Introduction to the 2nd Chakra and Tantric Sexuality
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This post is part of a series on the 2nd, or sacral, chakra that includes: 1) Tantric sexuality (this post), 2) Intuition and Seeing, 3) Motherhood and Creativity, 4) Spirituality and Bliss, and then wrapping it all up with 5) 21 Ways to Care for Your 2nd Chakra.
As background, I talked a bit about why I wanted to do this series in this post, and about women’s energy bodies in general in this one. I don’t think you need to have read those posts to follow this series, but I do want to repeat one theme from those posts: I think anyone, and particularly any woman, can benefit a lot from some contemplation and understanding of the 2nd chakra, even if your own chosen spiritual path does not address chakras.
I don’t want to get bogged down with too much background on the chakras, but I do think it’s worth mentioning that current Western chakra writing primarily focuses on chakras from the perspective of health – mental, emotional and physical health. That’s a relatively new development in the history of chakras, because classic sources (which are mostly Indian and Tibetan) were interested in them for occult and spiritual purposes. I feel both are valid, but my focus here is more on the latter, and thus some of what you read might be quite different from sources that are more health oriented.
One of the differences you find between the traditions is the chakra mappings themselves, particularly the placement of the 2nd chakra. Here’s the map I use, which corresponds to that used in most Tibetan lineages that address chakras (and sorry I couldn’t find a picture of a woman, or at least a cuter guy – for some reason these mappings are always very unattractive!):
As in most chakra systems, the 1st chakra is at the tailbone, and you work your way up to the 7th at the crown of the head. The mapping most Westerners are familiar with places the 2nd and 3rd chakras differently from this picture – the 2nd is typically at or just under the navel (where the 3rd is here) and the 3rd is at the solar plexus (where there is just a black dot here designating a minor energy node.)
As Cyndi Dale discussed when I interviewed her, there are actually many different chakra mappings that have developed around the world, and even pretty profound differences in mappings amongst classic Indian and Tibetan sources. How to account for these differences? I think of them in terms of different types of maps: You can have a roadmap, a geologic map, a hiking map, a natural resources map, and more, all for the same area. They are all equally valid, they are each just meant to serve a different purpose. And none of them is the place itself. So various chakra mappings are tools for helping us identify and work with energy patterns and structures within our non-physical being. And they are each slightly different depending on the purpose for which they evolved.
The chakras are often described as mind/body/spirit nexuses, or intersections of our physical and non-physical energies. Within the Tantric traditions, of which there are both Indian and Tibetan Buddhist lineages, they are often also described as awareness vortexes. Some people describe the shape of them as spheres, others as cones, others as planes. Don’t get caught up on the shape. The important thing, for women especially, is understanding the centerpoint of the 2nd chakra in this system. It is at the cervix, the opening of the uterus. In some women, this corresponds to the g-spot, the semi-mythical point of maximum sexual arousal. Assuming this location, this chakra is associated with some pretty amazing experiences and functions in our physical body: It is associated with internal orgasm, with holding a baby into the womb during pregnancy, and with opening to bring that baby into the world during the birth process.
Is it any wonder then, that as a spiritual doorway, it is pretty intense?
In the meditative systems that utilize chakras there are two different themes or ‘purposes’ to chakra meditation that you find: 1) Bringing the kundalini, or life force energy, up through all the chakras into our crown chakra, and 2) Going through the ‘doorway’ of each chakra into spiritual dimensions of awareness (I don’t like that phrase ‘spiritual dimensions’ but the words used are usually something along those lines.) What fascinates me is that the experiences described by mystics from pretty much any tradition – Christianity to Zen to Sufism to Eckhart Tolle to Kaballah to Vedanta – correspond to one or more of those described in the classic chakra texts. So, one of these two things occurs spontaneously whenever we have an experience that we classify as ‘mystic’ or ‘spiritual’ – either some kundalini has risen up our main spinal energy channel or we have ‘walked through’ the doorway of a particular chakra. We may not describe it that way, but ‘under the hood’ of our energetic system, that is what is going on.
Ok, on to Tantric sexuality. You may be familiar with this term from the numerous ‘sex aid’ books on the market bearing this name. These have little to nothing to do with true Tantric sexuality. Most of these books have just borrowed a few positions and ‘sex is union’ or ‘sex is sacred’ type themes from the original texts, and repackaged them as methods for attaining maximum physical and emotional pleasure from sex. Which I have no problem with. Life is short, have as much fun as you can. BUT, this is not traditional Tantric sexuality.
I also feel duty-bound to mention that many modern Tantric traditions do not incorporate actual physical sex into spiritual practice. Actual sexual union was and still is a vibrant part of some Tantric traditions, but in others, this union is primarily worked with symbolically, through visualization. Tibetan Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism does work with themes of desire differently than other Buddhist branches, and often visualizations of male and female deities in sexual union are one of the meditative techniques used, but for many that’s as far as it goes. The best introduction to Tantric Buddhism in this regard that I have found is Lama Yeshe’s Introduction to Tantra: The Transformation of Desire.
For those lineages that do practice Tantric or sacred sex (in both Hindu and Buddhist lineages, as well as some Sufi traditions), the same approaches are described as in many meditative techniques: In some practices the goal is to bring the kundalini up through all the chakras into the crown during sex, while in others the emphasis is on uniting chakras with your partner. In still others, partners catapult through a particular chakra, using it as a vortex into pure awareness or source. The difference is that you are using the incredible energy of sexual desire – one of the most powerful human urges – to drive this process. Properly directed, you use this energy to catapult yourself into experiences that could take years to reach sitting on a meditation cushion. Basically, you are using rocket fuel instead of plain old gasoline. In formal lineages, it takes years of preparatory training before you’re allowed to try this, and even then it’s considered a challenging practice.
So why am I talking about this?
Because the biographies of some of the female teachers within these lineages, and some other completely unrelated traditions (like some pagan texts, the Carlos Castenada books, and the books of female ‘sorceresses’ within his group), elude to another possibility within this kind of sexual practice. They discuss the womb – or really, the 2nd chakra, NOT the associated physical organ – as a doorway into creation itself. It is in a way the ultimate vortex, a doorway directly into the creating aspect of the universe/God/Goddess/the tao/nirvana/whatever-name-you-want-to-use. And both partners can walk through this doorway – the doorway of the woman’s 2nd chakra – during sexual union.
This aspect of the 2nd chakra in women – as the ultimate vortex into creation itself – is the background I wanted to provide for the rest of this series, and the only reason I wanted to cover Tantric sexuality at all. I went through all this to support the idea that women’s 2nd chakras are fundamentally different from men’s. This is mentioned in other teachings as well – many kundalini traditions teach that in women, the ‘seat’ of the kundalini is the second, rather than the first, chakra. So this is the technical case for why, if you are a woman, you should view your 2nd chakra, and an understanding of it, as particularly important.
Hopefully that didn’t leave you blurry-eyed, and piqued your interest enough to read the next post on Intuition, which should be a little less theoretical…
Please feel free to comment, dispute, or ask any questions you have in the comments, so that I can address them as the series progresses…
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