What is Tantra – And what is it not?

Tantra asks us to embrace our own shortcomings, desires, and suppressed emotions – to integrate them. It also asks to tap fully into all of our senses: smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, and feeling! This leads to the physical liberation of stuck energy, which in turn frees up parts of the subconscious mind to transform rigid behavioural patterns.

In Tantra, a lot of energy is „activated“ through movement practices, active meditations, slowing down as an act to pattern interrupt and to really „feel“ what’s happening, or the act of „doing“ something externally to change something internally. Tantra has no space for talking about the past, fluffing around, meditating anger away to find the light, or suppressing urges. It’s the full presence and acceptance in the here and now of all that‘ YOU.

Tantra is neither about Sex (even though it is), nor is it about power (even though it is), it’s not about picking up women or men in a workshop (even though it can happen), nor is it about playing with energy (even though energy is important!). It’s not a religion, yet Gods and Goddess rituals, as well as archetypal embodiment, are part of Tantra. It’s a science, if anything, and a walk between shadow and light. Music plays an integral part in all of the practices.

Unfortunately, Tantra ha become a tainted word, tainted by ideas that very often have next to nothing to do with it. Its energy is dirty by all the projections and fantasies that have been placed on it like a mental porno. Yet, in and of itself Tantra is neither this nor that, neti neti in Advaita Vedanta – not this, not that – it’s somewhere in the middle.

Tantra is the becoming aware of ….. (fill in the blank).

– Sacred Love Institute

What is Tantra?

Tantra is the integration of the head, the heart, and the sacral chakra (the sensual / creative centre). It’s the integration between spirituality, physicality and emotions. It’s the integration between out-of-body experiences and in-the-body-experiences, without excluding or shaming human needs and desires.

Tantra is based on physical practices (yoga), spiritual practices (meditation, rituals, energy work), emotional practices (shadow work) and mental practices (focus on symbols, thoughts). One doesn’t work without the other, and in order to reap the benefits of the practice, every part has been developed over a longer period of time.

People, who only want to jump to the far end and experience spiritual bliss with their partners, without doing the physical, mental and emotional preparation, will not find what they are looking for. Or they will not know how to sustain it, miss the point about the practice and apart from some „experiences“ will not experience the actual transformation that true Tantra provides.

What is Neo-Tantra?

Neo-Tantra is one of the most recent streams of Tantra, which emerged in the 1970’s in the US and Europe, with a strong focus on the sexual aspects of Tantra. Neo-Tantra also often references OSHO, an Indian mystic, who promoted liberal relationships and the experimentation with sexual tantrik practices to awaken peoples consciousness and to shake up the rigid system of arranged marriages in India. Different to the older Tantrik lineages that include the energetic, emotional, physical (yoga), or mental (meditation and mindset) components, Neo-Tantra is the place where sexual rituals, tantrik massages, and polyamory are more prominent.

Lots of scandals from the Neo-Tantrik field exposed gurus, who (mind) manipulated their (vulnerable) female students into going to bed with them, have shown the shadow-side of this lineage.

There are amazing massage practitioners and course facilitators out there, however, if they work in the Neo-Tantrik field, they should have trained in many other modalities to complete that stream, too, such as in energy healing, yoga, meditation, trauma therapy, authentic relating etc. Sexuality is one of the most suppressed parts in society and therefore holds the most traumas and shadows.

What is Red Tantra?

Red Tantra is similar or akin to Neo-Tantra, focussing primarily on the physical union and sexual rituals. Energetic meditations can be part of it, but the end goal is to connect with spirituality through sexuality, though according to principles and specific practices. Men are taught to retain their semen, so as to not loose their vital energy.

Red Tantra is the path that teaches how to reach multi-orgasms, how to harness vital energy for transformation and how to increase personal power, by gaining power of their own energy field and mind. It’s a practice that transforms mere physical interaction into a deep heart-to-heart-connection with the partner, and a spiritual experience through the use of their senses.

Red Tantra also teaches how to let go of sexual conditioning to be fully present with the partner, being able to stay in the moment, letting go of expectations, and tuning into the energy and connection that’s moving. It’s a shift from head to heart and from sexual to sensual.

What is White Tantra?

White Tantra is the „pure“ lineage of Tantra, that focusses on purifying body, mind and spirit and retain sexual energy for spiritual practices. It does not involve partner practices, physical touch or anything of a „lower“ nature that involve desires.

Kundalini Yoga is part of White Tantra, raising Kundalini energy to open the chakras, increase energy levels as well as awareness, and connect the person with their Higher Self, or simply themselves.

What is Black Tantra?

Black Tantra is practiced in secrecy and dabbles with black magic, putting spells on people.

What is Sex Magic?

Sex Magic can be harnessed as a tool for manifestation when two people are having intercourse, and use their life force energy to specifically focus on a goal.

What is a Tantric Relationship?

People entering a Tantric relationship do so with the goal to experience spiritual union, integrate shadows, deepen intimacy on an emotional, physical and energetic level, and communicate openly about their desires.

What is not Tantra?

Tantra has nothing to do with cuddle parties, with sex parties or anything that claims physical touch and physical connection without a spiritual container, training and inner awareness what it mean to be Tantric. This is called Swinger Club, not Tantra.

Tantra is not people claiming you need to cross your own boundaries or overcome resistance to „heal“. Ugh.

Tantra is not going through one „breakthrough“ after the next and screaming it from the rooftops. It’s an increasing awareness of ones needs and boundaries and the ability to communicate them effectively.

Tantra is not pushing or activating energy to reach „bliss states“. That’s spiritual bypassing without the shadow work. That‘ called energetic manipulation, not energetic awareness.

Tantra is not having Sex with strangers (even if in „Tantrik“ positions), without any communication about consent, intimate needs, emotional needs and the genuine desire to connect heart to heart, since this is where the spiritual connection starts. Tantra without spirituality and the heart is not Tantra. Period.