Tag Archives: health

Smoking with my daughter, death and life.

image

Yesterday evening I gave my daughter a cigarette and we sat down and smoked together. She is only 14. Shocking? irresponsible? Bad?

Well even I will admit to being shocked by the unexpected way it happened. Of course it caused me to question the example Cassie and I have been setting her and to think about how strict I should be as a mother. But I really don’t think I am being irresponsible or bad.

We had just cleared away the dishes after dinner, and then we sat down for a chat in the kitchen as we often do. I poured myself some wine and lit a cigarette as  I usually do in the evenings and suddenly she asked if she could have one of my cigarettes. Yes, I was shocked (although I tried not to show it), this is my little girl after all! I could have just said no. I could have gotten angry at the idea that she was smoking and thought it was okay to tell me in such a casual way without getting into trouble… But I didn’t. I gave her a cigarette and we had a chat. She assured me that she didn’t smoke regularly but that she had occasionally smoked cigarettes with friends at parties or just on the way to school, and that she liked it. She said she had never actually bought any cigarettes and they were too expensive to even think of smoking regularly even if she wanted to. But she also said she had no doubt that she would smoke more regularly when she was older and that she didn’t want to sneak behind my back to do so.

As she was speaking I was of course watching her smoke with a strange fascination. I half expected her to cough and choke but she didn’t. This obviously wasn’t the first cigarette she had smoked. Actually she was inhaling in a disturbingly natural way. I couldn’t decide if I felt devastated, angry or rather proud…

Now as some of you may know Cassie and I both smoke and furthermore we feel quite strongly that adults should be allowed to smoke if they want to and we are against all the anti smoking legislation that is common these days. We like smoking. We smoke cigarettes and cigars sometimes and we even have an occasional blog called “Smokers Writes”. So I suppose we have given an impression to my daughter and perhaps to others that it is okay to smoke, despite the health risks. Is that a very bad thing?

Well first I am going to tell you what I said to my daughter and then I will tell you why. And perhaps I should warn that a lot of people may think I am very bad and very wrong.

Firstly I told her that I was pleased she felt she could be open and honest with me about this and that I hoped she would always feel that way. I told her I thought she was too young to be smoking regularly. I admitted that Cassie and I were heavy smokers who speak openly about the positive side of smoking but I also stated that we are undoubtedly addicts and that nicotine is very quick and easy to get addicted to and I didn’t want her to become addicted at such a young age. I said I didn’t want to think of her dying of a horrible disease and I gave her a mini lecture on the health risks of smoking (which of course she knew anyway). I said I was never going to buy her cigarettes or increase her allowance just so that she could afford them. However, I also said that I don’t mind her smoking the occasional cigarette and I don’t think it is a big sin. I said that she shouldn’t expect Cassie or myself to offer her our cigarettes at home or when we go out, but that it might happen from time to time. I said we would have great respect for her if, over the next few years she decided not to smoke at all and that if she decided that, we would completely stop smoking at home in order to make it easier for her. But on the other hand once she was 14, if she still wanted to smoke I would write her a permission to use the smokers area at school and that she could smoke in our smoking areas at home without having to ask about it again.

So why did I say those things?

Well firstly I don’t want my daughter to think I am a hypocrite. She knows that both Cassie and I smoked when we were quite young. I think we were both 15 or 16 before we were smoking regularly but we had smoked off and on for a while before that  and I guess we were about my daughter’s age when we first started experimenting. Secondly I don’t want this to become a point of rebellion between my daughter and myself and I do genuinely respect her for being able to be honest with me about the fact that she has smoked a few cigarettes. I think experimenting with cigarettes is a kind of right of passage a lot of adolescents go through and I think it is important for me to come to terms with the fact that my little girl has reached this stage and it is important for her to know that I respect the fact that she is growing up. And for her to know that I will always love her no matter what happens. And finally the truth is I don’t really think there is much wrong with smoking cigarettes.

I totally accept that there are serious health risks attached to smoking. The idea that myself or Cassie may die a slow, painful death because of our smoking horrifies me. The idea that my own precious daughter could die in such a way is too painful to think about. But it could happen and I take full responsibility that as a smoker and as an advocate for smoking and smokers rights I may have made that fate a little bit more likely for my daughter.

However, I am not going to be a hypocrite or change my strong opinions now just because of this. I don’t think smoking is the social evil that some people believe it to be and nor do I think it’s risks to health are a reason not to smoke. None of us want to die of so called smoking related illnesses, but the fact is none of us really want to die at all. But we can’t change that fact. We will all die one day and not smoking does not guarantee that we will live longer or die painlessly. Cassie and I know of plenty of people who have died of smoking related diseases who actually never smoked at all. And sadly we also know of people who died young in accidents.

Cassie and I think that some sections of society are so afraid of dying that they have actually become afraid to live. Our opinion is that we have no control at all over how and when we die, but we do have some control over how we live. If smoking cigarettes adds something to the quality of life for some of us, then that is a good thing. If it adds to my daughter’s pleasure in life I have no objection to it. I think that quality of life is more important than quantity. Certainly I hope to live to be a hundred or more and of course I wish the same for my daughter. In reality such a long life is doubtful. But I hope that when the end comes, Cassie, Tina and I will all be able to say that we lived filly and squeezed every bit of pleasure out of it.

And finally of course I know that my daughter will probably read this. I have said nothing here that I wouldn’t be happy for her to read. She makes me immensely proud every day. She has been a beautiful and amazing child and she will become equally amazing as an adult and I will continue to love her without any limits.

Sophie

Me Now (August 2013)

And finally to finish my 4 year wordpress anniversary reblog fest, here is a survey I first did nearly 3 years ago; with my updated answers in bold.

My Mood today is… Variable, trying to make sense of where I’m at and where I’m going. Good, happy, optimistic
Relationship status… Single  Happily coupled with Sophie

Health status… Quite good physically, quite strained emotionally Healthy mind and healthy body
I would describe my spiritual path as… eclectic pagan and Taoist but the path is overgrown and meandering at the moment. Freethinking, independent, Satanist. The path still has plenty of twists and turns but the walk is exciting and energising.
Main thing on my mind is… my mother.  Going on holiday (unofficial honeymoon) with Sophie in ten days, 
My ambitions are…. Long term to get a book published, medium term continued success at work and short term getting the basics back on track. I still want to get a book or several published but my immediate ambitions revolve around moving in with Sophie permanently during the next year.
What I want most is…. My mum to be happy, healthy and settled. The same might apply to me. For my Mum’s remaining days to be as happy and peaceful as possible. For me…See my ambitions.
What I need most is…. Rejuvenating rest and an injection of positive energy. For my Mum’s house to be sold and for me to win the lottery!
I have been reading…. Nothing much lately. Mostly work related things.
I have been watching… Strictly!  I’ve had better things to do than watch TV!
I have been listening to…. Lush and other old favorites on my Ipod. Radio 6 in the garden
My best characteristics are…. Empathy, listening and usually a positive outlook. No change there.

My worst characteristics are… indecisiveness and being strong willed; a strange combination. No change there either, although I am less indecisive than I used to be.
My vices are… smoking and drinking, sex when possible and with the right person. Hmm no real change except I probably do them all more and have probably added a few!
Politically I would describe myself as… Opinionated and left wing but increasingly frustrated with all mainstream parties. The same but probably a bit more libertarian on most issues and more right wing on law and order.

In terms of fashion and lifestyle I would describe myself as… Alternative chic! Individualistic and happy in my own skin.
I would like to learn… How to paint and draw and how to play a musical instrument, and many other things. The same… I’ll add how to tattoo to the list.
My recent regrets are…  Not being able to do more. Feeling unable to stop my mum’s deterioration.
My recent achievements are… Good feedback from my students and colleagues. The same really and winning some new contracts for my company.
My message to myself is… Be yourself and live as fully as you can. That’s a good message so I’ll repeat it. Be yourself and live as fully as you can

 

Mother and Daughter

In order for the following post to make any sense I have to first speak about something I am normally silent about; my father.

I felt I had a charmed childhood with loving and understanding parents. Virtually all my childhood memories of both my parents are happy ones. I loved both my parents equally,  but if anything I was probably “Daddy’s girl.” Of course as I got older I began to realise, as we all do, that my parents were only human and they both had their faults and imperfections, as I do, as we all do… During my late teens I became aware that my father was having an affair. I did not hate or judge him for that, and to be honest I suspect that at some time my Mum may have had an affair herself. But I did begin to realise that my parent’s relationship was not as ideal as I had always assumed.

My mother’s health began to deteriorate. At first there were a lot of non specific, undiagnosed things. Then she had a minor stroke. Then another one. Then her memory started to go. 

In the midst of all this, my father left us for another woman. I do not judge him for that in itself. I am now in my mid thirties. I have had affairs myself. I have made plenty of my own mistakes and done many things I am not so proud of. I understood that my parents marriage was over and accepted that, even though the timing was awful. However what I can’t understand or forgive is the total lack of support my father gave to my mother and to me during her illness. He has seldom spoken to either of us since that time. He left me to be my mother’s nurse and helper. He has not done a single thing to help me, let alone my mum. I was left with the total responsibility for her care and dealing with all her financial affairs. I had to grow up fast.

My mum has now lost her mind completely. I last heard from my father seven years ago. That is the last I will speak of him in this blog.

Just over a week ago Sophie met my mum for the first time. Since then she has come visiting with me several times. Of course my mum doesn’t really know who I am any more so on the surface she would be incapable of recognising exactly what Sophie means to me. But I am sure she does.

Mum took me to school and helped me with my homework. She bathed my wounds when I fell down and stayed with me when I was sick. She never failed to make birthdays and Christmases special and magical for me. She was often my friend and my playmate, but she was always my guide and my mentor. She often wiped away my tears and made me laugh.

My mum was always strict but fair with me and because I generally behaved quite well she trusted me with a lot of independence as I got older. Actually I have come to see that trust as a form of love in itself.

When I was 15 I had my first serious boyfriend; the one whom I had decided would take my virginity. I had always been able to talk to my parents openly about sex and they trusted me. Even so, when it gets real it is always nerve racking and you are not sure how parents will react. But I told my mum that as soon as I was sixteen I intended to do the deed. A couple of days after my sixteenth birthday my mum went with me to the doctors. She sat beside me in the waiting room and when I came out she took me to the chemist to get my first prescription for the pill.

Since then she has seen all my boyfriends and girlfriends come and go. Some she liked a lot; others she probably didn’t. In my teens and twenties our relationship changed. She was still my mum, but she was also an adult friend; somebody I could talk to more openly than anyone else. And those were testing times because while I had been a very well behaved child; as a teenager and adult I was sometimes less well behaved. I made mistakes; sometimes bad ones, and I got hurt. Mum was always there to help me pick myself up and she always accepted me for who I was. When I became a witch (which meant a radical departure from our nominal Catholic faith) her brow may have furrowed a little bit, but she accepted it. Later she asked me how to make some herbal cures and even how to do a few simple spells. When I had my first serious girlfriend her brow probably furrowed a little bit more, but she accepted that too and was there to console me when I got dumped. More importantly, she didn’t dismiss it as an experiment gone wrong.

“Between you and me Cassie,” She said one evening when we were drinking together in the garden and both a bit tipsy, “I think I’m bisexual too. Of course I never explored that side of things… I don’t think I ever will… But I admire you for having the courage to be yourself and make your own way… If you do end up with another woman though it would be nice if you adopted some children..”

Well the next big relationship I had was much more conventional with a guy called Andy. He was nice and is still a friend. I guess both my mum and I both had high hopes that he would really be the one and would help me provide my mum with some grandchildren. It didn’t work out that way though.

By the time Andy and I split up, Mum’s memory had deteriorated badly and the first signs of early onset dementia were already quite profound. During the next couple of years I had a few adventures with men (I’ve never been much good at being a nun!) but none of them developed into serious relationships.

And then I met Sophie.

And now Mum can barely speak, and when she does nothing that comes out of her mouth makes any sense. But we sit there, me holding her hand and Sophie holding mine. And we listen to the strange things she says and try to react appropriately if she asks something. I try to gauge how Sophie feels in this surreal situation and suddenly she says to me, “I think we should bring Tina (Sophie’s daughter) next time if you don’t think it will confuse your mum too much. I’d just like Tina to know her.”

I look at my Mum and have a little cry. I think she would be proud and happy with the way her family has grown.

Constantly Tired? Here Are 10 Herbs to Increase Energy, Vitality, and Adaptability

As a person who is always running around all over Europe and coping with a few problems closer to home, I often find my energy levels depleted and this looks like interesting and useful information…

Constantly Tired? Here Are 10 Herbs to Increase Energy, Vitality, and Adaptability.

Dis-jointed

This is more personal and sombre than the things I normally post here. It just happens to be what is on my mind at the moment.

We all have episodes in our lives that we are not very proud of (or is it just me??) Anyway, some years ago I went through a period where I was smoking far too much weed and taking all sorts of other things too. Luckily I am the sort of person who has always been able to learn from my mistakes, sometimes however it takes a bit of a crisis to make you realize just how far down the wrong road you have traveled. For me that came one night when I split up with my boyfriend and was generally unhappy with life and lacking direction. I picked that moment to get very drunk, smoke some very strong skunk and pop some pills I assumed to be Ecstasy but in fact had no idea what they were.
And then my mind stopped working.
Thoughts… Got stuck. I could see the thoughts I was having but they didn’t seem…
To belong..
To me..
Everything was…..dis…..jointed.
Some thoughts…. repeated.
Some thoughts repeated.
Some thoughts repeated
Some…. thoughts…repeated.
Again and again and again and again and again. I thought they would never stop. Echoing… In my empty brain.
And there were dreams. Horrible dreams which I couldn’t escape from. But they were interlaced with things… that might have been real. Dancing somewhere… Kissing somebody… Falling in the snow… Throwing up… Strange faces staring at me. A voice of a distant me saying things which made no sense. What language is she speaking I wondered. And that question repeated, over and over…. And there was this other me in a distant universe who was getting naked, and these two guys she had never met before were taking turns at her. And I wanted to hate them but I couldn’t because that other me had probably said yes at some point while the real me was struggling with these echo thoughts that wouldn’t go away. But I was less afraid of being raped than I was afraid that my mind… might stay… like this… forever…

Well I got better and I got over it. I came round sometime in the next day or so and had enough residue of sense to get myself to a hospital. I confessed everything I had done and felt utterly humiliated. A physical examination confirmed that I had indeed had sex but I had absolutely no recollection of who I had been with or even where I had been, so there was no criminal case to pursue. To my great relief subsequent tests showed that I hadn’t been infected with anything. I was kept in hospital for a couple of days until all the toxins had left my system and then was released back into the world again. The next few weeks were excruciating, all my confidence had gone and I was so embarrassed by the whole thing I felt like I was wearing a badge which told everyone what had happened to me and how stupid I had been. But I did get better, I did learn and I did grow up.

So why do I mention all that now? It’s because when I think back to that time it is still that terrible fear that I had lost my mind forever that hurts and haunts me the most. And today after visiting my Mum in the care home it struck me that that is exactly what is happening to her but she has done nothing to deserve it.

In previous blog entries I have written a little about the fact that my mother is suffering from early onset dementia. Last November as her condition continued to deteriorate I had to put her in a care home. Since then she has got worse and worse both mentally and physically, despite the best care and supervision we can pay for.

I recently returned from my longest working trip abroad since Mum has been in the home. I knew from conversations on the phone with my mum herself and with staff at the home that her condition had declined, but it was still a shock to see it for myself now that I am back for a few weeks.

She used to take great pride in her appearance; that is now gone completely despite the nurse’es efforts to dress her well. She insists on putting layer on over layer or stripping off completely in the middle of the public areas. She still remembers me, which is a blessing, but her conversations make no sense at all and remind me painfully of the episode I have just described. Her mind is totally disjointed. Thoughts came and go at random. She has no sense of order, time or place. The ghosts of her past mix with what is going on around her and strange dreamlike happenings merge with reality.
“What did you have for dinner today Mum?”
“Dinner? I don’t know. I think the children put it in boxes… With the dress I am wearing… We put it all out on the table… I didn’t sleep… The dog kept barking…”

Disjointed.
Insane.

And yet there is still enough of her left inside to know that something isn’t right. She is not in some blissful dream-world, she knows at some level that her mind isn’t working and the thought terrifies her, as it once did me. With me it only lasted a day or two… For her it is all that is left.

And so I leave her and walk out into the sunshine. I do my daily chores. I prepare some lessons, listen to some music, call a few people on the phone, arrange to meet some friends for a drink, write some reports about my last courses, go shopping, basque in normality while knowing that Mum can never do that again. I tell myself that I have done everything I can to help her. But I still feel guilty for every normal thing I enjoy.

The Negativity Well

I’m one of the managing teachers in my company and part of my job involves observing, monitoring and mentoring new teachers. This means, among other things, that I have to write reports about all the teachers I work with as I travel around Europe. I always try to  make my reports as positive and constructive as possible and usually that is easy because most of the teachers I work with are nice people who are good at their job. This week however I have been preparing to write a very bad report about a teacher I have been working with recently, a report which will mean that this teacher loses her job with the company. The reason is that I have had to substitute her because her students disliked her intensely and were refusing to complete or pay for the course unless she was replaced. In addition she doesn’t get on with the rest of the teaching team who are making excuses to avoid her whenever possible.

She is not an easy person to like. She lives in her own rather sad world and refuses to let other people’s worlds enter into hers. She is generally sour and argumentative. She is locked in her own thoughts and seems to have no instinct at all for what other people are thinking or feeling. She wants other people to accept her as she is, but is very uncompromising when it comes to accepting other people’s funny little ways. She is unhappy whenever anything more than the basics are asked of her and complains bitterly if asked to do anything extra. She is also paranoid, neurotic and full of strange phobias such as a fear of breathing chalk dust! These are not good qualities in a teacher. Honestly, I really have no idea how she bluffed her way through the job interview.

So on the surface (and beneath it) I think I would be quite justified in writing a report that will get her fired from the company. This evening however I decided to take her out for an informal chat over a few drinks and try and understand her better while gently but firmly telling her she has to change her ways (for her own sake as well as for the sake of keeping her job). What I discovered was a very sad, hurting and desperate person. My problem is that that doesn’t change or excuse her way of being.

She has been through some very difficult episodes in her life including an abusive father and the recent death of a friend. She has had health problems and still has substantial financial problems. I think she was happy to have somebody listen to her problems but I realised that is the only thing she feels comfortable talking about and she wears her problems like an impregnable cloak. She is not open to discussing solutions. Every time I offered a practical solution to some of her more immediate problems she came up with a whole list of reasons why in her special case that would not work. At one point I said that her negativity is palpable and it is unattractive and off-putting to other people. “Yes, but what can I do?” She replied, “My life really is that bad” (Sigh). I tried to point out that other people (including me) have had problems but they get over them. Her response was that either other people’s problems were really not as bad as hers, or else she was just weak, which would of course be cause and reason for her to be more negative and miserable. I said that sometimes you have to pretend to be cheerful and positive until it becomes part of your nature; at which point she just looked at me with an expression that meant either that I was seeing the world through rose coloured glasses or else I just didn’t understand the depth of her problems. By the end of the conversation I was quite angry and frustrated.

I have been there. I have been trapped in the well of negativity; and whatever strength I have now comes largely from knowing that I pulled myself out of a hard place. Most people think I am a very positive person and I think so too. I hope I will become like the people I most admire and am most attracted to; a person who exudes charm and positivity. But the secret of all those people and myself is that we have all been through shit and come out the other side. As a rule the most positive and inspirational people you are likely to meet are people who have survived the deepest hurt  and pain.

So I am going to be cruel to be kind. I will give her a bad report because that is what she deserves. Hiding reality won’t help her. She has to face the place where she is at, and losing her job is of course going to make things seem worse. But, perhaps it will be the catalyst for change.

But in case she is looking in, and in case anybody else is feeling trapped in the well of negativity; here is some advice that is based on personal experience.

Let go of the past. Let go of the troubles you are carrying around with you. I know it is hard but it is not impossible.Other people manage it. Don’t let yourself be defined by your miseries and your problems. The chances are that by now your worries have become a crutch and a mask and you fear being naked without them. YOU are not your problems, there is much more to you than that.

Think about the people you admire, respect and love. What is it about them that is attractive? Try to emulate their best qualities.

Solve your problems, starting with the smallest and easiest. Don’t expect miracles but do expect progress.

Set realistic goals and objectives for yourself. Have a plan, don’t just wonder aimlessly round in circles.

List your finer qualities and deliberately emphasise them when in the company of others. Also think about what you liked most about yourself before the problems took over. That person is still in you somewhere, bring that person back to life.

Think about and emphasise your beliefs and opinions (religious, spiritual, philosophical, political, artistic, fashion sense, whatever…) because these things come from your core. Don’t allow outside events and all the things that life throws at you define or shape you

Praise and celebrate your own successes, no matter how small. Acknowledge your failures, but let go of them and forgive yourself.

Smile, even when you don’t feel like smiling. Pretend to be happy even when you are not. It will create positive feedback and you will find that after a while you really do feel happy. And the more happy and positive you appear to be, the more people will be attracted to you, and the more confident you will feel. This is not happy-clappy magic or hocus pocus; this is a scientifically  understood aspect of human psychology.

If you feel your life is boring, make up some stories. Don’t make a habit of lying but do be the author of your own biography. Create and be the person you want others to see you as. You don’t need anybody’s permission to be who you want to be.

Well I could go on but I think that is enough for now.

If my unhappy teacher or anybody else is reading this and thinking “Oh but I couldn’t do that because…” then you are still not getting the point. And it is a point you need to get so read it again or ask me something specific.

.

Sex In Paganism

 

In a recent post I suggested that masturbation was a good way to get to know how your body ticks and what you enjoy sexually. I do believe that (and practice what I preach) but I am aware that even in the twenty first century there are people in society for whom sex is still pretty much a taboo subject. I was pleased however that the comments I received for that post were positive.

People sometimes ask me if there are any pagan rules or regulations about sex. Or sometimes people assume all sorts of things about my sex life because I am pagan. So I thought I’d write this post to answer some of those questions and lay some suppositions to rest.

Firstly there are no generally applicable rules about sex in paganism. In fact paganism is an umbrella term for many different religious and spiritual paths, some of which might have particular things to say about sex, but none are applicable to all pagans. My own path is an eclectic mix of Wicca and other things and the main rule that filters down to me from those various influences is to live responsibly and try not to harm anybody else.

Pagans do tend to have a reputation for being more liberal about sex than some, and I think that is probably because we are not Christian. Christianity and many other religions do have particular theological and cultural rules about sex which pagans do not have. This is a simple point but it needs to be underlined because western society  is dominated by Christian culture and pagans do not share some of those cultural norms. We do not believe in some of the key doctrines often associated with sex. For example we do not believe in original sin. We do not believe there is anything intrinsically bad or sordid about sex or that sex can only be legitimised within religious law, tradition or ritual. Rather, pagans revere nature and we see sex as a perfectly natural part of life.

Does that mean we don’t have any moral values when it comes to sex? Absolutely not! Indeed that is a strange question; but it is an assumption that a lot of people seem to jump to. While not all Pagans believe the same, I would guess that most of us regard sex as good, normal, healthy and special. Moreover most pagan paths have a strong emphasis on personal responsibility and on trying to do the best for ourselves and our environment. Various moral imperatives concerning sex flow from that.

For me sex is both special and sacred. I prefer to have sex within a relationship and I am always loyal to the person I am with. That does not mean that I don’t sometimes have sex outside of a relationship; I think there is value and pleasure to be had in the raw sex that is sometimes had between people who don’t know each other well or who are not regularly lovers. However this is the exception rather than the rule. I think most people with any sexual experience would agree that there is something much more profound when you are making love to somebody you know, and who knows you inside out. And when you are with a real lover, the union you share is emotional and spiritual as well as physical.

Because I think sex is special, I want to be good at it! I want to be able to please myself and my lover and to guide my lover in pleasing me. There are no particular rules in paganism which impel me to this but neither are there the restrictions that some other religions place on exploring your sexuality. So pagans generally have a positive attitude to sex moderated mainly by a strong sense of personal responsibility.

Ritual and general nudity is an element of some (but certainly not all) pagan paths. Personally I don’t like to always equate nudity with sex, but rather with a positive attitude to the human body as being a vital and beautiful part of nature (whatever shape that body might happen to be).

Pagans are not all the same. Perhaps some pagans are more open about discussing sexuality than other people, but not all are. Some Pagans are shy. Some pagans are less inclined to be as open about sex as I am.

My rules are based on my personal morality which is informed rather than dictated by my beliefs. This comes down mainly to the concept of personal responsibility.First and foremost I am honest with my partners and once the boundaries of our relationship are established, I keep to them. Secondly I take care of my health which means practicing safe sex and using condoms when I am with somebody I don’t know so well.

Let’s lay some ghosts to rest, although I guess this will be a disappointment for some. Most pagans  (including me) do not indulge in orgies. Most Pagans find the idea of sex with children utterly abhorrent. Don’t get me started on what I’d like to do to child molesters! Most Pagans would find the idea of sex with animals as obscene as anybody else (hopefully) would.

I guess a general Pagan view would be that sex between consenting adults is fine and healthy but really nobody else’s business. I’d like to think that pagans are generally less bigoted about types of sexuality and are less inclined to be prejudiced against people in the GLTB spectrum. I don’t think that is always the case but I think it is fair to say that pagans are more liberal than the norm. I am bisexual myself and this has never been a negative issue with any of my pagan friends. I am not polyamorous myself but I have probably met more people in polyamorous relationships in the pagan community than elsewhere. And generally because pagans have a positive and permissive attitude to sex you might find them more likely to be open about their particular sexual experiences, tastes and fetishes. Overall though, while sex is seen as a positive and pleasurable aspect of pagan lifestyle it is generally not the cornerstone of it.

While I want to put down some of the more sensationalist ideas that float around about pagans and sex, I don’t want to minimise the importance of sex in paganism. There is a lot of sexual imagery and symbolism in the rites and rituals of many pagan paths. Again, we see sex as part of nature and therefore good and wholesome. The magic of creation which comes about from the sexual union of man and woman is a powerful force, metaphor and image that permeates many pagan beliefs and traditions. There are rituals I am familiar with in which people do have ritual sex believing that through the woman they are joining with the Goddess or through the man, they are joining with the God. Such things do happen, but it is important to note that this only takes place with the full consent of the people involved and most often they are already partners. These days overtly sexual rituals are often performed symbolically rather than actually. And if all of this still sounds strange and debauched to some; how much stranger is it to symbolically eat the body and drink the blood of your God?