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A Brief History of Religious Sex

A Brief History of Religious Sex


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Sex tends to eternally meet religion
Sex tends to eternally meet religion

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Published by: somusagar on Mar 17, 2009
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A Brief History of Religious Sex Goddesses of Pagan myth resources: The religion of the Goddess, wherever it was practiced

throughout history, has always been sex positive. The most famous of the ancient rituals is the Hieros Gamos, or Sacred marriage ritual. Records of this ceremony have been dated as far back as early Sumerian, about 5500 years ago. In this ritual the high priestess acting as avatar of The Goddess had sex with the ruler of the country to show the Goddess's acceptance him as ruler and caretaker of her people. Here is

part of the ceremony as translated from an ancient Sumerian poem. The High Priestess, acting for Inanna, is speaking to Dumuzi the new king. My vulva, the horn, The boat of Heaven, Is full of eagerness like the young moon. My untilled land lies fallow. As for me, Inanna, Who will plow my vulva? Who will plow my high field? Who will plow my wet ground? As for me, the young woman, Who will plow my vulva? Who will station the ox there? Who will plow my vulva?

The symbolism is, I hope, obvious to you. If you've ever looked at an anatomical picture of the female reproductive system, you may have noticed that the vagina is shaped like a horn, it curves upward and narrows towards the back. On the male side, an old time plow (not the modern day tractor type) had a long, hard projection that pushed into the ground. Dumuzi, the king replies: Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva, I, Dumuzi the King, will plow your vulva Inanna accepts him saying:

Then plow my vulva, man of my heart Plow my vulva. Then follows more details of the happenings My eager impetuous caresser of the navel, My caresser of the soft thighs; He is the one my womb loves best, My high priest is ready for the holy loins. My lord Dumuzi is ready for the holy loins. The plants and herbs in his field are ripe. O Dumuzi, Your fullness is my delight. The high priestess then directs things to be readied

Inanna called for the bed. Let the bed that rejoices the heart be prepared Let the bed that sweetens the loins be prepared Let the bed of kingship be prepared! Let the bed of queenship be prepared! Let the royal bed be prepared! This bed was set up in front of the entire congregation. The people watched the entire ritual including the sexual part. He shaped my loins with his fair hands, The shepherd Dumuzi filled my lap with cream and milk.

He stroked my pubic hair. He watered my womb. He laid his hands on my holy vulva, He smoothed my black boat with cream, He quickened my narrow boat with milk. He caressed me on the bed. The King went with lifted head to the holy loins. He went with lifted head to the loins of Inanna He went to the queen with lifted head. He opened wide his arms to the holy priestess of heaven. We rejoiced together. He took his pleasure of me. He laid me down on the fragrant honey-bed

My sweet love, lying by my heart, Tongue-playing, one by one, My fair Dumuzi did so fifty times. Now, my sweet love is sated. At the climax of the ceremony (or should I say, climaxes, fifty times, wow!) the populous would cheer and shout their approval and appreciation. This ritual brought prosperity to the people and to the land, so they were very happy to witness its successful completion. A lot has been written since women's liberation about the performance anxiety men feel

in our modern times. Performing sex in front of other people was not the stressful thing in ancient days as it is now. Sex was often done in religious ceremonies in groups--Orgies. Nowadays the word orgy connotes something depraved and degenerate. That was not the original meaning for the word. The word "orgy" comes from the Greek word "orgia" meaning "secret worship". Since most secret worship involved sexual rituals, and Christians were opposed to anything sexual the word orgy came to have the debased meaning it has today, rather than the

noble, spiritual meaning of the original word. Many words that are used to describe extreme religious fervor are also used to describe great sex, such as passion, bliss, and ecstasy. There were many orgies throughout the year as celebrations in the religion of the Goddess. Many of these celebrations have been taken over by the Christians who removed their sexual nature. The best known is undoubtedly Christmas taken from the pagan festival of Saturnalia. Saturn, from whom we get the word for the day of the week, Saturday, was the

Roman name for the Greek God, Cronus and the Babylonian God, Ninip. Sometimes called the Lord of Death, he was represented by the sun at its lowest aspect at the winter solstice. That's when the earth is cold, and most plants are dead, and it was believed that the sun was approaching death. Today that's around December 21, but because of calendar changes, it was originally December 25th. Saturnalia celebrated the sun overcoming the power of winter, with hope of spring when life would be renewed. In Roman times, Bacchus, the god of wine, became the lord

of these festivals. During the Bacchanalian festivals the everyday rules were turned topsy turvy. The masters waited on the servants. All sexual prohibitions were lifted. It was a time of true good will towards all men. Even dresses were exchanged with men dressing as women. Erotic dances were performed with a large erect phallus being carried around in the dancing processionals. The custom of exchanging clothes during Saturnalia and Bacchanalia was an activity frowned upon by the Jews and Christians as it is prohibited by the Bible, Deuteronomy 22;5 "The woman shall not

wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy god" So much for Biblical transvestites. However, the god Hermes in order to become a god of magic went into the temple of his consort Aphrodite where he wore a woman's robes and artificial breasts. In the temple he learned all the secrets of the Goddess Aphrodite which were exclusively taught to her female priestesses. The priests of the very masculine Greek hunk, Hercules, always wore female dress, probably

in memory of Hercules service in female dress to the Queen Omphale. Zeus had sent Hercules to be a slave to the Queen for having killed a young man, Eurytus, after his father had insulted Hercules. One of the most famous prophets and seers of ancient time, Teiresias, was a man who was changed into a woman and served in the temples as a priestess for seven years to gain the feminine powers of insight and divination. During this time as a woman he gave birth to a daughter before being turned back into a man. It was Teiresias who gave us the "scale of one to ten."

Myth has it that Zeus and Hera once argued who had the most pleasure in sex. Zeus said it was the woman, while Hera asserted it was the man. They agreed that Teiresias should judge who was right. He did not hesitate to tell the God and Goddess, "Measured on the scale of pleasure, in the act of sex man has one measure to woman's nine." Hera became incensed by this, stating that judges, like referees in sporting events are all blind, and made Teiresias blind. Anciently men's transvestism had its roots in the desire to attain female magic and powers and was common

among the Pagan priests up to the time of St. Augustine who denounced the custom, saying that men who wore women's garments could never attain salvation, even if they were otherwise good Christians. So the good Catholics simply made the women's gowns into Priests robes. They looked the same, had the same function, but a "robe by any other name, does not a transvestite make." Another favorite converted Pagan holiday is Valentines Day taken from the Lupricalia. The festivals of Lupricalia were noted for their wild, sensual dances in which

sausages played a very important part. So important in fact that both dancing and sausages were outlawed by the Christian Emperors of the 4th and 5th century. And, of course, May Day used to have great sexual frolics around that giant phallic symbol, the May pole. The May pole represented the Gods phallus in Mother Earth. People decorated it and danced around it. Kids still do today, even though they have no idea of its original meaning. The Christian church opposed May festivals because of its association with pagan gods. A 16th century English Puritan writer

Philip Stubes, railed against May pole dancing. He said, "What clipping, what culling, what kissing and bussing, what smooching and slobbering one of another, what filthy groping and unclean handling is not practiced in the dances." Stubes estimated, though how he got his statistics is unknown, probably from peeping through bushes, that not one girl in three retained her virginity after taking part in May pole rituals. After dancing around the Maypole celebrants would retire to the open fields where they would have sex with anyone and everyone in the plowed fields

in order to insure the fertility of the land and prosperous yield of crops. May was a month of sexual freedom throughout rural Europe up to the 16th century. Marriage bonds were suspended for the month of May, commenced again in June - hence, June weddings. All of these ancient rituals, these orgia, involved group sex and nudity. The hang ups and inhibitions that most people have about having sex in groups or in front of other people are largely the result of Biblical attitudes. Sex, was something to be done only in private behind locked doors, and only for procreation.

Those restrictive ideas come to us from the Bible, in which nudity is condemned as soon as Adam and Eve ate the apple (or technically, the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil). Also in Genesis we read the story of Noah getting drunk and lying around naked in his tent. His son Ham, the father of Canaan, came in and saw him and went out and told his two brothers about it. They came in and, walking backwards, covered him. When Noah woke up he knew what Ham had done and he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto

his brethren" So the father curses his son and his descendants--who are according to some biblical interpretations, especially those of Whitehead and many Mormon, and some nineteenth century christian writers, the blacks--to be servants to his white brothers just because Ham saw him naked. A little extreme, I'd say. And it doesn't matter that some interpret this differently, as one of the justifications for American slavery of blacks was this interpretation of the Bible. Nudity is frowned on by the Judaeo-Christian god, but Greek Gods are usually

depicted as nude in magnificently detailed statues. The god of the Bible is always portrayed with plenty of flowing robes on. What does he have to be ashamed of? Did they cut too much off when he was circumcised? In pagan religion rituals, men and women had sex with their friends and neighbors. The Bible forbids such activities in no uncertain terms, Leviticus 20:10, "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress

shall surely be put to death." Even today some states still cling to archaic JudaeoChristian religious laws making adultery a crime. In ancient times a priestess could be married or unmarried. She performed sexual purification rituals with all worthy men regardless of her marital status. In some cultures all women were required to serve in the temple. Herodotus, the father of history, writing about the Babylonians states, "Babylonian custom compels every woman of the land once in her life to sit in the temple of love and have intercourse with some

stranger. The men pass and make their choice. It matters not what be the sum of money; the woman will never refuse, for that were a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. After their intercourse she has made herself holy in the sight of the Goddess and goes away to her home." That is unless she decided to continue as a full time priestess. The man was not paying for sex, but rather making an offering to the Goddess for allowing him to participate in the sacred ritual. One hundred and fifty years later, Quintus Curtius, the historian who accompanied

Alexander the Great on his conquests, reported: "There is none other more corrupt than this people, or none other more learned in the art of pleasure and voluptuaries. Fathers and mothers suffered their daughters to prostitute themselves to their guests for silver and husbands were not less indulgent with respect to their wives. The Babylonians plunged into drunkenness and all the disorders which follow it. The women appeared at the banquets with modesty at first, but they ended by abandoning their robes, then the rest of their garments one after another, disrobing

themselves little by little of modesty until they were entirely naked. And these were not public women who abandoned themselves so; they were the most respectable matrons and their daughters." In some cultures, as in Egypt, the upper class women were priestesses. Almost all of the Egyptian queens were High Priestesses of the Goddess, up until Cleopatra. She was the 369th in a line of which I am 537th High Priestess. Egyptologists who know how sexual the high priestesses were, just cannot believe that a queen would have sex with anyone other than her

husband-- like the good Jewish Queens of the Bible. They seem to think that Cleopatra, who had sex with 100 Roman noblemen in one night was unusual. The fact is, all priestesses, queens or otherwise had sex with thousands of men. In ancient cultures with matriarch religions, sex was considered something ennobling and uplifting. Sex could take you closer to the Gods rather than alienate you from god. An example of this come from one of the oldest stories in existence, the Gilgamesh Epic. Some place the Epic by tradition around 5,000 years

before the current era. The story tells of many heroic adventures of Gilgamesh who is part human and part god. One particular story tells that the gods placed a wild man, Enkidu, in the wilderness area and required Gilgamesh to capture and tame him. Gilgamesh is told of this wild man by a shepherd who has seen him. Rather than run out with spears, arrows and nets, Gilgamesh sends a priestess of the Goddess to the watering place of the wild man. She takes off her clothes, exposing her charms. The wild man, finding her much more appealing than his animal friends, has sex

with her for 6 days and 7 nights and is won from his wild life. He is calmly led by the priestess back to the city, to civilization. This story dramatizes the ennobling, civilizing benefits of sex. Sex is portrayed as a force for good. Contrast that with the Biblical version of the first sex activities. Adam and Eve were living in Paradise without sex. They disobeyed their god's order not to eat fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is only after they eat of the fruit of knowledge that they become aware of their genitals and sex. As a result they are caste out of

paradise, out of the presence of their god, into a cold, cruel, uncultivated world--where sex is evil. In the Goddess religion sex brings one to civilization and the goddess, in the JudaeoChristian religion sex drives one into the wilderness away from their god. In Judaism, the sins of the individual are put on some animal which is ritualistically killed by the a priest, or sent as a scapegoat into the wilderness. In Christianity, the sins are put on the dead god Jesus, whom they believe died for all men's sins, past, present and future. (So since your sins are already all taken

care of, why not enjoy yourself?) In the religion of the Goddess, the priestess takes upon herself the sins and transgressions of the man in the ritual of negation. In the Egyptian language the word, Negation, pronounced negation but obviously spelled differently in hieroglyphics, meant Semen or the essence of man. The word modernly means to cancel or wipe out, to make negative. You may wonder how it got from one language to the next with such a drastic change in meaning. That is because in the ritual of negation, a man ejaculates, or leaves his negation, his

semen inside the twat of the priestess, as a symbol that he is willing to give up his all in order to have his sins wiped out. The term negation came to be applied to the whole ritual or wiping out ceremony. Gradually through the centuries, the semen, and religious connection got lost and only the wiping out part remained. The priestess literally takes upon herself the transgressions of the man, she intercedes on man's behalf with the Goddess, so that he can be purified. She is his guide in this life to bring him to the hereafter. There have been some Christian sects through the

centuries that have selectively interpreted passages of the Bible to allow them to indulge in sexual activity typically forbidden by their god. The Aegopy had open, free love when christianity first began. Other "heretical" sects in early Christianity, such as the Brothers and Sisters of the Free Spirit, were killed off by good christians about 600 years ago. A heresy is anything which the Catholic Church does not agree with. America has had several religious groups which practiced open sex. The Oneida Company of New York, which makes beautiful silver

work was originally run by one such religious group. John Humphrey Noyes preached what became known as his "perfectionist" doctrine which required its members to lover one another--and make love to one another. Another sect which was established about the same time was the Brotherhood of the New Life. It was started by Tom Harris who taught that people had a duty to love each other, not just spiritual brotherly love, but also physical love with many partners. Most people know the Mormons practiced polygamy in the 1800's. But the

Mormons also had secret sexual practices in which women were shared among the inner circle of male leaders in the early days of the church. John Law, one of the ruling three men of the Mormon Church, second only to Joseph Smith, had his printing press destroyed by angry church leaders when he threatened to publish accounts of the men who had had sex with his wife. This is emphatically denied today by Mormon leaders, but Mormons leaders also denied that they were practicing polygamy until polygamy became the "New and Everlasting Covenant of

Celestial Marriage". Sex with several women became the "order" as long as you were married to them; and there appears to have be no limit put on the number of wives. The Mormons correctly pointed out that this practice was common among patriarchs of the Bible-Abraham, Israel, King David and Solomon, to name a few. Unfortunately Mormon women were never given the same freedom of having sex with other men as were the priestess wives of David and Solomon, and other patriarch. This right of the priestess, to have sex with any man she desired, appears to have

been originally taught by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, but was rejected by his wife, Emma, who also rejected polygamy. Why bother to twist and select passages from the Bible to allow sex in religion when there already exists the religion of the Goddess with its emphasis on spiritual sex? Each of these modern religions gave up their attempt at spiritual sexuality, due to pressure from JudaeoChristian religions. Sex is no longer just a religious issue, it is a political issue. From the mayors and councilmen of cities, legislators and governor, to the President,

the politics of sex demands an outward profession of the Judaeo-Christian ethics. A politician is required to parade his wife, children, church attendance and sexual fidelity before the public as a sign of his character. In this land of the free where there is supposedly freedom of religion, we are slaves to Judaeo/Christian traditions which promote a male patriarchal order as "family values". The sexuality of the Goddess has been feared by men from their beginning and Her sexuality is feared today. Christian fundamentalists are in dread of a sex-positive

religion which will have a greater appeal then their sexnegative, ascetic doctrines. Christians fear the haunting shadows of their forgotten ancestors--those ancients who worshipped the pagan goddess and the Goddess in Her temples and groves--who still bring up images of hidden memories of her priestesses in their subconscious who speak a truth which Christians openly deny. Christians fear the obvious, that after 2000 years their dead god has not returned and the twilight of christianity has arrived--that long awaited time when the "Lady of the New Dawn" would arrive.

I have arrived. Tantra An Academic View by Swami Nostradamus ViratoTantra in Buddhist and Hindu traditions was a method to activate and utilize Kundalini energy (bio-energy) for the expressed purpose of spiritual advancement. The word is a composite of tapestry, web and enlightenment. While some have dubbed Tantra a religion, that is for convenience sake. Tantra in essence defies all the tenants of a religion, while maintaining a spiritual core. And while there are indeed rituals, the rituals are for reference.

The origins and philosophy of the Tantric lifestyle can be traced to Tantric elements in both Hinduism and Buddhism, and predate Taoist philosophy. Buddhist Tantra, and Taoism are outgrowths of the original form of Tantra which began in ancient India. Today, Tantra has re-emerged in western culture as an alternative, self-help, sexual/spiritual phenomenon, and to some degree as been usurped, even if in name only, with aggressive, non-loving sexual perversion, from pornography to prostitution. It is sad, but it is what it is. This is not genuine Tantra. If this be any

definition at all, Tantra taps into a wider dimension of consciousness, and embraces love. It is indeed a doorway to enlightenment. The History of Sex in India While the essence of Tantric concepts can be traced to many parts of the world including the Native American tribe of Cherokee, who practiced Quodoushka, as well as in Polynesia, and elsewhere, one history of ritual sex can be traced back to the Harrapan tribe of the Indus Valley (4000 BCE --2000 BCE). They were agrarians who worshipped the power of the feminine, which they associated with fertility and

birth. Their deity was the goddess, idolized in the form of the yoni (vulva). The Harrapan's culture was altered by the warlike nomadic Aryans who replaced the existing female deities with their male gods-often represented by the phallic lingam symbol (penis). Female deities were then relegated more to being consorts to the male gods. Sexual intercourse was seen as a way to combine the male and female energies, which were seen as originating from the Cosmos. The manifestation of this duality are the deities Shiva (male) and Shakti (female).

Hinduism accepted an open attitude towards sex as an art and spiritual practice. The most famous pieces of Indian literature on sex is the Kamasutra. This collection of explicit sexual writings, both spiritual and practical, covers most aspects of human courtship and sexual intercourse. It was put together in this form by the sage Vatsyayana from a 150 chapter manuscript that had itself been distilled from 300 chapters that had in turn come from a compilation of some 100,000 chapters of text. The Kamasutra is thought to have been written in its final form sometime

between the third and fifth century CE . Over time, in the history of the evolution of Hinduism, almost every sexual technique conceivable was practiced and venerated in one sect or another. Fellatio, cunnilingus, prostitution, masturbation (with an impressive array of aids), anal sex, bestiality and even necrophilia were discussed, tolerated or encouraged. Against this historic backdrop, it is not surprising that Tantrism, a sect that utilized sex as a means to spiritual evolvement, would flourish. The Birth of Tantrism

Although its true origins are unknown, there is speculation that Tantrism, like many other philosophical movements before and after, was a response to the prevailing social and political environment. At the time, only Brahmans, the highest caste, were allowed to perform Tantric rites. Many of its practices were deliberately aimed at breaking the caste system, while others flouted convention in lesser ways by using drugs, magic, and sexual intercourse as part of religious ritual. Tantrism can also be seen as a backlash against the ideal of an ascetic lifestyle. An equally convincing argument can be

made that Tantrism was a natural philosophical-theological spin-off of a religion and culture that was steeped in sexual myth. The ancient Tantric movement peaked between 700--1200 CE. Tantrism is so called because the practitioners adopted the teachings in the Tantra scriptures thought to have been written around 300 CE. Tantrism is considered by some as a part of the group of Hindu sect, the Shaktis, who venerate the feminine. This is in contrast to the Lingayatis who primarily worship male deities. While there is little information as to the precise number of

followers that Tantrism was able to attract, speculation is that its appeal was widespread throughout Indian society some three thousand years ago. Although it is thought that originally Tantrism drew its following from the middle and lower castes, it would eventually be the Brahmans that would practice the most elite form of the belief. Later, Tantric aficionados carried their philosophy and lifestyle to China (around 1000 CE). In the 14th century, while the Mongols ruled China, yet another stream of Tantric "missionaries" from Tibet revitalized the movement in a

variation that held little of the Taoist elements of the original. The literature indicates the continued practice of Tantrism in India and China but provides little detail on the number of practitioners and depth of their practice. Specific reference is made of a Tantric sect in Bengal as recently as 1980. I should also point out, that while scripture did indeed abound, most who lived the lifestyle had little to do with doctrine or dogma. It was, and is, far from a belief system. Tantric Theology The basic statement of Tantrism was that if the world was a reflection of the cosmic order,

then people should seek enlightenment through experiencing it. Rather than pursuing asceticism, which was seen as a repudiation of the tactile, Tantrikas believed that a higher spiritual awareness could be achieved through indulgent (but controlled) sensory experience. The thought was that, if the world was an expression of divinity, then all in it must be divine, worthy to be worshipped rather than renounced. It was an apparently hedonistic creed, and its appeal must have been immense. What was common of all the other different systems of the Hindu religion was that they

were all ways to achieve freedom from perpetual reincarnation. The different systems accomplished this in different ways but all, with the exception of Tantrism, shared a philosophy of rejection. Among these were Nyaya, which advocated logic and clarity of thought, and Yoga, as well as Vedanta whose practitioners raised their spirituality through meditation. Tantrism turned all of this on its head. It offered its practitioners freedom in one lifetime, not through study or meditation (at least in the lower stages), but rather through indulgence, and

experiencing all that religions denied. Acquiring Female Energy The way to accomplish union with the divine according to Tantrism, was to become one with the "World Soul" itself. Since Tantrism was a sect of the feminine it envisioned the "World Soul" as being encapsulated in the image of the goddess (Shakti). Another source depicts the most venerated Tantric deity as being a Shiva-like figure with both male and female parts. This manner of being was known as an ardhanari (hermaphroditism). In this situation Shakti is seen as the female component of Shiva

and is often viewed as being in perpetual coupling with him. But even in this scenario, it is the female energy of the god that is coveted because it is this that will augment the male energy of the Tantric practitioner and hence enhance his spirituality. Back in the mundane earthly world, there existed a microcosm of the cosmic order. The sought-after female energy could be found in earthly women. Although all men and women had both male and female energies in them, women naturally possessed more of the female force (this is what made them women). The way to appropriate some of this energy

was through sexual intercourse. "The essence of Tantra is this union of male and female energy, a union that is both mental and physical. Due adoration cannot be paid to the mother goddess unless a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, as representing the Shakti, or female energy." The perceived necessity of acquiring this balance between male and female energies led some sects to require periodic sexual liaisons between monks and nuns. This process was deemed so crucial to spiritual advancement that temples were built for this purpose. The most famous was

built in 1565 CE in Guahati, Assam and dedicated to the goddess of love Kamakhya or simply Kama. As legend has it, it is on this site that a distraught Shiva dropped the genitals of a dismembered Shakti after her death, in fond remembrance of their long love-making sessions. The inner sanctum of the temple is a cleft that represents Shakti's yoni and is kept moist by a natural spring. "Kamakhya was worshipped not only by sexual intercourse, but also in human sacrifice. Under British rule the human sacrifice was replaced by sacrificial goats." Rituals and Practices

As in other Hindu sects, Tantric worship for some became very codified ritual. In this instance it took the form of the repetition of mantras and supervised religious ceremony. The more devoted practitioners meditated often and participated in more intricate ceremonies. While Tantra abounds with coloration and ritual, at the same time it is totally unattached to all methods. To some this is paradoxical. Indeed Tantra cannot be experienced with the mind. Mantras A mantra is a phrase or collection of syllables said deliberately and repeatedly, like

a fugue in music. It can be voiced or silent. Mantrum is used as a form of meditation or brain entrainment. Their purpose is to concentrate and direct spiritual energy, by removing or quieting mind. The most commonly used and most popular Tantric mantra is "Om Mani Padme Aum" which literally translates to "the jewel is in the lotus" or is another way of saying "the lingam is in the yoni." While most mantras have a spiritual focus, any repetition of any sounds or words may be used. In some the events I conduct, I sometimes user repetition of CO-KA-CO-LA as a meditation Tantra is also playful.

Circle Worship Chakrapuja which translates to "circle worship," was the basic ceremony for most Tantric practitioners. A small group of people would gather in the presence of their guru. It was the duty of the guru to supervise the proceedings and to make sure that the evening did not stray from it's holy purpose and deteriorate into an orgy. The male members of the group are referred to as vira ("heroes"), the female, as Shakti ("potencies"). The evening started with a mind heightening soma (such as wine or hashish), after which the couples proceeded to the other

"four of the five enjoyments." These were: meat, grain, fruit and sexual intercourse. It is hypothesized that all five represented mild breaking of taboos of orthodoxy while connecting to the earth. The evening culminated in sexual intercourse, and it is this aspect of their worship that was most developed and which also deserves further analysis. Here is my description of the Maithuna ritual as an example of preparation. Coitus Reservatus and Coitus Obstructus From the perspective of the male practitioners, sexual intercourse in these

circumstances was very purposeful. There were strict guidelines to follow. The goal was to increase the concentration of female energy in the male body. This was accomplished through extreme discipline and by following a prescribed methodology. Intercourse could only take place when the woman was sexually excited, after which, depending on the sect, the man would not ejaculate at all or would do so only after the woman had at least one, or preferably many orgasms. The reasoning derived from the Hindu belief that through intercourse, semen -- both male

(bindu) and female (amrita), could be concentrated in the body. It was then preferable to redirect the semen through the body rather than outside it as this then appropriated the female energy to the benefit of the male practitioner. The practice of coitus reservatus was referred to in Sanskrit as askanda and was represented in artwork of the time by images of a flaccid lingam known colloquially as "down penis" or nicha medhra. The famous statue of the Jain saint, Gomatesvara, is depicted with such a "pendulous" penis. It would appear that the process was not one of mutual sharing

but rather of one party gaining power at the expense of the other. Done improperly then, the ritual could have the opposite effect. Writings warn that the male stood the chance that the situation would be reversed and the woman would gain his energy and strength! Thus he who knew the secret of sexual intercourse turned the good deeds of woman to himself but he, who without knowing this, practices sexual intercourse, his good deeds woman turn into themselves. The idea of "cultivating" sexual energy from the woman by deferring or avoiding ejaculation can be found in Taoism. Taoists

believed that women had much larger sexual appetites and the capacity for multiple orgasms and hence had more sexual energy. It was assumed that a woman could experience innumerable orgasms without experiencing any physiological, psychological, or sexual harm and still be 'enlightened', whereas a man "once he ejaculates falls into a deep sleep, totally drained of all of his strength." Therefore, a man should strive to bring a woman to many orgasms and delay his own because he would then benefit from her energy (her yin). The longer that a man could stay within the "jade chamber," and the more

orgasms he could solicit from the woman, the more yin energy he could absorb. Advice to the Male Practitioner It is important to note that the motivation for prolonged intercourse and encouraging sexual pleasure and orgasm in women was a sly and selfish male desire to gain female yin. To attain this goal, men were instructed to learn how to delay their own orgasm for as long as possible. They were advised to use mental meditative powers, self discipline and manual intervention (coitus obstructus). To avoid "premature ejaculation" (by Tantric standards), Master Tung-hsuan, a Chinese physician

in the seventh century, advised that at the last moment, "the man closes his eyes and concentrates his thoughts: he presses his tongue against the roof of his mouth, bends his back, and stretches his neck. He opens his nostril wide and squares his shoulders, closes his mouth, and sucks in his breath. Then he will not ejaculate and the semen will ascend inward on its own account." As Tantrism spreads from India into China (700 CE), there is more evidence of advice to men on this matter. From the book, Important Matters of the Jade Chamber, we get an account of the technique for coitus

obstructus. "When, during the sexual act, the man feels he is about to ejaculate, he should quickly and firmly, using the fore and middle fingers of the left hand, put pressure on the spot between scrotum and anus (called the "million dollar point"), simultaneously inhaling deeply and gnashing his teeth scores of times, without holding his breath. Then the semen will be activated but not yet emitted, it returns from the Jade Stalk and enters the brain." Once proficient in the ways of reliably gaining female energy (without the process backfiring), the Tantric practitioner engaged in regular ritual intercourse as a

way of getting constant infusions of female energy. The Tantric interpretation of events was very similar to that of the Taoists. During intercourse, preferably in one of the convoluted positions advocated, a complex interaction between the female energy and the male navel chakra resulted in the conversion of the vital but previously constrained male semen into a vital force (referred to as bindu) which then, "... whisked up through ... to the chakra at the top of the head, "the thousand-petalled lotus," which opened into the void, the eternal bliss of nothingness. Thus the true Tantric adept became one with the dual-sexed

World Soul." For the majority of practitioners, this union would seem to have been a fleeting thing. More advanced Tantric practitioners sought a more permanent blissful state by employing a more sophisticated strategy. Interestingly, the prescribed rituals were such that the (male) practitioner would eventually be free from dependence on women. Advanced Tantric Practices For the dedicated Tantric practitioner who wished to attain the promise of bliss in a single lifetime, the rituals were to become increasingly solitary. At first, the (male) practitioner

moved up the hierarchy through an initiation ceremony that involved having ritual intercourse with specially trained women known as a dakinis. The man, now known as a sadhaka, embarked on a process of intense meditation which included "liturgies, the uttering of mantras, mental visions, yogic postures, and what one authority charmingly describes as 'manipulation of the conjoined male and female energies.'" The goal in this last practice was to develop the male and female energies that were now part of the practitioners body by the process of what could be

conceptualized as "intercourse with oneself." The same result that was achieved fleetingly through sexual intercourse with women, could now be reliably reproduced within the male body thus enabling him to reach union with the divine. Conclusions The mystique of Tantric practices has fascinated the world since the days of it's peak in India. As the practices and rituals became known by other cultures, Tantrism was claimed by the cultures that "discovered it." This appropriation was often in a "smorgasbord" fashion where bits and pieces were selectively claimed. The Chinese

codified the practices into elaborate sexual manuals that could be consulted by the average citizen. Later in history, the coitus obstructus technique, was used by the Turks, Armenians, and the islanders of the Marquesas, and the North American native Cherokees. Tantra today has little to do with these ancient text. It is continually updated by the various practitioners, teachers and performers. That is indeed the central point...Tantra is dynamic and alive, and subject to change at every moment. In my events, I usually say that Tantra invites you to "expect the unexpected," and to become

one with the very experience. Hence Tantra is not about scholarly text, ritual and surely not dogma. In the late 1970's, sex researchers, Masters and Johnson rediscovered that it was possible for men to be trained to experience the pleasure of orgasm (possibly several times) without ejaculation. When the western world "rediscovered" the same thing in very old eastern "Tantric" tradition, a renewed interest in the rituals and practices of Tantrism was sparked. In studying history, religious or otherwise, it is important to be

aware of three things (among others); The perspective an d filters of the writer, the reader's own cultural biases in trying to analyze the information presented, and the context of situation being studied. This must be considered in trying to understand Tantrism while conditioned, to one degree or another with a western point of view. Much of the analysis of Tantrism has come from a "western" point of view which can be subtly (or overtly) tainted by the JudeoChristian sex-negative and religious perspective. It is this perspective that leads to the interpretation of Tantrism as a

"depraved" phenomena and conjures echoes of a Sodom and Gomorrah. Like any other philosophy or movement, Tantrism had its share of fanatics, but it was founded on well established practices, and served as a viable way for its practitioners to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Regardless of the neutrality of the source, the western reader is also faced with a conceptual hurdle in studying Tantrism. There is something that will strike most as "intuitively" scandalous about "orgies" as worship. The impression that is left with most is that Tantrism was an excuse for an over-sexed

society to practice its favorite form of recreation. This was precisely the response of the British during the years that they colonized India. Their cloistered Protestant Christian sensibilities were appalled by the "debauchery" around them. Indian scholars take pains to point out that Tantrism is a spiritual philosophy and not a sexual movement. As one scholar points out, Hindu and Buddhist critics "have constantly suggested that the Tantrika uses religion as a mantle for sexual desire and debauchery; the Tantrikas have constantly answered that the complicated, elaborate, and

exceedingly difficult procedure followed by them would not at all be necessary to gratify sexual desire, whose objects are much easier to obtain without any [such rigorous] trappings." In other words, if having sex was the goal, there were easier ways to do it. Again, you should recognize and respect Tantrism for what it was, a valid effort to achieve spiritual enlightenment. What I have saved for last is this. Tantra, at its core, is a philosophy of love, and universal adoration. This state of love consciousness is thought my many to be achieved only through the process of surrender, or letting go of all

attachments, and to fully experience the joy and bliss of existence. To smell the flowers, taste the wine, and enjoy beauty in al its myriad physical and spiritual forms. Once you have assured yourself that, as much as possible, you are free of your ethnocentric blinders, you can then examine the records of history in the context of the time. ©1996 Swami Nostradamus Virato. All rights reserved Swami Nostradamus Virato has been conducting Tantra events in America and Russia for over two decades. See Nepal Institute. For information call

828-254-6620, or e-mail virato@mindspring.com BIBLIOGRAPHY Glossary, Nepal Institute Bibliography, Nepal Institute Bullough, Vern L. Sexual Variance in Society and History, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, London, 1976) Davis, Nigel. The Rampant God Eros Throughout the World, (William Morrow and Co., Inc., New York, 1984) Das, H. C. Tantricism: A Study of the Yogini Cult, (India Sterling Publishers)

Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions, Second Edition, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1994) Ide, Arthur Frederick. Sex Woman & Religion, (Monument Press, Dallas, TX 1984) Rawson, PhilipTantra: The Indian Cult of Ecstasy Sharma, Arvind. ed., Women in World Religions, (State University of New York Press, New York, 1987) Sinha, Indira The Great Book of Tantra Tannahill, Reay Sex in History, (Stein and Day, New York 1980)

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