Tantra Blog

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Travel notes Salisbury and San Fransisco

14 June 2010

I am met in Salisbury by the delightful Divya Lynette of the long silver hair. She arrives slightly flustered as her car engine had blown up the previous day after some drunken adolescent had poured cool drink in the petrol tank and a wig up the exhaust. The English, it seems, are not all politeness.

Over lunch in a patisserie she tells me about all the exciting activities she has recently participated in. Between dress-up parties at Osho Leela, sound healing sessions by visiting musicians, Five Rhythms, Biodanza, consciousness festivals, catharting meditations, tantric massage workshops and trance dance, it seems there is hardly chance to integrate one experience in England before the next arrives. I see the gift that this has brought her though. She talks about intensely transformational experiences with both awe and detachment. I like that.

Salisbury of course is a very special place. Although I don't have time to visit the stone circles, cathedral and other world famous sites, I can feel their presence. Lynette tells me that sunrises at Stonehenge can be quite overwhelming, as all the ritualist groups - light and dark to very dark - vie for the best spaces on this much hallowed ground.

Half an hour's drive out into the tree lined countryside, we reach Hanna and Martin's Tantra temple. They have invited me to present a retreat here this weekend. Saraja temple is both their home and the space from which they teach. I had met Hanna and Martin during the week in a private hotel lounge where I had had a chance to hear about their teaching. Hanna had spent three years in a Tibetan monastery and Martin had trained as a psychotherapist before they met and started a Tantric partnership that became a marriage. Their tradition is that of Kriya Tantra, in which specific yogic practices and rituals are observed. All practices are infused with mantra. Hanna and Martin have infused their practice with what they have learnt from other traditions as well.

The participants start arriving. Meeting people I will be working with for the first time feels for me a bit like meeting a lover for the first time. There is just such delight in meeting any of those rare souls who have the courage to do Tantric practice. And they are gathered here today from all over the world. Though all the participants now live in England, they come from all over - Italy, Greece, Holland, France, Poland - there are even two Afrikaners in the mix. There are councilors, osteopaths, a nurse, business owners, students, teachers and a priestess of Avalon in the mix. Many of the participants are students of Hanna and Martin, and they have a deep fondness and loyalty towards their teachers.

How does one describe what happens on a retreat like this? The experience is so internal and wordless, that one can hardly do justice. I will see that I can say that is of use. The theme for this weekend is welcoming dragon energy - our fiery passionate life force - and refining this energy up through the chakras. We start with the awakening of the passions, of which the first step is lifting the lid on suppressed emotions. the Europeans, it seems, do not like Dynamic meditation. They know it and they will do it because they know it's good for them, but it is like drinking bitter medicine. What gets their juices going though, is moving into animal expression. I gradually lure them into feeling their mammalian, territorial, sexual bodilly selves, until we have a mass of bodies rolling over each other on the floor, big cats play wrestling and delighting in the warmth of bodies pressed close by. Suddenly, we are alive, alert, and ready for pleasure.

Now that the willingness to feel passion and desire has arisen, it is time to face our stuff about love. I lead the participants into a very personal exploration of how our outer loves reflect our inner male-female relationships. Really coming to meet the beloved inside is a rocky journey that is often met with much resistance. We are so insistent in believing that the soulmate must be outside, and that doing the inner work is really only valuable if it leads us to the soulmate out there. But the shifts are happening. The inner conversations are deepening. And a few participants have exquisite encounters with the inner beloved.

Gradually, the atmosphere softens. By the evening, we are ready to enter a space of deep sensuality. In preparation, and to make sure everyone smells good after the day's sweaty practice, I get everyone into the hot tub outside after dinner. It is 8.30pm, and I am floating in the middle of a tightly packed mass of bodies, gazing up at the predators flying overhead. There is something magical about these late night bright skies in England. I feel contented and my belly is grateful for the delicious, wholesome food that we keep being supplied from Hanna's warm hospitality.

About the evening, I will not say much, except that it was very beautiful and moving. When human beings meet like this, in naked vulnerability, to give love in presence and touch, there can only be beauty. The temple holds us so comfortably with all the velvet pillows, quirky sheep skin and sparkling hearts that Hanna has adorned the floors with. Outside, the night is laughing at us as we pay no attention to the hour.

I get told in the early hours of the morning that I am expected to rev it up some more tomorrow - the participants have no desire to drop down from the level of ecstasy that they are already feeling in their bodies. "Are you sure?" I ask. We had already established by then that opening up to ecstasy also means opening up to everything else that is there to be felt. But they are ready, they want the ride, and so I say: "fasten your seat belts."

Not that what I offer them the next day is very dramatic or necessarily different from what they have done before. It is just that, when we make the intention to surrender deeply into presence, we go, softly, gently, without even having noticed, way beyond the comfort zones of our familiar ego structures. My style is light touch: I create opportunity, and each individual feels how deeply they want to enter there. Later on that night I hear Martin saying that insisting on being open can also be an escape from the real. I agree. Sometimes really allowing the closing and the contracting is the most profound opportunity. I hope that during this weekend, participants have had ample opportunity for both.

Hanna has invited me back to teach either at their delightful temple, or, she suggests, a bigger venue that can hold up to 50 participants. I feel honored, and will wait to hear what existence decides.

Sleep has not been a strong feature of my time in England. Between teaching, doing sessions, attending a talk by tantrika Luba from Boston, going to a Tango milonga in London (delicious) and catching up with fellow dakini Uta, the hours left for sleep have not been many. This morning I got up at 5am, and now I am in the coach to Heathrow, ready to take off to San Fransisco where I will be met by BabaDez, Zeerak Kahn, Simon Tzu, Natasha, and later Uta. A gathering of Tantrikas on the next continent, what fun. Tomorrow night is our fist talk, in San Fransisco. We we will be there until Saturday, available for sessions. In between, I shall be frolicking in the ocean. Dez tells me the sea at SF is cold (16 - 17 degrees); he clearly does not live in Cape Town. And then, I wish to sleep - lots, and deep, like a baby cradled in the lap of this beautiful planet we live on.

17 June 2010

LIfe gets more fascinating by the minute. The lovely Natasha picked me up at San Francisco airport and took me to her friend Kelly's house where I had a lovely but jetlagged sleep. We go out for breakfast late next morning to celebrate Kelly's 40th birthday and my first ever day in America. The sun is baking down on us at the side street cafe where we perch, and yet the cold wind confirms Mark Twain's words that I heard quoted often yesterday: "The coldest winter I have ever had is a summer in San Francisco." Kelly is a teacher at a private school here; she is doing a beautiful job teaching the leaders of the future how to live in loving relationship with humanity and the earth. Her good friend Rutherford comes to meet us. He is a fascinating man; a Watsu teacher who has spend a lot of his time at Harbon Hot Springs. We have a conversation about water dancing, which he also does, and about our beloved Quantum Light Breath which hails from there. I'm hoping to get a massage from him sometime, and have been invited to come visit again as I will be flying out from San Fancisco on the 14th of July.

Dez and Simon come to fetch me and take me over the awesome Bay Bridge to Oakland, where we have a long, leasurely lunch looking out over the lake. Our host for the night is Claire, who practices as a bondage tantric masseur. How is this for innovation: She ties you up, covers your ears with cordless headphones and takes you into a massage in which you get to feel delightfully out of control. The people start arriving: Tantrikas, polyamorists, authors, Shivaists, Shamans, sacred courtesans - you name it, San Fancisco's got it.

Dez and I present a talk on Sexual Shamanism which Dez sends in the direction of an intriguing discussion on power. One central tenet of the talk is that the collusion of state and religion is what has caused the contracting and binding of our personal power. I talk about the duality split between sacred and sexual and male-female power that happened with the takeover of matriarchal traditions by patriarchy. This took not only violence, but also a re-engineering of people's belief systems through the story of the Garden of Eden. Now the symbol of the Goddess, the snake, has become the symbol of the devil. And the split between the sacred and the sexual, the virgin and the whore, became clearly signified in the archetypes of Eve and Lilith. This has been our choice, and now it is time to choose again, as humanity moves up into the heart chakra.

What is very sweet and delightful is all the appreciation I receive from participants after the talk. I am invited to visit several people, and told that my feminine wisdom is much valued.

I sit by as Dez runs his Sex Magic workshop, which is actually a lovely exercise in getting clear about intention. He uses this thing called Puja that I have heard about so much; two circles, one male, one female, rotating, so that male and female partners keep circulating. What is quite sweet is the way in which people stare into each other's eyes. I wonder where they go.

This morning, off we are to Cafe Gratitude. Tonight a party called something like Dressing up and Taking it Off for Mother Gaya. Then we get to stay with Zeerak Kahn in her hotel room. Saturday morning we are off to Eugene, then Ashland, Oregan, then Portland, one day after the other, doing this same evening programme in each area. Right now, Claire is back home and we are off to Cafe Gratitude for a raw lunch.

To keep updated on our travel schedule, check out http://sedonatemple.com/2010-north-america.php.

We will be available for sessions wherever we go.

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