuation. Human androgyny refers to physical similarities, potential psychological capacities, and behavioral abilities that each gender shares, and is a basic element to humanity regardless of gender. But so too are the qualitative distinctions and ambiguities connoted by “feminine”, “inter-sex”, “trans-gendered” or “masculine.”
Culture and religion often emphasize what is meant by “feminine” and “masculine” through narrowly defined concepts of gender, and sexual stereotypes to which individuals are expected to conform. These narrowly defined concepts of gender may inhibit the authentic experience of a sexually complete human being. However, Sweetwood Temenos’ understanding of positive sexuality supports broad flexible concepts of gender, diverse gender expression, and societies where gender self-definition is part of self-actualization and individuation. In this way Sweetwood Temenos’ positive sexuality shares in the development of culture and religion that encourages broad flexible concepts of gender as part of the authentic experience of being human.
Different sexual orientations are natural, and form a sexual-emotional continuum that is inherent in gender. This continuum stretches from a well-defined emotional preference for sexual relationships with those of the same sex, to a similarly well-defined preference for other-sex relationships. In this way homosexuality and heterosexuality form the ends of the sexual orientation continuum. Anthropological and primate studies demonstrate that the majority of humans naturally have, to a varying degree, an erotic desire to express and experience both homoerotic and hetero-erotic behavior. Some individuals have an equal, or almost equal, desire for both.
Sexual orientation can be understood as the emotional preference for a particular type of erotic attachment within a committed love relationship. These emotional preferences can be homosexual, heterosexual or bi-sexual. However, sexual orientation does not necessarily preclude desiring and experiencing sexual relationships and behavior outside of one’s usual preference. Homoerotic, hetero-erotic and bi-erotic sexual behaviors are viewed as equally natural and good, according to the positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos.
Another sexual-emotional continuum inherent in gender is its sexual temperament. Sexual temperament includes: strength of sexual desire (libido), emotional preferences for the amount and quality of sexual activity, various sexual behaviors, and types of sexual friendships.
The preference for types of sexual friendship finds expression in various types of erotic relationships, including marriage. The types of human marriage are defined, in part, around the issue of how exclusive or inclusive they are of other sexual relationships. The positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos accepts as natural and good that each human being, regardless of gender, has a naturally varying degree of erotic desire for multiple sexual relationships and experiences. The strength of this erotic desire determines the preference for how sexually inclusive or exclusive an individual wants to be within a sexual friendship or marriage. This preference can be modified positively or negatively by religious, cultural, social, emotional, stage of life or physical concerns.
Positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos supports sexual friendships and marriages as cooperative relationships that use sexuality in any of these ways: (1) express affection, affinity and love for one another, (2) deepen relationship intimacy, (3) satisfy the sexual desire and temperament of its partners, (4) bless autonomy (individual sovereignty, equal rights, consent and freedom), (5) sexual rituals of worship and magic and (6) conception children. Sweetwood Temenos’s positive sexuality supports diverse types of sexual friendship or marriage including polyandry, polygyny, polyamory, and monogamy. This diversity is an expression of the human sexual temperament. When this expression is based on positive sexuality, as Sweetwood Temenos understands it, then this diversity is a goodness that supports freedom and positive human cultures.
Positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos requires an awareness of cultural, psychological and biological biases that negatively affect sexual relationships. Through awareness and conscious effort to diminish these biased assumptions and projections, empathy and understanding of another gender’s perspective can be obtained. This, in turn, fosters individual sovereignty, equal rights, consent, freedom, love of one another, and sex positive relationships among human beings. As such the positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos is a sexual peace agreement between women and men.
It is believed that for a long period of human evolution, human beings, on the whole, were naked. Some say that, as late as 28,000 BCE, humans were still living completely naked. Humans were very sensually aware and familiar with each other. Nudity was part of being connected and intimate within human bands. There was no shame in being naked. Human nakedness connected them with nature on a deep emotional basis. Clothing became more prevalent as humans moved to harsher climates, and was associated with culture and status. For a long time, nudity in the band’s lodge and land was a normal expression of familiarity within its human society.
The integration of nudity into contemporary culture based on what Sweetwood Temenos understands as positive sexuality would be an expression of familiarity, trust, intimacy, affiliation, affection, love among friends and a confirmation of the goodness of human nakedness. Sweetwood Temenos sees that this integration of nudity would produce a good emotional outcome for humans. The positive sexuality of Sweetwood Temenos is supportive of the establishment of culturally sanctioned places such as beaches and other dedicated private places or land where like-minded folk can gather and be naked if they wish. Sweetwood Temenos is a land and a church where its folk can be naked in their rituals, celebrations, contemplation or recreation and clothes are optional.
Eros and spirituality
Sweetwood Temenos encourages nakedness when it is an expression of its positive sexuality among the folk and upon the land of Sweetwood Temenos. Spiritually, Sweetwood Temenos understands that when nakedness is an expression of its positive sexuality then nakedness in friendship, ritual or celebration is a spiritual rite and a sign that one is free. This spiritual rite and associated freedom is essential to Sweetwood Temenos as a church and to the religion or philosophy of its good folk.
Sweetwood Temenos spiritually envisions that the sexual joy and pleasure resulting from its positive sexuality is an exaltation of the human Soul and a blessing of Divine immanence. Sweetwood Temenos sees the appreciation or honoring of the sexual joy and pleasure resulting from its positive sexuality as a thanksgiving offering to Divinity for this blessing. The cultivation of this appreciation through sexual behavior and rituals that invoke and honor Divinity are acts of worship and sexual tantra. As a church, Sweetwood Temenos confirms Divine immanence finds expression through archetypical images of Goddesses and Gods in human form and behavior that are naked and erotic. Sweetwood Temenos understands then sexual behavior, ritual sexuality or nakedness that express its positive sexuality and identifies with these erotic and naked archetypical images are forms of communion with Divine immanence. As such these forms of communion are rituals and celebrations of Sweetwood Temenos and its positive sexuality.
Sweetwood Temenos holds that its positive sexuality gives a sense of goodness, harmony, wholeness and peace to the human Soul and is essential for the actualization of the Soul’s Self. From a spiritual perspective, Sweetwood Temenos understands its positive sexuality and its attendant joys and pleasures to be an actualization of the Self-conscious human soul within the context of Divine immanence. As such the Self can be envisioned as a pattern of Divine wholeness that is the seed plan for the human soul or a sensual and earthy manifestation of the Divine presence in the cosmos. Either way Sweetwood Temenos understands its positive sexuality is an expression of Divinity’s wholeness within the natural order of our cosmos and the souls of humanity.