The four types of the Christian way, part 4
Nuptial spirituality - or "sex and the single disciple"
In his admirably well-researched and scholarly volume, Myth and Ritual in Christianity (1954), Alan Watts (whose works were more typically popular in character) wrote in one of the footnotes that “mythology is not sexual, but sexuality is mythological, since the union of the sexes prefigures the transcending of duality, of the schism whereby man’s experience is divided into subject and object, self and other.” In other words, the conjugation of male and female – two complementary figures forming a whole – is a mythological depiction not only of physical union and, by extension, fertility, but — more profoundly — it signifies interior union and fruitfulness. It is a universal symbol, appearing in virtually every culture’s myth and ritual. Originally, no doubt, the imagery was directly related to the earth, to sex, to reproduction; but in the “great traditions” (those products of humanity’s developing consciousness) sexuality itself was incorporated into the psychic dimension. “Sex” in ritual and art wasn’t merely all about bodily sex; fertility wasn’t only of the earthly or physical sort. They were also divine metaphors for a vaster reality, both cosmic and psychic. The yin-yang symbol in Chinese religion and philosophy is a highly abstract result of this evolution in spiritual refinement, while the art of India and Tibet can often alarm Westerners with their frank depictions of erotic imagery. Watts’s point is that sexuality, taken to the level of the psychic – which is to say, the unconscious as consciously realized – has a recognizable perennial meaning for those with eyes to see it.
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