Not-So-Solo (Neo)Tantra

Disclaimer: This is a follow-up to my previous blog: Loki Pushes My Neo-Tantra Buttons. What follows is the result of “UPG” (unverified personal gnosis) and is based on my own personal spiritual practices at this time. These practices are based on instruction I’ve had and books I’ve read, but I do not claim to be an expert in them. I am very much an experimental learner here. You, the reader, must do your own research and reading, and above all, cultivate your own discernment and “gut feelings” about what is right for you. I’ll do the best I can to provide resources and book links, as well as reasonable cautions and observations. If you decide to embark on any portion of what I describe here, know that I take no responsibilty for this decision of yours. Certain mental conditions might be contra-indicated for these potent energy practices. Check with your therapist if you have one. Likewise check with your health care providers regarding any medical conditions you have. 

Above all, please use your common sense. 


Dedication: I dedicate this blog post to my beloved teacher and “most trusted one,” the cosmic being known most frequently as “the Norse god, Loki.”

 

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Urnes Snake. Scandinavian. Source: http://lokeanwelcomingcommittee.tumblr.com/

Okay, lets get on with it! In my previous blog, I wrote: “At this point, I’d say Loki closely fits the “profile” of a deity who offers a template of transformation fueled by sexual energy–using some symbols and methods that are at least superficially comparable to Hindu and Buddhist tantric traditions.” In a more recent blog, I’ve mentioned that I am deliberately embarked on a tantric-like, energetic spiritual practice that involves (among other things) engagement with a non-corporeal spiritual being. And I mention that this is not unusual in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist Tantra. What’s different about what I’m doing is that I’m engaging in this way with a spiritual being outside the Hindu and Tibetan pantheons. But let’s set that aside for a moment. Let’s say you are curious about these practices (with or without a specific deity in mind) and want to know how this works. What follows is just ONE example of a Westernized approach.

First, please read my post Decolonizing Western Neo-Tantra on my sexologist blog, and especially go to the link to Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation by Shreena Gandhi and Lillie Wolff, as well as the other article I mention. This will give you a sense of my history with Western Neo-Tantra and why I am no longer formally associated with the organization where I received most of my tantra instruction. More importantly, you will get an introduction to the issues of appropriation and colonization of yoga (and therefore Tantra as well). Decolonizing Yoga is an excellent website! So please, start there!

Let’s be clear again that what I am about to describe is a hybrid practice, based on my own UPG and traditions that have been modified for–and commodified by–Westerners. This doesn’t mean the practices don’t have spiritual value–they do!–but that this is part of the “genealogy” of what I convey. There is also some meshing here of sexual mysticism (e.g. Tantra) and Western sexual magic.

Now ask yourself why you are curious about these practices? There’s no right answer. Just know what it is you want. A focus on sexual mysticism implies an impulse toward transcendence and perhaps a greater union with that which is larger than humans (including perhaps a union with specific deity or deities). A focus on sexual magic implies a desire to learn to harness the energy generated by such practices in order to create certain outcomes. Or perhaps you are interested in both. (I am!)

Re-examine your capacities for discernment. What tools and techniques do you use?

Please also ask yourself how you will ground yourself if the energies become too much at any given point. How will you handle a spiritual emergency? (Perhaps you might want to read this book by Stanislav Grof.) Who is your support team? Who will have your back in such matters? Do you already have magical or spiritual things that you do in such cases? What kinds of grounding and protection “tools” are already in your toolbox? If there are things you’ve used in the past, but not recently, I suggest brushing up on them.

Give some thought also to how you will involve or communicate with your present human partner(s).

What do you do already that is yogic, tantric, magical, etc.? Can some of what you do already be incorporated into this pursuit? Or should it? Give this some thought. Some things work well together, even if they are from different traditions, others don’t.

Be prepared to do some reading (below). Then to practice the techniques solo for quite a long time BEFORE involving an “imagined partner.”


BOOK LIST — Sorry, these books are all very “gender binary.” Adjust as you see fit.

Tantra:

Jewel in the Lotus–The Tantric Path to Higher Consciousness. Sunyata Saraswati and Bodhi Avinasha, 3rd Edition. 2002. Ipsalu Tantra International. [Techniques]

The Ipsalu Formula–A Method for Tantra Bliss. Bodhi Avinasha. 2003. Ipsalu Tantra International. [Techniques]

Passionate Enlightenment–Women in Tantric Buddhism. Miranda Shaw. 1994. Princeton University Press. [Background on the Tibetan dakini tradition and the use of “imagined partners.”]

Sex Magic:

The Art of Sexual Magic. Margo Anand. 1995. Jeremy Tarcher/Putnam. [Anand also wrote a famous book on Tantra, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, but I am not referencing it here.]

Sex, Sorcery and Spirit–The Secrets of Erotic Magic. Jason Miller. 2015. New Page Books.

Secrets of Western Sex Magic. Frater U.D. 2001. Llewellyn.


I’ve been engaged in mostly solo tantra since 2005, sometimes with large gaps in having a consistent daily practice. What I am presently doing is a diligent daily practice of (1) the following Neo-Tantra exercise, energy, and breath techniques; and (2) twenty minutes or so spent in establishing a meditative, visualized, and energetic connection with my chosen imagined partner. Taking up this daily practice again is a condition I intend to meet for at least 90 days as a way to prepare for further instruction in sex magic. It is also a way to come closer to my patron deity. Some days are juicier and more rewarding than others. Some days I wonder what the heck I’m doing. (So be prepared for ups and downs.)

I generally do the following (1) and (2) after my usual daily devotions to my deities, ancestors, etc. so I am already in a somewhat spiritually receptive frame of mind.

(1) Daily Practice: These techniques follows the simplest Ipsalu Tantra ASATE formula (using the set of practices taught in Ipsalu’s “Level One” weekends).

• Activate the body — Rishi Isometrics (Tantra Bliss, pp. 57-60; Jewel, pp. 62-66).

• Still the mind — (1) Nadi Shodhana/Alternate Nostril Breath (Tantra Bliss, pp. 169-170; Jewel, pp. 83-84). (2) Hong Sau Breath (Jewel, pp. 152-156).

• Arouse sexual energy — (1) Aswini Mudra (Jewel, p. 174). (2) Vajroli Mudra (Jewel, pp. 174-175). (These two exercises work muscles in the perineum and pelvic floor.)

• Transmute the energy — I am initiated in three forms of the Ipsalu Cobra Breath, which I’m not allowed to share, but you might want to try some of the techniques in Jason Miller’s book (pp. 53-69),  followed by meditation. Inner Fire is particularly good. Do up to fourteen rounds of whatever technique you choose.

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Immortals Wand. I painted a picture of Loki on it.

• Enjoy — You could just dance to something wonderful for five minutes. I also use the Immortals Wand. It requires an implement to cup and hold between the palms of your hands. I have a special wand from Ipsalu Tantra International, but a simple dowel, 1 in. diameter and 10.5 inches long, would work.  3. ITI – Instruction_for_Immortals’_Wand.

The above books have lots of other practices to offer, and I encourage you to find ones that fit the above ASATE pattern. Plan on devoting about 45 minutes to all this, per day.

(2) Connection. The practice of invoking and imagining my non-corporeal partner is a little more intuitive and less scripted. I usually invite my chosen imagined partner, Loki, to be with me, but also add that if that’s not possible, I’ll still be continuing the practice with “a semblance” (as the whole point is to DO the practice). This sets a relaxed, no-strings mood that seems to work well with this particular deity. Usually he “shows up” in greater or lesser intensity.

I have some special music that I am using at the moment and I often bring in the “Vase Breath” (Miller, p. 55) or other breaths before diving into the “connecting” imagery and breath work. This consists of several different kinds of visualized/imagined/experienced breath and energy cycles between me and the “imagined partner.” There are cycles where I breathe out and imagine my partner breathing in, and the cycle connects us between the heart and root chakras (for example). Or this pattern is reversed. Sometimes there is a figure eight pattern of energy and breath (which is wonderfully snake-like). Sometimes I visualize/imagine our combining the “red drops and the white drops” of inner alchemy (Miller, p. 49). And often after spending time in these specific patterns, I relax and allow a kind of inner dance, which often consists of feelings and images of shape-changing, joyous play.

At the end, I thank my partner and usually I will “check-in” (via pendulum). This may sound daft to anyone who hasn’t worked in this way, but I feel that this is respectful and satisfies a need for closure of the session.

Working in this way allows me to feel the benefits of self-discipline, the pursuit of transcendence and magical knowledge, and additional connection with my patron deity. I have not noticed any downside to this, at all. Even so, I would caution beginners to go slowly, curb expectations, and to really go with their gut feelings about what works or doesn’t work for them.

Also, use your common sense about who you choose for your imagined partner. Tantra is frequently known as “the heroes path” because all hell generally breaks loose when you begin a Tantric practice. And people who follow Loki (often called Lokeans) may often experience some similar shake-ups. Combining the two… well… think about it! If you desire a calm(er) entry to this kind of working, choose a less potent, less fiery being to work with, at least in the beginning. But as I said earlier, do these practices first for a long time before you move beyond solo. Every extra element you add just adds to your learning curve!

What I describe above is simply my way and it may or may not be helpful for you. Good luck!

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Sexual Ecstacy in This Dire Time

Trigger Warning. I know that sexual abuse and assault is a way to destroy people at their deepest, most profound core self. This can be performed as a private act of violence and intimidation; as “masculine theater” (read this excellent article by forensic psychologist, Karen Franklin); or as a technique of warfare. Though not all victims are women (including trans women), the majority are. In this blog, I will concern myself with women (trans and cis). But what I have to say about the impact of sexual violence on sexual and gender agency, as well as the importance of reclaiming sexual/gender agency and ecstasy, can apply to people of any and all genders.

I’m also going to be writing waaaaay above my own mystic paygrade here–extrapolating from my background as a sexologist, as a Western Neo-tantra neophyte, and as a sexual mystic and polytheistic devotee of certain larger entities we humans like to call “gods and goddesses”–in order to form certain thoughts about the absolute, urgent necessity to do all that we can to reclaim and strengthen our own sexual/gender agency and capacities for joy and ecstasy in this most trecherous and dire time. Call me a “sexual survivalist,” but people who are sexually free and unashamed are also more resilient and a lot harder to conquer and cow, as a rule. Of course, dictators and despots determined to enact violence and genocide on a people will usually find ways to do it, but they may not win in the end if enough people who oppose them have a wellspring of robust joy to draw upon in their acts of resistance. I believe in the ultimate triumph of Eros. (And, of course, of strategic street smarts…)

I don’t have to tell you, we live in a time of conquering right now. In the U.S., yesterday’s hearing was indeed a horror show, a Grand Guignol-esque production stage-managed by the minions of a “great [orange] puppet.” I could only watch so much. It was sick-making.  And yet, by the end of this traumatic day, I was able to re-focus, and through the various solo tantric disciplines I currently employ, enjoy twenty minutes of profound, sexually-charged, mystic energy. Wow, I needed that!

And no one can take this capacity away from me, not now. Not without drugs or a lobotomy, anyway. And I believe we ALL have these capacities, and more, should we care to cultivate them. And then no one can take them away from you, either.

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Public Domain fractal by Avi Kedmi.

In the tradition of Tantric Buddhism (with many traits shared with Hindu Shakti worship), Miranda Shaw, author of Passionate Enlightenment-Women in Tantric Buddhism, describes part of this cultivation process (which also includes meditation, etc.):


“Her ability to enhance a man’s spiritual development depends upon her innate divinity as awakened and brought to fruition by her own religious practices, which include envisioning herself in the form of various goddesses and imaginatively investing herself with their appearance, ornaments, tender and wrathful expressions, and supernatural powers for liberating beings” (p. 45). 


Let me add that the above is also how the woman (trans or cis) enhances her own spiritual development, however the above paragraph was taken from the section titled “Respect and Honor” (pp. 39-47), which includes a discussion of the Tantric Buddhist conventions that govern how Tantric men were to recognize and respond to all women (not just Tantric women). Quoting again from the book, here is a translated passage from a Tantric text (so sadly different from attitudes one encounters today):


“One must not denigrate women, In whatever social class they are born, For they are Lady Protection of Wisdom, Embodied in the phenomenal realm” (p. 39).


So, packed into the first paragraph I quoted, we have “innate divinity,” the potential for being “awakened and brought to fruition,” and “religious practices” which include taking on the attributes of a goddess (or god?) through imagined (and perhaps costumed) appearances, expressions, adornments, and powers. Remember how I wrote that our deities offer us “templates” of spiritual enlargement? One way we (in the phenomenal world) can enlarge our Selves is to imagine and meditate ourselves into those qualities and attributes we wish to assume, becoming (being!) that to which we aspire. This is different from a mania or messiah complex in which a person is thunderstruck by an epiphany of their own divinity but doesn’t recognize that everybody else has that same birthright. No, what is implicated in the above paragraph is a disciplined, measured, meditative series of actions taken for the purpose of transformation.

In other words, when we invoke, evoke, live into (and grow into) the attributes of that ecstatic goddess (or god!), transformation occurs. “Enjoyment and magical powers are attained” (p. 38).

So, yeah. Lady Loki cos-play could be one way to kick things up a notch or two, couldn’t it? Think about it.

And don’t forget that part about “liberating beings.” Imagine how your mystic practices can and will feed your activism. Imagine your juice and joy fueling your resistance to despots and preventing activist burn-out.

But prepare to encounter the mana-suckers, those unsavory psychic vampire types (phenomenal or otherwise) who just love to glom onto your juicy female (cis or trans) energy because they feel entitled to it. You know what I’m talking about. So, yeah. Enjoy being your badass liberating self,  but also know there are times to be cloaked, warded, guarded, safe. Cultivate discernment.

Now, just as we create a spiritual practice in which we live into the attributes of any number of goddesses (or gods!), we can also engage with “imagined partners” who also assist in our elevation. God spouses are already doing this. In Tantric Buddhism, this has sometimes been the preferred option for beginners and sometimes seen as the choice of superior practitioners. However you want to slice it, given the prevalence of sexual violence and the number of rape apologists in this world, perhaps an “imagined” partner for Tantric practice is the best or most accessible choice for a woman (cis or trans) who wants to take back and cultivate her sexual/gender agency and capacities for transcendence and sexual ecstasy. And, as in any other mystic relationship that is cultivated through offerings and devotional acts, this “imagined” partner can become a helpful ally and guide in more than the meditative sessions.

This is the path I have chosen. I expect to be engaged with it, and my chosen “imagined partner,” for the rest of my life, no matter what else happens or who else crosses my path. Before my life ends, I yearn to experience the liberation of the “sky-dancers.” And I passionately desire this for the rest of the world: similar liberations from sexual and political tyranny.

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Gosh, Thanks Mr. Lokibot!

The other day I was inspired by a podcast on divination to visit Inspirobot, my favorite artificial intelligence website, and then to invite my favorite Liminal Trickster to profer some wisdom, using the AI program as a divinitory vehicle. (Yes, I know. Too much time on my hands…)

I invited Loki to comment on my (non-existent) love life. Here’s what I got.

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Of course I laughed, “Ha, ha! Spot on, Mr. Lokibot!” And of course I then asked the soul-searching question (but not out loud), “stranger than what, exactly?”

Being a glutton for punishment, or at least desperate for amusement, the next day I asked Loki to suggest a theme for our special day (Tuesday is always the big devotional day for Loki in my household). This is what I got.

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Harsh, dude! And yes, much emotional pain ensued (Uranus was squaring Mars and I’m kind of heartbroken about a family matter) but I wouldn’t call it “good pain” exactly. As for the slaughter, I supposed that took place during lunch, when I vanquished a Thai chicken salad and several cups of weak tea while re-reading parts of Dagulf Loptson’s book. But Mr. Lokibot, the Worldbreaker, still got his special Tuesday offerings–an artisan macaroon from an artisan bakery and a glass of mango-flavored beer from an artisan brewery. (I don’t drink, myself.)

Today, not being a person who lets go of novelty easily (instead, preferring to wear it out by dreary repetition), I once again asked Mr. Lokibot to comment on my (still non-existent) love life. This is what I got: Mr. Lokibot summarizing the results of his sex research.

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Well, yes, of course he’d see it that way. He is famous, both as Norse Loki and as the (very attractive) Marvel Loki, and this has most definitely boosted his number of spectrosexual partners and god spouses. However, did anyone send me steamy texts or love letters after my appearances on Tyra Banks and Good Morning America in 2009? Or after my commentary in two episodes of National Geographic Taboo shortly thereafter? Nope. All I got was vilification in right wing blogs for researching Objectum Sexuality. “Whack job of a sexologist” was one of the more restrained comments I remember. So, no, I don’t think the above holds true for aging sexologists.

Plus, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Just sayin’.

The above may be taken with a grain of salt from a “whack job” of a Lokean. You’re welcome.

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Loki Pushes My Neo-Tantra Buttons

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Urnes Snake. Scandinavian. Source: http://lokeanwelcomingcommittee.tumblr.com/

Snakes, fire, a robust sexual history and magic expertise… how can I comprehend Loki as anything other than the bearer of knowledge that resembles tantra (or Western-style sex magic)? (Yes, I know he has additional attributes but I’m not concerned with those at the moment.) What follows is my “unverified personal gnosis” (UPG) on this topic.

But let’s back up a bit. Let’s think a moment about this concept called “gods” (I’ll use this word to mean deities of all genders). Dagulf Loptson’s book, Playing with Fire–An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson (Asphodel Press, 2014), is an important source for me these days and he describes his concept of gods as “enormous, primordial, creative beings who manifest themselves in both the unseen and physical worlds via nature and human insight.” This works for me. Furthermore, Loptson suggests that gods take many forms, and we humans give them many faces. This also works for me.

I’d like to suggest that among other things, these primordial beings offer templates of spiritual enlargement to those humans who care to partake. Sure, the gods can also torment us, play with us, comfort us, blow our tiny minds, and request offerings (like the colorful donut-patterned shower curtain Loki wanted a few days ago), but when I really ask myself what human/deity interactions are all about, I get a kind of transcendent evolutionary vibe, if ya know what I mean. They can open themselves as doors, if we want to step through them, and change.

That’s why we have scads of spiritual traditions, religions, and magic rituals, with an endless array of techniques for getting in touch with these larger beings: meditation, prayer, trancework, offerings, mantras, visualization of yantras, contemplation, and quite a lot of sexual magic. Sexual actions, energy, and fluids have figured prominently in all kinds of practices, from Tibetan Buddhism to Crowley’s OTO and beyond. And sometimes there are elaborate rituals that include imagining oneself and/or one’s partner as divine (thereby stepping into the template). The process of cultivation is key.

So let’s say there really is an “enormous, primordial, creative being” out there that we call “Loki,” as well as various other kennings (defined as “indirect bynames,” Loptson, p.20). Like other deities, Loki has various attributes and associations, both ancient and modern. And like other deities, he can provide us with a template for spiritual expansion. I’ll repeat the four associations I mentioned above: (1) snakes, (2) fire, (3) a robust sexual history, and (4) magic.

Snakes. Loki fathered the giant Midgard-circling snake, Jörmungandr, and was also tormented by a poison-dripping snake when bound by the Aesir. These days, many Lokeans wear the Urnes Snake as a pendant, though there’s no actual evidence linking this image with Loki in ancient times. (The Lokean Welcoming Committee has a good discussion of the Urnes Snake here and points out that it has now become a modern symbol for Loki.)

Both Hindu and Buddhist forms of tantra are also associated with snakes, which are symbols of  kundalini energy, said to be coiled at the base of the human spine. There are also three snake deities in Hinduism. Shiva (the ultimate tantric god) is usually depicted wearing one of them, Vasuki, around his neck. Also notice that two of the carvings (below) feature two entwined snakes.

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6 October 2011. Source: Nagaraja – Hindu Deity – India. Author: Natesh Ramasamy from Bangalore, India. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

In Passionate Enlightenment–Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton University Press, 1994), Miranda Shaw writes:

“Kundalini-yoga offered a range of techniques to harness the powerful psycho-physical energy coursing through the body. In India it is believed that this energy can be channeled for procreation, sexuality, creativity, or spiritual experiences and heightened awareness. Most people simply allow the energy to churn a cauldron of chaotic thoughts and emotions or dissipate the energy in a superficial pursuit of pleasure, but a yogi or yogini consciously accumulates and then directs it for specified purposes. This energy generates warmth as it accumulates and becomes an inner fire or inner heat (candali) that burns away the dross of ignorance and ego-clinging.” (p. 31)

Fire: Dagulf Loptson’s book contains a chapter (pp. 136-154) which deals extensively with Loki’s association with fire, specifically with ritual and cremation fires. There is also an interesting comparison of Odin (Nordic god associated with cremation) and the possible role played by his fiery pal, Loki, with the Hindu Shiva (also god of cremation) and Agni (god of cremation fire). I can’t replicate the arguments here. Just get the book if you’re interested in knowing more. I still need to get God in Flames, God in Fetters: Loki’s Role in the Northern Religions, by Stephen Grundy (published by The Troth). With a title like that, I expect yet more examination of Loki’s associations with fire.

Cremation grounds were a popular setting for tantric practices and gatherings. Miranda Shaw writes that “Tantric Buddhists encountered their Hindu counterparts at the cremation grounds…” (p. 31). She also describes bone instruments, ornaments and skull-caps used to serve meat and drink at tantric feasts. Skull Imagery and Skull Magic in the Yoginī Tantras by David P. Gray (Santa Clara University) is another interesting resource.

I note here that one of Loki’s kennings means “vulture’s path” (Loptson, p. 36). Vultures were frequent visitors to charnel grounds. Loki is the father of Hel (or Hela), the Norse goddess of death. Her physical description could almost be that of a “wrathful dakini.” (For that matter, Fenris, Loki’s wolf child with Angrboda, could also have a symbolic association as a cremation grounds scavenger. This is pure speculation, however.)

I suggest it might be interesting to consider Loki’s connection with snakes and fire (and death) as an esoteric reference to the “inner fire” of transformative sexual energy, something that Loki may very well teach and/or provoke.

Robust Sexual History: In the Norse poem, Lokasenna, Loki reveals his sexual history with just about every goddess in Asgard (and these days some people speculate about a sexual relationship with Odin as well). Plus, he’s a shapeshifter who mated with a stallion and bore a magical horse. And he’s got more than a few present-day god-spouses (of all genders). Lots of deities have active sex lives, but Loki combines that with his most noted quality: bringer of chaos and transformation. In Western tantric circles, it’s a given that taking up a tantric practice inevitably means that all hell is going to break loose in your life. We would nod at each other and say, “yeah, hero’s path, dude!” in the same way that Lokeans frequently commiserate with each other about the fan-hitting stuff that goes down after accepting Loki into your life.

Loptson references Loki’s “ecstasy” in the thirteenth verse of his “Loki’s Stave.” Sophie Oberlander calls Loki a “God of ectastic union” (The Jotunbok–Working with the Giants of Northern Tradition, Raven Kaldera. Asphodel Press, 2006, p. 269). Fuensanta Plaza writes of an incident in which Loki manifests as a “huge, fierce joy” (Also Jotunbok, p. 265). I believe I have also felt something of this on several occasions, accompanied by delicious shivers.

Magic. Loki has magic powers, particularly shapeshifting (which Loptson also calls “skin leaping,” pp. 238-239). Loptson also mentions “bind runes” and fire magic and divination (pp. 235-237). Elizabeth Vongvisith also credits Loki with runelore (learned from Odin), seidr-craft (learned from Freya), word magic, and sex magic (Jotunbok, p. 258).

Loki is also known as “the mother of witches” (Mordant Carnival, Jotunbok, p. 271), birthing “troll-women” or “ogres” after eating a woman’s burnt heart (“The Short Seeress’ Prophesy,” The Poetic Edda, translated by Lee Hollander, University of Texas Press, 1962, p. 139).

Tantra is known for its association with magic. Powers known as “siddhis” just naturally come with the turf. Miranda Shaw writes that “…supernatural powers and expertise in magical arts…within the Tantric Buddhist context they are accepted as evidence of spiritual attainments.” This includes mastery of the body (including shapeshifting and ritual gazes), control of weather and elements (fire!), and the ability to magically transport objects (including food from people’s kitchens), and more. One famous dakini, Gangadhara, was known to turn into a wolf.

Many Lokeans complain that Loki will often make things disappear out of mischief. There are many anecdotes about missing items that are not “returned” (or made visible?) until Loki is asked (nicely, I hope) to bring it back. I had this experience with a CD that “disappeared” from my car for a couple of weeks, and I did look everywhere for it, several times. I figured out that I’d played one song way too many times in the car and asked Loki if he actually made things disappear or just prevented people from seeing them? Within a few minutes, I found the missing CD at my feet, near the brake. I do feel somewhat foolish for sharing this story, but honestly, many such are shared. I can only hope that if I ever begin to suffer from dementia, that Loki will go easy on me…

Finally, I’ve come across three kennings for Loki: Sky-Treader, Sky-Traveler, and Sky-Walker. These remind me of the term for tantric yoginis and dakinis: Sky-Dancers. I haven’t found a historical or lore source for these particular kennings yet, however, and would welcome one if you have it.

Based on much of the above, I revived my solo tantric practice and dedicated ninety days of continuity to Loki in return for some specialized instruction. I am now on day 53. It’s proven to be an interesting way to work with Loki, and I believe that committed energy work will prove helpful in this ongoing relationship, providing me with the necessary stamina and sensory refinement to “go deeper.”

At this point, I’d say Loki closely fits the “profile” of a deity who offers a template of transformation fueled by sexual energy–using some symbols and methods that are at least superficially comparable to Hindu and Buddhist tantric traditions. I am not sure if scholarship will ever uncover the reasons for these similarities, which do not seem purely coincidental. But because human sexual energy holds the potential to become a transformational spiritual force, perhaps the answer to this riddle is that some deities will always be available to assist us with this, no matter what culture or epoch we (and they) occupy.

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P.S. Here’s a reminder that it’s important to decolonize yoga and tantra.

Spectrosexuality: Spirit Sex and God Spousery

Some call it “spectrophilia.” I’d be more likely to call it “entheosex,” but avid explorers of entheogens have already coined that term to mean sex while using psychedelics. As a sexologist and sexuality counselor, I think I’ll be most comfortable using the terms “spectrosexual” and “spectrosexuality.” I believe many people may experience these desires in the context of a full-blown sexual and affectionate orientation rather than as a fetish. That’s my premise–and it’s based on a hunch, not data. 

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Today’s blog outlines my initial attempts to understand this phenomena in a sexological context: people who say they have sex with spirits and deities (or who desire this), and those who claim committed relationships with such beings. Much as I did when I began to learn about objectum sexuality (Love Among the Objectum Sexuals), I begin by trying to view this phenomena by many different angles, including a sexological lens, and to see what shows up in “the literature” (books, professional journals, etc.) as well as reported “lived experiences.” And of course these kinds of accounts are showing up in pop culture, but I’m going to ignore that for the moment.

Apologies are due to you, dear reader, as most of what I cite below is cisgendered and heterosexual. Am looking for other sources. This is the just first of many blogs on this topic. [Update 8/23/18: Please read this excellent piece about being a god spouse, written by Bat Bruja.]

Let’s start with Alfred Kinsey’s classics, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (with Pomeroy, Martin, and Gebhard, 1953) and Sexual Behaivor in the Human Male (with Pomeroy and Martin, 1948). In the Female book, I scanned the index and found “psychic masturbation” (not found in Male book) which led me to this text on page 163:

“Some 2 per cent of the females in the sample had reached orgasm by fantasying erotic situations, without tactiley stimulating their genitalia or other parts of their bodies (Table 37). Exceedingly few males are capable of reaching orgasm in this fashion while they are awake, although orgasm from psychic stimulation while asleep is a common enough phenomenon among males.”

The footnote (38) attached to this paragraph gives additional terminology: “idealized coitus,” “mental cohabitation,” “moral or psychic masturbation,” “the mental vulva,” and “erotic day dreaming.” Kinsey et al. lists a number of sources for these terms including pioneering sexologists Iwan Bloch (1903), Havelock Ellis referenced in Albert Moll (1921), Magnus Hirschfeld (1916), and others. Kinsey notes that several of these sources “express the curious and certainly unfounded opinion that this is the ‘most noxious’ of all forms of masturbation.”

So the purported (cis) female ability to have “think gasms” was once thought to be “noxious” by white, (cis) male “experts.” Why are we not surprised? But rather than get hung up on that, let’s say that the interesting thing is that “psychic masturbation” showed up in very early sexological research. Later researchers have also noted this ability to “think off.” In The Science of Orgasm (2006), Barry Komisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, and Beverly Whipple discuss fMRI (imaging) studies of “non-sensory induced orgasms” (pp. 260-261). They found that:

“…in thought-induced orgasms, as in orgasms produced by vaginocervical self-stimulation, the regions of the nucleus accumbens, PVN, hippocampus, and anterior cingulate cortex are activated.” (p. 261).

However, the amygdala “was not activated during thought orgasms” (p. 261).

Previous research into this topic included Whipple, Ogden and Komisaruk (1992) and Komisaruk and Whipple (2005). In the 1992 “thought orgasm” study, “–heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and pain threshold–approximately doubled during orgasm compared with initial resting baseline.” Bonk author, Mary Roach, also includes an amusing anecdote about a woman who “thinks off” in this TED Talk video.

As an aside, many erotic hypnosis enthusiasts also create and/or experience hands-off “hypno-gasms.” I teach these techniques myself.


Two important points here:

(1) Some human bodies are able to respond with pleasure, including orgasmic pleasure, simply from “thoughts” or psychic stimulation. Is this an evolved capacity? What function does this ability serve (besides sheer pleasure)?

(2) Psychic sexual stimulation and orgasm is most likely to show up in sexological literature in the context of solo sex and fantasy, or as a fetish. Not as god or spirit partner sex, even if there is the presumption that the partner is imaginary.


In Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (1992) by Brenda Love, we find spectrophilia defined as “either coitus with spirits or arousal from image in mirrors” (p. 312). Spectrophilia is discussed as a fetish often involving incubi and succubi. Many people have at least heard of sexy “attacks” by incubi and succubi spirits and perhaps have learned of the recent research into sleep paralysis (“night terrors”) which appears to explain this kind of phenomena. (Love’s spectrophilia entry predates this research.) Her entry also mentions the Babylonian Lilith, forced confessions of demonic intercourse during witchcraft persecutions, the “Thai Shrinking Penis Syndrome,” and the famous tale of the Virgin Mary and the Christian God (pp. 269-270).

[FYI: Love also has entries for altered state orgasms and near-death experiences (p. 189), as well as astral orgasms–annecdotal accounts of astral projection as a result of orgasm (p. 191), psychic orgasms (p. 192), and tantric orgasms (p. 193).]

Contemporary references to god or spirit sex may be found in books on Western magic, including sex magic books. For example, in Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic (2015) by Jason Miller, he discusses spectrophilia and other matters in his chapter called “Raise Your Spirits: Sex for and with Angels, Demons, Gods and Spirits” (pp. 151-167).

Spirit/human intimacy may be found in anthropological literature. An example would be The Polynesian Family System of Ka’u, Hawai’i (1998) by E.S. Craighill Handy and Mary Kawena Pukui, particularly the chapter called “Psychic Phase of the Relationship” and a discussion of “spirit lovers of the night” (kane and wahine o ka po) (pp. 116-159). Such lovers may be beneficial, and may even produce children, or they may be inadvertantly dangerous, sometimes causing human beings to pine away with desire through no fault of their own. Sometimes expert spiritual intervention is sought to sever the relationship and save the human being.

Myths, folklore, and religious traditions from all over the world and many historical periods contain accounts of human/spirit sex and intimacy. With regard to spiritual traditions, some ancient Buddhist and Hindu tantric practices include energetic sexual rites performed with spiritual beings as part of the path to transcendence. People may be asked to imagine themselves as a deity or to imagine a human partner as a deity, or to imagine the deity as a partner. Such practices were learned under guidance, during long years of study. (The above discussion of tantra is vastly oversimplified.)

Writers have often written about sexual relationships with spirits. One of my favorite stories is A.S. Byatt’s The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye (1994).

The internet being what it is, of course we can find references to partnered spirit sex and god spousery in blogs, websites, articles, videos, and podcasts. But I’m not incorporating a pop culture discussion in this particular blog.


Two more important points:

(3) Accounts of sexual encounters with gods and spirits have been recounted by human beings in varied cultures and historical periods. Therefore let’s consider that something about this is “real” beyond the types of reports or stories that might be explained by sleep paralysis.  

(4) People in many cultures have created and refined practices designed to create and facilitate human/spirit interactions, including sexual ones. People have devoted vast amounts of time and energy to create these practices and traditions. Why? 


It’s imporant to remember, however, that human/spirit sex was not always (or perhaps even often) looked upon with favor by religious and secular authorities. In Sex Crimes: From Renaissance to Enlightenment (2002), by William Naphy, we are told of the harsh punishments meted out to suspected witches (male and female) who have been accused of sex with demons (pp. 224-232). Even today we could probably find many instances of persecution–societies and religions which can barely tolerate gay sex are certainly not going to countenance spirit sex, which is even more transgressive as being pretty much undetectable (unless one blogs about it).

As I consider the above, from a sexological view, I have many questions. Here are some of them.


The biggest question:

What emerges for us when we understand (1) that human bodies have measurable orgasmic responses to psychic stimulation and combine this understanding with (2) a knowledge that humanity’s mythic/religious heritage includes a vast array of accounts and traditions of human sexual relationships with spirits, angels, gods, demons, etc.? What are the spiritual and cultural implications, as well as the sexological ones?


Other questions:

Are some people “wired” for a spectrosexual orientation or spectroattraction? Or should this be considered a “capacity?” (I just don’t think it’s a fetish–it’s too full-blown.)

What kinds of behavioral, emotional, and sexual variations may be found within a “spectrosexual” spectrum? I am sure we will find a range that encompasses polya spectrosexuality to mono spectrosexuality to asexual spectroattraction and more, plus ranges in genders and gendered attractions (and non-gendered attractions). We will find experiences ranging from a single encounter to committed relationships, as well as those desiring such encounters or relationships but who have not yet had them.

Will spectrosexuals eventually “come out” as a sexual minority community? (Since I know ecosexuals and objectum sexuals, this seems reasonable to me.) How will individual spectrosexuals and spectroattractors deal with their own coming out processes?

How do god spouses and spectrosexuals/spectroattractors deal with “sharing” a god or spirit?

How do spectrosexuals/spectroattractors navigate their relationships with intimate human partners? How much acceptance do they generally receive from other humans in their lives?

What kinds of discernment criteria, support, and other social structures will emerge as spectrosexuality and spectroattraction become better known?

Are there demographic and cultural factors or emotional and personality factors that are common to spectrosexuals/spectroattractors? Or not?

What sort of distasteful media circuses and pop culture travesties will emerge? What sort of cultural backlashes and oppression may we expect? What’s going to appear that is cringe-worthy (that we haven’t seen already)? How many Ph.D. candidates will do a dissertation on this topic?

For now, that is my initial take on spectrosexuality. Sadly, earlier today I lost most of my first finished draft and have had to reconstruct it all a second time. (That’s what I get, I guess, for my devotion to a trickster god.) I am sure I will be writing more on this subject, as I find it fascinating!

Are you a fellow traveller? Let me know you’re out there. Please “like” and share. Thanks for reading!

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Transforming Ancestral Poisons

“Putting the fun back in dysfunctional,” was how one of my brothers use to refer to our family. But it’s been at least a couple of decades since anything even resembling “fun” has happened between my mother, sister(s), and brothers. And the family I created, with a husband and two kids, has evaporated as well, though ties with my adult children remain strong.

In the early 2000s I took up a “cleansing and forgiveness” practice, taught by a very reputable person, and have used it off and on to deal with much of the family crud, trying hard to metabolize the poisons of resentment and unfair treatment. But it’s been clear for a long time that this was not enough: I and other family members have been replicating old patterns that predate our birth. It’s the same old story, told over and over again, until someone writes a new one.

“Writing a new one” has been my deepest focus these last few years. How to do it has been elusive.

So in October 2017, I was delighted to find Daniel Foor’s book, Ancestral Medicine. I was so impressed with the book and his online lectures and blog that I signed up for his online course in healing ancestral lineages. I’ve since “worked with” deeply archaic ancestors of two grandparent lines (paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother) to heal the troubles of the more recent dead and, in Daniel Foor’s terminology, “bring the blessings of that lineage” into my own life and that of my children. I’ve got to say I do feel a difference as I cultivate relationships with these grandparent lineages (the focus is less on individuals, more on the collective).

I am now working on a third lineage, my mother’s father’s line. I have just begun to apply the ritual sequences and format for engagement suggested by Dr. Foor.

Part of this work is to metabolize and transform family histories and patterns of poisoning.

On my mother’s side, my grandfather was exposed to radiation during the nuclear testing off Bikini Atoll. It killed him (via a brain tumor).  Let’s remember that radiation experiments were being performed on Pacific Islanders during that time (Nuclear Savage documentary) and that Micronesians and others are still suffering the multi-generational health problems from the testing and “research”, incuding cancers and birth defects, as well as the contamination and loss of their ancestral homes–so tragic as my grandfather’s fate was, my family got off relatively lightly.

Operation_Crossroads_Baker_Edit

My late Aunt Mary’s twin, Jamie, died as an infant apparently from eating poison thrown into the backyard by a neighbor, originally meant for the dog.

On my father’s side, there was another infant poisoning. He was apparently careless with a pesticide and the baby got into it. (His third wife took it hard.) Plus, he worked as a cropduster for several years, during the first years of his marriage to my mother (his second wife and second “child bride”). It is no wonder that my mother and I both deal with environmental illness now, after those early and frequent exposures to pesticide residues and particulates. I note that my father also dealt with a brain tumor in his last years.

Like an underground river of molten lava, emotional poisons also run through my family’s history and current dynamics: resentment, lies, assumptions, envy, backstabbing… all there.

So going to the source–the quite archaic but much “healthier” ancestors–and asking for their help makes sense. Can’t hurt, could help, right?

Right.

In a recent attempt to organize my rather slipshod and eclectic collection of pagan practices and devotional offerings, I’ve dubbed Saturday as “Ancestor Day.” Sundays are for my Vanir/Jotun deities. Loki gets extra attention on Tuesdays as my fulltrui (“fully trusted one”) and adopted ancestor. As I wrote in a previous blog, part of the lore of Loki also includes a story of poisoning as a punishment. As a spiritual practice, I am dimly sensing a need to create ritual which deals with this part of Loki’s lore, as well as my own.

I have read of a practice called “Holding the Bowl,” in which some devotional Lokeans meditatively hold a bowl for a period of time, as Loki’s second wife, Sigyn, does, to collect the poison dripping on to Loki from the snake. Here is one beautiful account of this ritual.

According to astrology, I may be predisposed to this kind of work. In my blog post, To the Stars, I mention how astrologer/activist Caroline Casey identified a theme of “metabolizing poisons by conjuring the antidote” as a key focus of my astrological chart.

So, the challenge is to “conjure the antidote” as a way to transform and “metabolize” these histories of poison. One way to do that is via Daniel Foor’s collaborative work with ancient ancestors to bring healing to an entire lineage. In addition, I could find or create rituals that conjure forgiveness instead of resentment; generosity instead of envy. I want to consider and conjure these antidotes carefully. When it feels appropriate, I will use forms of divination to get advice.

Let’s see what happens. Can’t hurt, could help.

Are you a fellow traveller? Please chime in! “Like and comment” too!

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Sex Magic

Sexology is my profession. Magic is a consuming “special interest.” Tantra has been (and is) a link between the two. So my bookshelves contain more (far more!) than first editions of the male and female Kinsey studies and The Guide to Getting It On. I’ve also got The Art of Sexual Magic (1995) by Margot Anand (tantric-inspired), Secrets of Western Sex Magic (2001) by Frater U.D., and the more recent Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit (2015) by Jason Miller. Here’s a review of Miller’s book by Donyae Coles and here’s an interview with Miller from Down at the Crossroads podcast (one of my favorite podcasts, by the way). I’ve also got tons of other books dealing with tantra, Taoist practices (though I gave a bunch of Healing Tao books away recently), sexual ecstasy and transcendence, magic, and so on.

342px-Beguiling_of_Merlin
The Beguiling of Merlin by Burne-Jones.

The “sex magic” umbrella is pretty big: there are energetic practices (e.g., tantric, Taoist) designed to refine and boost sexual energy, to be directed in whatever manner you please; practices which imbue sigils with orgasmic energy (again, use as you wish); sex with deities and spirits; and the creation of various sexual/spiritual “elixirs.” Really, with a little practice, a good time can be had by all!

The first time I came across mentions of “sex with spirits or gods” was prior to my sexology or tantra studies, actually. I was reading Polynesian Family Systems of Ka’u, Hawai’i by Mary Kawena Pukui and E.S. Craighill handy (back when Hawaiian culture was also a consuming special interest of mine), and was fascinated by various accounts of “spirits as mates” in the chapter called “The Psychic Phase of Relationship” (pp. 116-159). These spirits were called kane or wahine o ka po–men or women of the night–and did not seem to act in a manner that Western researchers would be likely to deem incubus, succubus, or “sleep paralysis” experiences. Nor will metal bands be named after them.

Nowadays it is common to come across “god spouses” on the internet, and I give ’em all due respect.

I find this topic massively interesting, having had a few inexplicable experiences myself. And as a sexologist, I’d really like to find a sexological or socio-cultural anthropological study of this phenomena. (I’d do it myself, but I don’t have access to research funds or an internal review board.)

If I plug “sex with spirits” into Google Scholar, the first relevant thing that pops up is Achieving Invisibility and Having Sex with Spirits: Six Operations from an English Magic Collection ca. 1600 (Klassen and Bens). It looks like a good read–I bookmarked it for later. And if I achieve invisibility beyond the usual “I’m old so no one notices me anymore” thing, I’ll be sure to blog about it.

There are also practices mentioned where one meditatively imagines oneself as the form of a deity or a deity’s partner, in order to evoke the desired energies.

As for links with magic and tantra, before I left Hawai’i a very accomplished tantra dude showed me how to use the “Tai Chi Sword” (first two fingers pointed, thumb closed over the last two fingers) to hook, twist, and pull a few lurking entities down and away from the ceiling of my home. There actually was a kind of freaky “haunting” there on Mano Street, and I felt it most the first night I slept in one of the guest bedrooms (I had already loaded most my furniture in the container for shipment back to California). It was a very unpleasant encounter and one of the first I’d ever had with a noxious entity! I really had to banish the “f” out of the thing. Now I know why a couple of houseguests refused to sleep in that room.

I hadn’t known at first that tantra was associated with magic. Like most Westerners who end up involved with Neo-Tantra, I assumed the main focus was sex and transcendence. I’ve been told–anecdotally–that the taboo associations with tantra in India have more to do with magic than they do with sex. But don’t quote me. This may not be accurate.

As I look through the stack of books on my table, I can see that symbols and sigils are a major topic. The idea is to use orgasmic energy to invest a sigil with magical power to affect change. The sigils are created with specific meaning and intention. In Anand’s book, this is covered in the chapters called “Creating Your Magic Vision” and “Sexual Alchemy: Charging Your Magic Symbol.” Miller’s book deals with sigils in the chapter called “Flying Solo.” (I honestly haven’t done more than skim through the Frater U.D. book, so I can’t comment on the content with accuracy.) Since I’m in need of a literary agent and publisher for my fantasy novel, I’m strongly considering the above method to draw the right agent to me (even as I do the copious research necessary to find and approach such people).

As a younger woman, I’d imagined I’d fill my declining years with cats, orchids, and a study of slime molds. Now that I’m well on my way to being what my oldest son fondly calls “a fruit bat,” I do have the cats and two orchids which manage to survive my lack of talent for plants, but sex and magic do seem to have replaced slime molds as my obsession of choice. So why not delve as deeply and powerfully as possible in these matters, while I still have life and breath and will?

This blog is part of that fun.

Are you a fellow traveler? Please comment and “like” below. 

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