As Pagans we view sex as intrinsically holy; it is the impulse that gives us life and pleasure. A Reclaiming witch once told me that when you orgasm, you are possessed by the Star Goddess. Whether we engage in sexual acts with others or have self-sex as our main erotic expression, our work is to honour this part of our lives to the fullest.
Beltane (for those who follow the Wiccan/Neopagan Wheel of the Year) is the festival most associated with sex and/or fertility, depending on your viewpoint. Here in the UK the blossoms on the trees are starting to bloom, the weather is (finally!) getting warmer and animals, humans included, are starting to feel the heat in more ways than one.
Yet, sexuality is dangerous. In modern times, we are acutely aware of sexually transmitted infections and the responsibility we need to take to stay sexually healthy. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that we are all as careful with our sexual health as we could be. Therefore, as part of your Beltane celebrations, I have a challenge for the wider Pagan communities.
In honour of Beltane and sex I would encourage you and your co-religionists to see a doctor or healthcare provider for a sexual health check up, if it is not already part of your normal healthcare routines.
If you are sexually active then this is an act of maturity and power. If you are enjoying your sexuality, it is your responsibility to yourself and partners to reduce the risk of infection. Yet, far from being a sterile act, it is infused with worship of the body as sacred.
Your check up can be ritualised beforehand with simple prayers and offerings to your Gods, and you can ritualise the results, either as comfort or celebration. Most pantheons have a deity associated with sexuality, so be creative.
While you are at the clinic, take an attitude of reverence and prayer. It takes courage to undergo a sexual health screening, and the rapid HIV test doesn't always feel very rapid. It is better to go with somebody that you trust should you need support.
So, go and get tested. Own your sexuality along with the responsibility that goes along with it. And please share this post!
There is not space to list all of the sexual health charities out there. In the UK I would recommend you go to your local GUM clinic (Dean Street in London is fantastic) and in the US I would recommend Planned Parenthood.