Sacred Path of Ecstasy

by Jillian O’Hara


Merging the physical with the divine, Tantra is a sensual, ecstatic pathway to experiencing Divinity. Birthed in India around 5,000 B.C., the Hindus created specific rituals, disciplines, physical techniques and meditations designed to worship the god Shiva and his delicious consort, Shakti. Tantra honors the eternal intercourse of Shiva and Shakti, the male and female principles out of which all things are co-created in a continual act of erotic love.
Unlike most other mystical paths, Tantra enthusiastically includes sexuality as a hallowed gateway to spiritual enlightenment. In ancient times, Saraha was well known and respected for his great mind and vast knowledge. According to legend, he shocked his townsmen not only by falling in love with a female Tantra teacher, but also by living with her in a cemetery where “they danced and sang and celebrated” with much delight. Sad and cheerless people who arrived to bury their dead became happy and enraptured with the contagious ecstasy. It is reported that later, through Saraha and his beloved, the king and queen of the land became enlightened after being initiated into Tantra sensuality. As a result, it is said, “the whole kingdom entered a period of great joy and peace.”
Not only was Tantra avidly followed in India as a divine worship, it was also practiced in China, Tibet and by Cherokee Indian shamans. In Sanskrit, Tantra translates to “weaving.” In the Native American tradition, Spider Woman was a presiding deity at the Dawn of Being. She wove the web of life, spinning an endless tapestry of threads from Her Spider Being. It is said that from the red clay of Earth, she created all people, meticulously connecting a silver threaded web to each one. Guided by Her creative intelligence, she was always careful to keep a doorway at the top of each person’s head open. Even though they were intricately interlaced in the texture of life, at the same time they were also connected to the vast wisdom of Omnipotent Consciousness, to the One.
Tantra says, “Yes” to the Web of Life. It weaves an attitude of celebration that includes all mental, physical, material, psychological and spiritual experience, whether you are eating, drinking, crying, dancing, smelling, touching, communicating, releasing emotions, massaging each other, involved in healing your “shadow,” listening to music, or engaged in sexual ritual. It is a philosophy, a science, an art and a way of life, in which sexual energy is weaved consciously to create an exalted partnership of Sacred Union where the mystical, transcendent experience of unity, the feeling of oneness, is achieved during or following the holy ritual of sexuality. The goal of Tantra is always Union with God/Goddess.
Long ago, Tantras (mystical treatises) were carefully guarded secret texts, only revealed to the privileged few who successfully passed initiation rites. Scrupulously, they kept Tantric information hidden, afraid that if utilized, it would be misused. However, they, applied the energy found in these practices consciously and channeled it to enhance “integrity, clarity and wisdom.” Although these sexual secrets were not readily available to the masses, they found spirited expression in Spring festivals, fertility rites and various forms of pagan worship. Paganism explored sexual energy as the basic element of its foundation; many of the rites and rituals were based on a profound consciousness of the special power of sexuality.
We, in this Information Age, can easily access this knowledge. In this era of freedom, we have the opportunity to explore these ancient secrets of sexuality, the opportunity to discover for ourselves why this information was so cautiously guarded. As the Tantric path is followed, new ways of opening, evolving and refining the senses can be delightfully experienced. These techniques of breathing, special body and hand positions, stretching, massaging, dancing, communicating, meditating, anointing the body, visualizing, costuming and sensual ritual are all part of a spiritual discipline that contributes directly to sexual awareness and energy development. Like a coiled serpent of fire, deep within our sacred temples, exquisite sexual potential sleeps, waiting to be discovered, explored, ripened and transformed through the “alchemy of ecstasy.”