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Nice Jewish Girl Runs Away From Home, Becomes Tantric Lama

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Alexandra at age 17
Get me Minnie Driver! Alexandra at age 17. Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

Alexandra David-Neél was a Franco-Belgian singer, explorer, author and Tibetan Mystic who became a Tantric Lama.  She was the first westerner to visit the forbidden city of Lhasa in the year 1916. Long before Heinrich Harrar spent his 7 years in Tibet making nice with the Dalai Lama, Alexandra had been there, done that, and why her life has never been immortalized on film remains a mystery that only the Hollywood patriarchy can answer. She wrote over 30 books covering the subjects of Buddhism, Tibetan Tantra and Esotericism and that’s just for starters.She was also a much accomplished and sought after translator, being fluent in French, English, Sanskrit and Tibetan. Sadly, only two of her books are still in print today: “My Journey To Lhasa” and “Magic and Mystery in Tibet”. Alexandra lived to the age of 101 and to this day remains the most authoritative source for Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.

Alexandra was born in Paris, October 24, 1868 to an anarchist father who nearly escaped execution by firing squad after the failed revolt of the Paris Commune and a mother who was a deeply religious, conservative heiress. This social incompatibility led to many arguments between the parents during Alexandra’s formative years. No doubt this created a pattern in her life of wanting to runaway from conflict and instilled a desire to find balance through travel.  Her earliest attempt to runaway was at the 5, she only got as far as the local park before the Gendarmes found her and promptly returned her home. This was the first of many attempts to runaway until she reached adulthood and was able to claim her inheritance; allowing her to satisfy her wanderlust. I myself being a product of a dysfunctional upbringing, related to many of her situations, which made her story to be particularly compelling on a very personal level.

Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she would find the opportunities to escape her bourgeois  surroundings in search of adventure: While vacationing with her parents Belgium, she ran away to the Netherlands, was found and returned home. Later that same year, she embarked on a bicycle trip from Paris to Spain, “forgetting” to tell her parents, naturally. But perhaps her most ambitious and successful attempt to fly the coup was at age 17, when she boarded a train from Brussels to Switzerland, hiked across the Alps where she wound up in Lake Maggiore, on the Italian side of the Alps. This last escapade was certainly a primer for her future adventures in the Himalayas. As she loved to say about herself: “I learned to run before I could walk”.

Alexandra as a child, after her first attempt to runaway from home. Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

When she turned 21, she moved out on her own and set herself up in Paris, where she enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music while at the same time began to study esoteric traditions with the well known mystic of her times, Madame Blavatsky. She also discovered Paris’ venerable museum to Asian art and culture: Le Musée Guimet; which still exists today. It was here that she fed her hunger for exotic cultures, traditions and converted to Buddhism.  Right around this time Alexandra received her inheritance and she flew the coup once again, this time to India. She traveled through India, studying Sanskrit, visiting temples until she ran out of money and returned to Paris.

Upon her return to Paris, she sadly discovered that her desire to share the experiences of her visit was met with antipathy. Since women did not do those things and studies of other cultures were done from an observers point of view. Not as Alexandra had done, as a participant. Needing to find gainful employment, she fell back on her earlier training in voice to pursue a career as an opera singer. As a singer she achieved a fairly acceptable amount of success, traveling the world and finally landing a permanent residency at the Saigon Opera. She even found the time to compose an Opera herself! She continued traveling the world and while performing a gig in Tunisia, she met the man who was to become her husband and would be the facilitator of some of her greatest adventures. Philippe Neel was a civil engineer who worked for the government of France and like Alexandra was extensively well traveled as a result of his job. Together they had an unconventional marriage by the norms of the times. It could be called an “open marriage” but open only in the sense it was Philippe’s support of her travels that facilitated some of Alexandra’s greatest adventures. But let’s not confuse Philippe for a pushover, because underneath all the generosity was an ulterior motive: Philippe also had a mistress and  dispatching his wife off to yet another globe trotting mission kept her out of the way. All evidence suggests that Alexandra was ok with this and chose to look the other way.

Alexandra in costume for her role as “Thaïs” with the Saigon Opera Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

 

 

The Ultimate Late Bloomer:

On August 9, 1911, with her husband’s blessing, Alexandra  returned to India. She told her husband she would return in a few months. She would be gone for 14 years. But during all this time Philippe was supportive both emotionally and financially. The letter between them prove this. Even though there was little physical connection between them, their correspondence reveals a strong intellectual connection and more importantly, a heart connection.

Upon arriving in India she travelled north to the Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim where she was a guest of Maharaja. Here she met the Dalai Lama, whose only advice for her was “Learn Tibetan!” and a great Buddhist mystic named Lachen Gomshen Rinpoche (more about him later). In one of the monasteries she met a teenager named Lama Yuphur Yongden who would become her lifelong companion and whom she would eventually adopt as her son. The proximity of Sikkim to the Tibetan border sparked Alexandra’s desire to visit the forbidden city of Lhasa, which was closed to Westerners. But with no success; she did cross the border illegally a few times but was turned away.

During her mentorship with Gomshen, she lived in an anchorite cave. Essentially as a hermit, practicing yoga, Tibetan Tantra and the study of Buddhist Scriptures. So accomplished did she become in her studies that she was awarded the title of “Lamani” (female Lama) and “Kadoma” a reincarnated female spirit. As a result of this she was allowed to wear the sacred red and white vestments of a Lama as depicted in the pictures here.

Alexandra in the full robes of a Tibetan Lama Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

On July 18, 1916, she once again attempted to illegally enter Tibet, hoping to make it to Lhasa. She did manage to visit a few important monasteries and struck up a friendship with the Panchan Lama and his mother. She was given an honorary Doctorate in Tibetan Buddhism by the Panchan Lama, who wanted her to stay on as his guest. But Alexandra refused, wanting to return to Sikkim. This was to prove to be a great error on her part. Once she returned to Sikkim, she learned that her actions had sparked the ire of the British Colonial Authorities. Remember ant this point in time, Sikkim, India and the rest of the kingdoms of the subcontinent were under British colonial rule and travel to Tibet was forbidden. So consequently poor Alexandra was kicked out of the country.

“Learn Tibetan!” Words of wisdom imparted to her by the 13th Dalai Lama Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

This began Alexandra’s Iliad through the countries of Asia. Since WW1 was raging throughout Europe, it was too dangerous to go back. Instead she headed east, visiting China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia with the faithful Yongden at her side. Determined to return to Lhasa, she and Yongden devised a plan where they would attempt to enter Tibet by traveling from Mongolia, via the northern deserts through the shared border of China and Tibet. In order to make her entrance with as little fanfare as possible (it’s obvious by now that Alexandra had a flare for the obvious) she darkened her skin with soot, dressed in rags and passed herself off as Yongden’s mother. A foreshadowing of things to come. This time her journey was a success, by now it was 1924 Alexandra had now been wandering the face of the earth for almost 14 years. Even though she had achieved a personal Nirvana, Alexandra felt the need to return home. So she packed up and returned to France with her companion Yongden in tow and returned to France

Entry into the Forbidden City: Alexandra in disguise with her son Yongden to the left. Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

Inner Iliad/Outer Odyssey:

Upon her arrival in France, Alexandra discovered that she had attained something of a celebrity status in France, due to her writings, translations of Buddhists manuscripts and reports of her adventures in popular magazines. She wound up settling down in the village of Digne-les-Bains in the region of Provence. She earned a reputation as a Buddhist scholar of record. The accounts of her adventures were published in many of the major newspapers and magazines of the day.  It was here that she wrote her book “Magic and Mystery of Tibet”. She worked on expanding the property and by all accounts created the first Tibetan Tantric temple in the western hemisphere.

During this period of her life from 1925 to 1937 that she began what I like to call her “Inner Odyssey”. Alexandra had clocked in more travel miles than most of her contemporaries an amazing feat for anyone back then, in particular a woman. The origins of her wanderlust began as a way of escaping from her dysfunctional past. As she progressed on her outer journey to forbidden lands, she also began a journey of inner exploration in a quest to find balance. Through the study of ancient and sacred texts, she was able to shed her outer shell to realize to achieve a personal nirvana and become a “Lamani”.

Alexandra in Sikkim with her teacher Gomchen Lachan Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

In her book, “Magic and Mystery in Tibet” she recounts many unexplainable phenomena which may appear to be inconceivable to the average Westerner. Some of which are explained here:

Tummo: The ability to control the temperature of your body. This technique came in handy for Alexandra and her companions as they hiked through the Himalayas. Since they often traveled by foot or by horse and on a shoe string budget, learning to control your body’s temperature for personal warmth or to start a campfire would become a mainstay survival technique throughout her travels.

Tulpa: This is not to be confused with the western concept of an Egregore or a Golem. A Tulpa is the creation of a physical being through one’s own thought process. In order to survive under dangerous conditions while trekking through the Himalayas, Alexandra recalls creating Tulpas to serve as her guides and to endeavor protection. Apparently none of these emanations survived for more than a few days according to her.

Bardo Thödel: A death and rebirth ritual in which the Lamas have the ability to die, and in doing so their spirits would leave their physical body and then return at will. This was accomplished by the insertion of a thin bamboo reed or straw into the fontanelle of the skull. This straw or reed would serve as a conduit for Spirit to exit and enter the body, once the magical words had been uttered. These magical words (which I will not disclose here) were also uttered when a Lama would be midwifing a transition of a human from this existence to the next Bardo. In other words, serving as a guide for them at the time of death.

Flying Yogis/Levitating Yogis: In her book “Magic and Mystery in Tibet”, she describes seeing yogis with the ability to levitate or even fly through the air to get from point A to point B. There has been much speculation about this phenomena in particular especially since many Indian Fakirs have been discredited when it was discovered that they were creating the illusion of levitation by relying on a specially rigged chair disguised with cloaks. But what Alexandra describes in her book is nothing of the sort; She witnessed grown men flying across open fields with out any visible means of support.

To the average westerner, these anecdotes may border on the delusional or ridiculous. And yes they sometimes they are a bit difficult to believe. But keep in mind of the environment and culture that produced these assertions: They were produced in the rarified air of Himalayan Kingdoms that are free of are western distractions such as internet, cell phones, televisions, traffic, unhealthy foods. These “modern conveniences” that are more of an addiction than a convenience. There the mind is free of distractions and free to manifest at will. To paraphrase Alexandra: Our thoughts manifest our reality, and the mind that is free of distractions can manifest anything. So there is no doubt in my mind that she used these techniques not only to expand her knowledge of to also heal from her fractured past, make herself whole and to impart healing to others.

Alexandra outside her Meditation Cave in Tibet Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

Her Relevance Today’s World:

So again, to the Western mind these recollections would seem improbable, but I am here too say that one needs to take themselves out our linear Occidental mindset and learn how to appreciate how these techniques can be applied to our own urban enlightenment. The Tantric Yogis may have had the capacity to fly through the air  but they would probably shrink in horror at the thought of us climbing into a big metal bird that flies through the sky. We may laugh at yogis inserting straws into their skulls in order to experience life and rebirth, but how about her modern medical traditions that keep people alive through organ transplants or defibrillation when in some cases the patient may be way past their time to transition?

Our society today is fractured, some say way beyond repair. But I refuse to subscribe to that opinion. Because if these teaching that have existed for thousands of years before our current western traditions, then they will still continue to flourish long after our ministries have been reduced to dust. Today there are advanced thinkers who would have mediation taught in schools not as any part of a religious agenda but as a way of calming a child’s hyperactive mind. As a former art instructor, I can confirm that teaching some simple breath works prior to art class can open a student’s mind so that they can experience a great creative awakening.So imagine, if we can plant a small seed of awareness, what amazing children we will create. Alexandra would have been proud. In fact there are many Tantric techniques that couples can practice in order to bring an enlightened child into this world. But this will be the topic of another blog later on.

Le Troisième Etape:

In 1937 Alexandra was now 69 years old, most people would be entering the third stage of their life, but not Alexandra; She had spent a good 12 years in Digne-les-Bagnes, making improvements on her home, expanding a portion of the structure to which she named the “Samtem Dzong” or “Fortress of Meditation”. The purpose of this structure was for the teaching of mediation making it the first Lamaist Temple in the west and it would later become part of her museum.

At this point in her life she was ready to return to her beloved Tibet and to travel through China in order to study Taoism which is the Chinese form of Tantra. This time she decided to take the Trans Siberian Express so she could enter Tibet through the Northern route. But as the fates would have it, for the second time in her life, she was caught once again in the midst of a worldwide conflict: The war between China and Japan. This event was to be a precursor to World War II and it’s ironic to think that Alexandra who many considered to be a warrior for peace,  was now compelled to witness the horrible atrocities that were committed by both sides. But always wanting to make herself useful, she actually worked as a medic and a healer for both sides of the conflict.

Finally in 1938, after a year of navigating the conflicts of WW2, she was able to at last enter Tibet, where she visited monasteries, studied sacred scriptures and settled down in the village of Kangdin for what was to become five years retreat of solitary meditation. It was at the end of these five years when she learned that her husband had passed away. It was now 1946, she had been wandering through China and Tibet for 9 years. It was time to return to France in order to tend to the estate of her deceased husband. So she left Tibet via India this time, departing on a new invention called the jet plane which flew her back to Paris.

Now back in France, Alexandra settled her husband’s affairs. She stayed in at Digne-le-Bains where the accolades began to pour in as a result her accomplishments. The French government named her a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. She was awarded the Gold Medal by Geographical Society of France. There were streets and schools named after her. Alexandra David-Neel became the foremost authority on Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.

But fate was to give Alexandra one final cruel blow, in 1955 Yongden, her beloved travel companion and now adopted son, died suddenly of kidney failure. The years of hardship traveling under impossible conditions took its toll on his fragile body. Alexandra was heartbroken, but after cremating his remains, vowed that they would once again return to Tibet. She was now 87 years old. Even though her body was showing signs of wear and tear, there were many who said she looked younger due to her lifestyle of yoga and meditation. She continued writing, translating, teaching and became known as the “Wise Lady of Digne”. Buddhist scholars from all over the world made the pilgrimage to her house in Provence to sit at her feet and drink from her well of wisdom.

Finally, at the age of 100, she felt the need to return to Tibet and so went about filing the papers to obtain her travel visa. On September 8, 1969, she transitioned to the next Bardo a month shy of her 101st birthday and just as her travel visa was approved by the Chinese government. Her body was cremated and her ashes, along with those of Yongden, were taken by her followers to Varanasi India so they could be thrown into the Ganges River.

I would like to think that her ashes traveled the Shakti trajectory of the Ganges to the Himalayas, where her Spirit roams the sacred mountain passes as the Lamani, Kadoma, Flying Sky Dakini, always everywhere and nowhere.

Trekking Through the Himalayas while riding a Yak. Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel
Alexandra at here study in Dignes-les-Baines. Image courtesy of Maison Alexandra David-Neel

 

An exhibition salon at her home/museum at Digne-les-Bains. Her costume from Thais is to the left. Image courtesy of Alexander-Xavier Emery

 

~*~

Learn French! A final interview with Alexandra for French TV shortly before her death. 

For information about her Home/Museum/Temple click here

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The Secret is Out!

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The Secret is Out!

I am pleased to announce that my latest eBook, “Ojas-Secrets of Ejaculation Control” is now available for download on my Store Page. This is a comprehensive and practical handbook for those who experience this condition. But you don’t necessarily have to suffer from erectile disfunction or premature ejaculation to derive benefits from this book. I would prefer to think of this as a guide book for men’s sexual health as the tips and techniques described in this book can serve all of those who wish to increase theirs or their partner’s stamina.

The term “Ojas” is a Sanskrit word that describes the balancing of our Essence for health and spiritual growth. Learning how to balance these energetic essences will result in boundless mental clarity and vitality that will unlock the keys to immortality. The techniques and practices in this book will show the reader how to safely re-harvest their energy through an easy to learn and fun to do daily practice. By performing these exercises along with some simple lifestyle adjustments anyone can achieve “Ojas”. 

To purchase a download of “Ojas”, please Click Here to be directed to my Store Page.

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Shoot That Golden Arrow

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Tantra Goddess of the Surrealist Movement 

Maria de Naglowska

Maria de Naglowska was a Russian occultist and author who was the founder of the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow in Paris. In this occult society she lectured and taught about the rituals of Sex Magic and how orgasmic power can be harnessed for spiritually transformative purposes. She led her group from 1932-1935 and immediately became the darling of the French Surrealist movement. “The Brotherhood” included likes of Man Ray, André Breton and many other notable artists of that time. During these years she published a newsletter called “La Flèche (The Arrow) that featured contributions from herself and other occultists. Her writings were considered so revolutionary that it earned her the name of: “La Sophiale de Montparnasse” (The Wise Woman of Montparnasse). 

For someone who was so ahead of her time, Maria’s origins are decidedly bourgeois: She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1883 and after being orphaned at age 12 she was raised by her aristocratic relatives who expected her to become just another pretty face in St. Petersburg society. But Maria was having none of that; she eloped with someone outside of her social economic sphere and ran away to Geneva, Switzerland. As fate would have it, her jerk of a husband abandoned her and she was forced to go to work as a school teacher. In order to supplement her income, Maria also began working as a journalist and it was around this time that she discovered the works of an obscure American writer named Paschal Beverly Randolph, who was the founder of the American Rosicrucian Order and a practitioner of Sex Magic. As a result of his teachings, Maria began to advocate the power of Sex Magic in her writings and it caused so much controversy in stuffy Geneva that she wound up being imprisoned and eventually deported from Switzerland, as if such a thing were possible! 

Maria’s Lovers. Ritual led by de Naglowska at The Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow. Paris 1930’s

After her deportation, she continued working as a journalist first in Rome and then finally in Paris where her practice finally took off. She compiled and translated the writings of Randolph and had them published in book form. If it wasn’t for her proselytizing of his works, the world may have never heard of him, or Sex Magic. But again, the powers that be were out to get Maria and she found herself once again running afoul of the law. Fortunately the French were a bit more open minded than the Swiss and she was able to overturn her conviction for “outrage to public decency” in a court of law.

However she was not without controversy even within the parameters of her group. She was criticized for embellishing many of her rituals with satanism and the unsafe practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. Her explanation being that the latter helped the subject focus on their orgasm through sensory deprivation. I guess there are somethings which are too “out there” even for the French Surrealists. But I must say in her defense that there was an element of truth to her claim; Let me get one thing straight before going any further: I do not approve of the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. It is too risky and we have lost many people as a result of this. (Can you hear me in the afterlife Messrs Bourdain & Carradine?) There is a safer way to practice sensory deprivation called the “Yoni Face Mudra” which allows the person to be in control of the sensory deprivation while preventing any unfortunate “accidents”.

Yoni Face Mudra-from my book “Tantra Massage for Lovers”.

Inspite of the prurient reputation surrounding her, Maria was a well travelled, cultured individual. She studied with many masters throughout the world, in Alexandria, Egypt she connected with followers of Madame Blavatsky and rumor had it that she became part of Rasputins inner circle when she was growing up in St. Petersburg. Maria was fluent in ten languages and in addition to publishing “La Flèche” she also authored over six books on the subject of Sex Magic  and worked as a journalist/translator. Click here to be directed to her Simon & Schuster Official Publisher Page.

Towards the end of her life, Maria became the muse of the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier. He was a serious occultist himself and found inspiration in her teachings and how they matched his own interpretation of sacred architecture. But Maria was not meant to be attached to her mortal coil for very long and in 1936 she a premonition of her own death in a dream. She decided to return to Switzerland where she died a year later. Leaving behind this little known, but very powerful legacy. 

Sacred Architecture: A church designed by Le Corbusier.

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Tantra Massage Unveiled

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If I had a dollar for every time some one asked: “What exactly IS Tantra Massage?”, I would achieve a type of financial nirvana that would even make the Sultan of Brunei blush. But alas, it appears that the fickle finger of fate is too busy picking its nose. So I must instead lift the veil of mystery surrounding this often time misunderstood practice. 

A stand alone massage without the additional bells and whistles of Tantra can reap innumerable benefits: relaxation, stress reduction, lowers blood pressure, relaxes tense muscles, improves circulation, improves posture and strengthen the body’s immune system. One could go on and on singing it’s praises.

Tantra Massage Unveiled
Tantra Massage Unveiled

Now, couple this with the benefits of Tantra: balancing energies, more stamina & endurance, clarity of thought, deepening of relationships, emotional healing, spiritual awakening, releasing past trauma, etc. Now you are in whole other dimension. One that combines both physical and emotional wholeness.

By practicing the time tested Tantric techniques of Kriya Asanas followed by Pranic Breathing, the individual opens the energetic channels of the body known as Ida and Pingala. The aforementioned techniques work with both the physical and subtle aspects of the bodies to create what is known as the Shushumna Channel. According to Dr. Harish Johari in his book “Tools for Tantra”, in order to create this Middle Pillar channel, both Ida and Pingala must be balanced. 

Ida, Pingala & Shushumna
Ida, Pingala & Shushumna. From my book “Tantra Massage for Lovers”.

At this point the physical body is ready to receive the benefits of the massage and will reap these benefits more effectively since the balanced energy is flowing unencumbered though the body. Tapping along the Ida & Pingala channels helps to continue moving the energy and the recipient may experience some tingling throughout the body. This can also be enhanced with sound and/or aromatherapy to to help clear the Chakras and to enhance that feeling of blissful relaxation. Oh yes, and let’s not forget massaging the Sacred Spot! As one very happy client said to me at the conclusion of his session: “I feel both energized and relaxed!”

Learn how to share the sensual secrets of Tantra Massage with my popular ebook: “Tantra Massage for Lovers”, available through my web store:

Tantra Massage for Lovers eBook click on image to purchase

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Lusting for Lupercalia

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The Erotically Pagan Origins of Valentine’s Day

Lupercal with whip

Nowadays Valentine’s Day is associated Hearts and Flowers. Friends, whether romantic or platonic, exchange cards, candy and ask “Will you be My Valentine?”. Maybe a romantic dinner between couples. Common knowledge is that it was an invention of American greeting card companies to create a holiday in order to fill the gap between Christmas and Easter. Its name is derived from an unfortunate Christian Martyr, Valentine, also known as the Patron Saint of Lovers. (more about this guy later). But did you know that Valentine’s Day actually has much deeper, darker origins? Origins which are highly charged with eroticism, Sex Magic and blood rituals? 

Lupercalia was an ancient Roman fertility festival that was celebrated around the 15th of February (or the Kalends of February according to the Roman Calendar). It’s a festival that involved animal sacrifice, blood rituals, nudity, public flogging, anonymous sex with strangers, lots of wine and other inebriates. Did I leave anything out? No? Good. What was the purpose of this public display of debauchery? Well, to ward off evil spirts and to increase the fertility of the women of course!

Revelers celebrating Lupercalia

The festival was also to celebrate the founding of Rome and to honor its founders Romulus and Remus and the She-Wolf who suckled them in her cave. And of course it’s important that a festival honoring the founding of this auspicious empire be celebrated by warding off evil spirits and ensuring the procreation of its citizens.

The event began in the Cave of the Lupercal, the mythical cave at the foot of the Palatine Hill on the Banks of the Tiber, where the mama wolf suckled her foundling twins. There, a group of young men, Rome’s best and brightest sacrificed one or more male goats, smearing their blood all over their naked bodies. The blood would then be wiped off with milk symbolizing not only male sexuality but the nurturing female energies as well. I find this to be an interesting correspondence between the red/white, Shiva/Shakti energies of Tantra. 

The Lupercal, as these young men where called, came from Rome’s finest families and some notable Lupercal where Marc Antony and Octavian Ceaser. If anyone reading this saw the HBO Series “Rome”, this festival was rather graphically depicted in the first season. All this blood ritual was followed by a feast involving lots of eating and drinking but it’s what comes next that is really interesting.

The She Wolf suckling Romulus & Remus

The drunken revelers then skinned the sacrificed goats and cut the leather into long bloody strips that where fashioned into whips. Yep, then they proceeded to march through the streets of the Eternal City flogging female revelers who would purposely get in their way so that they could receive a taste of the whip. And did I mention that all parties where naked? I believe this would probably get a lot of likes on PornHub! The belief here was that if their naked bodies where flogged by the whips of the Lupercal, it would increase fertility while at the same time ward off evil spirits. Makes total sense to me. 

But wait, there’s more!

The festival doesn’t end there, because after that the names of the celebrants would be pulled from a jar and paired with someone of the opposite sex. They would then have to engage in public sex in the Forum for the rest of the festival. Reminds me a bit of the “Swingers Key Parties” of the 70’s. 

Lovers Pairing during the festival

So how does this all tie in with the martyred St Valentine? Well, it appears that during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, christian marriage ceremonies were illegal and there was one individual named Valentine who defied the emperor’s order by secretly marrying christian lovers. The Emperor caught wind of this and before you could say “Isis Caliphate” had the poor guy beheaded. So once christianity spread through the Roman Empire, the festival of Lupercalia was appropriated by the new religion and it became “St. Valentine’s Day”. Now, I must say that by the time this conversion took place, the original festival of Lupercalia was only a shadow of its former self; gone was the nudity and public flogging and instead the acts were performed “symbolically”. Ie fully clothed, just a tapping with a hand and you could forget about pulling the names out of a jar. However you can still see some vestiges of these practices in modern day Mardi Gras events and in Holy Week in Spain.

 

So the next time you buy a Valentine’s Day Card or decorate your home with the colors of red and white. Remember the ancient origins of this Holiday and its earthy, pagan origins. 

 

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Angel Lust

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What do Lord Byron, Christopher Reeves and John Dillinger have in common?

Angel Lust

Angel Lust

A man is born with an erection and dies with an erection and in between those two events he will average about 15 to 25 erections a day during the course of his life. 

Angel Lust is also referred to as a “Death Erection”, an involuntary response that occurs at the time of death, particularly if that death was a violent one, although it’s not always the case. Some men who have died with this condition were: Lord Byron, Christopher Reeves and John Dillinger.  There was also a reference to this in the book/film “The World According to Garp”, when T.S. Garp finds out from his mother that his father was a comatose man with a terminal erection who was mounted by his mother. After she had her way with him, his last dying words according to her were: ‘good’. Then he died!

So what is the symbolism here? Our Life Force Energy, or Shakti Energy is also our sex energy. And in particular in the case of men can manifest in an erection during challenging or traumatic life experiences. That is because our sex energy is not always an erotic reaction but a survival instinct. Which is a reason why rapes occur during wartime and in prison. The rapist isn’t especially in a romantic mood; instead they feel threatened in some way and so must act on it by subjugating another. 

But let’s switch from this depressing subject to one that is more enlightening. That being Death. WHAT?! You say? Dear Reader, before you get your panties in a knot or worse still, unsubscribe from this blog. Just hear me out. Read this with no judgement.

The French call ejaculation ‘Le Petit Mort’, ‘The Little Death’. That’s because every time a man ejaculates in the conventional manner they do experience a form of Death 2.0. The erection represents a desire to spread their seed before exiting this plane of existence permanently and at the moment of ejaculation, all functions stop for a plot second. A bit like a sneeze. Just like flowers will increase their pollen production before withering away, we want to make sure that we leave a lasting imprint on this earth.

Women also experience a similar phenomenon at the time of death such as expulsion of blood or fluids form the vagina. But let’s face it, a dead guy with a giant boner is defiantly more spectacular and attention grabbing.  

Understanding the cause and effect of this function can also help us to raise consciousness and awareness as it relates to the relation between our Mind, Body and Spirit. If we understand that our energies are cyclical, that they ebb and flow as a result of a multitude of variables. Then it’s easier for us to harness and re-harvest this energy in a safe and efficient manner.

Through the practice of Tantra it’s possible to allow this energy to flow unencumbered while at the same time giving the person better clarity of thought and more stamina. That’s because these techniques not only work with the endocrine system of your body, but also your Mind and Spirit. After all, the are all interconnected! 

Many men, in particular younger ones, are constantly plagued by sexual thought that can cause unnecessary distractions during the course of the day. They find that if they self pleasure themselves or engage in sexual activity upon waking, that they can experience higher levels of concentration and more productivity during the course of the day. This is only a half measure. By practicing techniques such as the Kriya Asanas, Pranic Breathing and The Orgasmic Meditation©, it’s possible for them to be in better control of their faculties, thus elevating them to a state of Higher Consciousness.  

This Wholeness will help to unite and balance our polarities, allowing us to experience a healthy detachment that make us the observer in this journey through life’s transitions and preparing us for the inevitability of the final transition of life.

Would you like to learn more about the techniques covered in this post? Please contact me personally by email: Looking forward to hearing from you!

The Ascent of the Thin White Duke

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~Somewhere between Kether and Malkuth~

David Bowie drawing the Tree of Life. His artist’s hand poised somewhere between Kether and Malkuth.

Or so go the lyrics from “Station to Station”. David Bowie was more that a musician, he was an artist and a mystic whose talents transcended those of mere mortals into an esoteric sphere most of us lacked the capacity to comprehend. But he somehow made it palatable for the masses, bringing those arcane realities down to a level that made it enjoyable for us lesser mortals to swallow.

The “David Bowie Is” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum did not disappoint in terms of showing us not only Bowie the Artist, but Bowie the Magus; The Man who not only Sold the World, but travelled between several of them.

“Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth

There are you, you drive like a demon from Station to Station”

So what are ‘Kether and Malkuth’ and what is the Tantric equivalency?

Table of Correspondents Sephiroth v Chakras
Table of Correspondents Sephiroth v Chakras

Kether and Malkuth are Are Sephoroth (spheres) on the Tree of Life in the tradition of the Kabbalah and they represent emanations/attributes similar to the Chakra Tree of Life in Tantra. According to Aleister Crowley in his book ‘777’, which contains multiple Tables of Correspondents referencing equivalencies form traditions to traditions, Kether would correspond to Sahasrara (The Crown) while Malkuth corresponds to Muladhara (The Root). So in essence, Bowie’s song lyrics represent the quest to achieve that Alchemical Wholeness that many of us strive to achieve yet seldom maintain. The “Stations” refer these spheres through which he alchemicaly transmutes. So you see, in the end it all comes together and David is the glue.

A highly symbolic pencil drawing by David created early on in his career. The occult meanings in the images later translated into some of his most popular songs.
A highly symbolic pencil drawing by David created early on in his career. The occult meanings in the images later translated into some of his most popular songs.

David’s early life was fraught with fractionalization and conflict. These traumas were best expressed in his painting and I was particularly struck by one particular painting that looks like a collage with many occult symbols that translated into his future opera. There was one detail showing a man in a pierrot costume comforting a little boy who is obviously disturbed. I immediately saw the early of his Pierrot/Major Tom persona from the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ video.

A detail of the above mentioned painting showing an early incarnation of what was to become the "Major Tom/ Pierrot" persona from the song/video "Ashes to Ashes".
A detail of the above mentioned painting showing an early incarnation of what was to become the “Major Tom/ Pierrot” persona from the song/video “Ashes to Ashes”.

Then there’s the little boy: Is that David or could it be someone else? Terry Jones was David’s half brother, who suffered from severe schizophrenia resulting from early childhood emotional abuse. He was a tragic figure who was in and out of mental institutions most of his life. David tried his best to be ‘his brother’s keeper’ but it was to no avail: Terry died by suicide in 1986. The fear of mental illness and a sort of survivors guilt was something that haunted David throughout his life and was the subject of many of his songs.

"Ashes to Ashes" costume for the music video by the same same. The costume was exquisitely designed by David's long time collaborator, Natasha Korniloff.
“Ashes to Ashes” costume for the music video by the same same. The costume was exquisitely designed by David’s long time collaborator, Natasha Korniloff.

David was an accomplished painter and he used this medium to help him overcome his drug addiction during his “Berlin Era”. As has been documented elsewhere, towards the end of the 70’s he felt washed up and had run out of ideas. He was addicted to cocaine and his marriage to Angela was on the rocks. Bowie’s idea of rehab was to move to Berlin and to bring along his friend Iggy Pop. Seems like an extremely counter indicative approach to getting the monkey off your back but it worked for Bowie; He cleaned up his act and produced some of the most innovative music of his career. He even managed to elevate Iggy Pop to a new level of respectability.

Disturbingly intense portraits by David of his friends Yukio Mishima and Iggy Pop.
Disturbingly intense portraits by David of his friends Yukio Mishima and Iggy Pop.

The exhibit showcased many of his paintings and two that really caught my eye were the portraits of the Japanese Nobel laureate Yukio Mishima and the portrait of his friend, Iggy Pop. The solarized colors used in these paintings seem to bring out the demons that possessed these two very different men. Mishima was a controversial figure during his lifetime and rather than getting into details about his life, I will refer you to this link here to read more about him. Iggy’s portrait, like Mishima’s, looks like David was trying to draw out the inner demons that possessed both men in their lifetimes.

"Like Some Cat from Japan". Kansai Yamamoto discussing his collaborations with Bowie. He felt that costume was the best media through with David could express his music.
“Like Some Cat from Japan”. Kansai Yamamoto discussing his collaborations with Bowie. He felt that costume was the best media through with David could express his music.

David Bowie Is showcased a lot of his iconic costumes too. Some of which are pictured here. According to designer Kansai Yamamoto, the man who collaborated with Bowie on the creation of the “Ziggy Stardust” character, costumes where David’s favorite medium for expressing his music. And it was evident in the wide range of styles and characters.

A bonus for my readers: The original, unexpurgated "Diamond Dogs" art work by Dutch artist Guy Peellhaert created for the controversial album by the same name.
A bonus for my readers: The original, unexpurgated “Diamond Dogs” art work by Dutch artist Guy Peellhaert created for the controversial album by the same name.

So in conclusion, the exhibit was a culmination of David’s quest for Alchemical Wholeness that I think came to a full circle towards the end of his life with his revisiting of the Major Tom character in his final album “Black Star” and his opera “Lazarus”. Come to think of it, almost all of Bowie’s albums seemed to have an operatic narrative anyone of his albums would work well as a stage adaptation.

Periodic Table of David Bowie. An interesting Alchemical interpretation of David's evolution and the people influenced by him.
Periodic Table of David Bowie. An interesting Alchemical interpretation of David’s evolution and the people influenced by him. (Hint: Iman is listed as one of the noble metals)

 

Here is an early interpretation of his quest for wholeness in an early song from the 60’s called “Karma Man”. Click on the image below to have a listen:

Our Karma Man in a meditative pose. Click on the image to listen to this absolutely delightful early composition.
Our Karma Man in a meditative pose. Click on the image to listen to this absolutely delightful early composition.

~*~

Welcome to the Dinner Party!
Welcome to the Dinner Party!

The Brooklyn Museum, which hosted the David Bowie Is exhibition, is also the permanent home of a permanent installation honoring the Divine Feminine. “The Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago showcases a virtual dinner party in which the guests are influential women who were overlooked by history.The artist chose to highlight skills which traditionally been derided as “woman’s work” skills such as sewing, weaving, embroidery, pottery making, cooking. By including these media within the parameters of the installation, she brought them into the realm of “Fine Art”.

Guess who's coming to dinner? Welcome to this iconic installation by Judy Chicago celebrating the Divine Feminine.
Guess who’s coming to dinner? The iconic installation by Judy Chicago celebrating the Divine Feminine.

Each place setting offers a unique vulvic plate and like all vulvas, each one is unique. The fabric embellishments echo a them related to the dinner guest. This exhibit is so overwhelmingly feminine that one “art critic” crudely referred to it as “vaginas on a plate”. But to walk into the installation has a very moving effect on the observer, its as if one where to walk into the Sistine Chapel or the Taj Mahal. Please enjoy these images and the provenance behind them.

Snake Goddess: because you can't have a Tantra Blog without a reference to Kundalini Energy!
Snake Goddess: because you can’t have a Tantra Blog without a reference to Kundalini Energy!
Primordial Goddess, the Universal Soul who is the Creatrix of All Life.
Primordial Goddess, the Universal Soul who is the Creatrix of All Life.

~ All Roads Lead to Bowie~

So this New York Trip was not without its Synchronicities. It seemed that everywhere I turned the roads led back to Bowie or to a particular aspect of my past.

All roads lead to Bowie: Nikola Tesla Corner in Manhattan. Bowie played Tesla in the film "The Prestige", his final film role.
All roads lead to Bowie: Nikola Tesla Corner in Manhattan. Bowie played Tesla in the film “The Prestige”, his final film role.

Case in point was stumbling upon “Nikola Tesla Corner” in Manhattan. Bowie’s last film role was playing Tesla in “The Prestige”. David was one of those actors who totally disappeared into his role and this was no exception. Witnessing this coincidence also reminded me of an older Blog post “Tesla and Tantra”.“If you want to understand the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

World Trade Center Memorial. This fountain is one of the 'footprints' of where the towers one stood.
World Trade Center Memorial. This fountain is one of the ‘footprints’ of where the towers one stood.

A couple of days later, there were some further synchronicities when I visited the World Trade Center Memorial. What an event. As many of you may already know, I lost some friends, during the attacks. I blogged about in in “The Transcendental Delegate”, but going to the memorial and seeing their names inscribed in the walls of the fountains had a profound impact. Perhaps this New York visit served as a bit of a closure for me as well.

 

Linda Loves Bingo!

But I don’t want this post to be a complete downer. My visit ended on a high note with my reunion with a dear friend from college, who is now the Doyenne of the New York Drag Scene!

Linda Loves Bingo at the Poisson Rouge!
Linda Loves Bingo at the Poisson Rouge!

I’m speaking of course about Linda Simpson whom I have known for almost 35 years. I think that I would like to take a little bit of credit for giving her some make up tips early in his career, but her achievements are all her own. Congratulations Dear!

Linda Simpson and Ragamuffin make me a sandwich
What becomes a Legend most? Drag Icon Linda Simpson and her assistant Ragamuffin make me a sandwich at Le Poisson Rouge.

I have always been a great admirer of Drag Queens because of their originality of style and their openness. This fits in very well with the concept of duality in nature and the unification of opposites. I feel that DQ’s are one of the fortunate few who have managed to reconcile these polarities and what emerges is a beautiful rainbow of infinite possibilities. Reminding me of that other Tantric Deity: Ardhanarishwara. The God/Dess who is both an ultimate man and an ultimate woman.

"Tantric Marriage" by George Atherton depicting the trans deity Ardnawarishwara
“Tantric Marriage” by George Atherton depicting the trans deity Ardhanarishwara

But back to Linda, we met up for dinner shortly after I arrived in town, then she invited me to her Saturday night show “Linda Loves Bingo” at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. Of course I could have always gone to see an overpriced Broadway Show like any other tourist. But how often can you see NYC’s #1 Drag Queen Bingo Show?

~*~

So in closing, I think that my return to my beloved New York served as a kind of Self Realization and a raising of consciousness that can only be achieved in an environment where so many diverse points of views can come together as a cohesive whole. This was something I observed when I would visit the corner deli in the Central Park West neighborhood where I was staying with friends. As I watched the Palestinian employee in the Jewish deli prepare a lox with shmeer bagel for an African American customer and her Asian American friend, I said to myself: This is the real America, not the “Make America Great Again” bullshit barfed up by the knuckle draggers in the flyover states. The real America is this diverse group of humans living together on this tiny island Manhattan. Each person is unique and different from the other but they manage to make it work and live in harmony.

This is the beauty of the Real America. Somewhere between Kether and Malkuth.

Did you enjoy this post?

Please visit my website universaltantra.org for more information.

 

Visiting New York City

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I will be in New York City July 10-17
               I will be visiting New York City July 10- 17

Namaste My Friends,

This is just a quick note to let all my friends know that I will be visiting New York City July 10, 2018 through July 17, 2018. If you are interested in booking an appointment during this time, please contact me directly via phone: 832-743-8148 (please leave a voice message) or email: . Remember, all appointments must be pre-booked with a pre-paid deposit! I shall be staying in Manhattan near Central Park West and Columbus Circle. 

Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones!

 

 

Prana Mudras & Cosmic Kriyas

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PRANA EXHALATION

by Robert Venosa, oil on canvas, 1975, 35 x 70 cm / 14” x 26”

(link is embedded in image)

Pranic Breathing is a technique that helps to awaken and balance the Mind, Body and Spirit. I will often begin my workshops and private sessions alike with a series of breathing techniques that fall under this category such as Nadi Sodhana and Hong Sau Breath Mantra. The classic Prana Breath is the most commonly known and has also been referred to as the 6-3-6-3 Cycle. 

The approach is easy to learn and reaps a multitude of benefits:

* Place the tip of your tongue at the roof of the mouth behind your teeth. This is known as the forward Kechari Mudra and it helps to quiet the mind.

* Now, inhale through your nose for 6 counts

* Then hold your breath for 3 counts.

* Now exhale through your nose for 6 counts

* Finally, hold your breath for 3 counts.

* Repeat the 6-3-6-3 cycle until your mind is completely relaxed. Usually about 12 cycles will suffice.

It’s important to inhale deeply and exhale completely as you perform these breaths. Feel the 3 lobes of your lungs filling incrementally: First the top third, then middle and finally the bottom third. Pump the air out of your lungs in a similar fashion as you exhale. Inhaling and exhaling deeply and completely. 

This breathing technique can be practiced during meditation to keep the mind focused and it can also the practiced prior to performing your Kriya Asanas. Of course, it’s important that as you perform Pranic Breath, to also hold your fingers in the Prana Mudra Gesture. 

The Prana Mudra Gesture helps to quiet and center our energetic channels. It can be a ‘stand alone’ exercise that can be done at any time when some grounding is needed. Whether you are getting ready to speak in public or board an airplane, the Prana Mudra Gesture can help to stave off a panic/anxiety attack.

Practicing these techniques on a regular basis will help to impart a positive shift in your life.

Questions about Workshops:

I have been getting a lot of inquiries as to when my workshop schedule will resume: At the moment I find myself involved in a lot of other projects, so for the time being workshops will be on a sponsorship basis only. If you are interested in having me lead a workshop for your group please contact me directly for more details:

And Finally:

Martina Hoffmann and Robert Venosa exhibit at the HR Giger Museum!

~*~

It is my distinct honor to share  the news of this upcoming exhibit at the HR Giger Museum in Gruyere, Switzerland by my dear friend and mentor Martina Hoffmann and her late husband Robert Venosa. H R Giger, was best known as the creator of the ‘Alien’ monster from the film of the same name and for which he was awarded an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. The theme of the exhibit is ‘Transmutations’ and I think it is only fitting to include this with the theme of the newsletter. I hope that my friends reading this who live in Geneva and its environs will be able to attend this most auspicious event. Please click on the image  to be directed to the Giger Museum Website.

For more information about the artists please visit their websites:

www.martinahoffmann.com

www.venosa.com

Wishing all of you an abundance of love, Joy & Bliss,

Antonia~Arabella

Certified Ipsalu Tantra© Kriya Yoga Teacher

Holi! Holi! Holi!

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The Hindu Festival of Holi happened about a week ago, but I think that its message should resonate all through the year. Although Holi is primarily celebrated in India, it has grown in popularity all over the world and depending on the region in which it’s observed,  it can be a festival celebrating the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, the love story of Krsna and Radha, the victory of Vishnu over evil and so on. The participants celebrate the holiday by throwing bright colored powder or water at each other and for that reason it’s referred to as the ‘Festival of Colors’. One could say that it’s a combination of Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, New Year and Easter all rolled up into one great big beautiful multi colored ball.

But one of the most significant meanings of Holi is that it is also known as a “Festival of New Beginnings”. It is customary to forgive transgressions, forgive or repay debts and to make new friends. What could be better than that? If only we could carry this attitude of a fresh start throughout the year instead of waiting for one particular day to express these thoughts and deeds. It’s said that life is a gift and every morning that we wake up that gift is given to us all over again. So why not see every day as a fresh start? Each new day is an opportunity to shed what no longer serves us and to move forward into our future.

Putting this into a Western perspective, the Kabbalah mentions that there is a negative aspect to the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life and it’s known as the ‘Qiploth’ or ‘Kingdom of Shells’ referring to the shell or skin that an animal sheds when it no longer serves them. I think that this serves as a good metaphor for Holi. And so in the spirit of this festival why not begin the day by casting off those unnecessary shells to renew and move forward.

Vishnu

Here is a simple exercise that one could perform to cast off unwanted energy:

Naulis are belly rolls that help to clear the Third (Manipura) and Fourth (Anahata) Chakras respectively. These two chakras work in tandem to either brighten your day or sour your day since they possess a symbiotic elemental correspondents of wood and fire. So it’s important to keep these two energetic centers in a state of balance.

Begin by taking a deep inhalation through the nose, followed by a complete exhalation through the mouth. Be sure that your lungs are completely devoid of air and when they are, begin to roll your belly as if you were drawing a circle with your navel. Up, down, out, in. As you roll your belly say these words to yourself: ‘Forgive, forget, let go.’ See whatever memory or emotion that vexes you disappear with each roll. Keep rolling your belly until you need more air then stop rolling; inhale deeply and exhale completely then begin rolling again. Repeat this sequence over and over again until you are exhausted and your stomach muscles can no longer roll.

anahata & manipura

This exercise helps to simultaneously massage the organs and glands of Manipura and Anahata allowing for the production of hormones that promote positive thoughts and general well being. One of my students who happens to also be an endocrinologist told me once that most of the serotonin in out body is produced in our stomach so it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and practice this exercise for a healthier outlook on life.

Practicing Naulis also helps to strengthen the Uddiyana Banda which is an important energetic lock found in the solar plexus and is responsible for assisting safely awakening Kundalini flow through the Subtle Body. The other two locks being Mulabanda (root lock) and Jalandhara Banda (throat lock). Below is a link to a very good video demonstrating Nauli rolls. The Yogi also shows variations on the roll that can suit a persons personal ability.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog and encourage all to visit my website: universaltantra.org for more information about my practice. Namaste!

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