By David Cherubim (Frater Aurora Aureae)
Copyright © 1990 e.v.
The Order of the Thelemic Golden Dawn.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The most obvious and yet the most important thing to know first about Tantra is the meaning of the word itself. Tantra essentially means "action." Tantra is divine knowledge in action; it is the act of the Divine in manifestation. It further means "rite" or "ritual" and "method" or "technique". These various meanings of Tantra essentially entail the same dynamic idea: Tantra is the method, the ritual and the act of the Divine in manifestation.
When people think of Tantra, it is usually thought to solely involve the religious application of the sexual act. Sex does in fact play a major role in the Sacred Art of Tantra, but Tantra further concerns itself with other divine acts. Any act that is an intended manifestation of the Divine can be called Tantra. We must not limit that word to one set of facts alone, but we must extend that word to include all other acts of a divine or sacred nature, and so shall we comprehend and experience the infinite ways in which the Spirit of Tantra can express itself.
According to the Eastern wisdom, Tantra is the special science and art of the Kali Yuga or Age of Kali which is now in manifestation. This Age has been described as one of darkness and terror and destruction. But these are only veils of language cast upon the sacred shrine of truth! With darkness and terror and destruction come the ways of light and joy and creativity.
The Sacred Art of Tantra can transform the Mother of Darkness into the Mother of Love, and so shall all men and women be free from the fatal paths of our feared Age of Kali. Symbolism of Terror has been used by the wise as a means of conveying to the minds of WoMen the utter necessity for them to realize their inner Divinity. This is accomplished by way of realizing the True Self in action! WoMan must become the Divine in his/her acts. These acts thus become full of worship and adoration which Tantra, in essence, seeks to fulfill.
Tantra is the special method of the Age of Kali by which we can transform the dark spirit of chaos and destruction into the Golden Spirit of order and perfection. Whether we practice the Sacred Art of Tantra by sex or any other appropriate divine act we are, in fact, assisting Nature to develop in the proper manner. For Tantra is devoted to uniting man and woman to their Atman or True Self, which is the highest and most divine goal of Nature. To become the True Self is the principal theme of the Sacred Mysteries, the one ineluctable aim of the Divine. Tantra is a powerful method in this Age of Kali by which to achieve this grand aim and thus to evolve the Soul in accordance with the Divine Plan.
From one point of view, Tantra is the sacred art of uniting two opposites in the self for the awakening of the Middle Way. It is the union of Shakti and Shiva, that is, the union of the female and male principles of the Soul. Shakti, which is the Kundalini in the lowest Chakra, arises to unite with Shiva above in the highest Chakra. It is Mukti or Liberation and also Ananda or Bliss. It is the blissful liberation of the Soul from the awful snares of Maya or Illusion for the realization of the Real, the Divine, and the Beautiful.
The two opposites in the Thelemic pantheon are Nuit and Hadit. When Nuit and Hadit unite a third principle is born called Ra-Hoor-Khuit. In Qabalistic symbology these are Chokmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Understanding) while the third principle is Daath (Knowledge), the eleventh Sephira on the Tree of Life. The two Pillars of the Tree of Life are also symbols of the two opposites which constitute the universe. There are many ways of defining and symbolizing these two universal opposites. Everywhere they are part of the way in which the Universe operates itself.
In Alchemy the opposites are called the King and Queen, the Sun and Moon, Gold and Silver, or Sulphur and Mercury. One is masculine, active and positive; the other is feminine, passive and negative. The uniting of these two principles is, in one sense, what constitutes the Magnum Opus or Great Work of Alchemy. Their union produce a secret stone that partakes of both principles in essence, yet is it also independent of them. This stone is the Secret of Secrets and the Mystery of Mysteries. It is, in Tantra, the same as the Atman or True Self; it is the Sacred Jewel in the lotus born from the union of the two opposites in Nature.
Tantra is the esoteric teaching and practice of the Vedic Mysteries; it is, in fact, the most ancient wisdom of all religions. When men and women first sought to adore their gods, the Spirit of Tantra became alive with divine life. Sex, which was looked upon by the ancients as a most sacred art, was used by them to adore their gods and to make alive that inner force that creates bliss and freedom in the Soul. Sex is the oldest divine act of WoMan; it is therefore the most useful and obvious means to realize the Divine in action.
The sex act is the most complete symbol on earth of the Divine Union above. What people seek in sex is actually a cosmic fulfillment. Sex on earth is the most divine act of WoMan since it is the physical representation of the way in which the Universe operates itself. This Universe is made up of two symbolic forces that seek constant unity with each other. Love on earth is an expression of that constant universal love. To make love on earth is to unite these two universal principles on earth and thus to accomplish the Great Work from one point of view.
Sex is the most holy of all acts on earth. For most of us it is a glimpse into the Divine. The ecstasy of the sex act is the same as that which the enlightened WoMan experiences at all moments of the Supreme Illumination. Sex is the most royal ritual that we can perform on earth. By it we are able to come closer to our God/dess and meet with the Mystical Marriage above. To dedicate the sex act to our God/dess is to achieve the Summum Bonum. For in the sex act we come closer to our God/dess; it is a Sacrament of Holy Union.
To imagine that sex is a sin is the most horrible illusion for WoMan to suffer. Men who preach such madness are more deadly than a poisonous viper; but they kill the Soul, not the body. To say that sex is an act of sin is to blaspheme our God/dess and all of Hir creation. Freedom of the sex act is the most healthy and essential thing for all men and women to have. Without it we are as if dead, a mere body with no Soul. Sex is the best form of expression for the Soul; it is a symbol and extension of its immortality. Restriction of the sex act leads to the total death of the Soul, more horrible than all that is humanly imaginable. Sex is the most immediate link we have with the Divine on earth. It is the most holy of all acts, a veritable Holy Mass of Mystic Union. Through sex we can obtain a glimpse into the Beyond; it is a door into the Unknown.
Sex can be the greatest bondage of WoMan, but it is also the greatest means of freedom when used in the proper spiritual or magical manner. Sex has been transformed into the most horrible evil by perverted souls lost in a wild jungle of perverse insanity. But the Spirit of Tantra has ever kept burning alive the holy mysteries of sex in the secret domains of Nature, for it is the most sacred act that a man and woman can perform on earth.
From an Eastern point of view, there are two forms of Tantra. These are called Vama Marga or the Left handed Path and Daksina Marga or the Right handed Path. The former is physical Tantra and is dedicated to achieving Bhukti or the Bliss of the finite world; the latter is symbolic Tantra and is dedicated to achieving Mukti or the Bliss of the infinite world. Both Bhukti and Mukti are, in essence, the same; for the bliss of the material and the bliss of the spiritual both emanate from the same essential Ananda or Transcendent Bliss of the Supreme Spirit of the Universe.
In Tantra, the terms "left handed" and "right handed" do not have any moral or ethical implications attributed to them. Left-handed and right-handed Tantra are essentially aimed at the same divine object of Bliss, but one is achieved by physical means and the other by symbolic means. One is not evil and the other good. Both are equally valid and both are proper methods of achieving the sacred goals of Tantra.
Votaries of Vama Marga use the sacred discipline of the Ritual of the Five M's. The Five M's are madya or wine, mamsa or meat, matsya or fish, mudra or parched cereal, and maithuna or union with woman. These correspond with the five Eastern Tattvas and five Magical Elements. Wine is Tejas or Fire, meat is Vayu or Air, fish is Apas or Water, cereal is Prithivi or Earth, and union with woman is Akasha or Spirit. The latter correspondence is most revealing as to the sacred role of woman in the Art of Tantra and how important she is in practical work. Her role is highly significant in this Age of Kali, and until we see and worship her as such we shall never transform the Great Mother of Darkness into the Great Mother of Love.
The essence of the philosophy of left-handed Tantra is the use of the five senses to transcend the senses and thereby achieve liberation in the True Self or Atman. Ceremonial Magick, which uses the five senses in various ways, is a perfect example of this operation. In some cases, the Magician uses fire for sight, wine for taste, incense for smell, a dagger for touch, and a bell for hearing. By using these various magical tools the Magician is able to focus each of his/her senses in their appropriate places, and s/he is thereby able to concentrate his/her attention on higher and more exalted planes of the Spirit. By this method the Magician uses Nature to transcend Nature. The same applies to the use of the five senses in sexual Tantra.
But, I must emphasize, Tantra is not contained in the sex act alone; it is contained in all divine acts of worship and adoration. Whenever we seek to realize our God/dess in our actions, whether by Ritual or any other method, we are, in fact, adoring and manifesting our Divine Self. If you are a Thelemite, then Tantra is alive when you are adoring and invoking Nuit, Hadit, or Ra-Hoor-Khuit. This may be accomplished in many ways. A WoMan can perform Tantra through any act that is a dedication to his/her God/dess, for there are no limits to this sacred art.
In Eastern Tantra there is initiation by Mantra. Mantra is the word of Spirit; it is a symbol of the Eternal Word or Pranava (Aom). Japa is repeated mantra. It is of three kinds: audible, silent, and mental. When true japa is achieved, the mantra repeats itself in the infinite. In other words, the Word becomes an eternal sound vibrating in the Soul. Then is mantra fully realized and the Spirit of Tantra made manifest in all divine action.
There are also Mudras, which are gestures of the limbs of the body and which are the language by which the body communicates and communes with the Deity of one's worship. There are also Murtis, which are images of the Deity, and which are used as representations of the same; and there are also Yantras, which are form symbols of the Deity. These, like Mantra, are used in Eastern Tantra so that the Divine may be realized by Ritual, which is Action.
The principal theme of all Tantric initiation is Action. We must do in order to be! To be our own God/dess is the principal aim of Tantra as of all other true and sacred arts of the Mysteries. The only way to become our own God/dess is by being that God/dess, by manifesting Hir in action. Action is true worship of the Highest; it is experience, and experience is knowledge. Knowledge is the key to achieving eternal consciousness of the Divine, and this is only made possible when the Highest is made manifest in action.
To perform the Art of Tantra is to fulfil the Law of Love. Tantra is "Do what thou wilt." This is an injunction to do the True Will of the True Self; in other words, it is the dynamic spiritual Law of Action. We must put into action our True Will to express the dynamics of our Spiritual Nature. The True Will is the True Self in action; and thus by performing our True Will we see and thereby realize the True Self, which is our God/dess, and thus are we able to worship our God/dess in the Golden Light of Hir sacred and sublime Essence. Tantra is true worship of the Highest; it is the Supreme Method of achieving awareness of our Divine Self by the Supreme Ritual of worshipping that True Self in Action.
Love is the law, love under will.
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