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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Vital Energies

The complete and controlled expression of our inner faculties cannot be omitted from the reintegration of our identity, the harmonious reawakening of our chakra and the correct and aware use of our vital energies.
Almost the entire sum of our vital and spiritual energies originates in the sexual sphere (a much broader concept than simply ‘having sex’). The sexual energy that I am referring to can express itself directly or indirectly in forms that are more or less controlled and harmonious.

The indirect expression of sexual energy includes all our creative expressions, above all artistic ones, but also expresses itself in relationships which draw on sexual energy as a source.

The direct expression of sexuality, from an esoteric point of view, distinguishes itself for the most part in an active humid path[1]  and a contained dry path[2].
There are different spiritual and operational magic traditions - setting aside evaluations of a moralistic kind, for freely and consciously experimenting – always in the sphere of tradition and magic-mystic discipline – with different forms of individual sexuality, be they hetero/homosexual or in plural contexts, which in turn follow different formulas.

In the context of such traditions, the mature and aware individual is considered free to relate or not, to any partner on any level, thus completely transcending sexuality by fully living it or sublimating it.

Sexual Magic is the most important aspect of the Alchemy of Living Forces.

The energy can be directed inside oneself (for example to reawaken the chakra or Kundalini or to achieve an androgynous state) and outside the self, to create and nourish thought forms or entities, or even to act upon events and synchronicity according to very complex formulas.

The directing of sexual energies is a magical and spiritual possibility of great importance because it corresponds to the conscious use of the great energetic potential that is contained inside each and every one of us.

However, it is important to remember that we are talking about an alchemical discipline that requires seriousness, maturity and elevation in the way that it is lived, not only in terms of sexual relationships but also as regards the emotions and feelings involved. Only in this way can our sexuality, whether it is expressed or contained, be consciously directed towards a spiritual reawakening, the completion of the self, magic, theurgic and generative alchemical operations or the reawakening of subtle, spiritual energies and faculties. These forces, that we nevertheless express in our ordinary lives (even though in an unconscious and casual form), have to be used in a constructive way, or else they suffer from the limits of our conditioning and our more base and egoistic instincts, transforming themselves into deformities of the mind, obsessions and parasitic entities.

In Tantra the realization of the androgen happens through the relationship with a partner, in the context of a relationship that is elevated to priestly dignity (ierogamìa): in woman, man finds a reflection of his own feminine aspects, just as woman finds a point of reference in man to reawaken her masculine aspects. These are operations that above all demand that indispensible premise, the full recovery of ones femininity and masculinity in line with ones current psycho-physical nature, its functions and most authentic virtues. A nature that is often (think of the conditions of women), profoundly repressed or perverted.

In European culture the figure of the androgen first appears in Plato’s description in the ‘Symposium’: in the dialogue, Aristophanes speaks of this third gender, not as a child of the Sun like men, nor a daughter of the Earth like women, but as a son of the Moon, which the nature of both participate in. The myth says that self-sufficient completeness makes androgynous humans arrogant enough to imagine they can scale Mount Olympus, and Zeus (not wanting to destroy them and deprive Olympus of their sacrifices), divides each one in half, reducing them to just masculine and feminine.

That which Elémire Zolla calls the never placated ‘human nostalgia for wholeness’, is the root and in someway the constraint on love (« to the brama and to the pursuit of wholeness, well, touches the name of love»). In Hindu metaphysics, the masculine polarity represented by Śiva (the destroyer) and that of the feminine represented by Shakti (Parvati, the divine energy), need Ardhanarishvara, or the androgen in order to fuse together.

In the West’s platonic narration, the androgen’s persistence and its use in successive culture, such as alchemy, signal the archetype of the ‘coincidentia oppositorum in the androgen. Nourished by Neo-Platonism and alchemical studies, the men of Humanism and the Renaissance turned the figure of the androgen into one of great importance.

The modern image of the androgen aims for completeness and integration, not only on the religious and mystic plane but also on the psychological plane and in terms of image. Such completeness also implies, apart from the integration of essences on alchemical and metaphysical planes, an integration of the perception of the world. This is achieved thanks to the contemporaneous and complete employment of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, that is: rational-masculine processing and intuitive feminine processing. A heightened awareness of our own profound dimensions can then be celebrated along with an integration of the individual personalities of the soul structure.

In certain tantric traditions, but also in those of the Middle East, it is not taken for granted that a man will express his masculine aspect in a predominant manner or that a woman will express her feminine aspect; this does not detract from masculinity or femininity and the value of heterosexual relationships. Theories exist however, in which the rediscovery or the completion of our complementary aspect does not necessarily have to correspond to relations with the opposite sex: it is worth saying that the completion can also occur between individuals of the same sex.

The androgen would be a forewarning of the so-called Alchemical Nuptials: the union of our human aspect with that of the divine.

During sexual relations, at the moment of union, a moment of ‘presence’ can be experienced, an instant in which one intuits a sense of completeness, during which cosmic and divine energies may flow. According to certain schools of thought, the practice of Sexual Magic can be used to achieve a special physical conception. It is employed, in fact, in operations to program incarnations, or to encourage the incarnation of selected and evolved souls in the body of the unborn baby (Avatar Magic) also, directly or indirectly, by means of alien or higher entities.

The ‘dry path’ could be more appropriately considered as the containment or sublimation of sexual expression. The monk, male or female, from an esoteric point of view, has the task of directing their energies through abstinence: the monk aims for the same objectives of spiritual realization and the completion of the self but this does not happen by means of ‘the other’ but through an individual process that is personally guided and or exclusively directed towards higher forces or ideals. Historically many Orders of Knights assumed a monastic investiture to best express their role as defenders or pursue sacred values.

In many Orders a ‘short-term’ or temporary monastic period is practiced in which certain rules typical of monastic life are observed, for example: celibacy, prayer, a vegetarian diet and so on. Often it is a period of reflection and spiritual retreat, or a phase of preparation before assuming a special role in an initiatory context.

From an esoteric point of view, the permanent couple - exclusive and stable – and the path of abstinence correspond to precise sacred pathways, in as much as they are very extraordinary choices, especially if the contract is intended for an indeterminate amount of time (something that is rarely encountered in the esoteric field).  Besides being an authentic sacred pathway, such choices are considered dangerous because – if not channelled by conscious motivation and discipline – they can lead to repressive and restrictive implications that consequently deform human nature[3].

A path of inner search does not have to - and certainly not straightaway - focus on Tantra and sexual magic. They are complex and difficult themes to deal with if the mind has not first been purified of moral taboo and the malice that ensues.

Greatly welcomed however are moments of personal reflection on this theme, with a partner and later perhaps in a group context, with psychological and meta-psychological support, to open the mind and heart to greater equilibrium. It goes without saying that all of this requires great maturity and purity of mind.

Whether or not, we feel inclined towards this Path or particular need, one that many consider a ‘minefield’, in the deepening of our inner relationship with the Self, it must be said that a healthy or serene sex life, that is free but most of all aware, is the basis for an overall harmony that certainly renders the examination, the emancipation, and the expression of the Higher Self, smoother and more effective.

Even though I do not want to enter too much into the merit of traditions and practices for reawakening and consciously managing sexual energies, it is useful at this point to say a couple of words about the so called ‘Left-hand way or path’.


Tantrism and the Left-hand Path

In the Hindu tradition, while the word Yoga means ‘Union’ – with one’s own soul, the cosmos, with God – and includes many different techniques of a physical, mental and spiritual kind (to achieve awareness, meditation, devotion, conscious action, and the truth), Tantra means ‘Loom’, or also ‘thread’, ‘continuity’ and communion. Tantrism consists of many esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhist philosophy and is considered a sort of ‘short cut’ to the full Realization of Consciousness, Enlightenment.
In Tantra we distinguish between two principal paths: the ‘dakshinachara’ (or ‘samayachara’), the Right-hand Path, and the ‘vamachara’ (or ‘vamamarg’), the Left-hand Path. These terms were adopted and abundantly used by Western occultists, often in the wrong way or distorted by a hinterland of Catholic moralism.

Tantra, in all its different possible expressions, is not to be seen as Vedic tradition. The rituals of the Tantric Left-hand path, in particular, are often rejected or considered extremely dangerous by orthodox Hinduism. However, in Tibetan Buddhism, Tantrism plays a central role and is totally harmonized with Yoga thanks to the Buddhist code whose ethics mitigate the most dangerous aspects of tantric practices.

Certain practitioners search for the union of masculine and feminine principles inside themselves, through paths of sublimination and union with spiritual forces. In other cases the union, or rather the completion, comes through sexual practices, during which the divine union of Shiva and Shakti is celebrated. In tantric practice Mantra (formulas), Yantra (vehicles) and Mandala (patterns) are also used. Sexual practices carried out in a ritual form are not only an aspect of tantric alchemy but are without doubt central to Vama-marg Orders.

The conscious management of sexual energy is the basic element in this practice and there is quite a distinction between working white and working black.

In white work, the energy, in order to be directed towards the reawakening of higher consciousness cannot be discharged by ejaculation while in black work it is achieved through the completion of the sexual act.

In the first case we have a form of separation from desire, in the second its exaltation. In each case the sacred objective remains the same, though neither path is exempt from all kinds of deviance when not sustained by the necessary knowledge and spiritual maturity.
The most important Tantric Schools are the Kaula and Vamachara Circles.

In the West Tantra has been assimilated as the use of sexuality in the context of magic (or mystical) experiences and appears in many different operative and theoretical formulas. For example, what we can learn about Tantra from Crowley, Grant, Reich or Osho, may appear very different and yet the various approaches can and should be reconciled, given that they are all complimentary depending on their path.

The Right-hand Path and the Left-hand Path are two different approaches to achieving the same result. Generically, the Right-hand Path concentrates on the observance of a precise code of ethics, morals and devotion towards one or more divinities, while the Left-hand Path pursues the exploration and evolution of the Self before any other objective.

All in all, from the Thelemic and neo-Gnostic point of view, it is a false dichotomy but one which indicates two very different paths. The second path, with its emphasis on the Super-Conscious Self, has often meant and been wrongly considered as egoistic, therefore associated with ‘Satanism’ or ‘black magic’: the devil, evil, the dark, evil portents, hell and to the overwhelming power of the feminine, that power which has to be – as the sad story of the Inquisition teaches us – subordinated and condemned. Such moral condemnation originates not only in the influence of Judaic-Christian patriarchy and the reactionary culture of Catholicism – and more recently from a certain syncretistic ‘gnosis’ which is rather pretentious abstruse and bigoted – but also from inside the same esoteric movements. This often occurs in a contradictory way as in the case of Blavatsky who described certain practices as immoral, even though in certain of her lesser known works (for example  in the magazine Lucifer), she does not refrain from considering certain magic–mystical aspects of the tantric-sexual tradition of the East. Also Crowley, when he refers to the ‘Black Brothers’ speaks of the Brothers of the Left-hand Path, but with a very different meaning, referring to those who have failed and who have not gone beyond the enticements of the ego. Those whose presumption rather than leading them to Genius, has lead them to Madness and a loss of control, who are engulfed by the profound forces within that they themselves have reawakened. When confronting the Abyss they then do not know how to offer all of themselves in order to be reborn as shinning Stars (image of the Higher Self).

The Left-hand Path is considered as the most direct and rapid path to enlightenment but it is also the most dangerous, given the unexpected potential expressed by the energies involved and reawakened.

Today it is often referred to as the Draconian, Qliphotic or Dark Path of the Kabbalistic Tree although in this case, there are also many different methods and schools of thought.

The Magick of Crowley integrates the two paths into a complete magical-mystical process without placing too much emphasis on their distinction unlike the work of Kenneth Grant which clearly highlights the differences.

[1] As far as this is concerned on the ritual-operational plane we talk about Sexual Magic, while on the more mystical plane we use the term Tantra.
[2] Various forms of monastic life.
[3] In effect, even though commonly accepted (opportunely conditioned by the seats of socio-political and religious powers with the aim of controlling and subjugating), the formula of the couple united in holy matrimony, just as that of priestly celibacy, can often result in hypocrisy and psychological problems or even dangerous perversion.

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