BDSM, Tantra, and the Dark Side of Sex

Publication date: Jan 14, 2022

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BDSM, Tantra, and the Dark Side of Sex

In past years, we’ve seen an emerging practice of combining Tantra and BDSM. This is explained as being a logical step of integrating two practices that share some fundamental principles. Perhaps it sounds a bit far-fetched, and that’s why we’re going to take a look at the elements that are thought to unite BDSM and Tantra, a blend that today is often referred to as Dark Tantra.

BDSM and Tantric Concepts Explained

BDSM is an abbreviation, which is commonly explained as Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism. It’s not necessarily an erotic or sexual practice. It’s rather about exploring domains such as teasing and denial, pleasure and pain, submissiveness and authority, character and role play, and more, which typically include the use of certain tools, such as costumes, handcuffs, whips, and ropes. An important goal is to explore and express “the darker sides” in us in a controlled and safe setting.

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Tantra is a philosophy and a range of practices that started to gain traction in India around 500 CE. It’s a mixture of both esoteric and exoteric religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The practices and rituals went beyond accepted social and religious boundaries (and still do today), and included, for instance, sexual rites, the use of intoxicants, and the use of human remains, thereby forcefully rebelling against the rigid Indian caste system.

Tantra is also a set of sacred instructional texts (the Tantras) describing many rituals, such as how to invoke powerful deities, or the tools and techniques to work with Kundalini Energy to attain Spiritual Enlightenment. In any case, if you want to know more about Tantra philosophy and practices, you may read our post Tantra and Neo-Tantra – Beyond Sex and Sexuality.

Dark Tantra – BDSM and Tantra Intertwined

As you’ve noticed in the descriptions of BDSM and Tantra mentioned in the previous paragraphs, both practices balance on or step over the boundaries of what is usually considered socially acceptable. Both are anti-establishment, taboo-breaking movements in which playing and experimenting with sex, sexuality, and sexual energy is an inherent part of the activities, things that were (and often still are) heavily fought against by mainstream, conventional ethics and society.

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When BDSM and Tantra intertwine or blend it’s commonly called Dark Tantra, which is a type of Tantric practice that works and experiments with areas such as bondage, sensory play, sensual massage, kink, fetishes and sadomasochistic practices, but with a very specific dearmoring, spiritual energetic goal in a space that’s made sacred and safe.

Some examples of modern Dark Tantric bodywork and massage are Kinkassage®, Bondassage®, and Tease and Denial massages, which mix Neo-Tantric and Neo-Taoist bodywork, kink, fetishism, orgasm control and edging, sensory play, bondage, submission, tease and denial, massage, and other conventional and non-conventional techniques into one experience.

Final Thoughts on Tantra and BDSM

Although sex and sexuality often play a role in Tantra and BDSM, as well as in Dark Tantra, it’s certainly not a necessity to bring in sexual elements. Both BDSM and Tantra are much more than sex, kink, or fetish. In fact, by the respective practitioners they’re both considered philosophies and lifestyles that cover the whole of life and living.

Their domains share quite some elements, such as, for instance, somatic i.e. embodied psycho-spiritual work, embracing our creative sexual energy, working with altered states of consciousness, exploring divine or sacred sexuality, accepting all sides of our dualistic being in the phenomenal world, and in a broader sense the removal of physical, emotional and mental blockages in order to become more complete individuals.

The goals of Tantra and BDSM show remarkable unity in trying to clear inhibitions that suppress our full expression as a human being, that is, our ability to function spontaneously, normally, and wholly. In the end, Tantra and BDSM are much about accepting our human nature as it is, as having lighter and darker sides, open and hidden elements, and trying to unite those opposed expressions in a higher, spiritual union, which necessarily also includes sublimation and transcendence of our powerful sexual drive and energy.


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