Exploring your edges and overcoming your sexual blockages sounds really appealing.
I mean, who doesn’t want profound intimacy and mind-blowing orgasmic bliss?
These days it seems like everyone’s doing it—the Neo-Tantra world has become big business, with enticing retreats and workshops being advertised all over the world in exotic locations.
It used to be hippie backpackers who were attracted to this scene, but thanks to Netflix documentaries like “Sex, Love & Goop,” Tantra and Sacred Sexuality have become mainstream. And whilst it’s great that so many of us want to throw off our shackles of shame and liberate ourselves sexually, it doesn’t take long to discover that many people have experienced traumatic incidents and abuse within these circles.
Before you dive in the deep end to discover your sexual potential, please be aware that the Neo-Tantra industry is largely unregulated—it’s a bit like the Wild West out there. There’s been ongoing horror stories of rape, abuse, boundary violation, and retraumatisation for years. Many of the perpetrators are still out there teaching and causing harm, and the stories just keep coming. And coming. And coming (no pun intended).
I’ve been around this scene for well over a decade, and I’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly in the Sacred Sexuality/Neo-Tantra world, including being on the receiving end of sexual abuse by a so-called guru. This experience gave me the fuel and inspiration to create safer alternatives within the industry; I support women and vulva owners to awaken their sexual confidence with as much safety as possible. I’m on a mission to make sure that everyone gets to explore their sexual freedom—safely and without experiencing harm—so I’ve compiled this list of things to watch out for.
There are many great facilitators out there so it pays to ask lots of questions and research carefully. It could save you thousands of dollars, a bucket-load of trauma, and just might save your relationship.
If you come across any of these red flags, please run in the opposite direction (even if your friends have had positive experiences):
1. Teachers (and workshop assistants) having sex with students. You might be surprised but there’s an alarming number of teachers and organisations that actually allow this to happen. You do not need to be “initiated” sexually by a teacher to experience a sexual opening. This is an abuse of power—plain and simple.
2. Intense cathartic experiences being used to whip people into an activated state. Sure, it might feel like you have some kind of “breakthrough” in the moment, but many of these techniques can frazzle your nervous system and leave you feeling ungrounded and hungover afterwards, with no real benefit in the long term. Being encouraged (or pushed) to go over your edge is absolutely unnecessary; it doesn’t help you experience sexual healing and can set your progress back substantially.
3. Being encouraged to dig into old wounds and traumas. This is never a good idea! Most facilitators don’t have the professional skills to actually support you if you get activated or retraumatised. It can take years to heal from experiences like this.
4. Be wary of anyone who tells you that you caused your own trauma, or that you’re “acting like a victim.” Teachers who do this will often encourage you to be “sovereign,” but will then tell you that you’re responsible for your own wounding (and even abuse). This is Spiritual Gaslighting 101.
5. Lack of trauma awareness. There is a wonderful movement of facilitators right now who have become more aware and have taken professional trainings. Unfortunately, there’s also many who aren’t trauma-trained or trauma-informed, which means that even when they’re well intentioned, they can still cause harm. Don’t be afraid to ask about someone’s qualifications before you work with them.
6. Watch out for group-think. Does everyone speak in a certain way that makes no sense to outsiders? Do people drop out of normal life to be with the group full-time? Are there continual stages or levels to progress through so it feels like there’s always more and you’re not quite “there” yet? Does everyone idolise a main teacher or a small number of the “inner circle” or advanced students? These are warning signs that the group has high-demand (read: cult-like) tendencies.
7. Watch out for facilitators who encourage you to open your relationship. Whilst open relating works fine for some folks, you absolutely don’t need to be polyamorous to explore Sacred Sexuality. Be super wary of anyone who tells you that staying monogamous is blocking your evolution.
Exploring your sexuality is wonderful, liberating, and exciting. It can also be extremely tender and painful, so it’s absolutely vital that you find a facilitator who you trust. Above all else, listen to your initial gut instinct—because if something feels “off,” it probably is.