THE ART OF SEX
The human body has been the subject of artists from a time so ancient we can hardly remember the origins of this attraction to make a replica of it. And because sex is so intertwined with the human form―in fact, its source of origin―this post is about the art of sex.
Venus de Willendorf is one of the oldest depictions of the human form we know in Western Art. Here she is, 32,000 years old:
The Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1-centimeter-tall (4.4 in) Venus figurine estimated to have been made 30,000 BCE. It was found on August 7, 1908, by a workman named Johann Veran or Josef Veram during excavations conducted by archaeologists Josef Szombathy, Hugo Obermaier, and Josef Bayer at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the town of Krems. It is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area and tinted with red ochre. The figurine is now in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.Wikipedia
A fertility Goddess perhaps. A talisman for a woman giving birth. Mysterious in quality, but not mysterious in the depiction of a milk-filled, pregnant-like, bulbously beautified statue of the human facts of life. Unabashed she is, and her sexuality of the feminine fertility Goddess of Wonder is front and center in our very face, 32,000 years after Her making. How could one forget such a being, though only less than 5 inches tall?
THE POWER OF WOMAN
Who knows if a man or a woman carved the Venus of Willendorf. But one thing is certain, men have been obsessed with the female form and her voluptuous attraction ever since there has been a flint to carve softer stone or a stick to scratch charcoal lines on a cave wall. We are enthralled, and rightly so, with the origins of our life on earth, which come through the portal of the Great Mother.
Gustave Courbet, deemed a “realist” in nineteenth-century French artistic circles, painted Her most provocative region of desire and fertility. Deemed “the origins of the world,” he could not “pussyfoot” (no pun intended) around the subject out of which we all have come forth in this life.
I have been reading Regena Thomashauer’s recent book called Pussy; A Reclamation in which she touts the virtues of (not the shame and shrinking away from) the Power held within and around this Female life form. She writes of the ascendency of a Divine Connection with it―mostly on the part of women―that we can cease the subjugation and exploitation of the so-called “weaker sex” in this Patriarchal World Culture that has gone on far too long, nearly 5000 years. She created a School for the Womanly Arts to get women back in touch with their power―which some have said is nine-times more powerful than Male “power,” by virtue of yes, the “Pussy.”
SOMEWHERE A BALANCE
Well, it takes two to tango. Even surrogates and in Vetro fertilizations need a sperm or two. And this form is also well depicted in the myriad of forms rising up in art and cultural history. Even if procreation is not the issue here and mere sexual ecstasy is the end result of our attention, the phallic form is just as potent an object of adoration as the “Pussy” in all her glory.
The Shiva Lingam in the far Eastern part of the planet is often honored as the “male principle.” It is a vertical column for obvious reasons, but also for deeper reasons related to the Vertical Properties of Lord Shiva Himself. He is mentioned as a beam of intense vertical light that goes in both directions, up and down, with no beginning or no end. He and the Lingam are honored as the touchstone of Creativity, the spark that adds energy to the Divine Mother, Who forms the matrix of all manifested things. The Female, in all situations and places, is what gives ideas their Form. And this Form is sacred. Even the stone itself that composes the Lingam is only possible through the grace of the Divine Mother―the stone itself, being of Her.
I made my own versions of the feminine Portal of life and the masculine Shaft of creation in the series of drawings for both.
What Are We Trying to Hide?
There have been great renderings of the human form, both male and female, from recent art history. Yet, something held back, perhaps the notion of guilt introduced by the Church prevented these figures from truly celebrating the sexual reality of our human existence.
Botticelli’s Birth of Venus beacons to an age that had a much more free-flowing embrace of the sexual nature of human life. Yet, by the time he gets to the easel of Fifteenth-Century Florentine patronage, financed by the wealthy Medici family, (but certainly overseen by the larger mores of the Catholic Church), he does the best he can to create a kind of allegory of this voluptuous sex Goddess. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite.
But Botticelli’s Venus is demure. Prim and proper, she hides her Pussy with the long stream of hair, and almost protects her breasts from a full-fledged view. Not that she is blocking our adoration of Beauty, but not to arouse us too much with her raw feminine reality. She just does not do it, almost contradicting her Sex Goddess status.
Albrecht Durer, up north in Germany a few decades later in the early sixteenth century, plays an equally coy game of sexual hide and seek. His Adam and Eve are well depicted in their palpable human form, but their sexual parts are behind fig leaves or some branch of cover meant to hide the very juncture of human life―their Penis and Pussy, respectively, are under the fallacious foliage. Not to mention that foreboding serpent of sin that gives them that “Big Apple” of guilt that got them denigrated to hell. So much for the details of the newly celebrated musculature of the Classical Renaissance―as there are now a couple of essential body parts we can scarcely ever mention.
Michelangelo did better. Perhaps because he was gay. Or at least not stymied by the Church doctrines. David is a sensuous celebration of the human form in total. He even transcended the notion of Jewish circumcision and depicted David as more of a Greek God than a young budding king of the Ark of the Covenant.
There he is in all his glory, true to an unapologetic human dignity, in the truth of sexual form. Even his left testicle hangs lower, as it should, in real-time facts of life. And the veins in the arms and hands bring us to the awe of his vascular veracity. How did Michelangelo do it? He insisted on truth, despite the pressures and distractions of the political and religious powers that be.
At least we have come this far with the “rebirth” of the High Renaissance.
What happens with all of this, really?
Well, The Penis and the Pussy have a destiny together in expressing the delights of human existence. Apart from the fact that they are needed somehow, for procreation, what is the Joy of Life that includes their harmonic convergence into a coital bliss that surpasses all other Holy pleasures? Their energy is undeniably one of the strongest in Life to converge. How has mankind celebrated this Holy Union? In many cases, he has hidden it away in back rooms of salacious shame and naughty indulgences. The sacred has been sucked out of it, and the remaining expressions are more often than not male dominance and exploitation of the female vulnerability and receptivity.
India, as usual, has been far more advanced in the celebration of Cosmic Energies descended into conjugal flesh in a period prior to the onslaught of Western exploitation and influence. No fig leaves cover this couple joined in coital bliss here. This and other depictions of sexual communion are all over the walls of the Khajuraho Temple in Southern India. Built between 950 AD and 1050 AD, these sculptures are in plain view, not hidden away in the shame of a canonical denial of the flesh and its misdirected evils of sexual exploitation.
What is meant to be joined is joined―innocently. And the Joy of Sexuality is carved into the stone pantheon of the Divine. It is a Holy Union. And one can feel the pulse of this holiness and joy in the very rock of ages, going all the way back to the fertility of the Venus de Willendorf. What could be more real to life? And what of life could be more real than the celebration of the coming together of two souls, meeting Male with Female, describing the ultimate joining of the Penis and the Pussy?
The East further enhances the beauty of this sacred joining. Here we have a tanka painting of the Boddhisatva and His consort intertwined in the ecstasy of a yoga posture of Tantric sexual union. The flowers of love, beyond the merely personal, bloom into the human reality of a Divine Conjunction. Sex is elevated to a sacred rite and the bodies of enlightenment are not diminished by this act of holy coupling.
In the West, there are some artists who ventured to elevate the sexual act to the level of beauty and grace. This Roman sculpture depicts the couple in total relaxation and coital connection. Their expressions are almost meditative and serene. She looks toward the right, away from her lover in a kind of blissful balance. He is recumbent and allowing the connection to unfold, totally without care, in a kind of trance of enchanted dalliance.
Later artists attempted to capture the moment of sexual Joy in an equally flowing innocence. This watercolor with a few simply drawn ink lines says it all―capturing the Beauty of delightful Love Making in just a few well-placed strokes of paint and line.
Let Sex Be Totally Innocent In Its Expression
We have come to the full gambit, and now it is time to own the innocence and the appropriateness of acknowledging this action of life that is so integral to it. Sexuality is an active force of creation, a sacred force of life. Without it, the rivers and trees would be bereft of good fortune and purpose. The womanly form of this Minoan Goddess from ancient Crete shows the total balance of being human, being fertile, giving the breasts of holy sustenance, commanding the power of the animals and elements, dressed in the raiment of the most revered.
What could be more uplifting? Though perhaps less explicit than the images above, Rodin’s The Kiss gives us the feeling of a tender union. There is an embrace that is outside of time. The Presence of this sculpture sticks in our mind, in a kind of iconic pose of passion that we all have some yearning to find and maintain in our own life. Whether you are LBGTQ or straight, it is the feeling of Joy that comes through in the union of two souls―intertwined together in that emotion of Union we all so much desire. Ending the separation with God is also found in this ending of separation we undertake with our lover.
I will end with this quote from D.H. Lawrence on the inseparable nature and relationship of sex to life and beauty:
There is an intelligence that guides us in the holy use of sexuality. Rather than the gratification of sensation, it becomes intertwined with the very make up of our human consciousness. It transcends the sensation into something of immortal Beauty. The Intelligence of Intuition is enhanced through a healthy and wise relationship with Sex. One is not more “spiritual” in renouncing this integral aspect of Being. One is only “cut off” and limited in separation from this Holy Sacrament through a guilt-ridden denial.
In an inspired moment of intuition, I received guidance to write this Art Look on The Art of Sex. It might be sticking my neck out as a teacher and writer on A Course in Miracles and Spiritual matters. But I see no inconsistency here. Like all matters involving the body, the body becomes a Teaching Device for learning that Love and Peace and Joy compose the Mind’s natural state of Self-Identity―and all expressions of sex in the body can be used in the communion with this truth of my Higher Self.
I will end with a line from one of my Odes to the Divine Mother : from Ode #328, Divine Mother of All Coital Bliss:
“In these gracious moments of ecstasy would I join with my lover in the union of infinite affections. You make these bodies perfect in their sharing and give this boon of delight to enjoy, and add to the store of perfect happiness.”