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The Phoenix Temple, Tantra, and Sacred Sexuality

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on October 7, 2011 | Comments (13)

The Great and Powerful Oom

As most of you know, I am very interested in the subjects of Tantra, sacred sexuality, and sex magick. I discuss these subjects in parts of my Modern Magick and, of course, in my Modern Sex Magick. Although Tantra is quite old, it’s introduction in the U.S. is relatively recent.

In fact, the introduction of the high level of Indian thought and theology is relatively new to the West. With the typical sense of Christian superiority at the time, most people thought that Hinduism was just the stupid beliefs of savages until 1893 and the Parliament of World Religions held in Chicago. There, Swami Vivekananda electified the audience as he described the advanced theological and spiritual concepts found in Indian faiths. He went on to travel in the U.S. and give lectures, gaining many followers.

Tantra was introduced to the U.S. in 1905 by a man named Pierre Bernard, founder of the Tanrik Order in America. Calling himself Oom the Omnipotent, he taught Sanskrit and hatha yoga. He ended up with wealth, land, many famous followers and a virtual chain of Tantric clinics from Chicago to New York.

And soon, Tantra became associated with sexuality. A woman who had been a follower of the Order, using the pseudonym Marion Dockerill, superficially exposed some of the sexual aspects of Bernard’s group in the salacious book, My Life in a Love Cult,” published in 1928. A decade earlier, while still a supporter, Dockerill (whose real name was Alma Hirsig), introduced her sister, Leah, to Aleister Crowley. Leah became one of Crowley’s most (in)famous assistants in sexual magick. The book “exposes” some of Crowley’s rituals and rites, too.

Dr. Jonn, the Tantric Guru

Dr. Jonn Mumford

When I first started studying the occult, I wasn’t at all interested in sexuality as it applied to magick. One of the persons who changed my mind about this was Dr. Jonn Mumford. His book, Sexual Occultism (1975), bridged the seeming differences between Eastern Tantra and Western Sex Magick.

I studied the strangely shaped book (it was about twice as wide as it was tall) intently. By the time it was expanded and revised in 1988 as Ecstasy Through Tantra, I had learned so much (and been initiated into Tantric traditions) that I was honored to be able to write a chapter, “A Tantric Weekend,” that was included in Dr. Mumford’s book.

Tantra vs. Neo-Tantra

Most Westerners who have heard of Tantra as described in books (usually written by people who based what they wrote on books written by people who have never been initiated into anything Tantric) think of it as a form of sacred sexuality. In fact, most people will say that Tantra is about extending sexual pleasure and…well, that’s about it. Some more advanced teachers will say that you can achieve enlightenment that way, but don’t say how to do that. The bottom line: Tantra=”That sex stuff.”

Dr. Jonn’s books, however, are not just that sex stuff. They cover such things as chakras, kundalini, death, meditation, yoga, karma, and the amazing Magical Tatwa cards, an out of print book and set of cards that is now selling for over $100 a copy if you can find them. There’s not much of a focus on sex there, so how can they be about Tantra?

The sources of Tantra go back to pre-Hindu India, in the area known as the Indus Valley. Tantra, like modern forms of Paganism, was—and remains—a complete spiritual system, covering all aspects of life. Thus, Tantra covers the mind, physiology, theology, divination, magick, and many other topics, including sexuality. Sex, however, is just a small part of what I call Traditional Tantra.

Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, an Indian teacher realized that Westerners were looking for more freedom in sexual experience and couldn’t find guidance for it within their traditions. So he started teaching about sexuality (among other topics) from a Tantric point of view. In 1980 Bernard Gunther published a book of this man’s words that focused on sexuality called Neo-Tantra. The name of the teacher was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and he later became known as Osho.

Osho’s take on Tantra is more accurately called Neo-Tantra. It has a strong focus on sexuality. Although it definitely is within the realm of Traditional Tantra, it is only a small part of it. As a comparison, an air filter is an important part of a modern automobile engine, but it is still only a small part of that engine. So Dr. Mumford’s take on Tantra is traditional and includes sexuality, while Osho’s Neo-Tantra focuses on the wonderful and positive effects of freeing our sexual natures.

Some Traditional Tantrics put down the Neo-Tantrics, and some Neo-Tantrics put down the Traditional Tantrics. Personally, I think there is a lot to learn from Tantra, both Traditional and Neo.

Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson are not only senior students of Dr. Mumford, they are also the lineage holders of his system for the Americas and Europe. Michaels is also the lineage holder from one of my teachers, Sunyata Saraswati (co-author of the now classic Jewel in the Lotus) and others. Their website is here.

Mark Michaels & Patricia Johnson

Michaels and Johnson have collected rare lectures by Dr. Mumford and, with their editing and comments, published them as The Essence of Tantric Sexuality, a record of some of the earliest talks on Tantra since the early 1900s. It’s incredibly valuable both as a record of the development of Tantra in the West, and as a study of Traditional Tantric topics as presented by a Tantric initiate.

They also published Tantra for Erotic Empowerment, an award-winning book that goes far beyond mere sexual enjoyment. I’m describing their qualifications so you can value their input later.

Tantra as a Cover for Illegal Activities?

As you may have determined, I deeply value Tantra and sacred sexuality. So do many other people. Unfortunately, some aspects of sexuality are socially unacceptable to a point where laws are made against their practice. For example I believe it is 100% justifiable to make sexual activity between adults and minors illegal. Often, when such illegal behavior occurs, it is not about sacredness or love, but about exertion of power and abuse.

Certain things that are illegal, however, make me wonder. For example, if I took a date out for an expensive dinner, then to a top play, and then for drinks, I might spend several hundred dollars on her. If I then took her to a deluxe hotel and gave her a gift of expensive diamonds, and we ended up having sex, even though I might have spent $500 or $800 or more on her, our activities would be completely legal. If I simply gave her the money and we had sex, we could both be arrested, go to jail, be fined, and be listed as sexual criminals for the rest of our lives. I consider this hypocritical attitude rather weird, but currently we have to live with it.

Throughout history, to skirt such laws some people have used various ruses or covers for their activities.

Recently, in Phoenix, Arizona, a group of people appear to have allegedly used the concepts of Tantra, goddess worship, and sexual healing as a cover for illegal acts: prostitution. They called themselves the Phoenix Goddess Temple, and after six months of undercover work (I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars that cost the people of Phoenix and whether the money could have been better-spent elsewhere?), the police busted the church (yes, they were a legal church) and had some of the people being arrested do a “perp walk” for TV cameras. A brief report from the police’s side can be found here. Jason Pitzi-Waters, in his Pagan-oriented blog, The Wild Hunt, gives another view of what happened at this LINK, and he follows up HERE.

But what do the Tantra and Neo-Tantra communities have to say about it? Michaels and Johnson worked with several other people to develop an open letter which they published in this blog post. I have been given permission to reproduce it here:

An Open Letter Re:
The Phoenix and Sedona Goddess Temple Arrests

We, the undersigned, have followed the arrests at and subsequent discussions surrounding the Phoenix and Sedona “Goddess Temples” with concern. We come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Notwithstanding our diversity, we feel compelled to address the situation in Arizona with one voice, especially when calls for “unity” are stifling informed dissent and creating a distorted public perception of Tantra, sex coaching, sex work, sexual surrogacy, some forms of sex education, and the ways in which they may intersect.

We recognize that many rivers lead to one ocean and respectfully offer our views for the purpose of deepening the dialogue and exchange of ideas. We invite all concerned to investigate their assumptions, question and double check their facts, think clearly, and refrain from emotionalism.

  1. We regret that law enforcement deemed it necessary to investigate and make arrests in this case and have sympathy for those who have been charged, especially those whose beliefs may be sincere but who may be misguided with regard to the legality of their actions.
  2. We support at minimum the decriminalization of sex work.
  3. Tantra is a diverse tradition. It takes many forms, including but not limited to a modern version known as Neo-Tantra. Some versions of Tantric and Neo-Tantric practice include sexual ritual as a sacrament. At the same time, many Tantric practitioners are celibate. To limit the definition of Tantra to sacred sexuality or to treat sex work, sacred or otherwise, as central to Tantric practice is both historically inaccurate and potentially offensive and damaging to the many practitioners who do not engage in these activities, as well as to many of those who do include ritual sex among an array of other practices.
  4. As far as we are aware, the exchange of sex for money is not mandated anywhere in traditional Tantric teachings, for any purpose, nor is exchanging sex for money central to the practices of most Neo-Tantric practitioners.
  5. We do not support using a religious freedom argument in the Goddess Temple cases because:
    a) It creates arbitrary divisions between sex workers who self-identify as “spiritual” and those who do not.
    b) In the very unlikely event that such a defense were successful, it would enable rather than discourage related crimes like human trafficking, forced servitude, and child prostitution. It would create an exemption that could easily be used by traffickers as a cover, since religious freedom tends to limit the degree to which government scrutinizes religious organizations.
    c) The legal precedents are clear. For religious practices to be constitutionally protected, they have to be central to the religion. For example: http://openjurist.org/46/f3d/948/bryant-v-h-gomez-d We are aware of no living religious or spiritual tradition in which sex for money is central. While it is true that the devadasi tradition persists to this day in South Asia, Human Rights Watch describes it as “sexual slavery.” Human rights implications aside, the practice is in decline and is in no way central either to Hinduism or Tantra.*
    d) American law is also clear that if there is a quid pro quo, the mere assertion that a payment is a donation does not make it so. http://supreme.justia.com/us/490/680/case.html
  6. While we understand and sympathize with the sense of outrage and injustice that many have expressed and admire the rapidity with which people have mobilized, we believe that some have acted and spoken without adequate information. We are also troubled by some of the aggressive fund-raising in support of a defense that we see as legally weak and potentially damaging to the sex-positive, sacred sexuality, and sex-worker movements. There are many ways to advance the causes of sexual freedom and/or sex worker rights. A number of established and credible organizations could use your support. We encourage all readers to do their due diligence, seek second and third opinions from people with no stake in this particular case, and choose wisely.

The defendants in the Phoenix and Sedona cases and their supporters – no matter how well intentioned – are doing a disservice to our communities by raising religious freedom as a defense. Given the legal precedents, including but not limited to those cited above, this is not the argument with which to lead if we are seeking to build a more sex positive world for all people, whether or not they think of themselves as religious or spiritual. We cannot allow our work or our efforts to be defined by the actions of a misinformed or misguided minority, even if many of us consider them to be our friends and peers and no matter how pure their intent.

Please direct serious inquiries and requests for additional information to: advocacywithawareness@gmail.com

* Paragraph 5(c) of the Open Letter was not accurate. Bryant v. Gomez, the case cited, is a 9th Circuit case, and the standard it articulated since been rejected by that circuit in Shakur v. Schirro. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1423510.html

Nevertheless, the Arizona case, State v. Hardesty (2007), which rejected a freedom of religion claim for the use of marijuana provides a good preview of how the Arizona Court would likely handle a case involving sex work. http://lawyersusaonline.com/wp-files/pdfs/hardesty.pdf

* * * * *

Shama Helena

I showed a copy of this letter to my friend, the Tantric educator and practitioner Shama Helena. She basically agrees with the open letter, but has a slightly different approach. She gave me permission to publish her response:

Thank you for all you are doing to raise awareness on this issue. It can be challenging for those of us who walk this Tantric path to watch these goings on, take a stand for what we hold dear, and avoid judgment along the way. Freedom is such an essential element to this path, and honoring the differences as well—even those we disagree with!  How can we align with all of these precepts simultaneously?

While I would have preferred that the [Phoenix Goddess] Temple handle their public personae differently, the situation as it has has played out invokes all of us to take a stand for not only personal rights and freedom, but also to educate the public as to what this work is really about…

While I agree with most of what you have said, I also would prefer that it be said in such a way that we stay on topic about what we are FOR, in alignment with or own precepts, rather than making statements that may come across as judgmental or oppositional, (such as “… a disservice to our communities” & “…reckless actions of a misguided minority”).

Although I encourage your outreach, I hope that all of us realize that a part of this conundrum is the energy of “pushing against” that has created this situation in the first place. When pushing against, of course, there will be a backlash retort of similar or even more intense energy of pushing back.

Sex is only one of the 64 arts of Tantra, and we need to hold perspective on this as we educate.

It is my hope and prayer that we avoid the attitudes of war and fighting on this issue, but rather, set our sites on what we prefer and set our intentions and take actions in alignment with that. This situation has inspired me to look at other “movements” that have been peaceful, non-violent, and successful, so that as conscious creators we wisely step forth into this opportunity in a smart, coordinated, cooperative, and beauty way that uplifts and models the intelligent consciousness we bring to the table. There is so much wisdom for us to draw from in public relations, in strategy, and compassion for all. It is important to stay out of reaction and move to take our stand taking the high road—the road less traveled.

You can contact Shama through her website, HelenaOnLove.com, at this LINK.

* * * * *

So here are two very parallel approaches to responding to the Phoenix Incident. Both indicate that Tantra is more than sex practices. One approach is to denounce what is alleged to be prostitution in the name of religion, focusing on Tantra and the Goddess. The other suggests that we use this as a teaching opportunity to share what Tantra really is.

What do you think?

Do you agree with the open letter?

Which approach do you prefer?

Do you have another idea about this completely?

You can email them directly and post your comments here.

this: To the degree or extent indicated
re·sponse: A verbal or written answer

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Janet Kira Lessin
on October 7th, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

I read the open letter and it just didn’t feel right to me. I think Shama summarized in words what I was feeling. I felt hurt, that my friends were being judged and criticized, that the tantra community was once again, divided, polarized and doing the same thing as the rest of the whole darn world. I wondered where is the love? How can we be more loving, kind, accepting, tolerant of those who walk a spiritual path slightly different than ours?

This world was created to diversify creation. All of us reading this know that prostitution SHOULD just be legalized. We know in our hearts that our government needs to get out of our bedrooms, churches, temples and allow us to regulate our own bodies and create contracts between consenting adults free from intervention.

We are being infantalized enough, mind controlled, manipulated, judged, arrested, fined, imprisoned enough by the 3% of the world that controls all the money, power and wealth. The last thing we need to do is the same thing between ourselves.

There are so few of us. Can’t we align in our oneness so we can show the world that the tantra community may not be of one mind, but they sure are of one heart??

Today we walk on Wall Street for freedom from the matrix and governmental and social systems that no longer serve humanity. In Maui today we do our own Walk on Wall Street to stand up for basic, civil, human, God-given rights that were given to us at birth and taken away by ?????

I invite you to personally, in your own way, Walk on Wall Street every day, to support freedom and truth every day.

We are people not sheeple.

The Phoenix and Sedona Temple raids were right on target, perfect timing for the evolution of consciousness that’s happening right now.

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#2 
Written By KrisEllen
on October 7th, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

Thank you for sharing this piece. In my heart I feel hope, as I sense an invitation to dialogue. The article feels balanced, and educational. Such a blessing!

Thank you from my heart, and my whole being…a pleasure to see the both, and…together this conversation will grow and may it bring healing to our Community.

Blessings,
Kris

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#3 
Written By Polona Sepe/Ambikananda
on October 8th, 2011 @ 2:06 am

I love the thoughts of Shama Helena and I just wish life was that simple, specially when the fight has reached the court where definitions are just inevitable. I see this whole case as a great opportunity for a call to decriminalization of prostitution, to redefine what is sexual healer or coach, where are the boundaries and where those two intersect and how to define that. In short the Goddesses could be the carriers of great social change. For them to really become carrieers of great social change they would need to have broad perspective about the implications of their case. They should be aware that if they win the case on the basis of »religious freedom« that would mean that millions of Hindus and Tantrics would be left out as sexuality is really not central to their practice. They should also be aware that they would have a privilegded status comparing to all non religious sex workers. Can a social change be based on narrow self interest? I hope not! Can self interest suddenly become spiritual and claim religious freedom rights? I hope not! Debating about the issues does not mean we are »against« each other – I hope ! Is a call to clarify and redefine issues by itself something judgmental and oppositional? In that case we’d better just stop thinking and be happy!

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#4 
Written By Mr. Lasse
on October 9th, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

Interesting article.

I think I can sum up my opinion/advice/thoughts in just a few words:

“Do not pay for sex. Do not pay for yoga.”

I could write a couple of books explaining and argumenting for these words, but I wont. Just think about them yourself.

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#5 
Written By Sw. A. Rahasya
on October 16th, 2011 @ 4:07 am

The critical attitude some tantrikas have of neo-tantric practices is very unfortunate.

Without addressing issues of sexual repression, “higher practices” are just sugar, piled on …[feces].

Even schools that habitually are derisive about neo-tantra use much from neo~ in their beginner work.

… hence, pretty much any worthwhile tantra teacher will have had a good grounding in neo~.

Surely the key point is: Tantra is a specialised pursuit, and sex in workshops, groups or sessions is part of what we work with … exactly as martial artists actually (and just as illegally) hit each other in their training.

As far as religious intent goes: A tantra temple (even a very naughty, sexy one) is no more a brothel than a Catholic Church is an unlicensed shebeen with underage drinkers.

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#6 
Written By Sw. A. Rahasya
on October 16th, 2011 @ 4:31 am

@Mr. Lasse

…This attitude is usually based in the view of a separation between worldly and “spiritual” ways of doing things – and Tantra of any authenticity recognises no such division.

I paid many teachers for the learning I had, and regretted not a cent spent.

Teachers that I did not pay, I supported in whatever ways were available. For example, I had a Native American Shaman camping on my land with his tribe, doing sweat lodges for a couple of months (what a treat for the children!).

It is true that ugliness can arise if a teacher is dependent on income for teaching, and gets fearful, protective or aggressive about “market share” and such things – but that is just a normal thing in any area of endeavour.

Personally, 2010 was the first year that more than half of my income came from teaching Tantra, and this is definitely supportive of me being more available to my students.

Charging money is also a good way of filtering those with intent from those who look for an ego-safe way to avoid – it gives them an easy-out.

Interestingly, it is the “freebies” at beginner talks that nitpick, and generally waste the group’s time. Not those that the money is an issue for – just those that are into bargaining and getting stuff free.

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#7 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on October 16th, 2011 @ 10:02 am

SW. A. Rahasya wrote: “Without addressing issues of sexual repression, “higher practices” are just sugar, piled on …[feces].”

While I believe your statement here is rather curt, I also believe there is much truth here. The ancient temple to Apollo at Delphi had the expression “Know Thyself” (gnĹŤthi seauton) written above it. Surely this meant it was necessary to know yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically (including sexually).

I contend that one of the reasons for the popularity of Neo-Tantra, with its focus on Tantric sexuality, is the realization by people that in some way(s) they are sexually repressed, and by working with their sexual nature they can come to realize that they have separated their sexuality from their spirituality. Advancement in any area occurs in steps, and the need to reestablish lost physical/spiritual connections is a step on the path, without which further advancement becomes impossible, often leading to a lack of balance and the occurrence, by false teachers, of true abuse.

Even schools that habitually are derisive about neo-tantra use much from neo~ in their beginner work.

While it is true that some traditional Tantric teachers and schools are derisive of Neo-Tantra, I respectfully disagree that they “use much from neo- in their beginner work.” Rather, I would say that both tap into the same sources. Although some aspects of Neo-Tantra come from non-Tantric sources, much is often pure traditional Tantra but with a singular focus. Thus, I would contend it would be more accurate to say “Even schools and individual teachers that habitually are derisive of Neo-Tantra use many traditional Tantric concepts and techniques that are often identical to the focus of Neo-Tantra teachings.”

… hence, pretty much any worthwhile Tantra teacher will have had a good grounding in neo~.

Similarly, I think it would be more accurate to say that “Any worthwhile Tantra teacher will have had a good grounding in the same traditional concepts and techniques that are the focus of Neo-Tantra.”

Surely the key point is: Tantra is a specialised pursuit, and sex in workshops, groups or sessions is part of what we work with …

While it is true that sexuality and working with the sexual energies (kundalini) are a part of Tantric teachings, there are many aspects of Tantra that have nothing to do with sexuality. Limiting Tantra to only sexual aspects, as some Neo-Tantrics do, is like limiting the study of Wicca to The Great Rite.

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#8 
Written By Veronica Monet
on October 25th, 2011 @ 12:23 am

If we come together to assert “standards” against which we feel entitled to assess the motives and veracity of others who are doing NO harm, then we run the risk of emulating the very oppressions we seek to rise above. Instead, let us support the freedom and choice of ALL those who put healing into the world. Our only standards should be that NO harm is done. Consensual, adult behaviors must be protected as the freedoms we all have an inalienable right to. It is not our business to determine what is “real” religion, “true” spirituality or “right” tantra. Live and Let Live should be the maxim by which we live. And in the context of a sexual bill of rights it is imperative that we support all who are seeking to create a peaceful, pleasurable world in stark contrast to the predominantly violent and sex-negative world we currently live in. Certainly we want to distance ourselves from and even enact sanctions against those who would use “sexual freedom” as an excuse to perpetrate against anyone who is underage or otherwise unable to give consent. But short of that, we must stand firm for the rights of others to practice any form of religion, spirituality, sacred sex, tantra, sacred prostitution, prostitution, or sex work they feel called to. Let’s build bridges not barriers.

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#9 
Written By Mystic Mother Tracy Elise
on December 16th, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

Hello Dear Be-Loves,

In the discussions above I hear much discssion of Tantra as religion and spiritual practice, however, the Phoenix Goddess Temple and Mystery School of 1 did not claim classical Hindu tantra lineage as our basis for religious freedom. In fact the temple taught sacred sexuality from many wisdom streams, including the (relatively newly reported ) Deer Tribe Sacred Sexuality Quodoushka, Taist practice (White Tigress/Jade Dragon), Indiginous Shamanism, Persian Mysteries, Hindu yoga and tantra (actually not much of this stream was taught, except by visiting teachers) Western Alchemy, Sex Magick, and my own lineage, Egyptian Tantra. I am a Priestess of the Mother aspect of God, I embody the Goddess for those who seek Her wisdom. The “Ladder of Light” chakra teachings demonstrate clearly, root to crown, that the life force energy of the body can be activated, amplified and integrated UP towards the God mind AND that the God mind/Story/Sound can be directed downward to the earth/root/Goddess Yoni & Wand of Light. In our teachings this is not a one-way direction of life energy, rather an up/down equal exchange, with the heart being the bridge between heaven and earth. Our temple had many women who were studying many forms of Sacred Sexuality, Sexual and energy healing…at the heart of Goddess religiou is the recognition that the human body comes from the Mother, and that the body in and of itself is a holy resonating vessel for the soul. We cannot contemplate the elaborate rituals devised by man to understand these systems without a BODY to carry the shakti energy, with a BODY to sense and share and WEAVE which is the essential definition of Tantra. With 2000 years of patriarchy damning the body, it’s natural functions, it’s inherent wisdom, we cannot grasp the Goddess, Her wisdom has been effectively silenced. A direct revelation I had given to me by studying the Yin/Yang symbol is that the wisdom of the upper chakras “mind” must be equal to the encyclopedia held silently in the body “lower chakras”. In the masculine explanation of what is valuable wisdom, the information comes as stimulus to our 5 senses, then it becomes data if we focus a bit, then becomes information when we pursue a particular subject or stream, and that information enters our minds and becomes knowledge. Much later, the knowledge we find most valuable to living, most valuable to our practices, become ‘wisdom’ the deep seated reflexive ‘assumptoin’s that order our very reality. With the Mother’s Body Wisdom, the process is reversed: the body has an experience which emmanates from deep within the vessel, the sensations flood the upper chakra/brain, the self gives order to the become self-knowledge and the brain then assigns words to become information we share with the external world. The Outside-in knowledge is the stuff of schools and universities world-wide, outside-in flow of data becoming wisdom, but the Mother Goddess is responsible for what we learn about ourselves in pure silence, in a state of innocent reflection of the resonating vessel of the soul, our holy body. I do not expect people who have never studied here to understand our ministry, I can say that my ministry to bring back the Goddess to full equlity in wisdom, respect and honor with the God has not been easy, and in fact, it has been incredibly difficult the entire 10 years of my practice. I work in the front lines of sexual disfunction and break down, I put community outreach notices on the backpage adult ads because I follow Jesus, not Dr. Mumford or any other illlustrious tantra teacher. JESUS was quite clear on one point: when attacked by the religious establishment for ‘hanging out with sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors” he made it clear he did not come to serve the ‘religious establishment’ nor those who considered themselves ‘healed’. Most of the tantra teachers I have met do not combine Jesus teachings with their tantra, if you are curious, please do read “Jesus, the Lost 30 Years” by Tricia McCannon, 2010. You will see the vision I have been asked to follow, which is to combine the teachings of the above mentioned wisdom streams in an inter-faith temple of “1″ where all pick and chose their styles and rituals and protocols and beliefs… this is in keeping with the Mother’s divine chaos, and Her committment to ‘what is’ versus abstractions presented by invisible “Gods”. WE at the temple practiced in the NOW and we served in the front lines of sexual breakdown in our culture. We offered our seekers many many options to study the body, their energy system, and especially gave a place for men who desired to lean from a ‘wise woman’ about sexuality a place to worship. ALL chuches, temples, mosques, synagogues exist on tithes and offerings of support. NOTICE how the police did not discuss that NO ONE at the temple ever was offered any money before their session took place, and indeed, it was (and still is) possible for people to partake of private healings in our transformation chambers without leaving even one penny. I have performed over 5,000 hours of Whole Body Healing, Magnetic Tantra instruction, and energetic health for men (masturbation to mastery, cultivation of the root up the ladder to the divine mind, and prostate health, to name a few). Some of my favorite private rituals involved teaching men how to behold a woman, how to approach her, how to touch her, how to direct the energy to please her, how to see her as as path to their own divine nature. The whole issue is about money, and I say again, in the sacred space of our temple, ALL entered into the transformation chambers without a pre-set guarantee of any performance, and the WOMAN was in complete control as the guide, whereas our male practitioners always gave full control and power to their female seeker. The ULTIMATE POWER of WOMAN is what is being slapped around here in Arizona, and believe me, this is not about sex, it is about POWER, and women who claim spiritual / soul enhancing authority equal to that of the male dominated clergy, which has dictated our social moires for over 2000 years. Finally, consider please that the Goddess exists in these historically accurate and ancient ways:
The Holy Body (worship of the Mother as giver of the body, builder of the soul’s vessel); Shakti (life force energy matrix which bridges the body to the soul and to the greater reality); and Gnosis (direct inner knowing of self connected to Higher Self/God/Source). In all cases, orthodoxy desiring to control the masses is at work in closing our temple and school. WE never turned anyone away for lack of funds, and all funds were accounted for in immaculate non-profit books. Our top top administrators and teachers worked 14+ hours days (8m-10pm on average) and took home less than $15 / hour for these long days. The temple was held together by a ‘pope’ model, and I took my vow to give ALL of my earnings to establish Her teachings and to hold sacred space for the Mother at this time on earth. I delighted in giving every penney to the temple and school programs, and will do so until the day I pass to the next realm. Much truth has not been revealed in the press, that should not surprise anyone who has brought change to the culture, according to Grandfather Ghandi: first they ignore you, then theyy laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. I pray that the sex and consciousness community will do their homework in discovering who we really are, before making authoratative statements against our ministry…. Would you serve for free?

I remain under house arrest, with an electronic monitor on my ankle, disrupting my carefullly cultivated energy flow. My beautiful, innocent daughter is in her 5th week of imprisonment, with a bail bond of $200,000, the average amount given to free a murderer. WE all have been terribly abused by the one of the worst criminal justice systems in the entire U.S. I only pray that some of you will re think your condemnation, learn who we are, and get behind Freedom in the Body and the full celebration of feminine wisdom as equal to that of man’s.

Namaste’
Tracy Elise Mystic Mother, Phoenix Goddess Temple & School of 1

P.S. I observe that some of these comments were also made by practitioners who would never ever give time to a ‘prostutite’looking to improve her life, raise her vibration…rather, many genteel folks above keep their shirts on and charge seminar fees that good middle class couples can afford…. I work with the poor and disenfranchied….my business plan for healing the in the name of the Goddess is take the donations from the men (who willingly give them) and spend it to uplift and educate women and restore magnetic bonds between couples. Whew!

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#10 
Written By Dale
on January 5th, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

You said the constitutional argument is inappropriate because the Tantric temple is, in your words, “sex for money”. But these people specifically are asking for donations. Yes, the lack of a donation will cause some chagrin to the Temple for the same reason that someone going to a church without making a donation is frowned upon. And, if it’s a donation, it can’t be required because of the very definition of the word “donation” means not required. So, if your going to call the Tantric temple “Sex for money” even though it’s based on donations; you’ll must, likewise, throw out all churches from constitutional protection on the basis that they’re also about MONEY (one look at the opulence of the Vatican shows the money connection with the Catholic Church —are they now excluded from constitutional protection over the “taint” of money donations? I think not. So it comes down to your implied contention that sex, itself, isn’t spiritual. But that’s the very centuries-old belief that is at the very crux of the Tantric tradition. So that argument is also specious. To conclude: it is an honored traditional belief that sex can be accepted as a spiritual dynamic AND, like any other church, they can accept DONATIONS without losing their constitutional protection. Your arguments are simplistic and fail to grapple with the valid constitutional arguments raised by this interesting case.

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#11 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on January 5th, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

Thank you for your comment, Dale. Actually, it was the open letter, and not me who wrote that.

However, the problem with your argument is that the Catholic Church is not offering sex for donations. The question here is sex for money under the attempted cover of a church. With respect to the people of the Phoenix Goddess Temple, even if they considered the money to be a donation, it was still payment for sex (technically a “quid pro quo”) and that is illegal.

I do not think that what was presented here was simplistic and, in fact, the presentation here clearly follows constitutional law. I am personally not in favor of using the claim that “We’re a church!” to break the law.

The deeper issues, here, are not a vague “What’s a religion?” or “What can a religion do?” which remain debatable, But the very specific question of what can responsible adults do for business? It’s a question of should sex for money remain illegal? If not, will a person be subject to arrest and prosecution if he or she takes a person on a date, spends $300 on dinner, a show, dancing, and drinks, and then has sex with that person? How is spending money on a person different from simply giving the same amount of money directly to that person in exchange for sex?

Fascinating issues, no?

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