Masturbation: The Sacred Ritual Of Pre-Columbian Cosmology

April 4, 2017

|Alejandro López

Sex is as pleasurable as it is necessary for life. Before all those taboos about sexuality arrived with the Spanish conquest and were spread through Christianity, Pre-Columbian peoples understood sex as a natural part of humanity that couldn't be anything but sacred. The unique sensation of reaching climax, pleasure, and the magical ability to bear the successors that would carry your legacy generation after generation: everything surrounding the sexual act was shrouded with mysticism and sex itself was mystical.

Beyond simple penetration, the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas were fascinated by the idea of creation through sex, so the act was conceived as something magical. They believed that just like the fertilized seed that can give birth to a new plant, female and male reproductive organs carried an undecipherable enigma inside them. This life's mystery was always present in their cosmology.

masturbation sacred ritual cosmology
Rituals surrounding this matter opened the doors for a variety of sex practices, which didn't neglect pleasure in order to fulfill their main purpose. According to pre-Columbian duality, earth assumes a feminine role as vital principle. The seeds buried under the soil bear life inside them, just like women do, but to be able to germinate they need a vital liquid that nurtures and completes the gestation process. 

One passage from the creation of the world according to Aztec mythology involves the act of masturbation as a central element. Codex Magliabechiano, a sixteenth century manuscript, gives an account of how flowers and spring were born from the semen of Quetzalcoatl, the god creator. 

masturbation sacred ritual gods
Corporal fluids —like blood or semen— play an important part of the cycle of life. Earth needs to be watered to thrive, to provide abundance, food, crops, and resources. The Aztecs were convinced that fluids were beneficial elements to sustain life.

masturbation sacred ritual goddess
Various myths and traditions acknowledge how sexuality and masturbation were widespread practices in Latin-America before the Spanish conquest. In the southern regions of Mexico and Central America, the Maya people would carve wooden objects to masturbate with them. In addition to fulfill pleasure, these masturbating rituals were also a predominant custom in all of Central-America. Their meaning was similar to that of sexuality in Aztec cosmology.

masturbation sacred ritual toothed vagina

The mystical aspect of sex was a cardinal point of all pre-Columbian civilizations. Not only did it represent their deep relationship with nature, but it was also an element that maintained the natural order of everything. Sexuality, far from being a perversion or an offense against God, was
a way for humanity to honor life.

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Sources:

Navarrete Cáceres, Carlos "Acercamientos a la masturbación ritual en Mesoamérica", en Arqueología Mexicana, Vol. 18, Nº 104, 2010.

Dupey García, Élodie, "De pieles hediondas y perfumes florales. La reactualización del mito de la creación de las flores en las fiestas de las veintenas de los antiguos nahuas", en Estudios de cultura Náhuatl, UNAM, 2013.

Translated by Andrea Valle Gracia
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Alejandro López

Alejandro López


Editor de Historia y Ciencia
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