Sex magic (sometimes spelled sex magick) is any type of sexual activity used in magical, ritualistic or otherwise religious and spiritual pursuits. One practice of sex magic is using sexual arousal or orgasm with visualization of a desired result. A premise posited by sex magicians is the concept that sexual energy is a potent force that can be harnessed to transcend one's normally perceived reality.
In the 17th century, Catherine Monvoisin and the priest Étienne Guibourg performed Black Masses for Madame de Montespan, the mistress of King Louis XIV of France. Since a criminal investigation—L'affaire des poisons ("Affair of the Poisons")—was launched and testimony from those involved revealed the details of this Mass.
At this time, the Black Mass was a typical Roman Catholic Mass, but modified according to certain formulas (some reminiscent of the Sworn Book of Honorius, or its French version, Grimoire of Pope Honorius). The priest utilized a woman as the central altar of worship, lying naked upon the altar with the chalice on her stomach, and holding a candle in each of her outstretched arms. The Host was consecrated in her vagina, and then used in love potions designed to gain the love of the King. To seal the power of the Mass, the priest had sex with the woman serving as the altar at the end of the ritual.
The earliest known practical teachings of sex magic in the Western world comes from 19th-century American occultist, Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875). The son of a wealthy Virginian father and a slave mother, he was a well-known spiritualist who was greatly influenced by the work of English Rosicrucian and scholar of phallicism, Hargrave Jennings.
Randolph developed one of the most influential systems of sex magic. As per him, the moment when one reaches orgasm is the most intense and the most powerful experience a human can have in life, for in that moment the soul suddenly opens to the divine realm and the breath of God is infused. He said, "True sex-power is God-power." As such, the power of orgasm can be used by a man and woman for various gains, both worldly and spiritual.
Randolph insisted that for the magic to be effective and prayers be fulfilled, both the partners involved in should achieve orgasm at the same moment. His teachings were later passed on to numerous secret societies in Europe, the most notable being Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O founded by Carl Kellner and Theodor Reuss.
In the latter part of the 19th century, sexual reformer Ida Craddock (1857-1902) published several works dealing with sacred sexuality, most notably Heavenly Bridegrooms and Psychic Wedlock. Aleister Crowley considered these teachings extremely important and incorporated them into his own Thelema magical system. He once said of Heavenly Bridegrooms, "This book is of incalculable value to every student of occult matters. No Magick library is complete without it."
Crowley believed sexual energy was the central force of humanity and wrote extensively on the topic of sex magick. Some of these works were published and made available to the general public, others were secret and could only be obtained by initiates of Ordo Templi Orientis.
Maria de Naglowska (1883–1936) was a Russian occultist, mystic, author and journalist who wrote and taught about sexual magical ritual practices while also being linked with the Parisian surrealist movement. She established and led an occult society known as the Confrérie de la Flèche d'or (Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow) in Paris from 1932 to 1935. She also published La Lumière du sexe (The Light of Sex), a mystic treatise and guide to sexual ritual that was required reading for those seeking to be initiated into the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow. Her later book on advanced sexual magic practices, Le Mystère de la pendaison (The Hanging Mystery) details her advanced teachings on the Third Term of the Trinity and the spiritually transformative power of sex, and the practice of erotic ritual hanging and other sensory deprivation practices.