Erotic Spiritual Practice

At left, photograph by Drew Graham.

One of the central tasks of our growth as queer men is to reunite our sexuality with our longing for the Source of our inner life. In the terms of Jewish spirituality, this work is both Repair of the Self and Repair of the World. Repair of the Self, because it heals our spirit; but also Repair of the World, because as fully integrated erotic-spiritual beings, we find our courage to be the change in the world that we want to see: to say no to the false, homophobic voices that deny our desire as a path toward the Sacred, and to fight for others in their own struggles toward wholeness in the face of oppression.

Throughout history and across cultures, mystics have used the language of erotic union to describe their longing for and communion with God. If we’re blessed, the best sexual experiences of our lives are also among the most intensely spiritual.

It makes no sense to leave to chance something so important to our growth. The practice of erotic spirituality deserves our conscious and focused attention.

Take inventory. Be honest with yourself about your wounds. Even if you’ve been out for years, you may feel that your sexual life and your connection to Spirit have a great gulf fixed between them. Explore that disconnect. Sit with it, push back against it.

Pray or meditate naked. Staying in touch with your body-with your erotic body–is an excellent way to turn up the volume on whatever keeps you from bringing flesh together with spirit–and to celebrate their connection.

Breathe! Do it deeply and intentionally. Think of it as pleasure. Imagine that the air you take in is itself an erotic force, penetrating you with each breath.

Relinquish the Goal. Orgasm and ejaculation are gorgeous. But learn to cultivate longing for its own sake. How does it impact your emotional and spiritual state if you choose to remain aroused without immediate release?

Practice Queer Midrash. Reimagine the sacred narratives of the tradition(s) that speak to you–a practice that Jewish biblical study calls midrash. The stories of Ruth and Naomi, of David and Jonathan, of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, of the centurion and his “boy” in Luke 7:1-10 are ripe for retelling in celebration of same-sex desire. Generations of mystics have used the language of the Song of Songs to imagine themselves having sex with God. Lord Krishna splits himself into dozens of identical manifestations in order to give his cowherd-girl devotees the experience of unique bliss in moonlit dalliance with him. Photographers John Dugdale and Oscar Wolfman offer rich visual resources for a practice of queer midrash.

Find--and create--erotic community No matter where or with whom you find your erotic fulfilment, treat your partners like the beloved of God. Hope for the same in return..

Stop “chasing the dragon. Peak experiences don’t happen all the time. If we try to repeat them at will, we can get caught up in a cycle that’s closer to addiction than openness to Spirit.

Create seasonal ritual. It can be enormously healing to affirm the integration of your sexuality with Nature’s larger rhythms. Create for yourself an erotic ritual in celebration of the Summer or Winter Solstice, of the Spring or Fall Equinox. The ever-amazing Annie Sprinkle's website has a thousand suggestions for sexy things you can do in and with nature. For that matter, so do I, but you have to ask. (Photograph above by Drew Graham.)

“Like a great starving beast my body is quivering fixed on the scent of light.”–Hafiz