Mysticism, Kink, and the Terror of Transcendence

Last week’s article “Mysticism Is Like Sex” argued that self-transcendent experiences are comparable to sex in that they are both hardwired into the human body. They don’t necessarily need to be attached to religious beliefs to be enjoyed and experienced.

As I explored in the article, my fascination with altered states of consciousness started when I was young. I was raised in a Charismatic Christian family that regularly spoke in tongues, and this revealed to me that interesting states of mind were always just around the corner. This provoked a lot of feedback from my audience on my discord server, and a number of people shared their own experiences with speaking in tongues.

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Mysticism Is Like Sex

Mysticism is like sex. Let me explain.

I don’t believe in god or gods. I have no belief in an afterlife or supernatural beings. I’m not saying that they don’t exist. I’m open to being wrong. I just have an absence of belief in them. I’m what could be described as a “soft atheist”.

And yet, I also have a lifelong fascination with altered states of consciousness and the experience and practice of mystical self-transcendence. This fascination started when I was a child growing up in a charismatic family.

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On Not Believing in God But Experiencing Him Anyway

Last night before going to bed, I found myself praying the Evening Office from the Book of Common Prayer. I love the book of Common Prayer — I love the poetry and the guiding, inner choreography of the liturgy. As I prayed last night I felt that warmth, presence, and silent awe I’ve felt my whole life when I enter sacred spaces — many would call it the presence of God. Sometime, when praying, I find myself speaking in tongues, a torrent of syllables pouring from me unbidden. It feels warm in my mouth, and it feels like something outside of myself speaking through me. I also still attend church (when I can), and I experience the love and presence of an external, invisible force.

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