Not the Monthly Post

On the Metaphysics of Sex

Last month, when I realized there would be five Wednesdays and I didn’t have anything on the list for the fifth of those, I dusted off an old habit and asked my readers what they wanted to hear about. That gave rise to some extremely lively discussions.  The largest number who expressed a preference wanted an update on the Long Descent—the unraveling of industrial civilization, which began in earnest in the early 1970s and will continue until long after everyone reading this blog is dead—and so that was the theme of last week’s post. Several other subjects had a lot of interest, though, and so I’ve decided to scale back my posts on the magical history of America to one per month, and use the slot thus freed up to cover some of the other requested topics.

One of those topics was what occult philosophy has to say about masturbation and pornography. That didn’t surprise me at all.  These days most people in America have grown up in a media environment saturated with explicit sexual imagery, and with an elite culture that celebrates every form of sexuality involving consenting adults except male heterosexuality, which it stigmatizes.  Young straight guys who are unable or unwilling to work their way through the increasingly byzantine double-binds they face if they pursue relationships with women often turn to masturbation with pornography instead. A significant number of them are uncomfortable about that habit, and so I’ve had a steady stream of young men show up on my Magic Monday ask-me-anything sessions, wanting to know what an old-fashioned occultist might say about the topic.

As it happens, old-fashioned occultism has quite a bit to say about such things. To make sense of the metaphysics of sex, though, it’s going to be necessary to cover some of the basic ideas of occult philosophy, and the best way to start that is by paying attention to what we as human beings actually experience, and how we experience it.

Let’s start with the least controversial category, the things we experience with our five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell—and with instruments designed to extend the reach of one or more of these senses.  In a sense, that’s the universe of matter and energy that scientists study.  I say “in a sense” because philosophers have pointed out that it’s not that simple; whatever we experience is, as an experience, an image in consciousness, and its connection to the reality “out there” is anything but straightforward.  For present purposes, though, we can set these issues aside and think of the things we experience with our five senses as material things.

That’s not the only kind of thing we experience, of course. Another category consists of things that resemble sensory experiences but don’t come through the senses. Memory and imagination are good examples here.  Take a moment to remember someone you know well. You may “see” images of that person’s face, “hear” the person’s voice, “feel” the distinctive quality of a hug or a handshake, even “smell” a familiar perfume or aftershave.  Equally, you can imagine a character in a novel, and if the writer’s any good, you’ll have some of the same quasisensory experiences relating to that character. Pay close attention to your thoughts, and you’ll discover that most or all of your thinking consists of this kind of experience:  pictures, words, or what have you, that resemble sensory experiences but don’t involve the senses.

Those are the two categories of experience that most of us are willing to think about. There are two other categories of human experience, though, and we need to include them in the picture as well. The first is a set of experiences that our culture has tabooed, even though everyone has them: experiences of the life force. Everyone knows what it’s like to sense the “vibe” of a person or a place, to feel vitalized by some places, people, and things, and devitalized by others. This is normal, and most cultures around the world and throughout history have had straightforward ways of talking about it.  It’s only in the cultures of the modern industrial West that they’ve been stigmatized as things that do not, cannot, and must not exist.

The fourth category is subtler still.  Have you ever had the experience of learning an unfamiliar word by sound or spelling, and then later on finding out what it means?  If you don’t know German, for example, the word Backpfeifengesicht won’t communicate anything to you, but you can learn how to pronounced it and spell it, and even commit it to memory.  If I then explain to you that it means “a face that just begs to be slapped,” something else enters the picture.  You can doubtless think of people with faces like that—I certainly can—and what had been a mere sound becomes a form that unites many experiences in a common pattern of meaning.

To the modern materialist, the first category I’ve described—the material world—is the real world, and the other three are lumped together as “mental” and thus not quite real.  To the occultist, by contrast, each of these categories belongs to its own kind of reality. The usual term these days is “plane.”  The world of matter and energy that scientists study is the material plane.  The world of the life force, of vibes and hunches and a good many other experiences we’re taught not to talk about, is a part of the etheric plane.  The world of quasisensory images that don’t come through the senses, such as thoughts and dreams and imaginations, is a part of the astral plane. (It’s called that because it’s the plane through which the forces tracked by astrology function.)  The world of meanings, of forms that unite separate experiences into patterns, is a first dim perception of the mental plane.

Are there other planes?  You bet, but these are the four that human beings are able to experience directly at this stage of our evolution. The planes further up are sometimes lumped together as the spiritual plane, sometimes discussed individually—the taxonomy I use these days, for example, identifies three planes above the mental plane, and calls them the spiritual plane, the causal plane, and the divine plane. (Causal, by the way, is not the same word as casual!  The causal plane is the plane of causes.)  Those higher planes aren’t relevant to our current subject, though, so we can leave them alone for now.

So we have four planes that human beings currently perceive. We also have a body on each of these planes. Your material body is the familiar structure of meat, bone, and assorted fluids through which you interact with the material world.  Your etheric body is your body of life force—it’s almost identical in shape to your material body but extends an inch or so further outward in all directions, and it permeates your material body and keeps it alive.  Your astral body is an egg-shaped region interpenetrating your material and etheric bodies and extending three feet or so in all directions beyond them.  Your mental body—technically, your mental sheath, because we’re still in the process of evolving mental bodies—is a vague uncertain presence inside the astral body, varying in size and complexity from person to person.

Here’s where we start getting within reach of sex, because each of those bodies has its own gender. One reason that occultists tend to roll their eyes at the recent hoopla over transgender issues is that nearly everyone involved in said hoopla seems to think that each person has just one gender.  Not so. The gender of your material body can be determined by looking into your shorts. The genders of your etheric body, astral body, and mental sheath are not so obvious. Normally your astral body is the same gender as your physical body, and your etheric body and mental sheath are the opposite gender—but “normally” is a label that allows for a great deal of individual variation; there are people whose subtle bodies are gendered in different patterns.

Let’s talk a little about what “gender” means in this sense. It can be understood quite simply as the direction of creative energy.  On the material plane, this is easy enough to see: the male creates on this plane, i.e., procreates, by the outward movement of ejaculation; the female on this same plane procreates by a movement inward, accepting the sperm, combining it with her own ovum, and nurturing the resulting child to term. The same is true, mutatis mutandis, on the other planes.

Let’s take a man with the usual arrangement of bodies as an example. On the purely material plane, the plane of biology, he is masculine.  On the etheric plane he is feminine and needs to receive life energy, to draw it into himself—thus the sense of abundant well-being that many men feel after lovemaking, because they receive etheric force in the course of the act from their partners. On the astral plane, again, he is masculine, and so puts images and words out there, hoping that they will be received. (Depending on the astral gender of the other person or people involved, this may be welcome, or it may be labeled “mansplaining.”)  On the mental plane, finally, he is feminine, and needs to receive.  Many male writers and artists need inspiration from a woman in order to create—so much so that this is practically a cliché.  It’s much less common for a female writer or artist to need a comparable male source of inspiration.

A woman with the usual arrangement of bodies is just the opposite. She is feminine on the material plane, as already explained. She is masculine on the etheric plane—if she’s in good physical and mental health, she is an overflowing fountain of life force, which can be directed in various creative ways or (more usually in our society) bottled up until it goes stagnant. She is feminine on the astral plane—her thoughts and feelings are easily influenced by her surroundings, whence comes women’s reputation for sensitivity. On the mental plane, finally, she is masculine, and more likely to inspire than to need inspiration. Again, though, there are countless variations.  These complexities have to be kept in mind as we turn to the occult dimensions of masturbation.

Let’s start with male masturbation, since gender differences matter here and nearly all the people who’ve asked about this subject have been young men.  The sexual organs we inherit from our animal ancestors evolved with heterosexual intercourse in mind, and this is as true of the etheric and astral organs as of the physical ones.  That doesn’t mean that other modes of sexuality are unnatural—it’s a common feature of evolution that organs that evolved for one purpose turn out to be preadapted to another purpose. (Your hands evolved into their present shape to help your distant ancestors climb trees, for example, not to make and use tools.)  When a man with the usual arrangement of subtle bodies engages in any kind of sexual activity, those bodies are going to expect something like the stimuli they would get when making love with a woman with a corresponding arrangement of subtle bodies. To the extent that they don’t get those, potential problems emerge. Those problems aren’t insuperable, but it’s helpful to be aware of them so that you can counteract them.

On the etheric plane, the first difficulty faced by a straight young man when he masturbates is that his etheric body is expecting a jolt of life force from a partner’s etheric body, and doesn’t get it.  That’s the source of the weakness and depression that many men feel after masturbating. Over the long term, this can lead to health problems, and it also produces that distinctive vibe that many of us have learned to associate with words like “wanker.”

Fortunately there are other sources of etheric energy, and one way to deal with this problem is to rely on those instead.  Vigorous breathing is one of the ways the body charges itself with etheric force, for example, and so strenuous exercise that makes you breathe deeply is a good substitute. Fresh air and sunlight also help your body charge itself with etheric force.  A workout at a boxing gym followed by a couple of miles of walking or running outdoors?  That’ll do the trick.

Cold water also has much to offer. Water absorbs and holds etheric substance more effectively than any other commonly available substance—that’s why living things are mostly made of water—but the etheric capacity of a given volume of water varies with temperature, reaching its peak at 39°F. Step into a cold shower and you’re literally bathing in etheric substance as well as in water, so your etheric body can recharge.  (Washing with a washcloth wrung out in cold water is nearly as effective and less of a shock to your system.) Since the water retains its capacity to absorb etheric substance, it also picks up and carries away etheric crud from the surface of your etheric body—yes, the inner planes can be just as grubby as the material plane, especially in a society like ours that doesn’t even have the concept of etheric and astral hygiene.

And if your etheric body has the opposite polarity, as it does in most women and some men?  Your etheric body expects to release a great deal of force into your partner’s etheric body, but if there’s no partner involved, this can’t happen. The result will generally be a state of etheric congestion. There are various ways to deal with this but the most reliable is creative activity.  Anything from music and writing to cooking and housework will do, so long as it involves the material and etheric bodies directly in the creative process.  If you have this kind of etheric body, creative work is a useful outlet for you even if you don’t masturbate, as your body gathers more etheric force than it needs, and creativity gives it somewhere to go.

So much for the etheric plane. On the astral plane there are additional complexities. A man with the usual arrangement of bodies is masculine on the astral plane, and that has a very distinctive effect when it comes to sexuality. A man who’s sexually aroused projects an astral image of desirability onto potential partners. This is like the well-known phenomenon of “beer goggles.” Even without alcohol, most men have had the experience of finding some woman utterly desirable the evening before and decidedly homely the morning after; that’s because her apparent desirability was projected onto her by his own astral body.

This is where pornography becomes an issue. For the male masturbator, pornography replaces an actual partner as a target for that act of projection. There’s a feedback loop, though, because until you reach a certain level of inner development, the images that stock your astral body with raw material will mostly be taken from things you experience with your senses. The images used in pornography have the sexual dimension artificially enhanced through every trick known to actresses, photographers, image editors, plastic surgeons, and the list goes on, so they have very little relationship to anything in the world we actually inhabit.  If you spend a lot of time looking at pornography, those images will be what your astral body has on hand, and over time you risk becoming less and less able to project desirability onto anything else. That makes relationships with, say, actual women even more difficult than they would otherwise be. The moral to this story is simple:  if you masturbate, use your own imagination as a source of imagery, instead of pornography.

And the other polarity of astral body, the sort found in most women and some men?  If you have this polarity, you don’t project desirability onto others, you want to be desired.  That’s the secret of romance fiction.  Think of the basic plot of your standard tacky romance novel  The male lead is strong, handsome, dominant, powerful, and yet so overwhelmed by desire for the heroine that he makes her the center of his life. That is to say, it has no more to do with real relationships than pornography has to do with real sex, and it distorts the emotional responses of people with feminine astral bodies in the same way that pornography distorts the sexual responses of people with masculine astral bodies—in both cases, irrespective of their material-plane gender.  In either case, doing without the artificial stimulation, whether we’re discussing physical or emotional masturbation, is a good idea.

So we have the etheric consequences of masturbation, and the astral consequences. There is another set of potential difficulties, though, which unfold from the fact that the inner planes are populated, and not just by human beings.  To understand this we’re going to have to touch on some of the occult teaching about spirits—because that’s what we are talking about, of course:  living, conscious beings that don’t happen to have material bodies.  Two of the many classes of spirits can get involved in the matters we’re discussing.

The first of these are called larvae. (That word was used for spirits long before the biologists borrowed it.)  Larvae are low-grade etheric entities, almost mindless, who fill the same niche on the etheric plane that scavengers fill on the material plane:  they eat the cast-off etheric bodies of the dead. Under normal circumstances they’re harmless, but in a society that doesn’t even have the concept of etheric and astral hygiene, they can be a problem.

The difficulty is simply that, being almost mindless, if they find something that resembles a cast-off etheric body, they latch onto it and try to feed. This can include, for example, the devitalized and unclean etheric body of a chronic male masturbator who lives and works in an etherically filthy environment.  Parasitism by a larva typically involves a slow, steady loss of vitality with no medical cause.  Fortunately it’s easy to treat once recognized:  cleaning up your etheric body and surroundings is usually adequate. In serious cases, take an iron blade with an insulated hilt, and make little jabbing motions with the point, aiming them toward the patient’s body from two or three feet away.  Larvae can be quite small, about the size of a human palm, and so unless you have clairvoyant abilities and can see the larva, you need to do this all around the patient’s body from head to foot, spacing each jab only a few inches from the others.

So much for larvae. The other kind of spirit functions on the astral plane; we can use one traditional term for them, and call them demons, but there are many different kinds and classes and varieties of malign astral being. For reasons of their own, some of these beings seek to draw human beings into various unbalanced and self-destructive patterns of thought and action. They have no real power over us, except to the extent that we give power to them, but they can whisper thoughts into the minds of humans in vulnerable conditions, and if those thoughts are welcomed, more will follow. Each class of demon has its characteristic imbalance, and distorted sexuality is the focus of one such class.  Yes, chronic masturbators obsessively watching pornography are in a vulnerable condition to such entities.

The hallmarks of demonic involvement are easy to recognize.  First, there is something weirdly mechanical about these entities; people they influence do and say the same things over and over again in rigidly stereotyped patterns, and lose the ability to reflect on their words and actions and notice how bizarrely repetitive they’ve become.  Second, there’s an emotional tone to demonic activity that, once recognized, is never forgotten:  hot, inflamed, confused, excited, murky.  Finally, the actions they inspire in human beings are always self-defeating and self-destructive.

How do you get rid of such beings?  Again, they have no real power over us unless we give it to them, and there are plenty of ways to make use of that fact. Religion is one of the two classic options—old-fashioned sacramental religious denominations of every tradition have robust methods of chasing these beings away, though the more watered-down modernist versions of the same traditions are typically as helpless as they are clueless about such things.  Magic is the other classic option:  daily performance of a banishing ritual such as the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram or the Sphere of Protection, or the use of other methods of protection and blessing, will typically do the job in short order.  Of course you can combine the two.

One caution needs to be made before we finish.  One of the great mistakes of the religions of the Piscean Age, the 2160-year era whose vestiges are fading out around us just now, was the habit of setting out an arbitrary notion of what human beings should be like, and insisting that it’s the fault of evil spirits that we don’t live up to that notion. This has been especially common and counterproductive when applied to human sexuality. To insist dogmatically that human beings are naturally chaste, heterosexual, and monogamous, and only veer from this ideal because demons mess with them, is a great way to guarantee that your congregations will be riddled with guilt and neurosis, but that’s all it is.

Human sexual desire is complex, varied, and robust, and it doesn’t fit into any simple arbitrary dogma of the sort that religious authoritarians like to brandish. If your desires don’t happen to conform to some such dogma, that doesn’t mean a demon is doing something to you; it may just be that you’re one of the many people for whom the dogma simply doesn’t work. The opposite of one bad idea, as I’ve observed more than once in these essays, is normally another bad idea, and compulsive solitary celibacy is no healthier than compulsive solitary vice. From an occult perspective, every human soul is unique, with needs and possibilities at least slightly different from those of every other soul, and our task as human beings is to find balanced, healthy ways to meet those needs and express those possibilities without interfering with the rights and needs of others:  in a sexual context, and in the rest of life.

335 Comments

  1. Thank you. This makes a great deal of sense.

    A somewhat-related question: I’ve personally been guilty of, and I’ve heard many others confess to, enacting fantasies in the imagination that would seem to be immoral if carried out on the lower planes. So the idea that the imaginative realm is an objective reality all its own, with causes and effects that extend outside the individual mind, is a little bit concerning.

    In what you wrote, though, you don’t seem to be concerned that sourcing fantasy material from the imagination might have unintended external effects. Could you elaborate more on the forces of imagination in this context? If I fantasize about someone, could I be hurting them or myself, or creating some kind of force channel I really don’t want?

  2. John–

    This is insightful.

    The relationship with sex and masturbation aside, would you recommend a cold sponge-bath regularly for etheric hygiene just as a matter of course? With what frequency to be effective? Daily? Weekly?

  3. “To insist dogmatically that human beings are naturally chaste, heterosexual, and monogamous, and only veer from this ideal because demons mess with them, is a great way to guarantee that your congregations will be riddled with guilt and neurosis, but that’s all it is.”

    Thank you for clarifying this. It’s that kind of religious thinking that I think has caused so many people to react to any kind of spirituality like a cat confronted with a spray bottle. You’re saying there exists a type of spirituality where I don’t have to surrender my own brain and observations? Whouda thunk it?

    Male heterosexuality may be thought of as a little passé these days, but it’s still used to sell everything under the sun. There’s a fair bit of backlash against it right now due to the repression of most other forms of sexuality, but this strikes me as little unfair considering most male individuals had their sexuality repressed and controlled as well (plus, I’ve always though you should blame the people doing the repressing, not just the thing that was repressed slightly less). All this, of course, just adds another layer of perversion/guilt on top of the pile (which probably makes about 3 or 4 total layers of alternating societal domination and personal repression). It’s no wonder guys are screwed up about sex.

    Final point for others (consider this to be creepy old man advice). Consider reading your porn instead of watching it. TV anesthetizes the brain, but words energize it. Plus, stories deal with emotions and characters a lot more than clips, and provide a lot more fodder for the imagination. There is some great erotic literature online (literotica.com is a good place to start and there are many more specialized archives out there too). It’s still masturbation, yes, but you can connect with an author’s words a heck of a lot more than you can connect with some genitalia on a screen. (creepy old man part over).

  4. John–

    A second question: do you know of any decent resources (books) on occult hygiene generally?

  5. A nice essay. I’m a septuagenarian now, and thus my days of self-pleasuring are mostly in the past. Your explanations seem so much more useful than the usual pablum we received from our protestant pastors back in the day. But how could a protestant pastor have offered such a discussion, even if he knew the facts you’ve cited (which seems unlikely)? Playboy magazine in the 1960s was just exactly as you have described. One topic you did not mention was masturbating up to just short of orgasm; something I did now and then. Does that bring us into the realm of tantric sex?

  6. I’m rather interested in establishing etheric and astral hygiene, so what would you reccomend? For astral hygiene, a banishing ritual is crucial, but is there anything else that needs to be done? For etheric hygiene a daily cold shower is useful, as I assume is using vinegar based cleaning supplies rather than the shale which passes for commercial cleaning supplies, but are there other things to do?

    Also, from the above, I think my subtle bodies are the feminine pattern (masculine etheric, feminine astral, masculine mental): this is annoying since I’m straight, and it seems almost all women with a compatible pattern are lesbians!

    I wonder if this also helps explain why so many people think I’m gay: if most people with the opposite subtle patterns are gay, it would make sense that people would perceive my subtle bodies and register “probably gay”….

  7. I was rereading Dion Fortune’s The Sea Priestess, and noticed that while she claimed to be receptive, ‘negative’, yin, she was giving off enough etheric energy to revitalize the asthmatic, stifled Wilfred Maxwell from the first sight of her. (The relationship was also a classic example of the Hyperborean “ilul” form of love shown in your novel – a deliberate homage to this one? Especially since he went straight from that to the desire for marriage and a family with a nice girl he had overlooked before.)

    Yes, it is complicated. Especially if you’re off the norm in many ways but not quite sure how to define it, and have been unable to unlock modes of expression that attempts to control out of necessity ended up being put on such hard lockdown that even awareness of what happened and why and that the old reasons are gone have have been of little avail. A lot of burying oneself in books* or puzzles or any other means of distraction comes from that, I’m sure. Not to mention physical energy all dissipating itself into nervous energy, jittery restlessness! (Good news on that front lately, sneaked in when I wasn’t looking; more on that on Magic Monday!)

    In times and places of heavy taboo with harsh punishments, that must have happened even more. (Now I’m thinking of her other character, from The Goat Foot God, who had just about everything on hard lockdown, and pretty well knew it.)

    Apparently, finding someone of the right polarity is supposed to help, if all things are otherwise right. Am I correct? Or is that an artifact of her own time and thinking?

    *No. Not romances. In fact, I find most romances pointless and boring, though I do love a novel with a good plot otherwise – in which people find the right mate and both are real people! Eric Flint does that quite well, as of course, do you.

    Feel free to cut this post for length and TMI.

  8. In reflecting on the equal and opposite double binds (hetero) women end up in*, because that’s what I’m familiar with, it seems that the binds themselves exactly correspond to flow of imbalance through the different bodies.

    (*For the best treatment of those binds I’ve read, find Naomi Klein’s Promiscuities . I was loaned a copy from a friend as a teen, and have tried to find one to buy, and haven’t been able to – I think this is not an accident that book got quashed).

    Women are expected to be infinitely sexy and available at all times, even at work, but will also be raped or lose their jobs for being “unprofessional and inappropriate”. To overexude stimulation on the astral rather than receive, and so receive punishment on the physical when unable to actually follow through with the etheric positive connection that would prevent the short circuit. To be Slut. For women who fail to meet sexy grade, the punishment is on the physical in the opposite way, to fail to be found desirable and be passed over into Spinster territory.

    Men are expected to be muscly no neck beast men with dinner plate hands who can fight ten men and then ahem, press the heroine to the wall or stable or whatever, but also gentle poets whose sensitive fingers shall only touch you with the words from their pen or notes from their guitar chord. Over stimulate on the physical, than get punished on the etheric for failing to be able to meet expectations on the astral. To be Pig, or fail to be physical enough, and be Nice Guy /Friend-zoned.

    And the fun part, is that it’s all relative to the person looking at you, so that the same woman with any appearance or dress can be simultaneously considered Too Ugly to Rape but also Deserve It Because A Man Was Turned On (hi 15 year old me!). The same man can likewise be Too Sensitive to date, and A Pig Like All the Rest when he expresses desire (hello all the boys I should have dated instead!).

    So I assume, one way to combat is to focus on the other planes – for men, does this woman inspire me somehow and/or make me feel loved? Before thinking about how she fits your desires, and sex (or giving her your money and stuff). For women, do I like talking to this man, does he treat my body with respect? Before thinking about trying to get him to idealise you… and sex (or doing his emotional labour and laundry for him). If you resent what you’re giving him/her, you’re not getting what you’re supposed to on the other planes, because there’s nothing inherently abusive about doing those things for the other in a typical hetero relationship, which is so much of what the current feminist empowerment gets wrong, and why there’s a traditional role backlash going on. Split the cheque, and split all child care and housework equally works for some. But for many, it takes some of the ineffable something out of the relationship, and switching it around on its head and calling it empowerment is even worse for most. Maternal Desire by Daphne de Marneff was the book that helped snap me out of the impending neurosis about how badly I wanted to care for my own children, and the joy I get from feeding people, but knew that made me a bad feminist. I’m not sure what is out there for men with mirror problems.

  9. One should note how the a sexually-open society is not the same thing as a sexually-active society.

    Since roughly 1993, the Sexual Revolution has very much gone into reverse. Sexual activity has declined (especially among young people) every year due to a combination of cultural cocooning [1], techie/internet shut-in culture, the spread of feminist cultural norms, and the broader asexualization of many aspects of society in the name of social progress [2]. It’s the Demolition Man future!!!

    Frankly, in my opinion, female charm of any kind has dramatically deteriorated since the super-soft honey babies of the Brooke Shields/Marina Sirtis/Rhonda Shear era. In the words of Jules Verne in his posthumously published book “Paris in the Twentieth Century”, ” ‘this was just the opposite; the butterfly regressed to being a caterpillar. The caressing manner of the Parisienne, her alluring figure, her witty and tender glances, her affectionate smile, her firm yet precise embonpoint soon gave way to certain long, lean, skinny, arid, fleshless, emancipated forms, to a mechanical, methodical, and puritanical unconcern. The waist flattened, the glance austerified, the joints stiffened; a stiff, hard nose lowered over narrowed lips; the stride grew longer; the Angel of Geometry, formerly so lavish with his most alluring curves, delivered woman up to all the rigors of straight lines and acute angles…” (Verne, 142)

    [1] http://my-inner-voice.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-1992-predictions-fare-today.html

    [2] In addition to the new social norms of much of social media, where the vibe regularly seems to be somewhere between 1968 Peking and 1992 Sarejevo.

  10. “How do you get rid of such beings?…Magic is the other classic option: daily performance of a banishing ritual such as the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram or the Sphere of Protection, or the use of other methods of protection and blessing, will typically do the job in short order.”

    How long is short order? Weeks, months, longer?

  11. Your observations about pornography and romance reminded me about an insight Polygon, a gaming media outlet of all things, made in a video. It was that pornography and melodrama, which overlaps with romance, share a characteristic with horror. All three are all body genres and are intended to make the reader or viewer feel the same emotions as the protagonists, whether it’s lust, sadness, or fear. They’re not intended to make you think.

    Now I’m wondering about the occult effects of watching horror beyond learning incorrect ideas about the occult!

  12. @JMG,

    My question is only tangentially related to the metaphysics of sex – it’s got more to do with ritual and symbolism – but since you seem to know a lot about ritual and symbolism, too, I figure I might as well go ahead.

    Why do you think it is that circumcision has such an enduring and widespread popularity as a religious/coming-of-age ritual?

    Some people will just say that it’s because traditional religions are sexually repressive, and then leave it at that, but there’s got to be more to it. Yes, circumcision is practiced by orthodox Jews and Muslims, whose religion combines a fairly restrictive sexual morality with a positive view of procreation, but it’s also practiced by the Bantu and the Filipinos as a coming-of-age ritual, and by a bunch of promiscuous Polynesian cultures. You even find this ritual in the Cult of Progress, where since the 19th century doctors have ascribed to it a shifting range of dubious health benefits and gotten most of the American population on board with circumcising their children in a culture which, for most of its existence, had been glad to be rid of circumcision along with most other elements of Old Testament law.

    So what is it about celebrating the birth of a baby – or advancing a boy into young manhood – by cutting off part of his penis, that has made it such an ubiquitous ritual in so many seemingly-unrelated cultures?

  13. John–

    Is the “standard” alternation of genders in the various bodies related to the path of the lightning path between the two pillars of force and form?

  14. Holy crud JMG, what a couple of bombshells! Gendered nonphysical bodies, of course! This explains a great variety of interpersonal and inner-life experiences I’ve had. The universe is ever moving; therefore, a facet of a being must either be organized around movement-in, or movement-out, which we call female and male. I have so many questions, it’s ridiculous and glorious! I’ll do my best to reduce them down to 3.

    1. How can you tell if a person’s nonphysical bodies have an unusual gender composition?
    2. Can a human being truly be completely healthy without intercourse, or will other methods inevitably end up being a band-aid rather than a complete replacement?
    3. Can nonphysical gender be changed or warped through a significant etheric/astral/mental trauma or effort?

    Sorry if this is too much! Much thanks as usual for your measured frankness. I swear, this topic is taboo-bingo; occult, plus sex, plus gender? Wow!

  15. Thank you for writing on this in more detail.

    I am not the original poster of the masturbation question, but followed it very closely since it hit very close to home. I’ll share some of my experiences here, in the hopes that, like the original poster helped me, it might help others.

    I’m in my late 30s and was a daily masturbator since I was a teen. The internet was just getting started in those early days, but of course porn was to be found even then. I was lucky, in that even though this was the case, I met my wife in my mid 20s and we are still happily married today. My wife didn’t mind if I masturbated, though I doubt she knows just how often it would happen. It always felt like some dirty thing that needed to be hidden, and while I knew it was an obsession, I tricked myself into thinking that I wasn’t hurting anyone else with it.

    But the truth of the matter was that I was hurting my relationship. I would find myself spending a lot of time alone each evening, ignoring my wife and family. I would masturbate occasionally so much that i’d hurt myself, and then would avoid sex with my wife. And there were even times a few times that i did not clean up after myself, had sex with my wife, and she ended up with a yeast infection.

    I am fairly certain that I had a demonic entity attached to me that was feeding off the activity due to several interesting things that would occur when I would try to kick the habit. There is one particular instance that happened more recently, where I decided to delete the browser I used to surf porn. My computer crashed. So I reloaded an early windows image, and then decided I’d just delete the short cut. My computer crashed again. So I decided to go scorched earth and reinstall Windows. Then an external hard drive I used to store many of my creative works stopped working. I’m computer savvy enough that I was finally able to navigate all the pitfalls this thing was throwing in my way, but it took a long time.

    I haven’t kicked the vice completely, but I’d down from every day, to about once a week/every other week. The big turning point for me was when I picked up The Druid Handbook last year and started doing a daily Sphere of Protection. I was doing the SOP in the evening, and if I masturbated before hand, the SOP just felt sluggish and weak, and it made me feel like I was covered in grime and having difficulty getting it off. Thankfully, the SOP won out in that matchup, and I’ve been including the computer in the image of my banishings. I’ve also been training my Will with some of the tips posted on this blog, and if feels just like described, where my obsession just doesn’t have the same hold on me that it used to and I just don’t think about it all the time like before.

    On a slightly related note, I wonder what alcohol does to the various bodies described in your post. My sex drive is a lot higher than my wife’s, but she is always more willing after having a few beers. It makes me wonder what the effects are on the more subtle bodies. Does it encourage more etheric energy production that needs to be given out, or help the astral imaginings? As someone who rarely drinks, its not something I have much experience with, but thought it an interesting train of thought.

    As always, thanks for your posts, MM, and your books, JMG. They have helped to improve my life significantly.

  16. August, 5th 2020

    Dear JMG and Ecosophians,

    In my experience, discussions about sex/relationships usually degenerate into a battle of the sexes…. This leads me to think JMG is going to have his work cut out in moderating this comment section. So I just say be the best person you know how to be and treat everyone how you would want to be treated; more importantly, treat everyone in your life like you’ll be stuck with them forever because you never know. It seems to me saying you want a sustainable long term relationship is the same thing as giving off the “wanker vibe.” Would I be correct in that assumption?

    Regarding keeping the spiritual and astral body clean… I have built a cabin in the woods and I have been considering moving into it on a more full time basis. It seems healthier than continuing to stagnant in my parent’s house. The final two amenities my cabin still needs are an outhouse and a wood-stove. Being in the cabin, also highlights the loneliness I feel. The absence of human company is…. profound. And as a man if I had to chose a partner to share the cabin with, it would be a feminine woman. There is a trail by my cabin, that disappears into the woods, and I know I could take my ax, hatchet, hand saw, and go down that trail and be all right, never returning. People say, you should be able to live with yourself alone and not need a relationship. I know I can do that. But I can see how life would be infinitely better with a partner. That’s why I haven’t cashed out of society just yet.

    I guess my question on the metaphysics of sexuality is this, is it better to offer solitude before nature or hubris in society…. Each condition being regarded as a phallus for the feminine to receive. All I can offer is solitude and I’m failing at the dating game miserably so that leads me to think hubris in society is better…. but is it really?

    Here is a link to a video on my Youtube channel, where I ruminate in my cabin on sustainable relationships…. Wow showing my face to the world. I have been trying to keep a video journal but the internet here is too slow to upload regular uploads. This video was made made back in June, 2020. No one else has posted just yet, and I look forward to this weeks comment section as a good diversion from the cacophony of this year.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJXUYmahAsQ

    Sincerely,

    Austin Levreault

  17. Thanks for this,

    Only last night I came across Dion Fortunes book on Purity while searching around trying to make sense of the giant purity ritual we seem to be living through at the moment. When I found the book was about dealing with sexual urges I had a good chuckle as you had mentioned that this was going to be the topic of your post this week. Tracks in space and all that.

    So following that prompting I went ahead and read it. Goodness, where was this information when I needed it. Understanding the problem the way she presents it, and the straightforward techniques to deal with the energy involved would have saved me from many years of misery and some very poor life choices. I really am quite dumbfounded by this. I do wonder if my younger self would have understood the solution as clearly as I see it in hindsight. Studying at the JMG university of diverse thought for many years now has changed me significantly.

    Still shaking my head about all this, but once again thanks.

    Zebby

  18. @ Coop Janitor – It was probably either Chris from Australia’s Fern Glade Farm, or me (Washington State) who mentioned the Whyte series. We read them in tandem, and had our own little book club going. 🙂 .

    Year before last, Whyte came out with a prequel to “The Sky Stone.” Called “The Burning Stone.” At first, it was only available in Canada, but I managed to get a copy from my library, on interlibrary loan. I don’t know if it’s been published in the US, yet. It’s the origin stories, of a lot of the people in “The Sky Stone.”

    Also, several places said that the book “Urther” could be read as a stand alone novel. So, I put it off til I had finished the rest of the series. I’m reading it now. I wish I had read it, where it naturally falls, within the series. Romano-British preppers. What’s not to like 🙂 . Lew

  19. Do you think there’s a connection between people with differences in the “typical” gender of their nonphysical bodies (etheric, astral, and mental) and the explosion in the number of transgender people in the past few years?

  20. Curious, every thought you think has effects, but a single stray fantasy isn’t going to have much effect on anything. (If it did, magic would be a lot easier than it is.) Repeatedly fantasizing about a specific person is another matter. If the person finds you attractive, that can lead to something; if the person doesn’t, you get the usual blowback from a failed love spell: you end up obsessed with the person, who can’t stand you. It’s generally safer to make up an imaginary person with the characteristics you prefer.

    Bruce T., here’s some info.

    David BTL, yes, very much so, and daily is helpful. I do it first thing every morning, just before my morning practices.

    Andrew001, yes, shocking though it is, that’s what I’m saying. 😉 As for repression and advertising, those two go together hand in glove. If you repress people’s natural desires, you can then use imagery that suggests the fulfillment of those desires to sell unrelated products.

    David BTL, I wish I did. I may have to write something on the subject one of these days.

    Phutatorius, in a certain sense. That’s the solo version of karezza, and it has complex but mostly positive effects on the etheric body.

    Kevin, cold water for the body, vinegar and salt (and a pinch of hot pepper!) for the home, and plenty of sunlight and fresh air for both will keep you etherically healthy; a diet full of minimally processed foods also helps. For astral hygiene, the daily banishing is essential, and you can add further levels of ritual practice on top of that. As for the polarity of your subtle bodies, that’s one of the most common variations — I have the same set of polarities, for example. The woman who’s right for you will also have a lot of trouble finding someone compatible to date.

    Patricia, excellent! Yes, that was a deliberate homage on my part, one of several bits of Dion Fortune I put into the Haliverse. Yes, if you have one of the less common polarity sets, finding someone else with a corresponding set is a very helpful thing.

    Pixelated, also excellent. Yes, precisely.

    Aidan, good. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and so the excesses of the sexual revolution led with mathematical exactness to a general loss of interest in sex. As for the decline of feminine charm, that happens cyclically; things should start swinging the other way soon.

    Anonymous, depends on the nature of the infestation and the effort applied by the person involved. I know of people for whom the results were immediate, and others who had to work on it for a couple of years.

    Vincelamb, that’s a great theme for meditation. 😉 It’s not something I can answer from my own experience, because I generally loathe horror fiction. (Come to think of it, none of the body genres hold my interest.)

    Wesley, I have no idea. That’s an intriguing question, but I don’t know the answer.

    David BTL, that conclusion has been drawn by some writers, yes.

    Derpherder, (1) that takes reflection on your own experience, mostly. For example, I don’t need the kind of rush of inspiration that so many male writers and artists get from infatuation with an attractive woman, and I seem to do a fair job of inspiring other people to think and take action; ergo, unlike most men, I have a masculine mental sheath. Equally, I tend to be fairly sensitive about certain aspects of my environment, and my creative work thrives best when I’m working with images and ideas that other people have already brought into being; these and many other points tell me that, again unlike most men, I have a feminine astral body. (2) It depends on the human being. Some people are asexual, and neither need nor want sex at all; some people are mildly sexed, and can take it or leave it; some people are very strongly sexed, and regular intercourse is essential for their material, etheric, and astral health. (3) No, it’s apparently innate, but there are various complexities that can cause odd reactions in the subtle bodies and their gender.

    Anonymoi, thanks for this! Alcohol stimulates the etheric and astral bodies while relaxing the physical body, so yes, increased desire and decreased inhibitions are known effects. It won’t create desire where that doesn’t exist, and it’s most effective at quite modest doses — say, a few beers.

    Austin, no, it’s not the wanker vibe — it’s just that a great many people are very wary of committing too much too soon. With the state of male-female relations in our society being as confused and toxic as it is, that’s not surprising! As for your question, men in times like these have been asking themselves that for many centuries, and the only answers they find are personal ones.

    Zebby, Fortune’s theory of sex has some problems, which is why I’m not quoting her word for word, but even with its problems it’s vastly better than the conventional wisdom in modern society. That’s one of the reasons I’m putting so much time into getting these ideas back into circulation!

    Smilin’ Don, much of the transgender thing strikes me as a stunning example of misplaced concreteness, not to mention collective amnesia. When I was a young man, not all that many decades ago, it was a commonplace of the better sort of psychological and self-help literature that there are many different masculinities and femininities, many different ways of being a man or a woman, and that gender was complex and nuanced and functioned on many different levels. Somehow that collapsed into a situation where kids are being told that if they don’t like the rigidly defined gender stereotype of their material gender, they must be surgically mutilated so that they can conform to the rigidly defined gender stereotype of the other gender! To answer your specific question, though, I’m not sure. It may be one of the factors, certainly.

    Someone, more often than not, but there’s a lot of variation. For example, if you reincarnate very quickly after your previous life, your astral and etheric bodies and your mental sheath may repeat the polarization of your last life irrespective of the material gender you have in the new body.

  21. That was an excellent essay! I learned so much, far more than I expected! I would love another article on the types of disembodied entities. I read Monsters over a decade ago, and now I think I should read it again (I was very surprised when I found out the occultist JMG was the same author as the collapse/sustainability focused JMG, and I think that’s when I started paying close attention to your views as someone who “gets it” and found your Archdruid Report).

    I know you have said there is a lot you would change in Monsters if you wrote it today. Maybe if you have extra time, one of these days (maybe on Dreamwidth?) you could write a brief follow up on these beings. It’s very difficult to make sense of all the competing mythologies, each culture says something totally different about them. Or… if you have a 2nd edition in the works, keep us all posted!!!

    Sincerely,
    Jessi Thompson
    anotheramethyst

    Side note: in Monsters, the stuff you said about Egyptian burial practices I think was spot on.

  22. Etheric starvation is real — I think that’s the reason so many people have an abusive relationship with food. Hyper-processed food imitates the etheric richness of lovingly homemade dishes without replenishing the etheric storehouse. One ends up cheated and saddled with lousy nutrition, too much fat, sugar, salt, and MSG, and the inevitable energy crash and shoddy feeling from eating too much of it. Porn, like junk food, lacks etheric punch yet seems to promise a shoddy form of comfort, so one returns to it like a dog to his vomit.

  23. I only started reading romance novels in the past five years or so. About a year ago, I began a nightly practice of the SOP and now I can’t tolerate the vast majority of romance novels. There are a select few, out of the vast quanities published, that focus on the characters and in which the sex scenes add to the story, rather than detract from it, and in which the emotional connection between the characters is healthy and realistic. I can’t tell you how many I’ve tried to read recently that I end up quitting in disgust or annoyance partway through – whereas before I would find them fluffy, light enjoyment. It’s really eye-opening to read here about the mechanisms that may be behind this.

  24. Considering today’s subject, if you’ll forgive me, maybe this would be an appropriate story to relate here:

    Heather, spinster and history teacher, plain, not to say homely and with a pronounced lisp, spent all her free time reading Norse mythology and fantasising about the Vikings. One sultry summer’s evening in her bed, with an electric storm raging outside, Heather read from her favourite saga before turning out the light and drifting off to sleep.

    Just then, there was an almighty flash and crash of thunder and the bedroom window flew open. Heather sat bolt upright in her bed and gaped in amazement as the lightning flashes illuminated an enormous red-headed man standing there. He was wearing a helmet with wings on it and had a grey cape draped over his shoulders revealing a bare chest rippling with muscles. In his right hand he held an oversized hammer. At once he strode purposefully across the room. Casting aside his cape and laying down his hammer, he leapt upon the bed and ravished Heather all night long.

    Just before dawn, he gathered up his belongings and headed back to the window. Turning to face Heather he said in a booming voice, “I leave you now, fair lady. I am Thor!”

    “Oh, yeth,” replied Heather, “tho am I, but wathn’t it marvellouth!”

  25. Wow, I had never even considered that the subtle bodies have genders polarizing them and guiding them to balance in particular ways. What a simple, obvious, and useful idea! It certainly better explains many of the irrational drives and idiosyncracies we all exhibit than can the rationalists’ preferred belief that an insufficient faith in their experts’ dogma will lead to moral failings (toxic masculinity, racism, transphobia, blah, blah, blah.)

    I keep finding more and more rationalist explanations of the quirky peculiarities of nature to be practically worthless for making any sense out of the complexities of the reality I find myself in. Actual science, logic, and mystical experience invariably yield better results. Fortunately, many rationalist tools become unexpectedly useful when viewed through and used with occult training. That said, I will now have to ponder Meyers Briggs personality profiling from the perspective of gendered subtle bodies. At first glance, it seems to be a pretty direct correspondence.

  26. It is good to know there are many levels and ways to be feminine or masculine. For myself, I have always felt content to be female. OTOH I could never get into any aspect of the vast arcana and esoterica known as “enhancing your attractiveness” – I’ve never had any interest in make up or clothes or shoes or any of a dozen other feminine “attractive-ness enhancers”, or understood anything about how they work. I completely missed out on the “shopping” gene… OTOH I’ve realised that (just like Pixelated above) I absolutely love cooking for appreciative appetites, whether one or many. I want to caretake and maintain other people all the time, whether they are children, sick people, old people, people who need caretaking, or gardens. I loved everything about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. OTOH I like having the kinds of conversations that are about refining the precision of common ideas, picking through the meanings of words, and encouraging thinking. What a bundle of interesting meditations I shall have considering what this might imply about my many genders and how they work.

    I’m not sure, but I suspect that I found the right for me, but also not quite standardly arranged, partner by accident… our one night stand is still going on 30 years later, so there’s that. I shall be having to think hard about his many genders, too.

    So all of that is very interesting. I think my own double binds, which I managed to begin to fruitfully take apart in my 20’s (I’m 60 now) were about being taught how little sexual initiative or desire a woman was supposed to have, while also being taught that I would be 100% responsible for any sexual interest any man ever showed in me. I would either have to do everything to make sure nothing came of it (modest clothes, modest acts, etc) EVEN WHEN I WANTED SOMETHING TO (double bind No 1) or I would have to live with the entire burden of the guilt if I could not successfully fend him off WHEN I DIDN’T WANT HIM (double bind No 2). If he was attracted to me, no matter what I had intended or done, I was already guilty of “leading him on”. But that meant it was really difficult to know how to *positively* lead him on if I wanted to, since I was already credited with some mysterious power to do it completely inadvertently and unintentionally.

    Anyway, I eventually came good with a partner who exerts no pressure on either point of that double bind.

    The last thing I want to say, is that, as the mother of sons who are in their twenties, I am painfully aware of the many “lost boys” of their generation. This kind of post is important, because there are many many things out of balance just now, and one of them is the lack of congenial places* where young folk can meet and mix and get to know each other in relative comfort and safety. Creating these is something a successful society definitely needs to attend to .

    *place being taken in its broadest sense including “states of mind”

  27. After running and boxing, the only exercise I get, really, I love ice cold water in the shower. Over the years, for reasons not clear to me (until now) I would say to myself ‘Get closer to God’ as I turned the dial full-tilt to that oh so lovely temperature. Thanks JMG, this was great and I’m very much looking forward to other ‘by request’ posts to come!

  28. @JMG – no wonder so much fan fiction is written by women! My own handful of published published stories are exactly that – the author said this; I have a different answer/can fill in the plot hole/etc. So it does seem my astral body is feminine. That’s one of the data points I was looking for. Thanks!

    And eleven novels of Lovecraft fanfic in an entirely new persepctive is no mean accomplishment!

  29. @ JMG – Well this explains some things, and raises other questions…
    1 You mentioned in a reply to someone else that you are not a fan of body fiction, including horror. Yet you seem to be a huge fan of Lovecraft. I guess you’d classify Lovecraft as sci-fi rather than horror?
    2 I now know two people who have decided to change physical genders. While I’ve been friends with both, before and after, gender re-assignment has never quite set right with me. I’ve always brushed those feelings off, because I figure that its not my body, and I’ve generally felt comfortable about who I am in a gendered sense (setting aside typical teen awkwardness and confusion). I wonder if more people would forgo gender reassignment, if they were more in touch with these various bodies?
    3 I set aside writing my alternate history novel about two months ago, because I had a very vivid dream that I felt compelled to write down immediately after I woke from it. When I re-read what I had written down about it a day or two later, I realized that I had to turn it into a short story. Two months later, short story is quickly sprawling into a novella (I’m trying and failing to keep it under 10k words). While I am not consciously drawing inspiration from my wife, the character upon whose death the action of the story hinges, and it was seeing her murder, in my dream, that has been the strongest image from said dream that is driving my need to create. I have more questions on the subject but need keep this question shorter. Is being inspired by a female in a dream correspond to the source of inspiration for the mental sheath of the typical male?

  30. Regarding the potential revival of feminine charm:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing that, though it may be difficult with the continuous threat of the Nietzschan “slave revolt” of Twitter’s Eye of Sauron.

    I believe I discussed with you in a previous blog on the “violence cycles” theory, whereby in rising-crime times (i.e. Romantic-Gothic Era, Jazz Age (1900-33), and Classic Rock/New Wave Era (1959-92)) people are counter-intuitively more outgoing. Meanwhile in falling-crime times (i.e. Victorian Era, mid-Twentieth Century (1934-58), Millennial Era (1993-2018?)) people are more “cocooning”.

    Regarding the subjects of femininity and sexual wholesomeness, traditionalists have always IMO
    been way too nostalgic about the mid-Twentieth Century, especially in the 1950s. Mid-Century Hollywood was the Golden Age of fast-talking
    , dismissive, and sassy broads on the silver screen by contrast to the “Beautiful Dolls” of the early 20th Century, fun-loving “It Girls” of the 1920s, and super-soft honey-babes of the New Wave Era.

    Regarding sexual wholesomeness, there may have been less sexual activity in the 1950s but it was the first Golden Age of BDSM (i.e. Bettie Page), sleazy comics, torture comics, and babes in bondage.

  31. Well, this was absolutely fascinating. Thanks, JMG.

    I mentioned that I’ve recently been reading some female romance/erotica (purely for research purposes, of course) and one of the gimmicks I saw was for the female protagonist to take on male sexual characteristics. Now I realise that specifically it was male on the astral plane. I don’t think the writer knew what she was doing cos it was very clumsily done, but now it makes me want to read a version that is done well.

    By the way, here’s a free business idea: Druidic Relationship Counselling. You could do consultations online. Pretty sure with this framework you’ll help a lot more people than the standard marriage counsellor.

  32. Asking for a friend who would never act on these impulses of course, but if someone occasionally entertains fantasies about sexual violence and then quickly recoils in horror and shame, does that mean they can safely ignore those suggestions without the accompanying guilty by rationalizing that they came from an external source? Is it like getting images and ideas stuck in ones head after watching some of the more degrading forms of pornography? Is also possible the external force is feeding off the guilt and shame?

  33. Thank you Mr. Greer for these insightful comments. It is good to hear someone talk about sex who is not approaching it from obviously one side or the other of the culture war. Your article led me to a few questions.

    First, I notice that throughout history, from the Bible in Genesis chapter 6 all the way through more than a few modern rock stars, people report the experience of having sex with malign, spiritual entities. To put things in contemporary terms, people claim to have sex with succubi and incubi. Are these beings demonic? Are they some other kind of entity? I have always heard of these encounters having a dark vibe, although they often are also associated with gifts of strength or talent. Are sexual encounters with non human entities always unhealthy or can they ever be positive and affirming?

    Second, as far as I can tell it seems like there is a pattern in history. During the rise of empires the masculine, assertive, warlike impulse seems like it is in ascendancy. During the flowering of an empire the creative, artistic, feminine impulse rises to prominence. During dark ages neither gender seems like it is at its best as a people recuperate their spent strength. That is a very rough snap shot of how I see things. Regardless of whether that pattern is all encompassing, it seems like right now our society has seriously disturbed views of sexuality. It feels like we have embrace a view of sex that pits the masculine and feminine against each other, that our view of sexuality is tearing people down instead of building them up. What can be done to prevent us from falling into a disjointed, broken state as we descend into the post industrial world? Or are we doomed to watch things get worse before they get better?

    Finally, you indicate that using pornography or reading romance literature for inspiration during masturbation is unhealthy since it gives our minds the wrong images to fixate on. Do you then believe that masturbation is always an unhealthy practice, or is it only unhealthy when it is accompanied by unhealthy mental projections?

  34. Jessi, hmm. I’ll put some thought into it. It’s been years since I’ve even glanced at Monsters.

    Kimberly, yep. A huge number of things in contemporary life follow that same pattern — they pretend to fill a need without actually filling it, thus leaving people in a state of chronic starvation that keeps them always chasing after more.

    Ip, that makes a lot of sense.

    Hereward, heh.

    Christophe, it really does explain a lot, doesn’t it? As for the rationalists, that’s always what happens at the end of an Age of Reason: the “reasonable” dogmas of what is by then an institutionalized establishment get so absurd that people stop believing them. A little later you get the sorting process by which the useful discoveries of the Age of Reason are salvaged and the rest is chucked into the dustbin.

    Scotlyn, many thanks for this! The desire to nurture is one very common way that a masculine etheric body expresses itself, and cooking is a common venue for that — a good cook charges the food he or she makes with etheric force, so that it’s even more vitalizing than the ingredients make it.

    Jeff BKLYN, that’s a grand old traditional practice!

    Patricia, you’re welcome and thank you. One of the things writing the Haliverse helped me do is really get a handle on the structure of my own creativity, for what it’s worth.

    Ben, (1) Lovecraft was trying to write horror, but none of the things that scared him scare me, so I can read his work as fantasy and enjoy the ever-living Tsathoggua out of it. (2) I think so, yes. (3) That’s one way inspiration can happen, yes.

    Aidan, well, that’s one of the reasons I’m not a traditionalist. 😉

    Simon, interesting. As for your career suggestion, maybe so, but somebody else will have to do it — I’ve got about as much as I can handle with my careers as writer, blogger, and astrologer!

    Petrock, those are all possibilities. The thing is, sex and violence are wired together in weird ways in the human psyche anyway; fantasies of being raped, for example, play a larger role in the imaginations of many women than most people want to talk about these days. (That doesn’t mean they actually want to be raped, of course — it’s simply one form taken by the fantasy of being the object of desire of a dominant, powerful man.)

    Stephen, (1) sexual encounters between humans and nonhuman entities go way back and take many different forms. Shamans in many Siberian tribes marry and have sex with their guardian spirits, for example, and most of the world’s mythologies include stories of sexual relationships between deities and humans. Some relationships of this kind are unhealthy, but others are quite the opposite — that’s why I made human-Great Old One relationships a theme in my tentacle fiction. (2) We’re going through a rough patch right now, for complex reasons; I see good reason to think that things will balance out in the years immediately ahead, though. (3) It can be perfectly healthy, so long as arrangements are made to deal with the etheric imbalances. That was one of the points of my post…

  35. JMG, thanks for your answers and discursive meditation fodder! Upon thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am probably … physical masculine, etheric feminine, astral masculine, mental masculine? Is that even possible? Regardless, I found an enormous wellspring of possibilities when meditating on this, and I wasn’t even using it as the main topic! I’m going to have to revisit this many times, I can feel it.

    @Pixelated
    Growing up in deep Blue America as I have, it’s always useful to be reminded that many people can’t split roles equally and maintain a good relationship. Perhaps that hyperfocus on smoothing over gender differences has something to do with the frenetic energy of me and my fellow young people. I sometimes feel like our culture has abandoned reason all together. I wonder if reason is sort of like clean water; civilization relies upon it, but pollutes it slowly it over the course of it’s expansion, until we are all drinking from a poisoned well even as we shrilly insist on the wonderful quality of the water.

  36. First would homosexuals generally have a different set of gendered bodies going up the planes? Second how would you discern your own personal gendered bodies and the people close to you?

    Thanks John with each essay the world makes more sense.

  37. Does the etheric body see a different world as it rides around with the material body? Does it see other etheric bodies as easily as we see other people? If so, is there a way for us of the material inclination to see what the etheric body sees?

    In situations where people stand closely together, like at concerts, the etheric bodies would overlap. Does anything rub off from other bodies and does one share etheric bits of oneself in the same way? It certainly sounds like even though larvae can attach to etheric bodies, the etheric bodies still don’t have enough substance to bump into anything. How does this work?

    I’m guessing all these questions and more have been asked and answered many times. Is there a book on the subject you would recommend?

  38. Hereward – the Thor story is one of the oldies but goodies – ROFL and passed it on to a friend.

    I do find the image of Thor in the current version more Marvel Comics than Dark Ages – my youngest grandson is a great fan of the YA novels based on the Marvel Comics version of the mythology! One thing the lore does show, though, is that Thor can laugh at himself, and hold his own in a duel of words with Odin himself. (And runs around with Loki far more than the comics version would have it.

    Though I loved the Easter Egg at the end of the Dr Strange movie where Thor shows up in Strange’s office and materializes an endless series of 40-ounce beers. That’s Thor for you!

    I now return our readers to more metaphysical topics. Hail, Thor

  39. JMG,

    Thank you for the advice! It turns out I’ve been doing most of what needs to be done for inner plane cleanliness. I suppose part of my issue right now is that I’m becoming aware of just how grubby the inner planes are around here right now….

    As for the woman who’s right for me, I highly doubt there is one for me in this life. I have a remarkably debilitated 7th house, and I’ve made peace with the fact that my love life is likely to never go anywhere, and if it does I should probably run: I have a T-square featuring my 7th house ruler, Venus, Mars (in the 7th), and the ruler of my ascendant.

  40. Derpherder, it’s entirely possible. If you’re 3 masculine and 1 feminine, though, your etheric body is going to have to take in a lot of energy to balance out the output of the other three bodies. Are you the kind of person who loves to be out in the sun and fresh air, and wilts if you have to stay indoors all the time?

    Will, (1) not necessarily. Some of the gay men I know, for example, have the standard pattern — they’re the ones down at the gym all the time — while some have the reverse pattern — they’re the ones who have fabulous taste in home decor and love to cook for everyone. (2) It takes reflection and self-knowledge, mostly. It’s also a good theme for meditation. 😉

    Piglet, each of the bodies has its own senses. You can learn to cultivate astral and etheric vision, and most people have at least some sense of etheric touch. (W.E. Butler’s book How to Read the Aura, Practice Psychometry, Telepathy, and Clairvoyance is a good resource here.) Etheric bodies can bump into other etheric bodies, but etheric substance and physical matter pass through each other without interference. As for books on the subject, hmm — I can’t think of one off hand.

    Kevin, yeah, that’s not exactly favorable.

  41. John—

    How would this translate to the metaphysics of other strong emotional states which one might confront? Anger/rage, for instance, or deep sorrow. Are there distinct techniques to manage the etheric and astral aspects of these states as well?

  42. Kimberly Steele – My experience with etheric starvation is that it essentially springs from loneliness that is too overwhelming. My food sin of choice is Mac and Cheese…. That MAC+C, is a staple of the American diet is telling about the state of etheric energy in the USA…. Like JMG said in the post, men can overcome by running, exercising etc. to regain some of the balance; I speak from experience that this does work, but only to a point. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem, at least for me running doesn’t solve the problem. It just keeps me strong.

    If anyone wants to watch me enjoy a ten mile run, maybe sponge some residual etheric energy, here is the video. =) Sometimes you just have to go the distance.

  43. @JMG

    An unparalleled resource for aspiring story tellers! Thanks for opening the door a little and letting our minds drink in the realities of a wider world.

    @IP

    Useful insight into the preferences of a seasoned romamce reader. interesting that the SOP can guide healthier preferences in that way.

  44. After last weeks post about the future, it sure does feel good to be swimming in the land of occult yet again.

    When it comes to taking and receiving from others. In the realm of the male using a female muse, would this in a sense take something from the female? Or would it create something that is greater than the sun of its parts?

  45. Thank you very much for this post!

    I am pleased to report that I seem to already doing most of what you recommend in this essay. Particularly the spiritual hygiene. I work outside, in the fresh air, in nature, plenty of physical labor. Occasionally I have cold showers, though I tend to find I need these the most when I’m in a big city. I don’t do banishing rituals because I’m not doing much in the way of higher plane occult work (they don’t feel important at this stage of my life).

    As for sex and masturbation (I’m a young straight white heterosexual male), your description of the different bodies fits more or less perfectly with how I experience sexual attraction. The Media will obsess of course over women’s physical bodies, though I tend to find what really attracts me to a women is her ‘vibe’. I find to I can experience an attractive ‘vibe’ in real life or though a tv/electronic screen. how much of their ‘vibe’ is real I may never know since I’m unlikely to ever meet any of the actresses I find attractive. Do you have anything to say about this? Physical attraction is usually a more secondary interest.

    As for pornography, I am occasionally tempted, though its usually only 5 to 10 minutes at a time, about once a week at the most. I don’t usually masturbate to the porn either. And I’ve manged to find some ‘tasteful’ online porn sites. Or I might sometimes be tempted to look up pictures of (clothed) women I find attractive (though don’t usually know in real life). A little pleasant visuals is a bit like candy. A little bit is nice as a treat, though too much is quite unhealthy.

    I’m not sure how exactly to describe my different bodies in your scheme as masculine or feminine, though I do know I have quite a unique arrangement, which as one of your other readers has also noted, makes it quite difficult for me to find compatible female sexual partners.

    The other thing I constantly feel is a constant nagging sense of weariness about young women (I think I’ve talked about this here before). I don’t mean to sound boastful here, but I sense I’m a fairly desirable target for quite a few young women. Having looked at or read a reasonable about of heterosexual women porn/erotica, I’m more than a little wary of what they might be projecting on to me. And I’m extremely wary of the tangled complicated mess of heterosexual relationships these days.

    Anyway, thanks again for bringing up this topic!

  46. Romance novels? Somehow Sterne made it very sexy when Uncle Toby’s and Widow Wadman’s little fingers came into contact — and nothing more!

  47. >>Causal, by the way, is not the same word as casual! The causal plane is the plane of causes.

    I once summoned a spirit of the Casual Plane. He showed up ten minutes late, and his hair looked like he’d slept on it. Then I realized I wasn’t using a magic mirror, just a regular one.

    >> fantasies of being raped, for example, play a larger role in the imaginations of many women than most people want to talk about these days. (That doesn’t mean they actually want to be raped, of course — it’s simply one form taken by the fantasy of being the object of desire of a dominant, powerful man.)

    I think a couple of posters were hinting around asking for clarification on this without wanting to say so directly. Would entertaining such a fantasy (or its reverse, or similar situations where you definitely don’t want the physical thing to actually happen) be inadvisable due to either making such a thing more likely to happen to you on the physical plane or having other karmic implications?

  48. (I’ll stay anonymous for this one.)

    Huh. Based on your descriptions, my genders run M-F-F-M (not positive on this last one) from the physical up through the mental, and it does seem to explain some of the peculiar difficulties and dysfunctions in my love life, and my life in general, rather well. Let’s just say I’ve spent a lot of time pining for connection while oblivious to the woman in front of me wishing I’d make a move. (Kevin, I have also been told I was giving off very gay vibes during certain periods of my life, despite being as straight as an arrow.)

    On a different note, JMG, this past Magic Monday, you wrote: “A physically and mentally healthy woman radiates etheric energy, and being around her is good for a man, since most men need to absorb etheric energy. It’s when women are so tied up in neuroses […] that they have no energy to spare and men find them exhausting to be around.” Do you have any recommendations for a married man who happens to be in that situation?

  49. Oh, one other thing: based on your response to Anonymoi about alcohol stimulating the etheric and astral, unless I’m reading too much into it, the M-F-F-M configuration might help explain why I tend to enjoy it just a bit too much.

  50. “Thank you Mr. Greer for these insightful comments. It is good to hear someone talk about sex who is not approaching it from obviously one side or the other of the culture war.” YES. I am so tired of people assuming anyone straight is DTF literally anyone of the opposite sex (or anyone gay is DTF anyone of the same sex), otherwise you must be frigid or something. These days it seems like nobody’s allowed to have standards anymore, or boundaries anymore. Also, I’ve always sincerely believed there is some type of energy exchange with any sexual partner a person has, which is why I’ve never been interested in casual sex. Aside from it being a great way for a woman to end up dead in ditch, sharing my energy with someone who doesn’t care about me — or even like me — seems like a waste.

  51. JMG, thanks so much for the clarification. I got a very strange answer from some basic divination; that I am astrally not gendered, or balanced gendered. Is this a glitch in my divination, because that seems really out there!

  52. JMG,
    Suppose a young man were to suffer some kind of debilitating accident like a spinal cord injury, paralyzing him from the chest down, and essentially rendering his sexual organs useless (other than for urinating of course). Then suppose he had already gone through puberty, so he had the normal raging hormones of any healthy teenager at the time of his accident, but he still had never lost his virginity. Assuming his subtle bodies are functioning properly (other than the PTSD he probably has had to work through), he is mentally and emotionally lucid, and can imagine sexual fantasies the same as he could before, were would all that sexual energy go? How could someone like that deal with sexuality in a healthy way?

  53. Archdruid,

    “Second, there’s an emotional tone to demonic activity that, once recognized, is never forgotten: hot, inflamed, confused, excited, murky.”

    Isn’t that just plain ol’ lust?

    Regards,

    Varun

  54. I saw this discussion come up on Magic Monday, I’m glad it got expanded on, I thought it was really interesting. I’m not sure off the top of my head where I would fit in. I am biologically female, but masculine in personality, emotional make up (or in my case lack thereof) and (very niche) interests. I strike other people as being masculine, and any group I’ve spent any amount of time with will make me an honorary man without my ever having to campaign for the position. I suppose starting with the assumption I have the typical male pattern and seeing how it goes from there makes some sense.

    A few questions (I might have more later, when I’ve had time to think):

    Does it always alternate on planes like that? Can someone be, say, masculine on the material and mental planes and feminine on the etheric and astral planes?

    Can someone be, say, feminine on three planes and masculine on only one? This may have already been answered, to make sure I have this correct, that what you are on the material plane is dependent on your body alone, that you can’t be biologically masculine and feminine on this plane? If so, then someone whose other bodies are gender flipped might be in this situation? Are there any additional problems an imbalance like this might cause? Can someone be entirely masculine or feminine on every plane?

    You commented to someone above that a common way for a masculine etheric body to express itself is through the desire to nurture. Interesting, as the way our culture commonly talks about such things nurturing is an entirely feminine thing. It’s not a desire I’ve ever experienced myself, for better or worse. How might a feminine etheric body express itself?

  55. Any advice for a male who seems to have the m-m-f-m body you and Kevin talked about, who has found themselves in a long term relationship with a “normal” (f-m-f-m) woman, and wants things to make things work?

  56. Salutations JMG! I’m glad my question started such a fervor of interesting questions, now here’s a few of mine:

    You mention the larva on the etheric and demons on the astral. Is there a complexity scale here (intelligence limited to the astral, the etheric filled with the equivalent of fungus, grubs and worms) or can highly intelligent beings exist on the etheric plane as well?

    When a male masturbates and releases a bunch of etheric energy, does that energy go anywhere? If you search around some of the more anonymous corners of the internet, you can find a lot of talk about “loosh”, the idea being that embedding sigils and astral links in content men will masturbate to (or argue over heatedly, or just pay attention to) allows some mages to harvest that energy and use it to power some sort of magical working. I also recall the whole “masturbate to a sigil symbolizing your intent” idea in Chaos Magic, which started with Austin Osman Spare (I really hope you put the “brother of the 8th degree” joke in your Occult History of America posts when you get to him). Is there any basis for this? Does etheric energy “go” anywhere when it’s released?

    Also, some data points regarding my experiences with NoFap. For those who don’t know, NoFap is an online movement of young men who decide to forgo all pornography and masturbation in order to “reboot” the reward circuits in their brain. For removing addictions to pornography, the science appears to be sound, and the anecdotes report practically miraculous transformations. After reading many of the collected anecdotes from here: https://imgur.com/gallery/g4eGH which reported increased gains at the gym, increased sociability, being noticed by more people, being more sociable, more in tune with nature and happier in general, I decided I had to take this up and do the full 100 day reboot. It was one of the hardest feats of willpower and self discipline I’ve ever managed, but I did it. There was a stage a few weeks in where I felt extremely depressed and overly emotional, which I associated with withdrawal symptoms. It eventually passed, and about a month in I started to have this sense of internal strength. I was able to bounce back from disasters that would otherwise have laid me out emotionally. I actually started dating and went on a date for the first time in my life, and looking back I had a tremendous amount of silent yet strong confidence. I completed the mandatory 90 days, reached 100 and I think got to 120-something days before I purposefully relapsed. The problem was the “pressure” grew too great, and my thoughts and body were totally consumed in seeking a release for the pent up energy. I think some people naturally have a built up energy body or Taoist training that can transmute that unused energy into creativity and physical prowess, but I don’t (or things are blocked, which might be the case considering the blockages I’m dealing with in my CGD practice). There was a mid point where the increasing energy was giving me extra motivation and power, but once it passed that balance point most of my energy and willpower was spent just trying to contain the overwhelming energetic pressure (seems almost like a reverse peak oil situation). So that’s a data point for anybody wondering what it’s like to try and save up male etheric energy. The imgur gallery I’ve linked above has a great deal of success stories.
    Beyond specific Taoist practices, is abstaining from masturbation to “store up” personal power a good idea (i.e. before a major magical working)?

  57. “Will, (1) not necessarily. Some of the gay men I know, for example, have the standard pattern — they’re the ones down at the gym all the time — while some have the reverse pattern — they’re the ones who have fabulous taste in home decor and love to cook for everyone.”

    Hmm. Interesting. I’m curious how animus and anima (in the Jungian sense) fit into all of this, since that, to me, at any rate, figures into sexual orientation. I am a biological male, with presumably a female etheric body, a male astral body, and I guess a female mental sheath. I have always been strongly attracted to females, even from an early age. From a Jungian perspective, I attribute this to projecting the anima onto biological females, but does the anima in my case correspond to any of the bodies/sheaths, or is it something different? I don’t have one dispositor in my natal chart, but two: Mars and Venus. Mars I suspect is at the basis of my choleric nature. (Intense physical activity grounds it.) Venus I suspect is the source of my sense of aesthetics: in addition to refined tastes in art, architecture, music, clothing, typography, design, etc., etc., etc., I’m also the kind of person that needs to straighten out rugs on the floor and pictures on the wall; I can’t stand to see lack of balance and disharmony in my environment. So I’m the bull in the china closet who won’t disturb the china. I’m not sure how relevant that is, but I thought I’d mention it, because I don’t know how it implicates/complicates the animus/anima thing, and the body and sheath stuff.

  58. @JMG, all,

    Stephen D’s comment about the “creative, artistic, feminine impulse” raises an interesting question – just what is it about our present-day society that causes so many people to classify things like art and music as feminine? It’s been something that has bugged me for a long time, seeing as how it can be rather harmful for boys and young men to grow up in a culture that tells them that if they’re into classical music and the fine arts then they’re not fully male, leading many of them to either give up their artistic interests, or conform to an alternative stereotype of the effeminate man.

    And yet, most of the famous people involved in the high points of the western traditions of art and music were… men. Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Cole, Church, Monet, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and so forth. A few were homosexuals, a few more, for whatever reasons, had no known sexual relationships, but most of them were just heterosexual, masculine men.

    Obviously, sexism played a role in the overwhelming historic preponderance of men in those fields, but even today there are still plenty of art forms in which men dominate. (For example, if you are going to judge the “masculinity” of an activity by the proportion of men among those who can do it really well, then writing a symphony is one of the most masculine talents out there).

    And then there are art forms which are more balanced – i.e. women and men seem to have equaled each other as novelists for centuries.

    My own experience of growing up in a town with a lively music scene was that the spectrum went from composing (most masculine, and my own strong point), to playing piano, to playing other instruments, to singing (most feminine).

    So this really spins out into two question.

    1) Why do some versions of contemporary American culture, in the teeth of the evidence, deem an interest in things like classical music to be effeminate?

    2) What is actually going on with the astral and mental bodies when one is painting a landscape versus writing a novel versus singing a song versus writing a symphony, and does this have anything to do with the fact that women have had much more success breaking into some of these art forms than others?

  59. I’m probably astrally, etherically, and mentally feminine. While being physically male. 🙁

  60. @Scotlyn ermagerd, I know that double bind, too!

    Hmmm, it sounds also like putting together the concept of varied bodies and strengths/vigour of those bodies es (JMG response to Smilin’ Don, Kimberley Steele’s comment), we also need to look at something Fortune talks about, where polarity is also relative – I can have all my bodies lined up the usual female way, and have a generally receptive astral plane, but I can of course fertilize others with my ideas, if I am comparatively more masculine than them. When I’m the only woman in the hen house with the idea, I’m not necessarily secretly masculine on the astral, I could just be in that role right now.

    While some gender dysphoria is likely due to concretizing misunderstood variations in body polarity from the norm, and it can also be from concretizing a harmful temporary or artificial starvation, overuse or constipation (think “everyone’s gay in prison” memes), it can come from over identifying with temporary less harmful roles we’ve been thrust into in society, as well. Madonna is famous for describing herself as having “a penis in my head”, because she was such an original artist, and that’s part of her bisexual identity. And that may well be true, but it also might be that the music industry was pretty intentionally being steered to unoriginality. If everyone around you is being stifled, can you mistake your relative bravery for a different sexual orientation? If you are a man who likes caring for children when you need to, are you actually “a woman” on the inside? I think the answer is still just “it depends”, and this too may also sometimes pass.

  61. David BTL, sexuality isn’t just an emotional state, it’s at least potentially an interpersonal interaction, so it’s governed by different rules. I don’t know of any distinct techniques for individual emotional states as such.

    Ian, you’re most welcome.

    Michael, not taking but receiving. A woman with the usual arrangement of polarities is masculine on the mental plane and so radiates patterns of meaning on whatever level the development of her mental sheath permits. On a very simple level, you get the guy saying “Loving you gives my life meaning,” and it goes up from there to Richard Wagner, who had to fall in love with somebody new in order to write an opera. (His wife was used to it, and used to write letters to his latest crush letting her know how to handle him.)

    BB, you’re most welcome. Sexual attraction through vibes is extremely common — the etheric plane is the plane of life energy, after all.

    Phutatorius, yes, but Sterne could write.

    Rohan, thanks for clarifying. The occasional fantasy isn’t going to have much effect. If you obsessively fantasize about it, the possibility exists that you could help bring it about.

    Username, if the marriage still works for you on other planes and you don’t want to have an affair, arrange to get regular massages from a female masseuse. That can cover much of the same territory.

    Thesseli, of course there’s energy exchange in every sex act, so your concerns are quite valid.

    Derpherder, it’s relatively unusual but I believe it does happen sometime. The question in my mind is whether you simply don’t interact on the astral, or if you sometimes take a masculine role and sometimes a feminine role.

    Ethan, I have no idea. You’d probably have to talk to someone who has experience with that .

    Varun, no, not at all. Those words are feeble attempts to portray a very distinctive and unpleasant experience.

    Hermit, (1) it doesn’t always alternate, so the pattern you describe is quite possible; (2) that also happens; (3) remember that “masculine” in this context means “projecting creative force outside the self,” not “having the characteristics common among people who have masculine material bodies.” A feminine etheric body is what most men have, and so it doesn’t express itself — it draws inward, rather than pressing out.

    Anonymous, make sure you have a very active creative life, so the excess etheric force has somewhere to go, and find other sources of astral stimulation — books are great for this.

    BoulderChum, (1) there are highly intelligent beings on the etheric planes as well. (2) No, you’ve gotten it backwards — men with the usual arrangement of polarities don’t release etheric energy in sex, they absorb it. That’s one of the reasons so few people get anything more than sticky fingers from Spare’s method of masturbation magic; unless you have a masculine etheric body (most men, remember, have feminine etheric bodies) you won’t project energy at all. I suspect Spare had one of the less common male polarity arrangements. (3) It’s used in a few Western magical systems but not in most.

    Someone, it would take about twenty pages to explain how the archetypes relate to the planes of being, and go from there to integrate that with astrology and the material I’m discussing, so — you knew this was coming, right? — I’m going to encourage you to meditate on it.

    Wesley, those are both highly interesting questions I can’t begin to answer. The first would require a lot of research into the history of American attitudes; the second — well, I’ve written novels, but I don’t paint or compose or sing (well, other than parodic jingles of my own creation, off key) and so can’t judge what’s actuallky going on in those other activities.

    Lincoln, if that’s the case, that’s the specific combination you need to experience in this life, and there will be a reason for it.

    Anonymoi, I suppose so, but it would be extremely rare. I doubt such a person would live long, either — so unbalanced a relationship to energy doesn’t make for old bones.

  62. @ JMG

    The universe certainly has a perverse sense of humor. I’m one of the least touchy-feely people I know and avoid serious relationships.

  63. “The hallmarks of demonic involvement are easy to recognize. First, there is something weirdly mechanical about these entities; people they influence do and say the same things over and over again in rigidly stereotyped patterns, and lose the ability to reflect on their words and actions and notice how bizarrely repetitive they’ve become. Second, there’s an emotional tone to demonic activity that, once recognized, is never forgotten: hot, inflamed, confused, excited, murky. Finally, the actions they inspire in human beings are always self-defeating and self-destructive.”

    This sounds like my family. They’ve become absolutely locked in a bizare pattern: watch the news, freak out about Covid, rinse and repeat. They’ve taken to screaming at their TVs, because the news is apparently that bad. They have nothing else to talk about, and will litterally repeat the same thing five or six times, convinced each time it’s something new; and they can’t seem to grasp that this is weird, or that all of their new arguments are the same as they used yesterday, nor the sheer damage to their own lives that they’ve caused by locking themselves in their home and refusing to step outside; nor how they’ve alienated so many people by losing their minds if someone doesn’t wear a mask, even in a park.

    I recognize that emotional state you’re trying to get at, because it’s what I feel whenever I’m near them. It’s weird, unpleasant, and remarkably distinct. It’s also very hard to put it into words, and although I think what you’ve put is the best I’d be able to do, it doesn’t do it justice.

    Aside from getting distance, what advice do you have?

  64. @Ian Duncombe
    Oh my GOD yes, the ideas I’ve gotten from JMG’s occult stuff are potent. One post about solve et coagula widened and contextualized a story of mine so completely, that a 2000 word fragment became an entire novella.

  65. JMG, greetings. I’ve read and appreciated your work for years. Thank you for your engaging and forthright thoughts. I have a question concerning the astral beings. I don’t know if this is common or odd, but I see what appear to be shadowy creatures once my eyes adjust to the dark. Sometimes birdlike, sometimes with what appear tentacle-like appendages around an orb whirling – at times propelling – toward me. They’re larger than fist-sized – perhaps pie-sized – and I don’t get the sense they inhabit me. Nor do I behave mechanically or match any of the descriptions you gave of possession. I have seen other images that are more clear and distinct (and pleasant!) – I know what they are. The preceding are shadowy. I follow a serious meditation practice, but don’t consider myself unduly clairvoyant.

    Also along the genders of planes; I’m a woman, and from descriptions, believe myself to be the following:
    Material: Feminine
    Etheric: Masculine
    Astral: Feminine
    Mental: Feminine

    Does the imbalance necessitate any sort of practice to balance them? Your thoughts are welcome.

    Many thanks.

  66. I’ve been addicted to pornography since my very early teens, and just can’t seem to shake the habit. What are your thoughts on the capacity for pornograhy to bend one’s inborn sexual orientations out of shape? Is the NoFap community on the right track in the perspective of occult philosophy? Is my problem causing me serious spiritual damage?

  67. @Wesley asked “1) Why do some versions of contemporary American culture, in the teeth of the evidence, deem an interest in things like classical music to be effeminate?

    2) What is actually going on with the astral and mental bodies when one is painting a landscape versus writing a novel versus singing a song versus writing a symphony, and does this have anything to do with the fact that women have had much more success breaking into some of these art forms than others?”

    Ooh, I have thought too much about this before, so I have ideas! WordPress ate it last time, so I will try to be more concise…there are (at least) 3 overlapping reasons:

    1) Arbitrary sexism: history is weird and contingent. For example,I once read a paper about how being a Secretary for an executive used to be a highly paid job for ambitious young men. Until, the wars put women there so men could fight, and then expectations and tropes had to change to try to shame women as being hypersexualized and stupid if they were in that position after the war, in an attempt to get them to go home and free up jobs for returning men. It did not work, so they decreased the pay. Then the men didn’t want the crappy maligned job back…

    2) Notional space shifts: Classical music is an example of a field that was once an open field for innovators of the classic male astral type. Now, it is a mature field where the classically female will flourish. So it actually *is* feminine now, but used to be masculine. This explains a lot of why women are so much more successful in STEAM and higher education fields in our aging culture, now…

    3) Law of opposition: Once 1) has been arbitrarily established, you will have to be a genuinely elite person of the opposite physical gender to endure the approbation of your society to do it. The biggest part of being elite at something, is the will and work put into it, and so that approbation will be a considerable thrust block allowing anyone with the inclination to use it to become spectacular, if they have the spark. Thus, while, say, most cooks are women, there will be proportionately more men in the elite field. Partly the sexism that made 1) happen in the first place (if men can do it, it must be awesome and highly paid!) but also… those men who stick with it are genuinely better, while given the law of averages in everything, the majority of the women will be mediocre. This happened in the opposite direction with the heyday of science (though here partly 2 could have had an effect) – let’s pretend there were 1000 men in lower science education puttering around for every Watson or Crick, but 3 lonely women for every Franklin. You could say, there were 1000 mediocre men getting in for every 3 women who made it in! But you could also say: 1/3 of the women in science used to be brilliant, but only 1/1000 men. t’s possible that as many of the brilliant women who were going to make it to the top, made it there, while the bulk of the mediocrities destined to fall into obscurity were men who got to study science, and women who got to study needlepoint. That’s why most of the time when we create affirmative action because “think of all the Ada Lovelaces being discouraged!” we maybe don’t actually make a field better. We just make more room to let more mediocre people move up. We made the lives of the few elite people easier, for sure… but that also might be diminishing their greatness. That also explains another mechanism for how despite more bloating in all our departments and more publishing, our STEAM fields don’t seem to be innovating the way they used to…

  68. One of the things that’s intrigued me from reading 4chan over the past several years is the tulpa phenomenon. A number of lonely young men claim to have created these autonomous thoughtforms, some as a platonic companion, others as a romantic or sexual partner, often basing them on their favourite fictional characters from anime and such. I was just curious what occult philosophy has to say about the morality, health, and safety of doing something like this? I would assume if it’s a personal thoughtform, it’s essentially just an advanced form of masturbating to your imagination, and thus safe as long you take care of the etheric loss – but I don’t really understand how these entities work. Is there a risk that people are actually attracting independent spirits instead, including harmful spirits such as succubi?

    Thank you for the fascinating essay.

  69. “It’s called that because it’s the plane through which the forces tracked by astrology function“ that was a great clarification and made astrology like 10 times more interesting to me. Is that true for all divination? oo…ooh The Astral Light makes more sense now.

    I am still confounded though. If the astral is, well imagination and images how is it that it is also physical, since it extends, I don’t remember how many feet from our bodies and comes out from the sun? I was picturing as something completely outside of physical and only perceived through the astral component of our minds.

  70. Sorry, I repeated your use of express to mean an outward sign, a symptom that one could point to and say, oh yeah, that’s a feminine etheric body. I’m not sure about this one, with regards to myself. I find being physically around other people exhausting and unpleasant, something that can require days of isolation afterward to recover my equilibrium, so I don’t do it very often. If I had to be more precise in what that means, I might say brain fried, overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion but too unsettled to sleep. The more people, the worse it is, the quicker it hits that point where I just can’t be here anymore. Is this having my energy drained away by too many other people, or absorbing way too much energy (and probably from etherically grubby environments/people)? I’m not sure which direction that goes in, or even just how I would be able to tell.

    I’m very certain I’m masculine on the astral, as for the mental I’m guessing feminine but might want to meditate a bit more on how much I need that spark of inspiration to get my mind rolling. This really has been a fascinating post. 🙂

  71. Firstly, I would like to express my thanks for this essay! It is so much different than the usual pablum about dating, sexuality and so on with its many double-binds on the internet.

    Wesley, and JMG, one interesting point about circumcision is, tat, as far as I know, it is mostly practiced in the tropics and subtropics, but even there it is not practiced everywhere. Anthropologists don’t have a conclusive theory, either.

  72. @JMG
    Have you read J.D Unwin’s Book: “Sex and Culture”?

    https://archive.org/details/b20442580

    His conclusions based on his observations of various cultures is that those who insist on virginity outside of monogamous marriage.

    Seem to be the most creative in many other ways. As sexual energy gets sublimated into creative endeavors.

    I don’t see this book mentioned much outside of conservative circles.

    What’s your thoughts on his book?

  73. I’ll stay anonymous for that one.

    Since a few Magic Mondays ago, prostitution came up as a subject, I would like to relate that there are indeed a few occult aspects of this. Firstly, women, who work as prostitutes, are often spent when in their thirties, presumably because of the consequences of extreme promiscuity on their non-material bodies (maybe undue energy loss or similar things). Then there is the fact that brothels, depending on their niveau (price niveau, for example), have, according to my very limited experiences, a more or less sleazy atmosphere about them, presumably because so many males, who visit prostitutes, are of a lower evolutionary grade, thinking, so to speak, mostly with the lower parts of their body.

    And regarding etherical connections with a sexual partner, sometimes this happens in brothels, sometimes not.

  74. JMG, you said that the gender of the non-material bodies are innate. Can they sometimes change their gender during a lifetime without trauma, manipulation or the like?

  75. Fascinating and insightful essay as ever.

    The mention of the benefits of cold showers at 39F (which is 4C, and a key temperature for water as it expands in volume each side of this) immediately made me think of Viktor Schauberger’s work on water and energy in Austria in the first half of last century. Most famously for log flumes (he was a forester) and understanding how trout travel upstream (and up waterfalls) with minimal effort. 4 degrees is typically the temperature at which the earth expels water in a mountain spring.

    Some very similar ideas – I guess you’ll be familiar with Schauberger?

  76. The idea of ridding someone of parasitic entities by jabbing a knife at them rang a bell.

    One of the ways I have dealt with poisonously narrow Basque nationalism is by researching foreign cultural influences, and at one time I had a good look at music and dance.

    Many Basque ‘traditional and immemorial ‘ dances come in fact from Iran, Arabia,(often Sufi origin) and of course France, but I recall when looking at sword and axe dances finding a ‘healing dance’ from Uzbekistan, I think, certainly Central Asia, which involved a circle of male dancers and one man dancing over and around the prone patient waving and jabbing with a knife. Whether women would have their own dance I have no idea.

    Do you have any perspective to offer on healing with leeches? In desperation and great scepticism an Iranian friend went to a leech doctor when Western medicine had failed to offer any treatment at all for a painful problem, only a diagnosis, and to her great amazement it worked.

  77. Thank you for this! Our industrial society doesn’t offer many useful frameworks for understanding sex, so it’s helpful to have something besides — and I’m being a tad glib here — the reductionist view of meatsacks having fun and occasionally making babies or the incoherent puritanical one that sex is gross and dirty, so only do it with your most special someone. (Opposite of one bad idea and all.)

    Plus, I had a similar thought as @Simon. Even if you don’t have time yourself, you’ve shown that any occultist who wants to pay the bills but isn’t keen on astrology could always try running an advice column instead.

  78. Excellent, thought-provoking article, and conversation. Thank you all! Having had experience in the “subject at hand” for the best part of 63 years I wouldn’t fall into the mistake of internal-labeling masturbation as a potential danger alone. As someone once admonished there is value in “learning to fly solo before you take passengers”.

    I have found it important to be spiritually present during any activity, especially sex, where being present means “self-aware”. Aware of being at all levels you mention, JMG. And … in spite of the fact I’d never read about the presence of disembodied entities in the etheric, and astral levels, as you describe … I’ve felt them. And consciousness is the first level of protection, and lends an immediate sense of assurance. As such there is no need to be afraid, but we have the option to be deliberately engaged in the act at more levels than physically and fantastically. I treasure my monthly “date” with the full moon on the beach even if those entities seem more present at those times.

    P.S. Mental note to read Fortune’s “Purity” from Pixelated wonderful stream of thought. I found The Sea Priestess made my spirit soar … 🙂

  79. This was so fascinating and thought provoking, John! Much more interesting than I was anticipating. When I get some time, I’ve got a lot of studying to do!
    I seem to be masculine in all but the physical plane. Among the guys, I’m known as one of the guys. I seem to clash with my husband in that we are both masculine in the etheric plane and have to take turns nurturing while the other one chafes watching the other one flub it up.
    So much to think about–so this is why misogi is so empowering. My waterfall is about 10 degrees, a little higher than the optimum, but I still have to take care entering it. The ritual involves vigorous exercises and shouting, and I often also alternate sprints with jogging to reach the waterfall. Then the ritual includes splashing the cold water on your thighs and shoulder and entering from the right arm and shoulder. That still takes my breath away in summer, so I am slowing it down and entering more gradually.
    Twice in the past month, the spirits at the waterfall (notably the four deities of purification, especially the first, Seoritsu-hime, the goddess residing in the rapids of rushing streams) have directed my attention to the eastern and southern sky. They have also pointed out that in the physical plane we have the ability to initiate movements and trends that they in the spiritual realms can empower. I’m not sure what to make of the southern and eastern heavens, though. Those are both yang: representative of arising and flourishing. Perhaps the gods are trying to encourage or empower me to bring something new about.

  80. I’ve been meaning to ask you about this, and this seems to be as good a time as any. You may have seen this Quillette article:

    https://quillette.com/2020/06/17/bad-vibrations-the-lies-universities-tell-their-students-about-sex/

    Here’s the first sentence: “Universities today bombard students with two contradictory messages about sex, effectively encouraging them to carry a dildo in their pocket, while lugging a fainting couch behind them.”

    The authors are obviously correct, but HOW did this mess come about??

  81. In your reply to Kimberly, you said: “A huge number of things in contemporary life follow that same pattern — they pretend to fill a need without actually filling it, thus leaving people in a state of chronic starvation that keeps them always chasing after more.”

    It strikes me that money itself perfectly illustrates this description. There is a great deal of chasing after it by performing work (often well-paid work) that feels like it serves no purpose (David Graeber’s book, undruidically entitled “Bullsh*t Jobs,” looks at this phenomenon in great detail), and the very feeling of being engaged in work that serves no purpose seems to leave people in a state of chronic starvation of a sense of worthwhile purpose…

    *Goes off to meditate on ways the feeling of worth and purpose feed the etheric body…*

  82. I’m a neophyte in most occult ceremonials, being a student of philosophy and metaphysics rather than a mage, but I was quite taken aback by the notion that the alternating gender of the bodies was to be considered another venue for special snowflake occultism. It honestly strikes me as a sloppy metaphysics.

    I may of course be wrong, but to my understanding the genders of the bodies in question should always be alternating.

    The only real properties existing in the cosmos being those which affect force in motion;
    Permeability (hot), (resistance (cold); and Capacitance (wet), and permeativity (dry). With Hot and Wet acting as the male axis upon the feminine properties of Cold and Dry on the atemporal and temporal axis respectivly.

    Thus the genders of do not reference people’s identity but forces in motion; action (male) and reaction (female). The force (masculine) always creates the form (feminine) on a lower plane. The Form nurtures the force below.

    Thus each lower body is an emanation of the higher body. As above, so below.

    A Mental Force (Male) will create a pushback from the lower plane when it penetrates it, which creates the Female Form (Astral body). The Astral body nurtures the Etheric Force (Male), which then penetrates into the material form (female).

    The way I have understood it, this interplay between the active and passive principle is causal, and can therefor not be varied to any degree. The lesser planes MUST conform to the higher ones and if they don’t, suffering and despair follow as the effected individual has got his/her wires crossed.

    An example here being young men who have suffered from different forms of sexual abuse in their childhood or pre-teens who as a consequence of that trauma will engage in “wrong sexed” sexual practice in an attempt to make the material conform to the damaged etheric body.

    The notion that the qualities that you are looking at are the result of the genders of the body, seem modern. Most older teachings would claim the qualties that you are reffering to are the result of the unique the balance of the finer elements of the indivudual.

    That is, the “genders of the different bodies” that you refer to, are the properties of the astral body itself and not attributes of any other body. If the Astral body is male, then the physical body be Male as a consequence. Any “feminine” personality traits in the individual are properties of the astral body (say exalted Venus in midheaven, with Mars in detriment square sun in 12th house). The personality thus being the result of what the ancients called the balance of the 4 elements.

    As I said, I am a nephyte, so where do I go wrong here?

  83. Dear JMG,

    How fascinating — many thanks for this perspective!

    From my life I see that a huge element of my transgenderism has been difficulties in internal polarization, viz. my physical body is masculine, my etheric body is masculine, my astral body is feminine, and my mental body is masculine. For this reason, especially prior to transgender intervention, my astral body had to do all the polarization of the rest of my bodies. This I found induced a tremendous tension in my astral body: I had extreme sensitivities to energy, to people’s thoughts and the like. This includes a lot of spooky stuff like frequently having a direct awareness of other people’s thoughts, which was validated over and over again.

    Besides the shamanic elements of my transgender experience — the years of liminal madness, the slow road towards a reintegrated personality, and the like — the medical portions fit in with your analysis in an interesting way. That is, while taking hormones especially, I felt a huge relief from the tremendous tension in my astral body. The sense of inner strangulation, crackling tension, and tearing subsided. My dream life improved and I learned how to laugh.

    That said, I do feel a sense of subtle discomfort and grief regarding the whole affair. I remember when the initiatory shamanic madness descended in earnest and I desperately called every elder I could think of, trying to find someone who could help guide me in the least little way and finding no one had the least little understanding of what I was going through, and furthermore, incapable of being truly sympathetic. People could tell I wasn’t quite “trans” but could also grok how “trans” could unify all my problems under a single banner, and besides, I was just another weird traveling kid blowing through the circuit.

    It was at that point I think that if an elder had been able to see what I was going through I could have, perhaps, avoided surgical mutilation and years of medical intervention. If someone could have seen me and said, “look, you’re a shaman, here’s how it works, good luck kid,” I could be in a very different place today. Of course “shamans” in those neopagan contexts were folks who did more than the average amount of drugs, and so I was hard out of luck and I only had the inner resources to understand the bulk of these incandescent, galvanizing, and transformative spiritual experiences as _medical crises_.

    Of course, with any honest analysis I must conclude that I had karma I directly worked out through my suffering involved in this, and so I can’t complain since this was a case, at least in large part, in which the suffering was its own reward. Interestingly, when I stopped taking hormones a lot of my old sensitivities returned in earnest, and I’m glad to say that I’ve gotten the experience of learning to live with them without a medical crutch. In closing, I’m grateful for the conceptual framework you shared here, JMG. I find it very helpful for examining my own experiences with a greater degree of discernment, granularity and subtlety.

  84. For what it’s worth – my closest friends have always been women, but when I was down at the senior center in Albuquerque sitting with men and women both, the men talked, the women were quiet, and I ended up sitting with and talking to the men – who seemed to accept me as an honorary men. My taste for jeans, T-shirts, and flannel shirts probably helped that along considerably. Here in the Florida retirement center, where the women are active and the men quietly sit and drink beer and watch the Gators on TV, I get along better with the women. Not sure which of the four bodies is involved here, though I do like to sound off when I feel free to do so.

    As for gay men: Jay, the priest of my Circle, is a skilled cook and loves to do it. His partner immediately took to moving the furniture, painting everything, and redecorating. Again for what that’s worth.

    And on the subject if being different in so many ways: many years ago,Jay gave presentations on that very topic: that your biological sex, the sex you felt you were, your sexual ornamentation, and whether you were butch or femme, were four completely different things. So you could have a straight woman who felt very female and was as butch as a longshoreman, for example. (Out West they don’t invite as much comment as elsewhere.) This was long before today’s emphasis on micro-identities and special pronouns. And the one transwoman I knew well, turned out to be XXY chromosonally, for what that’s worth.

    Pat, with much data and precious little ability to interpret it.

  85. FYI for the dudes: it is possible to masturbate without using fantasies. I recommend it for anyone who wants to move away from porn or fantasizing about different people. It is helpful also for getting to be “in the moment” with yourself. It’s a way to play with yourself without getting into all kinds of crazy head games 😉 As such, more etherically clean for those times when you need physical release, and your partner, should you have one, isn’t in the mood. I suspect also for those here who are single playing with yourself sans fantasy might be a good way to relieve some pressure while finding a mate (ejaculation is healthy for your prostate). Then when you are in a relationship with someone you’ll have had some practice getting out of your head and into your body.

  86. JMG,

    I only want to say that it make great deal of sense and fit very bad break-up and aftermath in my early 20ties that I am not even so sure I am fully recovered yet; I wish I knew it at 22.

    -changeling

  87. Thank you JMG!

    Yes… so pleased you touched (pardon the pun) on this subject that I’ve seen come up again and again in posts. Killing a few larvae and demons there in one fell swoop 🙂

    Fantastic and clear explanation.

    And again… the real take-away is balance… The Middle Way.

    Lovely reMINDer.

    Thank you ~

  88. Several questions – I am a survivor of multi-generational incest. How does that affect the astral body? Is there a magical way of ridding the bad stuff or is that a part of karma? I have received treatment for the abuse, which is still a part of the bedrock to my personality i.e. it started at 4 years old.

    I started off thinking of myself as male, and after becoming a mother, female. Is this different aspects asserting themselves?

    I wonder about gender trends of today. Is this a response to the Victorian morality of binary sexes or a response to the modern era? Or is it something else.

  89. about sex and food. A lot of people who have sexually abused (male and female) that I know are fat. . I see food as a substitute for sex. As a life-long cook, I can understand how feeding and being fed is erotic.

    Chocolate seems to be the drug of choice for the women with TDS. Chocolate and wine. There is an erotic aspect to both. Besides the religious qualities of both (Aztecs, Greeks), is there a ritual aspect to these two substances?

  90. Pixelated if you describe the bad things, then the bad things are described. However, no one lives in a cartoon bad-thing world. There’s no Maximum double-plus with double-sauce wandering around, we’re all living in a muddling middle place, or at least I hope so. So yes, you can describe the world as Christmas or a funeral, or also as the other 363 days. Nobody lives a stereotype. I think they’re dangerous, in the sense to focus on, enlarging their importance and prevalence as we seem determined to do lately. That leads to a different flattening: that we must always be breathless with love, or not eating but instead feasting, super-perfect, uber-male, or uber anything. We’re never are, because we’re humans. That’s why to relax. That’s how to release neurosis, an over-fixation on something, or a thing we’re told we are required to be, as much in feminism or progressiveism, popularity, new-age modern religion more than even Christianity. …Talk about repressive; at least those guys say you’re a sinner and that’s alright with me. I reject the stereotypes. Clearly as everywhere else they are both harmful and prevent a wider, complex, more real understanding. Yes, there are bad things: don’t do them, just as you wouldn’t commit crimes. They exist somewhere, but no help in hanging around with people who traffic in them. Instead, what’s going on in your life, around you and yours? That’s real, not ‘imaginary’ as verbal abstractions are.

    I guess to add that there weren’t stereotypes in any other era either, though we love to pretend there are. Tiny variations are blown out of proportion by media and historians. Humans are roughly the same as we are, no better or worse. I mean look at today’s article: we just said the standard form is ABAB, and instantly some half of the readers said they don’t match that. That doesn’t make the pattern not true, but drawing every road map to look like the AVERAGE house isn’t going to direct people well.

    I have heard that circumcision of course destroys a large bundle of important nerves, but therefore also alters the *receiving* end of that telephone line where it lands in the brain. This can make people smarter, but also mature later, perhaps (the two are related). Or sometimes not at all. Therefore we have wild men vs domesticates in that stereotype. Plausible.

    “things in contemporary life pretend to fill a need without actually filling it,” sounds like the definition for “Drug”. It’s all we sell, do, speak, think, or consume, and is about as healthy as one would expect. And in the case of mental world, one of broken and harmful neuroses. “Get off the juice!” – 50 First Dates

  91. Very interesting.

    How does someones natal chart correspond with the gender of their astral body?

    Do the position, or dignities/debilities, of the sun and moon or Mars and Venus come into play?

  92. It’s interesting what some of your posts can bring up in a person. I had a very stressful evening yesterday and as it got late, I wrote my above post about the school teacher and Thor as a first attempt to get to my feelings – admittedly it’s odd, but there it is – I often use humour to enable me to approach difficult subjects.

    Your article had quite an impact on me. In modern parlance, I can say that I was triggered by it. However, unlike today’s snowflakes, I have no intention of asking you not to use such words or talk about such subjects. Quite the opposite, in fact; it tells me that that there are parts of my psyche which I have insufficiently examined and I am grateful for the chance to think about them differently.

    I turn 60 next year and I grew up in England although I now live in the Netherlands. The England I grew up in was a very different world; for instance, corporal punishment in private schools was normal, acceptable and frequently meted out. I received many canings at the age of eight.

    Back then, sex in general and masturbation in particular was taboo. The w-word you used in the article was one of the very worst insults in existence – far worse than any f-word based insults that were common at the time. Indulging oneself would ultimately result in blindness; that was common ‘knowledge’ even if no one could ever point to a blind man as an example. As a result, a teenage boy unable to resist nature’s pressure, quite apart from any metaphysical aspects, felt disgusted by himself afterwards and not a little worried. This state of affairs certainly set me up to have all sorts of sexual hangups by the time I reached adulthood. Some I have definitely sorted out, others apparently not.

    I’m also intrigued by the concept of different genders of the physical, etheric, astral and mental bodies. I wonder how you might find out your full ‘orientation’ or even if it’s a useful thing to know? As for myself, I very much doubt that I have the standard set up. Despite being heterosexual, I have always attracted the attention of homosexuals and I wish I could say that it was due to my devastating good looks! 😉

  93. The information you provided about male artists / writers, etc. having (in a lot of cases) a female etheric body makes a lot of sense to me. I can see this dynamic at play now when I think about the biographies of various writers, composers, musicians, artists I’ve read. Spotting this dynamic in play is going to be even easier now.

    It seems that some of them may have done better in their personal relationship if this knowledge of the ether was known to them. Not that the volatile relationships and serial monongamy wouldn’t have other factors involved between the parties concerned; but say, if a brilliant male artist does get inspired by women, and he has a string of relationships with the ending not always going well for the ladies, knowing there are other options to recharge your etheric battery for later creative output would be a good thing.

    This puts me in mind of the nature poets, people like John Clare, and many others, who found their inspiration out on the Land. Also the other painters and musicians who NEED to go and be in the wild places of the world, to be recharged and inspired.

    On another note, I’ve really been enjoying the novels of the late Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I read his very popular The Shadow of the Wind when it first came out in English in 2004. I re-read it this year and some of his other novels, before learning he had passed away this past June. Besides being great gothic literary mysteries with touches of magic realism, the way the genders are portrayed is refreshing to me. Your mileage may vary of course, but these books have romance from a male point of view (along with action and adventure). Working in a library, I don’t see many books like this coming out: especially from the big publishers whose writers are pushing current attitudes and agendas down peoples throats.

    Also, I’ve been meaning to read more of Jim Harrison for the same reason. He is a writer you can see from reading the soul signatures that are his books, who is recharged equally by the feminine and nature. His books are full of hunting, fishing, time out on the Land, and relationships between men and women that read very true to my ears. Of course he is criticized for being overly “macho” -but no one is forcing anyone else to read it.

    Finally, about a year ago on writer Steven Pressfield’s blog, he wrote an interesting series of posts on how “The Female Holds the Mystery”: https://stevenpressfield.com/2019/08/the-female-carries-the-mystery-2/

    I like Pressfield too, because he is unrepentant about being inspired by a spiritual Muse, a Goddess, you could say. He is also a student of the Kybalion. His blog is only writing blog I really like these days. Other writers here, male or female, might get a lot out of it as well.

    Which brings up an idea I will meditate on: “The Goddess as inspiration”

    All interesting stuff to contemplate and meditate on.

  94. JMG, that was an absolutely fascinating introduction to this topic. Thank you!

    I wonder if my own gender make-up is rather typical. Male on the physical plane, very much female on the esoteric. On the astral – male? I tend to find producing artistic artefacts more rewarding than consuming them, both as a musician and as a writer. And I do experience creativity as a kind of urge that requires release, not unlike sexual tension. On the mental – female? I can definitely relate to Wagner’s need for lovers to inspire his operas.

    On the other hand, people keep telling me how the insights and analysis I provide in writing and speaking make the pieces fall into place in their minds, and I really enjoy teaching, with an emphasis on facilitating a deep understanding of the subject matter. Is this more of an astral activity, after all? Is being masculine on the mental plane more about a subtle “exuding” of meaning, rather than explicitly connecting the dots in webs of knowledge? Or do I actually find myself more towards the masculine end on the mental gender-spectrum?

    In any case, I think it’s pretty clear that my previous girlfriend has the same genders as myself on all the planes in question (except for the physical, of course), and this provides an interesting perspective on the difficulties we had in mating – in particular, the mutual feeling of the other being a drain on one’s energy levels, as she is also feminine on the esoteric plane. No wonder she finds herself in a more fulfilling relationship with someone whose ADHD might just be an excess of life energy.

    Thanks again for the essay – and even if you’re not going into druidic relationship counseling, I can’t help but think that there must be a significant market for a book-length treatment of the subject that’s accessible to the general public.

  95. This is a fascinating and apparently quite fruitful model to think about masculinity and femininity. It seems to me that my wife is an almost perfect example of the most common female pattern: she is certainly the center of the household in that all humans and non-humans who live here crave to be touched and caressed by her. Do I understand you right that simple touch and caresses already transmit, to some degree, what you call the life force? Her sexuality is strongly connected to her seeing herself as desirable in the mirror, and she needs nobody else to give her meaning in life.

    What you wrote about abundant well-being after good sex is very much what I feel. I do have a tendency to talk and “mansplain”. I am not so sure about my projecting desirability – I feel that I have rarely “enhanced” the desirability of any women, which meant that as a single I was often shooting too high until I finally won the big prize. And I wonder if I give more importance to feeling desired myself than other men do. Did I understand you right that for the most common male pattern it is unimportant how desirable one feels oneself to be?

    I find it a bit hard to understand the polarity on what you call the mental plane when one is not an artist or some kind of leader. My sense of meaning in life is also derived from my relation to God and to my daughter, and I tthink it would be that way whatever my relation to women was.

  96. @JMG,

    This explains an experience I had in college. I (female body) had a friend (male body) and we both shared an interest in mystical experiences. We were comparing notes on our personal mystical experiences. We both had experienced the well known “oneness” experience where you merge your consciousness with the universal one consciousness. Our experiences were idental except I experienced it as my consciousness projecting out to merge with the universe’s consciousness, but he experienced it as the universe flooding into his consciousness. So clearly I am the masculine here and he is the feminine.

    Which body/spiritual realm is this?

    Sincerely,

    Jessi Thompson
    anotheramethyst

  97. An interesting and dangerous topic!

    It seems like sexual hangups are more common in our society than healthy sexualities. Of course “healthy” means different things to different people when you get beliefs about morals and such in the picture. Your analysis seems rather healthy to me though.

    For me, spiritually, the WV mystic and occultist Richard Rose has been a big influence. Both through his own writing and through friendship and mentorship of some of his students. He spent his 20s totally celibate, credited that for much of his spiritual growth, and suggested that other young men who strove for Enlightenment do the same. I think he was both a product of his time (he quoted Victorian occultists a lot) and also had a unique experience (studied to be a catholic priest from his childhood til he became a young man) and while it is probably a good thing to criticize total celibacy, there are some benefits to periods of total celibacy. He also did later marry.

    Because of his influence, I have also tried my hand at total celibacy, spending multiple periods of months since my early 20s in “NoFap” land as the kids call it. (I am also a millenial, but didn’t come to that practice through the internet.) And these periods were a remarkable time of growth in self-discipline, self-knowledge (really looking at how the decision making process works, at desires and motivations) and self confidence. Also, more attention from the opposite sex. However, it seemed intuitively clear to me that for me this was best done for periods of time, and not for ever. I also now have an ideal partner.

    One thing that I’d like your thoughts on is Rose’s conception of “Energy Transmutation”: he posited that sexual energy retained could be transmuted into mental energy, and from mental energy to spiritual energy… this being done by spending time in concentrated attention. Do you think this is because maybe he had a female etheric body? Or is this something that is repeated in other occult texts?

  98. Two samples I think belong in this post, one from history and one from the sports pages.

    Good Queen Bess is the first, who said “I have the body of a weak and feeble (sic) woman, but the heart and soul of a prince.” And who had a truly Renaissance mind as well. This for the polarity part.

    The other is a world-class golfer, famous among those in the know for his cloud of hot and cold running blondes. When his equally beautiful wife divorced him, citing his womanizing, of course the media were shocked, SHOCKED, I TELL YOU! and the reporters were licking their lips in glee…. and for years, his game went down the tubes. I remember thinking then that his blondes were his mojo, whether he thought they gave him luck, or power (or perhaps they truly gave him power), and so his downfall was a classic tragedy. I understand he’s back in good form now, and wonder if he’s managing with, or without, them. (Or possibly, has found The One who can give him what they did?)

  99. Pixielated,

    I have a very poorly formed thought-response to your post. This bit:

    If you resent what you’re giving him/her, you’re not getting what you’re supposed to on the other planes, because there’s nothing inherently abusive about doing those things for the other in a typical hetero relationship, which is so much of what the current feminist empowerment gets wrong, and why there’s a traditional role backlash going on. Split the cheque, and split all child care and housework equally works for some. But for many, it takes some of the ineffable something out of the relationship, and switching it around on its head and calling it empowerment is even worse for most. Maternal Desire by Daphne de Marneff was the book that helped snap me out of the impending neurosis about how badly I wanted to care for my own children, and the joy I get from feeding people, but knew that made me a bad feminist.

    Just yesterday I saw a woman on you tube talking about how our society is (paraphrasing) being messed with demonically, in which the healthy and normal way that we function is being taken away. Your gender isn’t real, the state should have access to indoctrinate your children, the family is denigrated, etc. It’s a kind of emotional and psychic destruction. So for starters, there is a big difference between allowing for the occasional person who is configured differently, and then making that the ideal norm instead, and turning society upside down to achieve it.

    Yesterday I also read an article saying that due to the economic destruction from covid job loss and schools hesitating to reopen that a lot of families may revert to one breadwinner and that it will more often be the woman who stays home. This was considered tragic and a step back for womanhood. The womanhood who puts having children in a distant place behind their career and all that. Yet I thought that would be a positive thing, to have more families in which the home is more than a pitstop. And while there are many men who like to be househusbands, in a general way, on average, far more women will be fulfilled and far more men frustrated by this role reversal.

    And just to be even more naughty, I believe I have noticed at least in my mother and myself a separate and unequal joy that comes specifically from feeding men!

  100. So then, JMG, if a regularly configured women is married to a man with reverse genders on the upper planes, what happens to him during sex, so far as that feeling of deep fulfillment that comes from absorbing etheric energy from his wife? He doesn’t really need it? He needs to give it?

  101. Apart from the metaphysics question above. I migth share some personal history, as I’m a millenial male practicing no-fap at it’s called since about 2 years now, putting and end to a long akd in retrospect obviously self destructive addiction.

    The norms with regards to masturbation have really swung predictably from one bad idea (never), to another (always!). The idea to stop masturbating, as many of my current daily habits appeared to be extreme, possibly dangerous and the domain of losers on the internet. However, to quit masturbating myself was more Transformative than just the increase in energy. The increase in self mastery was the true victory.

    Highly reccomended for any young males out there. As are cold showers by the way.

  102. Thank you for this, it’s giving me a great deal to ponder. My wife and I are going through a very difficult time for a variety of reasons, and I feel quite disconnected and at a loss to explain to her why. The discussion about men with the normal energetic pattern needing to receive energy on the etheric level from a healthy woman hit me forcefully and is very relevant. My wife definitely fits the description of neurotic and dysfunctional, and I have been feeling starved of something I can’t explain, and reading this makes me think I’m severely lacking that etheric energy from my wife. This brings up some questions:

    1. Can someone, consciously or unconsciously, turn their energy on and off depending on who they are focused on? I’ve been nagged by the feeling that my wife is nurturing and connecting on some level with our toddler son, but turning that off with me. After reading this I feel this is happening on the etheric level. Is this possible or am I conflating different energies? Is there anything I or she could do to change this?

    2. You mention that masturbation with a person in mind can possibly backfire like a failed love spell, resulting in the focused upon person being repelled rather than attracted. Is there anything that can done to unwind this if I suspect it may be a factor?

  103. Does a person’s Holy Guardian Angel have a gender?

    If so, does it remain constant or change from incarnation to incarnation? And is there any way to know what it is (prior to achieving conscious contact with the HGA)?

  104. I’m trying to figure out if I have the normal configuration. So if a person doesn’t, that would mean that the alternating gender doesn’t alternate. Somewhere there is a repeat. I note that in many ways I have considered myself a masculine woman. I was a tomboy as a child and I suspect that gender dysphoria may be for the same reason that I ascribe to myself – I was a man in a prior or perhaps several prior lifetimes and the memory and image of that followed me into this incarnation.
    I’m not quite getting the difference between mental and astral here but I note that I very much want other people to listen to and receive my ideas. I talk a lot and bombard my friends with my constant ruminations upon various topics. I’m opinionated.

    Also, what is your opinion on the way that men need the approval, praise and respect from women?

  105. Greetings to JMG and all,

    This is a fascinating subject—thankyou, JMG for giving more coherent illumination on it in this short post than I have found anywhere else.

    And it just triggers more questions!

    The etheric energies, for example: There is a quantity of energy an individual is operating on, and then there is its direction: whether one is “putting out” or “taking in”;

    –and then I wonder if the energy itself has complementary qualities, like negative and positive ions.

    Next, does anyone draw connections between the etheric, astral, and mental “bodies” and astrological factors?

    I’ve done a fair amount of astrological synastry, enough to see that the classic indications DO actually work powerfully between people; but while the stars incline, they do not compel. And obviously, not every creature born at a given moment is the same gender! Nor is it obvious to me how the Ascendant, Moon, Mars, etc. correlate to the phenomena you discuss in this post.

    Do we think that astrological factors account for the qualities of our various bodies, or do we think astrology just introduces another layer of nuances into them?

    Any thoughts on this, anyone?

  106. The amount of energy coming out in these comments is really astonishing — it feels like our society needs to have this conversation but is stifled by the dominant discourse.

    One thing I am not yet seeing in the comments is a mention of the Otto Weininger school of the “metaphysics of sex,” which Julius Evola cribbed from. There is a brilliant comics artist, Dave Sim, who has lost most of his fanbase by openly coming out in favor of Weininger’s bleak yin-yang view of sexuality in which women are not capable of providing anything to men on any plane.

    Personally, I was confused by Evola’s Metaphysics of Sex when I read it, seeing both good and evil there. The good being an acknowledgment of the spiritual nature of sexuality which modernity seems to taboo, and the evil being some sort of conflation of spirit with biological sex.

    In the years after reading Evola, my mind was muddled by talk of “gender roles” and his confused work boiled down into nothingness in my mind. Your outline of the multiplicity of sex shines a light through this confusion. I know poor Dave Sim will never read this post, as he does not have a phone or internet connection, but I hope it can serve as a corrective to others.

  107. @Aidan & JMG,

    Speaking of Traditionalists… (I’m not one myself either) the book War for Eternity by Benjamin Teitelbaum was eye opening. Very interesting seeing how these Traditionalists in different countries gain power & access. I was reminded of this now, because I just cataloged a new documentary about Bannon called “American Dharma” a film by Errol Morris. As it says on the back of that container, “even for those who disagree with Bannon, ignoring him is a dangerous course of action.”

  108. One of Many,

    I don’t know about etheric bodies, but alcohol gives women a boost of testosterone, from which hormone the sex drive of both sexes is derived.

  109. @JMG
    If average males can only receive etheric energy, why does masturbation feel “draining”? If I start anticipating a delicious meal and then don’t get it, I feel hungry and unsatisfied but I don’t start feeling fatigue and the effects of starvation. Or in simpler terms, if I have half a bucket of water and fail to refill it to the top, I should still have half a bucket of water right?

    If average men don’t transmit etheric energy, what forces are behind the phenomenon where masturbating to a woman you know (who does not welcome the advances) pushes her away? What exactly is happening here? Is it entirely limited to the astral?

    What are the effects of this practice on porn stars? I suspected that all the etheric energy being flung their way would correlate with the “burn out” you see so many prostitutes and porn stars succumb to, but if the opposite is the case then I’m lost yet again.
    In general, I’m interested in how the etheric currents of life move around at a distance.

  110. Well this is an interesting and timely essay. Very fitting explanation of what I’d been calling my ‘weird needing-to-feel-attractive fetish’, though I think I’ll stick with the old explanation when people suggest I pay for female companionship, so much less to unpack. I must say, I’d be interested in a matchmaking variant on Simon S’s druidic counselling idea, would be nice if I could just check a box in a profile and meet ladies with compatible bodies…

    Two Questions for you Grampa Greer: do the Physical, Etheric, and Astral+ bodies correspond neatly to the concepts of Salt, Mercury, and Sulphur in alchemy? And on a more personal note (hope you don’t mind), do you think the fact you have a feminine Astral body has anything to do with your dislike of moving pictures? I think I’m seeing a pattern there, but with so few data points it’s hard to be sure…

    And a question also for the community, since BoulderChum and Andrew001 have gotten near it – I’ve encountered what I’m fairly sure is a sexual hypersigil in the wild. For those unfamiliar with the term, a hypersigil as I understand it is an idealized version of the self, put into a piece of fiction and shared with an audience. The attention of the audience and the creator’s own intention are supposed to manifest the idealized qualities (and adventures) of the sigil in the creator. There’s some controversy on whether the audience is necessary, but given how immediately I was captivated by it, I’d guess it probably plays a role.

    Now, this was on an open-source smut website where anyone can share, and I began creating a version of my own to contribute, but having learned about hypersigils in the meantime, I’m now more than a little wary. Although I did get unhealthily obsessed with it over a summer, I wouldn’t want to blame that on anything but my own lack of moderation. On the other hand, the fact that publishing the sigil is a part of the original recipe implies there’s some energy coming from the readership, which it might prefer to keep. On the other other hand, I’m probably not picking up anything that wouldn’t be dropped anyway, etc.

    I did some divination on it and the results were decidedly odd – innocence furthers, homesteader’s loss is the traveller’s gain, and innocence does NOT further all came up. I interpreted that to say that while there is a loss of energy from the readers which benefits the authors, there’s no net loss and hence no blowback coming to the people who stumbled on this technique innocently. But that knowing how hypersigils work, I couldn’t make one ‘in innocence’ myself now and should desist.

    Has anyone here come across something like this or have insights into the dynamic?

  111. Hi JMG many thanks for your post, very very interesting

    The “decadence of sex drive” is another clear symptom of the decadence of a civilization, it is, in fact, one side of a more general decadence of the desire to live (will). This is a general pattern where the “civliized” (urban) life takes place and destroy all traces of tradition, community, roots, culture, extended family, etc…It does not matter if it happens in Rome in the Augustus time or in Paliputra with Ashoka or in modern day Tokyo or New York, that destruction of vitality.

    In modern day Japan around 30% of single japanese men have never dated a woman and do not have any problem with that:
    https://www.japancrush.com/2013/stories/30-of-single-japanese-men-have-never-dated-a-woman.html

    The recent trends in the frequency of sexual activity in adults aged 18 to 44 is dimal in US (but it is the same in all the western countries, Japan is only more “civilized”):
    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2767066?utm_campaign=articlePDF&utm_medium=articlePDFlink&utm_source=articlePDF&utm_content=jamanetworkopen.2020.3833

    This also correlate quite well with the opioids-depression-anxiety-hypertension pandemic of our time, in the more “rich” society of history the use of anti-depressants and pain killers is sky-rocketing every passing year.

    I remind the words of Spengler when they say the same about Rome when he mention the “Lex Iulia De Maritandis Ordinibus” of 18 b.c. when the Roman state taxed the single and marriages without children to revive the number of births, or the Pertinax Edict of 193 a.c. after all the measure to revitalize the births failed; the same happens in the India of Ashoka or the Egypt of the XIX dynasty. The desire to live fade away

    No, the people does not behave like a “Petri Dish” following the mechanical impulse of the instincts, as Nietzsche and Spengler pointed out, this is the “english shopkeepers” dismal view of Nature, where all is built around mechanical causes and scarcity. They “invent” this view of the world because they live in a scarcity mentality, as it is the Classical and Neo-Classical Economy or Darwinism.
    No, the human instinct need some stimuli to prosper, and they are built around an universe of “meaning” and “purpose”, of rituals and ordeals that organically sustain the thirst to live. The Barbarism of Reflexion, as Vico said, destroyed this all. This happens when Apollo kills Dionysos (Nietzsche), for sometime, because Dionysos-Zagreos always return…

    The civilization fails from within, the birth crisis in Roman times started at the beginning of the Empire, it was the seed, the first symptom of a unavoidable decadence. The consul and soldiers that fought against Hannibal or the Samnites would laugh if they knew about the attack of the visigoths or the crossing of the Rhine river in 406 a.c. the problem was not lack of resources or men, the problem was that people cut their fingers to not fight in the Roman army…

    The modern diseases that afflict people in affluent societies are the same that afflicts the rats in the Bruce Alexander experiment, They are the disease that afflicts caged animals, alone and without the resort to fight or to flight.

    Cheers
    David

  112. Lincoln, yeah. “Whether you know it or not, the universe is laughing behind your back.”

    Anonymoi, keep up your daily banishings, and consider wearing the protective amulet described in the Magic Monday FAQ. If you’ve got a substantial background in ceremonial magic, there’s quite a bit more that you can do, but that takes plenty of practice.

    Leuna, you may not consider yourself unduly clairvoyant, but that’s common or garden variety astral clairvoyance, and you’re seeing some of the spirits of the middle astral: a little creepy-looking, but not harmful or demonic. As for your arrangement of genders, as long as you find creative or nurturing outlets for your life force, you should be fine.

    Legacy, er, did you read my post? I think I answered both your questions there.

    Tulip, that’s also known as the creation of an artificial elemental. You can certainly do it, but it’s got some significant long-term risks. First of all, the tulpa is a parasitic entity given life by your life force, and so it’s going to feed on you, and the stronger it gets the more of your life force it will take. Second, since it has no soul of its own, it can be obsessed or possessed by a malign spirit fairly easily, and then you’re feeding something that wants to mess with you. Alexandra David-Neel’s book Magic and Mystery in Tibet describes her own creation of a tulpa, and the hard work she had to do to get rid of it; it’s a useful and cautionary read.

    Open_space, the physical, etheric, astral, and mental planes all interpenetrate one another. They’re not off in separate worlds — they’re all simultaneously present. The astral light streams out from the sun’s astral body — it has all seven bodies, of which we only have three and a half — and flows through the same space that sunlight flows through, in much the same way that light rays and sound waves can pass through the same volume of air.

  113. Thank you for the interesting and informative post.

    Do you know if/how the arrangement of genders of the bodies relates to the “third genders” that various human cultures have or have had?

  114. Regarding feminine charm and the lack thereof, I am surprised that JMG says this happens in some cycles. I would have thought that it might relate to today’s dogma which sort of in my mind parallels the materialist stance, in which we are to deny altogether that there really is in a meaningful sense such a thing as a man and a woman, menfolk and womenfolk.

    Perhaps it is difficult to display feminine charm when one feels guilty for having feminine instincts and motivations. For that matter, it seems men are also repressed in being able to proudly display their hard-won masculine characteristics which are so hard won.

    I see that in many ways most men and women do display masculine and feminine behaviors, but the denial is so strong that it is all but subconscious.

  115. Hermit, that sounds like a feminine etheric body with weak boundaries. The fact that you end up overstimulated and can’t sleep shows that it’s a matter of too much absorption, not too much emission.

    Booklover, you’re welcome and thank you!

    Info, no, I haven’t read it. I catch a distinctly fishy scent from his claim, though, because I can think of half a dozen historical counterexamples without even trying hard. Ancient Greece, anyone?

    Anonymous, thanks for this. Since this was a brief essay rather than a book, I didn’t get into that dimension of sexual energetics, but your comments fit the traditional lore quite closely.

    Booklover, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know of anything that would support that idea, but the world’s a weird place.

    RogerCO, yes, I’m familiar with Schauberger — a fascinating and very strange guy.

    Xabier, that sounds like it would do a good job of healing. As for leeches, they’re used in modern medicine — here’s an article. They’re really good at extracting excess blood from, say, a hemorrhage.

    Bipeninsular, why not do the study and practice, and set yourself up as an occult advice columnist? The world could use some of those.

    Brazzart, funny you should mention the full moon on the beach. That’s a situation where there’ll be a huge amount of relatively clean, healthy etheric energy around — so when your etheric body wants to absorb energy at orgasm, there’s plenty of it to absorb. The Fortune book, btw, is titled The Problem of Purity, and it’s usually published along with The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage — they’re early books of hers, so expect attitudes not quite so open as when she wrote her novels.

    Patricia O, you know, this might be a good time to introduce the idea of misogi shuho under waterfalls to the West, now that cold showers are catching on again. Waterfall misogi is a cold shower raised to the highest power:

    Can you recommend any English language sources online or in books for the details?

    Irena, one of the things you have to remember about the privileged end of the American left is that it’s utterly incoherent. People are expected to believe mutually contradictory things all the time, and this is a great example. You have one set of ideologues insisting that all sexual expressions are great and wonderful — well, except for male heterosexuality, which is suspect — and another set of ideologues insisting that sex is traumatic — especially if it involves male heterosexuality — and instead of looking at both of these as extremes and finding a sane middle ground, privileged progressives believe both of these at once. Schizoid behavior follows promptly.

  116. “Let’s take a man with the usual arrangement of bodies as an example. On the purely material plane, the plane of biology, he is masculine. On the etheric plane he is feminine and needs to receive life energy, to draw it into himself—thus the sense of abundant well-being that many men feel after lovemaking, because they receive etheric force in the course of the act from their partners.”

    That explains a lot. Whenever I work on a project in collaboration with an attractive female friend of mine, I feel more energised and can finish my tasks earlier than usual 🙂

  117. This was a really useful essay, JMG. Thank you for writing it. My wife and I pulled as much conversation out of it this morning as perhaps any other essay you’ve ever written.

    I tried a wash-down with a washcloth dipped in ice water before ritual this morning. Only time I’ve ever felt anything so clean was my house immediately after a hoodoo floor wash before we moved in. And this time it was my own body! It was a tangible, penetrating sort of cleanliness, except it didn’t just penetrate DOWN into my skin. It also penetrated UP above my skin about an inch. To the outer envelope of my etheric double?

    I’ll be doing that every day from now on.
    Many Thanks!
    Grover

  118. Re: sex and micro-identities: from the latest Powell’s Books ad:

    Celebrate Black LGBTQIA Voices

    ***What we used to call, jokingly, “QUILTBAG.” Only more so, now. When the acronyms get too cumbersome, what are the odds of them continuing? And what’s wrong with reverting to “Queer?”

  119. Judy Blume’s 1978 novel Wifey was her first foray into novels for grown ups. It was about a woman named Sandy living the 1960s dream of being a rich, bored, housewife. It’s a terrible book and if anything, it makes me think there is and perhaps always was something wrong with Judy Blume. Sandy is a compulsive masturbator. The opening scene of the book has a motorcyclist riding into her palatial yard, pulling out his wang, and masturbating himself as she watches with shock and lust. Sandy can barely tolerate her fastidious, Type A husband Norman. Contemplating Norman’s death, she thinks: “Free, free, free. She’d never been free, could only imagine what it might be like.” The book doesn’t truly resolve — Sandy gets it in her head (sort of) to be a less crappy person and the book ends with a whimper though it began with a (self) bang.

    It’s a perfect example of fiction written for women that drags us all down.

  120. If men can suffer etheric loss from masturbation, should I assume that women do not?
    If men are advised to abstain from sex before a major physical drain such as a football game, are they also advised to avoid masturbation and wouldn’t they have differing effects on his energy anyway? Or is sex itself with its production of semen a bit draining physically?

  121. The interesting comment from Dfc (David) inspires in me a question: Were there human societies who avoided the loss of life energy in them, and how did they manage it?

    I myself am under the impression that Western civilization is losing its vitality and its will to be alive, and that impression has gotten rather stronger during the last few years.

  122. Hi JMG,

    I had a laugh at the cAUsal vs cASual comment you made. Perhaps you should add to your already incredibly busy blogging with a “Causal Friday” column. : )

  123. A very clarifying piece of writing.
    I wonder what John’s opinion of the motivations of pornography makers is ?
    Some regard porn as a form of spiritual warfare, and I agree with the assessment here, moreso that it has a deleterious effect upon the consumer, many of those who make it, and society as a whole.
    Who runs BigPorn, and is making money their sole objective ?
    [Do the big players have something in common?]

  124. As a single male who has used porn extensively, are there steps I can take to fix my astral body? The first step is quitting porn, the second is picking up a banishing ritual, but are there other things I can do to help my astral body heal faster?

  125. Anonymous, (one of many!)

    My understanding is that our guardian angels are genderless, but I suspect that may be a simplistic explanation. They do not have physical bodies with our type of gender but who knows what spiritual bodies they may contain?

    But they do not change from incarnation to incarnation because they stay with you for eons and are an old acquaintance when you cross over.

  126. The Everly Brothers song “All I have to do is dream” popped into my head out of nowhere yesterday which is weird cos I haven’t heard it in probably decades. I ran through the lyrics are realise they are about male sexuality on the astral plane:

    I can make you mine
    Taste your lips of wine
    Anytime night or day
    Only trouble is
    Gee whiz
    I’m dreamin’ my life away

    My interpretation: given the astral body is also the body of dreams, male sexuality can become entirely sublimated and end up as just dream. Seems right to me. Most men are guilty of building up a girl in their mind’s and often need one of their mates to whack them on the arm and say “just go and talk to her!”

  127. @JMG “Not taking but receiving” -Yes, that is a much better clarification of the subject.

    You mention Richard Wagner, it reminds me of a more modern take on this same idea. Frank and Gail Zappa. Frank could sleep around all he wanted while on tour, his wife would even encourage groupies to do it, but he always went back to Gail once the tour was over.

    He was a very creative chap even if most of his art went over the heads of most folks expect his most dedicated of fans.

  128. Hi, all:

    Re: gender on the non-physical planes.

    I just remembered something relevant:

    Josephin Peladan the French novelist and Rosicrucian observed:

    “To admire is to love from the mind.”

    It occurs to me that in a typical individual that mental aspect (and the French equate it with the spiritual aspect) is a mirror-image of the typical gender expression of astrality/emotionality. To the extent that one lives on the mental plane, that admiration factor is critical.

    That, and the realization—Loving another is to a greater or lesser extent the willingness to BE that other—explained a whole lot of my life to me.

  129. JMG,

    I wonder if you might say more about this:

    “A woman with the usual arrangement of bodies is… masculine on the etheric plane—if she’s in good physical and mental health, she is an overflowing fountain of life force, which can be directed in various creative ways or (more usually in our society) bottled up until it goes stagnant.”

    thanks

  130. Anonymous Squirrel said “1. Can someone, consciously or unconsciously, turn their energy on and off depending on who they are focused on? I’ve been nagged by the feeling that my wife is nurturing and connecting on some level with our toddler son, but turning that off with me.”

    I don’t know about what else is going on in your relationship, but I’ll share my story in the hopes this might help you out a bit, because if it’s the same thing, I feel for you buddy, this is rough. I think is one of the classic tragedies that comes out of the lack of understanding the “4-body problem” in our culture. But, yes, that is probably exactly what is happening. Young children… say…less than 4… can take an *astounding* amount of etheric energy. And if your wife was a woman with lots and lots of etheric energy to give, or you had an “easy” kid, she might have enough left over for you. But if she was kinda etherically weak in the first place, or you have a “high needs” child in any way, then trying to keep her kid healthy, and also have enough left over for you might not be possible. I had both issues, and after I had babies I could not STAND to have my husband touch me for at least a year. I nursed each for 2. I could have gone easily, happily that two years without touching him. I mean, I still occassionally consented to sex, but it made me want to scream. His physical maleness I found INTENSELY offputting. Obviously, this would have been a confusing and upsetting experience for him, too. If he was at all a freakishly balanced person, like, just a normal person… And I was freaked out about what was happening to me, and what it meant for the long, long years left of my life to have lost something I used to enjoy.

    I actually begged him, while pregnant with the second, to have an affair so I wouldn’t have to be in the position to refuse and feel bad about it. He wouldn’t, he adapted in his own ways and waited. He was much,much less upset about the idea of missing out on sex than on the fact that it made me that uncomfortable, he was quite upset I had concealed the full extent of my issue so as not to “hurt his feelings”.

    The solution is in part the kids get older… but that takes time. It took about 4 years for my sex drive to come back to normal after the last one, so it’s been 7 years. That’s not going to be a happy time to wait for you, so my 2 cents would be to speed up the process of replenishing her etheric body (or increasing it above where it was pre-kids! That’s what occult training has done for me), use the idea of how each body above stimulates the one above it to boost her etheric body – she needs adult thinking time! Time to read, good conversation, time to process her thoughts in nature (weird, sometimes the magazine advice is sound ;-)). For you, look for other ways to get your etheric energy boost so you aren’t actually a drain on her, and see if that warms her to you (a great way to do that while still being with your family is also good magazine advice – stimulate your meaning centre with your fatherhood and devotion to your new family! Bonus, if it involves doing the housework while she is relatively masculine in etheric terms to you now, it will replenish her at the same time. The jokes about moms with small children being turned on by men doing housework… now I think we know why…).

  131. Our host serves meaty faire this week! Thank you, JMG, for this. If ecosophia were a printed ‘zine I think I’d wear the page right out, as I am going to have to re-read this a whole mess of times to really grok it.

    One question, to start: what do you do to clean etherically if you have carpets? Hoodoo mopping probably isn’t advised, then.

  132. Hello JMG, are the Etheric body and the Astral body the same as the Sambogakaya and the Dharamakaya in the tibetan buddhist system or they different entirely ?

  133. Thanks JMG, I found this a really useful example of how the inner planes relate, as a theory it also explains quite a bit about experiences of gender.

    Apologies if this is a bit off topic, but – I’m thinking now that the internet has created a novel environment on the astral and mental planes. A bit like how agriculture and long distance transport created novel environments on the physical plane – with hygiene and ecosystem risks, as well as benefits.

    Memes as, literally, viruses on the mental plane? Have we set demons free to roam via social media?

  134. Scotlyn, good! Yes, exactly — money isn’t actually wealth, it simply creates the illusion of filling the need for wealth. (The word “wealth” comes from the same root as “well” and “will,” and literally means “having what one wishes or wills.”)

    Quift, that kind of rigid theoretical structure is very popular among metaphysicians who don’t have much practical experience with human energetics. It’s all very neat, but neatness belongs solely to the world of the Ideal; here in the world of manifestation, everything’s a muddle, and one consequence is that the ideal pattern manifests as a statistical average, with a great deal of variation in practice. If you put some time into energetic healing arts, say, or the kind of magic that requires balancing polarities among members of a lodge, you’ll find very quickly that the physical gender of a person is not a reliable marker for their etheric or astral genders!

    Violet, I’m glad it’s helpful! Unfortunately we don’t live in a society well supplied with shamans — or rather, the shamans we’re supplied with are mostly, as an old friend of mine used to say, sham-mans, whose shamanism begins and ends with Michael Harner’s execrable book or its even more watered-down imitators. Not much help if you’re going through an actual shamanic crisis!

    Patricia M, Jay’s taxonomy seems very useful to me! Though your spell-checker came up with a great one: “sexual ornamentation.” 😉

    Know Brainer, a very good point.

    Changeling, that doesn’t surprise me at all. This is one of the reasons I’m trying to get the word out.

    Tanya, you’re most welcome!

    Neptunesdolphins, those are excellent questions that I’n not able to answer. It would take a lot of careful clairvoyant investigation and experimentation with energy work to figure out what exactly something like incest does to the astral and etheric bodies, for example. As for the connection between sexual abuse and fat, I’ve seen the same point made, and it works even when overeating isn’t involved — weight gain is a complicated thing. Chocolate and wine — hmm. I thought those were the drugs of choice of upper middle class white women generally. 😉

    Jason, that would be a fascinating research project. I don’t think anyone’s done it yet.

    Hereward, many thanks for this. As for figuring out the genders of your subtle bodies, I suppose it might be possible to generate some kind of test, where you check the box if this statement is true for you, and so on. Lacking that, it’s a matter of reflecting on how you experience the various levels I’ve described, using the descriptions in my post as starting points.

    Justin, I think you may be confusing the etheric body and the mental sheath. It’s on the mental plane that creative artists seek inspiration. Other than that, yes, exactly.

    BigZ, that sounds like a masculine mental sheath to me — the influence of the mental plane can be accompanied by astral forms such as words. As for a book-length treatment, why, yes, I was noticing the level of interest!

    Erika, you’re most welcome!

    Halfways, yes, touching and caressing can communicate etheric force very effectively, and often does. Yes, people with masculine astral bodies tend to be more interested in desiring than being desired — be aware that the act of projection is rarely conscious. As for the mental plane, since we’re still evolving mental bodies and vary in how far along that process we are, it’s often hard to make mental polarity clear. You find your sense of meaning in life in your relationships with others rather than within yourself, and that suggests that you have a feminine mental sheath — as noted, this is very common among men.

    Jessi, thanks for this! That’s the mental plane, the highest plane we can yet experience, and so each of you has the most common arrangement of mental sheath gender — yours is masculine, his is feminine.

    Isaac, Rose is quite correct. In the language of Chinese esotericism — which describes the process in the most detail — jing or semen, if retained in the body, can transmute to qi or life energy, and then to shen or mental/spiritual energy. It doesn’t always work that way, but it can work. More generally, the idea of periodic celibacy as a way to generate strength is found in many traditions.

    Patricia M, those are both excellent examples — thank you.

    Onething, there’s a very good chance that they will end up feeling a lack of sexual compatibility, and if they don’t polarize on any of the higher planes, there’s a good chance that the relationship won’t last.

    Quift, anything that teaches you to take control of your own thoughts, words, and deeds is a very important step forward. I’ve heard from a fair number of young men for whom NoFap has filled that function; more power to all of you.

    Squirrel, oof. This is a very common pattern, and showed up constantly in various corners of 20th century literature and psychological writing. In Freudian terms, it sometimes happens that when a neurotic woman has a son, she redirects all her libido in lightly sublimated form onto the child and away from the father — after all, the uncritical adoration of a child feeds the feeling of being desired far more effectively than the possibly limited and conditional love of an adult man. So the husband ends up being shut out, expected to pay the bills while getting zero affection or energy from the wife, while the son turns into a momma’s boy and ends up even more neurotic than his mother. It’s a mess. Whether or not your habits of fantasy fed that, there may not be much you can do about it, other than find a good counselor so you have someone to vent to.

    Anonymous, as far as I know, angels aren’t gendered.

    Onething, the mental plane’s difficult to grasp because human beings are still evolving mental bodies. It sounds, though, as though you may well have a masculine astral body. As for men needing approval, praise, and respect from women, that’s partly cultural, but it also has a lot to do with masculine astral bodies wanting their output to be received and welcomed.

    Scotlyn, ha! I didn’t intend that, but it works.

    KKA, there isn’t a fixed quantity of etheric energy in a body — it’s more a matter of constant flow, and the direction of flow is the thing that matters. Yes, there are different forms of etheric energy with different polarizations. As for the relationship of astrology to these matters, that’s a field in which a lot of research remains to be done; I don’t know of anything on the subject.

    Throwaway, good heavens, is that what happened to Dave Sim? I was a fan of early Cerebus the Aardvark but lost interest around the beginning of Church and State — his art was still brilliant but the storyline didn’t appeal to me. As for Weininger, to quote what the priest of Tarim said to Lord Julius of Palnu in issue #14, GAH!. (I wish I could put that in the original font.) I don’t know of a more pernicious piece of nonsense in any language — well, barring the writings of Hegel. I haven’t read Evola’s book on the metaphysics of sex, though I’d already picked up on his cribbings from Weininger via Revolt Against the Modern World; I’ll probably have to read it before writing the book that this post is pretty clearly turning into.

    Justin, thanks for this. I’m gearing up for revisions on The King in Orange, my book on the Kek Wars, and the publisher wants me to say something about Evola and the supposed Traditionalist influence on Trump, so it was a timely suggestion.

    BoulderChum, at this point we’re getting into some of the finer details of sexual energetics. To begin with, not all men feel drained after masturbation; some feel fine, some feel a sort of flat dreariness but no sense of drainage, some feel congested. In many cases the ones who feel drained have the kind of etheric energetics that cause them to draw any etheric energy present into themselves at orgasm — and if you do that in a place that’s already cruddy and devitalized on the etheric plane, yes, you’re going to feel really weak and crappy afterwards. Try masturbating in an environment well charged with etheric force — a beach at the full moon, as an earlier commenter mentioned, or a forest in sunlight with plenty of fresh air — and you’ll feel very different. The effect of failed love spells (and their masturbatory equivalent) is wholly on the astral, and that’s also what gets flung at porn stars — you have to be more or less within line of sight to have an etheric interaction with somebody; astral influences travel much further.

    Greencoat, (1) that’s a great theme for meditation. I mean that quite seriously! (2) That’s very likely one part of it, but there are a lot of people with feminine astral bodies who like movies! (3) This doesn’t surprise me at all. There’s a good deal of knowledge about such things in circulation these days.

    DFC, Giambattista Vico presents a useful way of understanding the same thing in his New Science. He traces the historical cycle from the “barbarism of sense” — the condition in which abstract thinking has fallen completely into abeyance and it’s all scrambling for survival and thinking solely about concrete realities — through various intermediate stages to the “barbarism of reflection,” in which concrete realities are completely lost behind a haze of abstractions. Birth rates are high when the barbarism of sense prevails, but the deeper the society gets into abstraction, the more the raw biological drive to reproduce gets lost in abstract representations and derivations and reorientations thereof, until population levels plunge.

  135. Hi John Michael,

    But, Hell yeah (please excuse the pun therein). You wrote:

    “The hallmarks of demonic involvement are easy to recognize. First, there is something weirdly mechanical about these entities; people they influence do and say the same things over and over again in rigidly stereotyped patterns, and lose the ability to reflect on their words and actions and notice how bizarrely repetitive they’ve become. Second, there’s an emotional tone to demonic activity that, once recognized, is never forgotten: hot, inflamed, confused, excited, murky. Finally, the actions they inspire in human beings are always self-defeating and self-destructive.”

    You may never have encountered anyone with Trump Derangement Syndrome, otherwise known as TDS (pronounced ‘Tedious’), but from my perspective living Down Under, it sure does look and sound exactly as you described. Please excuse my second on-topic pun of the day: I couldn’t give a toss (!) who is the President in your country, but even down here the media seems to try and make me want to care. As a hint: I don’t care.

    Yeah, the sphere of protection is a goodie. However, I don’t have much of a visual memory so I tend to have a little song I sing to myself which works just as well. Best to shake them off, they’re very dull and can make people exceptionally boring.

    Cheers

    Chris

  136. Reese, I don’t. That’s not discussed in any of the books on the subject I’ve read.

    Onething, you’re right that a lot of what’s going on these days is a rejection of gender polarity altogether. The thing is, this isn’t the first time that’s happened. I recall British fiction from the 1920s talking about young women from the leftward end of the political spectrum, and it’s very reminiscent of the current situation.

    Minervaphilos, you’re probably receiving etheric and mental stimulation from her, and she’s probably receiving astral stimulation from you — thus you both benefit.

    Grover, it’s worth doing! I learned that trick from one of Franz Bardon’s books, and have done it for years.

    Patricia M, I’ve heard from a lot of gay and lesbian people who are fed up with the acronym soup and are talking about cutting the gay and lesbian communities off from the rest of the circus.

    Kimberly, this probably needs to be said very carefully, because it has nothing to do with the religion or culture in question, and everything to do with some of the oddities of postwar American life. For some reason much of a generation of American Jewish authors after the Second World War wrote novel after novel about masturbation. Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint is the classic example, but there are dozens of others, and the Blume novel you’ve mentioned is one of them. I’m not sure what it was that produced that self-absorbed and sticky-fingered spasm, but it seems to have run its course — thank heavens. Roth’s novel was literally one of the dullest things I’ve ever tried to read.

    Onething, sex is draining for men on the material level, so it’s counterindicated for men who are going to have to put out a lot of material, muscular energy. I have no idea if football players are advised not to masturbate.

    Booklover, civilizations always do that. Tribal societies generally avoid it. Why? That’s a long question, which would require at least a post of its own.

    Philemon, funny!

    Mog, I don’t know. It would be interesting to find out.

    Yet Another, are you comfortable with religion? Active involvement in a religious tradition is a good way to do that.

    Dragon, you’re most welcome.

    Simon, yes, and that tends to end in various kinds of mental illness. The whack on the arm is a very good thing!

    Michael, a lot of male musicians do that. It’s an effective way for them to get the inspiration and the etheric vitality they need to face the grueling demands of touring.

    KKA, thanks for this!

    Temporaryreality, er, remember that I have Aspergers syndrome and am very bad at taking hints. What about that passage did you want me to explain in more detail?

    Dusk Shine, take a box of kosher salt and a tablespoon of hot red pepper and mix thoroughly. Scatter it all over your carpet. Leave it for half an hour or so, and then vacuum it up, and empty the vacuum bag at once. That’s almost as good as mopping.

    Tony C, I’m not sufficiently familiar with Tibetan Buddhist terminology to have any idea.

    Graeme, that’s an intriguing question to which I don’t think we yet have the answer!

    Chris, here in the US it’s all but impossible to avoid meeting people in end-stage TDS, and yes, I noticed the resemblance. 😉

  137. I met a pornstar once…sort of. My wife and I were walking down the little country road that leads to our cabin maybe two years ago when an old Bronco II turned left in front of us, at the last turn available before cruising straight on to our cabin at the end of the road. Most unlikely place to see her. She was a very recognizable pornstar, and I recognized her, and she knew I recognized her. I could see her face light up and laugh uncontrollably at my recognition of her while strolling with my wife.

    I have a hard time imagining that she was feeling oppressed at that moment. In fact, after reading this essay, I might hazard a guess that very promiscuous women in general find themselves in possession of a male astral body, and probably enjoy the role they play. That was my take anyway.

  138. This is an odd question, but so far there seems to be the assumption the subtle bodies are straight; is it possible to have a gay subtle body?

  139. I wonder whether the people talking and asking about pornography are including cam sites under that heading. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on (one of) them, and I believe it’s helped me understand feminine sexuality as something more human and less forbidden and terrifying. The most popular cam performers tend to have loads of personality, for example; some don’t even take their clothes off.

    Understanding sexuality better as a natural extension of a person, in the way I’ve learned through this ostensibly “pornographic” medium, is something I dare say would have greatly improved my early twenties, when cam sites didn’t yet exist.

  140. @JMG re: “Sexual ornamentation” …. LOL! Sigh – every witch needs a good spell checker! But —one—that—knows—its—place!

  141. @JMG re “the uncritical adoration of a child feeds the feeling of being desired far more effectively than the possibly limited and conditional love of an adult man. …”

    Mercedes Lackey went that one better, and had me laughing. ..

    In a hilarious short story, she wrote of a middle-aged romance writer whose husband? Lover? had left her for a younger woman. At a literary convention where the news had gone around, the woman did a spell to conjure up the ideal lover, and specified hair color (blond), young, strong, handsome, and total devotion…. but did not specify species!

    Her ideal lover came bounding up to her, shook his golden fur, put his paws in her lap, and tried to lick her face while the convention-goers had the laugh of their lifetimes.

  142. JMG,

    You mention writers who have a feminine astral body and a masculine mental body. I would have guessed that being a writer at all would imply a masculine astral body, since it involves so much astral expression. Is there a difference between expression per se and polarized-creative-expression that I’m not understanding, or is it something else?

    Thank you!

  143. This was the most helpful and interesting thing I’ve read in a very long time. Thank you so much!

    This is one of those occasions where I’m trying to think and say 10 different things at once, and I don’t know how coherent this post will be. I’m going to try to break it up into separate things, which will hopefully flow into one another.

    1. I think that my subtle bodies follow an unusual pattern, going Male-Male-Female-Female. I think. I am very good at transmitting etheric energy, from what I can tell. Until coronavirus put an end to it, I made my living as a massage therapist, and I spent a lot of time learning energetic healing. I always used energetic techniques with my clients. I would never mention it before hand, but they frequently felt and asked about it, even if they’d never been around reiki or other energetic healing techniques before. I also successfully pulled off (sorry) two spells using Osman Spare’s best-known technique very early in my mgaical career. This leads me to think my etheric body is masculine. Meanwhile, I spent Monday and Tuesday looking at houses with my wife. Noticing the way that my mood, thoughts and emotions changed dramatically from one house to the next, I made the comment to her that I seem to have no boundaries whatsoever between myself and my environment. Not that this surprised her in any way.

    2. One thing I’ve noticed is that the female astral body in a male and heterosexual physical body seems to be very common in the science fiction and fantasy world. As you mentioned, the sexual fantasies of the female-astral-body tend to involve being taken or even raped– and one thing I’ve noticed in science fiction is that femdom abounds as in no other genre. Sometimes this is handled tastefully. Often it is not. At its worst, it takes the form that it did in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth novels from the 90s– remember those, anyone?– in which the otherwise lantern-jaw he-man hero regularly finds himself being tied up and beaten by women in leather outfits. Which he hates. Really, he swears, he doesn’t like it one bit, and he just wants to get back to his blushing bride, from whom he always seems to find himself separated, for some reason.

    Meanwhile, Mircea Eliade discussed the way that many of the shamans he described were what he called “sexual introverts.” While this was a polite way of saying “homosexual,” I think that it might actually be closer to the mark, because what we’re actually discussing are men who behave more like the stereotypical female in sexual matters. Science fiction writing, meanwhile, was for a long time the only mode of “walking between worlds,” the way that shamans do, that was acceptable in our culture. I wonder if there is something about having a female astral body stuffed into a male physical body that also leads to a talent for astral travel– which could be expressed expressed as shamanism or science fiction writing, depending on the cultural context.

    3. My magical career began this way. I had gotten DMK’s Modern Magick, but had no idea that I would really be able to do anything with it. Some roommates wanted to go to the beach to fly a kite, and I decided to come along. It was late evening when we arrived; strong winds were blowing, and as the sun sank, the full moon began to rise, and I was consumed with the desire to go running. I had been a long distance runner in high school, but other than this had not run for man years. But now I felt the need to run, and I did, up and down the sand dunes, while the moon rose high in the sky. When we got back to our apartment, I locked myself in my room and practiced the first lesson in the Kraig book. My life changed irrevocably that night. From then on I went running every day and practiced magic every day.

    Based on what you said to Brazzart above, I must have absorbed a tremendous amount of etheric energy, which I was able to use to break through my personal blocks and fuel my magical practices. This leads me to wonder if I’m etherically feminine after all– can masculine etheric bodies absorb etheric energy?

    Thinking back on my massage career, I notice the following: For a long time I was able to see 5 clients a day and still feel great afterward. But for the last year, I was unable to see more than one or two clients without feeling completely drained. What changed? For the years prior to 2019, I devoted a ton of my time to martial arts training. I would go directly from seeing my 4-5 clients at the spa where I worked to a gym in town where I could do a kung fu class at 5:30, stay for boxing or kickboxing at 6:30, and end it with an hour of krav maga or sparring at 7:30.

    Based on your comments above, all the fight training would have been replenishing my etheric tanks, which I then used to fuel my massage practice. Maybe I’m etherically feminine after all? Or hermaphroditic? Either way, it suggests that, if it ever becomes legal for human beings to touch one another again, I should consider returning to fighting if I’m also going to return to healing.

    4. Finally, a remark on larvae… I’ve noticed that practicing a tai chi sword form with a metal blade seems to have a very powerful effect in the area where it’s performed, similar to that of a banishing ritual. This seems to hold even if the metal blade is not sharp– but it does not work with a wooden practice sword. (At least, not in my experience.) I wonder if this is what’s going on– the blade is clearing larvae, in the same way as the nail technique you described.

  144. Indeed it is worth doing, and won a place in my daily ritual activities faster than any other facet to date. I mentioned it to my 12 y.o. daughter and she replied “of course, I do that almost every day.” These kids…

  145. @Justin Patrick Moore and JMG

    I am making my way through that book myself. I am almost finished.

    The philosophy of the Traditionalists is…esoteric to say the least. It is certainly interesting though.

    In an era of mass political mobilization though (especially online), I don’t see them as having much potential.

    The only way to do so, in my opinion, is the present themselves as figures who will protect and even restore the dignity of the provincial peasants against the relentless forces of elite overproduction (through the restoration of a “true” elite with a sense of nobility and stewardship), socio-cultural radicalism, disease, machines, and climate change.

  146. I frequently project an image of my desired. Previously I’d mostly tried to understand this phenomenon through a Jungian lens since it seemed to correspond the most closely with my experience, but identifying it with the astral plane of images makes so much more sense!

    Jungian analysis seems to cast projection in a negative light though.

    Does occult philosophy have this same understanding?

    In my own limited experience, when talking about it with women I date, having expectations hanging over them makes them uncomfortable, but if they are attracted to me, they enjoy the feeling of desire.

    For me projection doesn’t last, I guess this was Jung’s point? That for a stable relationship you have to move beyond projection to engage with the other planes as well.

  147. @Wesley
    “Stephen D’s comment about the “creative, artistic, feminine impulse” raises an interesting question – just what is it about our present-day society that causes so many people to classify things like art and music as feminine? It’s been something that has bugged me for a long time, seeing as how it can be rather harmful for boys and young men to grow up in a culture that tells them that if they’re into classical music and the fine arts then they’re not fully male, leading many of them to either give up their artistic interests, or conform to an alternative stereotype of the effeminate man.”

    Pretty Bizarre considering the stereotypically Masculine Civilization of Ancient Rome. Is also the result of the creative artistic impulse that results in an August Beauty.

    The Greatness of Glory.

    The Roman Legions for example had their arms and armor alongside their standards designed in a certain way. There is beauty and there is fearsome strength. So if Art can take this direction then there can be no doubt that Art is Unisex.

  148. @JMG

    No takers so far.I linked the book on Archive.org in my previous comment so you and others can read it. 🙂

    But as far as Ancient Greece I think Unwin covers that in his book too.

  149. Grover, interesting.

    Kevin, that’s an interesting question that none of my sources address. I’m not at all sure what that would amount to in practice.

    Still Not, I’ve never been to such a site (and have no intention of doing so) so have no idea. Anyone else?

    Patricia M, spellcheckers are a particularly feisty form of hobgoblin! As for the Lackey story, thanks for this — that’s funny, and makes me reconsider my generally low opinion of her fiction.

    Rohan, not at all. Creativity can be a matter of expression or it can be a matter of taking things in and letting them grow into new forms — rather like pregnancy. I have the latter kind of literary creativity.

    Steve, (1) that sounds plausible. (2) Is it a matter of an actually feminine astral body, or simply identifying with a fantasy that counterbalances the imbalances of the personality? (3) Every body can absorb etheric energy — it needs to do so to stay alive. The distinction is in the way energy moves specifically in creative activities. (4) Yes, exactly — I’ve had the same experience.

    Grover, your kids are obviously catching on. 😉

    Aidan, agreed — Traditionalism is one of those fringe ideologies that’s never going to be anything but fringe.

    Alvin, projection is always temporary, and if you want anything more than one-night stands you have to get past it. Jung was heavily influenced by occultism, by the way…

    Info, no doubt. It might be entertaining to see him try to argue his way around the historical facts.

  150. @JMG,

    Two questions:

    1) According to my very rudimentary knowledge, in traditional Chinese cosmology yang is the active, masculine force and yin is the receptive, feminine force; how well do these map onto the concepts of masculinity and femininity as applied to the subtle bodies?

    2) You’ve mentioned, in previous threads, having Asperger’s syndrome as a reason why you care so little about what other people think of you; you’ve also hinted in this thread that having a feminine astral body gives one a reduced need for “approval, praise, and respect” from others. Do these have anything to do with each other (if I am even reading you correctly at all, that is?)

  151. “Leuna, you may not consider yourself unduly clairvoyant, but that’s common or garden variety astral clairvoyance, and you’re seeing some of the spirits of the middle astral: a little creep-looking, but not harmful or demonic.”

    JMG, thank you for this. Yes, I never quite feel alone… And as I wrote, sometimes lovely images appear as well, so its not always the creepy-looking ones – but they’re kind of the baseline.

    I’ve followed a meditation path that is mystical in tradition for almost 25 years now. I have not consciously practiced magic, and don’t know how it would blend with my own path. But still, I’m interested to learn about the inner planes, and how they work together; are there books you can recommend? Many thanks.

  152. Maybe a little too practical a question, but would a knife made from old railroad spikes qualify as “iron”, or could steel work as well? For the larvae…
    Thank you for the thought provoking essay. I remember seeing a Rosicrucian drawing of a two gendered person split in half, top one gender, bottom the other, and it dawned on me as I was looking at it that the drawing was intending to say something about higher and lower and polarity, and that it was “literally” true, but only if you didn’t take it literally…if that makes sense. I had to supply the deduction, which was, men have a female soul (or most men do, anyway), and vice versa. It made a lot of sense of the world and other stuff…but this essay takes it much further. Tomberg also mentions it in the MotT.

  153. Oh, gosh, I didn’t think I was hinting at anything, sorry if that seemed cryptic – I really did just wonder if you had anything more to say on the subject of stagnant etheric energy. I’m still trying to figure out the various manifestations of the subtle bodies and am finding more details helpful

  154. Addendum: explains an awful lot about Oedipus complexes (Freud): he just picked up the failed, dysfunctional side and proclaimed it as normal. The child, more in touch with the soul and not yet warped, identifies strongly with the opposite gender parent as “higher” to it, and is drawn to that.

  155. Mog, JMG, others: the internet pornography industry, and the source of the functionally infinite quantity of free full-HD porn that is always no more than a click or two away is a Canada-based multinational called MindGeek. They have virtually a monopoly on it, owning all the sites you can probably name. That’s a good a place as any to start looking for the answer to that question.

  156. JMG, I can’t wait to pre-order the book! 😉 I wouldn’t be surprised if it were to become /the/ gateway drug to traditional, western occultism of the early 21st century.

    At the risk of repeating a question from earlier discussions on the subject, I wonder if you could you say something about the metaphysical aspects of entertaining sexual fantasies – with or without masturbating – with a person with whom one is in a consensual sexual relationship? Going beyond just mental imagery, can getting off using home-made porn featuring one’s long-distance partner be less problematic than consuming the industrial variety? Is this getting into the territory of “astral sex”?

  157. JMG, this comment is clearly an off-topic tangent, but I hope you see it fit to put through. In your response to Quift, you state: “It’s all very neat, but neatness belongs solely to the world of the Ideal; here in the world of manifestation, everything’s a muddle, and one consequence is that the ideal pattern manifests as a statistical average, with a great deal of variation in practice.”

    Well, consider the recent discovery that if you average out the shapes of rock fragments, you get… [drum-roll]…. a cube! The platonic solid associated with the classical element earth!

    Check out:

    https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/plato-was-right-earth-made-average-cubes

    I was simply gobsmacked by your generalization, as that article was fresh in my mind. There must be something profound here that I’d just love to get a better handle on. 1) Where/how did YOU learn that? 2) Where/how can I learn more? 3) Are you familiar with with using this generalization in novel situations, and to solve practical problems? 4) Man, how do you do it? I’ve been reading your blogs religiously since May, 2006, and the stuff you offhandedly toss out never ceases to amaze me. I don’t know of anybody else out there who routinely pups these profundities (Well, maybe Nassim Taleb, in the non-occult domain…). 5) And don’t forget your promised article on Hermann Hesse’s novels!

  158. Perhaps barbarian tribal peoples retain their vitality, which is then lost in civilisation, because they have a very clear idea as to what they are, and the structure of life is also uncomplicated. Abstract speculation does not block the flow of life.

    ‘This is what we are, how we live and what we do, and it’s been like that forever’. I’s all good, and lots of children keep it going.

    I recall a Basque friend of my father’s telling me that his father, who was totally rural, refused for the whole of his life to eat melons, for the simple reason that they are ‘the food of maketos’.

    Basques are Basques, everyone else is a ‘maketo’, and what maketos do is not for us.

    This is a very resilient and vital attitude, even though horribly limited and bigoted from the civilised, self-consciously cosmopolitan, perspective.

    But from the tribal view, it’s hugely affirmative and entirely positive -the reputed deliciousness of the melon does not outweigh the loss of identity, which is a loss of soul.

    Herodotus tells a story about a Scythian chief who took to visiting a great city and, unknown to his tribe, developed a taste for Greek food, music, bathing, and even wore the Greek dress of tunic and sandals. When the tribe heard of this, they murdered him, ‘because you will betray is one day’. He had taken a serious step away form them and their traditions.

    They were aware, of course, that whole peoples can disappear and fail, and we see this in Beowulf ,with the scene of ‘the last of his race’ burying the fatal treasure. This made tradition and cohesion all the more important.

    Nationalism, attempts to resurrect ancient tribalism but in a depleted, unreal and poisonous form, because the inner vitality and simple life of the tribe have long gone.

    It literally has no foundation, and no source of energy. No path from the past, nothing to the future.

  159. Your article and the comments are very interesting!

    I have had some peculiar experiences at distance, and wonder if you’d care to comment on them. Feel free to delete the comment if there is too much detail. I am a male and I try not to flirt with, or lead on, the women with whom I work. One particular co-worker seemed to be sweet on me, but she didn’t make passes at me. She walked past my cubicle one day, and I was suddenly hit by a strong impression of having my right middle finger in her vagina. The sensations were so realistic that I looked down at my finger to see if it was wet, and the sensation of warmth and wetness persisted for several minutes.
    Another time (on blue jeans Friday), I went to the office of the same lady to fix her computer. She sat on a window ledge about 8 feet away, watching me work and talking. As I worked, I to feel heat on the side of my face like what you would get from a space heater. The heat seemed to be coming from her ‘lady parts.’ I turned my head several times. It was very directional.

    Was she doing this on purpose? This is not my usual experience with coworkers.

  160. Thanks to your answers to two other people, I’ve pinpointed my polarity pattern. Feminine etheric body, masculine astral body. Possibly a masculine mental body – I not only keep coming out “scholar”, subset “pursuer of stories,” I’m pretty much of a self-starter when it comes to picking out topics for my papers. But like a squirrel, I keep scampering here and there in pursuit of nuggets of knowledge (or lore), carefully stash them away, and then forget where I put them! Career in the Star Ridge Universe: caretaker of the books.

    Physical body: female. And unlike the very strong and energetic Elizabeth Tudor, whose quote I mildly misremembered*, it is the body of “a weak and feeble woman.” A body run by someone with all the grace and daintiness, and toleration of discomfort in pursuit of the same, of a young boy. So it’s looking like a pattern of F-F-M-M at present. Somewhat influenced, I’m sure, by girl-style Asperger’s and Inattentive ADD. (In the common speech, “Geek & Daydreamer.”)

    *(The actual quote was, “I have the heart and *stomach* of a Prince.”)

    Possible indicator – what I really want from other people, more than love or any other thing, is to be taken seriously and respected. If deserved, of course. And agency and autonomy, now quite limited by circumstance.

    And to have someone I can talk to and exchange ideas with freely and say anything to: a soul-sister if you will. (Which up until the Primary of 2016, I had, until she became all irrational on The Other Party and The Rival Candidates are BAD, that’s it, end of story.)

    Okay – tentatively, F-F-M-M. A rider on F-F-M-F.

  161. P.S. The Lackey has written a lot of potboilers, that’s a fact.

    Though she does come up with a few gems, and I do think she has had some sort of occult training. One of my favorites is when one of her heroines asks her godmother, the village witch, what she does for a living. “I’m the District Nurse and Midwife.” Or when initiates in the local magical lodge keep insisting, to another who calls herself a witch, “Earth Mage!” the woman answers back that her family have been witches (British Traditional) and that’s what she is, Earth Mage (and their entire classification system) be hanged.

    Or another woman, finally invited to join the magical lodge, says “If I’d wanted to prance about in fancy robes, I’d join the Golden Dawn. They’re a lot less stuffy, and their (word forgotten) are better.”

  162. Thanks, I’ll check out W.E. Butler’s book.

    The conversation here made me think of something that’s been bothering me for about twenty years (I’m fourty now). As a kid and teenager, I used to love drawing. It was my sanctuary. When I sat down at a table with a big sheet of paper and a pencil, I felt connected to something divine, for want of a better word, and felt replenished. Then, for various reasons, I became deeply depressed and twenty years ago that connection somehow… died. When I try to draw now (I am still depressed), I become agitated and feel like I can’t do it (and I can’t) and there’s no connection to whatever it was I was sensing, and I run away. The line is dead.

    This post on sex and the subtle bodies has a lot to do with creativity. It made me wonder if something went wrong on one or all of the other planes and if there’s something I can do to restore balance and maybe resurrect the ability to do art. The best sexual equivalent I can think of is that it’s like suffering from anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasm) but still feeling horny and wanting to climax and thus ending up frustrated.

  163. >>”Quift, that kind of rigid theoretical structure is very popular among metaphysicians who don’t have much practical experience with human energetics. It’s all very neat, but neatness belongs solely to the world of the Ideal; here in the world of manifestation, everything’s a muddle, and one consequence is that the ideal pattern manifests as a statistical average, with a great deal of variation in practice. If you put some time into energetic healing arts, say, or the kind of magic that requires balancing polarities among members of a lodge, you’ll find very quickly that the physical gender of a person is not a reliable marker for their etheric or astral genders!”

    The practical experience you describe is not at odds with the Metaphysics of Plotinus, Ptolmaios and Plato, if correctly understood. I argue for a simple case of mistaken identidy.

    I propose that the subtle bodies you describe are the 4 subtle elemental bodies, situated on the feminine Astral plane, ie the “world of forms” of Plato. Now, the gender of the subtle elemental bodies is of course not entwined with the causal chain of being, aka the the series of emanations (the planes), and thus there is no break between the strict metaphysics, or as you call it “the rigid theoretical structure” of Platonism, and the expereince you describe.

    I suggest that the subtle bodies you manipulate are these 4 bodies:
    Earth – imaterial form
    Water – Etheric
    Air – Astral
    Fire – mental

    Just as a physical body is gendered, so is the “Astral” body (Air) either male of female.
    Together, these bodies then constitute the “form”, idea or shape, of an individual, which is then projected into the “World of manifestation” through the 7 planetary spheres.

    Now this doesn’t in any way break the strict, rigid, logic of Platonism. The Material plane is always female (receptive from above) and can hold both male and female bodies. But now the vertical axis and the horisontal axis are correctly distinguished.

    Of course the manifested physical body of the grosser elements (actual atoms, eletromagnetic currents, biophotons and systemwide emergent properties), will not be a perfect representation of the form/idea of the individual on the astral plane. A person with a female subtle Earth body should always have a functioning female physical body, but sometimes manifestation screws up. None of us is truly our ideal self after all. Hence we get hermaphrodites, stillborn children and other ill cast forms. And given that we are all cast in an imperfect mould we all have our work cut out for us, to work upon ourselves, to re-cast ourselves to approach our own, unique ideal form.

    The tripartite Soul is of course “above” the Astral plane, given it’s atemporality. The world of forms, ie the astral plane, being the mediator between the atemporal (divine) and the temporal (profane). And by developing our lower self, we reach fruition and climb out of the temporal into the Light (cross over the Astral realm threshhold into the atemporal).

    Addendum:
    The 4 subtle elemental bodies of course correspond to the 4 elemental worlds of the Norse Edda:

    Earth – Svartalfhem. Populated by the Larvae that ate the body of Ymer. The Underworld.
    Water – Vanhem. Populated by the Vanir.
    Air – Alfhem. Populated by the other half of the Larvae, the Elves.
    Fire – Helhem, the home of those wretched souls who are trapped in their identification with their lower selves.

    Thus we can see what elemental entity can affect each elemental body. Hence we can understand why “Larvae” just like elves don’t like Iron 😉

    Final note.

    I saw you did a heathen version of some Golden Dawn magic where you asked your female readers to invoke Skade in their vagina.. Are you really sure that the Icy B****, Maiden (Virgo) of the Gods, who has given us the word Schadenfraude, is the correct deity to invoke into a vagina? Is it supposed to have cooling effect? Is the intent to torture the male Ego (Loki)?
    Personally I would go with Idun, the fountain of everlasting youth.

  164. Reading the description of jabbing a blade all around someone to remove a parasite, an idea came to mind. An oversize iron maiden whose spikes only reach the energy body. That could save some time. 🙂 You could have production line etheric cleansing and send one person after another in. If you had a building you wanted to keep pure you could install one in the doorway and require all visitors go through it. 🙂

  165. Hello Mr Greer,

    Are you considering writing a post about depression in terms of esoteric philosophy?
    First, it is an increasingly common mental disorder, very common among environmental activists. I believe that participation in mainstream activism may be one of the reasons for the persistence or worsening of depression, especially among young people who do not have sufficient knowledge about ecology and they are lacking a healthy spiritual connection with nature.
    I think many people who are active in environmental movements would benefit from tips on how to protect their spirit and mental health, especially if an activism, and fear for the future the planet, apparently causes them a lot of suffering.

  166. @squirrel, pixelated:

    Thank you for your stories. I am a man and still going through a similar phase (hope it’s a phase!). My wife completely lost her sexual desire one month after childbirth. In her case, it was combined with depression and, for a while, extreme insomnia. Our daughter is six now, we have changed countries, she has learned a new language, her insomnia is now mostly under control (though she is always afraid it might come back) – and sex is still incredibly rare: once a month if I’m lucky, sometimes four months. For context, when our daughter was born, we were in our mid-thirties, and before that, she had a healthy sexual appetite.

    @pixelated, I share the feelings of your husband: even worse than the absence of sex was the aversion to contact. That has now subsided – we embrace again, sometimes she touches or kisses me, and that is what gives me hope that things may continue to improve. JMG’s lesson this week helps me understand why such touches are so important for me (I need to go outdoors every day, too). But it is slower than I would have thought possible.

  167. “jing or semen, if retained in the body, can transmute to qi or life energy, and then to shen or mental/spiritual energy.”

    These are interesting concepts, which have many further ramifications. Semen is considered in Chinese thought to be a carrier of “jing” (often translated as “essence”) to the next generation. But we are all endowed within ourselves with a complement of “jing” received at the moment of conception, which, in a sense determines the normal span of our lifetime from that moment, as it can also be considered as the store of “potential” or of “future” allotted to us. Through a lifetime, our jing is transformed into “qi” or the energy each day, which is where our “present” acts and choices transform “potential” or “futures” contained within the “jing” into “experience” or “pasts” which is stored as “shen”. A lifetime comes to its own natural ending when all of its “potential” has been transformed into “experience” and it has no more allotted “futures” or “jing” left. (I will credit this line of thinking to the Classical Acupuncture and Daoist Priest, Jeffrey Yuen. He is, of course, in no way responsible for any way I may have mangled it).

    I know very little of Daoist alchemy (which another commenter has credited to a remembered very lengthy lifetime), but in my very basic understanding, its techniques involve either the extreme slowing down of the “forwards” process of converting jing to shen (potential to experience, future to past) or the instigation of “backwards” processes involving re-transformation of experience to potential, of past to future. Since one’s allotted “potential” is not increased, but only stretched or recycled, at the expense of one’s capacity to store “experience” – ie what one is actually here to gain and store for the use of one’s Individuality – I can well imagine that this will eventually feel, Baggins-like. like “too little butter spread on too much bread.”

  168. Does anyone know if the spiritual, causal and divine planes are gendered?

    It struck me that in Hinduism, male gods are sometimes seen as passive, while their creative energies are personified as female!

  169. “Creativity can be a matter of expression or it can be a matter of taking things in and letting them grow into new forms — rather like pregnancy.”

    Actually, I have been pondering quite a bit on the nature of a pregnancy in relation to the concepts developed in this post. It seems to me that a pregnancy is a complicated affair that begins with a “taking in”. It continues with a period of “holding” “nurturing” and “growing” in the dark inner depths of a womb. And it finishes with a “giving out” – the baby is “given to the light” (that delightful concept familiar to Spanish speakers). It strikes me that the “taking in” is a feminine act. The “holding” and “nurturing” and “growing” is an interchange of feminine and masculine, giving and receiving – a continuous dynamic. And the that the “giving out” which is birth is a masculine act.

    So, it strikes me that a successful pregnancy necessitates the full functioning of both a feminine material body and a masculine etheric body. The pregnancy will require a huge donation of etheric force (and if the Cosmic Doctrine “plane mathematics” is anything to go by, every bit of “matter” in a new body requires a donation of a “matter squared” quantity of etheric force), received into the material body of both mother and baby as it grows, and the birth itself must be an explosion of etheric masculinity “giving” the baby out to the world.

    As a TCM practitioner I have given a great deal of thought over the years to the ways of the material and the etheric bodies, but I’ve given much less to the ways of the astral and mental bodies/sheathes. But I’m guessing the “pregnancy” that produces a book in the way you describe is also a process that draws in, holds/grows, and gives out. There must be both feminine and masculine components, perhaps on different planes.

  170. “I think you may be confusing the etheric body and the mental sheath.”

    Yes, I was. I thought I might have got something disarranged in that comment, as I kept thinking about it if I had it write as I wrote my comment. Thanks for getting these ideas back in circulation!

  171. @ Pixelated, thank you for such a detailed and helpful response. This has given me much to think about. Being etherically depleted and having a higher needs kid seems like a fitting description. I wonder if the fact that we have a boy rather than a girl makes the etheric demands higher? She also hasn’t slept well since before he was born, and has gone through a nasty and draining breakup with her parents, so it’s been a rough couple of years for her.

    @ JMG, thanks for the response, that diagnosis unfortunately rings true for me. I think maybe what I’ve got is a little bit of what Pixelated describes and a little of what you describe: An etherically depleted wife who is focusing her limited etheric energies on our son, for a mix of reasons both healthy and unhealthy. I have much to ponder.

    This post and subsequent discussion has been very helpful at giving me a framework for thinking about sex, relationships, and myself. If you have more to say on the subject or have further resources I’d love to hear it! I got deeply into yoga a while back and I’m struck by how similar yet different the western occult framework is to the occult yoga traditions. Perhaps it was just my teachers, but the deeper yoga teachings always felt intriguing but a bit hard for me to integrate and apply to me, whereas the western occult framework seems to be an easier more intuitive fit for me, if that makes any sense.

  172. Thanks for answering my question on incest.

    Your post clarified something for me – gender fluidity. Several generations of my family were gender fluid. They would move from one gender to the other. However, in public, they presented themselves as either heterosexual male or heterosexual female. This has continued on in recent generations.

    I hope I am reading correctly what you wrote about magic and gender. How does fluidity come into play?

  173. Wine and Chocolate and upper class women i.e. Karens or AWFLS or TDS people. Since these substances are mood changers and have been used in religious rituals, are these people seeking sex in food? Is there a reason why these two foods would be the drug of choice?

    As for me, I indulge in potatoes and bread.

    An aside – about women’s romances – I bumped into “Dark Mafia Romance.” Instead of vampires (Twilight) or BDSM (50 Shades), we have gangsters with guns….. I have to ponder that. My working theory is that these novels attract the upper class crowd who long to be overwhelmed and carried off.

  174. “As long as you find creative or nurturing outlets for your life force, you should be fine.”

    I suppose that is why middle aged single women are famous for their cats. I was thinking about the loss of handycrafts nowadays. When you read period books the women always seem to do some kind of needlecraft or poorer women would knit or weave. I presume these activities were a good use of the life force that women have. Nowadays, though it’s TV, scrolling your smartphone and even reading books has declined due to the amount of time people spend online. I am guilty of not being the creative person I would like to be due to online distractions. As a culture, what is the effect on females who are taught to consume not create?

    Bridge

  175. HI John
    I just have to say thank you for this essay ( a full book on the subject would so good for so many).

    I really like how by defining male and female so basically/ fundamentally it begins to transform the connotations around the ideas of masculinity and femininity.
    Male is outward flow.
    Female is inward flow.
    Breathing in is feminine, breathing out is masculine.
    Eating is feminine, defecating is masculine.
    Being pregnant is feminine, giving birth is masculine. (ha ha that is weird)
    Listening is feminine, talking is masculine.
    Learning is feminine, teaching is masculine.
    Being cared for is feminine, caring for others is masculine. (lol another weird one)
    Children are feminine and parents are masculine.

    When you think of it like this every person has feminine and masculine traits (does masculine and feminine activities) otherwise we would explode or shrivel. So I am guessing that on every plane a person is mix of masculine and feminine, but on any one plane a person will be a bit unbalanced in one direction or the other. And it makes some sense that from one plane to another that lack of balance would alternate to achieve a different sort of balance across all the planes.

    So that leads me to a question. Does the degree of polarization or being unbalanced towards the feminine or masculine on the various planes effect the flow from the spiritual plane to the material plane? Should you try for being balanced on each plane or try for balancing the maleness in one plane with the femaleness of another plane?

  176. Would it be oversimplifying things to apply the genders of the subtle bodies to so-called personality ‘disorders’? I was rather coincidentally reading about the various types of what modern psychology labels disorders*, and the description I read about narcissism states that narcissists have a distortedly strong sense of self-worth coupled with a deep desire for the approval of others. To me, that could either imply a male gender on the astral plane (grandiose self-image) or it could imply a female gender on the astral plane (the desire for approval implies the desire to fill a lack, therefore it’s receptive in nature).

    * I say disorders with quotes not because those conditions are not in of themselves negative, but because from the little I know about modern psychology, a disorder is a term given to those who do not function ‘normally’ according to the standard of society, and that definition of ‘normal’ is heavily weighed with the baggage of that society.

  177. This is very interesting.

    So what is commonly referred to as ‘sex’ is material gender, and what is commonly referred to as ‘gender’ seems to be astral gender, right? Our society doesn’t seem aware enough of the reality of etheric phenomena to take it into account.

    So from that I think being transgender is to have developed an astral gender that is not the same as the material gender one was born with. Cis-normativity assigns an astral gender to each individual by looking at the material one at birth and not worrying about it, but we can now see that there can be variations on the ‘normal’ alternating order of the bodies’ polarities. Instead of assuming, I guess we should let the individual develop whatever set of gender poles they develop, right?

    Does a different set of gender poles (different to +, -, +, – or -, +, -, +) cause problems within the individual other than complicating compatibility with others?

  178. I just thought of another thing.

    Gender (as in, the astral one) seems to trump sex when they are not in the same pole. A transgender man is a man with a feminine material gender, but we as a society would treat him as a man.

    It seems that this has to do with astral bodies being our highest fully developed body, doesn’t it?

  179. Wesley, you’d want to ask someone who’s more familiar with the fine details of Taoist theory than I am. As for the relation between the polarity of my astral body and my Aspergers syndrome, I think those are two distinct things, although of course they interact.

    Lleuna, 25 years of regular meditation will open up the inner senses very effectively! As for books on the inner planes, the old Theosophical literature covers a great deal of that, though you have to be willing to put up with their somewhat ornate terminology. Geoffrey Hodson’s books — The Kingdom of the Gods might be a good starting place — are better than most.

    Hermit, unfortunately not — the subtle bodies are like the material body, there are some things you can change about them and a lot that you just have to live with.

    Arkansas, iron and steel are magically identical, so anything you can do with one you can do with the other. Good for you, for catching the message of the Rosicrucian emblem!

  180. JMG– That’s interesting. Still– This may only be intuition, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that many people who are drawn to magic and occultism will be found to have one of the less common arrangements of subtle bodies. I’m basing this on my own experience, but also on the fact that various modes of gender switching and sexual deviance seem to be quite common among religious specialists in societies wherein those specialists do practical magic of some sort. This ranges from Eliade’s “sexual invert” shamans to the prevalence of homosexuality among the Catholic priesthood.

  181. One of Charles Godfrey Leland’s more interesting books seems very relevant to this entire discussion: “The Alternate Sex; or The Female Intellect in Man and the Masculine in Woman” (1904). One can download the book from several web-sites, including this one:

    https://archive.org/details/alternatesexorfe00lelarich

    Leland doesn’t work with the idea of a hierarchy of various planes (material, etheric, etc.), but with the idea that every (normal) human body contains a multitude of selves–including at least one of the opposite sex from the physical body that houses all these selves. Even so, I think his conclusions mesh well with our host’s very astute insights here.

  182. @Anonymous Squirrel and domroeschen76 you’re very welcome. If it helps you at all talk to your wives, the term women use when they really to reach other about this is ” feeling touched out”. Lurking on forums with people talking about how that manifests might help you figure out how to find language to ask your wife for what you need in a way that avoids “triggering” that. I hope they are self aware enough women to know you are hurting too, and will be receptive. Going back to my statement about how I think this is the most deeply damaging misunderstanding our culture has about motherhood – that Freudian explanation is the perfect exhibit A. That’s Freud recasting things into the most unhelpful, negative way that nevertheless ends up helpfully shining a light on it anyway! That, that shame of being considered a sick, evil woman with stuck desires for finishing a natural human function is It right there, that your wife is dealing with. And when people are taught by their culture to be ashamed of they desire for natural functions, they come to druid blogs to ask about masturbation 😉.

    @domroeschen76 I think there is further potential things you can do, because your child is older, but I’ll tell a long story to show what I mean…

    @Scotlyn said “The pregnancy will require a huge donation of etheric force (and if the Cosmic Doctrine “plane mathematics” is anything to go by, every bit of “matter” in a new body requires a donation of a “matter squared” quantity of etheric force), received into the material body of both mother and baby as it grows, and the birth itself must be an explosion of etheric masculinity “giving” the baby out to the world.”

    and that is a key – humans with our big heads need to give birth to our babies three months early compared to our great ape ancestors. Our babies are functionally half baked at the best of times. And, given the law of the discreteness of the planes, it is so much more difficult to continue transferring nutrients (breastmilk ) and life force to our babies after they’re no longer physically attached with the placenta. So that transfer effort after the physical birth isn’t just three months, it goes on for much longer depending on both mother and baby’s health. The Great Bear Ursa major gave me that clue – bears are also born premature, and She is our symbol of Great Mother because the bear mother was believed to lick the baby into form after it was born a shapeless lump. There’s deeper meaning on the relative lengths of time development takes on different planes there, too…

    And just like regular birth and pregnancy, things can go wrong. Some women will unhealthily hang on too long, now that their body didn’t force the issue on when this “pregnancy” ends. But our culture has lost the ability to discern healthy attachment, and while we save lives because we are better at knowing how long a full term pregnancy is, because we can use ultrasound to check, we have no ultrasound to tell whether the “fourth trimester” of energy transfer is healthy. As an example, my son, my first, was full term, but my body didn’t go into labour out even though there was no amniotic fluid left – my body would have kept him in until he died (my placenta had abrupted and we were secretly bleeding to death inside) without ultrasound finding a problem. My daughter was born seven weeks early, but my blood pressure was so high we would have both died if she wasn’t forced out early. So my fourth trimesters were harder, and longer, but ultimately I think compensated for the physical breakdown on the first birth to give a “healthy birth” later from the fourth trimester. Now my husband has a live wife and two live children to love him! And now they are being “born” to him, as they don’t need my life force, they need his intellectual fathering.

    The more you are able – insist, if your wife is resistant – to take over that masculine astral plane role with your child, the more the child will initiate separating from your wife on her own initiative if her attachment is really unhealthily “overdue”. Best wishes!

    (my theory is that children are generally relatively all receptive compared to adults, and slowly develop invading strength in polarity as they age, consistent with the way they reach known psychological milestones… I’m going to work on this…).

  183. Are there steps to mental hygiene to go along with physical/etheric/astral hygiene?

  184. Newspaper says James Randi is 92 today.

    How do you go 92 years without EVER thinking “Maybe there’s more to this?” about ANYTHING? 😳

  185. Is tiredness on the material plane always connected to a lack of etheric life force, or is it possible to have one but not the other?

  186. Thank you for this fascinating essay! The distinctions you make have practical consequences, but here I want to ask about the history.

    Is the boundary between astral and mental phenomena similar to the medieval distinction between ratio and intellectus (I’m still reading The Discarded Image)? Intellectus, the immediate and indivisible grasp of truth, is enjoyed in its perfection by angels, while humans only have a clouded version of it (intelligentia). Ratio is step-by-step thinking. Of course, what you call astral includes also emotions and images, so it is wider than just ratio.

    About the vital force, you say “most cultures around the world and throughout history have had straightforward ways of talking about it. It’s only in the cultures of the modern industrial West that they’ve been stigmatized as things that do not, cannot, and must not exist.” How far back does that stigmatization go? It seems to me that pneuma, nephesh and spiritus sometimes have meanings that go a bit into this direction, but from my limited experience, I don’t know classical sources that teach anything similar to what you wrote here.

  187. Thank you, pixelated!

    I have always been the one to take our daughter on long walks since she was a baby (so much so that I was known in the car-dominated place we then lived in as “that guy who is always walking around with a baby on his hip”), to talk with her, read to her and go to places in general, while my wife will cook for her, kiss her, hug her, bite her and cuddle with her (not that she doesn’t have an intellectual side, she is doing her PhD, but with our daughter it is entirely physical).

    With regard to the physical side between us, what gives me hope is that for the first time in six years she is actively taking steps to try and regain her desire. Before that, she would say that she was completely OK with living the rest of her life celibate.

  188. Temporaryreality, no problem. If you know any middle-aged women who don’t have any creative or nurturing outlet for their etheric energy — this is very common among the well-to-do classes these days, and not at all rare more generally — think of the various uncomfortable vibes they tend to develop. Those are very often at least partly a function of stagnant etheric energy.

    Arkansas, it does indeed.

    Legacy, interesting. I didn’t know that.

    BigZ, if it’s consensual, it’s fine, and will tend to increase the polarization and thus result in a livelier time when the two of you can get together. Yes, that’s beginning to touch on astral sexuality.

    LunarApprentice, I’m not surprised at all. Perfect cubes don’t exist in the world of matter, but the statistical average of all rock shapes is a cube — yeah, that’s basically empirical evidence for a basic tenet of Platonism.

    Xabier, abstract speculation may not block the flow of life, but confusing abstractions with concrete realities certainly does! The tribe is a concrete reality, while nations, races, etc. are abstractions.

    Conundrum, she was quite possibly fantasizing about the finger. As for the energy flow, yep — the genital center is a very powerful energy center in both sexes, and in women with the usual polarity of subtle bodies, it can project a lot of energy. One experiment I recommend for those of my readers with lady friends: have her lie down with her legs spread, and hold your hand, palm facing her crotch, a few feet away. Pay attention to what you feel.

    Patricia M, duly noted! As for Lackey, that’s good to hear. I read a couple of her fantasy novels (The Last Hairball-Mage and I forget the other one) and was extremely underwhelmed.

    Piglet, have you tried journaling about that? It sounds as though there could be a psychological block.

    Quift, one of the besetting sins of the armchair metaphysician is exactly that habit of trying to cram inconvenient experiences into a rigid theoretical structure via verbal handwaving. As for Skadi, I’m not a Heathen, and I took the advice of a Heathen I’ve worked with; if you don’t like it, by all means do something else.

    Yorkshire, funny. Potentially practical, but funny.

    Michał, I’ll consider that.

    Scotlyn, thanks for this.

    Tidlösa, since we don’t have bodies on those planes yet, we can’t have gender there. Beings who have seven-plane bodies would logically have genders on those planes as well.

    Scotlyn, and thanks for this also! That makes a great deal of sense.

    Justin, you’re most welcome.

    Neptunesdolphins, the texts I have on the subject don’t even have the concept of gender fluidity. The question I’d have is whether there’s an actual change of energy direction or if it’s simply a matter of having to deal with the complexities of culturally defined gender roles that don’t fit. (Potatoes and bread sound much healthier.)

    Bridge, I suspect it’s one of the things that produces the AWFL/Karen effect. A desire to nurture, in a cultural context where actual nurturing is unfashionable, can very easily become distorted into a desire to dominate and punish.

    Skyrider, excellent! That’s quite accurate. As for your question, the polarities of your subtle bodies relate to how you deal with other people and with the world, not so much to the downward flow of spirit into matter and the upward flow from matter into spirit. It seems to work best to accept them as they are and try to find healthy and productive ways of fulfilling their needs, rather than trying to push them into a balance that isn’t natural to them.

    Jbucks, good question. That would take a lot of study and meditation to work out.

    Churrundo, I’m not sure that there’s so direct a connection to transgender status; your self-image and your astral body, after all, are two different things (though the self-image exists on the astral level).

    Steve, it’s certainly true that magic generally speaking attracts the odd, the eccentric, and the dissenting, so that would probably follow.

    Robert, thanks for this. Something else on the reading list! (I’m digging my way through the writings of Ethan Allen Hitchcock right now…)

    Kevin, there are indeed.

    Your Kittenship, I didn’t know that he was still alive! As for your question, he’s gay, and I suspect that his attitude toward everything spiritual was soured by the attitude of the churches toward homosexuality. That’s extraordinarily common among gay and lesbian people.

    Dathruk, you can also just be tired because your muscles have done a lot of work or because your material body hasn’t slept in a while!

    Matthias, exactly — intellectus in the medieval sense of the word is the activity of mind on the mental plane, while mens is its activity on the astral plane, and ratio is the astral mind trained to follow patterns derived indirectly from the mental plane. As for the life force, it’s spiritus in medieval language; I’m less familiar with the classical terminology. That I know of, the stigmatization of the life force came in with rationalism and materialism in the 17th century.

  189. John, regarding Misogi, “Shinto Norito–A Book of Prayers” by Ann Llewellyn Evans (2001, Matsuri Foundation of Canada) devotes about seven pages to it with a couple of useful line drawings. It refers to Yukitaka Yamamoto, chief priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Japan, in “Kami no Michi: The Way of the Kami (Stockton Cal.: Tsubaki America, 1999). I have that latter book somewhere and will probably locate it within the next month as I move my book collection out. He describes the philosophy behind it.
    Yamamoto says, “Misogi s effective in restoring the natural greatness of soul of which man is capable. Misogi in the style of Tsubaki Greand Shrine has been practiced for centuries, and there is good reason to believe that people in ages past knew more of the secrets of nature than we know in our modern state of alienation from nature. My own experience with midogi for almost 60 years convinces me of its power to do may good things for those who are receptive to its healing and renewing power.”

    Tsubaki Grand Shrine in America has a page on misogi shuho: https://www.tsubakishrine.org/misogishuho/index.html
    It doesn’t go into the details of the ritual as much as Evans’ book does, but it describes the mythic origin. I was lucky to be able to visit the shrine and experience misogi directly there. Because of the current crisis, they are only allowing shrine members in.
    But here is another page that does go into detail: http://tsubakishrine.net/kaminomichi/kami_no_michi_appendix_c.html
    I am trying to find a video demonstrating this, as it is apt to be more helpful than a verbal description.If I find one, I’ll link to it.

    I’ve practiced misogi by Tsubaki Grand Shrine’s format, adding a few elements from the Fuji Sect on my own, the practice having died out there decades ago. Many say the “austerity” that was taken up in its place was the devoted pursuit of “business.” The one other member who practices misogi regularly travels out to Tsubaki Grand Shrine south of Nagoya for it. I think everyone in the sect physically capable of it has undertaken the most important austerity of our sect, climbing Mt. Fuji. The two of us practicing misogi have also on our own traversed the “Middle Way” of Mt. Fuji, which has been practically obliterated by decades of neglect. I will try again this summer, but after a month of torrential rain, it may prove very difficult.

    I once undertook misogi with a Shugendo sect headquartered in Kyoto, but they all just ran out into a lukewarm river without any preceding formalities and recited the Rokkon Shojo once. As it was a hot day, that was nothing but a relief. In heavy clothing, it is very easy to suffer from heat exhaustion during their trek. That sect formally chose Buddhism 140 some odd years ago during the Meiji Era when Shugendo sects were prohibited by law from mixing Buddhism and Shinto. Sects devoted to mountains such as Fujisan or On-take chose Shinto. Buddhism is wonderful but it tends to disavow this world.

  190. @Lady Cutekitten

    Randi’s first speciality as a magician was, IIRC, escape artistry, which is an extremely demanding art both physically and intellectually, and an art that appeals to people who fancy themselves indominable, able to evade every constraint and overcome every obstacle even when the risk of death is very high. If your whole career is devoted to demonstrating that you–that sufficiently skilled human beings–have wills that nothing can successfully thwart and hearts that nothing can daunt, then you’re already inclined to resist the idea that there is any sort of higher reality.

    The Great Houdini–the mentor of all modern escape artists–exemplified this to a T. He was utterly fascinated by the claims of spiritualists and occultists, and he built a superb library of their publications (now in the Library of Congress), but he also moved heaven and earth to prove them all to be frauds and cheats. There is strong reason to suspect that Houdini deliberately planted evidence of fraud at one of Margery Crandon’s seances, after it became clear to him that he could not catch her out in any trickery, instead of conceding that she might indeed have had some genuine occult power.

    Didn’t Randi say once, apropos his famous challenge, “I always have an out”?

  191. @JMG – you were reading her juvenilia. She continued the My Little Pony series because it was making money, and is still writing in that world, but with more sophistication. It’s popular. Even my friend Jay, who identified with Vanyel decades ago, no longer does.

    She has another series set in Victorian England-through-WWI, mixing Elemental Magic with social commentary, inspired by fairy tales, and – enter Sherlock Holmes, stage left, Ye Compleat Skeptic but with enough intellectual integrity to believe what he has seen with his own eyes, though the bafflegab “scientific” explanation Watson gives him for a magical phenomenon had me snorting and giggling again. Now, she doesn’t have the depth either Diana Paxson or Rosemary Edgehill have, but she skewers the Bloomsbury – what’s the period’s equivalent of New Agers? – quite nicely as well. Her main fault is that her baddies are evilly evil with evil sauce – which is also one of Steve Stirling’s faults as a writer.

    Okay – back on topic. How do you tell the polarity of a person’s mental sheaf when they’re not really creating, but rather, synthesizing? Such as putting together a research paper.

  192. @JMG said, “As for the relation between the polarity of my astral body and my Aspergers syndrome, I think those are two distinct things, although of course they interact.”

    That seems reasonable to me. I’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome too but, as far as I can tell from what’s been said here, I have the usual polarity of subtle bodies (and I think that a lot of astral masculinity is involved with my ability to compose music for multiple instruments/voices).

    Two other questions.

    1) You’ve mentioned that the Solar Logos has bodies on all seven planes, and from what’s been said so far it seems that the physical and astral bodies are masculine. Do the other five also follow the usual alternating polarities? Is the Earth configured opposite the Sun (i.e. receiving physical and astral light, giving off etheric force, etc.?)

    2) You’ve mentioned that both water and iron/steel have important etheric properties. Does this have any ramifications for someone who drinks most of his water out of steel vessels?

  193. Re: “A good cook charges the food with etheric force….”

    There’s a novel called “Like Water for Chocolate” which shows this very clearly. Originally published in Spanish. And a movie, in Spanish, based on it, for those of your readers who respond to pixels on a screen.

  194. Hello JMG

    You’ve mentioned a couple of times that cooking can charge the food with etheric energy. Could you elaborate on how to do that?

    SMJ

  195. Not sure if this has come up yet, but many male mystics concieve of themselves as “feminine” when experiencing God. Logical, if their mental sheath is feminine! A comparative study with female mystics might be interesting…

  196. Would you mind elaborating on how to engage in mental cleanliness? Or is this one of those “meditate on it” things?

  197. JMG,

    Thank you so much for this post. I have lots of questions regarding this topic, and I’ll start with some of my observations. I lived in a country for a long time where prostitution was legal, and during times when I was single, I would go to see prostitutes and I would that etheric charge that I needed, and it was always a nice, pleasant experience.

    However, when I would go to prostitutes when I was seeing someone, the experience wasn’t as pleasant, in fact, it was often difficult, and sex with my normal partner afterward would feel off, sometime for weeks, sometime for months, sometimes permanently. I have always wondered why.

  198. In what kind of medieval literature is spiritus used in the technical sense you give here for the life force: overflowing from one to another person, starved, congested, infested etc. ? Only in underground manuals or also in the official theological and philosophical tomes?

  199. Mercedes Lackey frequently writes for quora.com. She says she’s had 135 books traditionally published, so I pay attention to what she says on that subject. On all other subjects… she’s a lot like Randi, oddly enough!

    I haven’t read any of her books.

  200. It occurs to me that I ought to remind readers of Leland’s “Alternate Sex” that he was a man of his times in his views of presumed “essential” differences between “races” and sexes. His argumention, in so far as it rests on such (racist and sexist) premises, is shoddy.

    IMHO, the value of his book lies not in its specious arguments and reasons, but in the author’s own keen direct observations about the complexity of the human being and the inherent disunity of the several selves that it contains. It definitely foreshadows Jung’s theory of the animus/anima, but develops it in other ways than Jung did.

  201. Patricia O, many thanks for this! I’n not at all surprised that Tsubaki Grand Shrine in America has a page on it — that’s where I was introduced to the practice, too, in the bone-chilling waters of the Pilchuck River.

    Patricia M., so noted! As for the polarity of the mental sheath, that’s a tough one, and can take a lot of reflection.

    Wesley, (1) that would certainly follow from the traditional sources. (2) It shouldn’t be harmful, certainly, though the water may be a little etherically flat.

    Patricia M., that’s an excellent poinnt — and the novel’s quite good.

    SMJ, it’s not something you have to do deliberately. The cooking process is a mild form of alchemy, and one of the secrets of alchemy is that when you take something through certain processes involving heat, there’s an etheric interchange between the person and the material being processed.

    Tidlösa, that’s an excellent point.

    Kevin, it’s more that it would take an entire post of its own. In the meantime, yes, you should meditate on it!

    Michael, interesting. I don’t recall seeing anything in the material that would explain that, but I’ll reread some books.

    Matthias, I’m not familiar with medieval literature that goes into that kind of detail about spiritus.

    Your Kittenship, she certainly deserves respect as one of the very modest number of authors who has been able to make a decent living with her keyboard.

  202. This has been a super interesting read (took me a few days to think it over). As far as I can tell, I seem to be F/both/M/(M?). I say “both” for my etheric body because I feel like I at least have the capacity/motivation for putting a lot of energy into things like homemade food, clothes, and particularly stories (I mean this separately from the content of the story itself)–but I also hold a difficult-to-shake feeling that if I let people see me doing this or get used to it, they’ll expect too much of me and drain me, so I put it somewhere no one can access it (including myself. I suspect a lot of the lurking I do online is functionally equivalent to dumping bottles of wine (etheric energy)–or maybe vinegar in my case–down a drain when no one’s looking). I also get weirdly dependent on my RP buddies (text RPs–we each control different characters and take turns writing paragraphs in response to each other. It’s something like co-writing the first draft of a novel). If they don’t write for a few weeks or we don’t talk for a few days, I start to feel abandoned and desperate for their input. It’s not the emotional content or the technicalities of how the ideas work that I’m missing (though I still enjoy seeing what they come up with), it’s the energy to drag those things out of myself. My emotional attachment to these RPs seems similar to other people’s attachment to dating (which I have no interest in.) A little energetic input from others seems to be something I need to access my own energy (which I can then put into stories and food and the like, for my or others’ consumption. I really like reading my own stories and eating stuff I made.) This might be a result of a dysfunctional male etheric body, but I suspect even if I didn’t have the fear of being drained to contend with I’d still need some energetic input from others to be at my best (maybe I need it to keep my own energy moving?).

    I also happen to identify as nonbinary. For me personally that’s rooted in the combination of feeling reduced to almost nothing and misrepresented whenever I’m categorized by my physical sex (including via gendered pronouns) outside of medical situations where that aspect of my body is immediately relevant, and most people around me (including the feminists) NOT feeling the same way. I’ve always assumed that the only other reason someone could have for bringing up a person’s physical sex is that they’re being sexist on some level. However, if a person’s biological sex does in fact statistically imply the way their other bodies function as well, then it makes more sense to me that other people genuinely and benignly find these categories useful, while I don’t (because a person’s physical sex isn’t a potential indicator of whether or not their other bodies complement my own, regardless of which sex they are.) Not to imply that having a less common configuration of metaphysical sexes makes a person trans or nonbinary, because this comment section clearly shows otherwise, and I probably have other reasons (one of them might be related to my fierce disinterest in procreating, and some of my body dysphoria maaaaaay be a misplaced attempt at fixing etheric dysfunction if it doesn’t all stem from the social dysphoria explained above, but there could be more that I haven’t figured out yet). But this essay is nonetheless a really helpful puzzle piece, so thank you for writing it ^^.

    (Separately, I’ve been puzzling over why some people seem so emotionally attached to the idea of being rewarded for their work with money or social status when they could do work that produces something valuable to them in itself. I understand the practical concerns of needing/wanting multiple things and not having the time or expertise to produce them all by themselves, and that some people just really like having higher social status for its own sake, but it seems to go beyond that. I wonder if having a female etheric body and benefiting from etheric input via homecooked food/art/etc. has something to do with it as well for some people?)

  203. Sorry for this chain of question!

    So the life force itself may have been taught in the Middle Ages as “spiritus” (The Discarded Image has a lot to say about its flow inside one’s own body), and mens, ratio and intellectus bear some resemblance to what you wrote here about astral and mental phenomena.

    However, where does all the part about complementary genders and interpersonal exchange ultimately come from? Is it present in the Western tradition only in hidden form (Giordano Bruno’s De vinculis)? Does it come from South or East Asia? Or is it a more recent addtion?

  204. Patricia M – “Como Agua para Chocolate” – a very beautiful book, for both readers and cooks!

  205. Matthias – “In what kind of medieval literature is spiritus used in the technical sense you give here for the life force: overflowing from one to another person, starved, congested, infested etc” I know nothing at all about medieval literature, so this is not an answer to the question, more to bear witness that all of these processes are present and correct and described in detail in the Chinese classics (including the medicine classics, but also generally) where such issues are described under the rubric of “qi”.

    One lesson I have learned through clinical application (ie where patient experience meets theory) is that a divided will has the effect of “knotting” or “stagnating” qi. One of my TCM teachers taught us that qi stagnation could be caused by “great anger or great desire”. I began to see this in my patients, although what I was seeing was something slightly more complex, and I myself came to understand that both the anger and the desire, if they were stagnating their qi, were aspects of the single state of “frustration”. Frustrated anger can become chronic in a situation where a person is stuck in a situation they cannot change – a marriage, a job, etc – which they do not wish to be in, but can see no way of getting out of. Frustrated desire is the obverse of this coin, whereby a person longs for a situation they cannot arrange – a baby for an infertile couple, the dream job, the dream house, the dream body, etc.

    What I ultimately worked out, and which seems to be a helpful story to tell my patients, is this. The qi, or lifeforce must flow – and in flowing it must flow around body and mind, uniting them into one healthy person. But if you are of two minds (one mind in this present situation, and another mind in your ideal alternative) then when the qi goes to flow around your mind, it does not see which way to go and begins to flow chaotically and knot itself up. (The symptom picture in this kind of case is usually one where things build up, become very tense, and then explosively release – eg headaches, some menstrual patterns, some digestive patterns, and others – and which are definitely seen to be aggravated by certain emotional states).

    I have often asked people in this situation to give some consideration to the simplicity of Neibuhr’s lovely Serenity prayer, which I believe contains a very useful and effective recipe for uniting your will. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”. If they have the power to change their situation, and they do so, the effect is to bring both minds to their new situation where they can again be of one mind. If they do not have the power to change their situation, but are able to practice acceptance, the effect is to bring their two minds back to their present situation, where they can be one mind. In both these cases, the qi flow (life force flow) can find a steady single pathway which restores health by uniting their will.

  206. @JMG – I would like to use my next post as a clipboard/puzzle matrix and put the pieces together where I can get the reality check I always try to get on intuitive data. You can tell me to save it for Magic Monday, or for my journal, as you prefer.

    Puzzle post coming next.

  207. @JMG and the gang – insight on my daily walk around the lake (duck pond) with the sun fully out:

    With all the things that are supposed to be good for me – sunlight, fresh air, salt sea air, cold water, etc – a little goes a loooong way. It has always been so. Socializing, too, but that’s standard for an introvert. Drawing up energy from the earth has been difficult and unsatisfying most times. But what I do get out of the walk is exercise, beautiful sights, watching the antics of the birds, turtles, and squirrels, and the chance to pet the dogs other residents are walking. That’s puzzle piece #1 and is pretty clearly what’s happening on the etheric plane.

    Puzzle piece #2 – while my body has severe limitations, my entire life has been a tension between what I wanted to do with it – all sorts of energetic things, especially adventures. I also had a strong desire to pull my own weight and more – to give, not take, as far as work went. And came hard up against “This is beyond my strength” and I’ve had to be bailed out of it (“Can you pick me up at the halfway point?”) more than once. I assume my body was given me in this incarnation as a lesson – a corrective to pride, perhaps? But there it is.That’s the physical plane.

    The astral is no problem: My ability and willingness to sound off on any subject that won’t start one of those futile “boilerplate slogans at 20 paces” fights is notorious among my friends. And enemies. And ex-husband, who assured me I was incredibly obnoxious to all around me and nobody could stand me for that reason.

    Finally – I don’t talk about my sexuality, since I’m not sure what it is myself, besides under lock and key*. But my sister and oldest daughter said outright, at a mind-and-guinea-pig test we were all undergoing, that they think I’m probably asexual. Most people assime I’m straight, which is, after all, the default. The women in my former Circle, which is led by a gay man and is very gay-friendly, are so sure I’m lesbian, one of them was shocked, when I asked for scissors that I don’t carry a multitool in my pocket! (Used to. TSA took it away.) But my ideal partner would be a warm, strong but gentle teddy bear type who could stand up to me, but whose corrections, when needed, would be gentle and reasonable; oh, and a good cook and a good listener. A rock to stand on.

    So far, that’s three “all-take-and-no-give,” but one very much against my will. And one All give, willing to take to keep it going.

    *Ah. Sexuality. It *was* all-take-no-give, combined with the judgment of an already-damaged child, we’re talking multiple train wrecks here, followed by a few unsatisfactory “conventional” relationships I got nothing much out of.

    Okay, JMG, the ball’s on your court. If you want to bounce it back. Have saved this to a WORD document just in case.

  208. @JMG The average shape of rocks is a cube? I’m still geeking out on that one (looked it up on google after I read about it here) What an absolutely charming discovery. How did Plato spot it in the first place?

    So two peripherally related questions to the essay. I note that the standard temp of a refrigerator over here is 4C (Europe wide I think) which is near 39F. I’m guessing that this is not entirely a coincidence. Is there an etheric component to keeping food fresh?

    I’ve had many teachers in Aikido who have talked about extending Ki, I know this is under everyone’s control to some extent. Given the standard arrangement you’ve talked about here, is easier for the ladies?

  209. This is fascinating! I suspect I’m feminine in mental and etheric, despite being materially female: I’m a writer (of “tacky romance novels,” even!) and while I can do them without in-person inspiration, it really helps to have a real life guy or two that I’m thinking of when picturing the hero, or even one from established fiction. (The hero in my first novel was basically “Mr. Darcy plus bohemian occult shenanigans,” and the one I’m brainstorming now is just flagrant Labyrinth fanfic with the serial numbers filed off.) I’m pretty capable of tuning out my surroundings–I can write on trains and could do it in the office back when I worked in one–and, to verge on TMI, I occasionally experience that flat dreariness you mention after getting myself off, when I don’t just go to sleep.

    A couple things I’m now considering: I have difficulty getting invested in RPGs, especially LARPs but even tabletops, unless there’s a cute guy or two to impress with my demon-slaying/lock-picking prowess. (Ideally a character with an attractive player, but I’ve also gotten a charge from people I wasn’t at all interested in RL playing the appropriate sort of PC/NPC.) Do you think this could be related to the feminine-mental thing?

    Does all porn have the same dangers, or just the slickly (ha) produced mass-market stuff? Relatedly, do you think the rise (also ha, yeah, the more I write, the more innuendo I see) in stuff like camgirl/amateur porn/erotic drawings or animation during the last few decades has been a reaction to the astral side-effects of the industrial sort?

    Practical question, since you mention cold-water showers: I’m sharing a house with two other people ATM, with a cranky well and a regional semi-drought. On a metaphysical level, how long can you safely go without showers (we have all just accepted that we’re going to be gross, physically, until things calm down a little) and/or are there recommendations of things to do that don’t involve water? I’m already performing a LRP/MP combo every night.

    Thanks!

  210. JMG, thank you; I’ll check out Hodson’s work. Theosophy is not unfamiliar to me. If I have pressing questions that I can’t figure out, I’ll address them on your Magic Mondays page if that works for you. Be well.

  211. @Adryrn: I’m a cis woman, and I feel a sort of apathy about womanhood qua womanhood, myself–like, my junk is fun on some occasions, annoying on others, and mostly significant in that most of the sexual partners I’m interested in are some degree of straight guy. Also wildly disinterested in procreation, and menstruation has never been anything but irksome.

    Interestingly, of the nonbinary folks I hang out with in meatspace (or did before the Plague Times), two out of three have more “traditionally female” qualities than I do–they like long-term relationships, they find babies cute in general*, they’re more sensitive and don’t need a constant stream of new crushes for creative investment. But they’ve mentioned having a similar reaction as yours to pronouns etc (from “it just feels wrong” to feeling diminished), whereas I’m perfectly fine being she/her, so I suspect there’s definitely something else going on here.

    (Practically speaking, though, I’m very much a do-what-you-do, no-skin-off-my-nose sort of person when it comes to gender/sexuality, so whatever reasons someone has for being trans or nonbinary are “good enough” reasons. Much like dating or breaking up, “this is what I want to do,” is all the justification anyone needs for a decision that only really involves themselves and/or romantic partners who can leave when *they* want.)

    * For me, friends’ kids and my nephew are cute. I wish all others well in their lives, but they can get back to me when they’re old enough to drink gin and talk about Dion Fortune.

  212. My osteopath says I have an insanely high pain tolerance, the kind usually only women have.
    (Though I don’t know if tolerance is even the right word if you experience it as ‘good pain’.) Does this suggest my other bodies may lean a certain way?

  213. Re: Serenity Prayer:

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”.

    One problem that I have with this is that it implies that if I can change something, then I should. The part about wisdom should include something about recognizing when I shouldn’t change something, just because I can.

    Antoinetta III

  214. @Matthias Gralle

    To the best of my knowledge, current occult teaching about the planes (material, etheric, astral, mental, etc.) is no older than about 1850-1890, and was popularized most widely by H. P. Blavatsky. and the Theosophists. It does have some antecedents in Medieval cosmology, where there are (usually) ten inner celestial spheres surrounding the Earth, and nine outer celestial spheres surrounding the inner ones; but there is no close correspondence between the two doctrines. (The first seven of the ten inner spheres are the spheres of the seven planets: the moon, mercury, venus, the sun, mars, jupiter, saturn). The next three are the sphere of the fixed stars, the crystalline sphere, and the primum mobile. Then come the nine outer spheres, which are the spheres of the nine orders of angels. The Triune God is beyond all these spheres.)

    Spiritus, of course, translates Greek pneuma; the basic meaning of each word is “breath,” which can be extended to cover various other things and beings. So it’s easy enough to suppose that the Greek and Latin words can also refer to the same sorts of things as, e.g., prana or qi. Support for this can be found in Genesis 2:7 (the “breath of life,” which caused the first human to become “a living soul”) and I Thessalonians 5:23 (“spirit” and “soul” and “body” are distinct things in humans). The best places to look for Medieval statements about the nature and meaning of “spiritus” (or “pnuema”) are probably the more profound medieval cikmmebntaries on these biblical passages. A lot of interesting teachings show up in such places that never made it into the more systematic medieval theological or philosophical treatises.

  215. ConundrumKnot – I wonder whether you may have been picking up something chemical, a scent or subconscious pheromone? Our culture emphasizes the visual (pictures of attractive people), and the audible (attractive people making interesting noises), because those are so easily produced for mass consumption (and to promote, err, mass consumption). But we can’t ignore our other senses. We know that the lives of other animals are driven by chemical sensing (like the pair of butterflies that just tumbled by my window), but we often overwhelm natural smells with scented soaps and laundry products, as well as products which are pure scent: perfume.

    I once gathered with my regular brown-bag lunch group, mostly male, in a poorly-ventilated conference room, most of us around 30 years old. There was something bizarrely relaxed yet animated in our conversation that day. Good-natured conversation flowed at length, and no one was in the usual hurry to get back to work. I later discovered that a woman in the group was using hormone shots in an effort to get pregnant, and I suspect that she was exuding something special that affected the rest of us.

    Of course, just because a woman is “interested in a man” doesn’t mean that you’re the kind of man she might be interested in. Just because she’s “dressed to impress’ doesn’t mean “to impress you“. Trying to take the bait set out for another quarry leads to no end of misery.

  216. @JMG
    (Apologies for the delay) So it sounds like most of the effects I’m interested in happen on the Astral. So in astral energetic terms, what is happening to women on the receiving end of male masturbation to images of their body and how do they differ between the gentle loving connection of a relationship and the torrent of astral influx from pornography? If the pornography is art of characters that don’t exist, what happens then?

    Also, if average males don’t release etheric energy during orgasm, what attracts succubus-like entities and what are they feeding on? I always thought the sudden release of the “seed of life” lit up the etheric plane and, assuming the etheric body’s natural defenses were weak, drew unsavoury spirits like moths to a flame to feast on the free energy laying around and then latch on to the masturbator to continue feeding.

  217. @Lady Cutekitten, “on other subjects, [Mercedes Lackey] is a lot like Randi.”

    I’ve noticed that when an author’s photo is shown, say on the black of a book cover, I often get a gut reaction, ranging from “this one is a phony” (all glamoured, blonded, and painted up like a model, with a big obligatory smile) to “This one is at home in her own skin” (rare, but Diana Paxson for sure) to “This one is not at home in her own skin.” Lackey’s picture gives me that reaction. For what it’s worth. And her late mentor’s, MZB, struck me as “desperately unhappy.” BTW, Dolly Parton,who is also blonded and glamored up and painted and with a great big smile, does not strike me as phony in the least. She’s playing a game and having great fun at it, just like Mae West. Again, for what that’s worth.

  218. @JMG – after that long puzzle post, felt low, a bit upset, drained, cold, and with no problem eating merely half my delivered dinner (meant to be for two meals.) Wanted to put on my Clan Chattan T-shirt – black, with the snarling “don’t touch me” Scottish Wildcat on the front, and crawl into bed and pull it in after me. Did not set the timer, but woke up an hour and twenty minutes later on some dreams of being in a group situation and actually doing very well, with lots of dissent but no meanness, and a little mild partying in the evening, my own clumsiness (splashed bits of cold coffee on someone I was joining on the couch by her own waved invitation) accepted…. woke feeling refreshed, as vigorous as I did this morning, and the thought “This has been an Incubating Dream” as was done in Ancient Greece in the Temple, and in the North under a tree.

    This is apparently an official lab report a la Rupert Malcolm to Miss LeFay, but without the Calvinist conscience.

  219. @ Yorkshire – “Insanely high tolerance for pain?” I don’t know about his patients, nor about the pain tolerance of other women, but unless a pain has been ongoing for so long it’s become the base pain level for me, I’m a major coward about pain. And I am most decidedly female, never had any doubts about that. Can other women answer this?

  220. Dear JMG,
    Would any of the 5 daily prayers of Islam count
    as a sufficient banishing ritual?
    Also, are you aware of any good introductory
    texts on Islamic occultism or esotericism for practical purposes?

  221. Adryrn, many thanks for this! I’m glad you found the essay — and more to the point, the ideas it discusses — helpful. As for being attached to receiving tangible rewards for one’s creative work, I certainly can’t speak for all such people, but my interest in being paid for my writing is a direct result of the facts that (a) I have bills to pay like everyone else and (b) freelance writing is the only job I’ve ever had that didn’t suck unusually dirty crude oil. If I was independently wealthy I wouldn’t worry about it at all.

    Matthias, I got it from the writings of Dion Fortune. Exactly where she got it is a very complex question — she claimed that it was a teaching dating back to ancient Atlantis, which isn’t exactly helpful.

    Patricia M, I’m not going to bounce it back at all. Thanks for this — I suspect it’ll help others in the complicated process of figuring out who they are and how they relate to other people and the world.

    Andy, 39°F would be the best possible temperature to keep food chilled, as it will tend to retain its etheric energy longest. As for aikido, there’s a difference between extending your ki and actually letting some of it go, so it can flow into someone else’s energy body. The latter is what a masculine etheric body naturally does in certain interactions.

    Isabel, thanks for this. Your romance novels aren’t the ones I had in mind, for what it’s worth! (“These aren’t the romances you’re looking for,” says Obi-Wan.) Yes, that sounds like a classic feminine mental body. With regard to the dangers of porn, I simply don’t know — that would require in-depth research (ahem) of a kind I don’t expecially want to do. As for water shortages, oddly enough, I just ran into something doing research into Tudor culture, in a book (How To Be A Tudor by Ruth Goodman) by one of those people who’s done the whole historic-lifestyle trip. Standard personal hygiene in Tudor England was to rub yourself very thoroughly all over with a dry washcloth. She did it for a month without any other form of washing and had no problems with odor; furthermore, she said her skin was in better condition than when she uses the modern daily-shower. Yes, I’ve experimented with it, and it seems to work — the washcloth ends up feeling astonishingly greasy and grubby, and the skin feels clean. You might give it a try.

    Lleuna, you’re most welcome.

    Yorkshire, I have no idea. An interesting question, though!

    BoulderChum, the first question would be better answered by someone who was on the receiving end of that. As for succubi, those are astral phenomena, not etheric — they feed on the astral energy released by overheated imaginations. Have you noticed that it’s usually religious celibate men who are pestered by succubi? If you don’t have the capacity to transmute lust into the love of God — and that’s a very difficult process — celibacy can produce the St. Anthony effect, in which the astral body runs riot, projecting images of every possible carnal desire onto the blank screen of the imagination, and attracting various nonphysicals who have a taste for that energy.

    Patricia M, delighted to hear it!

    Mansoor, I’m sorry to say I know essentially nothing about Muslim occultism, and very little more about the esoteric dimensions of Muslim religious practice. You may need to find a friendly Sufi shaykh and ask him. Anyone else?

  222. “humans with our big heads need to give birth to our babies three months early compared to our great ape ancestors. Our babies are functionally half baked at the best of times.”

    Just an aside, but I have ever accepted this theory because most pregnancies have a length that corresponds to body size. Our bodies are not large enough to require a one year pregnancy. Chimpanzee pregnancies are considerably shorter and gorillas a bit longer but then they are also bigger. And even at 3 months, our babies have not matured much. I’d say we are just different.

  223. Patricia M, I realised after I posted it could sound misleading. He wasn’t saying all women have extremely high pain tolerance, but that almost everyone who does is a woman.

  224. 1) I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who’ll be interested in seeing a post on mental cleanliness! Has voting for the next 5th Wednesday post started yet? I will meditate on mental cleanliness at some point, but for now my meditations are spoken for: working through LRM gives me a ton of material, and right now I’m not at the point where I have the option of picking my meditations anyway.

    2) I think I might have a gay astral body. Reading the description of astral bodies, it seems masculine, and I’ve just had the beer goggles experience with someone I was in a relationship of sorts with years ago (I ran into her and was amazed I’d found her attractive. I checked some old photos, and she hasn’t changed appearance much), but what I really want in a relationship seems to be that of a feminine astral body! I want to be desired, I want someone to project onto me, but I astrally project outwards a great deal! I’ve also found both porn and romance fiction very appealing, in different ways, which is interesting to note.

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least I have something totally weird going on: Uranus within a degree of the ascendant is a fairly potent source of weirdness, especially, it seems, on the astral plane. Which of course makes perfect sense since the astral is the level where astrology functions.

    I may have something very, very wrong, but it seems like “gay astral body” could fit. In a couple of years I expect I’ll have a better idea, but for now, I’ve marked the entire thing down as interesting and worth further research.

    3) “Your mental body—technically, your mental sheath, because we’re still in the process of evolving mental bodies—is a vague uncertain presence inside the astral body, varying in size and complexity from person to person.”

    Does space exist on the mental plane? For some reason I was under the impression space didn’t really exist on the mental plane. Am I wrong about that? Or is the above just metaphorical?

  225. @isabelcooper Yeah, that apathy re: one’s own gender seems fairly common for cis people from what I’ve seen (though I also know cis women for whom being a woman is a more actively important part of their identity). That frequency of “traditionally female” characteristics in nonbinary people also reflects my experience (though I don’t share those specific characteristics). Part of why I didn’t feel dysphoric as a kid was because the stereotype reflected my interests at that time. Being a “girl” felt like having a hobby or being part of a club (in fact, that was even my working explanation of it for a little while. Then I realized that girls weren’t all automatically my friends just because they were girls XD). Looking back, the increased likelihood of extended relatives giving me what I wanted for Christmas/decreased likelihood of being teased feels like a bribe I accepted at the time for not questioning what I’d been told about (my) gender very deeply. The stereotypes for women offer no such benefits for me, though, and my acceptance of gender as a kid was also based on the assumption that “I must be missing something here and it will surely make sense when I’m older.” I was definitely missing the information on subtle bodies and it’s the best explanation I’ve found for why other people find it useful to gender others (though I think other people have tried to explain it to me but failed to make their point because they lacked the concepts necessary to adequately describe it). But then there’s still my and other nonbinary people’s reactions to being misgendered, so the idea that there must be something else different about us (or multiple something elses, varying by individual) is still the best theory I have to explain that part of it.

    @JMG Eminently sensible reasons, both ^^. I should probably clarify that my confusion results when I bring up hypothetical/utopian situations where they wouldn’t have bills to pay, and they seem to get more concerned about the lack of status than having to do work they don’t like. I’m working with a small sample size, though, so it might just be the individual people I’ve talked to about it.

  226. My wife and I have a friend in common with Mercedes Lackey, so on one occasion 15-20 years ago we were able to help an interested student of mine at Brown invite her for a lecture and some socializing afterwards. In consequence, we spent much of that day and evening with her and the interested student, and I got a fairly good sense of her as a person. My take-away was that she writes so that she and her husband can pay their bills and do the things that really interest them, that she finds writing more like hard work (which she knows she’s good at) than like fun and games, and that her heart really lies somewhere else. (“Somewhere else” is the area in which our mutual friend works; ML donated her entire speaking fee as a contribution to help finance that friend’s work.) In short, I think Patricia Mathews picked up on this in her gut reaction to ML’s book-jacket photo: “not at home in her own skin”–in her writerly skin, at least.

    As for MZB, she came to lecture at Brown one day not all that long after “Mists of Avalon” came out, and I went to her lecture. “Desparately unhappy” doesn’t half begin to cover what I picked up that evening. She barely dragged herself into the lecture hall, but she did her performance extremely well. Then she visibly fed herself to satiety on the adulation of her audience during the question-and-answer period that followed. She left the lecture hall a very picture of renewed vitality, with a visible spring in her step.

    I have read most of MZB’s fiction. I found it compelling, almost addictive, on a first read; but almost all of it was very, very painful to read for a second time. And each new wave of her novels became more like that over the years. In retrospect, I think I was caught up in her world-making the first time I read one of her novels; it was only on a second or third reading that I really picked up on the personal agony that she had distilled into her fiction, and I found that perception almost too much to bear.

    Many years later I learned something about MZB’s childhood in upstate New York and her early independent years. Frankly, I’m somewhat amazed that she survived to adulthood at all and was able to function afterwards as well as she did, without doing a great deal more harm to everyone in her orbit than she actually seems to have done. (Also, some of the harm that she did do was fairly common practice, and widely regarded as virtuous, not vicious, in the San Francisco Bay Area during the decades before and during her time in Berkeley. That was a very odd time and place, where no one felt constrained by anything that usually constrained people elsewhere in the country.) As I said, “desparately unhappy” doesn’t half begin to cover what I sensed in her person and in her novels.

  227. I seem to have a knack for suddenly realizing something right after I post here. But I just realized that the core imbalance at the heart of industrial society is the desire to be purely feminine, and erase the masculine.

    On the physical plane: the consumer takes in, and gives out nothing, makes nothing. On the etheric plane, there are no crafts to make, no skills needed, no gardens to tend, music prerecorded for you, and precooked meals for all. Nothing requires etheric force, since it’s all made for you. On the astral, this is the force behind TV: it gives people something to think about, but something that requires no creative energies at all: it’s the ultimate in astral consuming. Finally, on the mental, there’s the curious insistence that the individual is powerless and meaningless, and only the group can do anything, and only the group has worth: this is the insistence that you can’t have your own meaning or inspiration, but someone else has to give it to you.

  228. @JMG: Ha, thank you! And I didn’t figure on it–the industry, I know, has some…interesting…examples, especially once you go back a decade or two. (I can rant about “alpha heroes” sometimes, especially as regards fundamental misunderstandings about wolves. Or the whole billionaire-and-virgin subgenre, which: ew.) I try to regard my books fairly lightly, though–once I get above joking about my writing, I figure, the path can only lead Anne Riceward.

    And thank you for that confirmation, too! I was a bit perturbed by that tendency on my part, as I’m fairly self-sufficient in my life as a whole.

    The Tudor thing is a neat trick, and I’m guessing it’ll work as well on astral or etheric gunk. I’ll have to pick up a copy of that book: sounds like it’ll be very helpful both at LARPs, should I ever be able to resume doing that, and in the post-industrial world in general.

    @Patricia Mathews: I find it depends on the type of pain. I’m a complete wimp about dental procedures, for example. (My dentists kept putting that down to me being a redhead, which is a compliment to my hair salon!) On the other hand, I’ve been able to step on pins (or earrings, when I was in high school and sloppier about undressing after dances) and then yank them out of my feet with only minor swearing.

  229. Isabel,

    For what it’s worth, during the first few years of living our primitive life in the sticks, we did a lot of dry-brushing to clean our bodies – just a firm but soft, wide, bristled brush run all over your skin – and it was pretty nice. Did a fair job of making us feel clean. Might be worth a shot.

  230. Kevin, (1) so noted. (2) That’s really interesting — more data points to work with. (3) Space as such doesn’t exist on the mental plane, but the mental sheath is experienced as being “within” the astral body.

    Adryrn, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you were right in general. I’m ambitious, in an odd way; I want my ideas and writings to have an impact, to reach people, but I couldn’t care less about status.

    Robert, fascinating. I did a weekend writer’s workshop with MZB many years ago; the thing I noticed most was the astonishingly cynical attitude she had toward writing. It was all about market research and feeding the marks what they wanted to hear — she talked with pride about how she’d spent something like a year going to every Neopagan event she could find and asking people what they thought was really going on behind the Arthurian legends, and that was what gave her all the raw material for The Mists of Avalon. I didn’t get any sense that she took any joy in writing or had any personal vision to communicate, it was just a way to pay the bills and get a following.

    Kevin, you know, I think you’ve put your finger on something of very high importance.

    Matthias, you’re welcome.

    Isabel, How To Be A Tudor is also an insanely good resource for late medieval through Elizabethan historical fiction. The same author has also written How To Be A Victorian, which I haven’t read yet; if it’s half as good as the book I’ve got, I’m going to use it as a major resource for a couple of fiction projects.

  231. @JMG

    “Your Kittenship, I didn’t know that he was still alive! As for your question, he’s gay, and I suspect that his attitude toward everything spiritual was soured by the attitude of the churches toward homosexuality. That’s extraordinarily common among gay and lesbian people.”

    To be honest. That is Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Its part of the package deal of those religions.

    Given the the Magisterium, Church Fathers and so on.

  232. Robert and JMG-

    I read ‘The Mists of Avalon’ when I was 19. At first I found it a revelation, particularly in how it portrayed sex as a sacred pagan ritual. An idea hadn’t yet come across at that point in time. the book certainly stimulated my interest in paganism. Trying to read it a second time however was a slog, and I barely got a quarter of the way through before putting it down and never touched it again.

    I reckon its the same with Dan Brown’s novels. The first time you read them, their really captivating and interesting. I can never bring myself to read them a second time however. I’ve heard some quite disturbing things about Dan Browns writing habits (short form- he usually describes it as quite a painful experience.)

    On the other hand reading Caitlin Moran’s ‘how to build a girl’ (short form- a book about a sex crazed teenage girl- quite interesting for me as a man. Think like ‘Fear of Flying’), was a thoroughly enjoyable experience I have repeated many times. Though she describes the book writing process as immensely painful- “like giving birth out of your eyes”.

    Actually just on that, I’ve realized most of the sexually explicit books I’ve read and not felt bad about were usually books written from the perspective of female characters or written by women. Certainly very interesting, and made me feel better about my own sexuality (the books are proof that horny urges are not inherently the evil male patriarchy asserting its dominance over women!)

  233. Hey jmg

    I have 2 questions concerning the subject of this essay.
    1-does the unrealistic expectations that porn gives people apply to amateur porn (porn that normal people,not actors, sometimes casually do)?
    2-are you familiar with something that William Burroughs and peter j.carrol have written about, the red rite?

  234. JMG, that’s very interesting about your writers’ workshop with MZB, and not in the least surprising to me.

    She married young to escape her father and the family farm, and then she went to live in a proverbial “lonely shack by a railroad track” in rural Texas, with no other company than her husband and their young child. Writing SF gave her her first means of escaping from the energy starvation of that very isolated life into a wider, more nourishing world–at first just by going to SF conventions; and then by leaving Robert Bradley and Texas altogether. And, of course, once she started to break away from her married life, there were always bills that had to be paid somehow.

    I think she was always way more interested in occultism for the power it could give her than she ever was interested in any form of Paganism or Polytheism as a religion. Fritz Leiber, that kindly “sardonic swordsman,” was one of her early mentors in SF, and he, too, was enormously interested in occult power (and, under his wife’s influence, also in Witchcraft).
    MZB was also present as a midwife for the birth of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), and I suspect that for her the Pagan world functioned as a “Society for Religious Anachronism” (to borrow a phrase that I think you coined), not as a religion.

  235. JMG, I know you’re not a fan of video formats, but for your readers who are interested, Ruth Goodman was a presenter on the BBC television educational documentary series Victorian Farm, Victorian Pharmacy, Edwardian Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Wartime Farm[7] and Full Steam Ahead.

    They were all fabulous, and very much broke through any romantic ideas we may have of it.

  236. @JMG -thank you. I also realized at the end of the dream that the other woman and I were going to hit it off very nicely.

    @Adryn – I have always felt very much like a woman, and have identified with whatever strong, free women the literature of the period had to offer. And have been a strong “women are people” feminist for just as long. But the “dressing as a boy” genre also appealed because I could see how useful that could be – and comfortable – and later on, how much better made male clothing was. And with POCKETS! And their shoes never assume that their feet make sharp little triangles at the toes! [Podiatrists say “wear shoes with wide toe boxes.” I answer “Have you ever tried to FIND any in women’s shoes?” Or why a certain brand of expensive hippie sandals are the ideal for such as me.

    But that’s disguise, just as the equally comfortable long skirts, blouse, and bodice of my Renfaire garb is.

  237. @JMG again – the refrigerators here are set for 41 degrees. Nor sure how they came up with that figure. A translation from the Centigrade, perhaps?

  238. @Mansoor,

    I’m not a Muslim but I know the basics of the “official” Hanafi interpretation of Sunni Islam in Turkey, due to the reactionary education system here. As far as I know, 5 daily prayers (salah / namaz) of Islam do not contain full banishing rituals per se, but they have some protective components like partial ablution (wudu / abdest) for etheric purification before prayer, and starting each prayer with a protective affirmation like Basmala or Auzu-Basmala. Unlike banishing rituals, Muslim prayer does not contain elements like tracing or visualising special symbols and protective barriers. The actual purposes of Muslim prayer are to invoke Allah, to thank it, to affirm one’s submission to it, and to strengthen the Islamic egregore by facing the direction of Kaaba along the whole procedure. Other than these main purposes, Muslim clerics also claim that daily prayers would protect one from malignant entities and magical attacks, but I don’t have any experience of these effects since I have never practiced Muslim prayer.

    As for Islamic occultism; most of the technicalities of Islamic rituals (if not all) can be explained in terms of Western occult philosophy, even though the practice of magic is strictly forbidden in mainstream Islamic sects. Also, at the time of the “Abbasid Golden Age”; Hermetic, Neopythagorean and Neoplatonic texts that were forbidden in Medieval Europe were preserved in Arabic and Persian translations and they directly influenced heterodox Islamic currents and Islamic occultism. So, one way or another, a basic knowledge of Western occultism would be beneficial to understand the inner “mechanics” of its Islamic counterpart.

  239. My first post, although I’ve followed you for years and am a big fan.

    You have mentioned Wagner’s Parsifal a number of times, both on your blogs and in your novels. it strikes me that the opera is the most profound exploration of the roots of human sexuality — and its links with religious fervor and the demonic — in the whole of the Western canon.

    I’d be fascinated to read your thoughts on the matter.

  240. Mr Greer,

    As usual, you again knock one out of the park. Many thanks to you for this timely essay.

    Should a book come from your post I would vote for a chapter on the way that sexuality changes as partners age. Though I’m 8 years older than my mate she is the one who has had it with sex in this lifetime. I’m not ready for this and I continue to find her attractive and desirable. That leaves me hanging in the wind. (ouch, pun alert!) Not comfortably I would add. It’s a common situation among older people. I say this from having had conversations with several of my contemporaries. (I’m in my eighth decade of life. That’s my seventies in more dramatic terms.)

    How many times have we seen the saying “There’s no fool like an old fool” acted out in this world? This points to the issue of fulfilling deeper needs than just sexual release. (By the way, we have talked about this to no satisfactory resolution; at least not for me).

    On the physical plane alone the issue is significant. The male prostrate seems to function longer and better with some regular exercise. To ignore this is to court some form of infirmity.

    This is truly a sore spot in an otherwise very mutually satisfying union. (groan, another pun) I’m frustrated and to find release elsewhere, with another sexual partner for example, brings up resistance from her. Understandable when I look at sex from a multiple plane perspective. Furthermore, being a sneak and getting some sex on the side is counter to my sense of loyalty. Alas, prostitution is not legal where I live.

    What to do, what to do, aye there’s the rub! (oops! another pun and at the Bard’s expense no less). Anyway, I’m bringing this up because it does seem both common and significant. I have and will continue to meditate on this until it resolves or I fall over dead in my dotage. However I am actively seeking thoughts, ideas and perspective to help bring depth to the discursive meditation process. Thanks to all for the ideas the thoughts and ideas shared here.

    Aged Spirit

    P.S. Disclaimer: While the above is certainly a serious query I do have a sense that most of the human condition is quite funny. This does not mean that it cannot be painful. Maybe this comes from being an oldster. I suspect that to be the case. At any rate, whatever happens I’m not likely to slash my wrists in despair.

  241. @JMG

    Thanks for an interesting essay on an otherwise controversial topic. Your point about finding a balance is something that I think is reflected in the Mahabharata, which contains quite a bit of sexual stuff in it. It isn’t obsessed with sex the way modern pop culture is, but it isn’t the kind of attitude that Victorian era British writers had towards sex, either.

  242. Could you say more about the distinction between the astral and mental planes? The astral is where ideas, emotions and imagination come from but creativity comes from the mental…isn’t creativity just trying to make manifest those things from the astral?

  243. Kevin Taylor Burgess’ post on the consumer society – teaching us all to take in and give out nothing (“The better to CONTROL you, my dear!” said the big bad wolf, showing the teeth from beneath Grandma’s nightcap…..) hit me where I live, giving me another data point.

    My heart and soul want to be out adventuring. Another part of me is overjoyed to be in a sheltered space where everything is given to me, including meals, and all I have to do are the simple chores asked of any small child: wash the dishes: put away the clean ones. Make your bed, neaten your room, and put your things away. Put your clothes in the washer, then in the dryer, then fold them and put them away. Obey a few simple and reasonable rules. The only child’s chore missing is “do your homework,” just as the only adult chore that is mandatory, is “keep a close eye on your finances and update your check register. Make sure there’s enough in your set-aside account for the the rent (room,board, extra services) and the one big annual insurance bill.

    The tension between them is neatly resolved by saving the adventuring as a sideline, when I’m feeling up to it.

    As for mental – well, I’m posted some of my obsessive Watsonizing before, which is, if there is a seeming plot hole or contradiction, what explains it?

    Prime example: from JMG, who is not at all sloppy in his plotting: Miriam’s surprised “Poseidonis?” And Jenny’s gentle twitting of her with “Yes, Miriam. Posiedonis, Atlantis, Hyperborea, they’re all real.” Which is roughly equivalent to someone in our universe being told that Babylon, Nineveh, and Tyre, were all real. Jenny’s doctorate thesis, of course, was on the crown jewel of Hyperborean mythology, and she had been expected to learn all those ancient languages. The bad guy in Chorazin gives two “dumb country boys” a loving disquisition on pottery from exactly that period and expects them to be impressed, not surprised. The seeds were well and truly planted.

    Then what surprised Miriam was obviously the claim that her host family was directly descended from that world’s equivalent of Babylon, and had retained a lot of their original culture. And it just now occurred to me that there’s another group here in our world that can, and sometimes does, make a similar claim despite at several temple burnings, conquests, major diasporas, persecutions, and probably, having their Laws rewritten at least twice. Have, in fact, made remembering all that history and impressing it on their children, a major aspect of their faith. (Hmmmm… the original source of the idea that the followers of the Great Old Ones were doing exactly the same?)

    Okay, enough of amusing myself – over to everyone again, as the squirrel mind stashes away another nut of random knowledge.

  244. Lab report from yesterday – continued.

    I forgot to add that when I woke from that nap, one of my favorite rebel songs, “Freedom Road,” popped into my head, and I opened my mouth and sang the chorus strongly, loud, and clear, without let or hindrance.

    It came to me today that what opened my throat was in speaking out about the things I was sitting on; not in detail, but loud and clear for everyone with access to this blog to hear. (Well, pixels on a screen making words. On some plane, same difference.) I never expected that result. Thank you all.

  245. I was thinking about different forms of meditation as possibly indicative of masculine versus feminine mental bodies. It seems to me that discursive meditation might be masculine in character; I’m actively reaching up into the mental plane and working with the material there. Whereas Soto Zen meditation – just sitting, no koan practice, keeping one’s mind open and free of directed thought to one’s best ability to do so – is more receptive, and that would be true of other forms of meditation that involve stilling the mind. I find discursive meditation far easier, and much more deeply satisfying, than Soto Zen meditation. There are other things to suggest that I have the standard set of polarities to my various bodies that a physical female does; finding discursive meditation easier would fit right in with a masculine mental body. If this makes sense, for anyone who has tried meditation, knowing which sort of meditation is easier for you could be a good way to understand which kind of mental body you have.

  246. @Adryrn: Makes sense! I think part of it’s that cis people don’t really have to think about it much, most of the time–the exceptions I know are women for whom maternity/pregnancy was really important–so it sort of becomes something close to an unmarked state, unless people bring it up by being sexist, it comes up in the context of sexual relationships, or discussions like this one make me stop and think about how I think, if that makes any sense. 😛

    As far as compensation/status goes, other than survival…I agree to some extent, and the other bit is probably not trusting compliments backed with my performance thing. Essentially, it’s *nice* when friends and family praise my work, but I always suspect they’re just doing it because they like me (I mean, my mom says I’m cute)–whereas if a stranger reads my book and is willing to shell out for the next one, even if it’s just a buck or two, I find it easier to believe that I’ve done well. But that may be idiosyncratic to me.

    @Grover: Nice–thanks!

    @JMG: Awesome! I’ll pick them both up next time I get my paycheck.

  247. @ JMG @ Kevin Burgess says “But I just realized that the core imbalance at the heart of industrial society is the desire to be purely feminine, and erase the masculine.”

    And he is quite correct that various sorts of comsumption, or “taking in”, or “receiving”, – ie feminine activities seem to be the properly alloted tasks for people, but that, in a way makes Industrial Civilisation the true “Bride” of the single, ever rising, ever expanding, ever better, ever greater, great god, Progress, whose masculine powers give us everything we need.

  248. Political, but *totally on topic!* You all have been wondering for a long, long time why women of a certain age and class are not only complete shrews, but acting demon-possessed. One of the more recent comments gave a very good explanation and one that evoked quite a bit of rage in *me* and has nothing to do with left, right, Trump or Frump.

    The comment that conduct such as MZB’s towards her daughter was considered normal and even good. I have a distinct memory of Shulamith Firestone, whom I discovered rather late, advocating much the same thing as “liberating,” and thinking with anger that she must be out of her freaking mind!

    No wonder the daughters of those people are rage-filled, uptight, sexually conflicted, and all the rest.

    “Dayspring, mishandled, comes not again.” Except as a nightmare.

  249. @BB: Not at all! My sister and I were discussing that the other day–I was unable to resist debating the Issues with Underaged Sex (between teenagers and teenagers, as I think teens/adults these days is an obvious issue) with my dad, or perhaps unable to resist tweaking him a little about it.

    (“But what if a girl’s just [giving head] to be popular?”
    “So? Plenty of girls buy designer jeans to be popular.”
    “Do you really think it’s the same thing?”
    “Not at all. A good pair of designer jeans will set you back ninety bucks. Giving a hummer to a teenage boy sets you back a minute and a half.”
    At which point he turned to the Scotch.)

    A lot of discussion, especially about teenagers, takes the attitude that girls can’t make the conscious and informed choice to be sexually active, and anyone who does must be a victim of some sort.* That carries over to adulthood–one of the annoying things I’ve seen with “Nice Guys” is when they try and make the case that a girl should date *them* because the guy she’s into “just wants sex,” or isn’t monogamous, or whatever, without for a moment considering the fact that the girl in question may be looking for exactly those things.

    There are a lot of weird societal attitudes about women and sex, and they have their effects, and having to be the one to handle birth control and/or the consequences of it failing certainly has some influence too. But on the average, the number of women I know who’re interested in sex for its own sake, in a Relationship or not, is about the same as the number of men who feel similarly.

    The notion that women are Pure and men are Predatory is also relatively modern. Go back to the Middle Ages and the prevailing belief was that women were by far the lustier gender, always trying to distract men from virtuous activities like religion and/or war.

    *A friend of a friend objected to one of my HS boyfriends because “he looks at [her] with lust,” our mutual friend told me, and I just kind of boggled, like, yes, he’s my *boyfriend*, we’re not ace, that’s the *point.*

  250. Your Kittenship, duly noted! I’ve just put a reserve on it in the local library system.

    Info, I can’t speak to Islam, but there are denominations of Christianity and Judaism that have gotten past that.

    BB, hmm. Maybe Mists of Avalon bored me as thoroughly as it did is that I’d already encountered those ideas in other sources.

    J.L.Mc12, (1) that’s been asked here several times already. I don’t happen to know the answer. (2) Nope.

    Robert, that seems entirely plausible to me.

    MCB, so noted!

    Patricia M., you’re most welcome. I suspect the settings of US refrigerators were adjusted a couple of degrees warmer as an energy conservation measure during the 1970s, and just never got dialed back.

    Wagner Lover, fascinating. I’ve mostly interpreted Parsifal in terms of nature mysticism and Schopenhauer’s philosophy — it’s a profound meditation on both of these, or more properly on their creative fusion — but the next time I put it on the CD player I’ll mull over the sexual aspect of it, and see what I can find.

    Aged Spirit, that’s actually extremely common; a great many women (though not all of them by any means) have their sex drive shut down sometime after menopause. I’m not at all sure what to suggest, as the traditional approach (taking a mistress in monogamous societies, marrying a second wife in polygamous societies) is unlikely to work in your circumstances. I’ll certainly consider addressing that if a book comes out of this.

    Vidura, most great literature from cultures that are less neurotic about sex strikes the same sort of balance. I hope we in the West can get there again someday.

    Alex, you’re missing the point I made in the post — the mental plane is the plane of meanings. The thing that makes for genuine creativity is the meaning that the writer, artist, composer, etc. puts into the structure of astral forms they assemble.

    Patricia M, excellent! Yes, Judaism was one of the real-world traditions I drew upon in creating the worshipers of the Great Old Ones; there are also borrowings from the Amish, from 19th century American groups like the Shakers, and from Middle Eastern heretical traditions such as the Yezidis.

    SLClaire, fascinating. I wonder how well that generalizes.

    Scotlyn, ha! “Consumer, bride of the great god Progress…” Yes, that works quite well.

    Patricia M, oh dear gods. I didn’t even think of that. You’re very likely quite correct.

  251. I’ve always thought that creation as described in Genesis, between God and light interacting with water and darkness was somewhat of an erotic one. Is it describing something taking place on the astral realm?

    Here’s a scary thought- if there are predatory entities in the etheric and astral realms could there be similar entities in the mental realm?

    If a typical male has seen the quality of their orgasms decline after many years of masturbation, and still experiences lessened feeling when engaged in sexual activity with women, could they restore the old sensations by abstaining from masturbation and showering with cold water? What other practices would be useful and would they mostly deal with the etheric realm?

  252. @Patricia Mathews

    Yes indeed. And the regular invasion of children’s bodies wasn’t only done with sexual intentions. I know Californians of my own generation who were subjected to daily enemas as children simply because some “experts” maintained that children’s own eliminatory processes couldn’t be trusted to function with maximum efficiencty, and that all sorts of later ills could arise from even slight retardation in the processes of elimination. Other (usually sickly) children in California would have all their adult teeth pulled once they came in, on the theory that teeth could be a potent source of illnesses and consequent mental deficiencies.

    This was in the 1930s and the 1940s. The idea that children had a right to say what could and couldn’t be done with or to their own bodies was definitely a radical and minority view back then. (In fact, it’s only been a century or so since grown women were legally allowed much say over what their fathers, husbands and “experts” decided to do to their own female bodies, whether sexually, medically or otherwise.)

    In the 1940s I had my appendix out. In those days that meant a two-week stay in a children’s ward in the hospital. I was there over Christmas. By special dispensation, parents were allowed to visit their children in the wards on Christmas; on all other days visitors–even parents–were strictly forbidden. The theory, I was told later, had been that strong emotions retarded the healing process in children. So it was a long, lonely, sad two weeks for me and all the other children in those silent, dimly lit wards. Even the nurses talked with us as little as possible, and only in hushed tones. (And all this was before TVs. Even radios weren’t allowed.

    Even in the late ’60s and early ’70s, when we were having our own children, one of my wife’s friends reported how she had told her obstetrician that she wanted to nurse her babies, so the obstetrician should not give the the special injection–routinely given to all new mothers in those days–that would dry up her milk. Her obstetrician replied that women didn’t have the right to make that choice, but it was up to their doctors to decide for them whether they would be allowed to nurse their babies or not. (Fortunately, my wife’s friend promptly fired that obstetrician and found another.)

    My students at Brown in the ’90s had no idea how women and children were treated in those dark days, and were utterly aghast when the topic came up and I told them how things had been back then. Rage is a very appropriate reaction to those times.

  253. I’ll have to get my hands on How to be a Victorian and How to be a Tudor. I suspect a lot of customs from those times will make life an awful lot easier in the near future: as the energy goes away, learning to live on a lot less will be helpful, and it makes sense to look at how people did it.

    JMG,

    I have two further thoughts on industrialism as a serious excess of the feminine: this is probably why all male sexuality not mediated through pornography is something so many people are uncomfortable about: if the unspoken goal is to erase the masculine, then male sexuality is problematic as it is inherently, unavoidably masculine. Porn though is a way to make it feminine: men who consume porn, are, after all, bringing something into their astral bodies; they are consuming sexuality, not making it.

    The other observation is that the scale of distortions on the view of nature make perfect sense, in a weird way: if humanity is feminine, then nature must be masculine, while traditionally the natural world is thought of as feminine. Ex: Mother Nature; Gaia; Pachamama, etc. Thus, by reversing the gender of the natural world, we distort our understanding of it. Hmm. Much to think about here…

    Patricia,

    In a way, isn’t balancing your checkbook the adult equivalent of “Do your (math) homework”? 😉

    On a more serious note, I think we all feel that tension you mentioned, and we all have to figure out how to balance it with other human needs: being safe and secure is a normal human desire, and the simplest way to achieve that right now is to avoid doing anything and just be one of the consumers. This, I’m increasingly thinking, is a major part of industrialism’s imbalance; how it fits with the excess of the feminine is something I’ll need to think about for quite a while.

    I know I myself have quite a challenge with giving up my safety and security, even if I know it’s making things worse, or is illusory: I suspect that how to do this is a major lesson I need to learn with this life.

    Scotlyn,

    The image of industrial society as wife to Progress is a weird one, but it fits really well. Thank you for this!

  254. Also seconding/thirding the boredom with both Mists and Dan Brown. My mom taught Hellenistic mythology, I was a fantasy geek in the 1990s, and I got into paganism around 11-12 or so. By the time I got around to Mists, when I was 15/16, neither the “but what if the divine was female” nor the “what if we looked at this legend from the villain’s perspective” concepts blew my mind the way MZB clearly intended them to: I remember it as okay but meh, and depressing in the way most Arthurian legends end up being.

    I read Da Vinci code in my early 20s, and was more annoyed at it, as I was at most things. Not only did it insult the reader’s intelligence by presenting the pumpkin spice latte of conspiracy theories (seriously, even the “Preacher” comics did it earlier and better) but then followed it up with “oooh, but–wait for it–what if the GRAIL symbolized the VAGINA” like none of us had ever been stoned freshmen with a basic knowledge of Freud.

    I’ve been talking a little on social media about how hinging your entire book on the premise that you have a BIG DRAMATIC TWIST nobody has EVER THOUGHT OF BEFORE…does not age well, at best. Those were my main two examples.

  255. JMG – and another thing you clearly drew on was the mountain tribes on the Laotian border, like the Hmong, who did give the Pathet Lao a lot of well-deserved grief.

  256. @Patricia Mathews You’re far from the only woman I’ve encountered who feels the same (I’m really happy my mom was/is like that, too). I enjoyed a lot of stories with well-written female protagonists when I was a kid, but I admired their strength and confidence more than I identified with them, and that admiration has certainly done me good. (My tendency is to identify with feminine male characters, but I didn’t see many of those until my teens or so, and they usually weren’t the protagonists.) Big stompy bubble-toed goth boots have also been very kind to my feet over the years, come to think of it.

    @isabelcooper Makes sense on both counts. I hadn’t thought about not trusting compliments (might be because I’m usually my own top priority reader/recipient, and I tend to look for “I get it” reactions from others over “I like it,” and “getting it” is probably harder to fake or exaggerate?), so that’s helpful to think about ^^.

  257. Given the male astral gives ‘meaning’ while the female astral receives it, doesn’t marriage form the default script by which a relationship is given meaning?

    Now, what happens if you get rid of marriage? You leave it up to the man (the astral male) to define the meaning of the relationship which is a huge burden and one that modern men were never prepared for. Is the deep dissatisfaction that women have in modern society, and the anti-male attitude which prevails, borne out of this loss of meaning and the subsequent resentment against the astral male?

    This reminded me of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, which I think is the ultimate traditional love story of the last few decades (that features protagonists in the ‘standard’ gender roles). Jesse is a writer. Celine is his muse. They don’t get married and it is up to Jesse to give meaning to their relationship which he does successfully but only just (I won’t explain how he does that to avoid a spoiler).

  258. @Scotlyn, thank you for pointing to Chinese teaching on qi.

    The Discarded Image makes the point that “spiritus” has many almost unconnected meanings; “spiritus vitalis” flows within a person, bringing life everywhere. Even though “pneuma” correlates etymologically with “spiritus”, I think “psyche” (and Hebrew “nephesh”) come nearer (see the link on “psyche” I posted above).

    However, your remarks together with Robert Mathiessen’s make me conclude, at least preliminarily, that much of the practically important points in today’s essay derive from Chinese and/or Indian sources and only reached the West in the 19th century – unless one believes in some indigenous oral tradition in Europe (the Far West) or the Levant (the Near West), which would be impossible to prove.

    That is a pity. Even though I highly respect JMG’s world view, and the Chinese and Indian ones, I would have loved to see similar points as in this essay made from a medieval Christian perspective, just as Dante easily incorporated astrology in his deeply religious Divina Commedia.

  259. @JMG: Apologies if this seems like a stupid question, but as someone wholly unfamiliar with these concepts, how can I tell what gender my astral, mental, and etheric bodies are? As a possibly-intersex transgender woman, I don’t think I would have the “typical” configuration that either a standard male or a standard female would have, especially since even my physical body doesn’t wholly fit into that paradigm (due to a “mismatch” of primary and secondary sex characteristics). Does sexual orientation, sexual role, or the presence/absence of stereotypically masculine/feminine personality traits play into it? Would my astral/mental/etheric gender be affected by either my natural intersex traits or the further alterations to my body caused by hormone treatments?

  260. @JMG – musing on how my theory still only applies to a minority of the middle-aged women with this same syndrome. But other people than me have remarked on how those who were children in the ’60s and early ’70s were the most unprotected from the ugly side of life since the ones who got hit in the teeth by two world wars and the Great Depression.

    Now, the children of the poor have always known about the ugly side of life. I remember reading a few autobiographies that shocked me to my back teeth. And boys, of course, were expected to be able to deal with things a lot more than girls were. Even back then, middle-class girls were as protected as anyone could be outside of the privileged – yes, even if they did end up driving ambulances in the mud and dangers of war or making do on short rations.

    But in the ’60s and ’70s, Mom was at work, sometimes Mom or Dad were off to California to Find Themselves – the classic red sports car etc – and younger moms and dads might have been in the counterculture scene or whatever was going on in their region, neighborhood, or city. TV exposed them to riots and assassinations and all sorts of goings-on. And so on. It has left its mark. Hard-nosed, practical, and cynical.

    And those who were children of boringly respectable families like Phil and I (despite his amazing capacity for hours-long verbal abuse) were exposed to things in school and on the streets I certainly never was, even in Indianapolis in the late 40s an early 50s. Sarah, who is quite sane, came home and reported a weenie-wagger on the way home from school. I asked her what she thought about that, and she said “It was gross.” I told her that’s exactly what the man was trying to do, get a kick out of grossing kids out. She also had to deal with some junior bullies – girls who thought they were tough. She told me how she dealt with that, too: “I AM the fastest 9-year-old miler in the Southwest!” And so on.

    I don’t remember Carol ever reporting anything of the sort, but I sometimes wonder now if she simply avoided trouble, or kept her mouth shut. She was into science and getting good grades.

    But both of them had to deal with the enormous mood swings I had developed from being on the other end of their dad’s tirades. Carol urged me to stop fighting with him because I was capable of being reasonable and he wasn’t. And that’s just one family. The battle of the sexes was starting to go into full swing, as the emptiness of the expectations of the ’50s became crushingly clear.

    For what it’s worth, while both Carol and her husband have highly successful academic careers, she’s the man of the family, while he’s the cook and repair tech and the advocate of “Go a little easier on the kids,” soft-spoken and gentle in manner, though nobody’s pushover. Sarah chose the home front and is apparently quite happy and successful in it. And far more down to earth. Temperamental differences play a great part here.

  261. Aged Spirit,

    I have never understood why a person who will not engage in sex with their partner would also insist upon fidelity.

  262. Thanks for this essay, JMG.

    I am married. I love my wife, have been faithful to her in my behavior, and intend to continue to be faithful to her.

    But even though I am in my mid 40’s, my head turns all the time when I see a woman I find attractive (and that’s quite often). I often fantasize about being with other women and replaying my youth in a way that would be more relaxed and enjoyable. I was quite tormented psychologically as a young man and had very little romantic/sexual experience with anyone other than my wife. I am wondering if you have any suggestions for working with these fantasies in a healthy way (neither suppressing them nor acting them out).

    Thanks much.

  263. New terms to learn: robosexual and digisexual. Yup, in some countries people are allowed to marry robots (!) and I’m going to assume that at least some of them can do more than clean house. What effects would a human experience from a “relationship” (if you can call it that) with a robot? I’m thinking the same as what you described when someone uses porn for masturbation?

    https://www.buzzworthy.com/meet-men-married-robots/

    https://electronics360.globalspec.com/article/13207/robot-human-marriages-the-future-of-marriage

    I guess the Church of Satan is chortling with glee, as I remember reading that Anton LaVey supported the development of robots for sex.

    Joy Marie

  264. I can’t speak for other women, but the mansplaining briefly mentioned feels to me the astral plane equivalent of a man going up to some random woman, grabbing her physically, saying “Here. You need this.” and RAM!

    Consent on the astral plane is as important as on the physical plane. When the expression of the masculine is forced onto the feminine, whether on the physical or astral plane, it is still a violence.

    Hmmm, a thought just popped into my mind: the violence of rape and the harm inflicted is aimed at the woman’s astral body (degradation, fear, shame, helplessness, emotional pain, etc.) more than at her physical body.

    While I’m ranting, I want to mention the lost art of Courtship. Giving and taking on the astral plane can be pure deliciousness, and can really enhance the give and take on the physical plane when it follows. You know, flirting, talking, wooing, seducing, admiring, amusing, loving, mentally caressing, etc. And it is regrettable that courtship goes out the window once a couple settles into married life. In fact, I wonder if maybe that’s why so many women get turned off as they age. The men have forgotten to give on the astral plane, to feed her mind and emotions. Too focused getting it on the physical plane maybe?

    Speaking of which, I’m puzzled by the idea that men “get” sex from women, that women “give” sex to men, and so on, as we normally think it. Following the masculine/feminine roles, it would be the men that give sex to women (they do, we just don’t think of it that way, generally). I wonder if what’s happening is a confusion of the physical and the etheric? The energy that women give men during sex is confused with the physical sex?

    I for one am delighted that there is a constant flow of creative energies from men to women and back to men. That view is much healthier that the one where men are predators that take what they want and the women’s role is to give it to them.

    Ok, I’m done ranting. I will go back to work now.

  265. Simple reason for people who have been abuse victims to put on weight is that especially in American culture it reduces one’s general sexual attractiveness–which may make those who have suffered sexual abuse feel safer. OTH there is a sexual fetish community of feeders–people who obtain satisfaction from fattening up their partner, the gainer or feedee–frequently way past any healthy limits. It becomes a power dynamic as the feedee can become incapable of normal mobility, work or other activities.

    Before the US Tsubaki shrine was established the priest put on a weekend seminar about the misogi practice at a former youth camp near Nevada City, CA. There was a suitable waterfall there, although it required rigging some ropes for safety. Quite an experience. I really wish the priest’s English had been a little better–discussing metaphysics across language and cultural barriers was rather challenging. Many of the other participants were various varieties of liberal Christians–I had seen the flyer at my local Unitarian-Universalist Church. I had studied a little about Shinto–interesting to me because it is one of the few Paganisms that has not been conquered and destroyed by Christianity or Islam. The priest also explained that Japanese did not feel a division between science and religion. It is perfectly normal to take one’s new automobile to the local shrine for a blessing or to invite a priest to bless an office building or factory. They have standardized folding altars and portable gear for that purpose. Of course, the idea that Shinto contributed to Emperor Worship and therefore to the militarism of WWII era Japan means that some of the material on Shinto written in English during that period is rather negative. I think I once encountered a book with a title something like “Shinto, the enemy”.

    Rita

  266. Onething,

    Is it rational? Nope. But there it is nonetheless. Best I can figure from a survival point of view is that such thinking is a feature not a glitch in the operating system.

    As one who aspires to Stoicism I just have to leave what I cannot change alone.

    Aged Spirit

  267. Ashara: what do your chromosomes say? One woman I knew in your position was XXY. I’ve heard of another whose chromosomes were actually a mosaic, just as my X-chromosomes are a mosaic of something carried on the X. (Traced back tentatively to my maternal line.) That could be a really good clue.

    Incidentally, intersex people pop up in science fiction some, and in most fictional cultures I’ve read, they are classed as men. Even the young tech-head in Bone Dance, whose friends have already figured out to be “both, or neither,” struck me as very much like the hero of one of Heinlein’s juveniles. (Physical appearance: Lou Diamond Phillips at age 15.)

  268. Thanks, JMG. Things to listen for the next time you have Parsifal on your speakers:

    — Klingsor’s summoning of the demonic through castration he visited on himself.

    — Kundry’s assault on Parsifal’s “chastity” (Act 2) via the deepest levels of memory and feeling (guilt/ mother issues)

    — The endlessly bleedig open wound from which Amfortas suffers.

    — The obvious symbolism of spear and grail — and a world gone wrong through their separation.

    It would all just be an interesting poem if weren’t for the power of Wagner’s music — the way in which all the symbolic apparatus is linked at a level that “gets” the listener in regions far beyond surface consciousness. Even Wagner’s detractors understood this — Debussy writing of Parisfal’s “Inner Light”; Nietzsche’s comment — “The supreme psychological perception and precision as regards what can be said, expressed, communicated here, the extreme of concision and directness of form, every nuance of feeling conveyed epigrammatically; a clarity of musical description that reminds us of a shield of consummate workmanship; and finally an extraordinary sublimity of feeling, something experienced in the very depths of music, that does Wagner the highest honour… a cognisance and a penetration of vision that cuts through the soul as with a knife.”

    No need to respond but if and when you get around to listening again, would really be interested in what you might have to say — particularly given your OP above.

  269. hmmm.. @Kevin. How coincidental… I did today just happen to be perusing a book of myths I plan to order (The Mishomis Book … I am reading Braiding Sweetgrass , and now am going down rabbit holes) and, among mention of other things which may be topical, may simply be the Procrustean urge we all get with prophecy…I found reference to a time when “The cup of life will almost become the cup of grief.” so… just put that pin on the ole corkboard with the strings…

    On a related note, when I first was urged by, (who I have been operating under the belief are) my Ancestors, to start digging into this weird path I’m on, it started when the Oceti Sakowin gathered (along with many, many others), and started their ceremonies at Standing Rock.

    My ancestors from all the indigenous and settler lines who came to this continent merged in those territories in pretty much the way the Ojibwe prophecies describe, so they might have thought that was interesting to put a pin in for me as a helpful place to start looking for stories as things began to get weird. In the flood myths, there are usually 3 boats the people all pile into when the strife starts, and 2 drown, and I was definitely going to get in one of those drowned boats if they hadn’t said something.

    Many people now know what Mni Wiconi means: Water is sacred. There is a sacred lake, in those mythical lands, that the french settlers named Lac Qui Parle, and which still bears that name. The tourist centre gives a different explanation for the name than the one I was given. Its name in Dakota is the same, and of course, the state where it is located bears it’s name: Mni Sota. It’s named that, I read in some journal by some dead great great great uncle or grandpa or other, because when you sit by it, and a wind blows over the surface of the waters, it sounds like it is speaking. I was told you could almost, but not quite, make out what it was saying (I assume if you arrived on a proper vision quest, you very well could get told something). It is the place where the air – how did our Prime Minister put it? -“Speaks moistly” to us, if we are prepared to listen.

  270. @JMG

    True. So the appearance may remain similar but the essence would have changed.

    Although I don’t think such denominations will retain the appearance and even the name of the religion long after.

    As the essence manifests itself over time.

    And given the existence of said things like the Magisterium and so forth. Its possible for some to always take the originalist route.

  271. Pixelated – re the book Promiscuities

    It is by Naomi Wolf, -not- Naomi Klein.

    and readily available.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  272. John – thanks for this article.

    Are you familiar with any of the work done with cases of the reincarnation type and (rates of) changing biological gender between lifetimes?

    It apparently varies between cultures.
    See the Society for Psychical Research’s encyclopedia article:
    Reincarnation Cases with Sex Change
    https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/reincarnation-cases-sex-change

    It figures in several cases/explanations of gender dysphoria:
    Childhood Gender Nonconformity and Children’s Past-Life Memories
    https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2020/04/4Childhood-Gender-Nonconformity-and-Children-s-Past-Life-Memories.pdf

    Also, while looking through DOPS (division of perceptual studies – the Univ. of Virginia group carrying on the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson) publications list:
    https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/publications/academic-publications/

    I found this on synchronicity, perhaps you’d be interested as part of a future article on that subject.
    An Initial Study of Extreme, Measurable Forms of Synchronicity
    https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2016/12/OTH26Perry-PA.pdf

  273. Back to the original post you said –

    “On the etheric plane he is feminine and needs to receive life energy, to draw it into himself—thus the sense of abundant well-being that many men feel after lovemaking”

    What if it is the complete opposite, a sense of being low on energy after the act? A mismatch of partners maybe?

    While we are on the topic of sex, my favorite Woody Allen joke from the movie Sleeper. “There is only two things I know. Sex and Death, both only happen once and after death you don’t feel nauseous.”

  274. @Lleuna
    Thank you for the book recommendation.

    @Minervaphilos
    Thank you, that was very informative.
    I am also currently trying to learn the basics of
    western ritual magic and the qabalah, and noticed that it felt a little like religious ritual.

  275. Hi JMG,
    Another timely blog post and has sparked some interesting discussion in this household. I sent my partner the link, and knowing her views on women’s equality and patriarchy through western society, was expecting a critical reaction. Here’s the most salient part…
    “He sounds like he is writing what men want to hear rather than getting to the point – society is created for men and idealised women are everywhere. Male desire is assumed all important. Women are taught being desirable is their worth so they need it more. Stopping engaging with sexist nonsense may help men like women and care about their pleasure rather than be sexually selfish, but many men prefer the ease of porn to a real woman.”
    She also took offence to the idea that many women today get lost in an idealised fiction of romance, and on the occasions they might, it was more likely the failures of the men in their world that would have led to it over and above being the cause of an unsatisfying relationship. Feels like the old nature/nurture dilemma running through all this here. Look forward to your thoughts on her reaction (yes, I have my own!).

    Jay

  276. Aged Spirit, if I may,

    If your mate has “had it with sex in this lifetime”, fine, but she should at least be willing to work with you to try to find a solution that doesn’t leave you frustrated for the rest of your life, whether that means working on aspects of your relationship, identifying potential medical issues, or redefining the relationship itself.

    As admirable it can be to be content with what you have, I don’t think compromising on basic needs belongs in that category. That some people (mostly, but not exclusively women) can be happy without a sex life at all doesn’t mean it’s not a basic need for the rest of us. And standing up for your basic needs is a prerequisite for physical as well as mental health.

    For gaining perspective, I recommend the surprisingly insightful /r/DeadBedrooms (https://www.reddit.com/r/DeadBedrooms/).

  277. Anonymous Squirrel,

    The relationship pattern you describe sounds like something I have a decade’s worth of experience with. Co-parenting with a neurotic partner really is extremely demanding, and not less so when you’re not getting your own basic needs met.

    Was your wife neurotic and dysfunctional even before you had the child? In that case, the first thing you need to figure out is why you got together with her in the first place. One very helpful book whose message may apply to you is “No More Mr Nice Guy” by Robert Glover.

    Going forward, you need to stand up for your own needs and demand that your wife respects that. Even if she herself feels unable to give you what you need, she needs to acknowledge that it’s a problem that you’ll need to work on. If she’s not willing to work on it, you have the choice between long-term frustration, leading to resentment — or finding a way out of the relationship. These things don’t magically get better with time, and having personal experience with the option that leads to resentment, I really don’t recommend that. (I also know that getting out isn’t simple, especially when there are kids involved — it took me six years to realize that I needed to break up and almost a year to actually do the thing.)

    It’s a different situation when healthy people get together, and the.exhausting, body-disfigurating and hormonally-disturbing features of pregnancy and parenthood puts the sex life on hold for a few years. In that case, things often do get better when the kids get older. And it’s not so uncommon to do what @pixelated did, for the lower-libido partner to beg the one with higher-libido to get out and get some on the side. (Serious display of love there!)

    With high neuroticism it’s a different game. Beware of the dangers of doing too much on your own to improve the situation unless it really is a joint effort with your wife, working towards a situation that can be rewarding for both of you, especially if you’re already doing your share of the housework and child care. (Of course, if you’re working 80 hour weeks while she stays home with the toddler and handles all the night wakings, you need to take a hard look at the balance, but many men who find themselves in this kind of situation are doing their share and then some — being great at everything except for looking after their own needs.)

    /r/DeadBedrooms, which I mentioned in my response to Aged Spirit, is a very useful resource in learning how the various patterns tend to unfold over time.

  278. To Patricia – about the ugly side of life- I saw my best friend be stabbed to death by a homeless person, while we were walking to high school. This was in Bridgeport CT in the 1960s. So yes, even then ugliness was a factor that we poor people had to cope with. Yes, there were homeless even then. So, I guess certain people learned how to deal with the great awfulness in their lives, while others were protected from it.

    To Mr. Greer,
    My introduction to the Mists of Avalon was on a city bus. The person next to me was reading it. I read it over her shoulder. She was so intent on it, she didn’t notice I was reading also. The chapter she was on had a ritualized rape scene for young women to be initiated into the religion. Anywhere, I decided any book that made rape seem sacred was not my cup of tea. Reading all this makes me wonder about Neo-Pagans and their love of the book and then later shock and discuss at the author’s proclivities. Were they so dense as to sex that they just didn’t see the connection or what?

  279. There appears to be a blank spot in the schema by which you’ve mapped different varieties of human experience to different planes. Is there any specific plane(s) of emotion(s)? “Thoughts and feelings” are associated with the astral, but in that context “feelings” seems to refer more to certain subtle sensations than to emotions per se. The general gist of the discussion seems to imply that emotions can result from interactions between the self and any of the four relevant planes (and clearly there are strong emotions associated with the spiritual plane(s) as well). But are they sourced in any particular one? Or somewhere else?

    Of course the topic is the metaphysics of sex, not the metaphysics of love, and I’m not fool (nor prude) enough to think either one requires the other. Still, as a demisexual and/or very fortunate husband, they’ve been quite connected in my own experiences. Would the metaphysics of love be a suitable future discussion, or would it be too large a topic?

  280. @Patricia Matthews: I’m not sure, I’ve never had genetic testing done. Probably XY, though I can’t be certain. Even before taking hormones, I had a lot of the symptoms of Klinefelter Syndrome (minor breast growth, reduced facial and body hair, feminine hips, low testosterone), which is caused by an XXY chromosomal configuration.

    As an aside, I know a fair number of other trans people who suffer from chronic pain and various physiological disorders, including a disproportionate amount who have autoimmune conditions (which are normally very rare) and minor anatomical deformities. I’ve often wondered if both their gender dysphoria and their physical problems might result from a mosaic intersex condition, like you mentioned: If different cells in their body have different genetic codes, it would explain why their body’s immune system is attacking itself or why their body’s anatomical structure is abnormal, while also explaining why they would have a mix of male and female sex characteristics.

  281. @sunnnv D’oh! Sigh. Why do I always mix that one up. Poor lady. I wonder if it was a Canada thing when last I looked, or what. Glad it’s still out there!

    @Aged Spirit, in the words of the wise sage Dan Savage “no one has the right to unilaterally end someone else’s sex life.” In addition to what others have recommended, I would recommend searching his podcast (Savage Love). He gets a LOT of those calls, and might gently ask you to question – if you’re fine with the stoic path due to loyalty, that’s okay, but loyalty is something noble usually only when it’s reciprocated. There are options…

  282. Seconding what BigZ and Onething have said. I disagree with Dan Savage on some things, but he has a great quote: “Nobody has the right to unilaterally end another person’s sex life.” (Not permanently, anyhow–there are cases like recovery from illness/injury, or terminal conditions, where the considerate partner waits out a temporary situation with as much good grace as possible.)

    I also think that loyalty is for people who reciprocate it, and a part of that loyalty is freeing a partner to get what you can’t give, in the case of enthusiastic sex.

    Depending on your situation–travel, mutual circles of friends, etc–I’d suggest a blunt conversation: if she’s really not interested in sex, then you’re going to get it elsewhere, or try to: on occasion, discreetly, and without emotional or financial disloyalty. (A “friend with benefits” in another city is the best solution, if one is available, ideally one in a similar situation.) If she doesn’t like that…well, life is full of things we don’t like, see quote in the first paragraph. If she freaks out about it, leave until she’s stopped freaking out. Let her self-soothe, as parenting books say.

    If she eventually comes around, you won’t be sneaking if something *does* happen–she knows it’s a possibility, she just doesn’t have to know the details. And if she doesn’t…frankly, single life and freedom is pretty great.

    Whatever you choose, you have the right to draw lines and give ultimatums where your own needs are concerned, and sex definitely counts.

  283. Aged Spirit–unilaterally changing the conditions of a contract is not generally regarded as fair. Deciding that one is done with sex in a relation premised on sexual fidelity is definitely in this category. Sex advice columnist Dan Savage has quite a bit to say on this topic. As you can imagine the question comes up on a regular basis. It isn’t always the woman, or as you note, the older partner. I don’t care much for cooking, but if I were married to someone for whom I had always cooked, and who continued to do the things that I had relied on them doing I certainly wouldn’t feel right about a declaration that I was done with making and sharing dinner. One thing Dan Savage recommends is a health check-up as decline in hormones can make intercourse less pleasant, or even painful, as can other conditions. I would also wonder whether there are other problems, such as a buried resentment, that may be blocking sexual energies. I hope you are able to work it out.

    Astral Surfer–I’m going to cite Dan Savage again–he notes that many young men, even without porn, may adopt a style of masturbation that in no way resembles actual intercourse with a partner, what he refers to as “Death Grip”. His recommendation is to strictly retrain the penis–just deny it the stimulus it is used to, even if that means going without an orgasm, until the system is able to be satisfied by the new sensations you are willing to give it. It takes awhile, but it is possible.

    Re MZB–a lot of people who read and recommended “Mists” were so carried away by the idea that it was pro-pagan and pro-woman that they didn’t notice that it was neither. Powerful female characters do not make a novel pro-woman if these characters are all either stupid or self-centered or misguided. And the ease with which the Druids (who are, if you notice, the actual bosses of this supposedly Goddess dominated religion) drifted over to a sort of mystic Christianity suggests that she wasn’t really pro-Pagan either. Years later MZB defended a novel she published in which evil witches practiced human sacrifice by claiming that she actually knew of such a group. That made it obvious that she had just been using the Neopagan community all along.

    Rita

  284. Thank you JMG for a thought-provoking read. It took a while for this post to percolate but now I have questions—I hope I’m not too late posing them.

    (1) Based on the description here, my etheric body doesn’t seem to be very well anchored in/around my (female) physical body. It seems to diffuse and float a bit above and in front of my physical body. I can pull it back, but only temporarily and it takes a lot of concentration and mental effort. When I do, I feel smaller but stronger in the way that a strong tea is more concentrated than a dilute one. Perhaps related, I also have always been very low-energy, even as a child.

    Does this have something to do with the genders of the etheric and physical bodies? E.g., does the seeming diffusion of my etheric body correspond to a masculine gender trying to release its force outward? Even if it does though, not everyone with a masculine etheric body has this issue (as far as I know), so could this have to do with poor energy hygiene/protection? Or is this a whole different kettle of fish?

    (2) I live in a college town, and every year the amount of clothing worn by the female students gets smaller, and the age of the girls dressing in this “adult” way gets younger. I have seen bikinis that provide more coverage than what they wear to class when the weather is warm. “Femininity” these days seems to be pretty much coterminous with public nudity.

    After reading your essay, I started to see this as an imbalance of the female astral body’s need to be desired, even at the expense of safety or hygiene (I just can’t help thinking of their near-naked butts sitting on bus seats…shudder). As a woman I’m painfully aware of all the double binds we’re caught in, so I’m not saying this from a judgmental standpoint. But whence comes this astral hunger, and how could it be more sustainably nourished? Because the rule for men is usually look-but-don’t-touch, what is happening with the male astral bodies?

  285. @Lathechuck – The odd thing about both of my experiences with this lady coworker; At the time of each experience, I was concentrating on something else (typing a case note in the first instance, and fixing a computer in the second instance). The sensations hit me suddenly, out of the blue.

    All– The refrigerator settings (41 F / 4 C) are very close to the temperatures at which water has its highest density (39 F / 3.98 C). When water turns to ice, it becomes a bit less dense, which is why ice floats on top of water instead of sinking to the bottom.

    @Onething (and AgedSpirit) – Why would someone expect fidelity when not helping a spouse with their sexuality? Well, we are human beings. Logic and consistency are not always a part of the picture. 😉 What if one spouse loses the ability to perform sex for reasons of disability or illness, not because she/he wants to stop, but just cannot do it anymore? If that spouse was you, might you feel abandoned if your healthier spouse, though desperate, started something up with another person?

    Probably there are widely differing answers depending on what couple you are talking about, but it seems likely that a lot of us would feel betrayed in that situation. And if you think about it, a lot of us are going to go there if we get old enough, on one side of it or the other.

    Thanks John, for this essay, and thanks to all who commented!

  286. @JMG

    Given the tendency for the male sex to have more geniuses and more dim bulbs:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26161735/

    And for them to more often die prematurely even from disease:
    https://www.healthline.com/health-news/men-more-susceptible-to-serious-covid-19-illnesses

    Which is due to the existence of one x-chromosome in the male that often ensures that deficiencies in that x-chromosome cannot be compensated by the other x-chromosome.

    And substantial bottlenecks of the y-chromosome:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4381518/

    No doubt also as a result of conflict

    Perhaps the nature of the male is to be the roll of dice. Nature’s Gamble so to speak.

    Lots of losers. But the winner takes all.

  287. As a married woman who had a child life in life, I found the love of my child very emotionally fulfilling in a way I hadn’t expected. In a sense it does negate the need somewhat for a husband’s physical love, if you bond very closely with your child. However, I think the husband can help to bring his wife back to a sense of who she is as a person. It’s a loss of self which causes the problem mostly I think, and the fact you are in love with your child. My husband also loves our child dearly, which helped me to open up to him again emotionally. Reading romantic fiction as a woman (rather than graphic sexual novels) can create again desire too if it is lacking and remind you of how you felt when you were young. And the child needing you less as it grows older helps. I think a complete lack of intimacy persisting for years always has another emotional factor – possibly a feeling of betrayal or having been let down, based on other marriages I have seen – also at the heart of the problem, and perhaps a psychologist or professional counselor needs to be involved.

  288. @Rita,
    For my first 10 years in Japan, I just stayed away from shrines, as I expected them to be nationalistic and sacred ground solely for the Japanese. Brought up as a Buddhist, I’d always heard WWII blamed on Shinto. The losing side in these things has their views repressed subsequently.
    You have to understand that Japan is a resource-constrained archipelago. During the Edo period, a time when Buddhism dominated but the syncretic Shugendo was at its zenith in popularity, the country did a remarkable job of living sustainably within its constraints. (Just prior to that, during the civil warring era, Japan raided Korea, under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was Buddhist.) The peaceful and prosperous Edo period came to an end when Commodore Perry steamed in and demanded Japan open up to trade (i.e., exploitation). This was a major trauma, the end of the samurai culture, resulting in the ascendance of Shinto under the Emperor–a spiritual leader. It was a unifying move, casting off the effete Tokugawa clan to fend off an enemy at the gates. To avoid being exploited the way many of its neighbors had been, Japan embarked on modernization. I won’t go into details, but a victory against Russia in the early 1900s brought the military to power. Shinto philosophy emboldened them, and they had a noble ideal: casting the western monkey off of Asia’s back. The era of overt colonization was ending but gunboat diplomacy still reigned. I will credit them with being ham-fisted at best–it was their first attempt at colonization– and won’t comment on how they treated their more northerly neighbors. There is a lot of ill feeling both ways.
    For the average person, Shinto was a folk religion and a source of spiritual strength. For the military clique running Japan in the 30s until the war ended, it was a god-given mission, though one can argue how much they actually believed in it (Shinto was considered by the government then not a religion, but a propaganda organ centered around traditions), or if they were just the ambitious sort of folks that come to roost at the top after a culture peaks, experiences a crisis and goes into a decline.

  289. @Walt F, thank you for a new word 🙂

    I congratulate you to your good fortune in marriage. “Demisexual” strikes me as an atrocious word, almost criminally insane. On the other hand, it reminded me of a novel by Nobel prize laureate Heinrich Böll (available in English), where Böll has the protagonist suffer the great misfortune of only desiring the woman with whom he lives.

  290. Sorry for another literary reflection. Milton Hatoum’s Two Brothers is a tale of a family with huge problems; lack of sexual passion between the parents is not among them.

  291. Hi JMG,

    Should you expand on this discussion in the future, I wanted to suggest that the stable of geomancy figures make a perfect fitting nomenclature for the sixteen possible gender formations, especially if formatting allows for including them along with the text. It’s so exact that I’m actually surprised no one seems to have brought it up until now. They are quite q hamdy visual aid with their natural correspondence between head line/fire-spiritual, neck line/air-astral, body line/water-etheric, and feet line/earth-physical planed. You don’t to know anything at all about the more esoteric meanings of the figures— just explain “higher planes up, lower planes down, two dots for feminine, one dot for masculine” and the eye does the rest of the work for you. The most common gender layout become Acquisitio for biological males and Amissio for biological females.

    The way they fit together reminds me of the parable of the split halves of the soul that Aristophanes tells in Plato’s Symposium. It’s purely conjecture, of course, but my thoughts on the matter lead me to speculate that the overall population follows a bell curve, wherein the majority of the population are represented by the perfectly interlocking “soulmates” Amissio and Acquisitio; followed with slightly less frequency by the other sets of soulmates who evenly balance masculine and feminine (Fortuna Major‘s soulmate is Fortuna Minor; Conjunctio‘s soulmate Carcer); then even less frequent, soulmates with an imbalance of male to female planes (Caput Draconis and Laetitita, Puella and Laetitia, Puer and Albus, Cauda Draconis and Tristitia); and rounding it all off, the most rare of all, the pair where one partner pushes out energies on all planes while their partner receives on all planes, maximum masculinity Via with maximum femininity Populus.

    I have a question, and apologies in advance if this is answered in other comments, as I haven’t had time to work through the last half of them yet. With examples like Wagner needing to fall in love every time he composes an opera, it seems that by matching up with a partner who is active on one’s own receptive planes, a circuit is created that bridges all the way down from the spiritual plane through the astral and etheric and finally down into manifestation in the physical (and perhaps back up the other way, as well— is this direct current, or alternating current?). It’s easy to grasp how this circuit gets made when there’s a physical plane gender male on the bottom like Wagner doing the shepherding of energies. I feel like it’s a dumb question and I’ve missed something here, but how does a full 4-plane active circuit get made when the creator is a physical plane gender female, and there is no physical plane gender male involved? E.g. take the case of Sappho, presuming for the sake of argument that she was a perfect paragon of lesbianity. What is the mechanism
    for a prolific female creator of great things that bridge across all the planes to create the circuit without physical-plane male gender involvement?

  292. I just had a brainwave, and realized something that might clarify some of the confusion about mental sheath gender that has come up a couple times.

    The feminine doesn’t create on their own meaning the male receives. She must receive it herself from the higher levels. The proper work for her on that plane, is the path that transmits from above, to the balanced centre. Do you communicate best in the language of Myth, or new story? Is Venus your muse, or Athena (or are you her?). That’s how you can peak under your mental sheath’s skirt.

    (how did your rampaging demon of ignored goddess attack your society’s mental plane? Crating a false god, and a deadly mythology.)

    I’m reasonably certain there’s a very important message the higher plane is communicating through her right now (gee whiz, really?), and I’ll write the words I got on my Hearthfire dreamwidth later tonight.

  293. Amused at the concurrent number of Dan Savage citations. Great minds! 🙂

    @Alexandra: As someone who did and still does dress that way (sometimes to show off, sometimes just because it’s hot out and modesty always seemed dumb), it’s never felt particularly *un*sustainable to me. Men can deal–God knows there are plenty of countries where women go topless–I’ve never felt unsafe, nor can I imagine why I should, and as for hygiene…eh. The world’s full of germs. Even in this coronavirus-full age, putting my mostly-bare rear end on a bus seat isn’t going to put me in more danger than hanging on to a subway pole barehanded, and probably less.

  294. @Matthias, “demisexual” certainly isn’t the term I would have chosen, and I agree it’s misleading (if that’s what you meant by it being criminally insane). It was intended, apparently, to describe a somewhat moderated variant of asexuality: demisexuals are seen as actually demi-asexuals. In that thinking, we share with asexuals the trait of not feeling sexual desire for others, even including those possessing our aesthetically preferred physical characteristics, but for demis there are certain limited exceptions. What that fails to take into account is the intensity of those exceptional connections. It’s kind of like calling laser light “demi-light” because it doesn’t illuminate broadly, or calling monotheists “demi-atheists” because of all the gods they don’t worship or believe in.

    Also, for an obscure term describing a supposedly obscure variant sexuality, the condition it describes is actually, as far as I can tell, not all that rare. That might help explain why ideals and narratives that seem designed to work well for demisexuals while confounding many others—such as exclusive romantic love, the “one true soulmate” concept, and monogamy—have managed to become normative in so many cultures.

    This week’s post suggests a number of alternative models for demisexuality besides some truncated version of some default. Such as, when astral attraction or desire leads the physical.

    (By the way, in such a case, might a person so inclined be at risk of falling for an astral being or image, such as a character from fiction, if they don’t meet a compatible human partner? I wouldn’t doubt it. Which might help explain the “Snapewives” and other comparable oddities described by Neptune’s Dolphins, isabelcooper, and JMG in yesterday’s Magic Monday discussion thread.)

  295. Astral Surfer, (1) good question — I wasn’t there at the time. (2) Yes. (3) I’m not at all sure. You may need to talk to a sex therapist.

    Kevin, hmm indeed! Both those make sense.

    Patricia M, bingo. Since the Tcho-Tchos were a Southeast Asian hill tribe in the Mythos, I went straight to books on actual Southeast Asian hill tribes to get a sense of how to flesh them out.

    Simon, no, meaning belongs to the mental plane, not the astral plane. That far from minor detail aside, I’m trying to make sense of your comment and failing. How does the marriage ceremony change who provides what meaning in a relationship?

    Ashara, it’s not a stupid question, it’s just one that’s been asked many times already in the comment thread, and the answer is the same in each case: self-knowledge and reflection on how you relate to other people, especially in romantic relationships, using the outline of the subtle bodies I gave in the post as a guide.

    Patricia M, thank you for this. Different decades really are different worlds!

    Edward, accept them, and consider using them as the basis for a more active creative life. Writing is one classic outlet for such things!

    Joy Marie, there have been jokes made about “inflatosexuals,” guys who have “relationships” with blow-up dolls. Sex robots are simply a slightly more complex equivalent. Magically, it’s masturbation, because there isn’t another person there.

    Myriam, that makes a great deal of sense — and your comments on courtship are spot on. Guys, if you want a happy marriage, remember that getting married isn’t the end of courtship, it’s the point at which you need to really get serious about it.

    Rita, feeders aren’t the only people who find plump women attractive, you know. As for misogi, I was fortunate in that the chief priest at the Tsubaki shrine in America is American born, and so he could do a first-rate job of explaining Shinto metaphysics.

    Wagner Lover, interesting. I’ll do that. Parsifal is far and away my favorite work of Wagner’s, and dukes it out with The Magic Flute for my favorite opera, so it probably won’t be long delayed.

    Info, the essence is always changing. Dogmatists are constantly being blindsided by the fact that religions are living things and change constantly over the course of their life cycle.

    Sunnnv, thanks for all these!

    Michael, it may be a mismatch — if two people with feminine etheric bodies make love, and they don’t take steps to be more than usually charged with etheric energy, that would be a likely outcome.

    Jay, it sounds as though she’s saying that everything that she doesn’t like in society and human relationships is exclusively the fault of men. That denial of women’s agency and power is certainly a popular attitude in some circles these days, and if that’s how she wants to define her world, by all means.

    Neptunesdolphins, there’s an odd sort of collective amnesia that seems to surround the current set of moral panics; everyone quietly forgets that attitudes were very different not so long ago. It’s weird.

  296. Oh goodness, I’m sorry, I garbled the message about prayer! … She says, His tongue only speaks to us through moving Her mouth (your choices are be spit, be swallowed, or listen) – likewise, only she can speak to the emanating one above her directly (when the kids are fighting, only Hathor can (a)rouse Ra from his chamber by making him laugh). Pray like heck now. Pray to the ignored God(s) and Goddess(es) below. Some Elders are saying nothing still, because they have not been asked.

    And if that makes no sense to you, fuggedaboutit, pray to who you know, so long as they aren’t in their vengeful demon form in their original myth, (being rewritten by feminist literature as “misunderstood”).

  297. Wasn’t going to comment. Once more an interesting and different perspective. Just 2 comments.
    Patricia, my children grew up in the 70s and 80s and far form Mum being absent I was there keeping a subtle but watchful eye on them all. They are all making a pretty good fist of their adult lives.
    Another point, nothing is designed to make me froth at the mouth quite as much as anyone asserting that women are all the pathetic victims of male oppression. I think of my mother and my aunts and trust me their husbands weren’t so silly as to try to put them down. They led independent lives while nurturing their families. My grandmothers were the same. Both widowed with young children, they got jobs which provided accommodation and looked after their families well. They both remarried but always maintained some financial independence. One used to hide 5 pound notes in the bedpost where her husband wouldn’t find them. Habit not need I suspect.
    We all need to take some responsibility for our own lives and not sit there saying it is all too hard, which it can sometimes appear to be.

  298. With respect to the life force, I just came across the following in Frater Albertus, Alchemist’s Handbook, while looking for something else.

    “The object of alchemical remedies is to supplement the lacking or deficient positive forces in the human body which represents the negative part in contradistinction to the positive vital life force (which in Sanskrit is called ‘prana’).”

    This prompted me to look at Paracelsus in E. A. Waite’s English edition and there I find mention of the spirit of life, which is explained in a footnote with reference to De Viribus Membrorum, which is another text by Paracelsus, so 16th century.

  299. Okay. So far, from the bottom up, it’s F-F-M-?. Muse? None, as far as I know. Though a lot of my writing can be called “needlework.” Take another’s plot. Get out the knitting needles, crochet hook, or sewing kit. Add my own meaning. Ping! However, failures at plotting probably reflect being a complete dunce at practical action.

    Guide & guardian deity, Minerva, but not my muse, if I have one. As for gender and originality in the mental sheath, when Jung said that women had no ideas they didn’t get from some man, I thought that over and realized that the dame was true, by and large, for men. “Standing on the shoulder of giants.” and if Jung didn’t know any examples to the contrary, there could be good historical reasons for that.

    [I think Emmy Noether could be said to give the lie to Jung.
    https://www.britannica.com/biography/Emmy-Noether%5D

    And in elemental terms, Earth endures. Water persists. (And a Water person is probably good at lawyering and finding loopholes as well.) Air goes everywhere. As for fire – well, Fire lashes out. Or smolders until it can lash out. Courtesy, alas of The Lackey, but I’ve never seem anything to contradict that.

  300. @Walt F, re: the models: Sometimes, IME, but not always. A number of my demisexual buddies are nonmonogamous, either in the sense that they’re only into a few people but chill with whatever their partners do, or in the sense that they don’t necessarily need Romance for sexual attraction but they do need long-term close friendship, which can occur with a bunch of people.

    But yeah, terminology is weird. Especially when you add grey-ace or grey-aro in there. I see its purpose, though, especially when/if you’re trying to date. (I myself am perennially unsure if I’m demi-or-grey-aro or just so commitment-averse that it practically works out to the same thing.)

  301. First of all, a big thanks to all who replied to my earlier comment about the one sided (in my opinion) sexuality of my relationship.

    I did look at the reddit thread and found it far too serious. When I said I am inclined to see humor in life this is certainly a place where such is well warranted. I find a certain irony in the fact that I have been a big fan of sex for over 50 years and now I’m without. That’s seriously funny.

    I also do not have time nor the temperament to hand wave and I do see this as a challenge that I get to work with. Will I get what I want? Quien sabe? But it is an interesting dilemma for sure. I tend to see problems as having a gift contained somewhere in the solving. It has also often been said that we never get problems that are bigger than what we can solve. With that in mind I tighten my sword belt and get back to the fray as best I can. (Keep in mind, it’s no disgrace to die on the battlefield when the cause is just. And in this case, to me, it is.)

    By the way, all the thoughts about the value of loyalty from the words of Dan savage to the very grounding thoughts of Conundrumknot are well appreciated. As is always the case, life is messy and there are so many intertwined issues running through this that it’s a tough story to unpack.

    Nevertheless, beyond the task at hand there is also time for gratitude to all who have given thought, advice and well wishes to me. Heartfelt.

    Walk in beauty, Aged Spirit

  302. Inflatosexuals. Wow! In one of the sailing periodicals (Latitude 38) a couple of years ago there was a story about a man who was rescued from his sailboat in distress. He insisted that his sex-doll companion be rescued as well, but the coasties refused. The article had a photo of him and his sex doll together in a happier moment.

  303. Walt, the difficulty is that the label “emotions” covers a very broad span of experience, from passions such as sexual desire (which is etheric) through feelings such as dislike and affection (which are astral) to the upper end of esthetic experience, which has to do with the mental plane. So some feelings belong to one plane and some feelings to another. As for the metaphysics of love, hmm. That’s a huge topic, which I’ll consider.

    Alexandra, (1) no, that’s not a matter of etheric gender, it’s a different kind of etheric issue. Did you suffer a significant trauma in your childhood? That sometimes can produce that kind of semi-detachment of the etheric body. (2) I suspect that a lot of it is that many young men, especially in college towns, have dealt with the increasingly toxic doublebinds they face by not even looking — they turn to pornography and ignore the actual women around them, since any misstep in dealing with actual women could result in disaster. So the women are responding subconsciously by displaying more and more of their bodies in an attempt to win back the desiring gaze they don’t get any more.

    Info, of course! Evolution in most vertebrate species works primarily by weeding out less fit males — that’s why young men are genetically programmed to try to get themselves killed — so it makes evolutionary sense that the Y chromosome should foster increased variability, to give natural selection as much raw material to work with as possible.

    Naomi, many thanks for this perspective.

    Quin, hmm! Fascinating. Yes, I can see that. As for creativity, yes, the circuit descends from the spiritual planes to manifestation and rises back up from there — but the contact between the descending and ascending arc need not be made on the physical plane. You can have a powerful creative flow when the lowest plane of contact is etheric. It’s not at all necessary for an artist to have sex with the person who inspires his or her work — Dante is perhaps the most famous example of this, and the plane of contact in his case seems to have been astral.

    Pixelated, interesting. Experiment and see how it works.

    Someone, good. Yes, alchemy — of various kinds — can also get involved in this.

  304. JMG,

    Right. Seems I got my mental and my astral mixed up.

    I guess I was thinking of marriage as a kind of default social script or form which provides meaning. Wouldn’t it be correct to say, therefore, that marriage exists on the mental plane? (Of course, marriage exists on all the other planes too. But to the extent that it creates meaning, it exists on the mental).

  305. Greetings JMG, thanks for this fascinating explanation of sex in occult terms. I’ve been aware of and occasionally reading your blog for the past three years, although I’ve been more drawn to your writings this year, and expect I’ll comment occasionally from here on out.

    Anyways, to the topic on hand, it reminded me of characters and groups I’m aware of from the stranger parts of the Internet. The explosion of porn usage via the Internet is well known, but it seems another phenomenon that the Internet has birthed is how bizarre fetishes that, in earlier times would have simply been the predilection of that one or two weird people in town, are now actively explored by niche groups of people joined together to share in their fetishes. Porn that can be acted out by human beings in-person is only the majority of what you find on the Web today. In addition, people will actively advertise that they’re NSFW/18+ only on their social media feeds and then share their custom pornographic feed with the rest of the world. I’ve read in other comments on the blog that people stimulated by the same images can create an egregore, and often a negative one, with these activities, though I admit my knowledge of the occult is limited at this time and I may not grasp the full concept.

    So the question I have is, these people who masturbate to porn of fat cartoon characters or whatever else, and hang with similar people all or most of the time, are they all people who have entered into dangerous cycles where they are etherically unclean and/or possessed by harmful spirits and their vulnerable state is sadly self-perpetuated by their peer groups? I know one good friend who, while she’s indicated she doesn’t share the sexual tastes of her peers (and I know her well enough to trust her there), regularly hangs out with these sorts of people, and I’ve been increasingly concerned that she may need to reach out to meet new friends. She remains friends with them and dates among them because she’s admittedly an awkward person with odd interests who would find it hard to find friends elsewhere, but if her friend group is at high risk of developing health issues by their own choices and being manipulated by outside forces, I’m worried about her. Are my concerns legitimate?

  306. Greetings, all — what a fascinating conversation we are having here!
    @ Pixelated, re: gender on the mental plane – My own meditations on the subject led me to the same brain-wave you had: One who functions as male/yang on the mental plane is emitting what has been received from above.

    And just as an illustration of that truth, I was pushed kicking and screaming into this realization from “above’: by a nightmare! I often dream of being back on a college campus, and usually these are lovely dreams of the “halls of ivy” sort. But in this one I was trapped and couldn’t get out. I tried ducking out through service entrances, cajoling staff to tell me the secret way out, but realized I was trapped, trapped, hopelessly trapped. I woke up physically shaking.

    I connected the dream to the realization that intellect is incapable of freeing us from the ultimate trap. And how what goes on in academe is the inculcation of accepted concepts, remembering and regurgitating them, mulling them over, digesting, gestating, responding to implications, to ramifications; manipulating and Recombining them. Academe is really an institutionalized hall of mirrors, a haven for yin/female thinkers.

    What, then, is a creative yang/male mind? It would be doing what a philosopher like Nietzsche aspired to do: to be a ruthless barbarian philosopher, to abandon the most fundamental shared assumptions; and by thinking rigorously from the concrete data of present reality, to arrive at new understandings, new meanings, new concepts, new values. In Nietzsche’s view, this was the duty and the glory of a philosopher.

    But although Nietzsche’s writing is very much worth the reading, he did not succeed at what he set himself to do. He asked the right questions, but he found himself desperately unhappy , trapped in the answers he could arrive at. It drove him insane, literally.

    For ordinary mortals, I venture to say that attempting to do what N did is impossible. To be fair, N was well aware that people do not create ideas; he jeered at Descarte’s claim, “I think, therefore I am”. Nietzsche knew that we do not create ideas — ideas come to us, in their own sweet time.

    Hunting new meanings is hazardous. Abandoning shared assumptions is the very definition of insanity. And Nietzsche lived the last decade of his life under the care of his mother—unable to attend to his own basic needs, unable to communicate with people.

    Obviously, new meanings do sometimes come to us. Artists of all kinds make new meanings every day, and scientists and philosophers have sometimes achieved this, too.

    I am remembering Jordan Peterson’s idea that meaning in life comes from inhabiting that razor edge between the known and the unknown. He refers to the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol, the circle divided by an S-curve, with white, the Known, on one side and Black, the Unknown on the other. The path of meaning is hewing to that razor-thin line that runs between. Recognizing and honoring the Unknown. Bringing the Unknown into the Known. JP asserts, and I can corroborate it, that following that path is immensely energizing. Psychological research, he reports, indicates that engagement in “exploratory behaviors”—which is conscious, voluntary engagement with the Unknown—triggers the release of adrenaline and endorphins into the neurochemistry of the explorer. In other words, exploration equates to risky behavior, and it is profoundly, wonderfully exciting.

    But creating the new concepts—how is that done? Attention to anomaly is one way. You focus on the piece of reality that does not fit the concept. And then what? You consider related concepts and realities; you rifle your mind for them, mix them up, see if any unexpected connections form. You cogitate and wait for the light to go on. You wait for inspiration.

    You rest in the Cloud of Unknowing.

    In order to be male on the higher mental plane, you have to be female on the spiritual plane!

    Meister Eckhart wrote a sermon “I Must be about my father’s business” in which he says that, along with active and passive mind, we must cultivate what he calls “potential intellect”:

    “Man has an active intellect, a passive intellect, and a potential intellect. The presence of the active intellect is indicated by the mind at work . . . . But when the action at hand is undertaken by God, the mind must remain passive. On the other hand, Potential intellect is related to both. It signifies the mind’s potentialities, what it has the capacity to do, what God can do. . . In one case, the mind is at work on its own initiative; in the other, the mind is passive, so that God may undertake the work at hand, and then the mind must hold still and let God do it, but before the mind can begin and God can finish, the mind must have a prevision of what is to be done, a potential knowledge of what may be.”

  307. JMG,

    What (if anything) is your view of the High Middle Ages concept of “courtly love” as exemplified by Dante and his inspirational lady-love, Beatrice Portinari?

    I have had two such experiences in my life. One was 43 years ago, with a (then) young woman, married with two small children. This was a purely Platonic affair, and there was no intimacy (not even physical touching) between us. I composed much prose praising her inward beauty, and she was clearly flattered by it, so much so that my mother warned me “Don’t start a love affair with this woman, even if she wants and asks for it. You will just create a big mess that will haunt you for the rest of your life!”

    This woman is 71 years old now, and is a beautiful as she was back then. I can say that she left me a better man than she found me.

    The second such experience happened about a month ago, with far less fortunate consequences. I was in hospital with a concussion, and the nurse who treated me was (and is) a lovely soul. I wrote her up to top hospital management as a “local hero.” She seemed to be grateful for my attentions at the time.

    Later, I wrote a very intense letter to her, expressing my gratitude for her care and praising her as a lovely soul. I promised to write letters to Parliament asking them to expedite her application for permanent residency.

    I was incautious enough to say that, if I were 25 years younger, and she was not already married, that I would be at the jewellers the next day.

    Well, that alarmed her so much that she complained to the police about it! I was solemnly threatened with a 2 year jail term if I ever contacted her again.

    OK, I went too far! I admit it! But why the police call out? That seems excessive to me. What am I missing here?

  308. @Eldritch Piglet, for what it’s worth, I had the same experience with art. As a child and teenager, if I was awake I was drawing or painting. It was more than inspiration, it was like channeling, and I felt connected to something transcendent. But for me it was college that severed the connection. I don’t think I was depressed at the time, but the academic standards did require that I focus more on “left brain” activities. Losing that connection was a huge blow to my sense of self. Now I can produce a credible image of an object, if I can bother to be motivated, but there’s no life or inspiration or pleasure in it, it’s just mechanical. I am still hoping I can get this part of me back.

  309. Illuminating post. Two questions derived from this model.
    1) If men receive etheric energy from women during sex and pregnancy also requires etheric energy for the child (as another commentor stated), then is sex during pregnancy possibly contraindicated as it could require too much etheric energy from the female?

    2) What determines what the astral body is able to project desireablility onto? Is merely habit as the post suggests? Intuitively it would seem that what is desireable to men is a physical complement to the material body and indicators of health. But then there is the case of fetishes that seem somewhat biologically maladaptive, for example the above referenced fetish for women that eat so much they become unhealthily heavy.

  310. @JMG Hmmm… Well, I suppose, when I think of it, I have run an experiment, and interpreted nearly the opposite. Strange… The medium is usually the strongest message…

    Lilith has been a truthful guide. But today, when it was too much, the synchronicity in everything, the exploding bombs in our work emails, it’s been wiiiild. It was Hathor to whom I prayed. And it all stopped. For now. Your Mysteries of Merlin and Celtic Golden Dawn showed up in the mail then, btw, two days earlier than expected.

    Perhaps it is more like… There are certain goddesses, with dark and light aspects, who need to be given their due. Pray to their light, but only when you are able to offer the respect to their dark. Pray to their higher aspects, when the lower escorts you to the altar… I don’t know any gods “personally”, so I can’t presume… but I have an idea which ones on the mythic tree will help, if they answer. I use certain names, it might be something, but needs more replication. Maybe that’s only a personal formula. But the names others here mention lately look right.

    Field report: In BC, the public school system just lost its mandate from heaven (the heaven of progress, I suppose). My husband, the teacher, does finally believe in magic though, lol. We knew they’d delay the school start date, but my guess… getting some hints here… Is that they will go back to the optional, mixed online system of the spring that the angry mob have requested. His reaction when I told him my guess was to say “no! That would be the worst option, the system couldn’t survive it!” and I laughed, we laughed… yes, that’s the point, isn’t it? So we plan. We email a lot and conference call, we try to turn down the heat with our coworkers. We are not succeeding at large, and we are with the few. But things may change.

    The PMC moms I know have truly lost it. Yesterday and Sunday was… I learned what they have done to their kids with the bubble wrapping in the past few months. The day camp teacher was telling me under her breath, she was seeing gross motor regression, PTSD, and who knows what else. The PMC moms had told her my kid needed to leave because she was a bad influence, or they would. She was very distressed, their kids… I told her I would leave if we had to, we’ll be okay, the other kids need her so bad, she’s a good teacher. But we’d stay if she needed reinforcement. I hate to say it, because I know what it’s like to be judged as a mom, but… I told hubby it felt like mutilation. Kids who can’t let sun touch their skin, climb logs or rock, run because they’ll trip, wade in the surf because they’ll drown, eat wild blackberries or even fruit from a neighbour’s yard… One little girl at the park on the weekend, didn’t know me from Eve, followed me around and grabbed my hand, wouldn’t stop touching me even though she was told she wasn’t allowed. Today, she developed cold symptoms, I was told. My daughter acted like she’d been physically drained when I picked her up from daycamp yesterday, like she was “coming down with something.” more than just tired of playing. She’s fine now, today another family with skinned knee blackberry stained kids showed up. The other little kids, the teacher says, today were are acting like they are “coming down with something”. Subway and Tim Hortons have been out of bread for two days, I’ve been told. Though no one else thought that was odd.

  311. @JMG–Thank you. Depending on what one includes under the rubric of “trauma,” I would say that yes I definitely experienced childhood trauma. And that completely makes sense now that you mention it. Something to meditate on, I dare say.

    Also re: the fashion choices of young ladies, it is eminently plausible that they are trying to recapture lost attention. No question about it, both men and women are caught in a miserable web of double-binds in which it seems no one can be satisfied or free.

    @isabelcooper–Point taken, and it’s good to hear the voice of someone who has a different experience from my own. You said, “As someone who did and still does dress that way (sometimes to show off, sometimes just because it’s hot out and modesty always seemed dumb), it’s never felt particularly *un*sustainable to me. Men can deal–God knows there are plenty of countries where women go topless–I’ve never felt unsafe, nor can I imagine why I should…” I just wanted to clarify one small point. It’s not that I think dressing in this way is inherently unsafe (well, in some parts of the world it probably would be) or unsustainable, but that within a Western cultural/historical context, it’s extreme. Extremes, in my experience, tend to reflect imbalance and not be safe or sustainable long-term. As you say, there are cultures where everybody is mostly nude–but historically that is not the case for Western cultures. And I can’t think of any off the top of my head where one gender is quite so scantily clothed while the other is considerably more so.

    For what it’s worth, since people are sharing their personal experiences… The background to that question, which I didn’t go into originally for the sake of brevity, is that my boyfriend is from a very different cultural and religious background from mine. Learning to see things from each other’s perspective has been a great source of growth for both of us. Nothing makes you question your assumptions like being emotionally invested in someone who brings very different ones to the table. He experiences a lot of cognitive dissonance over the values he was raised with being so different from the prevailing values around him now, and just not understanding what is expected within these new cultural rules. I do my best to explain things but sometimes he gets into what he perceives as real moral quandaries (such as being unable to avoid seeing nearly-nude women in public).

    My culture does not share the view that my boyfriend’s has, where sexuality outside of marriage is a potential threat to harmonious social relations. But I realized that my initial response to my boyfriend’s discomfort, which was to say that the women aren’t responsible for how he feels when he sees them, wasn’t completely accurate, and even worse, it denied the women agency. That prompted me to re-evaluate my stance (and I’m still not sure what that is, exactly). On the one hand, I don’t believe the women are “guilty” of doing something wrong, but on the other, just what exactly is the endgame of trying to attract male sexual attention that can’t be acted upon due to all the many double binds in play, as well as attention that isn’t reciprocated or appreciated by the woman? (Hence my question to JMG.)

  312. Last post on this topic: I need someone to bounce ideas off of the way other people need sex, and it follows much the same pattern: one close confidant, best friend; and a wider audience forbidden to troll, ready to disagree, but enough in the same head-space not to think I’m crazy. And that pattern strikes me as very much the way men are with ideas and opinions as well as sex.

    Etheric cleansing: Yesterday, following the example of someone on Magic Monday, I took out my ritual dagger and for once it leaped right into my hand, ready to work. I stabbed at the area of my body which had given me trouble for ages, while singing “IF there be anything here which cometh not in the name of the Powers of Light, then in the name of the Powers of Light, let it be gone. Let – It – Be- Gone! (and on an ascending scale that sounded pentatonic (LET -IT – BE- GONE!!) And to my amazement, that area of my body no longer ached. Others further up the back now ache more, but that’s good data as to where the strain is, and the upper back muscles need to get stronger.

    Finally: to remove physical crud, hot water. To remove etheric crud, cold water. To remove mental crud, cold logic. And to remove astral crud? Warm feelings? Would really like an answer on that one.

  313. To the Archdruid: These words could not have come at a better time. It explains some of the ideas i been looking at for years, and while i did have some understanding about the polarities, it didnt become clear in the sexual context until now mostly there are some personal issues I have with the four polarities i will keep to myself at this time.

    But just a small statement – maybe it is a question in someways, maybe it is not. I am a fan of Rollo Tommassi’s Rational Male series, and while he is more Christian (even though he states that modern evangelicalism is too closely connected to destroying male masculinity in a sense, single motherhood if the biological father is alive being bad and all) and somewhat dismisses the Occult (not a fan of new age and that is far as I will go on his dismissal here) he seems to have a sense of the problem of progress that only a few, yourself Mr Greer included get. Cant have a society as he states in the praxology (his books and Blog), that tells and teaches men from kindergarten to emote like females, talk in feminine tones, take the tones of female emotions as the only correct form of emotional worth, and then be stunned when we have an incel problem (which we dont have one, we have a problem that you, Tommassi and one other person i known – Tsarion get, is mostly a issue of progress and not focusing on the “Imperial Self, The Mental Point of Origin etc”)

    One of the things he got me to understand is that “Genuine Desire Can Never Be Negotiated”, and in a way that lead me to realize that this whole notion of progress with the way women handle their sexuality and how they see themselves and how they see men, is deeply unhealthily in all spheres. I am not a fan of any form of prostitution at all, and for myself living in the inner cities were some form of the concept was promoted and used in even its weakest forms (chore play) destroyed any kind of vibe as it were with the opposite sex for a time for many years even when i didnt even know it.

    But the Mental Point of Origin does lead me to believe that aspects of Occult study, if not necessarily practiced, is needed in a holistic understanding. And such works as yours and others help, because while alot of the Pick Up artists ways were a bit off-putting, they did had some sort of understanding of relations between the sexes in the physical side (and maybe others) correct – as in one statement – what would a woman do for a person that doesn’t benefit her in certain situations when she with people who lack less or need help? (and vice versa).Observation is key and that is what seems to be lacking.

  314. Correction: COOL logic, not cold; “cold logic” has its own bear traps. such as The Radiance. So – cool logic for mental crud; warm feelings for astral crud?

  315. You have very good taste in music (what I would have expected) — yes, of course, Parsifal and the Magic Flute are the two greatest operas ever written.

    There’s a wonderful moment in Ingmar Bergman’s film of a production in Stockholm of the Magic Flute.

    During the intermission, the camera follows the Sarastro. What is he doing? Studying a vocal/piano reduction of the score of Parsifal.

    That had to have been deliberate.

  316. Phutatorius, no doubt. Or common sense, which is doubtless the same thing.

    Simon, okay, got it; thank you for clarifying. The institution of marriage can become a framework through which meaning can be created, but it’s not the only such framework; furthermore, if the two people in question haven’t done much to develop on the mental plane, the framework probably won’t do much — thus the very great number of marriages that are solely astral, that is to say, a matter of thoughts and feelings and social expectations.

    Saltpeter, we’re in strange new territory here, precisely because (as you’ve noted) the internet has allowed the formation of self-reinforcing niche groups pursuing any fetish you can imagine. Nobody knows yet what the effects of that will be. As for your friend, she has to make her own choices, you know.

    Michael, the Platonic affair is exactly what I was talking about in terms of a woman’s masculine mental body inspiring a man’s feminine mental body, and bringing an increased focus on meaning and value. The other — well, the love letter was a bad idea at a time like the present, when relations between men and women have become so politicized. Remember that you can love and not talk about it.

    Winston, (1) it depends very much on the etheric condition of the woman. If she’s got a healthy etheric body, it should be no problem at all. (2) That’s really complex, depending on factors such as early sexual experiences, past life memories, the broader condition of your astral body, and so on. The animal reaction that identifies health and fertility as the basis for desirability is still present in humans, but it can be drowned out by other factors.

    Pixelated, if that’s the path that calls you, follow it. Thanks for the update — not surprising, but troubling. I get the impression that a lot of women in the PMC these days are in the process of absorbing and instantiating the Devouring Mother archetype. I pity their kids — some of them may not survive this.

    Alexandra, a loose etheric body very often comes from physical or emotioal trauma in childhood, so it was an easy call.

    Patricia M, excellent. To remove astral crud? That’s what a banishing ritual is best at.

    Novid, thanks for this. Tommassi is quite correct that pressuring boys to follow feminine mores, and pathologizing masculinity in them, is a great way to end up with a lot of severely messed-up young men. “Progress” is of course a myth — the mere fact that we have some fancier gadgets than our great-grandparents, and may even be able to keep powering them for a few more decades, does not mean that we have “progressed” in any other way — and it’s also a trap, because once some set of changes get defined as “progress” all you can do is keep making them until you fall over a cliff. As for occultism, I doubt Tommassi has ever encountered the real thing — so much of what’s out there is soulless, gutless pop-culture pseudospirituality, and if he condemns that, he’s not wrong.

    Wagner Lover, I always figured everything in Bergman films is deliberate!

  317. The Bergman film was, of course, something of a documentary. But Bergman seized what he encountered to make a subtle point: Gurnemanz is Sarastro’s direct artistic descendant.

    The two operas tell essentially the same story: the journey of a clueless young man (clueless, in particular, about the nature of sexual desire) towards knowledge, self-understanding, and compassion under the guidance of a wise older man.

    In the process, the young men (Tamino; Parsifal) qualify themselves for leadership of brotherhoods that have suffered attack from disordered sexuality (the Queen of the Night; Klingsor/Kundry).

    It is our great good fortune that two of the greatest composers also had such a profound grasp of the human psyche. One simply marvels at Mozart’s sensitivity to the most subtle gradations of human feeling. As for Wagner — well, Freud is little more than systematization of Wagner’s insights.

  318. @JMG

    And then there is this pattern when listing the reasons Men go to war for:

    Societal, Political, Economic, Religious and Military reasons.

    S.P.E.R.M

    This likewise is also reflected by the D-Day nature of reproduction. Where out of 200 million sperm facing death and destruction from the Female Reproductive System. Only 1 Fertilizes the Egg.

    Besides the downside of many failures. I suspect this is also the reason why innovation is primarily a male endeavor.

    After all its the nature of most innovations to fail. But the few that succeed drives a lot of technological adaptations.

    Now this has substantial metaphysical implications.

  319. Very interesting discussion here so far.

    As a 30-yo guy, I’ve recently started experimenting with the so-called “No Fap” movement which seeks to eliminate porn and masturbation. While only at day 36 myself, the changes are already striking to say the least. One aspect of it that comes out more over time is increased aggressive energy and general “hot-headedness.” This proved to be good for workouts, but harder for focusing on abstract/tedious work (rewriting papers for my PhD thesis).

    After reading this blog post I (re)started doing some of the old Sphere of Protection and MPE rituals from your other books and it seemed to REALLY balance out the energy in my mind/body and get things firmly back under control. Some basic qigong helped too, but not as dramatically as the SoP and MPE.

    So yeah – that’s my anecdotal evidence. Would be curious to read more from your venerable point of view on this subject.

  320. O/T, but likely of interest, From Chas. Hugh Smith, at
    https://www.oftwominds.com/blogaug20/collapse-unavoidable8-20.html :

    ” I have long admired *John Michael Greer’s* concept of catabolic collapse, a dynamic in which the institution is forced to downsize some of its costly complexity, but it restabilizes at *a lower energy state*. I now think this might be overly optimistic.

    How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse (John Michael Greer)

    A stair-step down to consequentially lower complexity and cost structures is simply *not practical* in much of the real world, as fixed costs are mandated by regulations, or impossible to cut for operational reasons. (For example, reducing a fleet of airliners by half doesn’t necessarily translate, into an ability to reduce aircraft maintenance facilities and staff by the same percentage.)

    Airports, airlines, cruise ships, sport franchises, resorts, malls, local government services, venues, theaters, hospitals, universities and so on, can’t reconfigure at 50% of previous complexity and capacity. Their fixed costs and mandates simply don’t allow, for a 50% reduction in complexity and revenues.

    This is why denormalization is an extinction event, for much of our high-cost, high-complexity, heavily regulated economy. Subsidizing high costs doesn’t stop the dominoes from falling, as subsidies are not a substitute for the virtuous cycle of re-investment.”

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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