Witches have been harnessing the power of carnal energies for magical manifestations since ancient times. Kristen Sollee, editrix of the sex positive feminist website Slutist, is a practitioner of sex magic, which is the practice of using sexual energy, particularly through orgasm, for manifesting intentions. Sexuality and witchery have been entwined throughout history, which is what Sollee explores in her new book "Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive." I caught up with her to find out a little more about how sex magic works, sex goddesses past and present, the "sacred whore," and more.
How did you come into your identity as a witch, and how did sex magick become a part of that?
My mother is an intuitive. She taught me all about manifestation and, in a sense, spellwork when I was young. She didn’t call it witchcraft, there wasn’t any sort of singular practice that she passed on. But magic, in that way, was a big part of my young life, whether I knew it or not. Looking back I realize yes, that definitely was what I was learning. But at the time, it was just my mom teaching me what to write down to achieve what you want, or what herbs or parts of nature you might use in your own goal making.
Of course, she did not teach me sex magic. At a young age I was very sexually explorative. I discovered masturbation before I even identified with the word witch or thought about magic in any sense. I found that when I’d happen think about something I desired, or some attribute I wanted to work on, that doing so in the middle of my practice would end up bringing it into my life. I put 2 and 2 together. It wasn’t until later that I met friends who introduced me to different schools of thought about sex magic and witchcraft, that I learned more deeply how to harness this energy. But it was a very intuitive process, moreso than any other kind of magic making. It just made sense.
How do you harness sexual energy through masturbation to manifest reality? Is there a dark side to it?
Initially, it was only through visualization and my hand. Nothing else. That was before I started learning from other folks. Now I incorporate candle magic into setting the tone before I start my practice - I’ll carve my intention into the candle before I light it. I use different oils, incense. Music is important too, a song that invokes what I’m after. But as far as using sex magic for attracting a specific person? There can be danger in working with someone else’s will. I’ve done it and I wouldn’t recommend it.
In your book, you give examples of male institutions, like organized religion, repressing female sexuality. Why do you think this is? Do women wield a kind of sexual power, perhaps biological, over men that was perceived as threatening to male dominance?
I would be wary to pin it on biology alone. Culture is so powerful, and nature and nurture are hard to divide. Focusing on biology as a binary leaves out intersex people, people who identify across the spectrum. I would say it’s toxic masculinity that’s enforced by cultural norms that polices female sexuality and persecutes women, and has for centuries. We’re all victim to the sexist stereotypes that can be about any gender identity. In that sense, men are not intrinsically the enemy, but historically, men have by far been the main perpetrators of toxic masculinity.
Is sex magick specifically about casting spells, or could the art of seduction fall under that category?
Weaving a spell of seduction, controlling primal energies and reading a room - that is a form of magic and witchcraft, especially if you’re intentional.
Do you have any favorite witches or goddesses that embody the idea of sex magick? What about contemporary female figures in pop culture?
I love the Sumerian goddess Innana, and Lilith, Yamauba. I love goddesses with a dark side. There’s not a moral valence, just dark/light, birth/death. It’s beyond that moralistic binary of good and evil, which I feel is overly simplistic. And, of course, dark isn’t inherently evil, nor is light inherently good.
I’m an Elvira fan too - I think she is one of the most sex positive witches we have in pop culture. She’s able to harness humor, which is often not a part of the witch archetype. It’s very serious, very dark often. Humor is not as common. Elvira definitely has that trickster vibe, the tongue in-cheek ability to make fun of herself, make fun of human sexuality and desire, and twirl a tassel like nobody’s business.
In your book, you also talk about the “sacred whore.” Can you explain what that is?
The sacred whore unites the spiritual and the sexual historically. They were women who were priestesses in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, India, and served as the embodiment of the goddess of love and sex and fertility over whose temple they presided. Basically men could come and have sex with them and in that union they could reach a higher state of religious connection. The particulars are debated. As I mention in my book there’s a lot of discussion about whether they were real, or whether it was exploitative sex slavery, purely for money with no spiritual aspect. I spoke to writer and activist Britta Love, who said that this archetype has informed so many contemporary sex workers, so if it wasn’t real back then, it certainly is now.
Do you have any suggestions for how to harness and channel one’s sexual and creative energies?
There’s all kinds of meditation and breath work that can be really helpful. Kundalini - some people swear by that. Yogic practices, journaling, using a Chakrubs crystal dildo, and even the simple sage clearing of your room and your space. All very simple things.
Any other wisdom you’d like to share for women who’re interested in this?
It’s important to be true to yourself instead of trying to put on a practice like a costume. There are certain complex, beautiful, finely wrought spells, but they don’t work for me. Finding the kind of magic that works for you is the most important, instead of just saying I have to do something in keeping only with Wicca, or voodoo, or chaos magick, or whatever. It’s so personal. You already have everything you need inside you.
Catch Kristen Sollee at The Alchemist's Kitchen on October 10 in NYC for a discussion on sex magic, and concrete ways in which occult practices can help heal sexist conditioning and usher in authentic sexual pleasure — whatever that may mean for you. Learn more here.