Let me begin by acknowledging the fact that sexuality is a controversial topic. Language that I may find amusing you may find ‘coarse’ or rude, practices I find normal you might consider disgusting, or taboo. That said, I found Rites of Pleasure to be a delight to read. It is incredibly well-written, well-organized and easy to read. The material both deep and fun, covering the broad nuances of sex as practiced within the diverse Pagan community. Sensitive material is discussed candidly without being titillating (at least, not for the sake of sales or sensationalism). I felt like I was having a cup of tea (or maybe wine) with a dear girlfriend as we discussed our sex lives, and that of our good friends and neighbors.

As with her first book, 21st Century Wicca, Ms. Hunter chose a varied group of contributors, all of whom come across to the reader as intelligent, well spoken and educated. I am personally not very good at thinking about my sexuality in terms of my spirituality, but after reading this book I have begun to blend the two. Despite the openness of the conversation, we are reminded of important concepts, like "sexuality can be powerfully positive" and "safety and consensuality are required.” The repetition of the reminders was never overwhelming or misplaced.

This is not a book of technical tips on Tantra (see Anand’s Art of Sexual Magic for that), how-to host a ‘hot’ Great Rite, fantasy material about orgies, or advice on how to get laid at the next Gathering. It is instead a frank and detailed exploration of the role of sexuality for Pagans, both within circle and outside it, and how Pagan philosophy and attitudes affect the rest of our sensual lives. Ms. Hunter takes the time to explore some concepts which are not Pagan per se, but which are core parts of the lives of some Pagans, including homosexuality, non-standard gender identities, polyamory, and BDSM. As an optimistic, life-loving kaleidoscope of ideas and personal stories I found Rites of Pleasure to be an enlightening look into the diversity of the larger community.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  Jennifer Hunter

Citadel Press, 2004

pp. 240, $12.95