creation of sexual taboos

November 30, 2015

Ecstasy ~ Maxfield Parrish

Here I would suggest that Crowley’s sexual magick is a striking illustration of what Georges Bataille calls the power of transgression, which is a central aspect of eroticism, religious ritual and mystical experience alike. Transgression, Bataille argues, is not simple hedonism or unrestrained sexual license; rather, its power lies in the dialectic or “play” (le jeu) between taboo and transgression, through which one systematically constructs and then oversteps all laws. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of eroticism. Not a matter of simple nudity, eroticism arises in the dialectic of veiling and revealing, clothing and striptease, between the creation of sexual taboos and the exhilarating experience of overstepping them. So too, in ecstatic mystical experience or religious rites (such as blood sacrifices, carnivals, etc.), one must first create an aura of purity and sanctity before one can defile it with violence, transgression or the overturning of law. “The prohibition is there to be violated;” rules are made to be broken, for it is the experience of over-stepping limits that brings the blissful sense of continuity and communion with the Other.

Hugh Urban
Unleashing the Beast: Aleister Crowley, Tantra and Sex Magic in Late Victorian England

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