Did you miss the first Tantra Land Diaries from CTE1 in July? Go here.
Other Tantra Land Diaries posts in the current series (go on, read them now. This post will make much more sense if you do. I’ll wait, semi-patiently…):
Day 1, ARRIVAL.
Day 2, CONFLICT.
Day 3, SAFETY.
Day 4, INTEGRATION.
Day 5, THE GODDESS.
Day 6, REST DAY.
Back now? Awesome. Carry on!
The day starts with White Tantra again: pranayama (breathing), some yoga postures, meditation. Kahuna feels out of sorts and lies on the floor at the back of the room. My body has no business yet doing some of the advanced poses so I get up from my place on the floor and step over Kahuna. I feel badly about stepping so close to him when he is clearly feeling exposed and vulnerable.
More pranayama. I love filling my body with breath, feeling it spread upward through my chakras, then holding the breath with bandhas (intentional breath locks in different places in the body) before allowing it to flow downward and out again. Filling and emptying again is wonderful. Most of us — me included — breathe all the time without giving it much thought. Now I feel the power of breath. Now I feel how breath is alive in me, charging and energizing every cell. Now I feel how breath heals me.
Today’s classes are about marketing. I listen and absorb and my mind is adrift with ideas. Much of today’s material is basic for people like me who are accustomed to blogging, social media, and websites, but the practicing dakinis in the class have wisdom from experience that’s just golden. This school trains skilled tantric sex educators. There is a lot of wholehearted encouragement to just hang a shingle and start a practice. I love how easy it all sounds and I know that marketing with heart and integrity can be learned many places. The skills and heart are harder to come by.
Tonight there is no class and no assigned homeplay practice, so the women are having a Goddess Night. “Yoni Show and Tell,” they are calling it. I’m not sure what this means exactly, but I’m guessing there will be nakedness. Yonis. Women practicing Sacred Spot massage on one another. I start to feel nervous. I am convinced that I am the only woman in the class who has not yet experienced her sexual awakening.
The women assemble. Goddess Night starts with tarot cards. 11 women from the class are here. We each draw a card from a beautiful goddess deck illustrated with old black and white turn-of-the-twentieth-century erotica photographs. My card is The World. “Dancing With Bliss,” it says. I wonder if I will dance with bliss tonight. I so want to, but I’m already afraid.
The World card is about completion. Graduation. The culmination of a long process signifying readiness to begin the next logical thing that arises from that process. The World is also about teaching. Becoming a sensei, or master. And The World signifies travel, not the mundane kind but the fantastical kind.
The World is clearly the perfect card for me right now. I am completing my Year Of Living Cancerously. I am immersed in deep study, about to graduate. I am becoming a master of tantric sex education. And something fantastical is about to begin. The travel is a big part of What Comes Next.
I love my card. Thank you, Goddess.
Next we have a Yoni Show and Tell. Literally. One by one we sit at the head of the circle and show our naked yonis to our sisters. I have never done this before. Everyone seems so comfortable and familiar with their yoni. I feel too embarrassed to say I don’t actually know much about mine. I sit, legs apart, trying to see down there while pointing out my parts and nether bits.
Where’s your clitoris, they ask me. What???!, I’m thinking, why are you asking me this, can’t you see it??! Am I a clitoris-less freak and didn’t know it? Have I been wrong all these years in thinking I have one? Can’t you SEE????! I panic. Those faces, turned toward me questioningly. What are they thinking about me? I say I don’t know where my clitoris is. This is a lie but it’s easier than saying the truth, which is that I think I know but I might be wrong and because I can’t just reach down confidently and say, here it is, here’s my clitoris, see, and isn’t it a beauty? then it means I am wrong and not a real woman and certainly not a woman who does sex and DEFINITELY not a woman who belongs in this club of awesome women who are tantrikas and dakinis. But I can’t just reach down confidently and say here it is. I SHOULD know my body — what kind of woman doesn’t know where her clitoris is? Direct touch there is too much sensation for me. Painful. Shocking. I say this to my sisters as the reason I don’t know and that direct touch there hurts and always has, hoping they will just nod and accept this as my truth and turn their attention to the next yoni, but I’m already judging myself. Sexually shut down, I’m hearing. Clueless. Frigid. Barren. Dry. These are the words I hear in my head. I think the 10 women gathered close looking at my naked yoni are thinking words like that too. Poor Talyaa, I imagine they are thinking to themselves, how sad that she just doesn’t understand sex. She doesn’t belong here. How does this happen to a woman? Tsk, tsk. She must really be broken.
I was 15 my first time. Nearly 16. He was 18. I wasn’t his first. I was convinced I was doing it wrong. He was so experienced, I thought. I didn’t know what to expect. Felt out of my league. I wanted to feel like part of a special club, the sex club. The adult club. The club of confident sex gods and goddesses. Afterward, I told myself that I was in that special club. I was sure that people could see how I had changed. Like Anne Frank and her “sweet secret”. Instead I felt awkward and wrong. I yearned to feel open. Empowered. Beautiful. Instead there was only shame. I longed to share my sweet secret with someone. My friends were years away from joining this club. I felt so alone.
Those feelings rush back to me now. Shame that I haven’t waxed my yoni. Shame that I don’t know my body. Shame that I felt so fragile and broken since cancer hit a year ago that I feel almost no sensation “down there”. Shame that I haven’t yet fixed this. Shame that I haven’t just willed myself into becoming a juicy Shakti woman. Shame that I am probably the only woman here not yet blessed by the goddess Amrita. Shame about having shame.
After my Yoni Show, another woman says what a damaging thing she thinks it is to refer to a part of oneself in the third person. Some of us talk about our yonis as “she”. I was one of those women. Another nail in my Coffin of Sex Shame. I am trying not to hyperventilate.
Next we are to pair up and do sacred spot work on one another. Bring your amrita splash pads, the instructor told us. I feel excluded from this club. The Amrita Club. The I Love Sex Club. Because the tarot cards were not part of the original agenda, we are about to go over time and we haven’t even yet started the work. I opt to disconnect my energy from the group now. Three other women also leave. Time commitments, perhaps. I wonder if those remaining will talk about me after I leave. It is arrogant to suppose so, but that’s the place I am in.
I go back to our villa and my Kahuna holds me, loving my tears, rubbing my feet.