Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is a large-sized paperback book originally published in Britain that covers some of the basics about Tantra, offering accurate information on this ancient, extensive, and often confusing topic. The book features full-color photographs from the Tantra sutras, connecting the reader with Tantric history. The author, Indra Sinha, focuses on the ancient paths of Tantra: the goddesses associated, sacred sites, mantras, and meditations, as well as explains the many misconceptions of Tantra as presented in the West. Sinha was a Sanskrit scholar at Cambridge and also wrote one of the popular modern translations of the infamous Kama Sutra.
The reason I like Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is because it touches on so many important topics of Tantra but in manageable pieces, perfectly combined with the photos and visually-friendly layout. The photographs are taken from various primary sources – the Tantra sutras, and incorporate various symbolic aspects that the ancients readily understood but may seem shocking or just weird to the modern viewer. Some of the iconography includes blood-covered goddesses, wriggling serpents, and a plethora of yoni (vulvas) and linga (penises). The book also features centuries-old Tantric drawings and paintings that depict maithuna (sexual union), so this book is “Not Safe For Work” and might be best for readers aged 21 or older.
This book touches on so many important topics in a thorough but easy-to-grasp manner that it makes a perfect beginner’s book to Tantra. I heartily recommend Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy as a primer for Tantra: The Cult of the Feminine by Andre Van Lysebeth, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by Dr. David Frawley, and Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga by Sally Kempton. As the umbrella over all the yogas, including hatha and kundalini, Tantra is a shamanic science present in all forms of yogic practice, but the majority of Tantric gnosticism regarding sex is rarely presented at the average yoga studio while being hypersexualized in most New Age Tantric books and workshops.
Another book with a similar cover is Tools for Tantra by North Indian musician and writer Harish Johari, an excellent introduction to the yogic mandalas, Sanskrit mantras, and visual yantras used in Tantra. However, this book is a bit of a dryer read, and so Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is still a better opener to Tantra.
As one writer has said, a book without Tantra’s yantra is not really a book on Tantra. Therein lies the great problem with researching Tantra. It is difficult to sort through the numerous books available to ascertain which one will have the best, most reliable information. Finding a teacher versed in real Tantra is even more difficult. Tantra is a way of life, not an hour-long yoga session Monday-Wednesday-Friday, nor a collection of kinky sex positions. Tantra literally means a “tool for expansion” and is thought of as a “web”, a connected yet expanding consciousness, bridging the microcosm with the macrocosm and back again, cyclically.
The author, Sinha, writes on page 15, “The basis of all Tantrism is the worship of Sakti and Siva, the female and the male principles…. Without Sakti, there is no Siva, and no Siva without Sakti.” Sinha states emphatically in the previous paragraph, “Siva and Sakti cannot be separated.” (14-15) This very specific religious and spiritual foundation is probably the reason most Tantrism in the West has been secularized, stripping the “foreign” and non-Christian aspects to make Tantra and sexuality more palatable for sexually-repressed Americans. While I personally, do not subscribe to Sanatana Dharma (“Hinduism”), I appreciate the energies anthropomorphized as the balancing principals of Shakti or Shiva. Sinha has included the “foreign” bits and ancient spiritual practices for the Tantra newcomer.
The photographs of the ancient depictions of Tantra, her goddesses, and the sacred symbols can be jarring at first. The modern observer may find it odd to see detached penises and flying vulvas included in sacred sexuality. I will admit, that it does seem a bit “J. Alfred Prufrock’ed” at times. However, like all symbols, they are meant to jog the memory of the mind, the heart, and/or the subconscious self, not to be the whole story in and of itself.
Intriguing to some and perhaps shocking to others, Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy helps diminish the hypersexualized celebrity of Tantra and add fact where fiction has reigned in the popular consciousness. Sinha perfectly synthesizes centuries of teachings into a helpful, 154-page book, including an impressive 9-page bibliography and index, that informs but does not overwhelm the senses. Anyone looking to dip her or his toe into the expansive waters of Tantra would do well to start with Sinha’s Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy.
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Listen to my radio broadcast at BlogTalkRadio.com/Aroused on this very topic of “Porn vs. Erotica Sex,” then come back here and leave a comment below!
The p0rn of the 1970′s and 1980′s made caricatures out of the women as hyperorgasmic nyphomaniacs with the men serving no purpose other than just being an erection that jackhammered vaginas.
So what do you think of porn’s ….
- fake breasts
- skewed body image
- fake orgasms
- disrespect of women and women’s real sexuality
- disrespect of men’s sexuality
- men ejaculating on a woman’s face
- female ejaculation falsely represented by urination
- several men gang-banging one woman
- cheezy music and bad lighting…
Women have since taken the lead in writing, directing, and producing sex on film. This, plus the rise of amateur vids distributed via the internet, has changed how people want to see their sex.
As I say all the time on Twitter: The human body is beautiful. Sex is beautiful. Orgasm is natural. Reject dogma (and bad p0rn) that shames you into thinking otherwise. :-)
I’ve been married for almost 15 years. Before I got married, I used to have orgasms without a problem during intercourse, and I was very active and sexual woman. Now, AFTER 15 years, we have sex like every three or four months and worse, without orgasms… well, once a year if I’m really lucky. I only get an orgasm while watching porn and masturbating myself — so, I’m not anorgasmic — but it doesn’t happen while having sex with him. Even when I’m aroused and really try to have an orgasm mental and physically, it just doesn’t happen. I talked to him, but it’s not enough.
I LOOOVEEEE sex, I like sex, and even for a while I resigned myself to abstinence. Well, I suppose that I am the problem, but I cannot find the solution. I want to enjoy sex, and literally shout out myself for pleasure and orgasm during intercourse but well… here I am asking for help. Love my husband and I wish I could surrender myself into his arms and enjoy and cry out for pleasure. Any thoughts?
Right off the bat, I see at least three major things that need to be addressed, and hear me when I say, YOU are NOT the sole issue that needs help here. It takes two to tango, and in a relationship, each partner is 100% responsible for participating in their 50% of the partnership.
The word relationship does not mean “suffer in silence,” as you seem to be doing — I know that’s how I felt in my miserable 15-year marriage with orgasmless sex. (At least you like your guy!) A relationship is supposed to be two (or more) people actively relating to each other. I don’t see much relating at all here. But let’s begin this conversation with you…
You didn’t tell me your age, so for round numbers, let’s say you’re 40 years old and got married at 25. In your early 20′s then, you were a vibrant, happy, sexual, naturally orgasmic woman. Fast forward 15 years, you’re experiencing issues with orgasm with a husband who is uninterested in “fixing” a relationship he apparently doesn’t view as being problematic.
From a physical standpoint, the body completely regenerates every cell in the body within about three years. So you are literally not the same person you were then — your body has completely re-created itself 5 times since then. Now, at “40,” your hormone levels are different, your blood chemistry is different, and this isn’t even considering if you take prescription medication on a regular basis that can upset your body’s chemical balance, or have unhealthy nutrition habits, too much alcohol or caffeine intake, etc.
My first recommendation to you is to get your bloodwork done and see what your hormone levels are — do you make enough testosterone? Testosterone is required for women’s sexuality, believe it or not. When we’re younger, we have plenty of it (without seeming masculine), but as we get older, women’s testosterone levels drop significantly. This can be made worse if you have been taking products that give you extra estrogen, such as birth control, or eating unfermented soy products like soy milk, soy yogurt, or ingesting too many foods made with soy. Also get your thyroid levels checked as the thyroid regulates hormone production in the body.
The second area I would address if I were you is the porn. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch beautiful, sensual erotica myself, but as with any item we start to “rely” on for orgasm, porn may now be a “crutch” for you. I gave up vibrators when I could no longer have an orgasm without them — I literally had no feeling in my clit or labia, and I wasn’t even using a vibrator that often. It took six months to be able to feel any sensation in my clit. You may have gotten to the point where you’ve unconsciously talked yourself into reaching climax “only” when watching porn, so the orgasm is less about your sexual happiness and connection to your self and more about a psychosomatic reflex — “muscle memory” triggered by watching porn, if you will.
Go porn-less for a few months and get back in touch with your body. Your body was naturally orgasmic. Allow the muscles and nerves and your autonomic nervous system to re-learn what came so easily back then — awaken that “muscle” memory! This will take time and will likely be very frustrating. I invite you to read through my DailyOJ if you want a friend-in-frustration because I certainly understand. I would recommend my “Allowing and Receiving post” any time you really feel the pull to give up the bodywork and go back to the porn. Again, I’m not saying you should never watch erotica again, just take a break for a little while. Or watch some erotica or scroll through my Tumblr to get the juices flowing, then turn it off when you start masturbating. Relax into your body, focusing on your body’s wants and needs, not what you think your body “should” want or how it “should” act/react. Read my post on “Lying Broken in Pieces As I Heal” to see this process from a different perspective.
The third issue here is the infrequency of the sexual relationship with your husband. I am wondering, “What’s wrong with him that he doesn’t want to make love to a woman just starting her sexual prime? What’s going on in his work? His life outside the relationship — with him as a man? What stresses does he experience with his job, deadlines, co-workers? Does he have any addictions (food, caffeine, alcohol, other) that could be affecting him? Does he have health issues that are affecting his emotions, blood circulation, sexual drive, and even his mental/psychological state? Does he experience erectile dysfunction? Is he not making enough testosterone at this point in his life?” Yes, men make less testosterone as they get older as well.
As a man in his 40′s, let’s say, he may have been brought up in the last generation of boys who were taught to solve problems for themselves, don’t ask for help — that’s a sign of “weakness,” men have to have all the answers, be the leaders. Men are still suffering from the strong-silent-type John Wayne persona they were forced to emulate all the while being fed the Renaissance Man/Prince stereotype who is supposed to sweep a woman off her feet, romance her endlessly, and the relationship bliss and passion just happen all the time by magic — as women have been brainwashed into believing thanks to “princess” animated movies, romance novels, and daytime soaps.
Orgasms can seem easy enough if you find the right sex position. But the want has to really be there as well as a healthy mind and a healthy body. It doesn’t sound to me like he wants to bridge the divide here. Sex 4 times a year is not a true relating-ship, in my opinion, especially since you have tried to talk with him and he has not been receptive to communication. There are deeper issues going on with him that he may not feel comfortable sharing… yet.
Getting back to you, though, I hope you’re not expecting him to “give” you orgasms or “make” you cum. You are 100% responsible for your own orgasms during sex — or even solo. I see you understand that orgasm is a mental process first for a woman. After all the disappointment you’ve faced with this, your mental outlook may verge on the pessimistic side. You have work to do, for sure, and you need to work on yourself and your self first.
Okay… I lied… there’s a fourth thing I want you to consider…
In this post on orgasms, I explain there are different types of orgasms: the physical reflex and the energetic response. You can frig off for hours and never orgasm, much less climax. Or you can rewire the body to the point where you just think the word “orgasm,” and you’re off into the La-La Land of Bliss. Get back to your body, and rewire from the parasympathetic nervous system outward. And remember, I’m working on an orgasm training method that teaches this very thing, so be sure to sign up for my newsletter.
I know, I know… Other peolpe are going to suggest you do all the work here — add the “romance” back in, wear some lingerie, light candles, cook him a nice dinner, give him a massage to loosen him up to get him in the mood. This is all superficial bullshit. Your relationship needs true communication re-building, and that begins with honest dialogue, not pretending the problems away.
To begin this journey of healing, begin with yourself. To heal the relationship, you MUST sit him down, either just the two of you or with a counselor. You cannot save the sex or the relationship by yourself.
I most heartfully wish you well in this. And for more in-depth personalized advice, I also do consults via phone or Skype.