A-U-M. The three sounds which compose the root mantra, om. The sound-values of om and their symbolic interpretation are described in the Upanishads: “”A” as the waking consciousness, “U” as the dream-consciousness and “M” as the consciousness during deep sleep. Om as a whole represents the all-encompassing cosmic consciousness.”
Aura. The subtle field of energy generated by the various life energies in the body.
Ayurveda. “Science of life.” Ayurveda is the traditional system of medicine of India, which dates back thousands of years. The Sanskrit root ayu means “life,” and veda means “pure knowledge.”
Bandhas. Internal muscular exercises designed to strengthen the PC muscles and to direct and intensify sexual energy. Bandha exercises can greatly increase sexual pleasure and aid in ejaculatory control.
Bija Mantra. A Tantric technique for awakening, purifying, and activating the chakras. Bija means “seed,” and the bijas used in this mantra are the core sounds that pertain to the seven chakras.
Bodhisattva. “One whose essence is enlightenment.” Bodhi is the Sanskrit word for “enlightenment” and sattva means “essence.” A divine being who remains on the human plane to help others.
Brahma. “The Creator.” In Hindu mythology, Brahma is the senior member of the triad of the great Gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In Tantric cosmology, Brahma is the creator of the world and is the embodiment of all creativity.
Chakras. Centers of consciousness and psychic energy in the body. The word chakra means “wheel” in Sanskrit. There are many chakras in the body, including seven main chakras situated along the central channel of the body, along the spine.
Chi (Qi). Chi is the Chinese word for the flows of subtle energy in the body that move along pathways called meridians. A clear flow of energy through the meridians is the key to radiant health, eroticism, and intimacy.
Chi Kung (or Qi-Gong). Literally means “breath work.” It is a system of movement, meditation, and breathing that can unblock, align, and purify the body”s energy so that the entire being – body, mind, and spirit – can function more harmoniously.
Dakini. “Skydancer.” The embodiment of cosmic feminine energy, enlightened wisdom. A female Tantrika or Yogini.
Devi. “Shining one.” Refers to the feminine principle or the Goddess.
Dhyana. Sanskrit word for meditation.
Durga. “She who is difficult to go against.” Durga represents the triumphant aspect of Shakti, the cosmic energy of destruction, particularly the removal of the ego which stands in the way of spiritual growth and ultimate liberation. The Goddess Durga evokes strength, health, and purity.
Feng Shui. Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese science of arranging objects and surroundings in the best possible way to balance sacred energy and attract toward us all the benevolent forces of the cosmos.
Ganesha. The elephant-headed God, son of Parvati and Shiva. Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles – physical, emotional, and psychic. He is invoked at the start of any new undertaking.
Hatha Yoga. Hatha means “force” and represents the union of two words – ha, “sun,” and tha, “moon.” Hatha yoga is the ancient Indian system of physical postures and breathing exercises that balances the opposing masculine and feminine forces in the body, the “sun” and the “moon.”
Ida. One of the three principal channels of the subtle body. It is the (female, lunar) nadi going about the central sushumna nadi, terminating in the left nostril. Opposite in polarity from the pinga.
Kali. “Dark one.” The aspect of Divine Mother that fights evil and destroys the ego.
Kali Yuga. “Age of Darkness.” The era of “spiritual decline” that is still in progress today. Described in Vedic scripture as a period “when society reaches a stage where property confers rank, wealth becomes the only source of virtue. . . falsehood the source of success in life. . . and when outer trappings are confused with inner religion.” Tantra is a set of teachings intended for this particular age.
Karma. “The law of cause and effect.” The accumulated effect of past deeds and actions.
Krishna. One of the many incarnations of Vishnu whose teaching is featured in the Bhagava Gita. Often depicted playing his flute, he embodies divine joy, love, playfulness, and male eroticism. Krishna’s death inaugurated the Kali Yuga, which is still in full swing today.
Kundalini. “She who is coiled.” Refers to the powerful creative sexual energy coiled like a sleeping serpent near the base of the spine. One of the goals in Tantra is to gently awaken this dormant energy in order to awaken consciousness and attain enlightenment.
Kwan Yin (Quan Yin). The Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion. Kwan means “to perceive” and yin means “the sound of the world”: “She who hears the suffering of the world.” The energy of Kwan Yin is gentle and peaceful. She was known as a great healer and the female energy counterpart of Buddha.
Lakshmi. “Good Fortune.” The Goddess of abundance, wealth, and beauty. The female counterpart of the god Vishnu.
Laya Yoga. The path of meditation and subtle energy work. A form of yoga intended to awaken and channel kundalini energy (also known as Kundalini Yoga). Laya Yoga can be understood as the higher, meditative phase of Hatha Yoga. Laya Yoga and Hatha Yoga together are subsumed under Tantra Yoga.
Lingam. Sanskrit for the male sexual organ meaning “wand of light.” The symbol of Shiva.
Lotus Flower. In Tantric art, the lotus is a symbol of purity, self-transcendence, and expanding consciousness. Because of its smooth and oily surface the lotus is not sullied by the mud and water in which it grows. It is also a Tantric term for the Yoni.
Maithuna. Sanskrit word for sexual union. The ceremonial union of Shiva with Shakti. A Tantric rite aimed at raising the kundalini through physical love.
Mandala. “Mystic circle.” A mandala is considered sacred geometry and is used as a tool for Tantric meditation.
Mantra. An audible and sacredly empowered pattern of rhythm and words. A mantra is a spiritual formula, a combination of sacred syllables transmitted from age to age in a religious tradition that forms a nucleus of spiritual power. Om Shakti, for example, is a popular Hindu mantra and means “praise energy.”
Metta. In Buddhism, the Pali word for “lovingkindness.” The practice of metta was first taught by the Buddha himself two thousand five hundred years ago as a supremely rich and powerful way of cultivating a generous heart. “Without a generous heart,” the Buddha said, “there can be no true spiritual life.”
Mudra. Potent hand positions or finger-postures that profoundly influence and focus the body’s energy.
Nadi. “River.” Invisible channels of psychic energy, woven throughout the subtle body. Conduits of prana. Yogic texts state there are 72,000 of them. Together with the chakras, the nadis constitute the composition of the subtle body in Tantra.
Namaste. The traditional Indian form of salutation, a respectful greeting recognizing the equality of all and the sacredness of all. “The God/Goddess in me greets the God/Goddess in you.” The gesture (mudra) of namaste is made by bringing together both palms of the hands before the heart.
Nataraj. Nataraj is the dancing form of Lord Shiva. This famous icon of Hinduism depicts Shiva in his “unending dance of destruction/creation,” while trampling down “the demon of ego that hinders our progress to enlightenment.”
Nyasa. “Placing.” A ritual form of touch to awaken the chakras and the energy conduits of the body.
OM. Seed mantra composed of three sounds, a-u-m, embracing within it the “sound” of our own inmost divine consciousness, the “sound” of all of creation, and the “sound” of the Supreme Being creating reality.
Parvati. “The one born of the mountain (Himalaya).” Consort of Shiva. Parvati represents not only physical but spiritual beauty.
Pingala. One of the three principal channels of the subtle body. It is the (male, solar) nadi opposite the ida nadi. It spirals around the central sushumna channel and terminates in the right nostril. It has a positive polarity.
Prana. The body’s vital energy or life force; air; breath.
Pranayama. Prana means “life force” and yama comes from ayama or “expansion.” Pranayama serves to instill meditative peace and to foster calm, alertness, and concentration.
Puja. Worship or celebration. There are different kinds of pujas that include many forms of ceremonial worship. In modern Tantric practice, there are community or group pujas, a transformational ritual gathering which awakens and brings forth the priest/priestess, the shaman, and the god-essence in each of us. It is an opportunity for the renewal of body, mind, and spirit.
Raja Yoga. “Royal yoga.” Emphasizes the mental and spiritual rather than physical. Its aim is to make one a “ruler” over all one’s mental and spiritual equipment, the general aim of all Tantric schools.
Red Tantra. The aspect of Tantra that relates to the mastery of sexual skills.
Sacred Space. A sacred space is a place of tranquility created through intention, respect and focus. It is about cultivating an environment that is filled with energies that support, uplift, comfort, and transform our inner and outer awareness and benefits our highest good.
Sacred Spot. An energetic pole for sexual fulfillment. In a woman it is the energetic access to the second chakra located on or around the G spot in the Yoni. In a man it is located at the root of the second chakra located within the upper wall of the base chakra.
Saraswati. “She who flows.” The Goddess of arts and learning and patroness of the “Sixty-four Arts.” Saraswati is the feminine energy counterpart of Brahma. She is typically portrayed holding a lute (vina).
Shakti. Shakti means power, force, and feminine energy. The word shakti is derived from the Sanskrit root shak, meaning “potency” or “the potential to produce.” She represents “the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, of every being, and every thing.” The Goddess Shakti is the feminine counterpart to each of the Gods of the Hindu pantheon, especially of Shiva.
Shiva. The male divine symbol of the transcendental. Shiva stands for growth and transformation. In Tantra, Shiva represents pure consciousness manifesting in the creative union with his consort Shakti.
Subtle Body. A field of force, with energy vortexes at the psychic centers (chakras).
Sushumna. The principal nadi of the subtle body located in the spinal column. This psychic channel controls spiritual evolution and is the “highway” that connects this world with the next.
Tai Chi. A spiritual and physical discipline, developed in China over millennia to bring balance to the body and flowing peace to the mind.
Tantra. A spiritual path, originating in India, that embraces sexual energy as a way of achieving conscious awakening and enlightenment.
Tantrika. A practitioner of Tantra.
Tara. One of the most popular of the Buddhist Goddesses who is adored for her protection from evil and her support in overcoming obstacles. Her name is derived from the verb tara, meaning “to cross,” for she enables the devotee to “cross the ocean of existence.” Tara is the symbol of tranquility and cosmic peace.
Vajra. A Tibetan term for the male sexual organ meaning “thunderbolt” or “scepter of power.”
Vedic. Ancient Indian/Hindu philosophy and science with a holistic approach. The Vedic period is dated c. 2500-500 b.c.e. The Vedas are considered to be the oldest extant scriptures in the world.
Vishnu. “The Preserver.” The aspect of Brahma known as the protector of all humanity.
White Tantra. White Tantra relates to the yogic or spiritual aspects of Tantric practice and consists of exercises or postures (asanas) combined with special breathing (pranayama), hand or finger gestures (mudras), internal muscular exercises (bhandas), chanting (mantra), and meditation. The skills and benefits of White Tantra practices increase ones ability to master Red (sexual) Tantra.
Yab-Yum. Seated astride position. An asana in which a woman sits astride facing herpartner, heart-to-heart. TheTantric image of yab-yum represents the male principle uniting in perfect balance with the female principle, creating an image expressing the sacredness of sexuality as a spiritual path to enlightenment.
Yantra. A geometric diagram, usually of interlocking triangles and circles, used as a focus for healing meditation. The Sanskrit word yantra derives from the root yam meaning “to sustain,” or “hold.” In metaphysical terms a yantra is visualized as a “receptacle” of the highest spiritual essence.
Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are complementary and interdependent aspects of a single unifying force. The Yin force is seen as cool, lunar, passive, receptive, feminine, and internal. The Yang force is warm, solar, active, productive, masculine, and external. Each is relative to the other and both contain a small amount of the other. These opposite forces interact in order to create balance. This is seen in the yin/yang symbol, illustrating the light within the dark and the dark within the light.
Yoga. Yoga is a term for spiritual discipline and derives from the Sanskrit yuj, which means, among other things, to “yoke,” “to join together,” “union and communion.” Yoga is a holistic way of relating to the body that involves an increasing awareness on all levels: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. The basic philosophy of yoga acknowledges the presence of divine energy in all people, all place, and all things.