The Victorian era in America during the 1850s, in many ways, reflected the Victorian era in England with hoop skirts and top hats, Americans during that era were considered straight laced and puritanical by modern standards. But a particularly American tradition of sex magic existed at that time, with a colorful figure in any era, a man named Paschal Beverly Randolph.
Randolph himself was a true Renaissance man, American style. He was born in 1825 in New York City. His father was a nephew of John Randolph, one of the founding fathers of the American Revolution. His mother was Flora Beverly, a woman of mixed African American and Native American heritage. He was a lawyer, a doctor, a spiritualist medium and the author of a number of books on esoteric philosophy. He traveled extensively in his youth and eventually returned to establish what is considered to be the first Rosicrucian lodge in America.
Randolphs books proved to be very influential to occultists on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly with regard to the practice of sex magic. Biographies of Randolph speculate that it was his experiences in the Middle East, particularly among the Sufis and the Nusairi sect in Syria that he developed his ideas on sexual magic.
Sex magic involves using the energy of sexual energy to fuel the visualized goal of the magician. The magician would begin the sex act visualizing in his mind a desired thing -- money perhaps or a job -- as a thoughtform. Then, at the moment of orgasm, the magician would mentally send the energy to the thoughtform and energize it.
However, the partner in the sex act need not even know this is happening, and, of course, the magician could perform the magic without any partner at all. In fact, this method was the one practiced by Crowley. Crowley believed that women were little more than passive vehicles for the magical act and would often employ prostitutes as magical sex partners.
But Randolph’s version of sexual magic differed greatly from this. In order for the magic to be effective, the magician’s partner must be actively involved in the rite and even share the mental image of the desired thing. Then, after reciting prayers and invocations, both partners would time their sexual climaxes to occur simultaneously in what Randolph called ‘the nuptive moment.’ He considered this moment as the instant in which the physical realm is suddenly opened up to the energies of the cosmos and new life is infused from the spiritual realm into manifestation in the material realm.
This manifestation would be a kind of ‘magical child’ which, like a physical child, would be the product of both male and female energies equally. This manifestation could be anything, from the purely mundane to the spiritually sublime. It didn’t much matter. But If the woman did not contribute her orgasmic energy fully to the operation, the magical power would not descend.
For Randolph, sexual magic not simply a form of personal fulfillment but also the key to proper relations between male and female. It was, in fact, the greatest hope for the regeneration of the world, social transformation and the basis of a non-repressive civilization. God’s will was that the wife be sexually satisfied in the marital union for the union to be valid. After all, Woman was a gem in God’s royal crown.
And that is magical.
See part three of this series on the Hieros Gamos.