I had several ideas for a blog post this month, but too many other events and news items have distracted my attention. When this happens, I ask myself how much of what passes through my stream of consciousness has to do with sex. The answer that comes to me is: everything! We all crave pleasure, but there are obstacles in the way.

I recently watched a documentary on the revival of Druidry in Britain. A ceremony to welcome the sun at Midsummer at Stonehenge was shown. A mature-looking man in a white robe held a branch of mistletoe aloft, and described it as the healing semen of the gods which never touches the ground in its natural state. Each person in the circle got a small piece of the branch, then they all cheered the sunrise and danced in a circle. At Midwinter, of course, mistletoe is supposed to encourage kissing.

My earliest ideas for erotic stories were fantasies about sex as a religious ritual, even though I couldn’t seriously imagine such a thing happening in the real world. Like most other people raised in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), I was brought up to think of sex as a necessary evil that needed to be contained. Even though my parents had a liberal approach to Christianity when I was growing up, and my father declared himself an agnostic later on, their warnings to me about sex were probably similar to the sermons they got from their more orthodox Protestant parents: sex is for making babies, and if I ever “let” anyone have carnal knowledge of me outside the bounds of heterosexual monogamy, I would “pay the price.”

In spite of all that, a spiritual connection with the forces of nature seems sexual by definition.

The Midsummer ritual I watched looked like a welcome change from a torrent of bad news: the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves on the sites of residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada. Most of the people I know have decided not to celebrate Canada Day (July 1) because of the policies enforced by the Christian churches that ran these schools, and the federal Canadian government that funded them and forced children into them from the time Canada became a nation in 1867 to much later. The last residential school near me closed in 1996. The official rationale for these places was to “civilize” Indigenous children by teaching them Christian values and useful skills, but the high death rate in them was a clue to their real purpose: genocide.

While ground-penetrating radar is revealing an ever-growing number of small bodies whose families (in most cases) were never told what had happened to them, Britney Spears is fighting in court to regain the rights of an adult. Her apparent “breakdown” thirteen years ago served as a reason for her father to claim legal control of his adult daughter, supposedly for her own good, and to control her income. Like others in the “Free Britney” movement, I find it mind-boggling that she is able to maintain a gruelling schedule as an entertainer, but is officially considered incompetent to handle her own affairs.

Please note that I’m not equating the legal control of one person with a national policy that resulted in mass deaths, but there are some connecting threads. A traditional belief that certain people are too wild or irrational to make their own choices has been applied to people who are not white, not male, or not thought of as adult. (And on this note, I’ve blogged here and elsewhere about the flexible boundaries of “childhood,” depending on who is defining this state and for what purpose.)

To avoid sinking into a hell-pit of despair, I visualize the flow of sexual energy as something that can never be destroyed as long as human beings are still living on the earth, which still nourishes us. Those of us who write sexual fantasies can keep reminding ourselves and each other that pleasure is our birthright, and it doesn’t belong only to a privileged few.

Taking a break from social media and spending time outdoors is a good way to rekindle hope for a better future. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the season for it. Happy summer to everyone living north of the equator, and may the Antipodeans find comfort in winter.