The Evolution of Erotica

art education Jun 21, 2021


From the Awakened Eros website, a conscious erotica project that is now finished.


The Evolution of Erotica

From Erotica history to Erotica Evolution

By Luna Agneya


Erotica is by definition 'Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire' and it has been around since the times of hieroglyphics and even stone art (The first known one dating back to 15,000 BC in the La Magdelaine caves!).

Sex is a fundamental function of our human biology and essential to the creation of life on this planet, so of course sex and pleasure are a big part of the art, literature and history of our evolution... despite how well the 'prudes' of the past few centuries have tried to hide, bury and shame it!


Turin Erotic Papyrus reconstruction


We can see from ancient artworks that orgies, BDSM and fetishes have all been part of our erotic history as humans in this stage of our evolution. It's evident from this work that there have ALWAYS been artists who enjoy depicting sexual acts and eroticism in their creations.

Art and sex themselves go hand in hand in so many ways, and often deities of desire and sexuality are also connected to creativity and the arts, as erotic energy is known to be connected with (or even the source of) creative energy. Sex creates life and sex creates passion and desire, and life, passion and desire are key aspects of any creative artistic expression.

"in early Greek poetry and art, Eros was depicted as a young adult male who embodies sexual power, and a profound artist."


From papyrus to pottery, sculptures to scriptures; Erotica is an expression of a natural part of our humanity that inspires, captivates and educates. There are still debates as to why some Temples in India and other parts of South-east Asia have orgiastic scenes on their walls, and the lineages of the Dakinis and Priestesses say that Temples were places of initiation and ritualistic celebration of sexuality. It is said that often people would attend temples for their first sexual encounters with the Priestesses. It was a sacred right of passage to experience this initiation and a part of their embodied sex education. Sounds preferable to most awkward and painful first times, that is for sure!

Over the last few thousand years, conservative and puritanical religions reigned supreme around the world and often destroyed or hid such sexuality provocative art, creating a censorship not just of the art but of humans themselves. Even as the first books were pressed into print in the 1600s, the first erotic books guiding sexual positions were banned by the Pope. Our free erotic nature was cast into the shadow and erased for many, many generations until a major part of the human population actually believed that this kind of expression was not even part of our nature, That it was wrong, perverse, freaky and even a mental illness. 


Japanese Shunga shibari art. From 

With the age of film photography and eventually video and moving pictures, we saw a whole new evolution of erotica. Suddenly we were able to actually capture sex and the erotic in a whole other form unlike ever before.

It is said the first video erotica was a striptease called 'Le Coucher de la Mariée'  created in 1896.

In the 50's film was available to the average person and the porn industry was created. Owning pornographic videos was so common that most adults had a collection, and even back then there were some extreme and disturbing videos being created and distributed. The industry boomed in the 70s and 80s with the rise of the 'PornStar' and high production films, and with it extremely wealthy producers, actors and actresses. It quickly became one of the most profitable industries in the world, and people started to consume erotic content like never before in human history. 


The famous Betty Page, fetish and burlesque icon. 

As the internet hit then porn blew up even more, and sadly the industry started becoming even more dangerous and exploitive than ever before. People were able to quickly access any kind of content and mostly for free, meaning many of the people in the films were not being compensated, and often videos were created without consent and distributed by people illegally and with malicious intentions.

The celebration of human sexuality and desire morphed into an addictive hit. A 'drug' of sorts to be traded, exploited and consumed over and over without much thought. Erotica turned from an artform used to arouse sexual desire and fantasy into a space of numbing visuals and mindless masturbation to increasingly extreme clips, often finding little satisfaction and instead other issues showing up in their personal lives because of it. 

Is Erotica and porn itself to blame or is it something deeper? Something running deep in our culture- like unintegrated trauma and sexual repression fusing with consumerist, capitalist mentalities focusing on being entertained and taking, rather than actually experiencing and savoring something?

It's not all doom and gloom though, with the internet and modern accessibility of video producing equipment, many creative visionaries and activists have worked with the medium to create heart felt, conscious and feminist porn, aimed at showing diversity and authentic pleasure.

People from all over the world are creating erotica to share and express their exploration of sexuality with other likeminded people around the world. Many of these ethical porn sites aim to promote safe sex, consent, authentic pleasure and fair pay for their actors. 

Currently we have an industry that on one side seems to be getting worse and more exploitive, and another side where empowered and conscious producers are aiming to bring the erotic back to a healthy expression. However censorship is still rampant and getting worse year by year, even for the educational and healthy content.. but that is a whole other article!

 My personal exploration is- where do we go from here? What goes a step beyond the 'conscious' and ethical porn into something that reclaims the deep and powerful creative force that the Eros really is? How do we move away from numbing habits and excessive consumption to get our next hit of dopamine and into something that inspires and evokes our own erotic power? 


From Primal Awakening. Awakened Eros transmission by Luna Agneya and Aimee Hamilton


My own personal erotic evolution has been somewhat a reflection of the history of erotica... From my innocent explorations of my sexuality as a teen (which was naturally kinky and queer), to my work as a sexworker through my 20s, to my current work as a Tantra and sacred sexuality coach/teacher, I feel I have explored and been immersed in a variety of experiences of erotic exploration and witnessed the evolution in myself as I peeled back layers of cultural conditioning to find my own personal truth and liberated expression of the erotic. 

I have no desire to be in a judgmental or 'holier than thou' position on this subject. I don't believe that sacred sexuality is necessarily 'better' than any other expression of sexuality (though obviously I am strongly against non-consensual, violent and exploitive content) or that my personal evolution is representative of what is best for the collective. I just know what I know and create what I desire to create.

For me, bringing Erotica to a place that promotes embodiment (being present and engaged with your body) rather than numbing and disassociation is something a lot of people could benefit from. 

Capturing real, authentic expressions of pleasure and desire is something that inspires and mesmerizes me. Seeing sexuality as an artform to get creative with, to express with, to learn about and grow through....

The sacred and ritualistic aspects of sexuality are a huge part of my own life and many others I know, and the sacred sexuality world is still very underground and hidden, and many people have no idea what a 'tantric' or 'shamanistic' erotic experience looks like, let alone feels like, and I want to be able to share snapshots of this world with people. 

Sexuality and Eros are all about connection with other people (and nature, and life itself often!). It bridges the perceived gaps between us and creates unity. This is why I believe community that shares this value of erotic empowerment and connection is an important part of creating an evolutionary space for Erotica. I don't think it is something to be consumed and enjoyed only in the shadows, to be ashamed of and to hide away. I think sharing how the art lands with us, how it moves us and impacts us is a beautiful thing. Just like we have book clubs and galleries, can we not have a space to enjoy Erotica in community? 

And the return of the 'Temple' is a big part of the sacred sexuality movement. Creating (usually live) spaces for people to explore their desires, Eros and their sexuality in community, with honor, respect and reverence, is probably one of the most healing and liberating things I have done in my life. 

All of these inquiries is what birthed Awakened Eros. 

The appreciation of erotica as an art form and the power of video art to capture moments of pleasure, intimacy and connection drove us to start creating this content, but we didn't want to create a 2 dimensional virtual space for people to consume.

We feel that this endless consuming of video and images without involving the body is creating an internal divide within people, their desire and their Eros separated. We wanted to inquire into how we could provide this erotica in a way that creates embodied change within people, that provides them an opportunity to awaken their own power and pleasure and experience a taste of what was happening in the video instead of just watching it. This is why we decided that with each of these transmissions we would include an embodiment element, so people could have something to follow along at home and bring into their own life. Breaking down the barrier between the consumer and the transmission, even through the internet. 

Awakened Eros is also about the collective movement and community, about people coming together in celebration and appreciation of the beauty of human sexuality in all it's facets. We can come out of the shadows and into a platform where we can connect. To not be ashamed of our sexuality and our desire.  

We want this project to be not just about beautiful videos but about the collective awakening and remembering of the powerful, life creating force that is Eros. The creative, the penetrating, the surrendering, the orgasmic.  We want to include a variety of ways to express this Eros because it isn't just about heteronormative penetrative sex. Eros is passion, desire, pleasure, intimacy... it can show up in a juicy dance, in a sensual moment in a bath, in a sweet cuddle, in a kinky scene. It shows up between lovers, between friends, in community. When you're open to receiving it, you can find Eros in so many more places than between your legs. 

So we welcome the sacred sluts, the Tantrikas, the sex shamans, the liberators, the wild ones, the kinky freaks and the innocent yet curious. Your Eros is welcome here and it is beautiful. It is powerful. It is magical!

This is our vision of Awakened Eros and the evolution of Erotica. We hope you also resonate with what we're creating here!

By Luna Agneya




Sensual Artistry is a space for exploring the realms of pleasure, intimacy and spirituality through the Tantric Arts. 

Explore our workshops and events, take one of our online courses or get private coaching with Luna. There are lots of free resources, guides and inspiration for you to enjoy!

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