One of the main signifiers of many Pagan traditions are the way in which they seek to reframe the material and specifically the body as holy and sacred. Unlike other religions which might cast the affairs of the flesh as sinful or of a base nature, Pagan traditions seek to break up these associations and honor things like sex, desire, and pleasure. Many traditions today still do their rites naked, as a way of proclaiming their freedom from the slavery of shame modern society places on the body.
I will just put this out there: I struggle with this embrace of the body, and I suspect my history as an addict and an alcoholic play no little part in this. Addicts and Alcoholics historically have problematic relationships with our bodies. Our addictions are embodied obsessions. We experience them as physical cravings that crawl through our nervous system, scrambling our brains ability to think clearly or cogently. The fierce need to experience pleasure becomes a thirst that drowns out all other concerns, a strong steady drumbeat that gets louder and more insistent until you finally feed it. I’ve often experienced my body as a prison, a needy demanding egocentric organism that keeps my spirit-which in my ignorance I think is my TRUE self-- from being truly free.
It is difficult for me to trust my body. My body seems designed to deceive me. Its way of reacting to sugar, sleep, caffeine, or anything else that can even slightly alter my mood or mind is quite startling. Pretty much immediately upon experiencing it, my body will flood me with hormones and chemicals demanding more, more MORE!!! I wonder where this leaves me when it comes to that famous in the Charge of the Goddess, “All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are My Rituals.” What does that mean for someone who has a sex and love addiction? For whom the experience of love and sex is dangerous and pathological? What does that mean for someone that has a complicated relationship with pleasure, a person for whom pleasure can cause a series of binges and non-sober behavior?