Ink on paper, reddish symbols that look kind of like writing. Own work. 2023.

Sex magic for the masses

In which we start at No Nut November and arrive at orgone

by AK Krajewska

Content warning: Frank discussion of sex, masturbation, and bodily fluids. Possibly something of an info hazard. No graphic images.

With the start of November, I want to touch on a seasonal topic. No, not NaNoWriMo, Movember, or International Men's Day[1]. I want to talk about a much sillier seasonal topic, No Nut November. No Nut November is a joke holiday that became a real holiday--though maybe holiday isn't quite the right word--wherein during the month of November men voluntarily abstain from ejaculating. Why the hell would anyone do that? What is it supposed to accomplish? Two words: sex magic.

I'm serious. No Nut November is just half-cocked sex magic.

Our precious bodily fluids

If you read the accounts of people who seriously undertake, or purport to seriously undertake, No Nut November (NNN), you'll find recurring themes of becoming more powerful, not just physically stronger, but interpersonally magnetic, not simply developing a stronger will, but actually developing the ability to enact one's will at a distance simply by willing things, to think and grow rich, or whatever else you may wish, by the power of thought and will alone. Unless you've spent a lot of time investigating the history sex magic, you might wonder how the hell that's supposed to work.

The putative mechanism of action is based on old-timey ideas about the magical force in semen. The idea is that semen contains life force and/or magical power, and that when one ejaculates, one gives up a portion of that vital power. And so, it naturally follows, that if one never ejaculates one stores up the magical power and can use it to accomplish magical feats. I can see how a person might come to the conclusion that that's how sex works. It's even in Dr. Strangelove:

Gen. Ripper: I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love. Yes, a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake. But I do deny them my essence. - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) (Quote edited lightly for brevity)

Since I first gave thought to NNN, people seem to have become less uncomfortable about admitting straight up that they practice sex magic instead of dancing around it by making up pseudo-scientific explanations. If you want an uncritical insider view of the theory of semen retention and its history, read the article The Power of Semen Retention: Napoleon Hill’s Secret to Tapping into Your Inner Genius.[2] Interestingly it calls out Think and Grow Rich, a weird-ass self-help book from 1937 which self-improvement types rediscover periodically. It's in the same vein as others of the genre, mixing basic-baby good advice and some over-the-top claims about how you can get everything you ever wanted if you only follow its advice. And then at some point after you've gotten comfortable with this How to Win Friends and Influence People imitator, the sex magic starts.

I say you and here I do mean you. I specifically read Think and Grow Rich it because someone told me it had weird sex magic. The sex magic was not that weird, actually, but it was weird that it was in the middle of an otherwise quotidian book about trying to make money and using the power of positive thinking.

The homunculi in spermatozoa

I think the theory that ejaculation saps your magical power is also related to the ancient model of spermatozoon as homunculus. That is, that every sperm is actually a tiny human, and upon fertilization, the womb only receives it, like soil a seed. Following this model, all the living vitality of the fetus comes from the sperm/homunculus. The womb, and the woman (because in this model of the world there is a total equivalence between having a womb and being a woman) are completely passive.

The persistent idea that every sperm is a tiny human is why Aleister Crowley talked about masturbating during magical rituals as "human sacrifice." I don't know what was more scandalous to people: that he talked about human sacrifice or that he was (fairly) open about masturbating. I suspect O. A. Spare's method of empowering magical sigils by masturbating is along the same lines but more about the vital living energy than sacrificing tiny people.

Free your libidinal inhibitions, free orgone

Spare's library of sticky sigils and cum jars naturally leads one (OK, leads me) to think about Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY). TOPY's central magical practice was similar to Spare's but rather than directing the magical energy of orgasm and its effluvia onto some non-sex goal, it was all about freeing yourself of your sexual inhibitions to develop your full power. This is too gross and funny not to describe, so here's how it was supposed to work. Members were to think about their most intense and taboo sexual desires and write them down. Then, they were to masturbate to orgasm while thinking about it and smear their sexual fluid (called "ov" in TOPY lingo) on the paper and stick three public hairs to the paper with the "ov." Finally, they were to mail the paper with their sexual fantasy and the "ov" and the three public hairs to TOPY headquarters. I know you might think I'm making this up. I am not making it up. (I wonder if the mailing gross stuff idea was related to the mail art movement.)

Think what you will about mailing sticky letters to your favorite musicians[3] ("no thanks"), you'll notice it's a very different approach to sex and sex magic than everything I've discussed so far. First, "ov" is gender neutral. Whatever fluid comes out of your body around the time when you have an orgasm, that's the magical fluid as far as TOPY was concerned. Even more interesting is the idea that breaking down sexual inhibitions and having orgasms will release the barriers on your natural libidinal life force and increase your power and vitality.

Because of that, TOPY's central practice and its underlying theory feels more connected to Wilhelm Reich's ideas about orgone energy than the traditions of cultivating magical power through abstinence. In brief, Reich was an early 20th century psychoanalyst who developed the theory that there was a tangible life energy, which he called orgone, and it was connected strongly to libido and orgasm. Orgone theory is too complicated and weird for me to get into, but it's enough to say that in Reich's view, removing sexual inhibitions and having regular orgasms was crucial to having plenty of orgone, and thus plenty of vital life energy that would keep you emotionally and physically healthy (and perhaps much more).

In both TOPY's and Reich's approaches, notions of scarcity and retention aren't important, and instead the key idea is that by unblocking sexual inhibitions we access immense creative power.

Two views of vitality

So we have two modes of magico-sexual vitality. One posits vitality as a scarce resource that needs to be preserved and accumulated. The other that sexual vitality is blocked by inhibitions and traumas, which when resolved open a field of immense abundance, bringing both sexual joy and magical power.

I'm much more sympathetic to the abundant cornucopia view of sexual vitality.[4] I think it's more of a flow than something you can hoard.

If you want my opinion, I think that if you want to increase your magical sexual vitality, No Nut November could work, but so might the TOPY method of exploring your real desires in fantasy and breaking the barriers of shame and inhibition that hold back your abundant vital force. Whatever you choose, I would suggest against sending sticky letters through the post.

[1] International Men's Day is on November 19 and is "a global awareness day for many issues that men face, including parental alienation, abuse, homelessness, suicide, and violence." Wikipedia: International Men's Day

[2] I swear I've read it previously as a Medium article by a different author, but it's gone now and Medium's weird login wall has prevented it from being archived by the Internet Wayback machine.

[3] Maybe not your favorite musicians, but members of Coil belonged to TOPY and Coil was one of my favorite bands of all time. They were quite creative so maybe the magic worked.

[4] It doesn't hurt the argument that Reich was an anti-fascist and TOPY were a bunch of sex and gender rebels, whereas the modern NNN practices tend to be embraced by right-wing weirdos who like fascist aesthetics.