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Chapter I -
Marital union takes place on three planes - body, mentality and spirit. In the perfect union, the amount of energy expended on any one plane is in exact equation with that expended on either of the others. But when the reverse occurs, the union is imperfect; and when the inequality is marked, the union has no claim to be called true wedlock.
Thus, when the energy expended upon bodily union is greatly in excess of that expended upon the mental and spiritual planes, it is called lust, and right-thinking people turn from it with a shudder.
When intellectual and artistic tastes are the chief basis of union between man and woman,we have a partnership in which mentality is in excess. Such unions are usually helpful and bettering, for the two are then intellectual and artistic comrades. But if, as is too often the case, the body be ignored or despised, it is not wedlock, but Platonic friendship which really unites the two.
Union upon the plane of spirit in excess of either body or mentality is perhaps very rare. Like mental union per se, it has its peculiar raptures; but no mood of spiritual ecstasy can be permanently helpful if it fail to translate its raptures into an expression of energy upon the mental and bodily planes.
It is to suggest the duties and the joys of union in an exact equation upon all three planes that this little essay on Psychic Wedlock has been written.
There is a great deal of misapprehension today, among intelligent and refined people, regarding the relation which should exist between husband and wife. Sex union upon the bodily plane is too often deprecated as a concession to a degrading appetite; those who thus deprecate it tacitly following in the footsteps of St. Paul, who advised marriage as an outlet for uncontrollable passion, saying, "It is better to marry than to burn." The early Christian fathers almost universally chorused this idea, insisting that that perpetual virginity in man and woman is the state which those should seek who wish to live the ideal life. Marriage was looked upon as impure; and the idea crops up in the Church and among the laity for several centuries, and is bearing fruit today in our social and religious customs. Christianity, so far as the writer is aware, is the only religion in the whole world which fails to give some teaching to its young people concerning their sex capacities and duties, so as to prepare them for the sacredness of the marital union. From whom, let us ask, do the prospective fathers of the race acquire their knowledge of sex powers? Usually from prostitutes, from gross-minded schoolboys, or from depraved men of the world. From who do the prospective mothers of the race acquire their knowledge? Perhaps, at most, from French novels, or in the unhealthy atmosphere of girls' boarding schools, or from married women scarcely less ignorant than themselves. But usually their knowledge is acquired from the aforesaid prospective fathers, upon the wedding night. Can we wonder that the offspring from such parents tend more and more, as successive generations are born, to differentiate into two widely opposing types - on the one hand, the ascetic and prude, who loathe the body as impure in all its sex relations, and on the other hand, the carnal-minded man or woman, whose thoughts about marital union relate chiefly to the body?
It is the prudish silence of the Christian churches and of those whom they influence, which we in Christian lands have largely to thank for the marital unhappiness in our midst
In savage tribes today, however ignorant, and in the old days of Paganism at its best - before Paganism had sunk into refined sensuality - we find a very different state of affairs. We find the dignity and holiness of the sex relation upheld by symbol and rite, by mythic tales an sacred dances. We find the medicine-man instructing young men and maidens in the marital duties which they are about to assume - crudely, indeed, but with a mingled frankness and reverence for sex mysteries which we today should be a purer-minded people for imitating.
The ancient medicine-man has disappeared in civilized lands, having split up into three beings: the priest, the physician and the schoolteacher. But the old wisdom still survives in out-of-the-way places, and can be restored by the learned. And our wise men possess what the ancient Pagans and the modern savages did not and do not - a detailed knowledge of embryology, of many laws of sex physiology, and of certain aspects of psychology. Why should not the modern heirs of the old medicine-man - the priest, the physician and the schoolteacher - resume the position which is naturally theirs, of instructors of the young in that which all need to know who are likely to enter the marital relation?
The times are ripe for such a movement. People on all sides are eagerly seeking knowledge which shall lead them up, and not down, in sex matters. Will the churches, the medical fraternity and our academies of learning continue to neglect their duty?
Let us hope that all three will erelong awake to the vital necessity for some organized and systematic teaching to the people upon sex - teaching which shall treat frankly of those physiological matters which are expunged from our school-books; teaching which shall set forth in its true light the hygienic value of sex union for every normally constituted man and woman; which shall show the moral obliquity of those who, whether legally married or not, create children by accident, and not by intention; which shall insist upon the sacredness of the wife's person; which shall uphold the duty of union in self-control and aspiration to the highest, and which shall not blush to frankly add that such self-control and aspiration will result in increased pleasure to both husband and wife. Last, but not least, let us have teaching which shows how the path to that ideal life which we all of us hope and mean to live lies through the senses to the Highest whom we variously term God, the Unknowable, the Ideal, Unconscious Energy, Law, Force, etc.
Meanwhile, however, since our natural teachers, the physician, the priest and the schoolteacher, remain silent on this vital question, we of the laity must do what we can to enlighten each other. And the present essay on Psychic Wedlock is an attempt to do this, in a small way. Such truth as I have discovered, I desire to share with my fellow-beings, hoping that they will add thereto, and pass our joint knowledge along to others.
It will be observed that this essay treats of three Degrees of initiation into psychic wedlock. These three Degrees seem to be found up with the inner mysteries of pagan religions everywhere; but the Second and Third Degrees in special appear to have been jealously hidden from the people, and to have been imparted only to those who had passed certain ordeals, and had thereby proved themselves worthy. These things were also bound up with Borderland occultism under certain aspects. In ancient times, the people had not the public school; they were more ignorant of the natural sciences than is the merest schoolboy of today; so that there was a good reason then for keeping advanced sex mysteries carefully hidden from the masses. Moreover, the science of psychology (which we may here use as a convenient term to include all effects of mind upon mind) was then in its infancy. What Dr. Carl du Prel terms "the displacement of the psycho-physical threshold of sensibility" through dreams, hypnotism, drugs, insanity, anger, strong emotion, etc., was in those days studied and understood only by the learned few, mainly the priests. The latter produced the "temple sleep" (nowadays known as the hypnotic sleep) in which the inner sensibilities of the hypnotized subject, exalted to an unusual degree, brought about remarkable results in prophecy, medical prescriptions, clairvoyance, telepathy, etc. Today, however, the science of hypnotism is exploited in medical and lay journals, so that any nonprofessional reader may inform himself of its wonders in detail; and the Society for Psychical Research has carefully collated hundreds of well-attested cases of thought-transference which indicate that the faculty of telepathy is a common property of humanity.
But even today, the realm of psychology contains vast unexplored tracts.
One of these as yet unexplored tracts is the psychic effect of mind upon mind during the marital union. People who would shrink from drugging themselves with liquor or opium, and who hold that yielding to so-called "spirit mediumship" is dangerous, will, nevertheless, recklessly abandon their self-control during the sex ecstasy. It is well established that a child conceived when the father is drunk will be mentally unbalanced, usually to the borders of idiocy. If intoxication - i.e., lack of self-control - at the moment of conception be produced by other means than by alcohol, is it likely that the resulting offspring will not be tainted thereby?
Now, the keepers of the ancient mysteries probably did not know what we in modern days know about physiology, embryology, and similar ologies. But they seem to have learned sufficient to realize the importance of never displacing the psycho-physiological threshold of sensibility during the sex union, except in a state of absolute self-control. And the acquirement of this self-control appears to have constituted the Second Degree in initiation. But because it puts the begetting or non-begetting of children entirely within the power of the parents, and because it intensifies the delight of wedlock, they probably feared that it would be a dangerous knowledge to place within reach of any but a worthy initiate. Hence it was and still is jealously guarded from the general public. But inasmuch as we of the nineteenth century live in an ear of almost universal education, it would seem as though the time had come when this Second Degree, and also the Third and Final Degree, may be more widely imparted.
The following are the three Degrees treated of in this essay:
- 1. Sex union forbidden, except for the distinct purpose of creating a child at that particular time.
- 2. Sex union enjoined in absolute self-control and aspiration to the highest.
- 3. Community with Deity as the third partner in the marital union.
To those who wish to train themselves in these three Degrees, I would say:
Self-control is the keynote. And in order that self-control may be acquired with as few setbacks as possible, I strongly urge that all liquor, tea, coffee, tobacco, opium or other narcotics be dispensed with from the first moment of entrance upon the training until the final acquisition of initiateship in the Third Degree. These things, one and all, displace the psycho-physical threshold of sensibility, each after its own fashion; so, also, does the emotion evoked during the sex ecstasy; and it seems foolish to wantonly increase the ordeal through which one must pass in acquiring the marital self-control of the Second Degree.
Another point which is of the highest importance in the preliminary training of the would-be initiate is, that he or she shall learn to look upon the human form as divine with emotions which never degrade, but which always seek to idealize their object. Whatever the neophyte's opinion as to the wisdom or unwisdom of the nude in art, he must acquire the habit of viewing the human form, wherever and however he lights upon it, with chaste emotions, and without agitation. Until he can do this, he is not worthy to enter upon even the First Degree.
He must also acquire the ability - if he does not already possess it - of hearing sex physiology discussed without undue agitation, and of discussing it himself upon a high plane. In short, he should strive to become master of his emotions, as a necessary preparation for entrance upon the First Degree.
But asceticism should never be an ultimate aim. It is useful only as furnishing a gateway to higher, purer, more refined and more spiritual, as well as more enduring, sense-pleasures.
If we would conquer a fractious horse, do we do so by felling him to the earth? By no means. We control him by the bridle, and by gentleness; or again, we apply whip or spur, being careful to hold a tight rein; and at last we can guide him at our will. To kill him or even to stun him is not to truly master him. And to crush the sex nature out of existence is not to truly master it, either. We can bring our sex powers under our control only by applying similar methods to those which we should adopt with a high-spirited, full-blooded horse. Sex desire is nothing to be ashamed of; it is something to rejoice in, provided it be governed as absolutely as we govern an impetuous horse, allowing it to do nothing but what our higher self wills it to do.
And oh, the joy, the joy of self-control! Only they who have thus conquered can understand!
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