As a certified Tantric Healer, I am sad to have to say: beware of Tantra Teachers. It seems violations of students’ safety are rampant and happening with appalling frequency. Once is too many, and when crowds of people are complaining about assaultive behavior by Tantra teachers—the phenomenon is horrendous.
Recent articles published online at The Guru @ Gurumag.com, written by Be Scofield, about Source Tantra: Charles Muir and their lead instructor TJ Bartel reveal ample reasons to be wary of those teaching Tantra and the propensity to cross the line and abuse boundaries. Both Muir and Bartel are accused of acting inappropriately and sexual misconduct with Tantra students and clients. [ * To my knowledge, neither man has been charged with a crime]
Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not new -and arguably is not rare- for the Tantra community.
There are of course sincere and capable Tantra teachers who don’t use their position and access to students to get their sexual needs met and who respect their clients and don’t cross consent boundaries. However, the impression that is left on me is that these teachers are rare, and exceptional in their ability to maintain their integrity in not crossing consent boundaries or abusing their students.
From my own experience of being sexually assaulted during “Tantra” events and in healing sessions, and with a Tantra teacher who behaved unprofessionally in counseling sessions, added to reports that my sexual healing counseling clients have shared with me, and in reading articles such as Scofield’s it doesn’t matter how celebrated or accomplished Tantra Teachers are or how much their teachings or their books are praised and respected—incidents of consent infraction, boundary crossing, sexual assault and rape have been reported.
Learning Tantra from a Tantra teacher “hands on” in what amounts to erotically interacting together in a private setting is dangerous. Private Tantra lessons can be a cover for either the Teacher or student to be sexually aroused, pleasured, and “gotten off.” Unsuspecting or naive students going into a private Tantra session are likely to be at the least shocked and possibly sexually assaulted.
Consent is Paramount
What unscrupulous Tantra teachers are failing at is a proper respect for and implementation of informed consent. There is a place for private Tantra lessons to address individual instruction, confusion about, or inexperience with Tantra principles, practices, and exercises. However, those sessions should receive ample prior consent consideration with ALL session activities thoroughly discussed and understood and consented with.
What’s also important is that a Tantra teacher facilitating a private session must be conscious of when a student has a lack of capacity and is unable to consent to changes in session activities due to being in a state of Tantric thrall. Additionally, there should NEVER be the case where a Tantra teacher shifts from their responsibility as a teacher-facilitator into becoming personally involved as a lover (e.g. “OK, now that the session is over, let’s take this into the personal…”)
Anyone can make a mistake, which is bad enough and can harm a student. But to turn a blind eye to a practice of crossing consent boundaries which sexually assault students is reprehensible.
Safe Sexual Healing Practices
My book, Safe Sexual Healing: a Guidebook for Healers and Clients goes deeper and more broadly into the world of Tantra and its scary ability to activate shadow aspects of unprepared, untrained, students or clients. And, it discusses how sexual assault/abuse survivors are even more vulnerable to being harmed and re-wounded by reckless Tantra teachers or lay-practitioners.
The book is being finished -finally- and will be going off to the publisher soon. I’ve been on the verge of publishing it several times—only to do another revision after research or news provides another level and/or subject to include or elaborate on. I very much regret that it has taken so long to write and complete. I have taken the responsibility to include and explain relevant and important aspects of sexual healing seriously, knowing the importance of its content and realizing the impact it will hopefully have.
Sexual healing and Tantra teaching don’t have to be abusive of a student or client’s boundaries and consent. Both can be conducted responsibly and professionally. With the Tantra community’s support, in both calling out abusers and informing people interested in Tantra about safer healing and learning practices and settings—particularly safer sexual consent behaviors, questions, and practices—we can maybe reach the point where students are not assaulted by Tantra teachers.
What’s been surprising and disconcerting to me is the push back I’ve received from some of the most well known names in the Tantra and the “erotic enrichment” community about the need for enacting safer healing and teaching practices. When a student or client hears in response to their question about, or objection to a teacher’s or facilitator’s behavior “you just don’t understand” or “your’re not aligned with, or in tune with the energy” it is a violation of the teacher’s responsibility for the safety of their students/clients and it is the teacher that “doesn’t get it” and who should be called out.
Beware of Tantra Teachers: Students
Students of Tantra also bear the responsibility to be clear about what they are seeking to learn and experience and be their best advocate for being safe by disclosing any discomfort or misalignment with what is being taught or asked of them. Students of Tantra must realize that by its nature Tantra will activate one’s shadow aspects, especially around sex, intimacy, pleasure, and sexual autonomy, and be awake to the possibility that they can find themselves in a diminished capacity due to the Tantric thrall that occurs when in deep states of erotic trance. Tantra students should be prepared ahead of time by creating clear consent boundaries for any sessions they participate in and establish a rapport of trust with their Tantra teacher (that includes a track record of maintaining consent boundaries) before they consider going into deeper, more intimate and sexual private sessions.
Tantra students should also know that it is not required that they disrobe or perform sexual activities to learn Tantra. Any Tantra teacher who manipulates or pushes a student into disrobing and/or performing sexual activities is abusing their student and acting unethically. There’s also a possibility of ‘participation mystique’ —a glammar veil that can blind the minds of students to their teacher’s maneuvers and schemes—either due to the teacher’s personal magnetism or Tantra’s novelty and power. Students should keep a journal of their experience and establish a buddy system or confidant connection—to share with and receive reflective feedback from that helps them stay mindful and grounded through their Tantra education. Sometimes it takes a “he did what?” reflected back from a friend before there is a realization that something is wrong. Hopefully, a student will feel their intuition telling them this, but if that’s not the case, a friend’s perspective will at least invite them to question if what they’re doing is really their truth, and what they actually desire and are ready for.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Have you experienced sexual assault by a Tantra teacher? What do you think needs to be done to prevent sexual assault of students by Tantra teachers? Please leave your comments below (at bottom of page) and share this post. Thx
"Sunyata was the best find on my sexual healing journey. He UNDERSTANDS, GETS and PROVIDES safe sexual healing." —Grace
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