Tantric Practices are based upon Sacred Scriptures known as "The Tantras" and are part of the Eastern Yogic tradition referred to as "Tantra". While the scriptures were written out of a Hindu based society, and include many such references, the overall principles and ideas are non-denominational and can be utilized by anyone, regardless of personal religious beliefs.
The driving Principle of the Tantras is to remove "Impurities" from the mind. The Tantras consider "impurities" to be ideas and acts which are considered "taboo" or "Unclean". The "impurities" dealt with are largely culturally determined. In India, common "Impurities" mentioned by the Tantras are "Wine, Woman and Meat." These are symbolic of intoxication, desire for carnal pleasure, and consuming of flesh (in a predominately nonviolent and vegetarian society). In short it deals with worldly desires and the judgments placed upon "impure" acts.
Tantric Rites and Rituals seek to remove these judgments and desires of what is "impure" and help the practitioner expand awareness by seeing and experiencing the Divine in all actions which occur in this world. The Rites and Rituals could be likened to the idea of "facing your fears," as they are designed to force direct experience of that which is seen as "impure" repeatedly until the judgments are removed and it becomes accepted as part of Divine Creation.
The motivation for accepting that which is "impure" as part of Divine Creation comes from another basic Tantric Principle which states that all is God and has been Created by God. Therefore, judging anything is in fact judging God him/herself.
The Tantras as Scripture teach a Yogic philosophy that deals with every aspect of human existence, including the above mentioned ideas of intoxication and carnal pleasures, and go further to cover other areas such as overcoming the "impurities" associated with death, rotten human flesh, human and animal corpses and bones, grave yards, human and animal excrement, bodily fluids, etc. There are rules governing various forms of worship, sacred rituals such as marriage, as well as rules to deal with a woman's menstrual cycle. It truly covers every aspect of life imaginable.
While the Tantric Principles and rituals deal with every aspect of life and earthly incarnation, it is the Tantric Sexually based Rituals which have gotten the most attention in the West. It has gotten attention from those who place strong judgment on the idea of Sex in general and especially the idea of Sex as a Spiritual Practice, as most Westerners are taught many taboos around Sex, including that it is "sinful" and therefore most assuredly opposed to anything spiritual. There are also those who are drawn to it through strong personal desire for pleasures of the flesh with no understanding of the original intention of the rituals. The extreme reactions to Tantra in the West simply point to how greatly it is needed in the culture. The challange is stepping back enough to fully grasp what Tantra teaches and why the Rituals are used.
The Sexual Rites and Rituals in Tantra are intended to help the practitioner to experience and fully acknowledge and embrace both his sexual desires and the body which provides the experiences of pleasure as Divine Creations and Experience.
The first stages of Sexual Tantric experience helps release judgments surrounding the physical body, sexual expressions and experiences and creates cessation of uncontrollable urges and desires for sex and physical pleasures. The result is learning to accept the body and sexual expression as a part of Divine Creation without judgments and also the letting go of strong desires for sexual pleasure.
One could see the Tantric Practice as bringing the two polarities (strong judgment and strong desire) into balance, so that one is able to experience and enjoy sexual expression in a free and joyful way. As a balanced experience, sex is free from overwhelming cravings and desires and is also free from guilt and judgment. This becomes a new experience for most, allowing a deeper enjoyment of the pleasure in the moment, and a greater sense of peace and acceptance of the Self.
Advanced Tantric Sexual rituals are intended to use the Sexual energy and experiences as a symbolic mirror of Divine Truth to more fully awaken direct conscious awareness of the Divine within the practitioner. This happens after one has become free of judgments and desires and is able to channel the erotic energies to transform consciousness.
Not everyone who utilizes Tantric Rituals may have the goal of awakening Divine consciousness. And that is fine. For many the experience of peace and Self love which accompanies Sexual expression which is free of both judgment and desire is transforming enough. Others may find a spark awakening to dive deeper into the Divine Mysteries after reaching that stage.
No matter what your ultimate goal may be, Tantric rituals can help one find peace in this world which is so often full of fear and judgment. Coming to peace within one's Self to any degree is the greatest gift anyone can achieve in this lifetime.
The Western Tantra Sacred Sexuality Coaching and Tantra Yoga Coaching sessions that I offer are intended to help people explore and find peace within their own bodies and experience. They are all based upon the Tantric Principles discussed above, and help guide the client to direct experience which is free from judgment and uncontrolled desire. This experience helps lead you to a deeper peace and acceptance within your own Self.