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Subject: alt.magick.tantra FAQ

This article was archived around: 26 Aug 2007 05:31:52 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: magick/tantra
All FAQs posted in: alt.magick.tantra, alt.fan.kali.astarte.inanna, alt.magick.tyagi, alt.religion.sexuality
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Archive-name: magick/tantra/faq Updated: 1999/11/04 Posting-frequency: monthly or by inquiry
---------------------- The alt.magick.tantra FAQ --------------------- CONTENTS 1.0 TANTRA, KAREZZA, SEX MAGIC, AND USENET 1.1 What topics are fit for discussion in alt.magick.tantra? 1.2 What topics should not be discussed in alt.magick.tantra? 1.3 What distinguishes the newsgroup alt.magick.tantra from the newsgroup alt.religion.tantra? 2.0 PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY 2.1 What is Tantra Yoga? 2.2 Do you have to be a Hindu or a Buddhist to practice tantra yoga? 2.3 Can a person with no religious affiliation practice tantra yoga? 2.4 What is karezza? 2.5 What is Taoist sex-alchemy? 2.6 What is meant by "neo-tantra"? 2.7 What is meant by references to "Western, non-religious tantra yoga"? 2.8 What is sex magic / sex magick? 2.9 Is a sex religion like tantra yoga the same as ceremonial or folkloric sex magic/k? 3.0 TECHNIQUES 3.1 What are the tantra yoga techniques that prolong intercourse? 3.2 How do tantra techniques differ physically from karezza techniques? 3.3 Are tantra yoga and karezza techniques the same as extended sexual orgasm (ESO)? 3.4 Will refraining from orgasm harm one physically in any way? 3.5 How can one interest one's partner in tantra or karezza? 3.6 Can a solitary person practice tantra or karezza through masturbation? Can sex magicians work with masturbation? 3.7 Do tantra teachers or sex magicians advocate any sort of "standard practice" religious ritual or physical techniques? If so, could you outline them? 3.7.1 Yoni puja and linga puja 3.7.2 Control of orgasm 3.7.3 Avoidance of orgasm 3.7.4 Passive copulation 3.7.5 Eye-gazing 3.7.6 Breath-control 3.7.7 Circulation of subtle or aetheric energies 3.7.8 Antinomianism 3.7.9 Lifestyle 3.7.10 Deity worship 3.7.11 Meditation 3.7.12 Use of asanas (postures) and mudras (hand gestures) 3.7.13 Use of mantras (chants) and yantras (symbolic images) 3.8 What are the goals (stated) and effects (stated and not) of tantra and karezza? 3.9 Is it possible to learn tantra yoga or karezza without a guru or teacher? 3.10 How can a gay practice tantra? Where is their kundalini? Isn't it the case that for tantric experiences and sex magic a male and a female are required? 4.0 REFERENCE MATERIALS 4.1 I would like to learn more about these subjects, but am extremely wary of "teachers" and especially so in this context. There are a lot of fakes out there. Can you provide references that I can read to learn more? 4.2 Is the Kama Sutra of any real significance to tantra yoga? It seems like an ancient marriage manual more than anything else. 4.3 Are there tantra videos, courses, or seminars? ============================================================ 1.0 TANTRA, KAREZZA, SEX MAGIC, AND USENET 1.1 What topics are fit for discussion in alt.magick.tantra? This newsgroup is for the discussion of tantra yoga, Taoist sexual alchemy, karezza, ceremonial sex-magick, sexual folk-magic, neo-tantra, the archaeology of neolithic and pagan sex-worship, the biological basis of sex-mysticism, Austin Osman Spare, T.O.P.Y., Paschal Beverly Randolph, Alice Bunker Stockham, human sexual anatomy as it relates to cosmological schemas and religious practices, Hermetic sex-magick, and related topics bound together by their common emphasis on sexuality, spirituality, religion, and magical practices. Remember when you post and read the newsgroup that while the specifics of Indian tantrism are of great interest to many of the people who post to alt.magick.tantra, they are of lesser or only general interest to others. Likewise, sex magic, sex-mysticism, and magical rituals including sex acts in the Asatru, Christian, Jewish, Gnostic, ceremonial magick, Thelemic, Hermetic, hoodoo, or neo-pagan traditions are of great interest to some readers in alt.magick.tantra, but of lesser or only general interest to others. 1.2 What topics should not be discussed in alt.magick.tantra? Flaming or disparaging others is never appropriate. In particular, the assumption that one's own path is the only "correct" way is offensive in a group as diverse as this. The fact is that people post here in search of some very non-tantric things, including bisexual tantric concubines (presumably. paid sex workers willing to supply a lesbian two-gal act in Hindu drag). Such antics are bound to upset or anger sincere religious tantrics in alt.magick.tantra, and may even tick off some of the non-tantric newsgroup participants who identify as sex magicians, karezzans, and students of sex-based folk magic. Advertisements for personal sexual services (e.g. massage or sexual surrogacy) are unwanted, although announcements of classes, courses, and new publications are acceptable. Sexual (im)personals are harshly frowned upon, although requests to meet other practitioners of in a given geographic region are fine. The line of demarcation between the former and the latter can be extrapolated from these fictional examples: :) OK: 35 year old man, new to Boston, hoping to meet members of the local tantra yoga community. Please e-mail me if you are out there. :( NOT OK: 35 year old single white male, good looking and well-endowed, in search of 25-30 year old blonde tantra goddess in the Boston area. E-mail replies only as I don't read the newsgroups. Send a picture with your reply. ;-( REALLY, *REALLY* NOT OK: Tantra - Yoga of Sex. Join our Tantric Club - a place for hot people who value and enjoy sex naturally. You will have an access to the best porno sight you have seen - with real couples! - and will have a great discounts on all our products. FREE to join and be a member. [URL deleted] 1.3 What distinguishes the newsgroup alt.magick.tantra from the newsgroup alt.religion.tantra? The creation of this newsgroup was a natural development to avoid the spamming of all usenet newsgroups with the keyword "sex" in their names that hit the net in 1996. Traditional tantrism, karezza, and various forms of sex magic(k) were being actively discussed in alt.magick.sex at the time; the name alt.magick.tantra was decided upon by a consensus of the members then posting to and reading alt.magick.sex. When alt.magick.tantra was created there was no usenet newsgroup extant for the study of tantrism as a religion and the creator of alt.magick.tantra (Josh Geller) did not seem to see a need to create such a group. When alt.religion.tantra finally was created -- in 1999 -- it filled a need for a more specialized venue where the specifically religious aspects of Indian tantrism could be discussed without reference to other forms of sex worship and sex magic throughout the world. The difference between alt.magick.tantra and alt.religion.tantra is one of content and approach: Alt.religion.tantra has as its sole objective the discussion of specifically Indian tantric religious practices. Alt.magick.tantra includes discussion of traditional tantra, as well as many other forms of direct sex-worship (e.g. veneration of the sexual organs or metaphorical constructions seen in their place) and other religious, mystical, and magical practices (e.g. contemplation of the absolute; homage, prayer, or service to a deity; invocation of powers, principalities, or spirits; etc.) in which sexuality or the sex act may form a part of a worship-service. In some cases posts deal with tantrism from the standpoint of comparative religion, treating it as one of many historical and pre-historic religious, mystical, magical, and/or philosophical systems in which sexuality is recognized as a prime factor. ____________________________________________________________ 2.0 PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY 2.1 What is tantra yoga? Tantra yoga is a general name for a confluence of mystical and religious systems developed in India over the past several centuries in reflection of certain traditional texts, called 'Tantras,' often attributed to divinities or mythological beings. Tantric systems maintain a variety of cosmological presuppositions, sometimes biological in metaphor (e.g. disks or wheels -- chakras -- of energy or 'prana' that may be found throughout the body and in particular along the spine), sometimes religious in character (e.g. the disciplines which attempt to influence the deities Siva and/or Sakti, thought to be resident to the human body). Typically yoga is an ascetic set of disciplines recommended by a historical or tutelary guru or instructor and is presumed to aid the practitioner in purificatory, conscious, or moral development. Tantra (sometimes "tantric") yoga in particular often includes a context of sexual symbolism, if not actual sexual activities, which are described as constituting this aid. Often there will also be an ultimate aim supposed (e.g. "moksha" or "liberation") which serves to bolster the practices based on a presumed cosmology (e.g. better rebirths or an escape from rebirth into the world). For a further historical description of some the varied traditions of Indian tantra yoga, see also http://www.hubcom.com/magee/tantra This site provides an overview of a variety of Tantras [texts], including many techniques and basic ideas. It also includes a bibliography that will point you toward more sources. Buddhist tantra yoga developed as an offshoot from Hindu tantra centuries ago. Some lineages of Chinese Buddhist tantra also incorporate concepts and practices from Taoist sexual alchemy. One contemporary teacher of Buddhist tantra yoga is Grand Master Lu, a Taiwanese-born monk working in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Some of his articles on contemporary tantric Buddhism are archived at these URLs Three Basic Homework Assignments for Tantric Practitioners: http://www.luckymojo.com/esoteric/religion/buddhism/tibetan/thre ehomeworks.txt Consort Practice: http://www.luckymojo.com/esoteric/religion/buddhism/tibetan/cons ortpractice.txt 2.2 Do you have to be Hindu or Buddhist to practice tantra yoga? Generally tantric yogis or yoginis are Hindu, and by this generalization we may presume that they accept a cosmology or have been assimilated by a culture which is Saivite, Saktiite, or, in some unusual cases, Vaisnavite. Some schools of Buddhism (but by no means all) endorse tantra yoga or tantric practices; this is especially true in Tibetan Buddhism. In addition, there are Taoists who incorporate tantra-like disciplines into their teachings, although they are not likely to use the term "tantra." It is assumed by most scholars that both the Buddhist and Taoist forms of tantra derived from Hindu sources centuries ago. However, with the popularization of books as sources of mystical disciplines, it is possible that some of the instructions provided by these cultures may be followed by interested people quite outside Hindu, Buddhist, or Taoist traditions. For a comparison between Hindu and Buddhist tantra yoga and the sexual mysticism of other cultures, see also http://www.luckymojo.com/tktantradefinition.html 2.3 Can a person with no religious affiliation practice tantra yoga? Tantra yoga is a Hindu and Buddhist religious practice. Even stripping away the Asian parts of it will not remove its essential religious nature. The loose use of the term tantra these days to signify any sex-positive, sex-mystical, sex- magical, or sex-religious discipline is deplorable. Tantra includes and often transcends sexuality; preparation for sexual tantra includes serious work that is not sexual in nature, and tantra practices are diverse and conflicting on this topic even in their native cultures. For further study of classical tantra yoga, see the newsgroup news:alt.religion.tantra 2.4 What is karezza? Karezza is a term derived from the Italian (meaning "caress") which is applied to Western religious or spiritual practices in which slow, mindful sexual union (or masturbation) creates a path to the experience of spiritual ecstasy. Some of these Western practices arose during the 19th century, apparently by spontaneous discovery -- although one American popularizer of Western sacred sex, Alice Bunker Stockham, is known to have travelled to India to study Hindu tantra yoga. While karezza shares certain common sexual techniques with traditional Hindu tantra yoga, it fits conveniently into Christian, Jewish, or Transcendentalist conceptual frameworks, obviating the need for the practitioner to adopt a culturally "foreign" religion. George Washington Savory is the most outstanding example of a writer working in the Christian religion with essentially tantric ideas. His book "Hell on Earth Made Heaven, the Marriage Secrets of a Chicago Contractor" (1905) is a straightforward application of tantric techniques stripped of any relation to Hindu or Buddhist cosmology and applied instead to Christian cosmology. He did not refer to karezza by name in his writings, but his location in Chicago and the time period in which he wrote indicate that he was familiar with Alice Bunker Stockham, the Chicago doctor who coined the term "karezza" in the late 19th century. For a further historical description of karezza, see also http://www.luckymojo.com/tktantradefinition.html 2.5 What is Taoist sexual alchemy? Taoism is a Chinese philosophy and religion which has been influenced by Chinese animism and Buddhism. It integrates a polar and complementary symbolism and ambiguous scripture to mystical and semi-scientific ends (life-extension, enhancement of consciousness, the transmutation of matter). Its anarchistic and revolutionary elements are balanced by an arguably quietist approach to nature-worship. The alchemy of Taoism focusses largely upon extension of human life (especially in concocting the Pill of Immortality), and the methods which are used to create it sometimes include specifically sexual activities in order to prepare the one who will be ingesting the Pill or to inspire the creation of some internal condition for which the Pill is merely a metaphor. There are complex systems of physical and/or psychic developments described within Taoist alchemical texts, often purely through implication (called "shadow language"), but sometimes in terms that are unequivocally sexual. Such texts at times seem to make explicit references to copulation, though interpreters differ in their instruction as to how much the reader ought take literally and how much to understand as solely symbolical. Features such as inner furnaces and crucibles, mythical animals such as dragons and phoenixes, and living species like tigers and tortoises become references to internal and external mystical and sexual elements only decoded by those who have the proper keys. 2.6 What is meant by "neo-tantra"? "Neo-tantra" is a term coined recently to distinguish between traditional Asian tantra yoga and modern syncretic techniques for spiritual sexuality being taught in "workshops" and through periodicals and books in Europe and the Americas. Neo-tantra typically makes use of the traditional tantra yoga asanas (positions), breath control, and meditation, but it is taught outside the framework of Hindu culture and religion. It differs from karezza in that its emphasis is not so openly eclectic and mystical. Unique to neo-tantra is a modern or New Age tendency to include massage (so-called "tantric massage"), Reichian body-work (e.g. "bio-energetics"), and even counselling (e.g. "sexual healing") to the course of study. Some prominent neo-tantra teachers (all of whom, regrettably, claim they are teaching tantra yoga) are Lori Grace, Margo Anand, and the Muirs. 2.7 What is meant by references to "Western, non-religious tantra yoga"? "Western, non-religious tantra yoga" is an oxymoron. Tantra yoga is always Asian in origin and always religious in nature. The term "Western, non-religious tantra yoga" may be naively applied to the syncretic Western form of sex-mysticism that is more properly called neo-tantra (see above), but since even the most heterodox of neo-tantra teachers strive to preserve and transmit truly mystical and spiritual insights, clothed though they might be in New Age self-help paradigms, they cannot really be said to be "non-religious." Very often the label "Western, non-religious tantra yoga" is just a cover for what were previously called "swingers' parties" or "promiscuity." As such, this term capitalizes on the paltry education provided to modern adults regarding sexuality in order to sell itself as a mystical tradition. These posers call what they are doing "tantra" merely because it involves sexuality. Spiritual and religious elements are removed in favour of mostly sexual instruction. While there is nothing wrong with instruction on the techniques of sexuality, categorizing this as "tantra," "sex mysticism," or "karezza" robs these important references of their deeper meanings. 2.8 What is sex magick / sex magic? Ceremonial sex magick (often spelled with a k) is the ritual utilization of sex -- or a context in which sexual energy is used -- to produce magical effects. It is often considered in a two-fold evaluative system divided into low magick (i.e. materialistic, sometimes selfish) and high magick (i.e. .mystical, spiritual, or religious) The energy from the sexual activity, which is sometimes supplemented with ritual incantation or imagery, either facilitates or is applied to the change desired, and often sexual effluvia are used within sigils, consecrations, or spells so constructed. Some prominent sex magicians of the 19th and 20th century were Paschal Beverly Randolph, Theodor Reuss, R. Swinburne Clymer, Austin Osman Spare, Aleister Crowley, and Kenneth Grant. For more information on the sex-magical theories taught by Paschal Beverly Randolph, see http://www.luckymojo.com/tkpbrandolph.html For those interested in the sex-magick of Austin Osman Spare, a web page of introductory material is at http://www.luckymojo.com/austinosmanspare.html In folkloric terms, sex magic (never spelled with a k) is any use of a charm, incantation, amulet, talisman, ritual, herb, sexual effluvia, oil, potion, sigil, sachet powder, incense, candle, and/or bath to obtain magical results in the sexual sphere. Typical results might be to obtain sexual desires (e.g. "love-drawing"), to stop another from enjoying complete sexual freedom (e.g. "hoodooing a man's nature"), or to control and dominate another through sexuality (e.g. by constructing a nation sack), increasing sexual vigour, attracting a new lover, aiding fertility and conception, or gaining a proposal of marriage Generally, practitioners of sexual folk magic seek to obtain results in the realms of sexuality and relationships, while those involved in ceremonial sex magick may have similar goals or may wish to use the energy of sex or its physical adjuncts (such as semen, menstrual fluid, or vaginal fluid) to achieve other goals, including money-drawing, improved health, casting curses, contact with discarnate entities or spirits (e.g. the dead, angels, demons, and deities), mental telepathy, psychic visions, and so forth. For practical lessons in folkloric sex magic, see Introduction to African-American folk magic (hoodoo) at http://www.luckymojo.com/hoodoo.html Folkloric love spells and love-charms at http://www.luckymojo.com/lovespells.html Assorted folkloric and ceremonial magick love spells at http://www.luckymojo.com/altmagickfaq/fukspls.html How to make and use a nation sack at http://www.luckymojo.com/mojo.html Hoodoo spells of female domination at http://www.luckymojo.com/femaledomination.html 2.9 Is a sex religion like tantra yoga the same as ceremonial sex magick or folkloric sex magic? Ceremonial magick is a Hermetic enterprise which assimilates what it can from a number of global mystical disciplines as it is able to apprehend them. Tantra yoga has preceded ceremonial sex magick (of various types) by centuries, but it is often re-interpreted within the Hermetic framework to add mystery and draw membership. It is often engaged by individuals who are members of an occult group and often presumes the "expertise" or "power" of physical (rather than merely symbolic) sexuality as a part of the ritual. Folkloric sex magic has roots that go back to the neolithic period. Insofar as tantra yoga is thought to derive from a prehistoric form of goddess-worship, it shares some imagery and beliefs with folk magic, such as the notion that there are special magical consequences attendant upon contact with menstrual blood or other sexual effluvia. However, the distinguishing characteristics of yoga -- body postures, breath control, and meditation -- are generally absent in folk-magic. Folkloric sex magic is most often embarked upon by solitary practitioners or by professionals (e.g. a root worker) on behalf of a client. It often presumes the efficacy of an object (herb, mineral, charm) or an incantation (spell or prayer) in the manipulation of sexuality. Tantra yoga is usually undertaken with the guidance of a guru in a religious group and often presumes the "inferiority" of practice which includes mere sexuality. It generally involves a great many supplementary beliefs about cosmology and the nature of divinity that go far beyond magical workings. Hindu tantrics seem to regard magic per se as a byproduct of mystical endeavour, rather than something which infuses the accomplishment of mystical disciplines. This premise is at odds with how a variety of Western occultists (e.g. Aleister Crowley) have portrayed their mystical systems -- Crowley, for instance, placed yoga as a *precursor* to his sex-magical practice. For further comparison between sex magic and spiritual sexual practices see also http://www.luckymojo.com/tksexmagic.html ____________________________________________________________ 3.0 TECHNIQUES 3.1 What are the tantra yoga techniques that prolong intercourse? Traditional tantra yoga techniques include visualization, selection of certain positions, breath control, various forms of manual pressure on the genitals, and muscle relaxation. More remains to be written, but for now, see http://www.luckymojo.com/tknorthaustin.html 3.2 How do tantra techniques differ physically from karezza techniques? Tantra yoga places more emphasis on visualization, asanas (body positions), and breath control than karezza does. In addition, each tantric school's style is relatively fixed and even dogmatic, whereas karezza is eclectic. More remains to be written, but for now, see http://www.luckymojo.com/tktantradefinition.html and http://www.luckymojo.com/tktechniques.html 3.3 Are tantra yoga and karezza techniques the same as extended sexual orgasm (ESO)? Some of the physical techniques are the same, but ESO and other so-called "sex-positive" teachings do not contain a mystical or magical component. Interestingly enough, however, people who learn the techniques of ESO often report "spontaneous" mystical experiences. A theoretical model explaining the biological basis of this phenomenon can be found at http://www.luckymojo.com/tkbiologicalbasis.html 3.4 Will refraining from orgasm harm one physically in any way? Apparently not, but overemphasis on avoidance of orgasm may lead to a special form of "performance anxiety" or to some temporary physical discomfort, especially in men. In the practice of sex magic(k), orgasm is often the focal point of the ceremony or spell, and its resultant products (e.g. mingled sexual fluids) may be ritually consumed, offered to a deity, or used to create a sigil or talisman. Such mingling requires that both parties be free of sexually transmitted diseases, for these can be more harmful in the long run than refusal to have an orgasm! 3.5 How can one interest one's partner in tantra or karezza? That would of course depend on the type of person one's partner happens to be. Those who are open to sexuality and mysticism are more likely to be persuaded to study or experiment, and, personal tastes being what they are, the presentation, style, or education of instructors may or may not conform to one's partner's tastes or ethics. A good place to start is by sounding out in discussion what the partner's interests and possible limitations might be in the investigation of sexual mysticism. If sexuality turns them off, then more ascetic and symbolic disciplines may become valuable introductions to the subject matter. If mysticism brings goose-bumps, then framing the enterprise as an exploration and study of consciousness (and the outer limits of ecstasy) may prove to be more palatable. The important thing is not to push too strongly or put such an emphasis on the study of the subject that it becomes tantamount to an unintentional ultimatum. Sometimes talking about matters of intimacy is much more frightening than actually *exploring* them, and with the right level of patience, understanding, and flexibility, combined with a sincere desire to make it the project of a *combined* effort, any obstacles may be overcome. 3.6 Can a solitary person practice tantra or karezza through masturbation? Can sex magicians work with masturbation? To "practice tantra" is not the sole privilege of the partnered or polyamorous. First, the wide range of descriptions for the practice and its goals allow a variety of possible objectives, and second, the exploration one does on one's own easily becomes invaluable groundwork for what one does with any future lovers. Although some tantric gurus forbid the practice, many neo-tantrics find the ritualization of masturbation to be liberating, some integrate it into their devotionals (fucking their god, for example, or dedicating their pleasure to a deity as an offering), some explore the parameters of their sexual excitation and arousal cycles, and others try to integrate an attitude toward themselves and their aesthetic relish that has the propensity to lead to very important life-transformation. Masturbation serves in a two-fold manner as an effective neo-tantric practice. It combines, especially within a puritanical culture, the violation of the cultural dissuasion against self-pleasure with an ecstatic experience that can develop mystical results. Sex magicians are somewhat divided on the subject of whether masturbation is an efficacious method of working. Generally speaking, folk magicians have long used masturbation as a technique to produce sexual fluids needed in spell-casting. For instance, in African- American hoodoo, it is common for a single person to dress a lodestone with his or her sexual fluids as part of a spell to attract a lover. Such an act is masturbatory in nature, and is considered perfectly good work. Some 19th century hermetic and ceremonial sex magicians (e.g. Paschal Beverly Randolph) decried both masturbation and coitus reservatus as "unnatural." Possibly they were under the influence of then-current negative attitudes toward masturbation, but be that as it may, their stated objections were usually that masturbation did not fulfill the alchemical, magnetic-electrical, or other dyadic premises underlying their sex magical theories. Most progressive 20th century ceremonial sex magicians find uses for masturbation as a technique. However, even among those most accepting of sexual variety, some demote masturbation in favour of other, preferred practices (e.g. the sex magician Aleister Crowley, who advocated anal sex leading to the consumption of mingled excrement, blood, and semen). 3.7 Do tantra teachers or sex magicians advocate any sort of "standard practice" religious ritual or physical techniques? If so, could you outline them? There are no universal standards for ritual work in tantra yoga. However, the following techniques for inducing ecstasy are used by many teachers in tantric, neo-tantric, and non-tantric schools of sex-worship and sex-mysticism: 3.7.1 Yoni puja and linga puja Worship of the generative organs is found in many schools of tantra yoga. This can take the form of presenting offerings of flowers and/or food to the sex organs of a living man or woman, to a statue of a deity, or to a simple effigy that symbolizes the yoni (vulva) or lingam (penis). In karezza, such worship is modified and subdued, but is found in the form of offerings of flowers, poetry, and other tokens of affection to the lover. In neo-tantra, meditative sexual massage is sometimes seen as a form of puja. 3.7.2 Control of orgasm Volitional control of the male orgasm is taught in all branches of tantra yoga as well as in some tantra-like practices of non-Asian cultures, such as karezza and neo-tantra. Karezza writers also advocate volitional control of the female orgasm. 3.7.3 Avoidance of orgasm Male avoidance of orgasm is central to certain branches of tantra yoga as well as some tantra-like practices of non-Asian cultures, such as "male continence." Karezza teachers recommend avoidance of both male AND female orgasm except at specific times (e.g. when the woman is menstruating or when the couple wishes to conceive). The degree of emphasis placed on orgasmic avoidance varies from teacher to teacher. In some radical Indian lineages of tantra yoga, irreversible genital mutilation of the male has been practiced to ensure the complete impossibility of ejaculation. On the other hand, it should be noted that there are sexual mystics, such as the spiritualist sex magician Paschal Beverly Randolph, who believe that avoidance of orgasm is a metaphysically dangerous and possibly demonic enterprise and argue strongly aginst it as "unnatural." 3.7.4 Passive copulation By this is meant very slow, mindful penis-in-vagina intercourse. Depending on the school of tantra and the individual preferences of the partners, this may involve no movement by either party, minimal movement by both parties, or no movement on the part of the man but some on the part of the woman. Passive copulation can be undertaken in any number of positions. One classic is the Hindu and Tibetan pose in which the woman sits in the man's lap, commonly known by its Tibetan name, "yab-yum" (which means "father-mother"). Among those who practice karezza, more conventional Western sexual positions such as lying side-by-side or woman-on-top are preferred for passive copulation because they require less effort and training. Taoist sexual alchemy texts advocate the woman-on-top position. 3.7.5 Eye-gazing This is recommended in most schools of tantra yoga and also by those who practice karezza. This is a form of meditation in which the partners simply look into each other's eyes for long periods of time. This may be done during passive copulation or during more active intercourse. 3.7.6 Breath-control Some form of this is common to all branches of tantra yoga, as it is part of the yoga substrate from which tantra yoga grew. Different breathing patterns are recommended by teachers in different schools of tantra yoga. Some of these involve hyperventilation, holding the breath, and other counter-natural patterns of inspiration. In karezza, synchronized slow breathing is deemed sufficient breath-control. Taoist sexual alchemy, in keeping with the Chinese interest in mystical numbering, goes so far as to prescribe batteries of counted breathing rhythms performed in conjunction with pelvic thrusts (e.g. 81 thrusts). In any form, breath control helps the participants key into the neurological basis of orgasm control. Synchronized breathing also helps the partners align their peaks and valleys of sexual arousal and spiritual bliss. 3.7.7 Circulation of subtle or aetheric energies This is spoken of in almost every branch of sex-magic and sex-religion. In some schools of tantra yoga, the ascent of subtle energies up the spine and through a series of energy points on the body (chakras) is envisioned and experienced -- especially by those whose teaching style is heavily influenced by kundalini yoga. As applied to tantra yoga, this kundalini-influenced vision of sexual union presents the energy as rising upward around each person's spine in twin currents (ida and pingala) surrounding a central core (sushumna), then joining at the top (crown chakra), and joining in union with the kundalini in the partner's crown chakra. Western sex religionists and sex-magicians also refer to such subtle energies, but they are envisioned in different ways. The 19th century writer Paschal Beverly Randolph presented an elaborate electro-magnetic and gender-specific model for the exchange of energy between two people who were engaged in frontal-contact coition. The early 20th century writer George Washington Savory experienced deep spiritual bliss and union with the divine from the aetheric energies he received when nursing at his wife's breast; she in turn described the nurturing and healing energy embodied in his semen. Followers of the 20th century psychologist Wilhelm Reich perceive the flow of "orgone" energy aroused during sexual contact "streaming" up the frontal surface of the body. Taoist sexual alchemists describe the "circulation of chi" (vital energy) in the body at different stages of arousal, culminating with the upward passage of chi along the "meridian" system, through "gates" and into the head. Direct experience leads many practitioners of most forms of Western sacred sex to describe a state in which their bodies seem to physically merge, blend, or become one with each other, with a free flow of energetic sensation shared between their central cores. 3.7.8 Antinomianism Some schools of tantra yoga encourage antinomianism (breaking of cultural taboos, e.g. against eating certain foods or against having sex with people of certain social or familial rank). Karezzans do not encourage antinomianism. Among sex magicians, opinions are divided. Paschal Beverly Randolph was a fierce proponent of monogamy and intoxication with hashish (then legal!); Aleister Crowley advocated "orgies" of illegal drug use, and engaged in such taboo- breaking "magical" acts as self-cutting with razor blades, the eating of excrement, and defecation on a friend's carpet after a private display of homosexual sodomy. 3.7.9 Lifestyle Some schools of tantra yoga and Western sex-mysticism encourage sexual promiscuity, while others insist on sexual monogamy or even (hard though this may be to comprehend) celibacy. The question of whether one should live as a "householder" in society or remove oneself to a monastery (ashram), or take up the path of a wandering renunciate (sadhu) is also endlessly debatable within the many schools of tantrism. 3.7.10 Deity worship Some branches of tantra yoga and tantra-like sexual- spiritual practices of non-Hindu cultures involve the devotee in the worship of a sexualized goddess or god (e.g. Siva and/or Shakti as Durga, Parvati, Kali et al); some take this farther and ask that the devotee worship the sexual partner as a living incarnation of a sexualized goddess or god; others subsume the practice of spiritual sexuality under the worship of a deity who is not sexualized. Taoist sexual alchemy does not decree the worship of a sexualized deity, although the lover is identified with a mythological figure (the Green Dragon, if male, and the White Tiger if female). Karezzans presume that one will experience religio-sexual-mystical bliss, but may frame this in terms of the individual's ascent to "heaven" or "celestial realms," or may seek to dedicate the resultant ecstasy to the deity-of-choice (e.g. Jesus Christ). 3.7.11 Meditation Some schools of Hindu and most schools of Buddhist tantra yoga advocate meditation. The form this takes varies by the base-religion that underlies the tantric practices. Hindus tend toward visual meditation (e.g. on a "yantra" or geometric diagram symbolizing sakti {female energy} or on the figure and form of the deity-of-choice (e.g. Kali, Siva, etc.) and sonic meditation (e.g. on the sound "om"). Tantric Buddhist meditation is as varied as the many schools of Buddhism themselves. Taoist sexual alchemy mentions meditation rarely; usually in later texts that have been influenced by Hinduism. Karezzans treat little of meditation in the Asian sense, describing it in Transcendentalist terms, which correspond to what some Asians call "contemplation." 3.7.12 Use of asanas (postures) and mudras (hand gestures) Most teachers of Hindu and Buddhist tantra, as well as some neo-tantra teachers, tell students that tantra yoga is facilitated by the use of certain asanas (bodily postures) while engaging in intercourse. They may also advocate the use of special mudras (ritual hand gestures) while in coition or as part of yoni puja or linga puja. To many Westerners, the asanas seem odd or forced, but when one understands that they grow out of the ancient tradition of hatha yoga, in which the ability to attain and maintain difficult body postures is part of a regimen of ascetic disciplines, their application to in a sexual context is more clearly understood. Likewise, the mudras assume two contexts in light of Indian culture: they are gestures made by the deities (and have hagiographic import in the identification of deities in religious art) and they are also gestures the devotee can make as part of a service to a particular god or goddess. For an -- unfortunately uncredited -- adaptation of a chapter from an undated tantric text called Vamakeshvaratantra, describing the use of the major Hindu tantric mudras, see http://www.crl.com/~tzimon/Workings/mudra.html 3.7.13 Use of mantras (chants) and yantras (symbolic images) Tantra yoga is not alone among the various types of Indian religion in its use of mantras (chants) and yantras (symbolic images) to aid meditation or self-realization, nor are such aids found exclusively in Asian religions. Repetitious prayer and the focus of vision upon sacred images is a world-wide phenomenon, and it is not restricted to religions in which there is a sexual component. All that aside, the characteristic mantras to deities such as Siva and Kali are considered highly useful to the tantric devotees of those entities, as are such symbolic images and representations as the downward pointing triangle and numerous elaborate variations of interlocked triangles. For the non-Hindu practitioner of a sex-based mystical system, other prayers and symbols may be of greater use; the disciples of Austin Osman Spare, for example, focus on a form of self-encrypted writing called sigilization during sex-magical rites. 3.8 What are the goals (stated) and effects (stated and not) of tantra and karezza? The stated goals vary by the branch of tantra or tantra-like sexual-spiritual practices of non-Hindu cultures one is considering. They range from literal union with the godhead to enjoying sex more, with plenty of stops along the way for intermediate goals. A good middle ground may be to experience spiritual bliss through sexual pleasure, to witness the incarnation of deity in one's lover, and to experience union with that divine incarnation on all the levels of visual, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual existence which one can perceive. 3.9 Is it possible to learn tantra yoga or karezza without a guru or teacher? Some teachers of tantra yoga insist that a guru must initiate one into tantra. Most authorities within Hindu tantric communities caution that guidance is extremely important and that getting disciplines out of (possibly erroneous) texts may be hazardous to those who are not properly prepared. On the other hand, karezza promotes learning from observation of one's partner -- a mutual initiation, as it were. Many people report that they have received a "transmission" or "revelation" about sacred sex through conversation, or by reading old books, usenet posts, or pages on the world wide web. 3.10 How can a gay person practice tantra? Where is their kundalini? Isn't it the case that for tantric experiences and sex magic a male and a female are required? Gay people can and do practice tantra yoga. In the first place, kundalini energy is not a requisite theoretical part of the composite and diverse systems of Hindu and Buddhist tantra. (See section 3.7.7 of this FAQ) In the second place, even among those tantrikas who use the kundalini model of energy flow, kundalini's rising energy currents are conceived as being the same in homosexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals, celibates, intersexes, and eunuchs. Finally, the history of Hindu tantra yoga ritual artwork contains many graphic examples of the ritualization of male castration (severing of both the testicles and penis) as part of an extreme devotionary act dedicated to Shakti in her wrathful form of Kali. Ritual castration is not condoned by the Indian government at the present time, but insofar as it was admired, advocated, and institutionalized by certain (minority) tantric gurus and their students in the past, it is evident that a male practitioner's sexual orientation and/or his capacity to function as a vaginal penetrant are NOT relevant to his acceptance into certain schools of tantra yoga. This information is not presented with the aim of equating homosexuals with castrati, merely to indicate that the penis-in-vagina coupling of heterosexual male and female bodies is not central to all schools of tantric teaching. (Ritual castration, by the way, was not limited to Indian religious practice: male members of the Near Eastern cult of Cybele also offered their genitals to their goddess; likewise, ritual male castration made inroads into early Christianity, although it was condemned as excessive during the late Middle Ages.) In folk magic, there is no barrier to any kind of homosexual magical working. For instance, a spell formula such as "Follow Me Boy" can be used interchangeably by heterosexual women and gay men to attract a male lover. Among hermetic and ceremonial sex magicians, opinions about homosexuality are sharply divided. One famous bi-sexual sex magician, Aleister Crowley, went so far as to declare that homosexual rites were in many ways superior to heterosexual workings, but he also claimed that lesbian couples were incapable of sex magick at all, due to their inability to produce sperm, which he believed was an essential ingredient in the work. ____________________________________________________________ 4.0 REFERENCE MATERIALS 4.1 I would like to learn more about these subjects, but am extremely wary of "teachers" and especially so in this context. There are a lot of fakes out there. Can you provide references that I can read to learn more? Self-teaching or mutual teaching with a partner is definitely acceptable in the realm of Western sex- mysticism and neo-tantra, even that which is very closely modelled on traditional Indian and Tibetan tantra yoga. Because the opportunities for sex-abuse must be considered, we do not recommend that you take any class from a teacher without a thorough investigation of his or her reputation, Generally, in the newsgroup, the single book most often recommended to beginners who ask for a text on tantra is "Tantra: the Cult of the Feminine" by Andre Von Lysbeth. This book contains a basic historic and cultural introduction to Indian culture, Hindu tantra yoga, Saktiism, and karezza, with pragmatic explanations of how to perform the mystical, yogic, and sexual practices recommended by a variety of ancient and contemporary schools of tantra yoga, Western sex-mysticism, and neo-tantra. For those who ask about Taoist sex alchemy, the book most often recommended in the newsgroup is "The Art of the Bedchamber" edited by Douglas Wile. This consists of English translations of the 22 extant Chinese texts on the subject, with detailed cultural, historic, and linguistic commentaries by the editor. An often-recommended book about Hermetic and ceremonial sex-magick is "Modern Sex Magick" by Donald Michael Kraig. This presents, among other things, a basic overview of the ritual sex magick of Aleister Crowley and his associates. A further short list of texts will be appended if people contribute. For now, see the lengthy bibliography at http://www.luckymojo.com/tkbibliocontents.html 4.2 Is the Kama Sutra of any real significance to tantra yoga? It seems like an ancient marriage manual more than anything else. The Kama Sutra is an ancient marriage manual. It reads like an old-fashioned sexual self-help book. It is highly coloured by local cultural beliefs, too, regarding the status of women, of marriage as an institution, and even of children and pets. We consider it more of a curiosity than anything else -- and we consider 19th and 20th century interest in it a significator of Western culture's fascination with "exotic" (i.e. foreign culture) sex. The Kama Sutra is no more or less about sexual metaphysics or sexual spirituality than a standard American "how-to-fuck" book would be. 4.3 Are there tantra videos, courses, or seminars? Most materials currently available on video or taught in workshops and courses are more properly considered to be neo-tantra, not tantra yoga. A short list of available materials will be appended here if people contribute. For now, see the link-list at http://www.luckymojo.com/tkwebsites.html ============================================================ Contributors: catherine yronwode (cat@luckymojo.com) tyagi nagasiva (nagasiva@luckymojo.com) Matt Atkins (matkins@io.com) Shava Nerad (shava@efn.org) Tzimon Yliaster (tzimon@xiqual.com) Editors: tyagi nagasiva (nagasiva@luckymojo.com) catherine yronwode (cat@luckymojo.com) Modifications to this FAQ, as well as new questions and answers, should be discussed in alt.magick.tantra rather than via private e-mail. ____________________________________________________________ Copyright Notice: copyright 1999 catherine yronwode, tyagi nagasiva, and Matt Atkins; reproduction for profit or for non-electronic distribution prohibited without the express permission of the copyright holders. Editors: tyagi nagasiva (nagasiva@luckymojo.com) catherine yronwode (cat@luckymojo.com) ============================================================ EOF