From cyronwode@aol.comFri Nov 10 12:59:23 1995

Date: 7 Nov 1995 13:18:53 -0500

From: Cyronwode <cyronwode@aol.com>

Newsgroups: alt.magick.tantra

Subject: REPOST Venus Takes a Refresher Course

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Venus Takes A Refresher Course

by catherine yronwode

cyronwode@aol.com

alt.lucky.w

sustag-principles@ces.ncsu.edu

http://sunSITE.unc.edu/london/The_Sacred_Landscape.html

(c) 1995 catherine yronwode

==============================

In Vedic tantra there are two streams of thought, called "left hand" and

"right hand" paths. The left hand path is antinomian (encourages breaking

of class, dietary, and caste laws as a way to "open" the self to new

experience) and allows for orgiastic rituals. The right hand path is more

inward and does not promote orgiastic experiences in groups.

From what i had previously heard from participants who have attended

tantra yoga courses taught by Americans in the U.S., these left and right

hand paths still remain separate. The major divergence is between the

practices promoted by Charles and Caroline Muir on the one hand, and Lori

Grace on the other.

I have not attended tantra workshops taught by the Muirs, but i have

spoken with those who have. They say that the Muir's workshops are

historical and lecture-oriented in teaching style, while Lori's are more

ecstatic. The Muirs apparently do not give "hands on" demonstrations; Lori

uses a demonstrative approach (with the consent of participants

established every step of the way) which can become quite intimate,

depending upon the group's dynamics. The Muirs refer to the Northern

Indian style as well as to Tibetan and Taoist tantra; Lori attempts to

recreate the Southern Indian tradition, with New Age overtones.

I was invited to attend one of Lori's three day workshops by a man of my

age whom i had met two weeks earlier. He had advertised in a local free

paper's personals ad section that he was looking for a tantrika with whom

to attend these classes and we met and decided to undertake the venture

together. I have practiced the 19th century American path of karezza and

right hand path tantra yoga since 1977, so i was familiar with the

bodywork and symbolism Lori would be teaching,

(An aside on karezza: this system of non-denominational spritual sexuality

was developed by the Chicago gynecologist Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham in the

1880s. Stockham studied tantra first-hand in India, so karezza owes some

of its bodywork techniques to Vedic traditions, but it contains no left

hand path antinomian group-ecstacy aspects. Stockham taught karezza to

monogamous couples, and she herself was in a monogamous relationship. She

disparaged the polygamous left hand path temple rituals practiced in

Southern India. Also, although she was aware of the tantra-like "male

continence" orgasm-control techniques developed by her contemporary, the

American writer and philosopher John Humphrey Noyes, she did not approve

of the "free love" polygamous lifestyle practiced in Noyes' Oneida

Community. In other words, as exponded by Stockham, karezza does not

include having dyadic intercourse in the company of other couples or

having intercourse in groups of more than a dyad.)

Being a student of karezza, i have never made love in a group setting

developed along Southern Indian left hand path lines. Therefore, i

strongly feared that Lori, with her emphasis on the Southern trandition,

would insist on some sort of group grope or orgy and that i would have to

run screaming from the room. I want to make it clear that my fears were

groundless. There was a lot of group hugging and smiling, but no one

infringed in any way on my personal boundaries or on the dyadic boundaries

my partner and i established. The entire experience really felt very safe.

The class took place in Tiburon, California, right on the San Francisco

Bay. The cost was $300, which i initially thought was very expensive, but

once i was there, i saw that it was good value for the money, both in

terms of what was taught and in terms of the accomodations and food, which

were spectacular.

There were 44 paired participants in attendance, plus at least a dozen

teachers, facilitators, and assistants. Of the pairs, 11 were couples

(husbands and wives or training partners such as my friend and me) and 11

were singles who had come in the hope of being paired with a compatible

partner during the weekend. Ages ranged from 25 to 60, with most in their

40s. Ethnic groups included Asian, Jewish, European, and Pacific Islander.

All types of bodies were represented, from very thin to obese, and from

trim and muscular to flabby and out of condition.

We parked down in Corte Madera and were bussed up a hill to Lori's estate.

(She is an heiress of incredible wealth.) Lodging was in private rooms

built onto the edges of her enormous, secluded, nudity-permitted

three-level redwood-deck palace in Tiburon, overlooking the Bay. Stone

slab paths led down the slope of the hill to the beach. The entire

property was landscaped with flowering perennials, laid out in an

informal, natural way. Each private room had a clear view across the water

to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. There were garden hot tubs and hot

showers flowing from rock walls as if from natural springs. Every couple

was entitled to one extra-curricular bodywork session with masseurs who

were brought in for the occasion. It was luxury exemplified -- with one

"karma yoga" consideration: every participant had to sign up for a chore

such as cleaning toilets or scrubbing down the several kitchenettes.

On Friday evening we met, were taught the ground rules, and warmed up with

some circular Sufi dancing. Then we had a short session of learning to

stand in a grounded position, followed by dyadic sharing of light touch

and eye gazing. After that, we danced some more, and got to know each

other.

Saturday began with warm-up dancing and a recap of grounded standing. Then

Lori and two helpers, Patti and Phil, gave us training in establishing

boundaries.

Lori and Patti demonstrated how to ask for permission to touch another, to

touch only where one is permitted, and to ask again for permission before

going on to the next form of touch. We followed their examples.

Then Lori and Phil modelled how to say "no!" and how to say "yes!" When it

came our turn to practice these techniques, what i thought was a childish

level of psychological work brought out amazing results in some of the

participants, including tears and rage. We broke into groups to share our

feelings, and at least a third of the women spoke of having been raped. I

realized that i would defend to the death my "no!" but would not fight to

the death to assert my "yes!"

For our mid-day bodywork session, my training partner and i had chosen

Tantric Couples Massage, strictly because it sounded the most interesting.

It was a wonderful full body (non sexual) massage, perforned on both of us

at the same time as we lay head to toe holding hands on a huge canopy bed.

The massage was given by Lennie and Terumi, a husband and wife who have

their timing down to a fine art, and really created a beautiful slow dance

as they did the bodywork, crossing hand over hand as they took turns

massaging both of us.

After lunch Lori gave a preliminary lecture on the Vedic tradition of

tantra with references to the psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. Although she

teaches people in couples, she made no mention of karezza or other 19th

century American monogamous traditions such as magnetation, Zugassent's

discovery, anseiratic mysteries, etc. Nor did she mention the polygamous

male continence system of the Oneida Community. I thought this oversight

was unfortunate, because naive participants might be led to think that we

must look to another culture, specifically an "exotic" one, to find

knowledge of these techniques and acceptance of this form of worship. The

truth is, karezza, tantra yoga, magnetation, etc. belong to no single

culture and the techniques and spiritual insights they engender are

continually rediscovered within ourselves in every era and every social

stratum. They are part of our human birthright.

Lori's talk also touched on an area that was of concern to some

participants: the Vedic tradition of incarnations, by which tantrikas take

on the roles, attributes, personae, and even divinity of gods and

goddesses.

This seems to be a big problem for Westerners. Many of us have low self

esteem and suffer from an acute self-consciousness about physical defects,

blemishes, or aging -- all of which seem to belie the concept of personal

divinity. Many of us were raised in the Judeo-Christian paradigm and

subconsciously consider personal incarnation of deity to be tantamount to

blasphemy.

For people of the former type, it may take overwhelming sensory beauty,

dozens of songs, guided meditations, and hypnotic repetitions of the

affirmation that we are gods and goddesses for us to see divine loveliness

in ourselves without fear of being ridiculed or condemned.

For people of the latter type, who feel that tanric spirituality is

"sexual fantasy" or "a costume party," the problem is approached by a

different route: We must step back from our cultural paradigm and realize

that we are embarking on a discovery of another RELIGION -- a sincere,

ages-old religion, for which people have built temples, and even bled and

died. Tantra is a religion in which the Beloved is seen to be an

incarnation of the divine. Telling a tantrika that his or her sweetie is

not a god or goddess is like telling a Roman Catholic that the host and

wine do not transubstantiate into the flesh and blood of Jesus.

(An aside: Even karezza, a non-religious form of spiritual sex which was

conceived as compatible with Protestant Christianity, acknowledges the

"divine spark" in the self and the beloved. Southern Indian Vedic tantra,

with no cultural limitations on multiple incarnations of deity, simply

goes the whole nine yards: You are holy. You are divine. You are Shiva,

the cosmic dancer, He whom all beings adore. Everything you touch is made

sacred by your touch. You are Sakti, Parvati, Durga, Candi, Kali, She of

many names and many incarnations, to whom all beings owe their life and

death. Your every loving gesture is a blessing to the Universe. Our union,

the Union of Shiva and Sakti, sanctifies all of Creation. Our union is the

essence of Creation.)

After the lecture, Lori demonstrated and we then practiced breathing

patterns appropriate to various states of arousal (mild to moderate) and

lay on the floor with knees up for a long session of gentle pelvic rocking

coordinated to our breathing. It was like a gym class or hatha yoga

course, except that the subject was the muscles of the genitals, anus, and

abdomen. I was amazed to realize that many people could not perform this

simple exercise at all, and that others could not do it without beginning

to cry. For instance, one woman began babbling about gynecological exams

and "numbness" -- i understood then why Lori had mentioned Reich at the

outset.

We finished the pelvic rocking with small group discussions about our

feelings, did another dyadic eye gazing and chakra touch exercise with our

partners, and joined in a circular Sufi dance. At this time Lori asked the

singles to please speak to each other about forming pairs for the evening

to come. She also instructed all singles to practice safe sex and she told

them that protective devices would be supplied free of charge. As far as i

know, each of the singles did receive a partner.

Then, on Saturday night -- the Tantric feast. Oh my!

We were not served dinner, but were told to bathe ourselves and to dress

"as gods and goddesses" in filmy, satiny, easily removable finery. We were

told to bring a small wrapped gift for our patrner. At nine pm we met

upstairs were we were blindfolded and led in pairs down the many flights

of steps, as attendents whispered joyful welcomes to us, calling us

beautiful gods and goddesses entering a temple.

Still blindfolded, we were censed with sage smoke and brought into the

temple room, where we were seated on reclining cushiony things in pairs,

just touching each other's hands at first. The blindfolds stayed on, and

then the ceremony began. A soft, slow raga was playing. The room was warm

with body heat. We were stroked with ostrich feathers by silent

attendents, hand fed bite-sized taste treats (alternating sweet and

savoury), played to with cymbals and flutes, stroked with rabbit furs,

given finger and toe massages. We began to touch each other between the

sensory experiences, at first stopping each time an attendent stoked us or

rang a bell or told us we were holy beings or gave us banana chunks in

chocolate sauce, but eventually forgetting all of that and openly

caressing each other, stroking each other's chests and genitals as the

attendents came by, as we were sprinkled with mist-like drops of water,

fed miniature quiche lorraines, told we were beautiful, fed peach slices

in whipped cream, feather-stroked, and censed with perfumes for TWO HOURS,

blindfolded the whole time, playing with our partners, kissing, caressing,

fucking, touched with feathers, fed dolmas, held by unseen hands, softly

smoothed with fur, and all the time, all the time, touching, sucking,

fingering, and fucking each other and hearing all about us the sounds of

other lovers breathing and groaning with pleasure.

And then, at midnight, the blindfolds came off and we saw the room lit by

a hundred votive altar candles, the attendents costumed as geniies,

angels, even naked except for glitter dust, the floor covered with

entwined naked couples, the mirrored walls reflecting repeated images of

all of us touching and caressing our partners, the music speeding up, the

incense heavy... and...it was....well, the word STUNNING comes to mind. We

were then told to present our gifts to our partners as if to a god or

goddess. There was a short moment of prayer to each other then, and a

song, and the evening ended.

Needless to say, after this ceremony, we went to our rooms quite ready to

practice more pelvic rocking.

The next day, having loosened up a bit (to put it mildly), we attended

more classes. Ah, yes! By this time even the most prudish couples were

naked and no longer embarrassed. The morning opened with a Sufi dance. We

were then each given a questionnaire covering sexually transmitted

diseases and told to take our partners' medical history. Lori's brief

lecture on safe sex practices followed. (Logically, however, it should

have come before the singles chose partners for the feast!)

After a bit of chanting, the real work of the morning began.

First we lay beside our partners on our backs, knees up, as Lori taught us

to visualize kundalini enegry moving up our bodies while we touched

various chakra points. This inclded genital self-touching, but only of the

mildest sort. After we worked up a charge, we were told to turn onto our

sides, facing our partners, and look into their eyes. I think i was not

alone in noticing how this raised the sexual energy level of the

participants. We discharged the energy by touching each other's heart

chakras and breathing in unison.

Next we watched Lennie and Terumi perform a simple, impromptu ceremony to

establish a sacred space in which to make love. They used four candles and

four large leaf fronds to set the corners, and they exchanged simple gifts

of fire and flowers which they placed on their impromptu altar.

We were instructed to go to our rooms and get the personal power objects

we had been told to bring to the workshop, augmenting them with a few

natural items collected otdoors if necessary. Each couple then used these

articles to establish a private, four-cornered sacred space on the floor

mats.

The women lay down and Lennie led the male "givers" in body massage, hand

stimulation of the clitoris, and location of the G-spot of their ecstatic

partners while his Terumi led the female "receivers" in techniques of

breathing during high states of arousal to prolong the pre-orgasmic waves

the men were inducing.

After a break for lunch, we returned to our sacred spaces and Terumi led

the female "givers" in body massages and hand stimulation of the penis, as

well as a gentle digital prostate exam (!) of their partners while Lennie

led the male "receivers" in techniques of breathing during high states of

arousal to prolong pre-orgasm while being thus pleasured.

We took a short break to go to our rooms and each bring back the gift we

had been asked to have ready to present to the altar. When we returned, we

all sat and watched as Lori and Phil demonstrated the major positions of

intercourse as shown in the Kama Sutra, while they explained how breathing

techniques, chakra touching, and visualization are integrated at high

levels of mutual arousal.

Lori then talked the group through a guided session of eye gazing, touch,

and breathing during intercourse. At this point i understood fully why

Lennie and Terumi had guided us through the creation of our own separate

dyadic sacred spaces. Multiple dozens of naked couples writhed around the

floor practicing the classic Vedic positions of intercourse, each couple

as spiritually "safe" as if in complete privacy. All the tinkly New Age

music in Marin County could not drown our cries of delight.

When this was brought to a gentle close, Lori gave a brief lecture about

the forms of tantric altars found in India, Bali, and Tibet, asked us to

pray together in pairs for a mutual wish, and to collect our offerings and

approach the altar in pairs (as, believe it or not, a Protestant-sounding

hymn called "Come to the Altar" was played, which made me chuckle). We

left our offerings, and did another slow Sufi circle dance together.

The day wrapped up with a question and answer session about male control

of ejaculation, moderated by Lennie and Phil. Lori spoke also of specific

methods used by women to control their orgasm reflex. We had one more

dance together, hugged and embraced, got dressed, said goodbye, and were

driven down the mountain to our cars.

I think you would have enjoyed it. I know that i sure did.

cat