The art of tantra: is there more to it than marathon sex and massages?

Make a cursory web search for the term tantra and you will be confronted with thousands of results providing “tips on how to practise tantric sex”, paeans to “the art of tantric massage” and listicles on the choicest “tantric sex positions for you and your partner”. You might be forgiven for thinking you had strayed into an X-rated section of the internet.

Yet tantra is a spiritual philosophy that originated in the Indian subcontinent and dates back to at least the 8th century AD. Meaning “to weave” in Sanskrit, tantra has since found its way into everything from Hinduism and Buddhism to western pop culture. With a focus on worshipping previously non-canonical and non-caste-based Hindu goddesses such as Kali and Chinnamasta, the tantric belief sees the world as imbued with a divine feminine energy – “shakti” – that we must access if we are to transcend our own ego and reach an enlightened liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. To access this energy, certain tantric practitioners believe in performing sexual rites, as well as confronting their own revulsions by covering themselves in funereal ash, drinking blood and wearing aprons made of human bones.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 21/09/20]