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Sex Worship

From: Lucky Mojo Curio Company 
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tantra,alt.religion.tantra,alt.magick.tyagi
Subject: Sex Worship (was Re: Update: alt.magick.tantra FAQ)
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 12:09:06 -0800
Organization: Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
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Sthula wrote:
> All of the things you cite are not "direct sex worship".  

Tzimon, from your perspective, you are of course correct -- but from the
persepctive of a hundred and fifty years of scholarly ethnography and
anthropology, you are making a futile gesture. The term "sex worship"
dates back a long way and it is not about to go away. It describes,
variously, religious services in which representations of the sexual
organs are used as representations of deities, in which deities are
shown engaged in sexual intercourse, in which metaphorical constructs
(such as geometric figues) are used to symbolize the sexual organs of
deitiesm, and so forth. I didn't invent this term. Cf. "Sex Worship" by
Clifford Howrd, published in 1912. Cf any of the dozen books by Hargrave
Jennings, circa 1875-1889. such as "Phallism," "Phallicism Celestial and
Terrestrial," "Ophiolatreia" et al)

(Jennings, being a good schollar. originally dubbed this type of
religion -- world-wide, not just in Indian tantrism -- "Phallism."
Unfortunately, the awkward term "Phallicism" became more popular with
other authors, and in his later books, Jennings went with the linguistic
tide. Phalli (plural) refers to the genitals of both males and females
(clitoris and penis), thus "Phallism" is a better neologism than
"Phallicism" -- it, like the generic term "sex worship" refers to
religions in which images of male or female genitals, and/or couples
engaged in sexual intercourse, are displayed on altars, used in
meditation, or become part of the architectual symbolism of a house of

> They're  examples of sex being used to point to something far more 
> important.   It's the use of sex and sexual imagery as technique.

Of COURSE, such forms of religious worship "point to something far more
important" -- that's the very NATURE of religion!!!! The crucifix, with
its bleeding Christ, is not am indicator that Christians torture
half-naked men or that they want to kill their god (no jokes, please; i
know the history of Christian military politics; i am speaking from the
standpoint of Christian mysticism here). The crucifix, like the yab yum
statue on a Tibetan Buddhist altar, "point[s] to something far more
important" than the image itself. 

A religious image -- crucifix and yab yum alike -- encapsulates
theological doctrine and cosmological belief in one convenient symbol. 

> Linga means "symbol". That's how it ended up being the root-word from 
> which such current terms as "linguistics" and "language" came about.

True enough. And it also is defined, in everyday modern dictionaries, as
"penis" and as the unique symbol of the god Siva, whoich in India is
shaped as a rounded elongated ovoid structure with no penile glans, but
in Thailand is depicted in an anatomically accurate style, with a penile

> And as far as the temple art goes, such art is always found on the 
> *outside* of the ancient temples... not on the *inside*.  

This statement is totally and unequivocally false!!! 

Check out the ancient and contemporary Tibetan and Nepalese bronze yab
yum ("father-mother") statues depicting deific couples enagged in sexual
intercourse. They are placed on altars *inside* temples. 

Check out the ancient and contemporary Tibetan and Nepalese tankas
(paintings on silk) depicting boddhisatvas (holy men) and their saktis
(female consorts) in the act of sexual intercourse. They are hung on
walls *inside* temples and homes. 

Check out that lovely (and oft-photographed) altar-stone from within the
ancient temple at Hyderbad in India that is carved to show a woman
laying on her back with her knees tucked up, exposing her vulva, upon
which liquid offerings were poured, as can be seen from the run-off
trench around the edge of the piece. 

Check out the many beautiful examples antique ivory and wood carvings of
vulvas and of couples engaged in sexual intercourse that formed parts of
the personal home altars of Shaktiite and tantric devotees during
previous centuries. 

Check out the center of almost every ancient and contemporary Vedic or
Tantric Saivite altar -- it is the linga, a representation of the penis
of Siva, an organ whose length and breadth is celebrated in Indian
devotionary song and story. Often this penis-image is placed within an
arghata (a yoni or stylized vulva) and the combination is called a
yonilinga (vulva-penis). These altar-pieces can be found *inside* great
temple complexes as well as in the homes of common people and in wayside
shrines. In fact, Siva lingas are seen *everywhere* in India -- both
indoors and outdoors (as if that distinction had any real ethnographic
or theological import) -- and they are everywhere recognized by
worshippers as a symbol of the sexual organ of Siva, or, when in the
form of a yonilinga, as a symbol of the sexual union of Siva and Sakti. 

Check out the shrine of the goddess Tap-Tun in Bankok, Thailand: Both
her altar *inside* the building and a wide area outside the building are
completely covered with thousands -- probably tens of thousands -- of
votary offerings in the form of realistic (not stylized) penises, carved
of stone or wood and placed there by devotees. Tap-Tun is said to accept
only linga as offerings. Originally a local Thai goddesss, her worship
is said to have been heavily influenced by Indian Saivite Tantric
teachers after the 10th century.  

> Sex is used  as an initiatory device; it is not worshipped in and of 
> itself.  It  is, at most, a hint of something greater.  It isn't a 
> wrong thing, it  isn't a bad thing... it is a small thing.  

Sex may be an "initiatory device" and "a small thing" to *you*, perhaps,
but it is as central to both Vedic and Tantric Saivism as death is to
Christianity. It is, of course, "a hint of something greater" -- because
"something greater" is what is what religion is all about. Religion
concerns itself with the *super*-natural and the *meta*-physical. 

> Seeing the kama shilpas as being a depiction of an end-in-themselves 
> is like driving to the  boundary marker of a town and thinking you've 
> seen the whole thing.

Religion -- ALL religion, EVERY religion -- contains and utilizes
symbols that are not "an end-in-themselves." Tantrism is no different
than other religions in this regard. As i said above, all devotionary
religious symbols -- be they disembodied sexual organs, anthropomorphic
deities fucking, bull heads, goat heads, cats playing musical
instruments, geometric forms, rows of numbers, or crucified naked men --
are codifications and encapsulations of the theological doctrines and
cosmological beliefs endemic to the religions in which they appear. 

Trying to castrate or de-sex Saivism (both Vedic and Tantric) is a
futile task on your part. In fact, it has been tried so many times that
a special subset of Tanrtic austerity -- penis torture with the object
of slowly mutilating the penis and thus destroying the saddhu's ability
to get an erection -- has been incorporated *into* the religion! 

Amazing is the linga of Siva! It beckons and entices. It renounces and
casts aside. It offers itself up in sacrifice. It invites the kisses of
devotees. It stands alone and cannot be touched.It ejaculates the cosmos
in which we live. It plunges into the depths of the manifested world of
matter. Within the encircling arghata of Skati, it pours forth
nourishmnt for Nandi the Bull. Garlanded with marigolds, it looms as
tall as any mountain. Cast in silver, it is a plaything hung on a
keychain and carried in a pocket. 

All hail the morning piss-hard-onof Siva ! All hail the soft and
sleeping wee-wee of Siva! All hail the jism-spurting cock of Siva! All
hail the powerful SYMBOL of the ascetic-erotic one!  

Om Namah Sivayah! 


catherine yronwode ------------------------
Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Lucky W Amulet Archive ---------
The Sacred Landscape -------
Karezza and Sacred Sex ------
news:alt.lucky.w --- discussions on folk magic, luck, amulets, charms

From: catherine yronwode 
Newsgroups: alt.religion.tantra,alt.magick.tantra,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.sexuality
Subject: Chinnamasta and Sex (was: Re: Tantra != "Sex Worship". /* note '.' */)
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 13:27:51 -0800
Organization: Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
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nagasiva wrote:
> III om 49990429
> Sthula (aka Tzimon):
> #># All of the things you cite are not "direct sex worship".
> sri catyananda (
> #> Tzimon, from your perspective, you are of course correct -- but
> #> from the persepctive of a hundred and fifty years of scholarly
> #> ethnography and anthropology, you are making a futile gesture.
> Sir IF (
> # Catherine, Tzimon is, as I am, looking at this from a perspective of
> # _at_least_ 7,000 years of serious work, of which the past 3,500 
> # years are well documented.
> welcome back to usenet. let us playfully neglect the first 3500
> years of "serious work" and pay attention for the nonce to the
> 'well documented' portion. could you please point to sources
> indicating that the extensive list of references provided by
> sri catyananda to 'direct sex worship' are in error or that,
> say, 3000 years ago, the imagery of sex was not a part of the
> symbolism or statuary or stories in 'Tantric' temples, culture,
> or rite?
> or are you just saying that people never fuck in temples?

Tzimon claimed that images of sex organs or of copulating deities were
never found *inside* "ancient" temples but only *outside*. But tantra
yoga itself is not "ancient" by the most rigourous standards, so i have
assumed that he, like me, was referring to statuary and painted images
dating back only into the historical record and not to the Indus Valley

Last night, unable to sleep, i was browsing through David Kinsley's
"Hindu Goddesses" and came upon yet another refutation of Tzimon's
assertion, in the case i call "The Lone Temple of Chinnamasta." 

Chinnamasta is a goddess whose customary representation is as a
disheveled and naked-but-ornamented woman standing atop a copulating
male and female couple, usually identified as Kama, the god of sexual
love, and his wife Rati (but also occasionally said -- by Vaisnavites --
to be Krishna and Radha). Rati is always shown atop Kama in these
pictures, and Chinnamasta stands on top of them both. She has severed
her own head, and three streams of blood issue fountain-like from her
neck. Two streams flow into the waiting mouths of her devotees, two
yoginis; the third stream flows into the mouth of Chinnamasta's own
severed head. 

According to Kingsley, images of Chinnamasta (and hence the copulating
Kama and Rati) are found in subsidiary chapels inside many large temples
dedicated to various popular "fierce" goddesses, such as Kali and Durga.
This is because Chinnamasta is identified with Kali by some
Kali-worshippers and Kali -- and hence also Chinnamasta -- is identified
with Durga by some Durga-worshippers. Additionally, Chinnamasta is
identified by some tantrics as one of the 10 Mahavidyas, the fierce
manifestations of the otherwise pacific goddess Sati, the wife of Siva
[aren't they all? ;-)], which she produces to evoke fear and submission
in her mate. Like several of the other Mahavidyas (e.g. Tara and Kali),
Chinnamasta also exists independently, as a goddess in her own right,
with her own regional cult centers and hagiography. 

There is, Kinsley says, only one temple that he knows of in India that
is solely dedicated to Chinnamasta, without reference to Kali, Durga, or
the 10 Mahavidyas. It is near Banaras and it was built as a
free-standing structure within the large courtyard of a vast
temple-complex dedicated to Durga. According to the Durga-priest at the
larger temple, whom Kinsley interviewed, the Chinnamasta temple was
built by a tantrika and is to this day a place of pilgrimage visited by
tantric saddhus in search of siddhis or magical-spiritual powers. 

Here, in the temple of Chinnamasta, is simple evidence that the act of
deities engaged in sexual intercourse is depicted *inside* a temple that
has special import to tantric saddhus. 

As to the meaning of Chinnamasta's self-sacrifice, that is a question
subject to debate and interpretation. According to some scholars, she
may have arisen from a far earlier Indus Valley Civilization goddess of
vegetaion, who is shown on one seal in two positions: first, she is seen
naked, with vegetation growing out of her vagina; second, she is seen
kneeling and about to be decapitated with a reaping-sickle by a male

(The order of the images given here is arbitrary -- as they appear on
two sides of the seal, like heads and tails on a coin, you could as
easily "read" the the decapitation scene first and the vegetation
sprouting from the vagina second. Most likeley the two images form the
two extremes of a recurring cycle of death and rebirth in the botanical

Because Chinnamasta and this anonymous Indus Valley female are the only
known images of a decaptiated woman found in a relgious context in the
Indus Valley Culture and subsequent Hindu civilization, the impulse to
link them is very strong -- but as i said, it is not conclusively

The dual-image of the possible proto-Chinnamasta goddess may point to
the early existence of literal female-human sacrifice for the good of
the crops, or it may indicate an anthropomorphic view of plant life as
that which willingly allows itself to be sacrificed for the good of
humanity. It is this latter concept that seems to be completed in the
self-decapitation of Chinnamasta, for two-thirds of her blood goes to
nourish her devotees, but one-third of it flows into her own mouth to
nourish her head, which presumeably represents the seed to be planted
for the next year's crops. 

Chinnamasta's stance atop the copulating couple may indicate an ancient
ritual of human intercourse in the fields to promote the growth of
plants (similar to the pagan European custom of tupping at Beltane), it
may indicate philosophical speculation concerning the interconnectedness
of the sexual lives and deaths of humans and plants, or, insofar as the
copulating couple is identified with the deities Kama and Rati, it may
indicate a cosmological doctrine which supposes sexuality to be at the
common root of all plant and animal life. 

In any case, there's your ancient fucking folks again -- with a tantric
connection, to boot -- and they are definitely *inside* a temple. 


catherine yronwode ------------------------
Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Lucky W Amulet Archive ---------
The Sacred Landscape -------
Karezza and Sacred Sex ------
news:alt.lucky.w --- discussions on folk magic, luck, amulets, charms

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