Sex & Society » Sexuality, Religion, Sex positivity: "Is it Prostitution or Sacred Intimacy?"

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Is it Prostitution or Sacred Intimacy?

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We may abhor the streetwalker, glorify the escort, covet the centerfold, and vie for the attention of the sacred priestess, but the differences in the transactions seem like minutia lost in the facts; money is exchanged, sexual favors are granted.

  Sexual Healing

Here’s what I know. That we live in a traumatized culture in which sexuality is carved out of our soul is an unfortunate given for many in our world, and not just in far flung places where good, satisfying sex is unheard of, a non-given in the face of survival pressures. Where we live, where resources are plentiful and contemplating pleasure is a luxury we indulge in, harm exists in large measure. From birth traumas to painful intercourse to self-doubt and denial, to molestation and coercive sex, our collective need for nurturing and emerging willingness to examine our secret sexual histories has led, among other things, to the development of sacred sexuality schools, temples, practices (and, unfortunately in some cases, spiritual sexual charlatans). I’m going to make a huge assumption here: let’s focus only on those who choose this work from the deepest, most mindful intentions. In this paradigm, the idea of using our bodies to touch, heal and nurture others in a sensual way, or to encourage them to find peace through guided work can be the ultimate gift of love.

Tantrica Maya provides healing work using what she calls the “archetypal Goddess energy as the force that propels her sessions.” Over the years, her approach has shifted from one in which she offered more hands on touching and nudity to her current interpretation. She considers the work she does as deeply “sacred and primordial,” and integral to “removing obstacles to emotional, physical, mental and spiritual” wellbeing.

“It can be very powerful when [my clients] surrender to this process,” Maya writes, which as she describes involves sexual energy, something distinct from sex.

That is an essential difference, something I learned about from another Tantra educator, Tanja Diamond who put it like this:

“I would still love to see sexual energy de-tangled from sex, because the sexual energy used as life force energy fuels everything, including sex. However if we solely view it as sexual we won't make the leap.” It is not that sex should be separated from the energy, just that the thought that “arousal means horny instead of vital and inspired,” she writes.

By working with the chakras in a very intimate way, Maya helps her clients tap into their sexual vitality, but now she does it sans nudity.

“Most practitioners are engaging in some form of sexual activity, and that is how I originally approached my sessions,” she explains. “Most of the training for this type of energy work includes attention to the genitals, thus you have Lingum Massages, Yoni Massages, and Sacred Spot Massages.” The problem is, as she asserts, that confusion arises along the lines of my own discomforts described above.

“If you are opting to have one of these sexual sessions it should be made clear that it is not indicative of Tantra.” Indeed, she points out that anyone can learn one of these massages with an instructional video. Only when the acts are infused with sacred teachings are they Tantric in nature. Addressing sexuality in an emotionally healthy way between a practitioner and client requires a delicate, conscious balance, and Maya, as her practice and understanding have shifted, has found herself at a crossroad.

“I have grown weary of the many men who have visited me because of the erotic emphasis which I have placed, up until now, on my ‘Tantric Journeys.’” She is phasing out the word Tantra and replacing it with the term “Goddess Healing” as a better way to “convey a ritual which draws upon the feminine divine as a healing source.”

Intimacy is still involved in her work, she says, but the expectations are clearer and her sessions put her “in touch with a person on a very high level — a spiritual one.” “That is intimacy at its highest form,” Maya explains. “It does not need to be reduced to any type of sex act as that would, in fact, decrease the sacred connection.”

  Touchy Conundrum

Is that always the case? Does introducing sexual touch always diminish the sanctity of the experience when the people involved are not in some sort of real and agreed upon (I mean that loosely and trust that each reader generates their own idea of what that means) relationship? After communicating with Maya, I found myself intrigued to learn more, specifically about the work of Sacred Intimates.

‘Sacred Intimates’ is a term coined by Joseph Kramer in the early 1990s and today has evolved to mean someone who works with clients seeking help and exploration in sexuality. It’s experiential work at the “intersection of body, Eros, emotion and spirit.” Those who call themselves Sacred Intimates “see the power of pleasure as a healing and transformative experience.”

I’m friendly with some self-described Sacred Intimates, and reached out to learn more of what they do. Using movement, breath, touch and body awareness, a Sacred Intimate guides someone “through sensual, sexual and erotic experiences.” It can involve bodywork, coaching, mutual exploration, energy work and ‘Tantra,’ and in some cases ‘surrogate partnerships.’ What’s more, anyone can call themselves a Sacred Intimate, and those who engage in the work from a wholehearted centered, one rooted in healing and honoring the divine in each of us, client, healer and (as in my case) curious observer, believe it is a calling.

Who am I to determine otherwise? Ultimately, there is no clear answer as to my original quest to discover some clear boundaries that separate ordinary garden-variety sex work from that which is labeled ‘sacred.’ What’s profane to one is considered sacred by another, especially when it comes to sexuality and nudity.

Just contemplating those questions confirms for me that sacred sexual healing practices are mysteries beyond my level of wisdom. What’s more, the practice of trying to define or make sense of the mysterious, something I wrote about in my last article, alters our consciousness as well as the thing we are musing upon.

Ultimately, the highest good isn’t determined by the lowest common denominator, as so often seems the case when it comes to public consumption of sexuality. What we do and how we do it must be evaluated by the intentions behind the deed, whether it is sexual healing for hire, or that in the arms of our truly beloved.


Contributor: Tracy Elise
Tracy Elise  

In the post above, I hear others discuss Tantra as religion and spiritual practice. The Phoenix Goddess Temple and Mystery School of 1 did not claim classical Hindu lineage as our basis for religious freedom. In fact the temple taught sacred sexuality from many wisdom streams, including the Deer Tribe Sacred Sexuality Quodoushka, Taoist practice (White Tigress/Jade Dragon), Indigenous Shamanism, Persian Mysteries, Hindu yoga and Tantra, Western Alchemy, Sex Magic, and my own lineage, Egyptian Tantra. A shared focus of our practitioners was the Ladder of Light, that is, the full spectrum human light body, with integration of the ‘root' as essential practice.

I am an ordained Priestess of the Mother aspect of God. I embody the Goddess for those who seek Her wisdom and healing. The "Ladder of Light" chakra teachings demonstrate clearly, root to crown, that the life force energy of the body can be activated, amplified and integrated UP towards the God-mind AND that the God-mind of Source/Story/Sound can be directed downward to the earth/root/Goddess Yoni, and the God Wand of Light.

In our teachings this is not a one-way direction of life energy, rather an equal exchange through the up/down pillar of light, with the heart being the bridge between heaven and earth. Our temple offered diverse forms of Sacred Sexuality, with an emphasis on energy healing through the resonating vessel of the physical body. At the heart of Goddess worship is the recognition that the human body comes from the Mother and that the body in and of itself is a holy vessel for the soul. We cannot contemplate God the Father, or the elaborate rituals devised by man to understand the ineffable without a BODY. The Holy BODY carries the shakti energy, the Holy BODY with the 5 senses is how we share and WEAVE with all of creation. This is the essential definition of Tantra; a tool for weaving.

With 2000 years of patriarchy damning the body, its natural functions and its inherent wisdom, we cannot grasp the Goddess. Her wisdom has been effectively silenced, Her gift of pleasure made sinful through the “Eve is Evil” in Genesis. I do not expect people who have never studied here to understand the Phoenix Goddess Temple's ministry. I can say that our ministry to bring back the Goddess to full equality in wisdom, respect and honor with God the Father has not been easy, in fact, it has been incredibly difficult the entire 10 years of my practice.

I work in the front lines of sexual dysfunction and break down. Our seekers and members are hard at work, they don't have time for retreats, weekend seminars, and many do not have partners, or are partnered with women who are in total shut down due to stress, medication and displeasure at their man's uneducated effort in lovemaking. WE are being called prostitutes because we are in the front lines, but I ask, does not a prostitute or ‘john' deserve redemption, and alternative, absolution and forgiveness just as any church member might?

We put community outreach notices on the backpage adult ads because I follow Jesus. JESUS was quite clear on one point: when attacked by the religious establishment for 'hanging out with sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors" he made it clear he did not come to serve the 'religious establishment' nor those who considered themselves 'healed'. Most of the Tantra teachers I have met do not combine biblical teachings with their Tantra, but I do and always have. If you are curious, please do read "Jesus, the Lost 30 Years" by Tricia McCannon, 2010; he was a high level initiate of the Ladder of Light, as was Priestess of Isis Mary Magdalene.

WE at the temple practiced in the NOW and we served in the front lines of sexual breakdown in our culture. We offered our seekers many options to study the body, their energy system, and especially gave a place for men who desired to lean from a 'wise woman' about sexuality a place to worship. ALL churches, temples, mosques, synagogues exist on tithes and offerings of support. NOTICE how the police did not discuss that NO ONE at the temple ever was offered any money before their session took place, and indeed, it was (and still is) possible for people to partake of private healings in our transformation chambers without leaving even one penny. I have performed over 5,000 hours of Whole Body Healing, Magnetic Tantra instruction, and energetic health for men (masturbation to mastery, cultivation of the root up the ladder to the divine mind, and prostate health, to name a few). Some of my favorite private rituals involved teaching men how to behold a woman, how to approach her, how to touch her, how to direct the energy to please her, how to see her as a path to their own divine nature.

The ULTIMATE POWER of WOMAN is what is being slapped around here in Arizona, and believe me, this is not about sex, it is about POWER, and women who claim spiritual / soul enhancing authority equal to that of the male dominated clergy, which has dictated our social moirés for over 2000 years. Finally, consider please that the Goddess exists in these historically accurate and ancient ways:

The HOLY BODY (worship of the Mother as giver of the body, builder of the soul's vessel); SHAKTI (life force energy matrix which bridges the body to the soul and to the greater reality); and GNOSIS (direct inner knowing of self connected to Higher Self/God/Source). In all cases, orthodoxy desires to control the masses and they behind the violent closing of our temple and school. In the ancient world SILENCE was the realm of the Mother, as silent as the womb of creation.

WE never turned anyone away for lack of funds, and all funds were accounted for in immaculate non-profit books. Our top administrators and teachers worked 14+ hour days (8m-10pm on average) and took home less than $15 / hour for these long days. The temple was held together by a 'pope' model, and I took my vow to give ALL of my earnings to establish Her teachings and to hold sacred space for the Mother at this time on earth. I delighted in giving every penny to the temple and school programs, and will do so until the day I pass to the next realm.

Much truth has not been revealed in the press, which should not surprise anyone who has brought change to the culture, according to Grandfather Gandhi: first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. I pray that the sex and consciousness community will do their homework in discovering who we really are, before making authoritative statements against our ministry.... Would you serve for free?

I remain under house arrest, with an electronic monitor on my ankle, disrupting my carefully cultivated energy flow. My beautiful, innocent daughter is in her 5th week of imprisonment, with a bail bond of $200,000, the average amount given to free a murderer. WE all have been terribly abused by the one of the worst criminal justice systems in the entire U.S. I only pray that some of you will re think your condemnation, learn who we are, and get behind Freedom in the Body and the full celebration of feminine wisdom as equal to that of man's.
I remain (under house arrest) in Her service,
Tracy Elise Mystic Mother & Found-Her, Phoenix Goddess Temple & School of 1

Contributor: lorilove

Tracy Elise,
at this moment I will not take the time to agree or disagree with anything you said except on your idea about Jesus. You quoted the scripture fairly accurate, and Jesus Did hang out with sinners, but it was NOT to.... 'just "hang out" with them'... and pat them on the head. Jesus did not 'suffer like he did on the cross' just for something to do. Jesus said to 'change your ways' he was there to cleanse them, he said a doctor visits the sick. To the prostitute he said ' go your way and sin no more'. Tracy Elise you cannot pick and choose what you want out of the powerful teachings of Jesus, the powerful death & resurrection of Jesus, to make yourself feel better about what you are doing. If you say you are following Jesus, then follow Jesus.

Contributor: Sunyata Satchitananda
Sunyata Satchitananda  

IMO, its all about: Intention & Container
If the intention is sacred and the container for the session supports that intention, and the Sacred Intimate guides the session to support all of this as well as the client's best interests and highest good -> then, to me, that counts as "Sacred Intimacy." What that sacred intimacy session can include might be: healing, education, expanded awareness, deeper spirituality, sacred experience, attunement and communion with the divine.

The highly subjective and confusing nexus of spirituality and sexuality is the concept that is so hard for the uninitiated public to understand. When not understood, people tend to lean on their fears -and there's a host of those with sex and spirituality! On top of this is the concept of "healing" through sacred sex experience -even more strange for most.

Each sacred intimate makes decisions about how they will interact with clients and what their boundaries are. There is a distinction between "Tantra" teachers who do not interact as a sacred intimate does and sacred intimates. A sacred intimate is one who will engage with another in intimate ways (whether this means touching genitals or not -I've had clients pause in realization of how intimate the session can be while fully clothed and sitting, eye-gazing together!).

The key for a sacred intimate is the ability to be grounded and present in a supportive witness role while guiding the client to activate, trigger, release, and experience integration and expansion/growth regarding energetic/emotional blocks and contractions resulting from past or present trauma or wounds. How that is achieved, I have found, varies greatly from practitioner to practitioner and different for each client.

Thanks Tinamarie for your thoughtful writing and consideration of this sensitive, if not volatile subject! ?

Contributor: Tanja Diamond
Tanja Diamond  

Thanks for quoting me in this powerful article. First let me say as a Tantra teacher and practitioner I have never exchanged money for sex, or erotic massage or in anyway broken the law in the state I practice.

Only 3 percent of Tantra is even about the sexual arts, and teaching the sexual arts without the foundation in which they were built, is just giving someone a bunch of fancy techniques. Although good for educating them about sexual options does nothing to further their knowledge about Tantra or help them on the path to enlightenment, or healing.

No matter how much you teach someone about breathing and chakras, a hand job is still just a hand job, although more fancy when you add the so called goddess aspects. Most men I have talked to say.. "hey, if I need to do THAT to get to what I want... great"

So much for women's empowerment... that attitude just makes us look stupid. If the so called healer doesn't even understand the man's inclination how much of a healer are they?

When a man goes to a 'temple" to heal, does he really heal when he does so in secret and breaks the vows he made to his wife? Would Jesus be ok with that? Is anyone served truly by breaking the law?

If healing were the bottom line( and I do believe in sexual healing and the benefits of practitioners that are trained properly), would the "seeker" need to be visually stimulated by the healer, would they need to have sexual attraction? Those two things do not go hand in hand.

To lump sexual healing in with sexual gratification and happy endings is to do a disservice to the real work of sexual healing, to the people who need it, to the people they lie to to get it, to the "goddesses" that are being lied to to do it and to the public in general.

Legalize prostitution so we can get real about who is doing what.

We as a society need sexual healing, we need sexual education, some need sexual surrogates, most of all we need a real sense of what is available, places to get what we need without the smoke and mirrors and we need legitimate healers with solid foundations.

Prostitutes be proud, just stop hiding behind Tantra, religion, new age mumbo jumbo, and other things.

Sexual healers get your own healing first and get some solid training and foundation so you can help others without needing for resort to getting naked, body glides, happy endings, and feeling like a sex worker.

To Tracy Elise, I know you, I have seen your work, I have cleaned up some of the messes you left behind. You give Tantra, Goddesses, sexual healing, sex workers and temples a bad name.

You do not represent healing to me, you represent the problems around sexual healing, sex work and many other things.

I hope you feel responsible for your daughter being in jail and all the trauma you put other people you followed you through and I hope you make amends.

The current laws are outdated and I do not agree to the extremes that were taken. I do not think this case is going to change anything but make a mockery out of all the sacred practices you have cited. That creates a problem for other practitioners and "seekers".

The only thing that makes prostitution sacred is a society that upholds it that way, and does not happen when the prostitutes are as wounded as the people using them.

be amazing
Tanja Diamond

Contributor: Tanja Diamond
Tanja Diamond  

There is so much confusion in the world of Neo Tantra on this issue. Tantra has nothing to do with sex work.. neo tantra seems to be all about it, I truly desire the understanding on that.

Contributor: jenimeri

I am not going to address the Phoenix Goddess Temple issue. That's a mess and it's not interesting to me. Also, I'm going to say I don't give a shit what Jesus said or didn't say. If it ever was any good, it was ruined by the folks who created an organized religion based on him. Oh, and I'm anti-religion of any sort...I'm equal opportunity there.
Personally, I think the most important differentiation to be made between all these varying forms of sex work depends entirely upon the sex worker his/herself. As far as the law is concerned, it's pretty clear what is permitted and what is not. Everything else is irrelevant.
It seems to me that prior to the agricultural revolution, prostitution did not exist...but sex certainly did. Prostitution came about as part of a cultural shift that found human society fascinated by duality and creating hierarchical structures. Women became property and lost rights to earn their own income, etc. Society began to differentiate between reproductive and non-reproductive sex. One was okay. The other was bad. Let me be clear - I don't think this was just about oppressing women. It was about oppressing and controlling any sort of non-reproductive sex. But all the rules didn't change the fact that humans are promiscuous. The demand for non-reproductive sex didn't go away. I suspect that some women and men either through circumstance or conscious choice ended up marginalized. After all, in duality, if one thing is good, the other has to be bad.
So, I invite everybody to consider the possibility that one form of sex is not better than another and that none is more sacred than any other any more than this inhalation of breath is more sacred than the next. It is all sacred if we choose to make it thus.
This gets back to my original statement of the sex worker being the one in charge of deciding how sacred any of his/her work is (and this comes from my background as a massive slut). You cannot control another person's experience. You can set an intention, set the stage, set your boundaries but, in the end, you have very little control over another person's experience. If, as a sex worker, you go into a session with a sense of wholeness and the intention of experiencing your connection with God/the Universe/whatever, then, as far as the sex act is concerned, it doesn't really matter that you were paid or unpaid, if your client was healed or not, or if your client had a sacred experience or just a really good handjob. Your path is your path. Your client's/lover's path is his/her path.
With this philosophy, you can explore most any type of sex and it will always be sacred, no matter what religion, society, friends, family, or other lovers say.
When I began this strange journey almost five years ago, I very quickly sought out the services of a Sacred Intimate. She was an instrumental part of my path and my sexual healing. Thanks to her, I am no longer anorgasmic. Thanks to her, I learned to embrace my body's capacity for pleasure as a pathway to God/the divine. She never gave me a vulva/yoni massage as part of her services but we did discuss it as a possibility at one point. If it had necessary to my journey, I would have gladly paid her for it.
Lastly, Maya and everyone else is welcome to do whatever makes them most comfortable. However, had it been me, I would not have stopped offering erotic or sexual aspects of my services. In my opinion, even though men have been permitted a certain sexual privileges denied to women, they are just as repressed as everyone else out there. Men are permitted (generally) to experience pleasure in their cocks but few are able to experience pleasure and creativity stemming from their testicles, prostate, and whole body. Believe me, those men are searching for something when they come in for their sacred handjobs. They may not be able to verbalize or communicate it but they are searching. If they weren't, they'd be going to run-of-the-mill prostitutes or finding sluts like me. As a sex worker (or a slut) all you have to do is be clear with yourself about what makes anything sacred.

It's a good thing if you've confused your clients when it comes to sex and sanctity. You've stirred the pot. Keep going! Eventually, they'll break through or they'll run away.

Contributor: jenimeri

I am curious about the following statement you make:
"If healing were the bottom line( and I do believe in sexual healing and the benefits of practitioners that are trained properly), would the "seeker" need to be visually stimulated by the healer, would they need to have sexual attraction? Those two things do not go hand in hand."
My experience has been that sexual attraction is a prerequisite for most people to be interested in being sexual or running sexual energy with others. People have great difficulty with the concept of running sexual energy or being sexual with folks they are not attracted to. The few who do or are, for whatever reason, capable of being sexual with people they are not attracted to are usually viewed as having some sort of sexual problem. I KNOW that isn't necessarily the case but that's how a lot of people view it.
As for your statement, "Is anyone served truly by breaking the law?" I see no reason to obey laws that are unjust, seek to control individual's sexuality, and contribute to the commoditization of human beings . I refuse to defend a system that does so.
Again, the men who go to Sacred Intimates are looking for something else. They can get a simple handjob from most any prostitute at the same or lower cost. They go to Sacred Intimates because they are yearning for something more.

Contributor: joverton

Tinamarie - I am very touched by what you write (especially after Phoenix!) And you take up many of those unstated/unconscious/conscious-but-"have to be"-hidden aspects which, to me, make any attempt at discussing this a minefield... courageous, in my book!
Basically, I believe that most of us are still linked to the concept of sex=the next-worst sin (unless for procreation - some early church fathers even said that sex for procreation was sin too, but needed to provide males for the priesthood and females to give birth to them!) When I say "linked to the concept" I don't mean that we consciously believe in it in our minds, but that the "disallowed/prohibited" aspect is still there in our genes/cells (is that what makes sex so exciting? At some level we experience it as forbidden?)
We westerners are not alone in this - many moslems would say the same thing, for example. Left-hand tantra is looked upon by many Buddhists as "totally misguided!" etc., etc.
Thus in any society formed by these "spiritual principles", taking money for the "next-worst sin" MUST be wrong and MUST be stopped, whatever it may be called by people doing it!
And since sexuality is praemeval and we are, as a rule, so repressed in our sponteneity, it takes courage, or "refusing-to-feel-any-guilt" (more repression), or alcohol or drugs, or desperation to break the mould (and Heaven help us if we get "caught"!)
What a way to blaspheme the Creator by making that most glorious expression of our humanity "wrong"! And also what an insult also to those who freely for their soul purpose make themselves available to help others come to an expression of this glorious gift.
I suspect that it is primarily because we have made "paid intimacy" a double-wrong - forcing it underground - that there is such a high incidence of the trafficking of children and others who absolutely do NOT want to do this "work" ...................
What is in the open can be surrounded by love and compassion; what is not able to be in the open will surely always lead to suffering, one way or the other, and it is the "powerless" who will suffer first and most!

and... Tracy Elise ... I honour your courage to follow the deeper Yeshua and the Magdalen as you know them (on those wonderful other planes, and, yes, in the "biblical" sense.) I honour the way you have put yourself on the line for this. And like many of the first Jesus-followers finding yourself chained to the house so that you can "do no more harm" - Part of Jesus' ministry was very physical and intimate - this is alluded to in the mainstream gospels and even more pronounced in those texts which weren't allowed in the final "approved books scheme" (for obvious reasons!)
The HOLY BODY (the Apostolic creed talks about descent into Hell and then the resurrection of the BODY - a tantric metaphor if ever there was one, and also a vision of what is to come and how New Life (what Jesus kept harping on about and people didn't get it) is supposed to be .... endless, ecstatic, bliss in the GLORIFIED BODY!
Sending prayers for your soon release!

John Overton

Contributor: Tantrica Maya
Tantrica Maya  

I can only speak to my interpretation of a tantra session. I encourage arousal, but I make the suggestion that it not be forced to be sustained, nor denied. It is vital to the process. This life force must flow freely so that an important, albeit not the most crucial one, component is processing. The most crucial energy is benevolent energy which flows from all universal intelligence into our beings via our hearts. My tantric sessions are about creating a new energetic entity as the obstacles to the heart chakra are released and the chakra opens and spins faster. Kenneth Ray Stubbs speaks to this new energetic entity as well.
As for the temple and the raid I could see it coming. I tried to influence the mind-set there when I visited. I found the messages it put forth to be contradictory. I know Tracy is kind and generous, but like all of us who drive ourselves too hard, may have lost sight of how they were a threat to the conservative community at large. I also think that the outrageous bails and confinements do have to do with how the temple made zero attempt to do any damage control, and actually made light of, a horrendous article published 6 months prior to the raid when a reporter visited the temple and witnessed a quicki-type session. That was the nail in the coffin. At that point, the Tracy should have done an about face and ceased all sex-acts. I would have been happy to help her steer it in the direction I took my practice too after an arrest for prostitution. The arrest did serve me. It showed me there was a way to convey unconditional transformative love in an environment in which the ego has no place.
It is a patriarchal society and therefore it behooves one to restrain from mocking powerful men who want to take you down. You must always know more about your oppressor than he knows about you.
Goddess Maya

Contributor: Isabel

Thank you for your insightful article, I learned a lot from it! I am from Holland and had not heard the term Sacred Intimate before, which is in fact what I am.

I am not a follower of Tantra. Here in The Netherlands, for many people Tantra equals a prostate massage! So I am steering well clear of using that term, even though I do use some Tantric techniques I guess. Prostitution is legal here, and more or less viewed as a regular business, which is refreshingly practical. So although no difference is made between "normal' sex-for-pay and sacred sex-for pay, at least (payed) sex is not seen as an evil in itself. Of course the system is not problem-free, but that's another story.

As Jenimeri says, we all have to follow our own path, which is sacred at least to ourselves. And if you see the other as sacred as well, you cannot go far wrong. I also see this great longing and searching of my male clients for something other than the superficial version of sex they are used to, and at the same time they seem incapable of letting go of that. Tanja, I definitely understand your frustration with that. I do however not agree with you that sexual attraction has no place in this kind of work. It is a bonus, in my experience. Attraction is a powerful, primordial feeling just as divine as all other aspects of our sexuality, and I am not afraid to use it. And as Jenimeri says, it makes things easier for the client.

About the Phoenix Temple my gut instinct was from the first that these priestesses and priests have the right intentions, but have a big PR problem. Everything I have read here has confirmed this. I think it was naive to go ahead as they have done, in such a hostile environment. The establishment responded as could have been expected: hypocritical and way too severe.Tracy Elise, I have great respect for all you have accomplished and sacrificed, and I have no doubt that all this will make you stronger. Jenimeri, kudos to you. And Tanja, maybe you could clear up your own hangups before being so harsh on others. We all have our own road to follow, but first we have to clear our path.

Contributor: Hanny Bodymindspiritawakening
Hanny Bodymindspiritawakening  

I first met with Tantra in 1978 in a book by one of my friends had imported directly from India.

This book explained the basics of tantric philosophy and goals, too. But I must say that the sexual practices and rituals were one of their major components.

We can say that without sexual union we can not reach that target unity ..

Sure, there are lines of Tantra, which exclude this fact, but we are talking about sacred sexual healing, that is about sex and techniques that are used to uplift the body, mind and spirit.

It is for me to Tracy Elise access , completely natural in the spirit of this book.

And I believe that prostitution is not common to sacred sexual healing anything...

Contributor: BexvanKoot

I wrote about this false dichotomy when the story of the Pheonix Goddess Temple first broke.... it is my belief that attempting to tease apart the nuances of what is "sacred sexual service" and what is "secular prostitution" does nothing but hurt both groups of practitioners, especially when that distinction is made in order to proclaim that one should be acceptable and the other not. I saw many sacred sex professionals and practitioners take up this cause, saying that their work was somehow more valid, more legal, more acceptable than secular prostitution, because it was "sacred" and therefor somehow better. I don't believe that the sacred is better or more important than the mundane. We live in an earthly world and if we ignore our physicality in favour of our spirituality, we neglect an important aspect of being human and demonize those who seek acts of pleasure merely for pleasure's sake, which IMO goes against the very core of sacred sexual belief...

Contributor: Tanja Diamond
Tanja Diamond  

Everyone forgets that there is a difference between Tantra and the sexual arts of Tantra and neo Tantra and sex work. None of these are the same as the other.

The sexual arts of Tantra have nothing, nor ever have had anything to do with sex work, or paid sexual services, or sessions, or sacred sex for hire.

Tantra has two aspects to its sexual components.

One is the Tantra sexual arts for householder, designed to teach a couple who were to stay married for their lifetimes to reach sexual satisfaction and spiritual connection. These art forms have foundations that were imperative to understand and learn before progressing to the next level.
This could never happen in a "session". This was a practice designed to develop over the lifetime of the couple.

The other sexual rituals of Classical Tantra were very rigorous and took years of study to get to a point you could even partake in the ritual. Both parties had to be prepared and years of discipline went into the preparation.This ritual had nothing to do with attraction or sex as we know it, but utilized the male and female aspects as a ritual object to create the energetic pathway.

Neither of those two art forms were ever designed or even possible for someone to learn in a session, or to teach in a session and have nothing to do with sacred intimate, sex work, prostitution, sexual healing, erotic massage, prostate massage, which is what is done today in the guide of Tantra.

Neo Tantra is mostly about extending orgasm and ejaculation control, prostate massage, and enhanced pleasure. Neo Tantra has no foundation to it that has anything to do with Classical Tantra and it is so diluted that even the techniques used from the sexual art of Tantra are so impotent that they are just simply fancy hand jobs, and erotic massage with some breathing and such. A neo tantrika takes a class or two from some teacher of dubious learning/experience and/or reads some books and decides they are a sacred intimate, or dakini, or worse yet Tantra teacher. They go out and put up their shingle and away they go. They can charge more money using the name Tantra, or sacred intimate.

The term sexual energy in Tantra does not translate into being genitally turned on. It relates to the arousal of full life force felt, once one has the right foundation and diligence to learn and experience the correct practices to cultivate the energy of kundalini. What most people believe is a Kundalini experience is simply the primary step to just the feeling of ACTUALLY being in one's body. Kundalini is not easily awakened by free for all sex practices of extended orgasm or some westernized Kundalini Yoga.

So this misinterpretation of what sexual energy actually means and what Kundalini actually is has formed an entire sexual industry based in ignorance. And when this is pointed out they fall back on the old .. Tantra is about non duality, non attachment, everything is possible and it is all about love. There is no right and wrong. And that my friends pretty well proves they know not of what they speak.

Tantra is so far away from a DIY project it isn't funny. And before you jump in here and ask me who I am to judge ( and yes Tantra has judgement most assuredly- your master will not pass down information to you if you have not passed the lessons or have the experiences and she does not deem you worthy) I am a classically trained Tantra practitioner, I carry more than one lineage passed down through the old traditional methods, most which was never written and only spoken through the mind from the teacher to the student who could access it. Most of these teachers you will never see, they do not live in ashrams or do workshops, they are unrecognizable to most people. As for Osho, he made a joke out of westerners.

There are only two people I have ever met who are not too wounded to even be doing the work of a "sacred intimate". That still is not Tantra, it is still sex work. I believe there can be a lot of good using a surrogate for some men and women. Not when it encourages them to lie about what they are doing. Shame is the most damaging emotion there is.

Now quite frankly my issue isn't with sex work, or erotic massage, or sacred intimates, my issue is using the word Tantra and being ignorant of what it even is. All sex work should be legalized, bottom line. However it isn't and placing your client in a position to be put in jail or prosecuted is in NO way sacred, no matter what.

What's wrong with just being a sex worker, a prostitute and being proud and happy about it if you are all that? Why have to come up with a fancy title, change your name to some Indian goddess and put on some "spiritual" disguise? It is either to charge more money or to feel better about what you are doing.

Contributor: davephx

A couple points....

The prostitution that was "sin" in biblical times was the idotry of the Temple prostiutes worshiping the ferlity gods (sort of like the goddesses in Tantra) but "common prostiuttion" was common, referred to many times with no negative inference. Just like men could have many wives, contrabines and maidservants. Adultery was a property right violation - men owned their wives etc. But there was no sin if the married man had sex with a non owned (single) female, including "common" prostituties. For those interested see my extensive article at [] "Common Prostitution Is Not A Biblical Conflict"

In almost all the world except the U.S., in private consenting adult prostitution is legal at least outcall and varies for incall from only 1 person per flat in the U.K. to huge public brothels in Austraiia, NZ, Germany etc. Only in the U.S do we waste so many resources to enforce morality law imposed by Christian groups as in the U.S. and perhaps unconstitutional under Lawrence vs Texas Supreme Court case but never fully tested for prostitution.

I am very familar with the Phx Temple case as some here know and have a Private update list that goes to almost 100 folks .

I have known Tracy for years. While I personally have zero interest in "sacred sexuality vs just regular healing positive sexwork, I know her and many Temple gals that are VERY sincere in their beliefs and have totally supported them in their legal battle. although my main interest is decrim of private consenting adult sexwork not having to use religious beliefs as an excuse.

The constitution provides freedom of religion but not to violate criminal laws as long as there is a public purpose for such repression - which the State will argue strongly there is a legitmate purpose. No Tantra criminal related case has ever been won regarding prostitution - no matter what it is called.

However, the Tempe has arguments at least both on the sacerd side and sexwork side if they would use them. But a very hard battle and so far the AZ AG is dug in as plea deals offerred have all been for felonies and much worse than the Desert Diva's escort agency case which was very clearly about prostitution. Almost 100 people are felon's from plea deals in that case but many are "undesignated" which is a huge lifetime conviction difference. It is hard to understand why the AZ AG office is going after at least for now the Temple case even more than the admitted escort agency case with clear prostitution evidence.

In the Temple case there is little direct evidence against most, but all they need is one leader to be convicted or plead and then everyone assoicated is part of a criminal enterprise as in the DD case.

If my some "miracle" the Tempe case is won this could be earth changing for all of Tratra's doing so called "sexual healing" (which I support but don't need the reliigious part to be healing in my view). But they really need serious legal fee support for 39 defendants and that is a huge problem.

Most have assigned public attorneys (different from public defenders office). No, to the poster that claimed they are "rolling in money" they are not. Most of their work was based on their religious zeal - had a huge Temple (latest) with lots of rent and used it for far more than just sexuality. I know many sexworker "escorts" that make far more than any of the Temple gals.

The Temple brought a real purpose to many lives, and I totally support their right to believe as they do , even though I do not share the religious beleifs.

Dave in Phoenix - Promoting positive intimacy and sexuaity for decades (also helping Christians overcome sexual issues with no blblical basis.)