(Originally appearing in Genre Magazine.)

Note: This article is about sacred sex, tantra and sex magick, particularly between men. Though not pornographic  the instructions are quite explicit. If this topic offends you in any way, please do not continue.

Sacred sexuality simply means loving in a conscious manner on all levels, mingling and uniting the physical with the mental, emotion and spiritual. Its practice brings the gifts of greater awareness, communication and pleasure in all areas of the relationship. Due to our cultural conditioning in the west, many view sex, or the physical world, and spirit as mutually exclusive. The two stand divided forever, never meeting. That is simply untrue. Our very lives, our unique blend of spirit and flesh, are a testament to the union of material and spiritual. If you look back to the oldest spiritual traditions, from pagan mythologies, tribal folk tales and even interpretations of the early translations of Genesis, the creation of the world, the very universe, was often very sexual. Deities came together in love to create. Some deities would be described as androgynous or bisexual in our words today. Others are strictly masculine or feminine. In Egypt, a legend says Ra, the sun god, created the universe out of his semen through masturbation. The very act of creation is both physical and spiritual, regardless if you believe myths as literal events or a symbolic version of the big bang. The physical and the immaterial, or invisible energy, are present together. Sacred sexuality is our birthright, and we can reclaim it by looking to the old teachings, particularly from the Eastern world, where many mysterious truths have been guarded, waiting to be reclaimed.

In the Western world, sex is seen as something to be embarrassed by, something unspoken and inherently dirty and evil. These beliefs come from many of the dominant religious forces that took root in Europe, where the separation of body and spirit was emphasized. The old myths and teaching were sanitized to fit the new ones. Things of the world are unclean. You must purify your soul from the sins of your body and mind. Sex is a necessary act, but only used for reproduction, as a vessel for God’s work and not a vehicle for pleasure. Gay sex was particularly devilish, since there was absolutely no chance of conception. Gays and lesbians were simply fulfilling their carnal desires, committing sin. Masturbation is not seen as a potentially divine act.

For many of us, this forbidden fruit increases the attraction. We want what we are told we can’t or shouldn’t have. Unfortunately we buy into this separation theory and many gay relationships start and end as something purely physical. That’s fine if everybody is satisfied, but many gay and bisexual men hope and dream for something more, but think it is simply out of their reach because they desire to love men.

Though our cultural standards have relaxed greatly by the turn of the millenium, these thoughts still exist in the minds of many, and have become part of the foundations upon which we build the new world. Much of the world’s homophobia is based on such archaic concepts. Even the surviving sacred sexuality traditions of the west, our spiritual and psychological alchemy, are relegated to the world of the occult, inaccessible to most needing it. This splintering separationist theory, pervasive throughout our society, has lead to labeling and compartmentalizing our arts, sciences, relationships and culture. The desire to unite the fragments has lead to the interest in many holistic practices from the East, like yoga, acupuncture, martial arts and feng shui. Fortunately for us, our brothers and sisters in the East also have a holistic view of sexuality and spirituality.

Such practices have become known as tantra or tantric sexuality. The word tantra is Sanskrit, and literally translates to text. The tantric texts dealt with many important subjects, including spirituality, society, relationships, diet and enlightenment. Sex is but one of the subjects covered in these texts. Sex is seen as a path of spirituality, as much as prayer, chant or meditation. There is no separation.

In the Hindu tradition, the spiritual path is not one always of poverty and abstinence. They believe there are four paths to enlightenment, including correct social behavior for your profession and class, called Dharma. Dharma is to follow you life’s purpose. Athara, or material gain and comfort, is the second path. Kama is the path of physical pleasure and Kaivalya is enlightenment from following the previous three. The Kama Sutra, seen as somewhat kinky foreign sex book by most of us, is really a spiritual manual. It’s lost a bit in the translation. Tantric sexuality has been practiced in China, Japan and Arabia, as well as India. Now it is being practiced all over the world.

Sacred sexuality encompasses many of these practices. Unfortunately a lot of the traditional material has little reference to gay couples. Most importantly are the concepts of this path, which relate to everyone. As to the actual techniques, there has to be a bit of exploration. The majority of material is based on the concept of masculine and feminine energy, yang and yin, respectively. Even though these energies have characteristics we define as classically masculine: aggression, activity, heat or classically feminine: emotion, receptivity, cool, they are not limited by your physical equipment. Who knows better than gays and bisexuals that we are all a unique blend of feminine and masculine energy, yin and yang. The energy is also not restricted to any roles in the bedroom. Although if you are the receptive partner in anal sex, you may have more yin energy, you could be an aggressive bottom, acting more dominant and in control. The reverse is true for those who prefer to top. No one is playing the role of the “man” and the role of the “woman.” You can be very masculine yang with your partner taking you. Sacred sexuality shows us there is great benefit from both and experimenting with such roles or throwing the labels out all together. Energy is exchanged no matter what role you feel you are playing. All sex is ultimately the reenactment of creation, for gays and straights alike.

Contrary to popular opinion, the greatest goal of tantra has nothing to do with increasing your orgasm. That is one technique of the practice, and an added benefit. Practitioners feel that a man loses vital life force when ejaculating too often, so techniques that allow prolonged or multiple orgasms without ejaculation are encouraged. The two are not synonymous, though that is difficult for a man to understand until it is experienced. In our culture, ejaculation and orgasm is almost synonymous. The goal of tantra is no goal. That is a western concept. If we start something, we must find the end. If you have sex, the goal is orgasm. For those on the path of sacred sexuality, the journey, the exploration, the moment is everything, not the end. Your lovemaking could be so prolonged and intense that there is no need to orgasm or ejaculation. If there are goals, they are not so physical or measurable by success or failure, hopefully negating performance anxiety that many men suffer from. The true goals are appreciation and unconditional acceptance of one’s self and lover, communication and spiritual expansion to touch the divine.

One of the few rules of these practices is giving first. Emphasis is not on your own pleasure, but your partner’s. If both of you follow this rede, your own pleasure will be taken care of. The process is about learning and exploring. One night stands might be physically enjoyable, but run contrary to the tantric texts. The experience grows over time. You cannot learn everything you need to know for a spiritual relationship over the course of one night.
Right now this might seem like a great philosophy with no practical application. Have no fear, the instructions are coming. The difference between tantric practices and plain old sex is the emphasis on energy. Those with a spiritual focus believe sexual activity raises an energy in the body, besides body heat and the metabolism. Some call this invisible spiritual energy chi, ki, prana or kundalini. The energy rises through a path parallel to the spine and through seven major spiritual centers, called chakras. As it does, it activates energies that are not strictly physical, creating loving, spiritual and sometimes visual experiences.

The first chakra, or root, is at the base of the spine, between the scrotum and the anus. It deals with sexuality, survival and basic physical needs. The energy starts here. The belly chakra is just below the naval, relating to relationships in general, including sexual relationships. The third chakra, or solar plexus is below the diaphragm, working on issues of ego and personal power. The heart chakra, at the sternum is our place of love and emotional relationships. The throat chakra works with our communication and will. The brow chakra located between and slightly above the eyes, also called the third eye relates to our inner vision. Here Shiva, the masculine aspect, the God force, lives. In the crown, or right above the head, is where Shakti, or the feminine force lives. Sacred sexuality unlocks our inner masculine so it will unite with our inner feminine, bringing union, harmony and bliss to the practitioner, going far beyond the pleasure of a physical orgasm that may accompany it.

Exercise 1
The first step in sacred sexuality is self-acceptance and self-love. Stand naked in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Touch and caress yourself. Stroke and massage yourself. The goal is not orgasm, but feeling every inch of yourself. Touch places often forgotten, like the little toes, behind the ears, below the eyes and the back of the hands. Be one with your entire body.

Tantra is not about physical perfection. You are a vessel of divine energy and perfect in every way just as you are. You do not have to look like an underwear model or porn star to like the way you look and feel. This acceptance comes from within. You will have difficulty with this path if you cannot love yourself. If you are not comfortable by yourself, your first and greatest spiritual partner, then you cannot be comfortable with your lover. Do this exercise often until you are comfortable.

Exercise 2
Either by yourself or with your partner, massage each of the chakras. You may want to do this once yourself, to get to know your body better and then do it with your lover. Use a little warm oil if you like. Start at the root and move in gentle circles over the chakra. Most prefer clockwise, but do what feels right for you. Visualize the color associated with each chakra as you are massaged. Root ­ red, Belly ­ orange, Solar Plexus ­ yellow, Heart ­ green, Throat ­ blue, Brow ­ indigo and Crown ­ violet. Feel the chakra open with a slight tingle or warm and then move onto the next. When you are on the receiving end of this massage, visualize the chakras opening like a flower, or the draw string of a pouch. Your partner can move from the root up the back with each chakra, then over the crown and down your front side. Take turns feeling these powerful energy centers. You can do this prior to all tantric activities, if so inclined. It opens the energy centers and prepares you for deeper experiences.

This exercise can be expanded to kissing and licking the chakras and moving up the path. Instead of solely concentrating on the pelvic area and genitals, like many do, work with the entire body. Nipple play activates the heart. Kissing the neck opens the throat. Kissing and stroking the face works with the brown. Touch and massage the scalp. The brain really is the biggest sexual organ.

Exercise 3
Bring yourself to orgasm while your lover is massaging, caressing and stroking your body, except your penis. While they do so, have them look deeply into your eyes. This is called soul barring by some. At the moment of orgasm, your partner holds your head and locks eyes with you. Do not close your eyes, but be open, inviting and sharing. This helps create an intimate bond between the two of you. It is an opportunity often lost by the habit of closing the eyes or looking away during orgasm. To look into your lover’s eyes is a way to reclaim our sacred sexuality.

Exercise 4
I suggest trying this one alone until you are comfortable with the technique. Then do it together. This builds energy within you by extending the time before orgasm and often preventing ejaculation for a time. Once you have “opened” your chakras, masturbate. When you feel you are very close to orgasm, stop and pull in your lower abdomen and stomach. This is called “locking.” You can also take your first and second fingers and apply pressure to your perineum, or root chakra, between the anus and scrotum. Apply pressure but do not cause pain. This is called the “squeeze.” This should prevent you from orgasm and let you continue the build up. One technique might work better for you than the other, but both are effective, alone or together. Find your own pace and rhythm and don’t be surprised if you ejaculate the first time you try it. There is a “point of no return.” As your timing improves with the “squeeze” technique you can feel the orgasm without ejaculating, allowing you to have multiple orgasms during one session. Don’t use these techniques too often until you get used to them. If you are used to having one orgasm a day, try this only every other day until your body adjusts. These techniques can then be applied to any activity with your partner.

Exercise 5
While making love to your partner, be it masturbation, oral or anal, feel the energy rise through the chakras. You can both do this simultaneously if you are both being stimulated. Usually it starts at the root and can be felt there or at belly chakra. Anal sex particularly activates the root of the receiver. The energy exchanged with your partner helps “pump” the energy up your spine. As you are stimulated, visualize the energy moving up the chakras until you feel a warmth or a tingle. As it reaches each, you can feel different emotions, sensations and perceptions activate. Don’t get discouraged, this takes practice to raise the energy through the chakras. You may feel it only a little, or be unsure you are feeling it. This is normal.

Experiment and play with this exercise until you find your own pace. Use the techniques in exercise three to prolong the movement of energy, to balance, cleanse and heal you and your partner on all levels. Sacred sexuality is not only spiritual and fun, but healing on all levels. For some this is the best way to heal old wounds and trauma regarding sexuality.

Continue to experiment and play with these exercises. Adapt techniques from the resources below to fit your own needs and style. Learn more about the history and philosophy behind sacred sexuality to better apply it to your relationships, even your relationship with yourself. Learning to control your energy for your own enlightenment with masturbation is a great lesson itself, regardless if you have a partner or not. When you find that special someone, you will have a whole new world to share and enjoy together. Enjoy generating the energy of love itself, for nothing else is as spiritual or healing.

Regrettably too few resources are out there specifically for gay men. A beginner’s guide to Tantric Sexuality by Richard Craze (Holder & Stoughton) is gay friendly if not gay specific. It is a well researched, easily read book on the history and practices. The Gay Kama Sutra by Colin Spencer (St. Martin’s Press) is probably one of the only resources on the subject. For those online, www.yahoo.com has an online club called maletomaletantra. Ocassionally one finds something of interest on alt.magick.tantra. One of the best websites including gay male tantra and western sexual mysticism is British author Phil Hine’s site, Fifth Aeon Egregore, foundwww.phhine.ndirect.co.uk