Desire for Spirit Intimacy as a Sexual and Relational Orientation

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, ”The Ghost of Seigen”, March 1889. From the ”Thirty-six Ghosts” series. The print depicts the beautiful courtesan Sakurahime haunted by a ghost at the Seigen shrine. Public Domain.

Romantic and erotic intimacy with deities, spirits, ancestors, and other spirits is probably as old as humanity itself.

You may find mention of such relationships and incidents in many historical epochs, and in ancient and contemporary cultures all over the world. Accounts and considerations of intimate human/spirit relationships may be found in folklore, religious and spiritual traditions and studies, psychology (including sleep studies), anthropology, Western estoteric tradtions and contemporary paganism, legal systems, and more. But where you don’t find this consideration or acknowledgment is in the contemporary study of human sexuality.

This is an oversight that needs to be corrected.

Human/spirit intimacy can include emotional, romantic and/or erotic connection (as with a deceased spouse or lover); passionate devotional practices with a deity (found in many world religions); “god-spousing” also known as “spirit marriage;” and spontaneous incidents that may feel non-consensual and frightening or which may be welcomed and transcendent. Some people even seek “hook-ups” with non-corporeal beings, obtained through sex magick practices. All of these are part of the spectrum of human/spirit intimacy, and while some may be more beneficially enacted than others, all are worth understanding in spiritual, cultural, and sexological contexts, without privileging some kinds of relationships over others, beyond issues of consent.

NEW! LISTEN TO: Rose, Megan; Caroline Kenner; Monica Moody; and Orion Foxwood. Spectrosexuality–When a Spirit is Your Spouse. Audacious with Chion Wolf, PBS. April 2, 2022.

Related Website for Helping Professionals and Academics

Our related website, “God-Spousery, Spectrosexuality, and Spiritu-Intimacy,” is “a sexological exploration of intimate human-spirit relationships as representing forms of sexual orientations and behaviors deserving of recognition, understanding, and acceptance” and is designed primarily as a resource for helping professionals and academics, including specialists in human sexual behavior. This website contains an extensive and growing bibliography drawn from many fields of study, as well as contemporary accounts and pop culture references.

This Spectrosexuality website is designed to be supportive for “the general public,” such as:

  • People who have had spontaneous experiences that feel like “spirit sex,” such as “sleep paralysis” (sometimes confused with “night terrors”), “incubus/succubus” experiences (linked with sleep paralysis), or incidents while awake.
  • People who are willingly engaged in–or who seek–some form of human/spirit contact with an erotic component.
  • People who desire intimate and erotic contact with spirits, without having a grounding in any particular religious for spiritual traditions or an emphasis on spiritual aspects.
  • “God spouses” and those involved in spirit marriages with other types of beings.
  • People who may want to identify as a “spectrosexual” as a primary or secondary sexual and/or romantic orientation.
  • And more.

Human/spirit intimacies can reflect or incorporate human concepts such as genders, polyamory, monogamy, queer relationships, asexuality, kink, and so on. They are certainly highly individual experiences and may also reflect or amplify issues in human to human intimacies. People with spirit partners often have human partners as well, though not always.

It is often quite difficult to tell friends, family members, and even therapists about these relationships, as they are often pathologized in Western industrial societies. In other cultures, such relationships may be common, accepted, welcomed, and even guided and valued as purposeful and useful to the community.

“Romantic Encounter” 1864. Mihaly Zichy (b. 1827). Public domain.