I spent the month of June engaging in a fast. While it seems that the most popular fasts to undertake right now involve various foodstuffs, from the Master Cleanse to the current juice fast, the fast I undertook was one of celibacy. It seems that this type of asceticism is somewhat uncommon for most people living in the West, or even for many people in alternative spirituality, with its focus on sacred sexuality, sex magic and “tantra.”
Part of my reason for going on this fast was out of devotion. While maintaining my abstinence I was engaged in daily devotion to my patron, Artemis/Diana. While contemplating how to perform this devotion in May, and making a list of tasks to undertake, I was immediately struck by the inspiration of being celibate; completely celibate with no sexual activity of any kind including personal. This makes sense in regards to devotions to Artemis who is well documented as having foresworn such behavior as well, and many devotees of hers who have also done the same. While their vows were forever, I don’t think I am ready or desiring to make that kind of commitment, so I foreswore it only for that 30 day period.
The first week was the most difficult. What made it hard was the changing of behavior patterns that I had followed for quite some time, namely being a responsible sexually active homophilic male who seeks out sexual relations with other homophilic males. Putting a stop the behaviors that made such relations possible was the most difficult part, as it is so available and present. Once that week had passed, it became easier, but that is when other things started to rise up into my awareness.
One of the realization was about the contention of will within me. On one hand there was the very strong desire for this kind of activity. One the other hand there was the desire to commit to my devotional vow for the time period indicated and not break it. Both of these drives were operating at the same time, and there were times when the conflict between them was quite intense inside me. I did not break my celibacy fortunately and I feel stronger for it though.
The other things I noticed is how amazed people were, especially other gay men. It was a regular statement that I heard from them, “I couldn’t do that” especially after I made it clear that I was not engaging in masturbation either. At least among the gay men that I know of, this kind of asceticism is unheard of. Many of them were also looking forward what I would be like once July began and the period of celibacy had come to an end. I felt that part of my celibacy period is not planning ahead of sexual activity, so while the temptation to do just that was strong, I also avoided dwelling in the future of that occurring, because it would distract me from the devotions I was doing at that time, and I also felt it was dishonest to do so.
The third realization that came about towards the last week was a feeling of purity that had settled upon me. I just felt clear, cleaned out, and more rooted in my self then before, although I don’t think that phrase really explains it clearly or does the feeling justice. There was a peace and calm that had settled into my being, and now as I think about it is still there. While I have thoroughly broken the fast, the benefits I feel from it had not departed from me, and I feel equally calm and reposed whether I am engaging in behavior to seek it sexual relations or not.
There are other beings that I would like to perform devotions to, and engage in. There are also other fasts that I would like to practice at some point, but for right now, I think I am satisfied with what I have achieved with this fast.