Secular Traditions

Secular writings containing insights related to sexual alchemy, such as "Karezza," "Male Continence," "Sex, Perfection & Marriage," "The Kreutzer Sonata," and so forth

Male Continence - History (Part II)

Part II - History

Male Continence

To those who regard the principle of Male Continence as a valuable addition to science, it will be interesting to learn how it was discovered; and the misrepresentations on this point which have been put in circulation by Hepworth Dixon and others make it proper and even necessary that the true story of the discovery should be put on record. I tell that story in few words thus:

I was married in 1838, and lived in the usual routine of matrimony till 1846. It was during this period of eight years that I studied the subject of sexual intercourse in connection with my matrimonial experience, and discovered the principle of Male Continence. And the discovery was occasioned and even forced upon me by very sorrowful experience. In the course of six years my wife went through the agonies of five births. Four of them were premature. Only one child lived. This experience was what directed my studies and kept me studying. After our last disappointment, I pledged my word to my wife that I would never again expose her to such fruitless suffering. I made up my mind to live apart from her, rather than break this promise. This was the situation in the summer of 1844. At that time I conceived the idea that the sexual organs have a social function which is distinct from the propagative function; and that these functions may be separated practically. I experimented on this idea, and found that the self-control which it requires is not difficult; also that my enjoyment was increased; also that my wife's experience was very satisfactory, as it had never been before; also that we had escaped the horrors and the fear of involuntary propagation. This was a great deliverance. It made a happy household. I communicated my discovery to a friend. His experience and that of his household were the same. In the course of the next two years I studied all the essential details and bearings of the discovery. In 1846 we commenced Community life at Putney, Vt. In 1848, soon after our removal to Oneida, I published the new theory in a pamphlet which passed through several editions, but is now out of print. This is the only true account of my discovery of Male Continence.

Male Continence - Introduction (Part I)

Title Page

Male Continence








Part I - Background

THE Oneida Community has long been receiving almost daily letters of inquiry respecting its method of controlling propagation. Many of these letters evidently come from intelligent and respectable persons. We will give a few recent specimens. Here is one from an English clergyman:

Male Continence

John Humphrey NoyesMale Continence is a pamphlet by John Humphrey Noyes, a graduate of Yale Divinity School. It was published in 1872. Ignorant of sexual tantra (no translations were available in the West in his day), Noyes independently discovered the possibility and benefits of making love without ejaculation. In this pamphlet he eloquently defends his discovery.

Positive Sex

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giving adviceI told a psychologist friend about your book when he said he had two clients struggling with masturbation addictions. He replied that he favors "sex positive" thinking. I told him, "you can favor it all you want and nobody wants to go back to the days of shame, but is that black-and-white thinking going to help your clients?"

The psychologist obviously meant that he favors "orgasm positive" thinking. He would prefer a solution for his clients that assures them that orgasm itself isn’t contributing to their distress. Unfortunately, if an approach is not "for" orgasm, it is branded "against" sex.

The ancient Chinese Taoists, who recommended therapeutic solo cultivation of sexual energy and hours of non-orgasmic sex in different positions to cure diseases, would find this label mystifying. In our culture, however, favoring sex without heartily touting orgasm can make people uncomfortable. Perhaps this is because we are still in reaction against religious doctrines that equate lust with sin.

Healing the notion of "sex as sin"

Before we look at some pitfalls in the current definition of "sex positive," let’s step into the past and consider the conclusions of two passionate idealists from over 100 years ago, both of whom noticed that lust caused problems. The first, an American named John Humphrey Noyes, stumbled upon the benefits of making love without ejaculation after his wife suffered through 5 births in six years. The second, Russian Count Lev Nikolayevich (Leo) Tolstoy, never did. As the result of his discovery - and despite his background as a theology student - Noyes figured out that the "sinfulness" of sex was manmade - the result of entirely avoidable post-orgasmic bad feelings. Tolstoy went to his grave feeling humiliated by his sinful, lustful behavior…and preaching his guilt-ridden message to others via his work.

Wrote Noyes in 1870 in a pamphlet entitled Male Continence :

NoyesOrdinary sexual intercourse…is a momentary affair, terminating in exhaustion and disgust. If it begins in the spirit, it soon ends in the flesh; i.e., the amative, which is spiritual, is drowned in the propagative, which is sensual. The exhaustion which follows naturally breeds self-reproach and shame, and this leads to dislike and concealment of the sexual organs, which contract disagreeable associations from the fact that they are the instruments of pernicious excess. This undoubtedly is the philosophy of the origin of shame after the fall. Adam and Eve first sunk the spiritual in the sensual….by pushing prematurely beyond the amative to the propagative, and so became ashamed, and began to look with an evil eye on the instruments of their folly.

Craddock's "Right Marital Living"

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For those who enjoy historical tidbits about others who wrestled with how to channel their sexual energy upward, "Right Marital Living" is a colorful piece with an aura of tragedy. Its author, Ida Craddock, was a Philadelphian born in 1857, heavily influenced by Theosophical Society works and other mystical writings, some of which were just appearing from the Far East in translation.

Her essays on sacred sexuality and natural birth control drew fire from a man named Anthony Comstock and his self-appointed "Society for the Suppression of Vice," who had her writings declared pornographic. She was arrested twice. In 1902, on the day she was to be sentenced the second time, she committed suicide leaving behind an outraged letter to the public. Her death brought disgrace to the "Society for the Suppression of Vice," which disbanded not long afterward.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 129

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by William Shakespeare

Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and, till action, lust
aftermath of sexIs perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;

Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Man & Woman

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by Victor Hugo

French flagEn francais

'Amore' paintingMan is the most elevated of creatures,
Woman the most sublime of ideals.
God made for man a throne; for woman an altar.
The throne exalts, the altar sanctifies.
Man is the brain,
Woman, the heart.
The brain creates light, the heart, love.
Light engenders, love resurrects.

Barry Long - Making Love: Sexual Love the Divine Way

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Excerpts from Making Love

by Barry Long [1]

The cause of most of the unhappiness on Making Love coverearth is that man and woman have actually forgotten how to make physical love. This is the greatest tragedy of all time. The forgetfulness has been going on and slowly getting worse for so many thousands of years that it’s now a tragedy for the whole of mankind. There can be no mass solutions. The problem is too personal and too deep. Everybody has to do it for himself or herself, or it can’t be done.