Tantra, as a spiritual and ideological movement, developed from folk religious practices in the Indus valley in the first millenium BCE. From there, tantric ideas and teachings spread as far west as ancient Greece (Plato based some of his teachings about energy flow in the body on Tantric ideas) and as far east as Japan (Zen Buddhism has Tantric roots). Tibetan Buddhism also is derived from Tantra.
Tantric notions began to percolate into the West in the nineteenth century, when Aleister Crowley, Paschal B. Randolph and "the Omnipotent Oom" offered their brands of sexual teachings to a curious public.
Tantra has continued to evolve. In the last forty years a new Tantric synthesis is emerging, often called "neo-Tantra," which blends ancient teachings, New Age ideas, and humanistic psychology. The books listed below are primarily of this type. For more information on the historical development of Tantra and an extensive bibliography of Tantra resources see our Historical-Cultural Bibliography of Tantra.
The books reviewed below present the lastest synthesis of Tantra from a number of accomplished practitioners. They provide clear guidance and helpful tools for creating your own Tantra practice.
Recommended Books on Tantra
In this explicit two-DVD program on sexual pleasure for men and women Tantra teachers Kosha Deva and Sohini Genevieve offer step-by-step demonstrations of the methods used to attain the highest possible levels of sexual pleasure, deepening their intimate connection. The programs demonstrate detailed techniques for achieving easy and effective communication during lovemaking, ejaculation mastery for men, and deepening orgasmic pleasure for women. You will learn profound ways of connecting Heart and Sex to open the doors to deep intimacy. Commentary by Margo Anand. 2006, Pacific Media
This landmark book on human sexuality makes the sacred lovemaking techniques of the East fully comprehensible to western readers. Elegantly illustrated and filled with detailed exercises, it helps the reader acquire new attitudes and broaden his or her range of experience. The book is especially strong on methods for couples to revitalize and strengthen their relationship. 1991, Jeremy P. Tarcher
The Art of Sexual Magic explores the magical power of sex, showing readers how the practice of sexual magic enables them to focus on their personal vision during sex, and create changes in their daily relationships and circumstances through the ecstatic energy they produce. Anand guides the reader through a nine-week series of unique exercises, many based on ancient Tantric rituals. This book takes Tantric teaching to a new level by showing how focused sexual energy can transform anyone's personal world. 1996, Tarcher
Rather than looking at desire as an obstacle to personal growth and enlightenment, Daniel Odier, a scholar and teacher of Tantra, maintains that it is the only true path to liberation. He teaches a meditative practice based on hightening your awareness of sensory perception -- wherever you are. Luminosity of existence thus pervades everything and even the smallest things give pleasure. 2001, Inner Traditions
The Essence of Tantric Sexuality is a modern and comprehensive book that celebrates the sacredness of the body (and desire) within the Hindu Tantric tradition, and aims to dispel remnants of our Puritan past that define many natural activities of our daily life, including sexuality and desire, in negative terms. Michaels and Johnson explain the Tantric philosophy and its principles, demystify it for beginners, and offer authentic exercises and techniques that will help turn your every moment of pleasure into an opportunity to experience the divine. 2006, Llewellyn Publications
Sex and spirituality are two topics guaranteed to arouse strong feelings in gay-identified persons because of the history of religious persecution of gay people. Many were taught explicitly or implicitly that sex, especially gay sex, is the opposite of spirituality. Gay popular culture thrives in the senses, be it opera, disco, or leather. Furthermore, gay sensuality is deeply rooted in homoeroticism, and celebrates the same-sex body. A spirituality is needed that works with gay sensuality, not against it. Traditional Hindu Tantra offers exactly this type of spirituality. Gay Tantra reveals how traditional Hindu Tantra may be adapted to serve the unique spiritual aptitudes and needs of gay-identified persons of any gender. The book demonstrates how a fully integrated gay identity can be a positive aid in the quest for enlightenment. 2001, Xlibris Corporation
Diana Richardson's openhearted and practical guide points the way to true sexual fulfillment with your Beloved. Tantric concepts are clearly explained and real-life stories show how it makes a fundamental difference when you love with your whole heart and your whole body. 2003, O Books
Hearts Cracked Open provides the first in-depth look inside the world of lesbian Tantra with its ancient ecstatic practices and sexual techniques. Through interviews with Tantra teachers and students, workshop footage, and daily practices, Hearts Cracked Open celebrates sexuality and coupling in the lesbian community. Witness the transformative power of Tantra to crack open the heart as women reclaim the fullness of their sensual beings. Includes education with Annie Sprinkle, Pamela Madison, Marcia Singer, and Evalena Rose. 2006, Itchy Bee Productions
The Ipsalu Formula presents a practical approach for achieving bliss in the body. The magic of the Ipsalu Formula is in the synergy of the principles, practices, traditions, and scientifically based techniques it draws upon. From ancient wisdom to cutting edge research into consciousness breakthroughs, the Formula weaves a cohesive, repeatable approach to producing bliss, not as a lovely theory to hope for, but as a living experience to enjoy -- now. 2006, Ipsalu Publishing, 2nd edition
Bodhi and Sunyata capture the essence of Tantra in this easy-to-read workbook. Whether you're an advanced tantrika or a beginner doing preliminary research, you will gain great insights through reading this material and following the exercises. The book trains you in the fundamental techniques of Tantra that grant you access to your spiritual and creative potential by using your sexual energy, and teaches you how to overcome obstacles you may run into on your way. Twelve lessons guide the reader to new levels of self-mastery, aimed at increasing energy levels, healing and rejuvenating, and developing psychic sensitivity. 2002, Ipsalu Publishing, 3rd edition
Sweeping away centuries of misunderstandings and misrepresentations, White returns to original texts, images, and ritual practices to reconstruct the history of South Asian Tantra from the medieval period to the present day. This work of scholarship traces developments in Tantric practice as external ritual practices increasingly become incorporated into the body of the practitioner. He focuses extensive attention on the role of erotico-mystical ritual practices in South Asian Tantra and critiques the modern forms of “Tantra” marketed by New Age entrepreneurs. 2006, University of Chicago Press
In the fast-paced world of today, couples struggle to find time and energy for sex amidst work, kids, friends, family, and all the other responsibilities of life. Slow, sensual lovemaking is often put on hold when so little time exists. However, what makes love and sex luxurious is taking the time to slow down and really enjoy it. When you can immerse yourself completely into the experience of either giving or receiving, time ceases, trust increases and intimacy deepens. Luxurious Loving teaches couples new, fun, and exciting ways to reincorporate erotic and sensual techniques to their lovemaking sessions. 2006, Quiver
The crowning cultural achievement of medieval India, Tantric Buddhism is known in the West primarily for the sexual practices of its adherents who strive to transform erotic passion into spiritual ecstasy. Miranda Shaw convincingly argues that the enlightenment thus attempted was not for men only and presents extensive new evidence of the outspoken and independent female founders of the Tantric movement and their creative role in shaping its distinctive vision of gender relations and sacred sexuality. 1995, Princeton University Press
Red Hot Tantra drops the robes of holiness to offer the first shamelessly erotic, blissfully sensual, and devoutly naughty tantric guide. This book combines erotic stories and instructions for a Red Tantra experience, an ancient, orgasm-positive, woman-centered tradition based on erotic goddess worship. 2004, Quiver
Margot Anand's Secret Keys to the Ultimate Love Life offers life-changing tools and techniques presented in an interactive formal, so you can study in any sequence and at your own pace. Each key is demonstrated by real-life tantric couples and singles. These practices are equally appropriate for same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Margot's proven, practical approach to greater love, sexuality and intimacy can take you to a state of heartfelt and expanded bliss. This three-DVD set in a slipcase contains: Disc One - Opening Your Secret Love Channel; Disc Two - The Art of Erotic Devotion; Disc Three - Expanding From Orgasm to Ecstasy. A lifetime in the making, Secret Keys presents a step-by-step progression through the teachings of Margot Anand, best-selling author and world-renowned Tantra expert.
Encyclopedic in scope, Spiritual Sex is the most complete and authoritative guide on Tantra, covering every aspect of the venerable practice—its origins and evolution as the oldest and most natural religion, its history, rites, sects, rituals, magical powers, and its exquisite panoply of Indian and Near Eastern gods and goddesses. It's wondrous, exhilarating, and true: you can use sexual pleasure as a guide to spiritual fulfillment. 1997, Pocket
This artfully illustrated book distills the art of Tantric practice into simple language with clear explanations, helpful exercises and gentle encouragement. Master teachers Charles and Caroline Muir offer modern couples ancient Tantric secrets for deepening relationships, intimacy, and passion. 1990, Mercury House
Tantra - Discovering the Power of Pre-Orgasmic Sex is a common-sense guide on how to utilize sexuality to complement a full-scope system of yoga practices. Practical techniques are provided which enable both couples and solo practitioners to utilize the sexual response to cultivate sexual energy to its highest levels of spiritual manifestation. Finally, here is a no-nonsense book that takes the mystery out of sexuality and its relationship to yoga and the spiritual path. 2006, AYP Publishing
Filled with over fifty exercises, dozens of examples, explanations, and experiences, this workbook provides a cornucopia of material for Tantric practitioners or novices to use in order to enhance and enrich their sexual life, focusing on "consciousness, an experimental attitude, and, above all, pleasure". Michaels and Johnson suggest approaching the material slowly but steadily, studying and experimenting with one chapter per week. All of the exercises can be explored by persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity. 2008, Llewellyn Publications
Western cultures have often thought of the ancient practice of Tantra as a form of super-sex. However, as scholar and teacher Bruce Anderson makes clear in this guide for gay men to the art of Tantra, it is actually a rigorous practice that harnesses sexual energy as fuel for spiritual development. In eight empowering chapters, Anderson explores and explains the spiritual concepts that practitioners must fully integrate into their lives to experience the transformative effects of Tantra. 2002, Alyson Books
Tracing the complex genealogy of Tantra as a category within the history of religions, Hugh B. Urban reveals how it has been formed through the interplay of popular and scholarly imaginations. Tantra emerges as a product of mirroring and misrepresentation at work between east and west. Combining historical detail, textual analysis, popular cultural phenomena, and critical theory, this book shows Tantra as a shifting amalgam of fantasies, fears, and wish fulfillment, at once native and Other, that strikes at the very heart of our constructions of the exotic Orient and the contemporary West. 2003, University of California Press
Learn the art of Tantric loving at home, at your own pace, with this DVD and eBook program. Tantra Sex Step By Step includes a detailed 28 day plan with step by step instructions for simple, fun to do practices that will strengthen your relationship and intensify your sexual/spiritual connection. This video home study course is designed for lovers who are very busy. Tantra is a practical approach to intimacy that can have a profound impact on your life, without requiring a great deal of extra time. The exercises are quite short, on average you'll spend no more than 20 minutes per day on your sacred loving practice. Once per week there are longer lovemaking periods in which you reap great delights from the skills you've been learning! 2010, 4 Freedoms Relationship Tantra
Conquer your senses by leaving nothing unexperienced! Tantra embraces sexual energy as the path to spiritual wisdom, with each partner worshipping the divine in the other. For more than a thousand years, India has produced a wealth of erotic literature and art, including the best known of them all, the Kama Sutra. Drawing on a range of works, including some unavailable in English, Sinha brings together a rare collection of material from the classical, medieval, and modern period. Lavish illustrations of statues, paintings, ivory combs and silk hangings, and other examples of the most beautiful arts appear, many of which had until now been reserved for ritual purposes. 2000, Hamlyn
Tantric Awakening tells the story of a 19-year-old girl, disillusioned by the questions that her religion and society fail to answer, who courageously enters the sensuous rituals of tantric sex. In search of authentic knowledge, Brooks learned firsthand the ways of the tradition from tantric adepts. Amid disapproval from family and friends, her body and spirit awaken to ecstatic levels of orgasmic pleasure that allow her to experience loving relationships, better health, and a deep sense of oneness with God. A personal and intimate portrait, Tantric Awakening is tastefully written to reveal not only the ecstatic power and spiritual benefits of tantra, but also the pitfalls, problems, and temptations of this path toward enlightenment. 2001, Destiny Books
Daniel Odier writes about his search to find a Tantric master. On the verge of giving up, he retreats to a small village in India where he finds a great Tantric master, Devi, in the forest. She agrees to take him on as her student and warns him that his journey will be difficult. As the master-student bond is strengthened, Devi's teachings become more deep and subtle. The final part of the time spent with Devi involves his initiation into Tantric ritual sexuality, the joining of Shiva and Shakti, which causes the rising of the Kundalini, the sacred spiritual force that purifies the body. Odier also relates the challenges of coming back to the "real world" to use what he learned. 1997, Inner Traditions
Acclaimed sex educator Barbara Carrellas radically updates Tantric sex practices for modern sexual explorers seeking ecstasy that lingers longer than orgasm. With a juicy mix of erotic how-to and inspired, pleasure-centered spiritual wisdom, she guides readers through a repertoire of easy-to-grasp techniques and positions for solo and partner play, as well as more adventurous practices. Tantric virgins and curious sex positivists alike will discover a world of sensual delights and learn how to take pleasure to new levels of intimacy and spiritual fulfillment. 2007, Celestial Arts
Dr. Barratt creates a modern synthesis of sexuality and spirituality, drawing on the ancient traditions of Tantra and the insights of modern psychoanalysis. This generous and uplifting book celebrates the interweaving of sex and spirit into one Holy Spirit. 2004, Xlibris Corporation
Dr. Barratt advances Tantric practice for westerners, even while debunking some of the myths that have accumulated around its popularization. He describes the "ABCs" of Tantric practice: dissolving our egotism; mobilizing our subtle energies; and cultivating our spiritual awareness. This is a valuable new synthesis of Tantra for today. 2006, Xlibris Corporation