Like any other sexual minority, people who have experienced “sex with a spirit” and/or who seek or have ongoing intimate relationships with one or more non-corporeal beings, should be treated with the same respect, acceptance, and professional ethics as anyone else in the LGBTQIA++ categories. Whether or not you yourself believe in paranormal incidents or unseen spirits is irrelevant. You are not required to believe in or police these forms of relationships any more than you are allowed to dictate another person’s religion or clothing choices.
Desire, sexual expression, and sexual preferences are subjective and individual. However, the people who have experienced sudden erotic “sleep paralysis” incidents– often accompanied by the sense of an unknown “presence”– or who find themselves actively courted by a ghost or a deity, are not likely to find much understanding among friends, relatives, church communities, or even mental health professionals unless they live in a culture or community which has a history of accepting such encounters and relationships.
Yet numerous cultures, religions, and spiritual traditions–throughout history–are steeped in considerations, intentional practices, and anecdotal accounts of non-corporeal eroticism. Various forms of human/spirit intimacy have been written about or studied by historians (especially medievalists), anthropologists, religious studies scholars, archealogists, psychologists, folklorists, etc. In some eras and in some parts of the world, certain types of human/spirit intimacy have been legally protected or religiously sanctioned (e.g. Christian nuns and monks, both considered “Brides of Christ”). In other times and other parts of the world, erotic human/spirit contact has been punishable by torture or death (e.g. Christian persecution of witches who confessed to “having sex with the devil” or lesser demons).
In publishing, paranormal romances are hugely popular. Movies and television are full of human love affairs with a variety of paranormal beings and spirits, including vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, angels, nine-tailed foxes, demons, devils, genies (djinn), and a variety of deities. Women who’ve married ghosts appear on daytime television. Peer-reviewed scientific journals contain accounts of widowed people engaging in two-way communication with dead spouses. Contemporary witches, magicians, (and YouTube wannabes) offer advice for summoning sexy spirits. Lokean god-spouses are out, loud, and proud, and number in the thousands on social media. Psychologists investigate sleep paralysis, a phenomena that often features the sensation of an unseen or barely seen attacker (or lover). Meanwhile, one of the most powerful religions in the world ignores the fact that it wouldn’t exist without a procreative sex act between a spirit and a human woman… and sexologists and sex therapists aren’t paying any attention to this topic at all.
Spirtu-intimacy is an umbrella term. Spiritu-intimacy may range from unwanted, non-consensual erotic sleep paralysis incidents all the way to deliberately sought and cultivated long-term spirit marriages. Spiritu-intimacy may be monogamous or not; gendered or not; involve same sex or different sex contact; and it may be experienced in dreams, meditation, or when wide awake in either a ritual or casual context. Spiritu-intimacy may involve senses of touch, including the use of sex toys, or it may be entirely a matter of subtle-body energies and no-touch orgasm.
Some people may identify as spectrosexuals. Others may not. For some people, attraction to spirits is a fetish (spectrophilia). For others, spirit intimacy is a deeply felt, multi-faceted desire for one or more such beings, and they seek such relationships due to their profound spiritual and transformative potential.
Sadly, many people who find themselves in any kind of spectrosexual encounter or situation may feel confused, worried about their sanity or social stigma, and may have trouble navigating their spirit and human intimate relationships.
While the scientifically detectable “realness” of non-corporeal or conditionally corporeal beings doesn’t concern me much, what does concern me is real need that human participants have for positive, nonjudgmental, social, mental, spiritual, and sexual health support.
I appeal to my fellow sexologists, sexuality counselors, sex educators, and sex therapists to become culturally competant in this area as quickly as possible, implementing all the ethical standards for clinical practice that would be extended to any other sexual or gender minority or majority.