Freud proposed the idea of a death drive or death instinct, and wrote of it as separate and altogether different from the sexual (Life) instinct. From the perspective of the Sexual Instinct within the context of its interaction with the Enneagram of Personality, it begins to make more sense to view these two (Sex & Death) as different sides of the same coin.
The trite image of Eros (Cupid) shooting an arrow through the heart (i.e.- instant death) is intuitively correct. The Sexual Instinct is elementally masochistic and self-divided. It’s as much a deathwish as it is wanting to push the envelope of creative exploration or erotic ecstasy or reveal our essence and merge with another. Creation by destruction.
Rightly, it’s actually two instincts in one…the opposite principles of Masculine and Feminine, impossibly existing within the same space, within the confines of one Instinct. Paradoxically, one and two forces at the same time. Part of the conundrum of sx – an aspect of its messiness – is precisely its eternal cusp-ness. The fact that it can never be defined as just-one or just-two gets at an essential aspect of the Instinct. Sp and soc make sense. Of the three Instincts, the mind has the most difficulty clasping onto a stable concept of the nature of this Instinct. With extreme prejudice, sx excludes logic from its unfair environs. It spews lukewarm pragmatism from its mouth. In contrast to the image of a benign Universe formed from and existing within an equal balance of Masculine and Feminine energies, the Sexual instinct — as holder of Masculine/Feminine — is perfectly unreasonable and chaotic.
Genital symbolism is unavoidable here. Stabbing the gash that bleeds. Female pleasure cries are those of a victim of violence. She’s the vocal one, the pain/pleasure victim. Taken/destroyed/pillaged. And then, upon male orgasm, the death phase of the man’s cycle. The Feminine ascends, energetically. La petite mort. Man falls asleep, Woman charges up. He’s formerly the aggressive hunter; now, it turns out, she ‘took’ him, covertly. Slipped off into the night with his ‘life’ / his reproductive energy. All this, a co-equal destruction cycle… Equality Of The Sexes, it’s been here all along.
Further… Breath would be the very first thing on Maslow’s hierarchy. Take away food and water, and you’ve got a couple days to live. Take away breath, and death comes quickly. The breath in sexuality? Heavy breathing. And the suspension of breath during orgasm, a universal reflex. And all the tantric breathing techniques…for higher highs in sex and merging.
Sex and Death always travel together. Looking at the astrological symbolism of Scorpio, it rules both the genitalia and Death. Halloween and the Day Of The Dead both happen during Scorpio’s influence. Watch the celebrations of death at that time of year…a deluge of sexuality on display in those costumes. In entertainment (TV/movies), death is a required potentiality; it excites/tantalizes the Sexual Instinct in us. Theater and drama practically demand the presence of Death, as a direct or indirect threat to the characters.
The archetypal progression for a newborn is sp —> sx —> so. This, again, puts sx in between or divided between feminine and masculine. It begins with Mother (sp) and moves to Father (so). Sp is symbolized by earth, the body, physical matter: Mother Earth…and the Latin mater, i.e.- mother. In the womb we share Mother’s body / her matter / she’s food and shelter.
Evolving… the Social instinct is rightly assigned a Masculine charge; the classical association of air and the sun with masculine/Apollonian principles. Going from in-utero connection to mother’s body (sp), to the ‘Sexual’ bond and attraction between mother and newborn…and as we move into Stage Three, Father has this odd impulse to throw the child up in the air, toward the sun. Aha, fresh air and sunlight…the elemental Social.
From absolute darkness (the womb)…to the half-light of the intimate shrouded (swaddled) world of mother & child, sucking on breasts in bedrooms with curtains drawn…to Father, the bridge to the sunlit World, expansion past the personal/the intimate. From the ‘lower’ earthbound sensual self-focus into His ‘taller’ thought, universal justice, lasting principles, development of intellect, communal support grids, pulling inspiration from ‘something higher’, from spirit (air). The special titillating exclusivity of the mother/child eye-bond (sx) moves into impersonal Principle and hard four-cornered structuralism, the greater good.
Fire & Water, the sx elements-
Fire is masculine, water feminine. Electricity and ice, their higher metamorphoses. Woman follows the moon and the tides (water). Moon and menses, same Latin root word. Fire follows the masculine upwardness motif; it reaches away from (Mother) Earth. Seeking peaks. Water leaks down to the lowest most base and intimate places. Her wetness.
Fire inspires; it’s the spark of interest. And fire requires air (again, Social/masculine). Metaphorical alchemy (psychological/spiritual alchemy) demands intense heat and the destruction of fire. The goal of alchemy — gold — is base metal transmogrified into a frozen flash of fire, the fixed shine of precious yellow metal. This is the shamanistic aspect of sx. Pushing the envelope of human limits. The red fire phoenix rising from the ashes…the ashes of death.
Water is the womb-pond where life forms, the sea foam where life-on-earth first crawled from. A sex-pool. You shower before you see your lover. And water courses through the human body conducting electricity throughout the nervous system — the voltage that keeps the brain/mind excited, keeps the nerves and synapses firing at the lips and fingertips and genitals. The same water that suddenly makes Her an ice queen.
Water, in classical symbolism, is the feminine world of Feeling and the Subconscious. Sx attraction magnetically pulls two peoples’ ‘waters’ into each other, mixing down below where we can’t see (inside a dark womb/tomb), fluids becoming indistinguishable from each other. When two water tributaries touch it’s impossible to go back and pull them apart again. A destruction of individuality. Drowning surrender. The death of you.