Tantra Blog

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Touch of Woman: Exploring Sisterhood

In ancient and contemporary Eastern societies, it is considered part of Tantric practice for women to touch and to be with each other in sensual ways. It is such a common fantasy for women that I work with to be with another woman, that I have decided to start creating some opportunities for this exploration. I am calling this journey The Touch of Woman, and it will begin with a series of gatherings for you. Later on I am planning a naked dance celebration for women with my colleague Shima; more about this in time.

I am convinced that at the heart, women’s attraction to the touch of other women is a desire to deepen our own bodily understanding and awareness of what it means to be a woman. In Tantric practice, the sensual togetherness of women is called Sisterhood or Sapphism. The Sakhi or sister/ girl friend is related to Shakti, the female power principle, the raw energy of Tantra. Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger have a beautiful description of Sisterhood and Sapphism in Sexual Secrets. The Alchemy of Ecstasy (2000). They describe how the sensual or even sexual togetherness of women is an established practice in many indigenous and oriental cultures. So for instance the thirteenth century Arab historian Abd-al-Latif al-Baghdadi writes: “The woman who has not tasted repeatedly of the delights of another woman’s body does not exist in our lands.”

Interestingly, sisterhood and Sapphism is not regarded in the Tantric tradition as an expression of homosexual identity. Rather, it is a gateway for the exploration of the feminine. In ancient Oriental Tantric traditions, young people who were coming to age were lead through a Tantric ritual that had the following stages:

1. Self loving – all the initiates are given space and time to explore their own bodies
2. Loving the same gender – getting to know your own body and sexuality better through meeting and exploring with other women, if you are a woman (and the same for young men)
3. Gentle exploration with the opposite gender – this is always done with plenty of time, before the next stage.
4. Penetrative sexual encounter then only follows.

In Western culture, we have little respect for phase 1, and phase 2 is still held as kinky and taboo. At the same time, of course, it is not at all uncommon for women in the West to have sexual encounters with each other.

I believe that, through a slow, gentle and progressive exploration, there is deep wisdom and insight to be gained from women coming together to touch and honour each other. It is a strong passion for me, that we as women get to know the power of female sexuality. We know so little about it. I can tell you about it, but it would be so much more effective to show you. And we can show each other.

As with all my work, the pace of these encounters will be guided by the participants – by what you are willing for, and by where you are in yourself at the time of the meeting.

In the first years of my work with women on sexuality, there was a lot of exploration around the role of the Women’s Union – that tendency that we have as women to judge and criticize each other, especially for anything that seems out of the ordinary in our sexuality. It is time now for the next step: Beyond the Woman’s Union, and into the meeting of Sisterhood. It is time that we start nurturing and caring for each other.

If you are interested in hearing about these events, contact me and I'll keep you informed!