The First New Zealand Sexuality and Consciousness
Symposium: Blockhouse Bay Boat Club, March 31-April 1.
Opening Evening: The Temple in Mt Eden, March 29, 7pm
(Quodoushka night, April 2).
There’s a lot of “sharing” here, and it can
mean a lot of things. Normally, sitting in a
circle and summing up how you feel in this
moment. I feel fine — just warming up. Over
organic coffee, the charismatic American
Quodoushaka expert tells me that I might
be an Antelope Woman — just from the way
I talk. “Soften up,” she says. I will.
By evening, I have listened enough. It’s
time to interact. Other conferences might
offer you a golf tournament as a social event
— well, here they have an “intimate night”. It
starts with a big circle. The women outside,
the men inside, move with the music, change
partners. Then gaze into someone’s eyes,
say something nice to a stranger, do a little
twist. A bit like speed dating, but without
trying to impress — just attracting through
radiance and openness. It’s great fun. None
of those micro-connections has to mean
anything. There’s no attachment, no pickup
plan. I notice the handsome man in the
silk kaftan for the first time and just enjoy
that his eyes linger.
The next bit is harder. We are asked to get
naked. I hesitate for a long moment. Not
because I am prudish. But this really means
dropping your mask, your protection. It’s a
lot easier to be flirtatious with your clothes
on. But I do it. “Truth is erotic,” Margot
Anand had said earlier. I ease into the music
and move around the room, carrying on
with these playful little dances. I am not
quite sure where to look though.
My first and unsuccessful attempt at
tantra was a long time ago, in a bleak gym
hall in Europe. I was reluctant to hug total
strangers on the spot. It seemed forced and
artificial, too close for my taste. I quit the
group after the first exercise, repulsed by
the guy in red-rimmed glasses and a sweaty
T-shirt next to me who was rolling his hips
to Enya-style music while moaning loudly
(come on, this was just after breakfast!)
“How do these people do it,” I wondered,
“letting themselves go like this?”
Here I am, years later, letting myself go like
this. Making sounds, rolling my hips — and
enjoying it. Instead of yuck, it feels yum.
Something inside me stirs, frees itself, wants
to get out with a groan and moves through
my body. Hello, kundalini energy, is that
you? In any case, it’s great “un-blocking”,
as they say in tantra-speak. And it’s not
just role play — this is really me, without
embarrassment or shame. Tantra lifts the
taboos around sex, but it’s not pornographic.
This “intimate night” feels like totally new
territory. But never like an orgy.
It all ends with me giving a sensual fullbody
massage to the charming kaftan wearer
(“You can touch me anywhere you like”) and
receiving one in return. We might never see
each other again, but we treat each other
as gently and passionately as if we were
love-struck teenagers. I don’t care anymore
that I am in a room full of naked strangers.
All I can feel is how I melt under the soft
breasts in metallic paint. I squeeze her into
a lacquer corset. To top it all off, she lets a
black rubber dick dangle from her crotch: “I
want to embody my masculine side.”
I taste a herbal concoction called Bliss Tea
before dancing my socks off among some
outrageous costumes. Baba Dez shows up
wearing a pair of nappies. A lot of people
kiss in the corners. It’s wonderful, ecstatic
and wild, and that’s all I remember.
The next morning, I almost forget to put
something on before I cross the road to
the beach for an early swim. Oops. Two
days in tantra land, and my inhibitions
dissolve like sand in the waves. Which is
a good preparation for what I am about to
witness in the auditorium today. Something
quite extraordinary. No, not the interestinglooking
lips of the Fox Woman during the
Quodoushka introduction. Nor Liana
Galland, an impressive mountain of a
woman from Byron Bay who praises “The
Bottom End of the Business” and encourages
us to have a more relaxed relationship with
our anus (hint: Try a “rosebud massage” and
stop calling someone an arsehole).
The highlight of my day is a pouchy bald
man named Andrew Barnes, who looks
like a friendly vacuum-cleaner salesman
but is highly regarded not just in the world
of sacred sexuality, but of conventional
sex therapy as well. He has studied with
Eastern masters and American experts,
published a picture book about yonis
(maybe not quite for your mother’s coffee
table), promotes “cuddle parties” and has
specialised in a technique that he calls “body
de-armouring” to help women experience
We get a demonstration. The attractive
conference organiser acts as guinea pig.
She takes off her sarong and lies naked with
her eyes closed on a table in the middle of
the auditorium. When she goes into a kind
of trance, Barnes starts to move his hands
not on, but above her body like a magician,
occasionally touching pressure points on
her throat or knees. She soon heaves and
moans, her body shivers, she doesn’t stop,
she clearly comes. Over a hundred people
watch with utter reverence. No sniggers,
no heavy breathing anywhere.
Dodgy? Nope. Dignified, yes. Divine?
Who knows. What makes sex sacred is
not the incense or the candles — it’s your
full presence. I am grateful that all this
knowledge is out there, as exotic or shocking
as it may seem. And that it’s spreading.
Time to pack my bags. Goldie must have
had a visitor at our apartment while I was
conferencing. Next to her unmade bed
sits a bottle of almond oil and a half-finished
bar of dark chili chocolate. It speaks of
touch. My skin is one big receptor of, well,
universal love. There, I said it.
Day two, and I am soul-washed by
now, sparkling and shining from within.
A woman named Jessica Galactic Butterfly
— we are clearly in the rainbow region
— offers a workshop full of Omms and
orgasmic sounds. In the main theatre, an
Australian practitioner explains how to
identify and heal sexual abuse with tantra,
while in another room, the “Youth Speak”
forum starts — a panel of teens and tweens
who “tell how it is” and clearly expect more
from sex ed than just how to roll a condom
over a banana. Brave stuff.
As my reservations fade, my respect for
this sari- and purple-clad crowd grows.
These are fun-loving people who are serious
and passionate about helping the world,
one orgasm at a time. They come in where
conventional therapy ends. Or to say it in
the words of MC Peter Thomas, who looks
like a gracefully aged Jesus: “Millions of
people walk around only half-alive. If we
honour and express our sexual energy as
our life force, we become more loving and
more creative in everything.”
Creative indeed. We are off to the “Lover’s
Mask Ball” that night, a fundraiser for
the Youth Speak forum. Goldie, my Kiwi
companion, covers her upper body and bare
Baba Dez shows
up wearing a
pair of nappies.
People kiss in
ecstatic and wild.