Once you delve into twitter and friends, when searching for tantra-related information on the web, you're about to dive into a world of hyperbole, self-proclaimed experts and sex-work sold off as healing.
Lots and lots of "goddesses" abound in that world. So many of them, I keep worrying they might step onto each other's soil and spoil it. After all, they all wanna make a buck out of their worshippers' needs, don't they? Well, I guess there are enough needy clients out there, so probably there is no scarcity here.
Their massages are "sacred rituals", their services are "ceremonies", and they themselves are "goddesses" or "healers".
Are you trying to pull my leg?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to sexual services. Nor do I have an issue with some fancy role-playing. And also, just to make it abundantly clear, am I not an advocate of "authentic tantra". I think it's just another way to oppress people.
None of that... What I am opposed to is dishonesty and misrepresentation. And that's what's going on here, in my very humble opinion.
For example, someone out there keeps advertising "verified healers & certified tantrikas". (I'm not singling them out as the bad guys - there are a gazillion sites like that out there, this is just one example that I happened to happen upon.) Their website looks suspiciously like the ads placed by brothels, what with skantily clad goddesses and all...
But who knows... so I searched that site for information on their verification & certification process. Needless to say, I didn't find any. To my surprise, I did actually get an answer on twitter. The site administrator claimed that they know some Tantra teachers, and they check the advertisers' credentials with them. - I was also informed that they needed to have extensive background in sacred sexual healing. But then again, it was important to point out that this doesn't have anything to do with being a "valid tantra practitioner"...
Now, this gives me all kinds of headaches from all the scratching. On the one hand, this is more than I anticipated. On the other hand, it just leads to more questions: What is those reputable teachers' process of certification? How can being certified have nothing to do with being valid in one's line of work? How does one check that extensive background?
In other words, how can we even devise criteria for who is an actual, certified, valid tantra practitioner, and who is not? From my own personal biases, I reject the concept of chakras, I cringe at the mention of lingams and yonis - and still, I feel that I do have some experience with tantric breathing techniques, and that I have thought and felt and experienced my way around full-body orgasms through several years, to a degree that I think many "professional tantrikas" lack. Then again, I don't have a lot of formal training. So, would I get through the certification process, or not? (Okay, I'm a guy, and they probably don't take those anyway, but you get the point.)
It strikes me as very odd that a tantric massage is a "ceremony", sexual services are "sacred", the practitioners are "goddesses" - and yet they are "certified and verified". How on earth does one verify a goddess?
I mean... yeah, I get it. We surround sexual services with a nice clean layer of "spirituality" to make it all a bit more reputable. That's how capitalism works. In most western countries, practitioners cannot openly offer sexual services, so they made the best of it, and created a USP out of the psychological, spiritual, non-sexual parts. It's extremely clever... and extremely dishonest.
By doing so, those people play into the common sexual inhibition, prudishness and bigotry, instead of working against them. They cash in on people's incompetence at expressing their sexual urges, instead of working to shake it. They alleviate the pain, but they avoid addressing the underlying issue. All while posing to do "healing", meditation, "energy work", etc.
It is saddening at the very least, and quickly turns to sickening and revolting after a while. If this is shakti at work, then I don't want to be your shiva. I do not dance with you, sorry. Your dance is too macabre for me.
If tantra is in any way a "spiritual" endeavor (I have my problems with that word, but I hope it is sufficiently clear what I'm aiming at here), then it should lead to more clarity, more openness, more honesty. And then the "teachers", "healers" and "goddesses" who make an earthly appearance to guide us to the light should themselves be the pinnacles of honesty.
But then they cannot sell off a sexual massage as a "sacred healing ceremony".