WHY IS GAY TANTRA SO TABOO?

Why is gay tantra so taboo? It’s time to call an end to the dogma of patriarchy and traditional gender roles, says Lisa Luxx

Credit: Concha on Behance

Here we are at a mountain top tantric yoga retreat on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The love of all my lives is trembling in zen beside me. Class is about to adjourn after our first day and it’s been enlightening; a breath of fresh mountain air into the depth of my ‘yoni’ after a year of undiagnosed vulva pain and gender delusions.

Then the goddess leading the workshop goes and says something that brings the screeching banshee of psychosexual trauma right back. “Your homework is to think about having sex with the opposite sex.” A fellow dyke raises her hand and asks, “Why has it got to be the opposite sex?” The goddess, unmoving, diverts her eye line from the gays and announces stoically, “Because tantra is for man and woman.”

Oh. I wonder why no one ever told me that before. I’d e-mailed the school ahead to tell them, “My girlfriend and I would like to do the practical tantra retreat,” and they opened their pockets wide for us to dispense our money. But they never said, “Tantra is for man and woman.”

On our walk home my girlfriend expresses how uncomfortable she is to have been given these instructions, I argue that it’s probably okay, trying to diffuse the upset. And start to think about having sex with men. It plays out like a Kung Fu fight in my head until some element gets thrown through the stain glass windows of my eyes and I see in front of me that it’s way too 2016 for this kind of disheartening heteronormativity.

It seems, this super straight approach to tantra comes from the misled belief that Shiva and Shakti literally represent man and woman. However, I got mulling this over with my friend Stephanie (who’s written a book called Sex Drive on liberating her orgasm) and she introduced me to the cult icon Barbara Carrellas who wrote the first ever book on queer tantra: Urban Tantra.

“Shiva and Shakti, in Hindu tantric philosophy, are actually huge entities representing consciousness (Shiva) and energy (Shakti). When Shakti and Shiva had sexual intercourse it gave birth to the world. How this got confused with vagina and penis, I do not know,” Barbara explains on the phone to me, after I’ve returned to England.

Back at Hridaya in Mexico, Antoaneta’s teaching became more cracked and twisted as we went on. By the second day she had termed, and continued to refer to, the clit as the “little penis.” An offensive that landed like the shells of warfare in the trenches of my creed.

I’ve toured spoken word performances that educate women on the facts that may empower their clit and one facet of this is that the clit is not small; it can extend up to 9 inches within us. The clits of many straight women will be bigger than their partner’s dick.

The course leader – who began the retreat glowing in light and by now had morphed into this disheveled, haggered devil of a being – proceeded to laugh off lesbian sex as something that only happens in yoni therapy, not a real manifestation of love on this earth. We walked out. My girlfriend cried all the way back to our cabana.

The next day we bumped into another lady from the course who was quite distressed. She told us she too was gay and what we’d missed in the final day was a ceremony whereby many unknown men had entered the space. Men who had not been on the course but who were marched in to save any woman having to pair up with another woman during the sensual massage.

This lady we spoke to, who we’ll call Kirsty, had left in floods of tears, “I feel stupid because I don’t know why I came back to tantra. I thought it was worth giving another chance but discrimination is all I’ve ever experienced at tantra schools.”

When I spoke to my queer friends about my experiences in Mexico, they had all nodded solemnly and said, “Yeah, homophobia is a real problem in mainstream tantra.” And, that was the key lesson for me to learn; there is a mainstream tantra, which doesn’t have the social awareness that some of us expect.

For anyone who has ever experienced ‘energy genitals’ they’ll know that the line between owning a dick and a pussy can be smudged. I’ve had a dick before. Insomuch as I’ve felt the erection rise from my pelvis and enter my girlfriend, and she’s felt it inside her. I wouldn’t have had the linguistics to explain this before speaking to Barbara, who coined the term ‘energy genitals’.

“There is a position called Yab Yum where the person on the bottom could have a physical possession of a vagina and the person on top could have a physical penis. But the person with the vagina experiences a penis. Once they start rocking and holding eye contact the man feels he’s being penetrated by the woman.”

This is a genderless phenomenon. And for someone who exists in the grey area between genders and doesn’t always feel wholly assigned to the physical sexual design given unto me, tantra appealed because it focuses on energy rather than physicality. And tantra does exist as beautifully open as that. Barbara Carrellas runs her own courses which allows for magic to happen off-script.

For example, “One guy came to a women’s class because he couldn’t make it to another. So he was doing the breathing technique for women and he was flying just as far and as fast as any women in the room. To which I realised, there’s a lot to this I don’t understand and I think I’m being fed a lot of myths and lies.”

The Radical Faeries, once a gay male counter-culture network in the US is now opening up to all gender and sexual identities. Within their discourse is tantric teachings. The network has now spread globally too.

When one embarks upon a tantra course they lay themselves open and become ultra vulnerable, any teacher who is insensitive or who makes you feel invisible can emboss serious damage within you.

It’s important to find a workshop leader that is emotionally equipped to the complexities of sexual identity. When humans come together and open themselves up in a small space it’s bound to get messy and as my friend Jessie says “you just have to hope for a great facilitator”.

Jessie is part of women’s only tantric program called Shakti Tantra which she tells me is a great place to heal. But the divide should not be a must for us to feel safe. For any tantric workshop to serve its purpose it needs to be free of patriarchal dogmas. That doesn’t mean being free of men.

Ask lots of questions before you book your space on a course: will I get split up from my partner, will I have to be paired up with anyone I don’t want to, will I have to reveal details about my sexual past, and so on. If you don’t get the answers you’re looking for then keep searching for the right tantra course. There are retreats friendly to all persuasions, genders and sexualities (including polyamorous types).

Tantra began as a deliberately transgressive art form. It was the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of its day. It was a political movement. So take these homogenous tantra fundamentalists with a pinch of salt and reclaim the art form. As Barbara says: If you want to practise the semen retention that’s fine but, don’t tell the rest of us that’s the only way to do it!

SEXUAL HEALING: FINDING F***ING ENLIGHTENMENT

Bad sex is no joke. It’s time for a little in the way of sexual healing, says Hanna BierImages: From Sexual Orgasms 1-10 by Romain Gorisse via Behance.net

A large proportion of the people I know are willing to settle for “blah” when it comes to sex. My spirit sister once told me about her first time having sex in a bunk bed of an Australian hostel. She basically said: “Well, I knew I had to get it over with sooner or later anyways. I was young, so I thought, what the heck.”

I’m sorry, but to me this sounds a lot like self-rape, the social acceptance of which is alarmingly high. Because to me, saying “yes” to any kind of sex that isn’t rooted in complete transcendence and sexual rapture is an act of self-violence. Sex is a sacred act! Why would we want to settle for anything less than mind-blowing, life-altering boner sessions?

But as the saying goes; “Sex is like pizza, even if it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” And so no wonder there’s an epidemic of 15-minute fucks, with only the privileged / lucky few having been awakened to the power of a three-hour sexual prayer.

Before I broke up with my first boyfriend, I was clueless about sexual misery. He happily took care of me for four to five hours, not stopping until my body gave up and my mind, body and flesh had been thoroughly penetrated.

And it wasn’t because he was overly experienced or had taken a gazillion tantric seminars before we had sex. It was actually quite the opposite, and simply that he was totally in tune with his cock. He was the kind of skilful that can only come from total sexual innocence. He fucked with his heart, his mind unpolluted from pop culture’s pornographic mentality. He was fully present, just doing his thing. Over, and over, and over again.

How could I have known that such wholehearted banging was actually a rarity? But since him, I have yet to find a lover who’s given me even a fraction of what he was capable of.

This discovery truly shattered me. I began to see the feminine energy around me shrinking and turning pale. I noticed the male getting limp and giving up way too soon. This sexual inadequacy manifested as stilted creativity. A loss of perseverance. Power mistaken for bitchiness. Attention mistaken for weakness.

And it’s infuriating just how ingrained the idea is that the female has to orgasm within 30 minutes, and keep quiet while doing so.

Because the biggest healing potential for the feminine archetype lies in deep and thorough fucking, and there’s no way a lady can find enlightenment in a half-hour lunch break fling. No wonder she backs out and would rather settle for no sex than intercourse that feels more like being poked or stabbed.

Every time we have bad sex, our consciousness is injured in some way, and if we don’t make efforts to heal ourselves from that, our capacity for enlightenment is severely constricted. Which basically means, bad sex = longer soul journey. And we don’t really want that, do we?

So when considering your next sexual encounter, here’s how to not rape yourself…

As a woman:
– Spend time smelling and tasting the person you are sleeping with. Ideally, you’d want to chug your lovers cum and sweat. Our body liquids are nature’s love potions. They contain all information we need in order to workout if the person we’re about to merge with is sexually compatible with us. And if they are, just a drop of their elixir will send us off into the void.
– Notice your vagina giving you signals that she’s truly ready. She needs to be fully lubricated, aching to be penetrated, and energetically sucking in the finger/penis/tongue.
– Now your only task is to open. If you can’t, something’s off. Your vagina is like a compass, pointing you away from spiritually violent sex by not wetting and not opening up. This is alarmingly obvious, yet so often ignored advice. I wouldn’t have to give sixth grade sex-ed pointers if it weren’t necessary. So trust her when she says no. Get ready to break when she says yes.
– In short, if it’s not a “fuck yes”, is a “fuck no.”

As a man:
– Wait to be invited. You can only safely enter a person to the extent that your counterpart sucks you in. Every time you push to open a gate, you violate yourself and your partner. By feeling for the opening and waiting for the call, you give permission for complete surrender by your partner.
– Be aware that the more she gets to open, the more deeply you get to penetrate. So play with it, advance a little and then wait to see if there’s a pull. If there is, go further.
– Practice stamina. Bend life over and fuck it senseless. Over and over and over again. Every time you finish early or give up before you’ve truly penetrated what asked to be penetrated, you are selling yourself sexually short.
– The male archetype enters a higher sexual order when he has perfected the skills of easing the female open. Think of it as opening her legs open, her heart, and her brain. And then keeping her there, until she surrenders just a little more to spill all of herself, losing herself completely in the torment of her sexual awakening.

Do you agree? Or is there something to be said for sex that’s short and sweet? Connect with us and share if you dare on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Find out more about Hanna Bier and her work at FreeSpirited.co

TURNED ON: LIFE AS A CONSTANT STATE OF AROUSAL

In the first of a regular column on sex and spirituality, Ellie Burrows explains how getting really turned on is about allowing your body to open up to the world around you. Portraits: Katie Fischer.

I’m always turned on. I walk the earth in a constant state of arousal. It’s. The. Best.

Everything turns me on: my morning ritual of almond butter and raw honey toast accompanied by black tea with a dash of milk; an episode of Scandal; a conversation about the Universe; a pair of Alaia boots; meditation dance at 5Rhythms; riding the subway listening to Beyoncé; having my hair pulled; cleaning my bedroom; practicing mindfulness; fancy lingerie; a cute puppy on the street and its hot owner holding the leash. Basically, I’m experiencing one big Lifegasm.

Last weekend, I was strolling through Manhattan with the current object of my affection. We stopped at a corner and waited for the crosswalk to change. He let his hand brush up against my ass and I felt an energetic burst in my second chakra. A simple gesture with a massive impact, my vagina actually pulsed, warmed, relaxed, and opened for him. My body sent out a physical invitation hoping for an RSVP marked “Will Attend”. An example of arousal in its most pure form (and for the record, he attended, to it, later).

If we’re most familiar with arousal in a sexual context, most of us associate it with being DTF. And frankly, I’ve come to believe that’s totally limiting. We should really consider all the definitions of “arouse”: to awaken, excite, evoke. The highest level of arousal happens when we’re alert and open to all that’s around us. It’s about the expansion of our sexual energy well beyond the confines of sex.

Turned on from sunrise…
…to sunset

In ancient Taoist traditions, life force energy is called chi and supposedly we can feel this energy moving through us. The subset of this energy that’s specifically sexual or creative is called ching, which is believed to be essential to our health and wellbeing. Well, I can definitely feel my ching moving through me and it’s absolutely vital to my existence. But somewhere along the way, through various forms of cultural conditioning, we were taught that this energy should be strictly reserved for the bedroom. I think the Taoists, Justin Timberlake and I are all agreed that it’s WAY better when we bring sexy back into everything.

So how do we do this? How do we carry that powerful energy beyond the bedroom? How do we decorate every moment with this sexual electricity? Well, firstly we need to allow it to spread beyond our penises and pussies. It needs to evolve and literally “grow up” into our hearts and minds. We need to make like an aroused vagina and feel it pulsing through our entire bodies, warming the cold parts of ourselves, thereby relaxing our insides and creating an opening in our beings.

So let’s try a simple visualization. Imagine you’re staring at a chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery on 74th and Amsterdam (if you don’t know what this is I feel mildly sorry for you, and instead invite you to just envision the moistest, most chocolate chocolate chip cookie in the world). How do you feel about this cookie? What does it look like to you? To me it’s a big, dense, delicious, warm pile of goo and I can’t wait to have it in my mouth.

Turned on by cookies…
…and being Buddha

I’m breathing in the intoxicating smell of fresh baked goodness. I can feel the desire for this cookie all over my body. I can feel my deep appreciation for the cookie in my heart. My mind is doing summersaults just thinking about those chocolate chips dancing on my tongue. Holy shit, this cookie is turning me on. I can’t stop smiling at it. But see, I don’t want to actually fuck the cookie. The experience of eating it, appreciating and enjoying just became heightened, elevated and way more awesome.

Sometimes arousal happens to me on a subway when I see someone give up a seat to a pregnant lady or a senior citizen. I feel a pulsating sensation in my chest, a sense of warmth spreading through my being. I can’t help but smile at this display of human kindness and feel a deep connection to the other beings on the train. For a moment, I am in love and energized by the small simple gesture of one human towards another.

The vagina is the mother of all gates and most people think it’s the only doorway to arousal. And yes it’s an arousal superhighway, but for me, arousal is really about accessing the heart and I use my whole being and all my senses to do that. If my heart isn’t activated and engaged, then I can’t be turned on.

Real arousal creates openings in our being. It’s a state of connectedness with the world around us, in which we let it awaken and excite us. It’s the sensation of being genuinely excited about life. This column will touch upon arousal in many different ways. Often sex will be the entry point, but ultimately it’s about elevating our consciousness around our sexual energy to enhance all our experiences. Most sex columns are about getting off. This is an arousal column and it’s going to be all about turning on.

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com 
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