Those Swingin’ Frosts

I’ve always found the “spin” that Gavin and Yvonne Frost put on Wicca a bit… odd. It clearly dates back to the funkier atmosphere of the late sixties and early seventies, when the Craft was just starting to become somewhat more open. But there is also a tendency on the part of the Frosts to state that their obviously idiosyncratic (even compared to the aforementioned countercultural milieu) view is “true Wicca” or some variation of that phrase.

The Frost’s latest book contains a passage that harkens back to the days of “swinging”:

“Any initiatory sex should be with a “stranger” — an initiated Witch of the coven [that] the neophyte plans to join. . . . The underlying tradition here is sometimes overlooked. If the Craft means enough to you that you are willing to abide by its tenets then abide by them! If you cannot transcend your cultural brainwashing and accept the assignment to have sex one time with an assigned partner, in accordance with centuries of Craft tradition, the Craft can’t mean that much to you. Here’s the door. Don’t call yourself a Witch.””

One almost imagines Gavin standing by a cauldron full of house keys saying “Are you a goer? Wink, wink, nudge nudge say no more. WAAAAH!”

I jest, but the issues here are fairly serious. Do I have a problem with the idea of someone having sex with a stranger as part of an initiation? No, not really. It’s one of many possible responses to the power or sexual energy. If it’s worked well, the lack of a prior relationship could enhance the proceeding.

But it also leaves the door wide open to some serious abuses. Some of these weren’t even thought of as abuses in the late sixties. There’s something called “The Women’s Movement” that came in between then and now, and it helped us see many of the subtle ways in which women can be harmed by coercive sexual encounters that fall short of the technical description of “rape.”

So, it’s not too hard to see the dogmatic (yes, I’m using the “d” word) assertion that initiatory sex should be with a stranger as well… creepy. There are “tenets,” and then there are “convenient ways of justifying sexual coercion which use religious language.” There is no reason why sex magick would absolutely have to require that the people involved be “strangers” in some way. If such an arrangement is undertaken, it needs to be under the aegis of “perfect love and perfect trust” between all participants, not because of adherence to an authoritarian absolute.

One could conceivably argue that refusal to participate in such a ritual would constitute a lack of “perfect love and perfect trust.” One would be wrong, and totally ignorant of what “love” and “trust” actually refer to. These are conditions that do not require obedience, because one is acting from the heart rather than from a sense of fear that they will be chastised or ostracized for noncompliance.

Not to get too Thelemic here, but “thou hast no right but to do thy will.” Not someone else’s, and certainly not because you’ll be considered “not a true” whatever for refusing. Because it’s your will.

So, the ethical precondition of initiatory sex with a stranger would be that it is not a requirement. It’s an option, agreed upon beforehand. This is something called “informed consent.”

That the Frosts seem not to understand this concept makes me want to show them the door. After I make sure I got my keys back…

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