Spiritual Sex

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Sex & Sexuality

Imagine living in a culture where sex was sacred and not a sin! The cultures that honored the divine feminine, existing for over 30,000 years, knew that our sexuality was a positive expression of the life force. Sexuality and spirituality were never seen as separate in these cultures, and only became split during the patriarchal era. The ancient cultures understood that sexual pleasure was a wonderful way to connect with spirit and renew life, as well as to unite deeply with another.

The life force energy was perceived as a pulsing spiral. This spiral of energy moves up and down our bodies, through all the energy centers (called chakras in Sanskrit) in a continuous, pulsing current. In essence, we are plugged into a cosmic “electric outlet” through the energy center near the top the head. Continuing the analogy to electricity, our bodies cannot function well if energy is not grounded firmly in the energy center near the base of the spine. The concept that we are more than mere physical bodies may be difficult to accept at first, but we are, in fact, an organized combination of several energy systems surrounding a unifying field. If we could perceive the subtle energy around us, each of us would look somewhat like a “luminous egg.”

There are transcendental sexual experiences that produce a sense of merging with this source of energy, losing physical boundaries at the moment of orgasm. This is often described as “being in the moment of boundless bliss”. Many ancient and modern visionary experiences have been described as feelings of being “bathed in pure light.” This is cosmic orgasm, the direct experience of the self as pure energy, in union with a divine source.

Developing conscious rituals and meditation techniques can sometimes allow you to be more open to such transcendent experiences. Although you do not have to spend years in training to experience spontaneous, spiritual sex, it may be necessary to be receptive to the possibility of connecting higher states of awareness with peak sexual experiences.

Many of you are intuitively aware of the link between spirituality and sexuality through direct experience. One woman, whom I’ll call Carrie, related the following:

At the moment of orgasm, I knew that I was held within a great, golden light, and experienced myself as transparent, luminous energy. I saw seven swirling star-like points lined up in my body. I did not know about the chakras at the time but later discovered that was what I had seen. My energy centers looked like radiant golden lights in my body.

What Carrie had visualized was life force, freely flowing through all seven energy centers, which were illuminated and energized by her orgasm. Many people who become interested in spiritual sex have had initial spontaneous ecstatic experiences such as Carrie’s.

Listen to Your Body

Three Levels of Sexual Energy

It is helpful to understand that three different levels of sexual energy are possible:

  • Genital Pleasuring
  • Conscious Loving
  • Spiritual Union

Each level is sex-positive and life affirming and has a value in healing. Each type of sexual energy can heal at the physical, relational or cosmic level. They are not sharply delineated from one another, but rather lie on a continuum of energy generated and energy received, activating various energy centers in the body. They differ from each other in the purpose and meaning attributed to the sexual interaction.

Genital pleasuring refers to the energy level generated, not the particular physical activity. The feminine way of genital pleasuring, especially, attends to an unfolding of the sensual process rather than a race toward orgasm. The energy received through genital pleasuring is manifested in physical sensations of intense pleasure. Orgasm at the level of genital pleasuring is a release of tension. Healing at this level of sexual energy is directed toward physical functions. For example, orgasm benefits the immune system, and also promotes relaxation and a sense of well being. The purpose is recreation: to play, enjoy the moment and relax in the pleasures of physical stimulation. It is mutually beneficial, consensual pleasure.

Conscious Loving generates intense, loving feelings for the partner. The “valley orgasm,” as it is called in the Tantric tradition, goes beyond the release of tension in genital orgasm. It requires practice in relaxing into sexual feelings and pacing the build-up of tension in order to prevent sudden dissipation of sexual energy. The energy received is divine love. The heart chakra rather than the genital chakra becomes the focal point. The practice of conscious loving generates energy from the heart. The meaning of this level of sexual energy is connection, reinforcing commitment in a long-term relationship. The healing comes from loving communion, enhancing the bond with the partner. Conscious loving facilitates balancing male-female energy in the relationship, which is very effective for maintaining harmony between partners.

The energy generated by the Spiritual Union level of sexuality is ecstasy. The meaning of Spiritual Union is enhanced awareness, inspiration and merging with the Life Force. The purpose for sexuality at this level is to unite with the Source. The energy received at this level is inspiration/illumination that can be translated into divine guidance or simply experienced as pure bliss. Cosmic orgasm is a completely unique experience because it is multi-dimensional, and has an infinite variety of patterns. Genital Pleasuring and Conscious Loving are not separate from this experience, but incorporated as an integral part of it.

If you choose to practice spiritual sex with a partner, you will need to communicate clearly with one another about your expectations. It is important to recognize that your experiences of transcendence will be unique from your partner’s; however, it is very helpful to feel a conscious bond with your partner.

Spiritual and Holistic Options

Sexually, the heart is a source of healing for the self and one’s partner. The shift from personal attachment desire into selfless love for another is facilitated through communion with the partner. Whereas personal desire generates sexual attachment—the feeling of “this one is mine”—loving communion extends beyond personal attachment. The partner is no longer perceived as “mine,” but as a beloved gift of the Divine.

To cultivate this perception, you will need to foster the psychological mindset of healing and mutual empowerment in a setting that honors the other as divine God/Goddess. It may help to use the following exercise to connect deeply with the divine essence of your partner.

Heart Exercise

In order to experience the dual generation and reception of loving energy from the heart with a partner, begin by sitting face-to-face with one another. Each partner should place one hand over the other’s heart and look into the other’s eyes. Feel the heat of your partner’s hand on your own heart and imagine the warmth of a small sun emanating from your heart toward your partner. Visualize this as divine love and imagine it as a beautiful color. If you need to do so, close your eyes at this point, in order to focus on the inner sensation of warmth in the area of your heart and to visualize its color. Now imagine this warmth radiating from the center of your heart like the rays of the sun, enveloping your partner as well as yourself in a warm, liquid, colorful light. Stay with this visualization as it changes or moves, and breathe deeply. Continue to be aware of this energy from your heart center for a few moments longer. Then, when you are ready to open your eyes, look into your partner’s eyes and share with your partner some of the loving feelings you have experienced.

Learn More — Additional Resources

  • Linda E Savage, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, and sex therapist who has been exploring the mysteries of sexual healing for over 25 years. Dr. Savage is the author of Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality: The Power of the Feminine Way, which presents a view of women’s sexuality that blends the ancient wisdom of the Goddess cultures with current clinical knowledge. She is an AASECT Certified Sex Educator (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology, and a member of the Institute of Marital and Sexual Therapy.
Last Updated: October 11, 2006

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. s
    4 years ago

    Hi Dr. Northrup, I remembered vaguely about one topic that you’ve mentioned something about sexual entanglement that the energy will linger on for 2 years for a woman but 2 month for a man after the break up. Could you please provide me the source for this one? Thank you so much.

  2. John Beck
    4 years ago

    Dr. Northrup,

    My wife is at the beginning of a spiritual awakening and she is interested in exploring and understanding her sexuality.

    I am the type of person that always seeks the help of a specialist when taking on new challenges, so after reading your site, was wondering if you would do some online consulting with her.

    She is a wonderful person and I love her with my whole heart, so if I can help her in any way move past some repressed issues, I am happy to spend some money to do so.

    Please let me know if you are willing to give this a try, and if not, if you can recommend someone who does. It will not be a huge commitment, but your guidance will make a huge difference, I am sure!

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