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Individual and Couples Counselling in Calgary

  • Writer's pictureRovena Magidin

Classical Tantra vs Neo-Tantra

picture of 4 neo tantric books

This post reflects my personal opinion only and it's based on my own journey.

Sometimes (often) people ask me about Tantra: what is it, what’s the difference between Classical and Neo-Tantra, and what do I share and practice. When they see the word Tantra on my website - what exactly is this all about?

Most westerners think of Tantra as something related to sex. Of course, most books that have the word Tantra in the title have a naked couple on the cover. In these books, people talk about things like energetic sex, whole body orgasms, sacred sexuality, finding God through sex (that’s actually a name of a book by David Deida) - so then we think that maybe tantra is about sex, but not just any sex, it's about spiritual and connected sex (whatever that might be). Most of us are confused about it. Some are delighted by the prospect - that's people who knew there's more to sex, just didn't know what it is. That's Neo-Tantra, or "Western, or Californian Tantra".

picture of 4 classical tantric books

And then we hear of Tantric Buddhism, Tantrik Yoga, we see books on tantric meditations, sutras, spiritual practices and mantras, we see pictures of chakras and yantras, and think - wait a second, that’s not about sex at all. And we are right. That's Classical Tantra, also referred as Original or Traditional Tantra.

Classical Tantra

Classical Tantra is a spiritual path, a path to enlightenment and liberation, Indian ancient spiritual tradition that influenced development of many forms of modern yoga and many eastern religions. And it has nothing to do with sex.

In my training I was told, that if Tantra was a lake, sexuality is one drop in that lake.

Tantra views spirituality as an integral part of daily life, encouraging individuals to seek the divine within themselves and in their interactions with the world. It often involves practices aimed at expanding consciousness, connecting with a higher power, or realizing one's true nature. Meditation, ritualistic ceremonies, and the cultivation of mindfulness are common spiritual elements in tantric traditions.

Neo Tantra

Neo-Tantra or "Californian Tantra" started with the hippies in the 60ties and 70ties who traveled to India, learned about Tantra and brought back the idea that there's a spiritual path that doesn't condemn sex, doesn't make sex a sin, but embraces it, as it embraces the body, and all aspects of life. New Tantra is a blend between New-Age practices, and Buddhist and Hindu Tantric principles. It's loving and open and deep and beautiful and often focuses, at least in part, on sexual healing and liberation. We really do need this in our society, and we also need to acknowledge that the name we are using is not the most appropriate.

For some books on Neo-Tantra and Sacred Sexuality, click here.

Learn about Classical Tantra

One of the best ways for Westerners to learn about Classical Tantra that I know of is the Tantrika Institute, where you can find a beautiful and in depth FREE course “The Basics of Tantra” as well as a huge online library of tantrik resources:

The institute is run by a scholar practitioner Christopher Wallis (Hareesh), the author of “Tantra Illuminated”.

Here’s his article about what classical Tantra is:

His blog has many useful articles about the tantrik path:

Another one of my beloved tantric teachers is Sally Kempton, a teacher of a Kashmir Shaivism tradition and an author of “Awakening Shakti” a beautiful book and a collection of meditations on the aspects of the feminine.

My Personal Journey

So what about me? Where do I stand and how do I feel about what seems to be two completely unrelated paths? My first introduction to tantra was neo-tantra, it was all about sex (or so I thought), and that’s what I needed most at that time. I needed sexual healing, I needed hope that I wasn’t broken, that sex doesn’t have to hurt, that there was nothing wrong with me. And that all those beautiful things I was hearing about - like whole body orgasms, or an orgasm that can last for 15 minutes (if not an hour), self love, self compassion, pleasure and freedom, deep connection with others - was possible, even for me. At the time, it felt just as possible as traveling to Mars - but….. turned out I was wrong. It was possible, and even though it took me a long time to get there, I sure did.

Healing and Transformation

Through Neo-Tantra, I found healing. I found out things about myself I didn’t know were possible or existed, I found a lot more than I bargained for.

My heart opened. I didn't know I was living with my heart closed.

My body awakened. I used to live from the neck up, all in my head, completely disconnected from my body, my energy, and definitely my sexuality.

My intuition woke up. I used to think I was all logic.

My creativity. I didn’t think I was creative at all. Turned out I was wrong about that too.

And then there was connection with spirit.

I started to discover who I was and that in turn brought me to classical Tantra, and spiritual awakening(s) which eventually completely changed my life. That’s the part of the story where I quit my respectable Oil and Gas career to teach - tantra(!) - because of course, I wanted to share it with others. Can you imagine something more opposite? From power suits and corporate culture, to barefoot, mantra chanting, tree-hugging, heart-opening, loving yogic community. Best career move ever. :)

Sharing with Others

I knew that if it was possible for me to heal, then it’s possible for everyone else, and I knew there were many people like me who needed to know that there’s hope. What I wanted to share was a path of Neo-tantra , and it would be much easier if we just called it Sacred Sexuality and left the word tantra out of it. It worked for me and it worked for thousands of people I worked with. And, at the same time, I also wanted to share the message that there's more to tantra than sex. So much more.

We are spiritual beings and we are sexual beings, just as we are creative, emotional, breathing, living and loving beings.

I’m not a scholar, I don’t know Sanskrit. I’m a fair-weather practitioner. I hold utmost respect for the ancient and modern spiritual practices. I've had years of practicing meditation daily, and I've had years where I might do it once or twice a year, whenever I felt like it, but I found what works for me and it makes me fulfilled and happy.

Your mileage may vary. What works for me, might not work for you, but that’s not the point. I don't seek to be a teacher, I am a fellow traveler who stumbled upon something amazing and wanted to share it. What worked for me is both tantric paths, you might be only interested in one aspect of tantra, both or neither. I think it’s great to explore.

In Counselling

If you have any questions, please let me know. If you want to explore what tantric sex is, we can do that. If you know there's got to be more to sex and want to discover what it can be for you, I can offer some idea. If you want to talk about non duality and who and what we really are, we can do that as well. And if you come to me for counselling, none of this will come up unless you tell me that's what you are interested in. These are not the only tools in my toolbox, but if it's helpful, we will explore.

I offer Individual and Couples Counselling and Coaching in Calgary, AB, and online around the world. If you are interested in a free consultation, you can book it here.


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