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Spelling tests: A brief look at wiccaphilia and witches’ sexuality

“For years I have had a real fetish for witches – I believe its called wiccaphillia – or something like that! My wife indulges my interest and she has sixteen sexy witch outfits!” (from the Sexy Witch website)

There are various websites that list hundreds of different types of sexual paraphilias. Many of these paraphilias are simply the names of specific phobias with the suffix ‘-phobia’ replaced by the suffix ‘-philia’. Examples of this include: agoraphobia and agoraphilia (fear of the outdoors; sexual arousal from the outdoors), cremnophobia and cremnophilia (fear of steep cliffs and precipices; sexual arousal from steep cliffs and precipices), and kynophobia and kynophilia (fear of getting rabies; sexual arousal from getting rabies). Another sexual paraphilia that often appears in these lists (such as the one at the Sensual Swingers website) is wiccaphilia (sexual arousal from witches and witchcraft) that I assumed was just based on the opposite phobia (wiccaphobia – fear of withes) and didn’t really exist (especially as it doesn’t appear in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Furthermore, there is not a single reference to wiccaphilia in any academic article or book that I am aware of.

I obviously tried to look up wiccaphilia on (…ahem) Wikipedia but there was surprisingly nothing. The Wikipedia entry on ‘wicca’ noted that wicca is a modern pagan religion (developed here in England in the first half of the twentieth century) concerning witchcraft, drawing on a diverse set of ancient pagan rituals. In relation to sexual behaviour, the article noted:

“A central aspect of Wicca…often sensationalised by the media is the traditional practice of working in the nude, also known as skyclad. This practice seemingly derives from a line in Aradia, Charles Leland’s supposed record of Italian witchcraft. Other traditions wear robes with cords tied around the waist or even normal street clothes. In certain traditions, ritualized sex magic is performed in the form of the Great Rite, whereby a High Priest and High Priestess invoke the God and Goddess to possess them before performing sexual intercourse to raise magical energy for use in spellwork. In nearly all cases it is instead performed ‘in token’, thereby merely symbolically, using the athame to symbolise the penis and the chalice to symbolise the womb”

In the course of my research for this article, I came across lots of references to witches’ sexuality but these were light-hearted and non-academic including photographic sites of the 25 sexiest witches, artistic sites of the sexiest witch pin-ups (i.e., drawings and paintings rather than photographs), the sexiest witches seen in the movies, articles on having sex with witches and ‘wiccan sex’, and articles on the application of make-up for sexy witches. There is also the Sex. Fetish, Witch, Artphotograph website run by a woman who claims: I’m a 50+ year old average everyday woman who still likes ‘Sex’, is a ‘Fetishist’, identifies strongly with my natural ‘Witch’ instincts and gets off on ‘Art’. I see myself as a type of Carnal Muse”. All of these sites make the assumption that witches are female but one thing that surprised me when researching this blog was an article in The Frisky online magazine that noted male witches are not called warlocks but are also witches. The article claims that the term ‘warlock’ actually refers to an oath breaker, or someone who was banished from a witches’ coven.

Professor Walter Stephens published a 2002 book entitled Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief where he describes alleged sex between witches and demons, and the mechanics of their lovemaking (and also confirmed that some witches were male). Dale Keiger interviewed Stephens for the John Hopkins Magazine where it was noted that:

“Before 1400, tales of sex with demons existed but were almost always accounts of rape; in the 15th century, the sex becomes consensual, and more. Accused witches speak not just of sex, but of good sex, the kind that brought them back for more and seduced them into forswearing God and agreeing to do the Devil’s bidding. Not only women were seduced by demons; men, too, were lured into sex with beings who turned out to be something other than just willing village girls. (Scholars estimate that 20 percent of the people accused of witchcraft during this time were male.)”

In another article in The Frisky, one article claimed that medieval witches inserted magic potions or ‘flying ointment’ into their vaginas with a special dildo or ‘broomstick’ (i.e., ”getting high and pleasuring themselves”) that may explain the origins of the flying broomstick. In response to this claim, one person under the pseudonym ‘Snagglez’ wrote:

“I wrote my Masters’ thesis on the appearance of demonic creatures and witches in 16th century wood block prints in Germany and I can completely verify this theory. One of the reasons female witches were seen as so scary was because of their rampant sexuality which was a threat to society – basically sex for pleasure rather than procreation. They would subvert the natural order of life and become the sexual aggressor instead of the man. They were often attended by male witches but women were in charge. Part of the satanic ritual involved the unholy mass which culminated in group sex with the devil on an altar. But, witches were believed to be unable to bear children because of the polluted nature of their bodies. That is why there were often depicted as crones – mainly because post-menopausal women could also not bear children. In fact it was believed that some of their spells required the blood of small children (completely perverting their gender’s purpose) so witches were often blamed if babies died for unexplained reasons. I really suggest reading ‘The Witch as Muse’ by [Linda] Hults”

Most reference to witches’ sex is usually made in relation to ‘sex magic’ (or ‘sex magick’ as it is often spelled, and which I will look at in a future blog). A 2010 online article by “herbalist, writer and artist” Sarah Lawless examined sex magic in traditional witchcraft (but wiccaphilia was not mentioned). She made some interesting observations:

“Our animistic ancestors believed that the earth was a fertile woman and the sky god her lover. When it rained, it was the god’s semen fertilizing the earth goddess. Worship of the phallus is found the world over, as is worship of the Sacred Whore…In etymology the proto-Germanic root word for Witchcraft – weik – from which wicce, wicca, wiccaecrafte and related sorcerous words stem from literally translates as ‘cunning and guile’. This possibly explains the use of sexual initiation for certain traditions, especially within Medieval and modern traditional witchcraft. Sex is a way to connect with the Gods of both the Upper and Lower Worlds. There are accounts from the witch trials of women having sex with the devil himself to be initiated into a coven and into the mysteries…Sex magic has multiple uses within Witchcraft. It can be used as an offering for deity worship, for acting out the mysteries of the gods, to attain knowledge/ awareness /inspiration, to be initiated into a tradition or mystery, to raise energy for workings, to empower sexual fluids for magical uses, to conceive, to act as Sacred Whore, to empower a working or sigil, for healing, or for flying”.

Arguably one of the best websites discussing witches’ sexuality is the Sexy Witch blog. The website is one of the very few that go beyond an informational definition of wiccaphilia and attempts (in an admittedly speculative way) to provide an insight into different types of wiccaphilia from a witch’s perspective. The female author notes:

“Curiously, Wiccaphilia seems to be a lot less common than Wiccaphobia. At least, if you Google the two terms the ratio is 3:18,500 (or about 1:6000). But I am sceptical: everyone loves witches, don’t they?…Someone suffering from mild Wiccaphilia might, for example, take particular pleasure in accidently finding pictures or descriptions of witches or Wiccans on the internet. Someone with moderate Wiccaphilia might search the web for images witches and take particular pleasure in locating a blog dealing with Sexy Witches. Severe Wiccaphilia might result in the victim spending a small fortune on books and objects featuring witches and then shamelessly parade their affliction by starting a blog about Sexy Witches. Sad, but true”.

Given the complete lack of academic and/or clinical research on wiccaphilia, I am not in a position to either conform or dispute such claims. I came across a book written by LaSara Firefox (simply called Sexy Witch) but from the summaries on various bookseller sites (e.g., Employing a unique blend of feminism and magick, this refreshing guide to female self-empowerment helps women acknowledge the beauty, strength, and sexiness within themselves…LaSara FireFox banishes the damaging misconceptions and shame often associated with female sexuality and sheds light on what it truly means to be a Sexy Witch”) is not an academic tome (but appeared to get lots of positive feedback from those who had read the book). Given the lack of empirical data, there is nothing known about whether the paraphilia really exists, and if it does what the incidence, prevalence or etiology of wiccaphilia is. If it does exist, there could perhaps be some psychological crossover with those who have specific uniform fetishes (that I covered in a previous blog).

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Farsaci, L. (2009). I’ll get you, my pretty: Sexy women and witchcraft. Carnal Nation, October 20. Located at: http://carnalnation.com/content/35869/615/ill-get-you-my-pretty-sexy-women-and-witchcraft

The Frisky (2012). 5 things you probably didn’t know about witches. October 5. Located at: http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-10-05/5-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-witches/

Keiger, D. (2002). Sexy devils. John Hopkins Magazine, 53(4). Located at: http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0602web/stephens.html

Lawless, S. (2010). Sex magic in traditional witchcraft, July 30. Located at: http://witchofforestgrove.com/2010/07/30/sex-magic-in-traditional-witchcraft/

Stephens, W. (2002). Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Wikipedia (2013). Sex magic. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_magic

Wikipedia (2013). Wicca. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicca

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