In which I discuss how much I learned about sex in Europe, how much we still have to learn in the US, and what I and perhaps you are going to do about it.
I remember going to AVN–the annual conference of the adult industry in Vegas and schmoozing with porn producers, and sex toy inventors and sellers.
One of them asked me what I did.
I said, “I teach tantra.”
From their reaction, I might as well have said, “I have ebola and am highly contagious.”
They stepped back. A look of disgust crossed their face.
What the hell?
I had done my training in sexuality Europe, where I had lived the past 15 years. And there, tantra is a curiosity and a movement.
However, in America, things look very different.
Here, due to a renegade few seeing something new they can cash in on, get laid with, and sometimes even abuse others with, there has arisen somewhat of a negative view around tantra.
Some people in the sex-positive world in the US see people using the word tantra as:
- Having few boundaries, nor respecting others’ boundaries
- Not teaching consent
- Being predatory
- Just a way to get sex
These are real problems.
I sometimes jokingly say, “A tantra workshop is where you go to learn a technique that has been handed down in reverence from guru to student for 5000 years after years of dedicated practice in a weekend from a guy who read a book on it two weeks ago.”
A famous sex educator in frustration told a group of tantric ‘teachers’: “I get to fix the people you people screw up.”
One of the most famous ‘tantra’ teachers in the US said, when asked how many women he had slept with, “I don’t know. Somewhere between one and two thousand, I think?”
All of these things contribute to people being wary of the word ‘tantra’ as taught and practiced in the United States.
Add that to the fact that numerous ‘tantric practitioners’ have been arrested and sometimes imprisoned on prostitution charges, and that ‘tantra’ is a cool word for an escort to write on her ad to drum up business, and it’s no wonder that it has a bad rap.
Indeed, even when I studied tantra, it was mostly about how to squeeze the most pleasure or healing out of every encounter. Little was said about what happens before that, in terms of negotiation, or after the experience, in terms of longer relationship dynamics.
And, many of the tantra teachers I know go from train wreck to train wreck of relationship. They enter someone’s life like an addictive drug, get them hooked, move on, and leave a trail of stilted lovers behind them.
To some degree, so did I when I first discovered this path.
So, with all of the crap that can go wrong and is bad with tantra, all of the abuses that can and do happen, why do I feel tantra is so important?
Tantra was life-changing for me. It was the first space in which my natural desires and skills regarding touch could be expressed freely, without guilt and shame.
It gave me clear ways to learn about both my body and my partner’s…and methods to maximize our pleasure together.
It became a non-denominational spiritual path for me. A way to discover my own divinity and that of my partner, and to connect in that devotional space as divinity–leaving outside whoever we thought we were before.
Tantra was my healing for guilt, shame, and fear. It became a doorway to loving and accepting my body.
A lot of great work is being done under this umbrella. And people’s lives do change.
We have Christian priests and yoga gurus who have been embroiled in scandals and embarrassed themselves. This doesn’t mean that yoga nor Christianity are without value. It means we learn and move on.
However, tantra needs to be redeemed, even if it will always mean something different to each person who participates in it. Because some people have caused offense with it, it needs to be redeemed.
After leaving the Mormon church, drenched in shame and body-negative messages, and not knowing where to turn, I decided I wanted to learn about sex and alternative relationships.
There were two places to do that: ZEGG, which was holding an intro weekend a couple hours from where I lived. I don’t remember how I heard of them.
The other was an ad I saw in the online classifieds in Dresden. “John Hawken, famous tantra teacher from the UK coming this one weekend only to Dresden.”
I was intrigued. I called the number on the ad and a gruff man answered. This was the convo.
“Hi! I saw your ad for a tantra workshop. What is that?
“What do you think it is?”
“Well, I think it’s about sex.”
“Um, so can I register?”
“You can just show up, I guess.”
What I didn’t realize was that Stefan had placed the ad with the hope of bringing more hot women into the local tantra scene. I, as a man, was competition, so he did his best to gruffly dissuade me from coming.
In retrospect, he might have been wise to do that. In two months I was running the local group’s practice sessions and by the end of the summer I had spent *ahem* -time- with most the female population of the local group.
When I arrived for the weekend, John began by paraphrasing Osho (but I didn’t know that).
“When you study an idea or a philosophy, you like it or you don’t. You accept it or you don’t. And, maybe later you find a different philosophy. Here, we don’t learn by memorization or rote or debate. Here we learn by experience.”
I was so tired of sitting in classrooms during childhood listening to teachers and religious leaders drone on–and I had been so betrayed by their ideas which hadn’t actually worked in my life, I immediately latched on to this new mode of learning.
I decided not to read anything else about this topic for the time being and learn experientially.
And why not? How do children learn about life? About their preferences? About what is dangerous?
Not conceptually, primarily. Experientially. They learn how to ask for a cookie and what that is because they want one, not because someone needs to drone on about how important cookies are for our economic growth.
John would give us an experience. We were randomly paired, men and women, and we danced elbow to elbow. Or we breathed and gazed into each other’s eyes. Or we wore blindfolds and embraced a stranger.
Each experience was about the experience. Not primarily our thoughts about what the experience would be like. Nor about our judgments or evaluations of it. What sensations did we experience internally and externally? What feelings were present? What were we thinking?
We became magnificently aware of the processes within us during each of these experiences. We noticed how the experience was dramatically different with a different person. Or the same person on a different day.
I had never felt so alive.
I remember during the break going to the local store and staring the cashier right in the eyes. I felt like I could conquer the world.
We did hear a little theory. But not to regurgitate or believe or reject. Simply to provide some context for our experience, if it were helpful.
“Religions argue about what you are. Are you just a body? Or a spirit in a body? According to tantra, there are two components. You are a point of point of consciousness, and a flow of energy. Energy is the feminine principle and consciousness is the masculine. The dance between these two creates the world and your life and your relationships.”
I will never forget those words. They clicked into place verifying to me an entire map of myself and my romances which I had always looked for but never found. My life from that point would be devoted to researching the experience of all the ways that dance could manifest in my life and how I could experience it with others.
by Ryan Orrock
Today, a beautiful person came to me excited with the opportunity to use her power and sexuality in healing. (November 9, 2013). It prompted me to write the following.
I wish I could tell you about the magical journey that lies before you. I wish I could show you the many faces of all the people you will help.
I wish I could describe the deep satisfaction that comes from touching people in the most powerful way they have ever been touched.
But you know this. You smell it already.
Which is why I see excitement, the pleasure, the hunger burned in your eyes.
I also the defiance. The seduction. The unpredictable wantoness mixed with pure joy.
You know who you are. Even while you are still searching for yourself.
You know what you are here to do, even though you have no idea exactly what that will entail.
But you have it inside. You have always had it. Ever since you were small. That flame.
A flame your parents probably fought. Society tried to extinguish. A flame that almost everyone around you said could only end in a catastrophically destructive conflagration.
But you didn’t listen–you believe them. At least not always.
You have been scarred, but not broken. Attacked, but not destroyed.
You, are still here.
And in a very special way, that flame burns brighter than ever.
Thank you for allowing me to see it.
And now some words of experience.
This won’t be easy.
It will be the hardest thing you have ever done, in many ways.
You will probably continue to be opposed by society. Many of your friends, even loves, will not understand you. Some will reject you for following where this flame leads.
Your soul will be torn in two at times in the seeming conflict between your happiness and your mission.
Many people will appear offering to help. Some of them will leave deep scars.
But your knowledge will continue to increase. Your flame will grow brighter and brighter, until it consumes everything that opposes it.
This will be a long and arduous journey. A journey for a queen. A journey for a heroine.
There is nothing of perfection in this journey. But everything of greatness.
Never give up and the gods themselves will be in awe of you.
The purpose of archetype erotic training is to allow a person to enter into, as far as possible, their full life power by means of releasing and accessing every form and major location of energetic expression that can take place within the body.
Women have three major energetic archetypes in connecting with men:
- Maiden – Beauty, sexuality, attracting
- Mother – Comforting, nurturing, healing
- Crone – Wisdom, counseling, tempering
Another that is accessed as a general state as these three are brought into balance: the Queen.
Men have three major energetic archetypes when dealing with women as well:
- Lover – Feelings, senses, and emotions
- Warrior – Action in the world. Doing, achieving, solving problems.
- Sage – Understanding, knowing, and being.
As these are brought into balance, a fourth manifests: the King.
Each of these male archetypes, for example, contains two unhealthy variations.
- Lover – Playboy / Victim – Either through total dependence on love and sensual pleasures or an abandoning of this section to other energies.
- Warrior – Bully/Pushover – Either through dependence on force to get energy or inaction.
- Sage – Trickster/Dolt – Either by Using Wisdom or Knowledge as a way to avoid connection or action OR by lazily avoiding a study of the Truth in the World for Sharing.
If a woman would like to invite a man into the healthy archetype from the shadow version of the archetype, she must approach him from the healthy version of the corresponding female archetype. Therefore:
- To invite a playboy or a victim to transform into a lover, use the maiden energy.
- To invite a bully or a pushover to transform into a warrior, you must first use the mother energy.
- To invite a trickster or a dolt to transform into an sage, utilize the crone energy.