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REPOST Karezza

From: (Cyronwode)
Subject: REPOST Karezza
Date: 25 Sep 1995 17:48:25 -0400
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Lines: 502
Message-ID: <447839$>
Reply-To: (Cyronwode)

1) Re: Karezza 
     (by catherine yronwode)

James Cooper  ( wrote:

>I recently I read a reference that indicated Karezza might be a form of 
>sex magick.  As a neophyte I have not heard of Karezza before, any 
>information would be appreciated.

Karezza was a name coined (from the Italian for "carress") by Alice Bunker
Stockham in the 19th century. It refers to non-religious spiritual sexual
practices that draw upon tantric techniues of body control but do not
involve any of tantra's cultural or iconographic symbolism. 

Stockham, an OB-GYN from Chicago, and the 5th woman to be made a doctor in
the United States, travelled to northern India to learn the "secrets" of
tantra -- i.e. control of the orgasm response -- but she did not have any
interest in Eastern religions and she felt that such addenda to the
methods were not essential. Her view of spirituality was basically
Christian, and she fitted sacred sexuality into a Christian paradigm with
no apparent difficulty. 

A well-travelled and well-read person who counted among her friends Leo
Tolstoy and Havelock Ellis, she also visited Sweden and from her trips to
schools there she brought back the idea of teaching children domestic
crafts, thus single-handedly establishing shop and home economics classes
in the United States. 

Stockham was a "reformer" in the true Victorian sense of the word. She
lectured against the use of corsets by women, made public endoresements of
the healthiness of masturbation for both men and women ("If God did not
want you to experience these beautiful feelings, he would not have given
you the ability to experience them or the desire to produce them"), 
advocated complete abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and believed in
women's rights. She promoted Karezza as a means to achieve:

       1) birth control (she was against abortion but she wanted women to
be able to control pregnancies);

       2) social and political equality for women (she felt that "Karrezza
men" would never rape their wives and would actually treat them

       3) marital pleasure and hence marital fidlity (she advocated
Karrezza as a cure for "failing marriages").

From the above description, it might seem that Alice Bunker Stockham was a
severe person who got no fun from the esoteric sexual practices she
studied and wrote about. Quite the contrary. Her book "Karrezza" is filled
with delightfully erotic descriptions of the "mutual satisfaction" to be
had in "conjugal embrace." Likewise, her book "Tokology," a layperson's
text on gynecology and midwifery, contains references to "increasing
marital pleasure through the practice of male continence." (In case you
are wondering, "tokology" is the Greek word for obstetrics.)

One more thing about Stockham: she was very concerned that divorced women
with children and prostitutes who wanted to get off the street but had no
marketable skills would be unable to support themselves, so she had copies
of "Tokology" privately printed and gave them to "unfortunate women" to
sell door-to-door in Chicago. Each copy came with a bound-in certificate
signed by Stockham and entitling the bearer to a free gynecological exam.
My copy of this book still contains its certificate, and whenever i look
at it, i feel a rush of admiration for the brave woman who did so much for
her gender and for "mutual sexual enjoyment" -- and is so largely
forgotten today. 

Herewith a quote from the tenth edition of Alice Bunker Stockham's book
"Tokology," published in 1884.

Remember -- this is a book on obsterics, not tantra/Karezza; it only
mentions sexual relationships in terms of contraception.

---------begin Stockham quote--------------

"Many of the means used to prevent conception are injurious, and often lay
the foundation for a train of physical ailments. Probably no one means is
more serious in its consequences than the semen being discharged external
to the vagina. The act is incomplete and unnatural...

"Some of the appliances sold for the purpose [of contraception] are a sure
preventive by mechanical interference. If the material is pliable [she is
probably referring to a condom] the only positive injury is from
preventing the complete interchange of magnetism...

"The method adopted by the Oneida Community is also adopted with complete
atisfaction by many married people. In this the sexual relation is entered
upon but not carried to completion. Some call it sedular absorption. No
discharge is allowed. People practicing this method claim the highest
possible enjoyment, no loss of vitality and perfect control of the
fecundating power. Those interested in this subject are referred to a
pamphlet by Rev. Mr. Noyes [John Humphrey Noyes of the Oneida Community]."

------------end Stockham quote--------------------

From these brief allusions it can be seen that Stockham subscribed to the
"interchange of megnetism" theory popular among 19th century
sexual-spiritual teachers. This theory, or its "interchange of electrical
currents" counterpart, underlies most 19th century Western "tantra."

Stockham's interest in birth control (and mind you, she had to be very
careful in how she phrased herself in print at this time, as disseminating
information on contraceptives was illegal) could not overcome her fear
that a mechanical sperm barrier would prevent "the complete interchange of

The statement that external ejaculation was "injurious" sprang in part
from the Biblical injunction against Onanism, but it also sems to have
been seen as a failure of magnetic interchange. 

Finally, she is seen here advocating "the Oneida method," then also known
as "Male Continence," in which men refrained from ejaculation but women
were encouraged to have contractive orgams at will. Stockham's "Tokology"
predates her book "Karezza" by several years and it was only in later
writings that she went full-tilt into descriptions of sexual techniques
that would be familiar to tantrikas and also began to promulgate the need
for women to learn to control their orgasm responses in the same way that
the men of Oneida did. 

Allow me to close with a quote from Stockham that does not bear upon
tantra/Karezza, but demonstrates her place as a Victorian sex-reformer:

"I am a temperance woman. No one can realize more than I, the devastation
and ruin alcohol in its many tempting forms has brought to the human
family. Still I solemnly believe that in weakness and deterioration of
health and moral principle, the CORSET has more to answer for than
intoxicating drinks." 

Go, Alice!

catherine yronwode

2)  Karezza Techniques 
      (by catherine yronwode)
================================ (Nigel Griffith) wrote:

>It would be most appreciated if you could post or E-mail some description
>the 'Karezza techniques'  I've not been able to find anything here.

The techniques of Karezza, as propounded by Alice Bunker Stockham and
others in her circle consisted of control of the orgasm response in both
male and female. 

At the time -- the last half of the 19th century -- traditional Hindu and
Tibetan Buddhist tantra texts and teachings emphasized MALE control,
because it was MEN who were supposed to be raising their kundalini
and re-absorbing their sperm into their brains and doing all that other
sacred shit. Women were seen as "shaktis," that is, empowering
incarnations of goddesshood who endorsed or validated the male spiritual

In any case, most tantric texts of the time -- and virtually every one i
read up until the end of the late 1970s -- stated outright that women need
not learn to control orgasm. Some teachers took a misogynistic viewpoint
(females can't have religious or spiritual experiences anyway, so why
bother teaching them?) and others took a
misogynistic-disguised-as-worshipful viewpoint (women are already so holy
and sacred that they need learn or do nothing to be spiritual). Some
tantric schools recommended the use of prostitutes as shaktis, although
the British rulers of India tried to put a limit on this form of religious
freedom. Considering the low value placed on women in India, none of this
is surprising. 

Around the time that Stockham was formulating her ideas, other Western
forms of "tantric" sex were also being proposed. One of these was
"Magnetation." Another was "the Anseiratic Mystery." A Third was "Male
Continence." Each had its own limitations and idiosyncracies. 

Stockham was, as far as i have been able to determine (although i welcome
rebuttal with citations) the first writer to promote sexual equality in
tantra. That is, she stated that if men will benefit spiritually from
learning to control their orgasm response, so will *women*. This placed
her in contradistinction to the John Humphrey Noyes (Oneida Community)
approach, where "Male Continence" was practiced. "Male Continence," as the
name implies, allowed women to have all the orgasms they wanted, while men
were expected to restrain themselves. 

In describing her methods, one metaphor Stockham used was that of a
fountain that fills a basin slowly, drop by drop. The build-up of sexual
desire, she belived, continued day by day, filling the basin until it
overflowed naturally. (The result of the basin overflowing gently is
orgasm, but see below for more on this.) If the basin was drained dry
through continual orgasmic sex acts before it filled naturally (which she
estimated took two weeks to a month), she believed that the drained person
would be in a state of "magnetic depletion" during that time. 

On this basis Stockham argued that the traditional Hindu technique of
draining the woman's basin of sexual desire through allowing her to have
an orgasm, while leaving the man's basin full through teaching him tantric
methods of self-restaint, produced an inequality that would in time create
aversion in the couple. 

The man would become a sort of psychic leech (she used less derogatory
language) who kept the woman drained off continually while basking in the
spiritual luxury of his own overflowing basin of sexual magnetism. Because
he would come to see the woman as a drained being or empty vessel, in time
he would no longer respect her or desire her. Meanwhile, the "amative"
woman would come to see the man as a provider of pleasure who coldly
withheld his own pleasure and in time she would feel powerless and
resentful of his cold-blooded domination of the situation. 

Stockham's solution to this problem was to instruct couples to engage in
sex whenever they wanted, as often as they wanted, under three conditions:

1) Each sex act should be preceded by some form of spiritual dedication,
similar to the traditional Hindu puja ceremony in intent, but adapted to
American cultural needs. 
She recommended writing love letters and making "dates," spending at
least an hour before making love away from the children, lighting candles,
sharing a glass of wine, reading poetry, and other common adjuncts of 
romance -- up to and including maintaining separate bedrooms so that
each sex act would be obviously intentional and not merely a prelude to 
going to sleep.

2) If they did not want more children, couples should not have orgasms
during the woman's fertile time. (Rememeber, there were no birth control
pills or diaphragms when she first wrote -- and condoms were illegal.)

3) The accomplishment of orgasm should only occur when it resulted from
"overflow" of the basin of desire. How often this happened was left to the
discretion of the individuals.

I think everyone who has practiced tantric sex knows what Stockham was
describing as the overflow type of orgasm. It ooccurs when, after several
episodes of tantric lovemaking it becomes impossible to distinguish
from orgasm and without any pelvic thrusting on either party's part, both
people achieve orgasm together. No techniques exist to bring this
condition on, as far as i know; it is simply a byproduct of tantric

This was the only kind of orgasm Stockham endorsed or recommended. 

catherine yronwode

3)  Quotes: Karezza, Tantra, Stockham, and Noyes 
      (collected by tyagi nagasiva) 

In, (Cyronwode) writes:

|Stockham was, as far as i have been able to determine (although i welcome
|rebuttal with citations) the first writer to promote sexual equality in
|tantra. That is, she stated that if men will benefit spiritually from
|learning to control their orgasm response, so will *women*.

The following quotes address catherine's question above about the
differences of opinion between Noyes and Stockham. They are from
 _Tantric Sex_, by Robert Moffett, Berkeley Medallion, 1974.

[quoting John Humphrey Noyes]

"'I conceived the idea that the sexual organs have a social function which
is distinct from the propagative function, and that these functions may be
separated practically.  I experimented on this idea, and found that the
self-control which it requires is not difficult; also that my enjoyment
was increased; also that my wife's experience was very satisfactory, as it
had never been before....'

"Logically, therefore,

"'The discharge of the semen, instead of being the main act of sexual
intercourse, properly so called, is really the sequel and termination
of it.'"

p. 85.

"The psychosexual discoveries [made by John Humphrey Noyes] were not
allowed to die.  They had attracted the attention of an incredible
woman, Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, who has oddly escaped the notice of
feminists.  America's gratitude to Noyes is best expressed in the fact
that the only complete collection of his works is in the British Museum.
Dr. Stockham was to be arrested and fined $300 for distributing a type-
written sex-education pamphlet entitled 'Wedding Night'.

"Significantly, Alice Bunker's family were Quakers rather than Calvinists.
Born in 1833, she grew up on the frontier, in Michigan, living in the
classic American log cabin surrounded by Indians.  She received her high
school education at Olivet College, paying her way by manual labor and
teaching during vacations.  Keenly interested in progressive medicine, at
twenty she entered Eclectic College in Cincinnati, the only institute of
higher education in the West that admitted women.  She was among the first
five women in America to receive an M.D.

"A dedicated advocate of the rights of women and children, Dr. Stockham
was a pioneer in obstetrics.  In _Tokology_, which she published herself
in 1883, she urged 'natural childbirth.'  The book was translated into
Swedish, German and Russian (by Leo Tolstoy, no less).  In its pages, we
find the first mention of the tantric technique called *karezza*.  While
she acknowledges Noyes' work, Dr. Stockham quite evidently had other
sources of information.

"So now we have Tantra in the hands of a scientist, as well as a woman.
One would expect a considerable contrast to Noyes' treatment of the
subject.  What we find is this:

  'In the physical union of male and female there may
  be a soul communion giving not only supreme hap-
  piness, but in turn conducing to soul growth and
  development... and there may be a communion,
  rightly understood, not less significant than the be-
  getting of children.  Creative energy in man is man-
  ifold in its manifestations, and can be trained into
  channels of usefulness and power.'

"Noyes started with religion and arrived at sexuality.  Dr. Stockham
reverses the logical process.  The inference is clear.  The two are, one
and the
same. What she had to say about the results of using this technique is
particularly interesting.  Tantrics claim you can spot their women by the 
vibrant glow of their faces.  Dr. Stockham writes:

  'Men who are borne down with sorrow because their
  wives are nervous, feeble and irritable, have it in
  their power, through Karezza, to restore the radiant
  hue of health to the faces of their loved ones,
  strength and elasticity to their steps and harmonious
  action to every part of their bodies.'

"Body consciousness and sexuality are intimately linked in a relationship
of mutual reinforcement.  The physical effects of the psychological
changes that take place during sexual arousal are far more general than we
ordinarily realize...."

pp. 87-9.

"Another karezza advocate was George N. Miller, and Dr. Stockham published
his novel, _Strike of a Sex_, in which he described the tantric approach
to love, calling it Zugassent's Discovery.  Testimonials from readers who
tried it were included in Dr. Stockham's _Tokology_ and make fascinating

p. 90.

"What happens is easy to understand if you recall that ecstasy is
regression. The mind goes back to a point before its conditioning. 
Concepts it has
been trained to reject are suddenly acceptable because the inhibitions are
inoperative.  These changes in attitudes, particularly if they are subse-
quently reinforced by logic, can be fundamental and lasting.

"At least one of Dr. Stockham's disciples recognized the potential
practical applications of this.  Her husband wrote:

  'She wishes that all these works could be placed in the
  hands of every prospective bride, as she is quite sure
  it would save much suffering and misunderstanding
  at the very beginning of married life.'

"It was the attempt to carry out this wish that brought the good doctor
afoul of the law. [She was accused of illegally promoting birth control.]
Three-quarters of a century later, it is still considered usual for
marital 'adjustment' to be a lengthy period, often years, if it succeeds
at all.  Certainly the problem is no longer the unavailability of
information on physical sex.  It is the difficulty of overcoming 
the inhibitions against ego-dissolution.

"Alice Bunker Stockham's knowledge of Tantra wasn't gained from books.  It
would be twenty years after _Tokology_ before Sir John Woodroffe (using
the *nom de plume*, Arthur Avalon) would begin publishing his translations
from the Sanskrit of the tantras, the scriptures of the sakti sects. 
she went directly to the source, to India, to study the Nayars, a
matriarchal caste of hereditary warriors on the Malabar coast.

"Certainly, if there were any women capable of enlightening her about
Indian sexology, they were the Nayar sisters.  This Dravidian people had
developed the concept of the nuclear family and were, into the nineteenth
century, practicing polyandry.  After puberty, when they were ceremonially
deflowered, the Nayar girls were entitled to have up to twelve husbands at
a time.

"The proud, famed beauties were in no way subservient to or dependent upon
their men, however.  They -- and any children born -- went right on living
with their families; all the males were entitled to were visiting rights.
By custom, reminiscent of the Sarmatians (as well as several polyandrous
African tribes), the husband in residence left his sword outside the door
as a warning to others.

"At the same time the Americans were forcing Noyes to recant, the British
Raj compelled the Nayars to take up, if not accept, monogamy.  Polygyny,
on the other hand, was tolerated in the castes that practiced it on the
grounds of religious freedom."

pp. 92-3.

"Dr. Stockham, incidentally, was very strong on meditation as a preamble
to lovemaking and also emphasized reading poetry -- an idea not so quaint
it might sound.  Poetry is, in essence, the language of the primitive
Imagery is verbal symbolism."

p. 126.

"The whole tantric technique, of course, is based on the principle of
mutual reinforcement.  It simultaneously destroys the inhibitions against
sexual enjoyment but, because it is providing ego-dissolution at every
point, it reduces the tension of the drive for self-gratification in the
orgasm, to get a quick hit-and-run battery recharge.  

"It looks like a good plan but, as every male (and frustrated female)
knows, there's a built-in cut-off point.  When sexual excitement mounts to
certain level, it's out of his hands.  The orgasmic mechanism takes over
that's it....

"But... it is not the invariable course things must run.  This the
tantrics discovered and, more than three thousand years later, so did
Noyes.  It is
*karezza*, the means of indefinitely delaying the male orgasm.  The
Buddhists, Noyes and Dr. Stockham, for all practical purposes, abolished
altogether. But, in an age when mechanical and hormonal birth control 
techniques are as sophisticated as they have become, this is clearly

"The idea of sex without orgasm -- which is precisely what most women
experienced until relatively recently -- is bound to turn off most men.
And yet if, like Noyes, we think of sexuality and the orgasm as separate
phenomena, it substantially changes matters.  If the end result of
sexuality is ego-dissolution, could it not be possible to obtain it
*without* orgasm?  The answer is *yes*.  Those who have practiced
*karezza* without going to the point of orgasm have reported they
experienced complete satisfaction.  How?

"Noyes described the technique as akin to rowing a boat just above a

  'This whole process, up to the point of emission, is
  *voluntary*, entirely under... the control... and *can be
  stopped at any point*.  In other words, the *presence* and
  the *motions* can be continued or stopped at will, and it
  is only the final crisis of emission that is automatic or

"Havelock Ellis interviewed Noyes Miller, who had spent most of his life
the [J. H. Noyes' 'Oneida'] colony and reported,

  'In intercourse, the male inserted his penis into the
  vagina and retained it there for even an hour without
  emission, though orgasm took place in the woman.
  There was usually no emission in the case of the man,
  even after withdrawal, and he felt no need of emission.'

"During this time, according to Kinsey, the man might reach as many as
twenty peaks of sexual response on the verge of orgasm without actually
reaching it.  

"Stockham carries it into the next dimension:

  'At the appointed time, without fatigue of body or
  unrest of mind, accompany generally bodily contact
  with expressions of endearment and affection, fol-
  lowed by the complete quiet union of the sexual
  organs.  During a lengthy period of perfect control,
  the whole being of each is merged into the other,
  and an exquisite exaltation experienced.  This may be
  accompanied by a quiet motion, entirely under sub-
  ordination of the will, so that the thrill of passion
  for either may not go beyond a pleasurable exchange.
  Unless procreation is desired, let the final propaga-
  tive orgasm be entirely avoided.

  'With abundant time and mutual reciprocity the
  interchange becomes satisfactory and complete
  without emission or crises.  In the course of an hour
  the physical tension subsides, the spiritual exaltation
  increases, and not uncommonly visions of a trans-
  cendent life are seen and consciousness of new powers

pp. 143-5.

catherine yronwode
owner-operator, alt.lucky.w
restoration team leader, alt.current-events.blizzard-of-93
keeper of the keys,

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