Beltane

What 30 year old childless married woman doesn’t love a holiday that’s all about sex?

It amazes me men aren’t more attracted to Wicca for Beltane alone.  Yeah, it’s a sexist statement, whatcha gonna do about it?

Who doesn’t love dancing around a giant pole stuck in the Earth with white and red ribbons getting wrapped around it?

You and me babe we ain’t nothin’ but mammals…

Beltane.  Beltane is the embodiment of Pagan freedom.  It is a celebration of the union of the Lord and Lady, the commingling of life giving juices.  It is the ultimate act of creation, two becoming as one, a wholeness that cannot be overstated.  From it the fields are sown with new life, a new holy babe is conceived.  It is the Great Marriage.  Their joy and their love is consummated–oh what a great time for celebration!

So let’s talk about sex.

My mother raised me to respect sex.  She never gave me hogwash about waiting until I was married–who buys a car without test driving it first?   A spouse is more than a car, but that’s just exactly it–if you want to be able to fully respect their wishes and needs as a sexual creature, the only way to figure that out is through experience.  In the days of paternity tests maintaining virginity in the name of patriarchal inheritance laws is a touch outmoded.  There are other reasons people wait, and they are entitled to their beliefs regarding this, but it doesn’t change my personal stance.  I know of more than one relationship that ended because the two people were sexually incompatible–one ended in divorce, and the other saved the couple from entering an unhappy abusive marriage (rape is still rape even if you’re in a committed relationship, you don’t get implied consent just because you said yes once).

You know what.  Let’s take that out of parentheses. This is too important to make it any kind of a foot note.

Every single time you engage in a sex act, you have the right to give consent. No matter how many times you have had sex with someone, no matter how far along you are in getting’ jiggy wit’ it, you have the right to say no. I’m not going to say that someone isn’t going to call you a tease or a bitch if you call it quits when his glans is knocking at your vulva—I get it, blue balls suck. But better a case of blue balls—or Jergens lotion and Kleenex in the bathroom—than a prison sentence.

Rape is more than just a violent sexual encounter without consent. It is also considered rape to coerce someone into having sex—this includes using guilt. “Come on baby it’s been three weeks” is not enough reason to have intercourse. If you whine and beg and she “gives in,” do you really feel like she gave you consent? “Yes” is not enough—though frequently it’s treated that way in a court of law. The exception is if the victim is drugged or drunk at the time consent was given, though, again, frequently there is little sympathy for a woman who would use drugs or alcohol. Even in the case of “roofies” they are blamed for putting themselves in a situation to have been given a drug. It’s ugly. I wish it weren’t true. At any rate, both partners need to be able to consent freely to engage in the sexual act with no strings attached. So, ladies, if your guy buys you dinner, you don’t “owe” him sex!

Most rapes are committed against women by men. This doesn’t mean men aren’t raped. Getting an erection is a physiological process and not implied consent. A woman may even have an orgasm when raped—this still does not imply consent. We are not ruled by our biology, it does not make our choices for us. There are other ways to rape a man—sodomy being right up there. Yes, it’s rape even if it isn’t vaginal intercourse. Forced to give a blowjob? Still rape. Used a marital aid (read: dildo)? Still rape.

What’s the moral of the story?

Don’t rape. Men, women, purple, polka-dotted, inside-out, I don’t care—if you’re going to engage in sex, get consent.

So it’s Beltane. You’re in the circle with your favorite personal lord or lady. You are looking forward to blessing those fields, boy howdy. As the Bard put it once, you guys are going to go out there and make the beast with two backs.

Oh, but you aren’t in a committed monogamous relationship and you aren’t ready for children?

Let’s make that the beast with three backs, and one of them is made of latex. If you’re allergic to latex, use lambskin, but for the love of all the gods, WRAP IT BEFORE YOU TAP IT. A guy at our local store for lovers even said to use one on your marital aids (read: dildos) because it helps to protect said aids from breaking down and growing bacteria from our bodily fluids. Even if you clean them like you should after every use, the surface can get worn down and “things” can find microscopic little homes. It’ll last longer and stay cleaner.

Oh I know. Condoms suck, too. Everyone who rolls their eyes at you when you complain about condoms gets it—flesh on flesh feels better, and the people out there who are lying to you that it’s not any different are spewing BS for a reason: “I don’t like the way it feels” is not a reason to not use a condom. Ever. “I want to have a baby” is a great reason, or, “I’m in a committed monogamous relationship and trust my partner, and neither of us have any sexually transmitted diseases,” is another. Those are the only two I can think of, and I work in the business of making babies. Er. Well. Birthing babies. Seven inches goes in…seven pounds comes out…

Anyway.

It doesn’t stop at condoms though boys and girls. Latex condoms are the single best way to help prevent disease transmission when engaging in intercourse. The best way of all is, of course, not to have sex—but we’ve already established we aren’t prudes. So what else can you do? How about you get regularly tested at your local reproductive health center (or, you know, your doctor), and you also make sure your partner has a clean bill of health before making said beast? Forewarned is four-armed…get it? Because two people having sex means there’s…four…arms…OK, bad joke, moving on.

It doesn’t stop there. No sir! Why?

Condoms aren’t perfect at preventing pregnancy. I like to use the swiss cheese model. We use it in nursing to explain why there are so many double-and-triple checks for high risk medication administration. For a blood transfusion, for example, a sample of a patient’s blood is sent for blood typing to the lab. Lab releases the results to the blood bank. Blood bank cross matches the patient’s blood type with the units of blood to be released. Two nurses verify the orders, the patient’s identity, the blood type according to the lab and the labeled units of blood, and they both sign off on it before the bag is even spiked. Each step (lab, blood bank, nursing) is a slice of swiss cheese—and all the different precautions at each step are designed to help ensure the right blood is given and no mistakes are made. The stopgap measures of blood bank covers the hole in the cheese that represents the lab, and just in case the hole in the blood bank cheese doesn’t block the lab hole all the way, the nursing cheese should cover the remaining hole. Should. I can attest from personal experience that sometimes, though, all those holes line up perfectly—and the wrong products reach the patient. This isn’t always a harmful thing—in my case I accidentally gave platelets instead of FFP, but to this day I have no clue why the hell platelets were even in the room to begin with as they were never ordered. No harm at all came to the patient.  Hard lessons learned.

The same is true of sex. Condoms, if used correctly, are good about 97% of the time in preventing pregnancy—and I’m being very, very generous here. There is data to support otherwise, but we’ll go with conventional knowledge here. So you have a swiss cheese hole of 3%–some little homunculi might get past the barrier, and if they reach an egg, it’s game over.

What to do?

Stack as many slices of swiss cheese on each other as possible! Five condoms!

NO, NO, STOP!! Do not wear five condoms at once. It’s only 97% if you use condoms CORRECTLY—which means wearing only one. ONE CONDOM. And change condoms after every ejaculation, every round of intercourse, between partners (hey, I’m not judging), and any time you think the one you are wearing has been compromised in any way. They break, it happens. Go to the pharmacy and get Plan B—it’s over the counter in Ohio. Go.

What I mean is to use different kinds of birth control. If it’s safe for you to be on the pill, take the pill. Get an IUD if you aren’t planning to have children in the next 3-5 years. Get Depo (talk to your doc about Depo, it depletes your body’s calcium over time so it’s not a long term solution). Use spermicide (DIE HOMUNCULI DIE!!), but only if it won’t damage your condom. Lots of condoms come with spermicidal lube—which is great, because even if your partner makes lots of natural lube, lube-free sex can still make micro-tears that hurt or at risk for infection, so you can get the spermicidal benefit and have more comfortable sex with a spermicidal lubed condom!

This is especially important if you used lambskin instead of latex. Lambskin is way, WAY more porous—and it’s not going to have the same level of protection for pregnancy or STDs. Make sure you both have clean slates or a plan of how to work around any STDs (Herpes happens—but that doesn’t mean you can’t work around it, listen to the Valtrex commercials, go see your doctor, and do whatever you can to not spread it to your partner). Definitely use more than one kind of birth control. Unless you’re in a relationship where pregnancy isn’t a concern—there are lots of types of couples (homosexual, post-hysterectomy, vasectomy, etc.) for whom pregnancy isn’t a concern so I wouldn’t worry about pregnancy prevention, but definitely take precautions against STDs—nobody wants VD on V-Day!…I swear, I’m done with the bad jokes.

So this Beltane, grab your sugar lump and bump some uglies. Make some thrice-blessed babies, or just get your freak on! But whatever you do, do it safely, and do it with consent.

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About Ariawn

I am 30 years old and have been studying Wicca for 15 years. In 2012 I was elevated to the third degree in Traditional English Wicca by Dragoman Sledz. Since his passing earlier this year, it has been my goal to develop and document our Wiccan philosophy as fully as it is within my power to do so, and in doing so continue our mission to bring Wicca out of the shadows and make it available to those who seek the path. I currently reside in Ohio with my husband and our two cats, and I work as a registered nurse in downtown Cleveland. I have an additional bachelor's degree in English literature. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
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