“Women will only be truly sexually liberated when we arrive at a place where we can see ourselves as having sexual value and agency irrespective of whether or not we are the objects of male desire,” wrote author-activist Bell Hooks.
The same can be said of all genders and all people. When we reimagine the erotic as not just terrain for sexual and sensual behavior, but as a fully embodied experience, what new pathways to visceral joy and spiritual alignment might we find? Even more, when we think of the erotic simply as a feeling of pleasure, devoid of the connotations restricted to two bodies’ between-the-sheets behavior, we can start exploring new ways of feeling.
Get ready to feel good.
Oxytocin (a.k.a. the “love hormone”) and dopamine (a.k.a. the “feel good” hormone) are waiting in the wings, ready to gush out at climax. Or, at least that’s what scientists say happens when you orgasm. Oxytocin has the added benefit of making you want to cuddle, spoon, and intimately bond with your partner post-O, while dopamine sends messages to the reward center of your brain, increasing chances you’ll repeat those behaviors.
But, there’s more ways than one to reach that pleasurable peak. This week, we’re delving into the spiritual side of your enthusiastic yes. You may find some surprising tidbits about orgasmic practices you didn’t know you were yearning to experience.
Spiritual orgasms can happen spontaneously.
Did you know the clitoris has more than 8,000 nerve endings? While she’s not our full focus today, it’s noteworthy that female sexual stimulation isn’t notoriously complex without good reason. The divine feminine flower is a blueprint for many other spiritual centers, both energetic and literal (think: root chakra). Below, we’ll delve into four spiritual orgasms you can provoke, plus some you may just need to know if you’re lucky enough to experience one with little to no effort. Prepare to get some … spiritual release, that is ;)
1. Energy Orgasm
What is an energy orgasm?
How to have one:
Step One: Surrender
Let your mind suspend all judgment, and allow yourself to believe this is possible. While this may sound simple, you might require a bit of help from meditation, deep breathing, or other spiritual “release” practices. There are countless ways to let go. This lifelong practice will serve you in all areas of your spiritual growth; start by finding what gives your brain its deepest rest.
Step Two: Stimulate the Senses
Setting the mood for an energy orgasm may differ from your typical ambiance-enhancing practices, or it may look a lot like what you normally like to do to relax and prepare for orgasmic possibilities. That will depend a lot on how intentional your other sensual and somatic rituals already are. Lighting smell-goods or candles, touching pleasant objects (feathers, soft blankets, etc.), and queueing up a transportive playlist that allows the monkey mind to go take a seat somewhere are just some ways you can ease into openness.
Step Three: Opt for a No-Touch Zone
Whether experimenting alone or with others, try taking touch off the table. Depending on how you want to cum to the moment (purely spiritual or a mixture of the psychic and the physical erotic), designate one or more no-touch zones. This might include the entire physical body, or focus on steering away from the most erogenous zones (genitals, nipples, lips, etc.) to find your energetic edge before exploring carnal desires. If you still want to incorporate some touch, consider a “red” and “green” system of communication. Indicate to your partner(s), as they slowly move or hover their hands around you, which areas you want stimulated and which you want to avoid for some or all of the time you’re playing. That way, you can control the experience as it unfolds, rather than giving a laundry list of no-go areas in advance. It may be a fun challenge to start with no touch to learn how creative you can be when you surrender your mind and fully inhabit your body.
Step Four: No Expectations
Remember, good things come to those who wait. Send loving energy to each part of the body as you (or your co-creators) scan and focus on different zones. Like a Ouija board, let the body’s innate sexual (erotic, kundalini) energy guide your movements and your intention, and don’t be fixated on the outcomes. You can incorporate self-love mantras, deep breathing, pelvic floor exercises, and any Tantra practices you’re exploring, or you can just drop into the moment without expectation. Contrary to pervasive myths, anyone can experience an energy orgasm, so be kind and patient with your whole self, leaving the mind to rest while your body absorbs the powerful healing energy being recycled to generate waves upon waves of pleasurable sensation.
2. Global Traditions
- What are some spiritual sexuality systems around the world?
- Sex Mentors — In the Cook Islands, the Mangia tribe is known to inoculate boys to sex by pairing him with an elder at the age of 13 and taking him away for lessons about sex. While typical sex education in the West is delivered largely by strangers in public school systems, and is widely considered to be inadequate and outdated, this system of mentorship is an alternative route to equipping boys with tools to please their future partners. Though one-sided (the same ritual isn’t repeated with girls of the tribe), the tradition offers a window into how to start important conversations and intimate relationships early on.
- Tantra — Deriving from the Sanskrit root word tan (to weave or compose), the original Tantras are instructional texts that mirror a dialogue between a god and a goddess. Shakti, the divine feminine power, underpins the entire vision of Tantric belief. These goddesses “challenged traditional models of womanhood as passive and docile in their intertwining of violent and erotic power,” according to the British Museum’s Curator of South Asia, Imma Ramos. Tantric Yoga and Tantric Sex are more modern practices, both seeking to awaken the life force often referred to as kundalini. Modern practitioners have redefined cultural and spiritual norms to explore revolutionary shifts.
- Toltec Wisdom — According to anthropologist Michael D. Coe, “Homoeroticism, transvestism, erotocism in general and sexual pleasures of all sorts were very important to the people of pre-Columbian America.” With sexual taboos in the background of these peoples’ imaginations, esteemed authors like Carlos Castaneda have shared the “secret sexual energy practices” of Toltec-Mayan shamans and Nagual sorcerers, as well as step-by-step guides to attaining the spiritual transformation the ancient Meso-American spirit guides practiced to reclaim feminine power, awaken sexual energy, and balance the masculine and feminine forces within.
- Love Huts — Unlike societies that shame girls for their sexuality, in northeast Cambodia, parents from the Kreung tribe built huts for their daughters to explore with any pre-marriage partners they desire. In this tradition, the male prospect serenaded his would-be lover with music, and then she decided if she would invite him in. Tragically, this practice halted abruptly in 2003 when a young girl was attacked. Today, love huts prevail only in remote villages. Still, this practice is not only progressive, but exemplifies intentional safe spaces for women and girls to be empowered to explore both pleasure and partners at will.
- Menstrual Blood — Not for the squeamish or the prude, the Bauls of India and Bangladesh mark a girl’s first menstrual cycle by mixing the first blood with milk, camphor, and sugar. Family and friends then drink the three-ingredient concoction. “The Bauls believe spiritual completion involves the ‘four moons’ of menstrual blood, seed, urine, and feces.” While women possess all four moons, men do not have the blood moon, which is why they ingest it or “absorb” it in a ritualized lovemaking while a woman is on her cycle. During this sacred period sex, the man must retain his ejaculation and the woman’s orgasm is believed to energize the partner during the exchange.
- How to try them:
Our ideas for how to adapt these rituals for modern lives:
- Sex Mentors — We’ll say it again; sex education shouldn’t be limited to the classroom. Seek out judgment-free groups or professional sex educators in your area to learn from sex workers and other experts. There’s no shame in asking how to “play well with others” (or yourself). Additionally, if you’re a parent, consider your role as a mentor to your children. A modern approach to ritualizing this rite of passage with sex positivity can have lasting impact.
- Tantra — These days, Tantra isn’t limited to the halls of museums romanticizing the past. Its knowledge is widely accessible in books, film, and articles. We recommend learning about the history of its origins to fully appreciate its many modern applications. Tantric Yoga or Tantric Massage may even be available near you; ease into the practice with the pros!
- Toltec Wisdom — When exploring long standing rituals from other cultures, it’s important to avoid appropriating it without acknowledging the roots. While Carlos Castaneda’s book, Sex Dreaming: Esoteric Sexuality Revealed, is an excellent starting point, you can also consider working with a womb therapist or other womb worker, or another body worker like an acupuncturist, to do your own work rebalancing the masculine and feminine energies within. Healing practices lead to clearer channels for energy to pass through. What work have you done with the divine feminine as your guide so far? There are countless tools and resources, including full moon rituals and supportive plants, for going inward to redirect and restore this sacred balance.
- Love Huts — Forget the ages, genders, sex habits and cultures that this Cambodian tradition intends to guide in the right direction for a moment. Modern sex rooms (dens, dungeons, etc.) surely pull inspiration from this and other similar practices around the world. Is there a space within your home that you could make safe for the women and girls who live there? Whether for you, a daughter, or a young woman in your care, how would your orgasms (spiritual and sexual) be different if you designated a pleasure space that is as expansive in possibilities as it is comforting in the boundaries of its walls?
- Menstrual Blood — If you’re a menstruating person, check out our Phase-by-Phase Guide to Supporting Your Cycle. In our 12 Rituals + Herbs to Honor Your Bleed, you’ll find additional womb wisdom for rejoicing in and ritualizing your monthly moment. While orgasms aren't guaranteed, learning to destigmatize and celebrate the beauty of your cycle (try some menstrual magic!) can bring pleasure to what is often considered a time of misery.
3. Orgasmic Meditation
- What is orgasmic meditation?
- How to do it:
Step One: Assume the Position
Lie down and take several deep, cleansing breaths. As with the energy orgasm practice, surrender and surroundings matter. Clear your mind, relax your body, and lie on your back in a safe, comfortable space that allows you to fully receive the waves of pleasure. With clean hands, apply lube to one finger. You can use that finger to “warm up” the area around the clitoris, but the focus should eventually be on the most sensitive part—the upper left quadrant. If you’re not accustomed to “lifting the hood” to reach the clitoris, or with self-touch in general, you may want to use a mirror to see what you’re doing.
Step Two: Set Your Timer
The recommended time for exploring clitoral stimulation in an orgasmic meditation is 15 minutes. In the more rigid OM practice, 13 minutes are allotted for stroking the clitoris itself, with the remaining two minutes allocated to “grounding pressure” applied to the vulva. It may seem odd at first to be so exacting with the time, but especially if you’re partnered up for the practice, it’s important to remember there is no reciprocal activity during these 15 minutes. The person being touched has the full focus on her (traditionally, the practice is only performed on people with a clitoris, but we’ve made some notes about how to adapt it if you have a penis below).
Step Three: Experiment with Touch
Again, referring back to the energy orgasm, you do want to let the energy guide your touch (if alone or the “receiver”) and if you’re the “giver”, you should tune in fully to the receiver’s feedback. The receiver’s job is precisely and only that: to receive and notice sensation. Experts of the OM practice note that many people with vulvas have either shied away from “lifting the [clitoral] hood” or not known how to touch it directly for enhanced stimulation. Zero in on the clitoris; she is the star of this show. Don’t be afraid to start slowly.
Step Four: Reach Your Climax
Don’t hold your breath for a climax that ends in a crash, or a rush that is often confused with an orgasm. Orgasms have a high intensity, but can range in duration and sensation. The OM practice has been confirmed to link sexuality and spirituality, with findings in the brain study emphasizing that there may exist “implications for therapeutic applications … helping with various neurological and psychological problems including emotional traumas, sexual dsyfunction and even depression.” If you don’t reach climax or orgasm, don’t be discouraged. It is possible to gain benefits from repeated practice and simply have fun trying a new pathway to pleasure!
*For those who have penises: While OM has traditionally centered on a male “giver” or “stroker” providing a “masculine energy” to a female receiver, several recent OM practitioners have expanded the practice to include all bodies. In the case of people with penises, slow, deliberate strokes of the scrotum may be swapped for clitoral stimulation with variations on pressure, speed, and stroke incorporated to mirror the practice for similar results.
4. Orgasmic BirthIt goes without saying that this one won’t be for everyone … but since U.S. births rose for the first time in seven years in 2021, we’re guessing it’s safe to say that some of our readers may be expecting. Future birthers and pregnant folks, this one’s for you:
- What is orgasmic birth?
- How to have one:
- Use Pleasure to Manage Pain — It’s well known among doulas, midwives, and other birth workers that pleasure during childbirth is an excellent natural pain reliever. Smiling, laughing, and even smelling pleasant smells are simple tools to increase the likelihood of having a pleasurable birth experience. As with any of these spiritual orgasms, there’s no guarantee you’ll reach ecstasy, but viewing your labor through the lens of pleasure will radically change the harmful “birth is painful” narrative that is pervasive today.
- Stimulate the Clit — Solo or with your partner, clitoral stimulation during early labor can help release oxytocin (the “happiness” chemical in your brain that helps you relax and release). This isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for your partner and birthing support team, as the more joy receptors you activate, the more easily you’ll progress in the journey to meeting your baby.
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