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 newlywed sex, 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 obscene, and therefore illegal to send through the mail. 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 suicide brought disgrace to the "Society for the Suppression of Vice," which disbanded not long afterward. Craddock had at least two lovers (the second one a married minister and karezza expert), taught sacred sex techniques for years. She also wrote a book providing historical context for her marriage with a disembodied entity named Soph (a deceased young man whom she had known as a child). Vist these pages written by her biographer for a fuller glimpse into her life.

She also wrote Psychic Wedlock. This latter paper outlines a three-degree system of mystical initiation through sexual techniques. It was written around 1895.

Although she advised containing semen and writes about the joys of sexual self-control on the part of the woman as well, she believed that orgasm was still part of the sacred sex picture for both sexes. Her misunderstanding on this point may be why she could not sustain an earthly relationship, and may have contributed to her possible instability. Her experience indirectly confirms the wisdom of using sexual power gently to mutually strengthen relationships rather than placing the emphasis on forcing sexual energy upward for its own sake. Craddock’s peer, Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham demonstrated a clearer understanding of safe sacred sex. (See also the beautiful work of another Karezza advocate, J. William Lloyd.)

Like tantra teacher Diana Richardson, Craddock points out the flow of erotic feelings from breast to genitals in women in The Wedding Night:

If you are patient and loverlike and gentlemanly and considerate and do not seek to unduly precipitate matters, you will find that Nature will herself arrange the affair for you most delicately and beautifully. If you will first thoroughly satisfy the primal passion of the woman, which is affectional and maternal (for the typical woman mothers the man she loves), and if you will kiss and caress her in a gentle, delicate and reverent way, especially at the throat and bosom, you will find that, little by little (perhaps not the first night nor the second night, but eventually, as she grows accustomed to the strangeness of the intimacy), you will, by reflex action from the bosom to the genitals, successfully arouse within her a vague desire for the entwining of the lower limbs, with ever closer and closer contact, until you melt into one another's embrace at the genitals in a perfectly natural and wholesome fashion; and you will then find her genitals so well lubricated with an emission from her glands of Bartholin, and, possibly, also from her vagina, that your gradual entrance can be effected not only without pain to her, but with a rapture so exquisite to her, that she will be more ready to invite your entrance upon a future occasion.

Despite the flaws in her work, Craddock emphasized the importance of a focus on the sacred in her work. Here are some of the more inspired excerpts from "Right Marital Living":

An impression prevails among both physicians and the laity, that to exercise the organs of the love function without also at least an abortive attempt on the man's part at exercising the parental function, will be prejudicial to his nervous system, and, consequently to his health. That is, that it is dangerous to suppress the ejaculation of semen during coition. This may be true, if the act of suppression be performed merely as a means for bodily, sensual enjoyment. It is not true, however, if the mentality (which, in its turn, as we all know, governs the nervous system) be kept in a state of serenity and exaltation, so that the inner spiritual forces may be brought into play....

I speak from the standpoint of a teacher of over six years' experience, when I insist to my pupils on the importance of aspiration to the highest during the marital embrace. Many a libertine stumbles upon this possibility of suppression of the orgasm, and, with it, the suppression of the ejaculation of semen, and practises it for awhile, only to find at last that he has wrought great harm to his nervous system, and has, possibly, also enlarged his prostate gland. But the libertine seeks mainly sensual gratification, and when he prolongs the act by suppression of the orgasm, it is with the thought of increased sensual, bodily pleasure distinctly in his mind. He would be the last person to think of praying to God at that moment, or seeking to enter into harmony with Nature, or trying to turn his thoughts, during sex union, resolutely toward the Ultimate Force or the Unconscious Energy of the universe. ...

An approach too little practised between husbands and wives--is the chastity of relation possible in a close embrace, in one another's arms, night after night, with accompanying kisses and caresses, but with no genital contact....In right marital living, the nude embrace comes to be respected more and more, and finally reverenced, as a pure and beautiful approach to the sacred moment when husband and wife shall melt into one another's genital embrace, so that the twain shall be one flesh, and then, as of old, God will walk with the twain in the garden of bliss "in the cool of the day," when the heat of ill-regulated passion is no more.

"The intense pleasure of the orgasm," says Albert Chavannes of Knoxville, Tennessee, a writer on psychological subjects, "is not, as it is usually supposed, due to the ejection of the semen. While they are coincident, it is quite possible for men to prevent, by the use of will-force, the emission of semen at the time of the orgasm.... The enjoyment of sexual intercourse is due to the generating of a current of sexual magnetism, created by a certain degree of affinity between the parties, and increased by friction.

When this current has become sufficiently strong, and a certain amount of magnetism has accumulated around the sexual organs, an overflow--orgasm--takes place, which, in obedience to inherited tendencies, sends a magnetic current to the testicles and causes a discharge of the seminal fluid. It is Nature's method to procure conception. "Magnetation is the application of the power which man possesses of controlling this overflow, preventing it from taking its usual course and causing the usual discharge, and compelling it to take another direction. That direction is the dissemination of the magnetism through the system of both the man and the woman, the woman assimilating the magnetism of the man and the man that of the woman. Magnetation requires for its successful practice self-control, affinity and union of purpose, but under right conditions it permits the full enjoyment of the overflow without the weakening influence of the emission.... Magnetation is the art of regulating the course taken by the overflow of sexual magnetism. Uncontrolled, it goes to the testicles and causes an emission. Controlled, it diffuses itself through the organism."

...For many, many centuries, men have been perverting the natural functions of their sexual organism, until that which is really the best way has come to seem impossible to the many, and unwise to the few who have learned that it is not impossible. I refer to the suppression of the ejaculation of the semen upon all occasions, except at the time when the creation of a child has been prepared for by both husband and wife....

Full text of "Right Marital Living"

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