"Since you are like no other being ever created
since the beginning of Time,
you are incomparable."
--Brenda Ueland (1938)
Mind Caviar Vol. 2, Spring Issue 2001
by Sabrina Qedesha
Whether you believe that humans evolved or were created by design, you must surely agree that sex is one of the most interesting and wonderful aspects of life. People throughout history have thought so, and have thought that particular aspects of sex were worthy of special attention and reverence. The male and female genders themselves have been the focus of praise and worship, and make a logical starting point for any examination of Sacred Sex. In this column I will explore the ways in which femininity and the female sex have been revered, and in the next column I will explore how masculinity and the male sex have been revered.
Perhaps the most obvious miracle of the female body is childbirth and child nursing. Not only do women carry the fetus to term, but also they provide nourishment that the child needs to be strong and healthy. This has been both a blessing and a curse for womankind, because it may be the single most important factor in explaining why sex roles have developed the way they have. Still, whatever men have thought of the yoni during the ages, they must admit that it is the source of human life. For this reason many of the earliest forms of religious expression have been yoni worship.
Menstruation is another facet of female life that has bewildered people throughout the ages. Men have always been vaguely afraid of menstruation, so many superstitions have developed regarding it, and many religions and cultures consider it "unclean." Since menstruation follows a lunar cycle it may explain the association of the moon with goddess worship and with femininity in general, and since this association exists, femininity is often associated with the sea as well, because the moon affects the motion of the tides. In this way we can see how goddess traditions lead back to female biology.
In most cultures men initiate boys into adulthood, but there is a special kind of initiation for men at the hands of women. Women are usually considered the most preferable sex partners for men - and only a man and woman together can create a child. So it is the female who draws out the creative potential of the male. In most religions this was extended to male spiritual potential as well. While the central figures of most (if not all) religions are male, where sacred sexual traditions exist the female is the one who initiates the male - she is the embodiment of wisdom and knowledge, and the male must please her in order to be worthy of attainment. She is the one who decides whether to bestow or withhold wisdom. It is ironic that this conclusion is the result of a male-centric spiritual tradition (such as that which exists in India, where Tantra was born).
I'd like to focus on Tantra now, because it is a sacred tradition that embraces dichotomy and duality. The primary deities of Tantra are the Hindu gods Shiva and Shakti, who are often portrayed locked in a nearly eternal sexual embrace. While Shiva is called "Lord of the Universe," without Shakti he is merely a corpse. Thus one of the first lessons of Tantra is that, however important the male may think himself, his creative power, his vitality, comes from the female.
Shakti sometimes appears as Kali, a terrifying depiction of the goddess as a brutal and destructive force. Perhaps Kali is a male way of depicting PMS (while this may sound like a joke, I do not mean it as one); but in a more subtle way, Kali can be thought of as the goddess of orgasm. Thus she is often seen holding the decapitated head of a man who has given himself to the goddess, who has "annihilated" himself in the sacrifice of orgasm.
Tantric ritual is a complex affair, but basically, the male partner worships the female partner like a goddess. Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna give a detailed description of a typical tantric rite, which involves incantations in Sanskrit and symbolic devotions particular to Hinduism. They write:
"Through the goddess, one gains the vision of reality. The woman who becomes the personified goddess opens a doorway to a deeper transpersonal experience. Only when she is seen through divine eyes does the [male participant] apprehend the innate divine qualities of the physical woman" (The Tantric Way, pp. 170-171).Essentially the rite goes as follows: the male partner starts by "purifying" the location, his own body, and the body of his guru. "Purification" means that all "unholy" elements are driven away, making the place and the people worthy of worship. A prayer is uttered asking for the protection of the goddess Shakti, and the male partner gives another prayer to purify the female partner's body.
What happens then is a sort of transubstantiation: the female partner literally becomes the goddess. This is not seen as a symbolic sort of worship, rather, the participants seek to experience this in a very tangible and literal way. Mookerjee and Khanna write:
"The transference of divinity is not something which is detached from the real but is within the reach of experience. [T]he experience of the transubstantiation of a woman into a goddess is viewed as a very special revelation of reality which can be seen, felt, and apprehended in no other way than what it is" (p. 175).The male partner offers worship to each part of the goddess's body, drawing holy yoni symbols on her, touching every part of her and uttering special chants and prayers. All of the senses are engaged. Water, wine, and red rose petals are placed on her yoni, symbolic of the life-giving menstrual flow. He seeks to please her, to demonstrate his devotion to her, to earn her favor. The female partner decides if and when sexual contact is to happen. She commands the male to become Shiva, and then usually either commands him to be the active partner, or she may choose "the reversal," in which the male lays immobile on his back like a corpse, and the female sits astride and does all the motion. The male retains his semen as long as he can; a number of positions and rhythms, including still union, have developed to enhance his ability to prolong indefinitely.
Sabrina's Sacred Sex Homework Assignment #2
Develop and perform a goddess-worship rite similar to the tantric ritual described here. It is not necessary to use the postures and chants used by Indian tantrikas; they will be meaningless and only serve as a distraction from the real essence of the rite.
It will be most effective if you do this with a partner. The ritual calls for a male and female partner, but it is not necessary to follow this strictly, so long as one partner is confident in being able to embody the goddess in a tangible way. If you have no partner the devotion can be offered to your own body. In fact, some people might find this an effective and cathartic self-love experience. If you wish to do this in a group setting, the recommended approach is to choose one female to embody the goddess, making all other participants, both male and female, worshipful adorants. If your beliefs do not allow you to worship a goddess or even to role-play the act, you could experiment with having the female partner embody a sacred or holy female worthy of respect and adoration.
These instructions are directed to the male partner, who is the most active participant in the rite.
Inform your partner that you wish to offer devotion in recognition of the goddess she truly is. If she declines, that is the end of it; the offering must be freely accepted, there must be no cajoling, no pressure. In fact, that attitude must be maintained throughout - the goddess may decline any further offerings, or may accept them all without allowing you any access to sexual release or even contact with her body. If any of the devotions involve touching her, you must first ask for her assent. You must maintain humility throughout - which might prove difficult for the American male who is accustomed to having easy access to sex.
If she agrees, a block of time should be set aside as a session, so that the emotional effects of this can be set aside from whatever relationship the two of you have. Set aside at least two hours in a place where you can be assured of no distractions whatsoever. If practical, have her read this article so she knows what it is you hope to experience. Your partner should enter a proper frame of mind. She must be able to feel that she is, in fact, a goddess, and that her body is holy, and that she is in total control of your offerings.
During the session, both of you should take note of how you are feeling. Is either of you becoming bored, or is there a sense of urgency to "get on with it?" If this becomes overwhelming, call a "time-out" and discuss where to go from there or whether to continue. Tantra is an approach to sexual interaction so different from what you are accustomed to that many surprises, pleasant and unpleasant, await. For one thing, there is no goal of "getting off," and so Americans who have learned to expect 20-30 minutes of foreplay plus intercourse may find it odd to touch or caress for over an hour with no intercourse in the foreseeable future.
If this is so, why even do this? Because the pleasures that can be achieved this way are unlike the frenzied, (perhaps even shallow) sexual pleasures you have most likely experienced to this point. They are much deeper, more emotional, more like the tide than a tsunami, more conducive to an understanding of life and love and sex as sacred. In short they are REAL, and they cannot be faked or hurried. Anything worthwhile requires some serious investment.
Before the session, make the mood solemn, but not deathly somber; set some candles up around the room or bed and light them. Maybe burn some incense as well (preferably something "musky" like patchouli, copal, rose, or ambergris). Play some appropriate music in the background (good choices might include Beethoven, Ravi Shankar, Kitaro, or the Gypsy Kings; bad choices would include bluegrass, speed metal, or techno-industrial; use common sense).
Once the session has begun, your partner should take some time and center herself so that she is in the proper frame of mind. If she accepts you into her presence (what if she doesn't!) you must then do what you think would move or impress a goddess. A good place to begin is by offering to remove her clothing, escorting her to a bath full of warm, scented water (a touch of rosewater leaves a nice scent and makes the skin soft; baby oil can be used, as can bubble-bath; find out her preference before-hand), guiding her into the tub, and then gently sponge-washing her entire body and hair. When you are done guide her from the tub and towel her off, clothing her in a soft robe or leaving her unclothed as she prefers.
Offer her fruits or sweet delicacies. (Wine is not out of line, but strong alcohol is discouraged; the mind and senses should be fully engaged). Offer to read to her, from any devotional poetry you may find appropriate, or maybe a tasteful depiction of sex; or better yet, something you have written yourself. If you can play an instrument, offer to play a song. If you are practiced in pranayama or other yogic techniques, suggest that you perform these together for a while. Offer to massage scented oils into her feet, hands, or (if she allows) her breasts and shoulders. Offer to brush her hair. Offer to kiss her body. If it seems appropriate (do not just jump into this!) offer to pleasure her with your tongue.
When she has tired of one offering, stop immediately and move on to another. If she wishes for you to continue, then continue. She might make requests, but the offerings should come from you. When she agrees, perform the offering with joy- you are not a slave, you are a worshipper, and you are both allowed to enjoy this, of course!
If she feels you have pleased her sufficiently, she will tell you and will invoke the god into you by touching your head and saying so; take a moment to feel the god enter and fill your body. (If again this is objectionable because of your religion, feel instead as though she has strongly blessed you.) This is important: only after this happens should any intercourse take place. Instead of jumping into the sexual interaction you are accustomed to, imagine you are both immortal, and that your union might last years or aeons. There is no hurry; when cunnilingus, fellatio, or intercourse does take place, move slowly or remain completely still; the quality of pleasure that can be achieved from doing this for at least forty-five minutes is indescribably deep and satisfying. Try to prolong for as long as possible before ejaculating.
After you have decided to stop, a period of "coming down" should be observed; maybe a few moments of silent "centering," or a slow cleanup of the room. The candles might be extinguished to signal finality. When you both feel back to normal, go into another room (if possible) and chat about what just took place.
Play with some varieties of this. Take turns being the object of worship; or have the male partner become the goddess and the female partner the god. Another variation might involve you both starting out divine, worshipping one another as equals.
Sacred Sex #2" Copyright © 2001 Sabrina Qedesha. All rights
reserved. Do not copy or post.
Bibliography: Mookerjee, Ajit, and Madhu Khanna. The Tantric Way: Art, Science, Ritual. New York, 1989: Thames and Hudson.
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