That Festival has an Orgy Cabin!

houseI admit it. The first times I’ve heard about an “orgy cabin” at particular Pagan festivals or gatherings, my hackles went up. “Eeew,” I thought. “That can’t be ethical, can it?”

Yes. I’m actually talking about an orgy cabin. A cabin (or tent, or room) at a Pagan (or other) event where people are free to express various kinds of sexual touch and sexual contact. Yes, these things happen.

No, I’ve never been invited to one. (We can laugh about that part later.)

When hearing about group leaders being participants in the orgy cabin, I thought, “Whoa. No way that can be appropriate for a leader, right?” But then I put on my sex positive hat and think about it. If everyone in there is of age and consenting, is freely expressing sexuality inherently wrong?

I think a key problem comes in with consent. Specifically, with the peer and leader pressuring that can occur–even unintentionally. Just because a group leader doesn’t intend to pressure a newer/younger/more shy person, doesn’t mean they aren’t pressuring them. And, just because that’s happening, doesn’t mean that leader is a bad person or a predator.

To sum up–it’s complicated.

My first question for any event hosting such a thing is, how is it managed? How are minors kept out? And if leaders are involved, what safeguards are in place to ensure that no group member feels coerced to be sexual with a group leader?

I’m also curious how sexual contact is kept safe. Are condoms and dental dams provided? Does everyone there have to previously agree to safer sex or receive any sexual education? Is there any educational process around consent and agreements and ensuring that it’s enthusiastic consent, not “iffy” consent? Is alcohol present, and are there any safeties there to ensure that someone who might be too drunk to consent is taken somewhere to sleep it off?

Sex Positive Vs. Dominant Culture
My gut reaction to an orgy cabin is definitely rooted in the dominant culture, but when I think about it, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it if it’s handled ethically. Of course, handling it ethically is the challenge.

How do you invite people without pressuring them? How is a safe space maintained? What agreements are in place around safe sex and appropriate touch? And of course, who pays for the Crisco? (Kidding, kidding. Crisco is gross.)

I can’t really speak to the specifics of how you might ethically run an orgy cabin, or any other kind of venue where people can freely explore their sexuality in a safe space that isn’t constrained by the dominant culture norms, as this isn’t something I myself have experienced. But, like anything else, there are agreements, there are boundaries.

Someone has to hold those boundaries–free isn’t really free.

What Does Ethical Look Like?
For my part, and I’ve said this in other posts, I generally tend to lean toward the ethic that leaders should not engage in sexual contact with group members and students. Even if that leader isn’t intending it, there’s too much potential for there to be a subtext of a power dynamic where the student/group member feels they have to say yes to things in order to not get kicked out of the group.

I do think that it’s understandable that relationships grow over time between group members and leaders, but it’s important to be on a peer dynamic as friends and to be on equal footing before beginning a romantic or sexual relationship.

There’s just too much potential for one party to feel powerless in a situation and later regret it.

Some groups ban any type of sexual relationship between any group members. While I don’t think this is feasible long-term, because people are going to develop feelings and then you’re just setting them up to betray a promise to the group, I do think that it’s generally useful to employ caution. Sex, relationships, even friendships among group members can cause difficult group dynamics.

And, something that might seem like a really good idea often ends badly. Something that might seem really sexually freeing can end up being an ego-maniacal manipulation.

Normal Group Turns into Sex Cult
Here’s an example I’ve heard of (or witnessed) in different forms. Person A joins a group. She’s older than some of the other group members, more worldly, more experienced. She’s very friendly, takes people out to lunch, eventually starts taking some of the women out to a spa or to get their nails done or for makeovers. She is very generous.

She then begins to flirt with them. It turns out she and her husband are swingers. Eventually (and you can probably see this one coming) she starts bringing some of these women home with her for herself and her husband to play with. Some of the young women are married, so she invites the husbands over too.

The group begins to instantly shift. The young women begin flirting with other group members. There’s more sexual touching at events, enough that it makes the people not involved in the sexual relationship uncomfortable. This continues for months, and some of the group members begin to leave.

The people involved with Person A and her husband feel sexually free, empowered, liberated. That is, until they aren’t the focus of attention any longer. Once Person A begins seducing someone new, they get jealous. Factions form. Person A plays the group like a finely-tuned instrument, pitting people against each other. She has essentially manipulated the group into her becoming the center of attention.

Women who were previously excited and empowered are now angry at each other. Some begin to leave the group after the backstabbing and gossip get to them. Some feel used. A few hang on, loving that feeling of having Person A’s attention–when they can get it.

Once the process has begun, there’s no way to remove Person A without losing at least some group members. The group will eventually blow up, it just depends if there are enough group members left who want to keep going. If the leadership of the group tells Person A to leave earlier on, Person A’s devotees get irate and threaten to leave too. If the leadership lets this continue on, it’ll destroy their group anyways. Most of the people won’t even realize how Person A manipulated them.

And, don’t I wish that it didn’t play out like this. But, it can and it does.

What’s the Answer?
The answer is not being totally prudish and saying “no sex.” That’s what we call, “Setting ourselves up for failure.” But neither is the answer to pressure people into sex all the time.

What About That Orgy Cabin?
Well…I think it’s possible to handle it in a mature, ethical way. I think it would be a lot of work. It would require boundaries, agreements…possibly the most ethical way to handle it would be as part of a weekend-long workshop on sexual intimacy and boundaries. Freedom to express sensuality and sexuality is a beautiful thing, but packaged with that freedom is recognizing that everyone else in the room also is free to choose what touch they want, and don’t want.

If you’re participating in something like this, you might consider all the agreements and boundaries and ethics. You might look at how people might be feeling pressured to participate. Perhaps your Orgy Cabin may need a rehab with some refreshed agreements and education. Or perhaps you have a healthy dynamic going, in which case, good for you.

If not, think about adding in some layers of safety for all the participants there.

It’s true, thinking about things like safe sex, boundaries, agreements, and ethics might take some of the fun out of a more spontaneous Orgy Cabin. And yes–I probably did just manage to take most of the fun and sexiness out of the idea. However, things could be worse. I’d rather have the agreements and safeties than deal with the consequences of a group member who felt pressured into having sex.

What you really don’t ever, ever want is someone who felt empowered by being singled out to join the Orgy Cabin and was nervous but consented, and later feels that Group Leader A pressured them into sex. Or, everyone got really drunk and Group Leader raped them; they said no, but Group Leader A didn’t stop. And I’ve heard of situations like that.

As with anything, you have to look at the long-term sustainability of your group and your community. You have to think beyond the short term, “This would be sexually satisfying and fun and freeing,” into the longer term effects of how this will impact your group. A bunch of people who get trashed and screw around one night might be embarrassed later on and leave the group. However, if this is part of a longer-term commitment of group members to explore sensuality and boundaries with intention, and is coupled with intensive personal work, that could be a very different situation.

For further reading:
I have more thoughts on Sex, Ethics, and Community, as well as an earlier post detailing more on the process of how group members can be groomed and pressured into having sex with group leaders.

25 thoughts on “That Festival has an Orgy Cabin!

  1. I think another thing that has helped in the overlap of the polyamory community with the Pagan community. We aren’t members of the local poly groups, but we have seen the positive effects of workshops they have put on in the area.

  2. Having been in a local community that tried to be ‘sex friendly’ but really just resulted in refusing to ever call out predators (which has lent itself toward outsiders, new comers, and especially young women abandoning the group quickly), I’m really dang hesitant and suspicious of, well, anything Pagan + sex. I’ve yet to see the issue handled well by elders, and so many of our male elders are given a pass for gross behavior toward other people in the group. I think our communities as a whole need to undergo a lot of change before something like an Orgy Cabin can actually be close to ethical – until then, I’ll be suspicious, and I’ll expect to here more horror stories :/

    (And I think a large part of the problem we have, where harm is allowed to be inflicted, is the idea that ‘Pagans aren’t like that’ and never hurt each other and sex is Good and Pure and can never be bad no matter what. That mentality has not helped us at all, ime.)

  3. Since you are obviously and forthrightly horrified by the very notion of the existence of a space – even a separate, confined space – for people to express their sexuality freely and openly, it’s no great surprise you haven’t been invited and are innocent of any knowledge as to the vast wealth of information and ethics that exists on how to deal with systems of open sexuality. But since you very clearly have no interest in visiting these cabins, why do you have such a great and, dare we say, prurient interest, in what goes on inside them? Either express a desire to go in and learn how they work, or stay away.

  4. What I’m horrified about, JR, are the many ways I’ve heard of people being harmed by poorly facilitated spaces like this. I am aware of well-facilitated spaces like this at events that I haven’t attended. Given that a lot of my work in teaching leadership has put me in a position to hear heart-wrenching stories of sexual abuse from numerous people in the Pagan community, yes. I have concerns. I’d like to see people able to express their sexuality in a healthy way. Most of the time, I don’t think it works out like that, and it’s a shame.

  5. Disclaimer: I have never been in charge of an “Orgy Cabin” or other such space at either sex-positive/kink or Pagan events, but I have been on staff forsuch things.

    and that’s my first insight to share – many of these spaces have one person who is “running” the space, and that person rarely joins in the sex. They act as host/ess , making sure the rules of the space are followed and that everyone has the supplies needed (condoms, dental dams, paper towels, bottles of water, etc). This person is almost always someone whose spiritual path is connected to sexuality in some way, and someone with a modicum of respect in terms of their ethics and practices. But beyond that, most spaces also have other staff, both in terms of logistics (who knew we would run out of chux *and* lube at the same time!) As well as those who have volunteered to “be available” for some agreed-upon sexual services. Most of the staff members also have an intimate understanding and relationship with sacred sexuality, possibly even identifying as sacred prostitues/whores, tantrikas, or kinksters. No one wants to work on building their nerve to visit the sex space only to feel rejected and unwanted, so having staff persons who are willing to offer some form of sexual service (even if it is just conversation or platonic touch) helps better ensure people will have a good experience. Some spaces even assign colors or other ways to easily identify what sort of services a staff person is there to provide.

    usually, there is a short meeting as the space is opened that sets both the mood and the boundaries. I have never worked in a space where anything other than safer sex protocols were allowed, even between fluid-shared coupl.es. If someone arrives late, these boundaries and agreements are posted in a prominent spot. Some go so far as to require participants to read a sign a document that lays out the expectations as well. It has also been my experience that both staff and participants understand why these agreements are necessary, so there is a lot of “community policing” that happens as well.

    when it comes to power dynamics, like between a teacher and student , that is usually handled between the parties themselves. As there is absolutely never the expectation (or worse, demand) that everyone in the space is available to everyone else in the space, I would hope that the parties involved would make the best choices for tthemselves. As a community leader and teacher, if I enter a space and see someone already participating who I do not feel comfortable sharing intimate space with (even if we don’t interact directly, I may not want them to see me naked or engaged BDSM), then I leave. If I am on staff, I will keep a wide berth and should a student approach me, I would gently and politely steer them towards a different staff person. There is always the chance that a student or ment ee will eventually see me in a compromising position – this is a risk you take when you teach at such events. But I choose not to involve the person hosting/running the space unless I have exhausted all personal, one-on-one, communication first.

    if you have any other questions, please feel free to shoot them in my direction. If someone wants to ask something less publicly, my email address is above.

  6. Del, thanks for a lovely response. I’m really glad to hear that there are events where all that work goes into ensuring a positive experience. And I suppose that’s what I meant when I said, “Free isn’t free.” You’ve just outlined what is a hell of a lot of work. When I do a deep transformative ritual for a group of people, as similar amount of work goes into ensuring the experience is well-facilitated. Well–less condoms and dental dams, lol.

    Unfortunately most of the stuff I hear about (not all) is from people who felt pressured in various ways, or other difficulties. A lot of the people who want the “free love” don’t seem to even realize that they are using their position of authority in a way that pressures others. Safety takes work. Ultimately, my own work is to help people do the personal/spiritual work to develop better boundaries, better self esteem, and to understand their impact so that we can have more of the healthier experiences 🙂

  7. Disclaimer: I’m not nearly as involved in the pagan community as I once was, but am now fairly solidly involved in my local kink community

    I absolutely agree that leadership power dynamics can make this entirely a sticky situation. Being involved with the local kink community has given me an appreciation for this, and thankfully mostly from a positive angle. That being said, there are absolutely ways that this can be done in both a healthy way and unhealthy, which you acknowledged.

    I think one of the primary things that needs to happen in order to make the whole orgy cabin idea work is really bringing the idea of enthusiastic consent to the forefront. For many of the events in my local area, the organizers and leaders really bring up this concept in a myriad of ways, and never stop expressing that consent should be nothing short of enthusiastic. If you are in any way not wanting to do something, that’s a no, and that is absolutely fine. The most important part that they emphasize is that it’s okay to say no to anything that you’re not comfortable with, from either side of your dynamic. I think that is something that is sometimes forgotten when talking about enthusiastic consent: that while you are empowered to give your consent, you are just as empowered to withhold it, for whatever reason you wish, without shame.

    There was something else that you said, that “I probably did just manage to take most of the fun and sexiness out of the idea,” regarding a spontaneous event. I think that’s something that just takes a little bit of a paradigm shift. We, as a culture, tend to value spontaneous events more highly than planned events. I think planning and negotiating is under valued. Personally, as time has gone on, I’ve found negotiation and planning to be just as hot as something that happens in the moment, and it tends to come with WAY less baggage. Talking about what you mutually want to do, and then going through with it…. yeah. That definitely can be really hot. And it doesn’t take much. A sex educator by the name of Reid Mihalko has an “elevator speech” that can be done in about 30 seconds where you can establish your boundaries, practices, and give any and all relevant information; and then empower the other person to do the same. Look it up. Seriously. It’s amazing.

  8. I agree that there are many anecdotes from people who have felt pressured or coerced by people they see as an authority. There was one such individual in my local community, known for hosting sex rituals and teaching hands-on classes on sacred sexuality.

    it is a known issue in most sacred sexuality spaces that unless the description clearly states that a class or ritual is for couples only, you are likely to see three times as many men as women (or people of other genders). The individual in question would either find someone at the event who wasn’t planning on attending the ritual/class and try to “seduce” them into coming, all the while failing to mention she was not only going to be one of very few women in attendance, but also a focus of attention as the teacher would be demonstrating techniques with (or more appropriately, “on”) her.

    Without going into the litany of slime ball this dude was, the point is that it didn’t take very long for his slimeyness to be what he was most known for, and then he disappeared and was persona non grata at any gathering iin a fairly wide area.

    There just can’t be any guarantees that any space, whether it be a Pagan space, a kink space, a sexual space, etc, will be 100% safe from slime balls. And the people who create these spaces usually go to great lengths to make them as comfortable as possible, because otherwise no one would attend. It’s like any other gathering on Earth: people are unpredictable, but most of the time the risk outweighs the reward. The best we can do is to support people in the process of naming, learning, and defending their needs and boundaries. We also need to be on the lookout for our fellow people, making sure their decisions are informed ones. But even with all that, we also need to accept that negative outcomes do occur, and there’s no cut and dry blame arrow that appears over one person’s head. we all learn from negative outcomes, but fear of them should not be the sole deciding factor when a chance for growth, transformation, and transcendent presents itself.

    idr

  9. Del,
    thank you for responding to Shauna. you are far more articulate in these situations than i am.
    Shauna,
    i have been involved in numerous situations where such things as “orgy cabins” or sexual space has been available. i personally have had nothing but good experiences with such things, but i do see the potential for issue. in the spaces i have been where such things happen, much prior work goes into making the experience a good one, and a safe one. where you have heard many stories from those who did not find their experience to be positive, i have had numbers of people telling me how the experience was not just positive for them in a “ooh that was fun” kind of way, but in a “this touched my life in a profoundly positive” way. in some gatherings i have had the great joy to attend, a large amount of sexual energy has been raised through group sex activities to be used in a very healing way out in the world.
    this kind of experience isn’t for everyone, i think we can agree on that. there is a certain risk when interacting in a way that makes you vulnerable (or feel vulnerable) to others.
    the world is filled with risk… life is filled with risk… but if we do not risk ourselves in some way, we do not grow. this may not be worth the risk for you, even the minimized risk the presenters of an event try to make it. that is ok… but it also ok for that experience, that risk, be there for those who need it.

    -ruth

  10. You seem to have missed the point I was getting at in my first post, so I will state it a little more clearly (I hope) here.
    You didn’t, it seems, approach the people at your festival with any of your concerns. So you don’t know how they handled these things. You assume the worst. You assume they had no plans in place for any of these dire situations you imagine could happen. You have a lot of assumptions and “I thinks” in this post. A lot of things that you say you are “curious” about. Why didn’t you ask the people at the festival who were running the cabin about your concerns?
    In short, I’m wondering if there is any point to this post other than to sound gossipy and self-righteous. When you say things like “If you’re participating in something like this, you might consider all the agreements and boundaries and ethics” you come across as uninformed and severely judgmental. Who are you to assume we haven’t? As you admit multiple times in this very blogpost, you neither know anything about such spaces, nor did you approach the people at the festival you attended to find out. I have NEVER attended any such space where there were not rules and people ensuring the rules were followed. What disturbs me even more is that you follow this up by saying “It’s true, thinking about things like safe sex, boundaries, agreements, and ethics might take some of the fun out of a more spontaneous Orgy Cabin. And yes–I probably did just manage to take most of the fun and sexiness out of the idea.”
    This, Shauna, is why you aren’t invited. You ask earlier how you keep problematic situations from arising – we do not invite people who will be suspected of creating problematic situations. If your attitude to discussing safe sex and boundaries before group sex is that it ruins the mood, then perhaps you aren’t mature enough to attend an adult playspace. In the meantime, stop questioning the maturity of people who are clearly more mature than yourself.

  11. @ JR, You don’t have to participate in an orgy to question the maturity, or motivation of the people running them. All you have to do, is try to help some one put the pieces of their life back together, after one goes wrong. What are you so afraid of? If what you are doing is above board, with no surprises, why wouldn’t you welcome a chance to clear the air.

  12. Brightest Blessings upon you, JR.

    While I grant that you have inferred many negative impressions from this essay, I must disagree with the stance that Shauna is immature or a prude. I HAVE been to events where things have gotten out of hand because the issues brought up in this writing were not handled well. I HAVE ALSO been to events where things were handled very well. The discussion of both is important.

    It is perhaps a bit combative to discuss issues by conducting ad hominem attacks in the midst of discourse. The writer has not less right to discuss this issue as any other inquirer into the various aspects of Pagan Lifestyle and Spirituality. The fact that she has not indulged makes her no less able to express her views and ask questions.

    Perhaps your point has now been made so that you no longer have to feel that you must carry the banner for all sexually active Pagans who have read this post. I welcome all forms of intelligent conversation, and appreciate the opportunity made here for this topic. Let us tread respectfully here, as I would believe that reactionary slams are beneath us.

    By your responses, it would seem this is an important topic for you. Your passion and force to make sure that it is treated well may have swayed into realms of uncivil commentary unintentionally. This happens sometimes when persons feel that something they believe in is attacked. It is human.

    Let us take a moment to just all reflect and ask, has my point been made? IF so, then why continue? One of the reasons that Pagan discourse of any value has degenerated to the baser forms is because of the “landmine” factor when controversial topics come into play. How can debate cause growth if every time someone brings up something that someone else has as a Sacred practice they are attacked?

    Time to exhale..

  13. I’m not sure I’d have so many questions about anyone organizing such a cabin. I might have many more concerns about some folks pulling others into the cabin, well outside the purview of the cabin

    I like the standard of “enthusiastic consent” outlined by Del. Now, that enthusiasm is best expressed first well outside of the cabin space, no pressure, no statements of maturity…nothing but mutual horniness and amazing control.

    There’s no character flaw in being in absolute control of one’s sexuality. To the contrary, it’s the key to genuine consent. That may mean absolute openness to some, pickiness to others, and even abstinence. If you have to be “convinced” to be sexual in a given situation then your consent isn’t consent. If you have to rely on leadership, then your consent definitely isn’t.

    I wonder if a pagan festival where a cabin or space like this is likely to be set up shouldn’t have consent consciousness-raising sessions be made available during the day, before anyone goes off. After the consciousness raising, those who may have been under influences other than their own enthusiastic consent will probably be having discussions with themselves and those in their circles that were long overdue. With diligence, a truly consensual space can much more easily be assured.

  14. I don’t see any clearing of the air here. I see a childish woman who starts off going “ewwwww” and telling people they “raise her hackles” by even having their event, which she didn’t bother to approach them personally to learn anything about, but which she then blabs about to the entire internet, doing everything but accusing them of being child molesters and rapists. “Do they even have rules and practice safe sex?” she wonders aloud to the internet. Yes. Satisfied, Shauna? Next time just ask personally instead of being insulting. That’s called a “leadership quality”.

  15. Why does this seem to be that you are taking this attack personally? Why is it assumed that she did not inquire, since no where in the article does she specifically state that she has not done so at a later date? Why, again, is she being attacked personally? Is this a trigger topic? This kind of reaction would seem to be from a place of pain and possibly rage. Why so angry? What is with all the drama? Do you know her personally? Have you met with her and discussed this topic? Where was the exact part where she implied that they are in the same ilk as rapists and child molestors? The questions were valid and presented in a feature story format. And as far as insulting, there is a mirror somewhere just itching to be used in a vicinity near you, I would hazard to believe. Please deisist these barbs, as they seem to be reactionary to something beyond the essay here. Civility costs nothing.

  16. Where did I say “prude”? Don’t put words in my mouth.
    If you start off an essay saying “ewwww” about sex you don’t like, you do come off as immature, sorry. That’s the kind of thing I said as a teenager.
    I don’t care about “incivility”. Shauna and company are using “civility” as a guise to attack me and mine. If you publicly attack, expect attacks in return.
    None of you defending poor, poor Shauna wish to address the point I have repeatedly made – if Shauna, as a LEADER (which she claims to be), became aware of an event occurring at a festival she was attending that made her concerned or uncomfortable, why did she not address her concerns to those organizing the festival or event at that time? She makes no indication that she asked them any of these questions. If she had, she would have come away with a wealth of answers, I assure you, as no one wants to be sued or taken to jail for a weekend of fun.
    I certainly hope you are well aware of the sad fact that sexual predators can and do operate within the confines of monogamous, private encounters all the time. Is your real concern stopping sexual predators, or are they just an excuse for you to stop people from having sex in a way you dislike?

  17. JR, usually I have a rule about waiting to respond to posts like yours until I can think about them from a calm place, but you’re blowing up my comment thread with a conversation that is trollish and does not serve, so I’m going to mark your further comments as spam. Sorry.

    In my blog post, I didn’t address my specific conversations with festival leaders. Some are leaders I have talked to to get their side of the story. Other stories of sexual spaces at events are for events I’ve never been to, and thus, I don’t know the organizers. In most cases, when I hear about something like this, I’m not hearing about the amazing, transcendant sexual experience that affirmed that our bodies are living temples of love and we can choose to share them with each other. I’m hearing from the hurt, scared people who decided they don’t want to be Pagan after a Pagan leader raped them or abused them.

    A lot of your language is really setting off my red flags, JR, and I acknowledge that part of that is because you are using language about how amazing “orgy” spaces can be in a way that my ex used to talk. However, it’s worth mentioning that the reason I’ve never been to a space like this is 1. I don’t tend to frequent festivals that have them, and 2. when I have been at festivals that did, I was theoretically in a monogamous relationship with said ex. Of course, that didn’t stop him from cheating on me with members of our community, students he was teaching, and worse.

    Can spaces like this be sexually affirming and beautiful? Sure they can. And, as Del writes, they have to be elegantly facilitated. Most of the times I’m hearing about something like this are when a bunch of people were horny and decided to have a sex tent and people felt pressured and then I hear about the deep wounds that left years and years after the fact.

    Of course there are sexual predators out there in every walk of life. That is a sad fact. I wrote this blog post to highlight that a sacred sexuality space is not inherently bad–and, there are inherent problems in trying to facilitate one, and many folks who try to do the “sex is free and love” thing fail to do it well, so they need to reconsider the backlash.

  18. Disclaimer: While my sexuality is sacred, it is only because it is a part of me, and I am sacred. I do not engage in any sacred sexual practices of any kind. For me, it is a way to enjoy mutual pleasure and physical intimacy with my partner. It has little sacredness for me, outside of what I have just outlined.

    With that having been said, I do think there can arise certain problems with a space like what you might call an Orgy Cabin, or Sex Positive Space. I also wholeheartedly support those who wish to connect with their sexual selves by having such an event or practice.

    The main problem, I imagine, would be just WHO is in it. As the old saying goes, “Wherever YOU go, there YOU are.” If one comes in with negative intentions, those intentions have entered that space. Intention is such a powerful and crucial thing for us magical folk.

    I am not sure how anyone could prevent this each and every time. Even with all of the precautions and safety measures that have been outlined here, we are still talking about sex, which is a state in which we are vulnerable in many different ways. There will always be someone who wants to take advantage of that vulnerability in someone.

    And, like has been said already, if you choose to participate in one of these events, problems will arise, and you will need to expect certain things. I don’t know if there are any good answers, in other words.
    ———-
    As to the other issue here, it takes much time and effort to compose a posting and to respond to that posting.

    Why spend so much time and energy making comment after comment, when simply saying you disagree and why just once would suffice? And why spend the time following the author’s blog if you don’t agree with their opinions at all. Why do you choose to obsess over someone disagreeing with you? Why not let go of the issue and do something else that gives you fulfillment?

    It’s okay to disagree with people in life. Hurling insults just makes you look ridiculous, and I highly doubt that you are a ridiculous person. You sound passionate, which I respect greatly, but this is immature behavior, which I do not respect.

    Nor do the rest of us.

  19. Shauna,
    you say that you wrote this blog post to “highlight that a sacred sexuality space is not inherently bad”… it appears to me that you may wish to rethink the way that you approach the subject then. all but one person i have spoken to who have read your blog post have taken what you said to be quite negative regarding sacred sexuality spaces, and a decent amount of the language you used is charged with negative eq. i take you at your word that was not your intent, but your content stands on its own in the written only communication of the internet.
    another thought: if you are hearing only the stories of the hurt, scared people who no longer wish to be pagan, perhaps the stories of those who reach moments of great meaning would be something you might get something from hearing? we each have our places and roles in this world, i do not know why yours is to hear the stories of those in pain and mine is to hear the stories of those in joy… i can only hope we both are giving back what the Gods desire of us. i wish you peace, the answers to what you seek, and the openness of heart and mind to hear them.

    ruth

  20. Shauna,
    I would personally like to thank you for having the courage to take on such a controversial, and heated topic. Not many Pagans are willing to address issues such as this.
    I would also like to point out to others, that this article is written from the perspective of someone that was harmed by this kind of practice. If this bothers you, maybe you need to look at why. I see a lot of people that were almost instantly defencive. To all that cry “Don’t Judge Me”, I say, An open mind, and a blind eye, are not the same thing.

  21. I’m fashionably late to the party, but I wanted to say that there’s something more to consider than the pressure of leaders/authority figures to consider, and that is the cultural pressure within some aspects of the Pagan community to be a certain way – in this case, willing and eager to be sexual in a certain way to prove how sexually free and liberated you are. Not everyone is sexual in the same way, and it’s doesn’t mean you are more or less liberated. For example, here JR seems to assume that if you personally do not like the idea of attending an orgy tent, you are somehow less sexually enlightened and therefore cannot use logic and experience to form an opinion. Not everyone gets as aggressive as JR did, and not everyone does this at all, but it can be just as pressuring to feel judged as less free or enlightened if you don’t want a bunch of strangers touching you. I’ve seen a lot of “holier than thou” bullshit about sex in the Pagan community. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be about sex. I can’t tell you how many times people have treated me like there is something wrong with me for not wanting to be hugged by random people I just met, OR vague festival acquaintances I don’t much like. Sorry, I didn’t get the memo that being Pagan meant I had to let anyone else with that moniker get their funky ass energy on me or else have them pout and act like *I* wronged *them* for having boundaries. Honestly, I am rather in the same boat as Aine in that I have yet to see much evidence that the majority of the Pagan community is mature enough to ethically handle an open orgy cabin. The Pagan community at large isn’t mature enough to handle a lot of things.

    You know who is mature enough to handle it? The kink community, which Pagans would do well to learn some sexual ethics from. Actually, Pagans would do well to learn a lot of ethical behavior from that community, which is one of the most mature, polite and respectful subcultures I have ever been a part of. That doesn’t mean there aren’t unethical individuals, but it’s much less common, because unlike in Pagandom where people often enable predators, the kink community calls them out, warns others, and shuns them. You know, what a community of people who care about each other and what they stand for would naturally want to do in that situation.

  22. Sorry the kink community has its problems too and bad occurrences. It’s just we’re trained better on how to negotiate for what we need and want..put monitors in place and everyone usually has to sign in and a release form about the rules and actually read them! There are groups that organize the parties and screen them closely. It’s the ones that aren’t screened that are problematic.

    There should be no sex tent without some kind of screening beforehand..like a workshop on ethical public sex behavior. Is it done for fun or ritual purposes and like any other sexual harassment set up are those in power at the festival in ritual leadership over those who are not or is it an entirely equal situation? IS it a kink party? Women only, men only, mixed and predominantly heterosexual or queer? What are the Parameters?

    Will there be genital contact allowed or not? And in my book EVERY sex party should require safe sex. It would be a HUGE liability if everyone Was exposed to serious STDS when that could be prevented or for hetros pregnancy.

    We considered this for a women’s festival I yearly attended but we’d have to have the surrounding ccabins hosting adults only who were open to the idea so the girls would not be exposed to it. Of course nobody under 18 either and all play parties I’ve gone to in SF were also drug and alcohol free to make clear further consent and safe behavior. As we were also organizing the Main ritual it would be way too much work so we didn’t do it.

    However they have an area at Michfest for the parties and they are separately organized and one has to be invited. Nothing is 100% Safe but dangers can be reduced with ethical people monitoring and rules in place. And NO it doesn’t take away from the fun. Just like a circle of protection it makes it a happy womb like magical environment where ecstatic play can happen between like minded individuals.

  23. Pingback: Predators, policies, and the road to healing | Intersections

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s