Let’s talk about Sex baby, let’s talk about You and Me.

Let’s talk about Sex baby, let’s talk about You and Me.

This is a topic I have given some thought to; more than most probably, not as much as some. I have wanted to write about it for some time, but some vague sense of respectability and Puritanism has stayed my hand. Anyway after Anja hit the ball out the ballpark with her last post, I thought what the hell- I’ll up the ante (no pun intended).

The Tension of Opposites

Sex is possibly the perfect metaphor for the opposites we carry in our being. For Jung the act of bringing these opposites face to face in full consciousness is the birth of wisdom.

Sex is both terrifying, as so brilliantly portrayed in the movie Shame, and wonderful. Well so much more than wonderful really, divine, awesome,  the most fun you can have without smiling, a good reason for being alive, worth suffering through infinite bullshit and angst to get to, numinous…

Sex is simultaneously the thing which, more than anything else in the modern world, reminds us of our animal nature. I really think it’s hard to take yourself too seriously, to hold high fluted ideas about yourself whilst simultaneously being aware of the ridiculousness of the sexual act that you frequently participate in (assuming you are one of the lucky ones who actually have sex :-)).

At the same time the sexual act is capable of bringing you into a transcendent state, as recognised by the Tantric practitioners.  The sexual act can, and frequently does, invoke the most tremendous sense of joy, of happiness, of desire and of passion. Sex is something we are quite happy to both kill and die for. And what is closer, after all, to the release of death than the orgasm, le petite mort – the little death.

Holding these opposites simultaneously in consciousness is a very uncomfortable condition.  It is, possibly, one of the reasons that many people end up with a very one sided attitude towards sex.

When one considers the pornographic industry and the broad sex industry, possibly most visible in South Africa in the Strip Club phenomena, the sexual metaphor is reduced to its most basic element, to the physical, almost the biological.  By contrast, with Puritanism and celibacy the sexualised body is completely disavowed. In both of these cases the psychological and spiritual dimensions of  sexuality are lost.

Consciousness and the awareness of opposites, which is the dénouement of consciousness, is challenging. The ego needs to be strong not be torn apart by this tension. But when one considers it in this light the potential of sex to promote self-knowledge and consciousness becomes clear.

More about this later on…

Sex Education

My cousin recently told me that he and his wife had broken the news to their children, told them about the birds and the bees; let them in on the secret of the primal act, as Freud would say. Now my cousin, who I would describe as grounded and not really given to flights of imagination, said he couldn’t shake the impression that his son had grown up over night on hearing this news about the human condition.

That being human means having SEX with other people!

Can you still recall the first time you found out about sex? I can, I remember it as though it were yesterday, and that was around 35 years ago.

I asked my 15 year old daughter the other day when she had first found out about sex. I was fairly confident that she would say her mother broke it to her diplomatically when she was 12.

Yeah sure.

Her mom hadn’t said a word, or mum’s the word as they say :-).

She found out about ‘it’ when she was 8 years old. She couldn’t remember who told her, but she could vividly remember the moment she had found out, where she was and what she was doing. She said her and her friends had a code when referring to sex in those days, they would say “doing IT, can you imagine them doing IT.”

Anyway I took solace in the very detailed (bordering on graphic) sex education programme they had at the school, or at least so my wife told me.

Yeah sure.

No, my daughter said, the school had taught her nothing, but not to worry, her friends had filled her in, and she was up to speed :-).

The thing is, at least as I see it, once the child learns about sex, about the primal act, they are no longer a child in the sense they were before they found that out. A child as it exists pre carnal knowledge (and by knowledge here I’m not referring to experiential knowledge, but simply the act of knowing, of finding out) is predominantly a spiritual being, an angel in physical form, if you will, a cherub.

And I make this claim knowing only too well what Freud has to say about the sexualised infant. Still even if he is correct and there is little doubt he is, the infant’s sexuality is unconscious.  Consciously they remain in the Garden of Eden, until rudely expelled by the discovery of the primal secret.

My own sexual journey (so far anyway)

In my own case I mourn the loss of my pre-sexualised self. I concede this is an outrageously narcissistic view; but frankly I don’t care, I’m simply telling you how I honestly feel.  Now to quote the bard (well okay not the bard himself but Robbie Williams)

 I’m not saying I’m special, but I’m a little bit special you know what I mean :-).

As I see it now, at age 45, I have lost the last 30 years of my life. These decades are a hazy fog drenched in testosterone and spent worshipping at the altar that is woman’s body. I won’t deny that I had fun, that there were sublime moments, but still overall what a fucking waste of time.

Except for one thing.

Well three really, my children, Kiva, Ruarc and Teague. They are what redeem those three decades of mindless rutting. And I can say, in all honesty, that I would go through it all again and not do a thing differently, because their existence is my ultimate redemption.  That I should die so that they may live seems right and just to me. More than that, their existence is what gives my life meaning, makes it worth having lived this life.

Still as long as I’m alive I don’t doubt I will be under the spell of sex. I imagine I will be an incorrigibly dirty old man one day, gazing with lustful eyes on woman decades too young and worlds too good for me. But there is now, at least, a glimmer of light. I am able to get through consecutive days, even up to a week without that familiar friend my sexualised self wanting to come out and play.

I am no longer pre pubescent and God knows I’m no angel, but I feel like something has survived the descent into the Dionysian world; something good and something true, something worth caring about.  And my understanding of myself is immeasurably deeper for having made that journey.

Sex as a path to Self-knowledge

My brother Michael is currently reading a book by a Jungian analyst Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig, titled Marriage: Dead or Alive wherein he writes of sex as a path to individuation. Whilst I haven’t read the book, I have had sex :-), and I must say the idea resonates. What I suspect Guggenbühl-Craig is suggesting in his book is that sex is a very direct route to self knowledge, possibly the most direct. I would put my money on the normal sexualised adult having greater self knowledge than a celibate monk any day.

One may choose to sidestep the messy, frequently painful and very confusing business that sex is, and many do. However to do so, is to deprive yourself not only of a significant portion of the human experience but also of very significant aspect of your own authentic self.

Sex and our sexual identities are so close to our essential self. Whilst sex may lead to the most outrageous dishonesties, in itself it is brutally honest. If you have any reason to doubt this ask a paedophile, or a sex change, or a closet homosexual; or a heterosexual man who is willing to do the impossible, to give every drop of life blood he has as long as his wife will have sex with him from time to time.

My mentor and teacher, Chatillon Coque, was a great believer in the psychological significance of sex.  Three valuable insights he taught me I want to share with you.

1)      The path to self-knowledge and individuation begins with understanding, accepting and assimilating your own sexuality. To the degree that you genuinely come to terms with yourself so too will the world accept you. It is unreasonable to expect others to accept in you what you yourself cannot.

Sexuality is rarely, maybe never, vanilla. Think about different people you have had sex with and how different each one was, how different each experience was. The idea of vanilla sexuality is the superego’s attempt at conformity. Sex like everything else is dangerous to the status quo when it is individual. The truth is though that it is very individual. Your sexuality is a unique expression of who you are, what you are about, what turns you on, what you are willing to do; it is a psychological fingerprint.

The broad classifications of hetro, homo and bi are woefully inadequate. Admittedly amongst those who study sexuality there is a far higher degree of differentiation of sexual typing, but for those of us out there actually “doing it”  focus more on your own sexuality and less on any broad classifications.

  • What do you enjoy, what don’t you enjoy?
  • What do you want, what don’t you want?
  • What turns you on? Why do certain things turn you on, what does this say about who you are?
  • How do you relate to the other in the act of sex? Are you a giver or a taker? Dominant or submissive? Rigid or plastic (in your approach not your phallus fool :-)).
  • How does the sexual act leave you feeling, satisfied and fulfilled or empty, desirous of more or repulsed?
  • Does sex make you feel desirable, beautiful, guilty, sinful, or a combination of these?
  • Do you think you are entitled to the sex you desire?

2)      If you want to understand some one, understand them sexually. Where this is not going to happen physically (i.e. in most cases) allow your intuitive imagination to guide your understanding.

Consider for example what the short sexual biography I shared above says about me. What impression do you form of my sexuality and my attitude to sex? Do I seem comfortable with my sexuality, liberated or do you sense guilt and possibly repression? What do you think that it says about me in the world, how could you expect to encounter me, what would I be like, how would I behave?

Now whilst this isn’t a perfect metaphor, I would probably still have the ability to surprise you (or at least I hope so :-)), it does give you a valuable insight into who you are dealing with.

3)       Whilst we must of necessity learn the art of sexual sublimation, when it comes to acting out our most passionate sexual imperative, sublimation is frequently a poor substitute for the real thing. Or, to put it simpler, you cannot, nor should you, always act on sexual desire, but where you can it’s probably for the good at least psychologically.

We get to know who we are, what we want and how we relate to others in a profound, real and honest sense when we consider how these aspects of ourselves are expressed sexually.  It is a very direct path to self-knowledge and for the astute provides valuable insight into others.  Sex becomes really interesting when viewed psychologically rather than biologically. The Erotic is a function of the mind, not of the body. Although of necessity it is the embodied mind.

Until next time, I bid you adieu,


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Comments (12)

  • Pierre Leach Reply

    Well worth the read. Thanks

    June 27, 2012 at 9:29 am
  • Conrad Reply

    Entertaining and informative
    Thank you awaiting the next delivery on this subject

    June 27, 2012 at 9:46 am
  • Nicholas Smith Reply

    Great article. At the age of 57 I have found what I have suspected to be true for a long time: good sex is definitely a short cut to self knowledge. To have good sex which invokes passion, which becomes almost a “spiritual experience”, is certainly dependent on certain factors i.e. the right relationship with the right partner, total acceptance of each other and one self. Good sex is liberating in many more ways than simply as a physical release. In fact the physical release, as important as it is, becomes secondary when compared to the bliss experienced during good sex.
    In my experience, good sex affects one’s outlook, creativity, confidence and all the other relationships in life. Humans have been wired to experience sex in all its dimensions most of which has been sadly neglected. Sex can be pure bliss and becomes virtually transcendental, the most fulfilling human activity I have ever experienced. I believe it enables the individual to experience him-/herself in a way that nothing else, besides maybe a near-death-experience, makes possible.

    June 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm
  • Darrell Reply

    Well…….. of course this is all just perfectly timed’ as Jung would say…. And, so here I am having just read all this.. thinking to myself, yes.. I agree with much of what you say about all this.. However, I do see myself as being somewhat of an outsider to the so-called “normal” or Consensus world.. although as mentioned this is also part of the “normal” Whole of life’s infinited diversity.. including one’s own unique sexual experience & or orientation to life etc.. I myself grew up having lots of flying dreams as a chlid & accutely aware of the “other” world, that lies behind the thin veil of this so called material reality… Sensing many Spirits etc around me particularly at night, & I used to try & hide myself from them under the covers often when I slept as a child…

    My sexual initiation.. really began with finding my fathers hidden stash of Playboy & Penthouse magazines.. Thanks Dad.. although it really first began one day with my laying on the floor & feeling a strange sensation of pleasure, coming from my lower regions.. Anyway sexual fantasies soon become a large part of intitation, with the help of all these ‘mens’ magazines.. along with various fantasies of girls I felt strangely atttracted to at school.. So I guess all of this was the same for many young boys growing up… I also at times experienced the strange presence of Spirits wanting to have sex with me too at times.. & it felt all “felt” very real to me… While I also one night snuck out of the house naked, as we lived on a few acres.. & walked out into the night, & down to the front of our block, with a strange sense of freedom like I had never felt before…

    My first sexual experience with the opposite sex was not very intense.. in my early 20’s, & rather more confused, & deeply ambivalent…. At highschool I was sort of an outsider.. refusing to join the ‘cool’ kids who picked on those less able to defend themselves, by denigation mostly.. seeing myself as not wanting to take sides or join any kind of group.. but just take people as they are…. So didn’t go to all the parties all the cool kids went to, to take drugs, drink alcohol or have sex etc.. And, I paid the price for not ‘fitting in”…. but I stood my ground….

    My first real sexual “relationship” was with a Maltese descent Australian girl I met at a nightclub & we started “seeing” eachother.. for a couple of months or so.. perhaps longer.. spending time together.. without having “sex”.. as this seemed to me to be totally secondary to having an “relationship”.. a companion in life… When we finally had sex, it was ordinary for me.. & not fulfilling at all.. So it seemed to me that we were more friends than real “lovers”..

    While I also then went on a criuse with some mates & we meet some girls on the cruise.. one of which I seemed to be very attracted to.. along with many others too however… But, we seemed to get on well together.. spending one night alone together staying up all night drinking & talking & wandering about the ship.. also going into areas we weren’t meant to after dark.. So more “breaking” of taboos.. but no sex.. just talk & spending time together.. & going where we weren’t supposed to.. And, she was supposedly “with” another older guy who we met on the cruise.. So maybe I was naive & still to young to realise that she liked me.. as my firend later told me, a few years later….

    Anyway, when I got back my girlfriend, got very upset since I didn’t send her a postcard, I did, though it didn’t arrive til after I got back.. So maybe I also didn’t follow the other relationship on the criuse because I had aready had a ‘girlfriend’… And so we soon broke-up, as I felt she was being way too “possesive”.. I was 24.

    Then I also ended up meeting my “wife” at a nightclub with my brother & some friends one night.. I only met her because she knew my brother.. And, she chose me at the end of the night as the one she wanted to go home with…. And, we both seemed to ‘click” together almost straight away.. & I phoned her first after that night to say I wanted to “see” her again.. While I later found out my brother was also thinking of calling her too.. but I beat him to it… I was ready for a “relationship”.. & I was hooked by the deep & intense “sexual” desire…. I was falling in love.. so they say.. it was not just about the “sex”.. since we both seemed to be able to talk & relate so well too… Everything just seemed to flow so naturally between us.. before we knew it we were talking about moving in together.. although I had already virtually “moved-in” to her house.. My future wife to be also had a step-daughter which I also loved too.. It all just seemed to be a fairytale indeed… Then I suggested, we get married after she suggested that we should.. half in jest… since we seemed to be living as a married couple anyway.. I was slightly drunk & said that we should.. And, the next day when we both were sober again.. my future wife asked if I really meant what I said the night before.. & I said yes I did…… Since I have always been rather lucid, even after having a few drinks.. unlike many others I know…. All this within about 8 months of living & loving together.. Yes, the honeymoon period as they say.. And, yet…. So we got married about 9 months later.. although also just after my wife to be had had a miscariage.. So that was a bit traumatic.. While the wedding turned into a “real” party, & went late into the night etc..

    Then we had a son together about 11 months later.. although by this time the honeymoon period was over.. And, I had found myself being attracted to other women, this was all new territory for me.. I had never been in such a long-term relationship before.. I was also fantasising of other women I was attracted to sometimes to keep my sexual desire going through to its end.. I later felt terribly guilty about this a few years later.. But to me sexual desire was such a natural thing.. & why should we be attracted to just one person etc… Was marriage really for me.. although I was still happily married… Then 6 months later our son died of ‘cot death’ at 4 months.. And, that was the beginning of the end of my marriage.. as my wife woke up one day to tell me a couple of months later.. I am not happy anymore.. something is wrong.. And, it wasn’t just the grief for our son she said… So my marriage ended in December that year after a huge outuburst of grief from me, drunk at a friend wedding, yelling at my wife, pinning her to the wall with my booming voice, why are you rejecting me etc et al.. And, all this in front of everyone!!! That was it, my wife said, that was the end of our marriage, the very next day… AND, so for me this whole deep relationship, although short.. was deeply intense.. & had a profound affect on me… Also, I realised a few years later.. after an amicable seperation.. that this was also the beginning of my real journey of deeply questioning all the assumptions of life from the Consensus point of view.. taking me eventually into deep ‘group-process’ work & healing.. at ‘Inight Seminar’s.. also introducing me to books like ‘Jonathon Livingston Seagull’, ‘Illusions’ & ‘The Alchemist’ etc.. continuing my quest to go ever more deeply into myself.. my SELF…….

    Meanwhile I have since had the odd relationship, here & there.. along with a few casual encounters before I met my life.. but I have enjoyed, or come to understand myself much more deeply since then…. Therefore the ‘deepest” relationship I have had in my life has ultimately been a journey into mself.. While I also noticed that you didn’t mention Self-sex as part the whole sexual experience.. And, this being for some.. part of one’s life in varying degrees…

    AND.. so here I am all these years later.. having ‘chosen’ to remain single & independant.. or perhaps I should rather say flowing with my Fate or Destiny.. And, not succumbing to the pressure to ‘conform’ etc…. Having, on July 4th, 2000, finally daring to leave the familiy business & my hometown behind me & hit the road to see what was out there in the world for me etc… Ending up lving with my sister & others learning to read the ‘Mythic Tarot’.. study the ‘I-Ching’ & astrology etc.. while doing readings for people… Before then leaving 6 months later to return to my hometown again.. But my love of astrology, the Tarot.. & reading the signs & symbols etc in the world has stayed with me… taking me into the worlds of art, poetry.. mythology & deep psychology etc etc et al.. And, discovering my love of travelling around the world on my own.. serendipitiously meeting various people, sights & places along the way.. along with adopting the life of the student & scholar etc… So the solitary Path for me has been a deeply enlightening one indeed…. My Universe has most definitely been expanded beyond my wildest dreams.. And, so here I am now as a blogger, astrologer & somewhat of a mystic & poetic Soul all these years later……. And listening to programs like ‘Carl Jung & Regaining Relgion’ on The Spirit of Things program on ABC Radio National.. along with lstening to mythologist, & modern Shaman Michael Meade talking about ancient myths & stories, & reading poetry etc about life… And so all these years later I have come to see many of these events in life, as all just part of my Fate & Destiny…. And I was born under a 9th house Capricorn Moon, the Moon of the Elder, in the house of religion, or long journeys, in a ‘disseminating’ trine with my natal 2nd house Taurus Sun.. the Sun of the Earth Spirit or Self-reliant one.. in the house of Self-worth & Self-esteem.. where we ultimately must prove ourselves to ourselves first & foremost… And my blog is at http://www.whatsitallmeanthen.blogspot.com...

    June 28, 2012 at 3:01 am
  • Deon Reply

    What about homosexuality/bisexuality etc?

    June 28, 2012 at 7:23 am
    • Stephen Reply

      I think the same issues and questions apply Deon. in fact, as I suggested in the post, these classifcations are quite simplisitc when it comes to understanding our own unique sexuality.
      The question of am I straight or gay, whilst worthwhile, is really only the ABC. In our own way I think we are all Queer, at least the most intresting amongst us.

      June 28, 2012 at 9:29 am
  • Natalie Reply

    Wonderful! Without sex we are miserable, so embrace it! It is part of life and definately a fun part of living. Why woman are so scared of embracing their sexuality is beyond me. Chuck off the “labels” and enjoy!

    June 28, 2012 at 8:01 am
  • Kat Reply

    Aye, thanks everyone for sharing. I think the modern aura around sex is very interesting, because it claims to be very open and accepting but there are still “taboos”. So yeah, there is no vanilla and there are no fetishes (unless you really like being an outcast and wallowing in shame). There are articles on how to convince your girlfriend to have a threesome – serious!

    The first time I heard about sex I was about 8, my attempt to discuss it with my parents was fairly shot down, so already I thought of it as a racy, illicit kind of act (although I was a bit put off by the “when mommy loves daddy very much” story accompanied by photos leading up to childbirth). Then I got into masturbation at about 13, that’s when I also read a totally ridiculous article that listed strategies to stop masturbating – like picturing yourself in a bathtub full of worms (the threesome sounds better right?)

    But anyways, I feel I have a block, I mean I’m married, I have a young child but it’s like I’m just not feeling it. Some days I feel obsessed with sex, I feel a bit dirty, I feel like I just do it because it’s expected – it’s on tap, it’s not an authentic exploration of sensuality and affection. I have fewer orgasms in general, it’s more grooming than joyful play… Actually the concrete feeling around this is that I’m SCARED of my sexuality, that I feel like I’ll turn into a raging hoor (not that I was that far off some days – especially in my teenage years), everything felt a bit desperate – still does but.

    June 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm
    • Stephen Reply

      Thank you Kat for a really interesting and honest comment. In terms of being challenged by your sexuality, being ‘scared’ of it as you put it; all I can say is yes me too. It’s a really interesting question to consider what lies in this sexuality, psychologically and symbolically, that scares us.

      July 1, 2012 at 6:35 am
  • charmaine Reply

    what an informative blog indeed. thanks u stephen

    September 8, 2012 at 7:30 am
  • Nader Khaghani Reply

    At the age of 77, I have to ask? Sex? What sex? Enjoy it while the intensity lasts. As we age, that hot intoxicating pleasure fizzles down. Shoot! As sex preoccupation diminishes other aspects of life come to the center. John Huston, the movie director, cocksman imperial, and father of Angelica Huston said when in his forties finally sex subsided he felt like he got off a wild horse. We all get on and get off, too bad.

    January 4, 2023 at 8:50 am
  • Lisa Reply

    I think Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in human life is really about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.”

    I don’t know if it’s true but it seems so. I read this blog with interest, still as highly relevant in 2023 as it was when written.

    I’m privileged to find such joy in it all and yet have had to investigate a dark shadow related to self-worth as a result.

    Thank you for the thought provocation as always Stephen.

    September 29, 2023 at 11:29 am

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