Phil Hine - Devotions And Demonesses
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Taken from a series appearing in Talking Stick magazine For this issue, I did originally intend to look at some of what I considered the key charactistics of Tantric practice, and then to go on to discuss some of the magical practices in Tantrism. However, I've decided to, for the moment, concentrate on discussing the magical work, and will return to the key characteristics in part three. The difficulties of approaching Tantric practice have been compounded by what might be termed the pseudo-imperialistic attitude to non-Western magical systems. Francis King's Tantra for Westerners is a case in point. King asserts that there are (at least on the surface) many similarities between Tantric concepts and Western Qabalah. Hence his book presents a 'qabbalized' perspective on Tantra. Fitting the unfamiliar into familiar models may well be useful up to a point, but it becomes a limiting exercise. An analogous situation would be the efforts of early anthropologists to characterize shamanic behaviour as 'epileptic'. It might well fit the theory, but it doesn't tell the whole story. I feel that, to approach Tantra, it is necessary to, at some point, examine orthodox Hindu culture, in terms of history, religion, and psychology - in order to get a grip on the context from which Tantrism springs. There is a tendency for Westerners to treat Tantrism as an 'added flavour' to spice up familiar magical practices, or for that matter, one's bedroom antics (which is the concern of many populist books on the subject).