All Acts of Love and Pleasure
The Etiquette and Ethics of Wiccan Sexuality
This document is intended to be a set of suggested guidelines for wiccan sexual ethics and etiquette. It is not a "how to" manual, nor does it contain conflict resolution procedures. It does not suggest punitive measures for sex offenders. Nothing in this document is intended to be set in stone. Indeed, everyone has their own individual likes and dislikes, and no two groups are alike. Disagreeing with anything in this document is completely your right.
As extremes in either direction of the sexual spectrum do exist, this document attempts to take the middle road, and cover as many basics as possible.
This document does not condemn the behavior, ethics, or lifestyles of any specific person or group. For the sake of clarity, the word "coven" is used here to mean any group of pagan worshippers, such as a church, grove, nest, tribe, circle, clan or network.
We believe that sexual expression in all forms is sacred to the Goddess. We also believe that it is the right of all people to have a safe environment in which to worship.
When dealing with matters of sexuality, there are three qualitites one must keep in mind: respect, honesty, and trust. You must have respect for your partner at all times, and you must be honest with them. This cannot be stressed enough! Most problems can be traced to a lack of respect or honesty. Turst must be earned, and the best way to do this is to respect others and to be honest with them.
This is pretty simple, really. If you respect a person, you're honest with them. And if you respect the feelings, wishes, body, emotions, and history of another person, then fewer misunderstandings arise.
There is a saying: "ASSUME makes an ASS of U and ME". When communicating with someone (especially about sexuality or relationships) never, ever make assumptions.
The most common types of incorrect assumptions are:
"They gave me a backrub, they want to get into bed with me."
"If we have sex just once, we're in a monogamous, exclusive relationship."
"If they say no, they really mean...."
Be sure to read signals correctly! Backrubs, massages, hugs, kisses, and loving touches are not necessarily invitations to sex. On the other hand, these physical actions may make some people uncomfortable. If that is the case, you must stop as soon as you are asked. In the same manner, if you have sex with someone once, that does not necessarily mean that you are now in a relationship exclusive or otherwise. And if anyone ever tells you no, you can rest assured that means NO. Not "Not right now," or "Maybe later," or "Ask again next week". No means NO.
Finally, everyone has private issues. Most of the time these issues are nobody's business. However when dealing with sexuality, they can become someone else's business very quickly. You should always be completely willing to be honest about the following:
* Age (if under 18)
* Marital Status
* Gender Preference
* Birth Control
* Health status / Sexually Transmitted Diseases
* Other ongoing relationships and the consent of your partners.
You owe it to yourself -- and to the Goddess -- to be completely open with your partner when discussing sex. Above all else, you must trust and respect your partner. And you must communicate so that assumptions and secrets are brought out into the open and dealt with.
Acceptable and Unacceptable Conduct
The Changing Area:
Most covens have a special room set aside for both men and women to change into Ritual attire. While in the changing area, please remember that it is just that: a changing area. It is a place to go to change clothes, and get out. It is neither a hangout nor a place to loiter.
It is understood that most people are curious about the bodies of others, and glancing around is natural, normal behavior. Outright staring, gaping, or making comments about others, however, is not. It is also unacceptable to stand outside the changing area door and "peek in". If you are unfomfortable with changing clothes in the presence of members of the oposite gender (or if your partner does not approve of you doing so), please notify your priest or priestess. A private changing area will be provided, and no one will think any less of you for it.
While it is difficult to comprehend someone engaging in sexually offensive behavior within Circle it can happen.
When you enter the Circle, after you are anointed, move to a spot where you feel the most comfortable. If for some reason you change your mind, or find yourself standing next to someone you feel uncomfortable with, it's ok to move to another location quietly and unobtrusively. It's acceptable to kiss the person next to you, hold their hand, or place your arm around them at selected points in the ritual. It is also often standard operating procedure to hug everyone after the ritual is over.
Once you have entered the Circle, it is unacceptable to move across the Circle just to stand next to a partiuclary attractive covener. It is also unacceptable to select your position in circle based primarily on being able to stand next to someone attractice, or to touch other coveners at inappropriate times in Circle (for expample, during a guided meditation). Another taboo is to transform appropriate touches into harassing ones (for example, attempting to force "deep kisses" on coveners at times when the ritual calls for a kiss, or to place your hands on antoher's buttocks or breasts during a hug).
Feasting is a time to relax, to be with our friends and extended family, and bask in the "afterglow" of a well-exectued ritual. It's an informal time. It's perfectly all right at that time to play with others, flirt, banter, eat, drink, and enjoy being pagan.
However, please bear in mind that your behavior does reflect directly on you. Keep "public displays of affection" to a minimum, and try to flirt with reasonable discretion.
Festivals are wonderful events where you can meet large numbers of other Wiccans and Pagans in a relatively private environment. As most festivals are multi-day events, the wine and mead can flow freely, songs are sung, and pagans often pair off.
At festival, bear in mind that you are representing your coven. Carry and conduct yourself in a manner that will honor it.Treat new encounters with others as if you will see them a week later, don't fall into the dangerous habit of thinking, "Well, I'll probably never see them again."
If you are attending the festival with a partner, you should discuss (and agree on) sexual activity with others beforehand. Don't wait for this to come up at the last moment, when people are likely to feel pressured.
Finally, when you are celebrating, keep an eye on how much alcohol or other intoxicants you consume. And if you choose to get intoxicated, please bear in mind that you are responsible for the choices and decisions you make, even while intoxicated. If that thought makes you uncomfortable, then don't drink to excess.
General Sexual Conduct
Flirtng can be a fun, playful and exciting way to get to know another person more intimately. It can also be very misunderstood and potentially damaging.
When flirting, please be aware of your intentions and the preceptions they will create. If the person your'er flirting with lets you know that they have problems with your flirtatiousness, cease immediately. If you continue, you are creating a negative, or hostile, environment that could be construed as harassment. Also remember that some enjoy the art of flirting, but not the culmination (like enjoying the hunt but not the catch). If that is the case, please respect their wishes and do not pursue the flirts, but have fun with them instead.
Advances and Propositions:
Sometimes flirting will escalate into more advanced realms: i.e., asking another for sexual favors. You should proposition someone only if your flirts have been well received, and you feel certain that asking will not offend the other person. Asking is usually ok, but failing to accept no for an answer is never ok. If you are turned down, accept the other person's wishes with grace and goodwill, and then drop the matter. If you can sense that the other person is clearly uncomfortable but unwilling to admit it, then you should accept that as a no.
If you are propositioned and you do not feel comfortable with the person asking, give them a straight answer. Simpley tell them politely, "NO, thank you. I'm not interested," or "I'm not comfortable with that right now." You should avoid giving someone a conditional answer (i.e. "Well, not right now, but maybe some other time" or "Well, I would if I wern't married, but I am, so...") unless the condition is genuine. Remember: you are not required to explain yourself. A simple, "no thank you" should suffice.
Finally, remember that while appropriate requests are ok, you can make a nuisance of yourself by constantly asking others for sexual favors. Avoid creating bad karma by monitoring your own behavior.
If your advances have been warmly met and sex follows, please remember safer sex guidelines. The consequences are many, sexually trnasmitted disease (STD's) or unplanned pregnancy are just two. Also, be forewarned, having sex will change the nature of your relationship with anyone. Once done, it cannot be undone.
Breakups rarely go smoothly, either for those involved or for the people around them. If you've been having a relationship with someone in your coven, it can be even more difficult. Try to work matters out in private and avoid confrontations at the covenstead, if possible, contact your priest or priestess about counseling the two of you through the breakup. Finally, you must not enter the Circle if you are angry or upset. If you feel you cannot enter the Circle if the other person does so, then talk out your feelings with a priest or priestess.
Minors and Sex:
Many adults are uncomfortable with this inflammatory subject. In brief, sex with minors (those under the age of 18) should be limited to other minors. Adults should seek the company of other adults, and sexually active teenages should seek partners closer to their own age.
Minors (especially teenagers) are not yet fully mature, either physically or emotionally. Also, please bear in mind that some minors may have been sexually aboused or molested, and thus have been "conditioned" against their will to consent to sex with adults. Finally, there are very real laws and legislation prohibiting sex between adults and minors.
Areas that contain nudity (a public changing area, for example) should be considered off limits to minors until they are at least 18 years of age.
If a minor feels they are being harassed or propositioned by an adult, they should immediately notify their parents, or their priest or priestess.
If an adult feels a minor is acting "percociously" towards them, they shoud immediately notify the minor's parents. If this is not sufficient to curtail their behavior, the adult should notify the minor's priest or priestess.
Sexual magick can be one of the most powerful forms of magickal workings. Thus, it should be approached with appropriate respect. Generally speaking, only thrid degrees should atempt any kind of sex magick.
Ritual Nudity (also known as working "skyclad") can be a very liberating experience for some. Other people, however, do have personal nudity taboos, or may be offended or aroused by watching others perform rituals skyclad. If you are considering entering a Circle skyclad, please check with the priest or priestess first to make certain that others will not be offended or distracted by you doing so.
Finally, please note that it is never considered appropriate to expect someone to exchange sexual favors for goods (like robes or jewelry) or services (like magickal lessons or transportations). This is more commonly known as prostitution (or solicitation, depending on who is doing the asking and wo is doing the selling), and is illegal in most areas.
Unwanted Sexual Advances:
If you are in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, please DO NOT PANIC. Keep your head and your wits about you. Tell the person who is making you uncomfortable that you are not interested, in a quiet, firm and polite manner. If they persist, repeat yourself more firmly. If the situation still continues, leave them and notify someone in authority (either a prestess, priest, elder, group officer, or teacher) of what has happened.
What you should not do in such a situation is to make it worse by making a scene or yelling and screaming. However, you should not isolate yourself with the individual. For example, you should not pull them into an empty room to avoid making a scene. You can keep your voice low and tell them how you feel in public without alerting others. If the individual "corners you" in an empty room, try to leave. If they do not allow you to do so, call loudly for the priest or priestess. Above all, if you feel the line between good and poor taste has been crossed, do not keep silent, act responsibily. It's understandable that you may feel embarrassed, angry, or ashamed that something has happened. However, the leaders of your group cannot take action if they don't know about the situation! Tell someone about it.
If the individual making you uncomfortable is a higher degree than you, a priest, a priestess, or an elder, you should think about and examine what it is they are asking you to do, and why you feel uncomfortable. If you feel that individual's actions or requests are blatantly unacceptable, then you should immediately notify someone else in authority about thesituation.
If the situation has to do with the coven, and you feel uncomfortable taking part in either a symbolic or actual sexual acivity that is part of the coven's tradition, then you might wish to change groups. If you do decide to leave, you should notify the priest or priestess in writing of why you have made your decision to leave. If and when you do find a new coven, notify the priest or priestess of the new coven of why you left your old group.
Lest you should get the wrong idea by reading this document, please be aware that th situations described above are rare. Hopefully, if we all keep in mind the charge of the Goddess and treat each other with perfect love and perfect trust, as well as using some common sense in our dealings with others, these situations will become even more rare.
Acknowledgements / Disclaimers
I would like to thank the men and women of the Grove of the Unicorn for their insights, suggestions, comments, love and support during the writing of this document.
I would also like to thank Gree Egg magazine for printing the "Sexual Etiquette" of the Church of All Worlds in issue #12, which provided a wonderful starting point.
Finally, I would like to state that I take full and complete responsibility for all views and opinions in this document.
All Acts of Love and Pleasure:
The Etiquette and Ethics of Wiccan Sexuality
© 1996 by Kronos
559 Morningside Drive
Lawrenceville, GA 30243
Permission is hereby given to photocopy this pamphlet, provided:
1. It not be altered in any way
2. It can only be reproduced in its entirety
If provisions 1 and 2 are met, then permission to reproduce this pamphlet is hereby given.
April 8, 2012
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