Sexual Mysticism 101: Sex as a Spiritual Practice
I am often asked to give “tips” on the practice of Vama Marga Tantra and each time I recall being told as an early student to just embark on my own study and that no Westerner could ever truly comprehend the subject. Certainly rife as our societal philosophies are with notions of agape and segregated spiritual aspects, the idea of sex as a mystical path, as a doorway to enlightenment, is quite alien to the western mind. Many modern authors and thinkers are partially responsible for much of the confusion in pandering to the notion of spiritual sex within the confines of our culture’s parameters of defined and sanctioned couple hood. In their insistence on fitting things into the neat rules of our logic, the true mysticism of sex is tarnished and misunderstood. And who can blame them for their delicate tiptoeing? In my articles I often encounter severe resistance to the notions of sex as it occurred in the ancient world. In the west we are taught to be more comfortable with concepts of good vs. evil and our inherent separation from the divine. As a result, understanding such practices as sacred temple prostitution, orgiastic mystery ritual, or the doctrine of sexual healing as an office of the Goddess is more than a little difficult.
The idea that sex with anyone is sex with deity is completely foreign, and even contrary to so many of our preconceived notions not only about sex but about spiritual values themselves. And yet, this was exactly the philosophy that prevailed in the ancient Goddess religions of places like Cypress and Corinth. It prevailed in Babylon and Northern Europe as well. Sex is a metaphoric dance with evolution and death. It is the motion of both creation and destruction. Sex is the great consummation, where flesh and spirit dissolve into one another and the Self is, if only briefly, erased. It doesn’t matter if the act is committed with the lover of your dreams, your spouse or a stranger in the backseat of a car. To the tantric mind, the act itself is holy. And as all people are divine without exception, so sex with anyone is divine. Sexual devotion (the conscious application of sex as a mystical act) is a bonding with the ancient mother Goddess and an acknowledgement of the darkest of our own inner mysteries.
One of the earliest forms of deity in human history is the Babylonian Goddess Tiamat, the great Serpent who kept hidden deep in Her stories and legends the mystery of sex and death and life itself. Comparisons abound between the spiraling strands of DNA (those information data codes from which we arise) and the primordial coils of the great serpent goddesses of ancient times. In sex, as in the melding of human genetic code, we find the most potent of all mystical communions. It takes us beyond singular boundaries and beyond definition into realms of magnificent oblivion. Into the Divine Embrace where reason is decimated and chaos reigns supreme. This is the sacrament of our entire existence. But how can we partake of its mysterious gifts when we have been hobbled by a soul-squelching belief in the ultimate separation of the sacred from the profane?
As with all things, learning to see divinity in the essence of all things begins at home. It isn’t hard to see “god” in the faces of those we love, especially if we’re feeling pleased with them. But try seeing that same level of divinity in them when things aren’t going so well. When they’ve left their shoes in the hall for you to trip over for the hundredth time or the seat’s up on the toilet again. In the midst of your irritation, stop and breathe and consciously direct your thought to seeing not just the good in them but the actual spark of godhood that animates their flesh. See the god that hides within and the angel you may well be entertaining unaware. When you can do this with those you know and care for, then try it with strangers on the street. How about with the person taking too much time ahead of you in line? With the driver that just cut you off? It isn’t easy but the change it will make in your everyday life is remarkable. Tantra and the development of a tantric mind is a study of decades (of a lifetime) and there are no shortcuts to the effective and honest practice of sacred sexuality. But even the smallest of steps in that direction are well worth taking.