In The Politics of Experience, psychologist R.D. Laing writes: “When our personal worlds are rediscovered… we discover first a shambles… genitals dissociated from heart; heart severed from head; heads dissociated from genitals.”

Untangling this mess and turning the “shambles” into an emotionally cohesive human being requires two journeys. I describe them in The journey from the genitals to the heart:

The first is the well-recognised trek from the head to the heart. The second, barely acknowledged even by experienced voyagers in our personal worlds, is much longer, more arduous, more hazardous, and trodden by far less travellers than that from the head to the heart: the journey from the genitals to the heart.

The stages of this journey relate to our understanding of the purpose of sex:

1. Procreation

We begin our journey with the default patriarchal view that the sole legitimate purpose of sex is procreation. This is the view that has been banged into us by organised religion and ‘decent society’ over the last few millennia.

This view originates in the drought, desertification and famine that gave rise to patriarchy. Geographer James DeMeo writes in Saharasia that famine creates “a general intolerance and anxious aggressivity [sic] towards the basic biological expressions of… touching and body contact… Prolonged famine and starvation produce profound disturbances in the capacity for… sexual expression.”

In the quest for survival, famine deeply skews the human psyche away from its feminine, right brain, nurturing aspects towards masculine, left brain, hunter-killer functioning. This skews sexuality into a masculine-centric paradigm.

We’ve been largely stuck there ever since. I’ve written about it in a 4-part series, starting with Sex in Patriarchy, Part I – married, monogamous, missionary.

2. Sharing love in a relationship

If I had to date it, I’d suggest this view blossomed during the Romantic Age in the first half of the 19th century. It was the age of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and the ageing William Blake—all authors impelled by deep feelings.

Wordsworth spoke of “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” He was referring to poetry, but an orgasmic exuberance characterises the Romantic Age. It led to the belief in marriage based on mutual love between two equals. Sex was one way of expressing that love.

3. Sharing pleasure in a relationship

The notion that sex can be not only loving but also pleasurable can perhaps be dated to Dr Alex Comfort’s 1972 manual The Joy of Sex. Five decades later, society has yet to fully accept that sex is pleasurable in and of itself, even in a committed relationship. Several thousand years of profound shame cannot be shaken off so lightly.

4. Sharing pleasure outside a relationship

Once the pleasure of sex is accepted, this opens up the notion that the ‘container’ of a committed relationship isn’t necessary—in fact, it was only necessary in the first place to comply with the anti-sexual social conventions that are accepted as normal (and hence moral) is shame-based patriarchal societies.

What is required is a sense of sacredness between partners, based on consent, openness, vulnerability, respect and mutual trust. Vulnerability, particularly for men, is the very antithesis of the patriarchal sexual paradigm based on the male conquest of the female. Mastering this stage brings sexual energy increasingly under the sway of the heart.

5. Healing

Growing liberation from sexual shame carries the stalwart traveller into the realm of sexual healing—the realm of female-centric Tantric sexuality. Tantra views every woman as the living embodiment of the divine femininity to which we all owe our existence.

Here sex slows down. Breathing, touching and eye contact become the chief instruments of eroticism, capable of simultaneously giving and receiving both pleasure and life-altering healing. Sexual traumas can be accessed and released through heart-centred, ritualised sexual touch.

The shame-ridden West has no real equivalent to Tantra; few understand the extraordinary nurturing and healing that sexual energy, consciously guided by the heart, can provide.

6. Expanding consciousness

The further along this journey, the more mystical it becomes. Both Christian and Jewish mysticism take on erotic overtones as they approach the Godhead. It’s the only language we have to describe these consciousness-expanding experiences.

Overall, the journey from the genitals to the heart goes from a masculine- to a feminine-centric paradigm, from a narrow focus on sex—copulation—towards embracing sexuality in its widest sense.

The journey from the genitals to the heart goes from a masculine- to a feminine-centric paradigm, from a narrow focus on sex—copulation—towards embracing sexuality in its widest sense.

As I wrote in The journey from the genitals to the heart, the journeys from the head and the genitals to the heart ultimately converge to create an integrated human being with both their intellect and genitals in service to the heart.

While this is the end of a journey, it’s also the beginning of one: the expansion of consciousness that occurs when genital energy is consciously connected, through the heart, with the pineal gland in the centre of the brain—considered by Tantra to be the primary human sex organ.

What happens next? I’ll let you know when I find out…

Arisa Chattasa