In my last post, I dealt with “same-sex unions” from a general perspective on this occasion I will deal with one European tradition only that of the ancient Norse. I owe this information to two major sources “the first chapter of Inga Steddingers excellent work “Wiccan Sex Magic”, and to the work of the author Wulf Grimsson.
I will begin by quoting from We can Sex Magic” on same-sex unions and related subjects” Steddinger points out that:
”In our most ancient mythology and religion there are many references to sexual practices among the Wanes. Many, if not most, of the references are to practice that some might find "deviant."
The sexually ambiguous father/mother of the Wanes, Njoror, is subjected to the urolagniac attentions of the handmaidens of the etin Hymir— as noted in the "Lokasenna" (34) they liked to piss in his mouth. Njoror himself is chosen as a husband by the etin-wife Skaoi on the basis of a foot-fetishistic beauty-contest. Freyr, the son of NjorOr by an act of incest, is known for his enormous phallus. He also indulges in incest with his sister, Freyja ("Lokasenna" 32), and sacrifices his instrument of power, his sword, for the love a beautiful etin-wife. Freyja gains possession of her greatest magical tool — the Brisingamen — by having sexual relations with all four of the dwarves who originally fashioned the object. The Eddas in general hold many more such "deviant" sexual references, and references to the techniques of pain connected with the acquisition of power or knowledge: Thor is forced to cross-dress ("Prymiskvioa" 16-32) to regain his instrument of power (Mjollnir). Both Loki and Odinn are known to change sexes (to engender magical off-spring) — which is probably a reference to the practice of passive anal intercourse for the production of (sometimes malevolent) magical beings in a practice referred to by the Norse as ergi. Odinn often undergoes tortures for the gaining of wisdom (e.g. "Havamal" 138139 and "Grfmnismal" 1-3). In general, the Edda could have been viewed by our old cataloger of modern sexual variations, Dr. Krafft-Ebing, with some benefit”.
As can be seen from the above catalogue of quotes from the Edda it is clear that different sexual practices many of which would be regarded as “deviant” by modern pagans were used as part of standard sorcery practice in the Norse tradition.
Those of us who are members of the GLBT community will note with interest the references to “sexual ambiguity” and anal intercourse for which there was a special term. The instance of a special term for anal intercourse will be of particular importance to anyone who understands basic linguistic theory. A language does not develop a specialised term for a practice unless such practices are common in the linguistic community. Furthermore it is of importance to note that the linguistic context of the word ergi implies a magickal practice which obviously involved ritual practice as well. It should be noted that the would ergi does not necessarily apply only to males, (although that is the most common meaning) but rather to the use of anal sex for magickal purposes. It is interesting in this context to note that on at least one occasion according to his diaries Alistair Crowley initiated a female in the XI° of the O.T.O by the usual means of anal intercourse. Crowley of course was well aware of the ergi tradition and based his XI° OTO Praxis upon this tradition.
In recent years the author Wulf Grimsson, has outlined the Norse male homosexual tradition of magick and sorcery in his three books:
“Loki’s Way”:” The Way of a Sorcerer” and “do it The Secrets of the Mannerbund”.
Grimsson, argues that homosexual warrior and sorcery bands of males were an integral part of Norse society, and that they were held in high honour. Unfortunately nobody has yet written corresponding material on the lesbian traditions in ancient Norse culture, although we know from the mediaeval chronicles that such practices existed and had an implied Pagan religious context.
But Stedingers quote points out the existence of many other kinds of sexual practice that would be regarded as “deviant” by modern society (unfortunately also by modern pagans who are unaware of their heritage).
I will briefly comment on each of the “practices” by Stedinger and put them in the context of other magickal practices.
Firstly let us look at the “urine drinking”, this has three separate levels of “meaning”, It can be seen as a reference to the “medicinal properties” of urine as used in ancient medical practice, the use of urine for healing is universal in ancient folk medicine, and is still used in Chinese medicine and Ayuravedic medicine in the Indian tradition, as well as being used as medicine in some contemporary Western naturopathic applications. But there was a second level of understanding here because the ancient Tantric traditions utilised female urine for various complex magical procedures as is clear from the “Typhonian Trilogies” of Kenneth Grant, it should be realised that modern research has revealed that within the female urine under certain circumstances there is a potent female ejaculation fluid which is not the same as urine and anciently (and still in African magical practice) was and is believed to have potent magickal properties.
Finally we must take into account the “mushroom mysteries” and the use of Amanita Muscaria for magical purposes in many societies including that of the ancient Norse The relevance here is that the urine of a sorcerer or sourceeress who has imbibed Aminita Muscaria has potent hallucinogenic effects when drunk and used as a “Sacrament” the “classic” book on this subject is Soma the Divine Mushroom of Immortality” by R Gordon Wasson, and readers wishing to know more about magical uses of urine and other bodily products for magickal purposes should consult “Scatological Rites of All Nations” by John Burke a publication of the Smithsonian Institute.
These three levels of meaning are not mutually contradictory, for example a source as who ingested the “sacred mushroom”, and then proceeded to ejaculate would produce an immensely powerful magical elixir which would combine medicinal spiritual and hallucinogenic properties.
Those interested in the history of modern Wicca should note that the Aminitia Muscaria was utilised by Gerald Gardner’s original coven, and can be shown to be part of a traditional witchcraft practised dating back to the Bronze Age, as is made clear by the inscription on Gerald Gardner’s Athame blade.
As far as incest is concerned I will pass it over in silence (because it is illegal in contemporary society) except to say that the ancient Egyptians also regarded brother sister unions as being extremely magically potent.
The implied “castration ritual” of “losing the sword” should not surprise us considering that such practices were common in the Middle East being part of the cult of Cybele and even practised in early Christianity as witnessed by the famous example of Origen.
The promiscuous behaviour of the Goddess Freyer with the dawves to obtain the magick necklace contains a number of secret esoteric formula of which I may not speak, but it is also paralleled by Celtic May Day Orgies and we should remember that Orgies were once a “respectable” method of raising immense magical power, so much so that some early Greek traditions used the word Orgy as a synonym for “worship”.
Moving on to the subject of “foot fetishism”, I would point out that there are many reflex zones on the feet, that can be activated in various ways by “fetishistic” practices, and this was undoubtedly known in various ancient cultures, for example we find “kissing the foot” not only in Gardner’s Book of Shadows (in a text ultimately derived from Crowley, but also as part of the early English Coronation ritual.
Finally Stedingers mention of the BDSM aspects of the Norse religion should surprise nobody since such practices have always been part of the mainstream in traditionalist circles. It is this aspect of the Norse tradition that Stedingers book is mostly concerned with and I do not intend to elaborate on it here.
From all of this we may conclude several things
(1). Most of the so-called “taboos” of modern sexual theory and practice have no basis in ancient cultural reality. It should be remembered that the so-called modern theories of sexual deviation were formulated during the Victorian era (a period noted for its sexual repression), and were mostly formulated by white male heterosexuals who were at least Crypto- Christian. That consideration places their conclusions in serious doubt since they were far from “objectively scientific” in their assumptions.
(2). The ancient Norse culture did not “demonise” or “exclude” unusual sexual practices, but rather regarded them as sources of immense magical power.
(3). Those pagans who object to such practices are simply “not thinking Pagan”, but have been subconsciously brainwashed by the Judaeo-Christian culture in which we live.
I would also point out (as does Steddinger) the importance of “Taboo braking behaviour” in the original versions of Tantra. Tantra is not just “sexual practice” an integral part of it has always been to generate magical power by breaking taboos, note for example the use of meat in Tantric rituals in a predominantly vegetarian cultural environment.
Such “breaking of taboos” has always constituted “the way of a sorcerer” in traditionalist circles and although some of the practices (such as incest) are no longer possible in today’s society the general principle can certainly be followed.
The last important matter I would draw my readers attention is the fact that all the ancient powerful magickal practices such as those concerning drugs and various “unusual” sexual practices were a banned as either immoral or illegal by the Christian establishment.
The reason for this is obvious such practices provide “direct access” to powerful spiritual states of consciousness and entities and the Christian church and the State could not allow other sources of physical or spiritual authority, after all if anybody could contact the deities by taking herbal substances, or by practices in their own bedroom what was the use of the Christian clergy?
There were of course many legitimate uses of such clergy but repressing free access to the deities was not one of them. Also if every day people by simple actions could consult a source of divine wisdom what use would there be for governments and bureaucracies?
I suggest that it is time we as pagans took a second look at our underlying ethical and religious presuppositions, and asked ourselves how many of them are actually based on fundamentalist Christian assumptions that have no place in Pagan culture.
The Norse tradition provides us with a good case study as to the sort of attitudes that constituted “Pagan” sexuality, and we should be particularly careful in rejecting any of the insights of such cultures when we realise that most of the attitudes we hold toward such matters have been purposely “engineered” in order to repress religious and sexual freedom.