It is my hope that in this work I shall be able to give the world a plain, practical little guidebook to what I consider the most important sexual discovery and practice in all human history.
WHAT IS KAREZZA?
Karezza is controlled non-seminal intercourse. The word Karezza (pronounced Ka-ret-za) is from the Italian and means a caress. Alice B. Stockham, M.D., was the first one who applied it as the distinctive name of the art and method of sexual relations without orgasmal conclusion. But the art and method itself was discovered in 1844 by John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the Oneida Community, by experiences and experiments in his own marital life. He called it Male Continence. Afterwards George N. Miller, a member of the Community, gave it the name of Zugassent’s Discovery in a work of fiction, The Strike of a Sex. There are objections to both these names. Zugassent was not a real person, therefore did not discover it. It was Noyes’ Discovery, in fact. Continence, as Dr. Stockham points out, has come to mean abstinence from all intercourse. The Oneida Communists do not appear to have opposed the female orgasm, therefore it was well enough for them to name it Male Continence, but Dr. Stockham and I agree that in the highest form and best expression of the art neither man nor, woman has or desires to have the orgasm, therefore it is no more male than female continence. And a single-word name is always more convenient than a compound. For which reasons I have accepted Dr. Stockham’s musical term, which is besides, beautifully suggestive and descriptive. Another writer on this art (I first heard of it through him; he deriving it from Noyes) was Albert Chavannes, who in a little book on it, called it Magnetation, a name which I coined for him. It is perhaps not a bad name; but I now think Karezza better.
Noyes’ honor to the discovery has been disputed. Others, it is asserted, discovered it before him or independently since. 1 It is necessary to contest this. Various Europeans and Asiatics probably discovered America before Columbus, but he first made it known and helpful to the world at large, therefore the honor is rightfully his. Exactly so with Noyes – he first made Karezza available to mankind in general.
His little work, Male Continence, is a model of good argument on the matter; but I believe Karezza, by Dr. Stockham, is the only book now in print which treats of it. Several other small works have appeared, but mostly they treat of the subject in such poetic and transcendental terms that the seeker after practical instruction is left still seeking. All writers, too, have tacitly assumed that the woman could do as she pleased in the matter and that success or failure all depended on the man. I regard this as a fundamental error and the cause of most disappointments. Considerations such as these have mainly decided me to write this little work. At this time of agitation on birth control, also, it appears timely. And beyond all looms the extraordinary, one might say unaccountable ignorance of it, not only of ordinary sexual students, but of practically all physicians and even the greatest sexual specialists and teachers. Actually the general public knows more about it than its educators. Thus Forel, in his Sexual Question, never mentions it at all, therefore presumably never heard of it. Bloch, in his professedly exhaustive work, The Sexual Life of Our Times, though he once mentions Dr. Stockham on another matter, has only one ambiguous paragraph in the whole book that can possibly refer to Karezza (apparently some imperfect form of it), disapproving of it on theory only, evidently, without the slightest personal knowledge, or even observation. Havelock Ellis, in the
[paragraph continues] Psychology of Sex, is more instructed and favorable, but appears to have derived his knowledge almost entirely from the Oneida Communists; not at all at first hand. And the general ignorance, indifference, or aversion, even to any experiment, among men, is simply amazing. Most men say at once that it is impossible, most physicians that it is injurious, though with no kind of real knowledge. Most women, on the other hand, who have had any experience of it, eulogize it in unmeasured terms, as the very salvation of their sexual life, the very art and poetry of love, which indeed it is, but, as most men will not attempt it, most women are necessarily kept in ignorance of its inestimable benefits to their sex.
The first objection that is certain to meet one who would recommend Karezza is that it is “unnatural.” Noyes confronts this objection very ably, and it is indeed absurd, when you came to think of it, to hear men who drink alcohol, smoke, use tea and coffee, take milk, though adults, eat cooked food, live in heated houses, wear clothes, write books, shave their faces, use machinery, and do a thousand and one things which the natural man, the true aborigine, knew nothing of, condemn a mere act of moderation and self-control in pleasure as “unnatural.”
They do not stop to think that if their appeal is to original or animal nature, then they must never have intercourse with the female at all, except when she invites it, is in a certain condition, at certain seasons of the year, and for procreation only. For all intercourse as a love act is clearly “unnatural” in their use of the term. How would they relish that?
These same men will recommend and have their women use douches, drugs, and all sorts of mechanical means to nullify the natural consequences of their act, with never a lisp of protest at the unnaturalness of it all.
As a matter of fact, Karezza is absolutely natural. It employs Nature only and from first to last. To check any act which prudence suggests, or experience has shown, likely to have undesired consequences, is something constantly done throughout all Nature, even among the lowest animals. Karezza is such a check. It is simply prudence and skill in the sexual realm, changing its form and direction of activity in such wise that the desired pleasure may
be more fully realized and the undesired results avoided. Nothing more.
The denunciation of it as injurious is almost equally an expression of thoughtless prejudice. I have now had personal knowledge of it for over forty years. I learned of it from A. Chavannes, who with his wife had practiced it twenty years. It has been before the American people since 1846. The Oneida Communists practiced it, Havelock Ellis states, thirty years. I have known members of the Oneida Community. I have read all I possibly could on it, talked with everyone I could hear of who had knowledge of it; I have yet to meet or hear of a single woman who has the slightest accusation to make against it on the score of injury to health or disagreeable sensations or after effects. Three only (all with slight experience) told me they thought there was more pleasure in the old embrace; the others most emphatically to the contrary. Van de Warker, says, Havelock Ellis, “studied forty-two women of the community without finding any undue prevalence of reproductive diseases, nor could he find any diseased condition attributable to the sexual habits of the community.” (Italics mine.) Contrast this with the usual sex-relation, which is constantly being accused, particularly by women, of causing all sorts of injurious and painful consequences, apparently upon the best of evidence. After twenty-five years experience, the Oneida Community, upon request of the New York Medical Gazette, instituted “a professional examination” and had a report made by Theodore R. Noyes, M.D., in which it was shown, by careful comparison of our statistics with those of the U. S. census and other public documents, that the rate of nervous diseases in the Community is considerably below the average of ordinary society. This report was published by the Medical Gazette, and was pronounced by the editor “a model of careful observation; bearing intrinsic evidence of entire honesty and impartiality.”
Physicians freely condemn it, or express doubts of it, almost invariably with no knowledge of it of any kind. They think it should cause ill-health, therefore they say it will. It is said to cause nervousness, prostatitis, an inflamed state of organs, etc. Now we all know how much pure guesswork figures in so-called medical “science”; how
often that which merely coincides is asserted to hold a relation of cause and effect. However I think I can see how, very easily, the ignorant or imperfect use of this art might lead to the above-described bad results. In ideal and successful Karezza the sexual passion is transmuted and sublimated, to a greater or less degree, into tenderness and love, and the thought is maintained that the orgasm is not desired or desirable. Now if a man, on the contrary, entered the embrace with the thought that he terribly desired the orgasm, but by the sheer force of will must prevent it; if he excited himself and his partner to the utmost sexual furore, but at last denied it culmination; caring nothing for love at any time, but for sex only all the time, I can see how, very reasonably, his denied passion might react disastrously on his nervous system, just as any strongly repressed emotion may. Just as a man who indulges in the most furious thoughts of rage, but clenches his fists and shuts his mouth tight, rather than express it, may burst a blood vessel or get an apoplexy. This may indeed be a sort of “male continence,” on the physical side, but real Karezza, as I know it and would present it, is very different.
Real Karezza requires preparatory mental exercise. It requires first the understanding and conviction that the spiritual, the caressive, the tender side of the relation is much more important, much more productive of pleasure in fact, than the merely sexual, and that throughout the whole relation the sexual is to be held subordinate to this love side as its tool, its agent, its feeder. Sex is indeed required to furnish all it has to the feast, but strictly under the leadership of and to the glory of love.
It requires, second, the understanding and profound conviction that in this kind of love-feast the orgasm is a marplot, a kill-joy, an awkward and clumsy accident, and the end of everything for the time, therefore most undesired.
It requires, third, an understanding of the psychological law that all emotions are to a considerable extent capable of being “sublimated,” that is expressed in a different direction and with reference to another object than that first intended. We have all seen orators or actors first arouse an audience to emotional intensity and then direct that emotion at pleasure to laughter or tears, to love or hate, revenge or pity, lust
or purity. Taking full advantage of this law, the Karezza artist sublimates a portion of his sexual passion into the more refined, intellectual, poetic and heart-sweet expression of feeling, thus preventing it from ever reaching that pitch of local intensity which demands explosive discharge. In other words the soul, taking over the blind sex-emotion, diffuses it and irradiates the whole being for a prolonged period with its joy-giving, exalting potency. This might be compared to a man who had a barrel of gunpowder where with to celebrate, whereupon instead of firing the entire cask in one mighty explosion (orgasm) he made it into fire-works for the esthetic enjoyment of a whole evening. Observe that either way all the powder would be burned, only in the second form the display covers a much greater length of time, is more refined, artistic and complexly satisfying.
Such is Karezza to the orgasm. It is art, intellect, morality and estheticism in sexual enjoyment instead of crude, reckless appetite.
Still this comparison does not do Karezza justice. When the powder is burned it is gone, but it is not at all so with Karezza. In Nature something accumulates in the organism for the endowment of the offspring. Much of man’s food consists of what lower forms of life have stored up for their children – we largely live on starch, honey, gluten, seeds, milk, eggs, robbed from babies that were to be. In our own bodies also we store up a reproductive surplus to be given to our progeny. This is probably not simply one thing, but many things – love, magnetism, vital force, seed, perhaps other things that we know nothing about today, and indeed we do not know very accurately about any of these things today, but we do know that something is stored up in us, and that its presence in us makes us vivid, brilliant, beautiful, powerful, like a stimulating food. It is a life-food or life-force, intended to be given to our children, but we also can feed on it or give it to each other. Love between a man and woman seems to be such a process of mutually exchanging and feeding on this surplus life-force. When they enter each other’s aura there is an interchange of male and female food-values; the nearer they are to each other the stronger and more satisfying the exchange, and their “love” to each other is the craving for such an exchange or the thing itself, hence the craving for closeness
and touch. In Karezza, both by reason of its intense intimacy and of the long time of contact, besides the peculiar fitness of the organs themselves for the work, this exchange reaches its maximum of realization – it is vital exchange in its most satisfying expression – wherefore it is really the thing for which all love is reaching, wishing.
Apparently, in the love-contact of two, some of this life-food is released in each and reabsorbed in each, but more of it is given to the other partner. Men and women in love are thus veritable cannibals and feed each on each, and each gives to the other the stored-up life-food, charged with the personal qualities of maleness or femaleness of the individual sex. Apparently my lover and I may live on our life-foods to some extent, but each finds the life-food of the other the more stimulating and nutritious. In Karezza we feed each other “baby food.”
Explain the process as we may, this fact is sure, that in successful Karezza the sex-organs become quiet, satisfied, demagnetized, as perfectly as by the orgasm, while the rest of the body of each partner glows with a wonderful vigor and conscious joy, or else with a deep, sweet, contentment, as after a happy play; tending to irradiate the whole being with romantic love; and always with an after-feeling of health, purity and wellbeing. We are most happy and good-humored as after a full meal. Whereas, if there has been an orgasm, it is the common experience that there is a sense of loss, weakness, and dispelled illusion; following quickly on the first grateful feeling of relief. There has been a momentary joy, but too brief and epileptic to make much impression on consciousness, and now it is gone, leaving no memory. The lights have gone out, the music has stopped. The weakness is often so severe as to cause pallor, faintness, vertigo, dyspepsia, disgust, irritability, shame, dislike, or other pathological or unloving symptoms. This especially on the man’s part, but perhaps to some extent on the woman’s part too. Even if no more, there is lassitude, sudden indifference, a wish to sleep. A wet blanket has fallen for the time at least, on the flame of love. Romance drops and crawls like a winged bird. In Karezza, on, the contrary, the partners unfold and separate reluctantly, lingeringly, kissing, clinging, petting to the last, thrilled with and rehearsing memories, glowing
with an affection and admiration which they feel can never end.
It would appear that in the orgasmal embrace the life-force is thrown off with such suddenness and volume that it is quite impossible for the partner to receive or assimilate much of it, therefore most of it is utterly wasted.
For this reason, the orgasmal-embrace is a most clumsy and disappointing thing when employed as a love-embrace. Nature meant it only for propagation and its whole modus operandi is calculated to check love, defeat love, and turn love into indifference or aversion. The more frequently it is employed, the more love dies, romance evaporates, and a mere sexuality, a matter-of-fact relation, or plain dislike, takes the place of the glamour of courtship days. On the contrary, Karezza makes marriage more delicious than courtship, more romantic than wooing, and maintains an endless, satisfying honeymoon.
There is an increase of attractiveness and magnetism of each for each, a growth of satisfaction in each other’s society, affection, and caressing becomes a sweet habit. Nothing else known makes the course of true love run so smooth as Karezza.
The orgasm is not always, but very commonly followed by a greater or less degree of exhaustion, perhaps extreme, but Karezza, unless repeated to excess, or practiced between the mismated, is never followed by exhaustion, but often by a delightful glow and joy in life. The usual sequel to the orgasm is demagnetization, indifference, too frequently irritability, disgust, repulsion and a craving for stimulants, but Karezza irradiates the whole being with tender, romantic, peaceful love. This, so far as I know, is universal experience, therefore merely needs to be stated to show how healthful an influence Karezza must wield. As a matter of fact, because of the tonicity, glow and vigor it bestows on the sexual parts and its wine-like inspiration of the spirit of the partners, with no reaction, it is one of the best hygienic agencies for the benefit and cure of ordinary sexual weaknesses and ailments – leucorrhea, displacements, prolapsus, bladder-troubles, simple urethritis, prostatitis, etc., known. And I say this from actual knowledge. I have known it to act like magic in painful menstruation and in prostatitis. But remember, I am always speaking
of its exercise between those who are naturally fitted to respond and who really love each other, who honor their bodies and would not knowingly abuse them. As a mere sex-experiment it might be of little value or satisfaction. It appears to be perfect or poor, just about in proportion to the greater or less amount of heart-love involved. At least it imperatively demands kindness, tenderness, chivalry on the man’s part, a pleased acceptance and relaxation on the woman’s; and the more refinement, poetry of feeling and mutual romance the better – any amount can be utilized. The gross, reckless and lustful may as well let it alone – it is not for them.
As a nerve sedative its effect is remarkable. I have known it to instantly cure a violent, even agonizing nervous headache, a restful nap following upon the cessation of pain. Under a strong, gentle magnetic man, a nervous woman often falls into a baby-like sleep, in the very midst of the embrace, and this is felt to be a peculiar luxury and coveted experience. Many women call Karezza “The Peace”; others call it “Heaven.” This alone is a testimony worth volumes.
S. G. Lewis, of Grass Valley, California, in his Hints and Keys to Conjugal Felicity, is especially rich in testimony to the spiritual and romantic value of Karezza, but his fine little work is long out of print.
Now I do not apprehend, from all I have seen of life, that Karezza will ever come into vogue from the male side of the world. Men seem united in their dull, lethargic indifference to it. Helplessly or selfishly they say it is impossible, and let it go at that, rather than make the little effort required to perfect themselves in it. They would preferably choose, or rather oblige their women to choose, something out of the nerve-shocking, disgusting, disease-producing outfit of douches, drugs, tampons, plugs, pessaries, shields, condoms, and save them all further responsibility in the matter, although the highest authorities admit none of these resources are really safe, that is sure, contraceptives, and most of them are decidedly injurious. Only the absence of semen is safe, and that is found in Karezza and in Karezza alone. But perhaps the most clinching condemnation of these methods, to a refined person, is that pronounced by a fine woman of my acquaintance, “There
is not one of these methods that does not destroy, for the woman, all the poetry of the act.” Only in Karezza is the poetry fully preserved, and not only that, but made capable of development to the most refined nuances of artistic and ingenious delight. Only to the Karezza-lover is the Art of Love possible in any sense worthy of the name. All the others begin the performance by shutting off the music and throwing away the wine.
But as the Woman Movement grows I am sure Karezza will come into its own. As women learn its transcendent importance to their happiness and health, they will demand it and refuse all men that cannot supply that demand. That will be a force that cannot be withstood.
Woman is by birth the Queen of Love and will certainly assume her inheritance and control in her own sphere and realm.
8:1 Since writing the above I have become acquainted with a Dr. E. Elmer Keeler, of Syracuse, New York, who tells me that he made the independent discovery of Karezza, by his own sex-experiences in early manhood, and for years taught it in private lectures, both to the laity and the profession, before he learned of Noyes and his teaching – a sufficient commentary, if any were needed, on the ignorance not only of the general public, but even of the doctors, on this most important matter. Not knowing of any other, Keeler gave it the name of “Sex-communion,” but defining the term as “ALL forms of sexual expression in which no emission occur,” thus still leaving a need for a specific term to name the definite internal act, which Karezza as a term does.