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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Sacred Sexuality

Sacred Sexuality in Ancient Egypt: The Erotic Secrets of the Forbidden Papyri by Ruth Schumann-Antelme, Stephane Rossini, Illustrated by Jon Graham (Inner Traditions) provides an initial exploration of the sexual philosophy and practices of the ancient Egyptians. It is lavishly illustrated with erotic scenes from papyri that have long been hidden from the public and it clarifies the connection of sacred sexuality to Egyptian cosmic symbolism.
Until recently the forbidden papyri, whose explicit illustrations of Egyptian sexual practices were judged too shocking, were off limits to all but a few scholars. In this book, the first to fully explore Egyptian sexual philosophy and practices, Egyptologist Ruth Schumann-Antelme provides us a new view of the provocative sexual life of the ancient Egyptians. Richly illustrated throughout, Sacred Sexuality in Ancient Egypt explains the symbolism of the erotic images found on the inner walls of the temples and tombs as well as those carved into pieces of limestone and sketched on papyri. The authors cover in detail the astonishing erotic scenes illustrating the Turin Papyrus, which have long been kept from public view. These papyri reveal in great detail Egyptian attitudes about love, religion, and even medicine, as well as specific sexual practices. Sacred Sexuality in Ancient Egypt reveals the intimate details of a society in which sexuality was the dynamic principle of the divine world, and the cosmic symbolism of religion imbued every level of Egyptian society with sexual significance.

The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene, book design by Joost Elffers (Viking) definitely has our heads up as the most comprehensive guide to the human art of seduction in its many forms, sexual, sales, political, charismatic. Don’t miss this work better than many books in the self-help genre because Greene draws liberally but judiciously from the classics in the field, while managing plenty of gossipy topical anecdotes to illustrate his principles. The The Art of Seduction most talked-about all-purpose personal strategy guide and philosophical compendium," said Newsweek of Robert Greene's bold, elegant, and ingenious manual of modern manipulation, The 48 Laws of Power. Now Greene has once again mined history and literature to distill the essence of seduction, the most highly refined mode of influence, the ultimate power trip.

The Art of Seduction is a masterful synthesis of the work of thinkers such as Freud, Ovid, Kierkegaard, and Einstein, as well as the achievements of the greatest seducers throughout history. From Cleopatra to John F. Kennedy, from Andy Warhol to Josephine Bonaparte, The Art of Seduction gets to the heart of the character of the seducer and his or her tactics, triumphs and failures. The seducer's many faces include: the Siren, the Rake, the Ideal Lover, the Dandy, the Natural, the Coquette, the Charmer, and the Charismatic. Twenty-four maneuvers will guide readers through the seduction process, providing cunning, amoral instructions for and analysis of this fascinating, all-pervasive form of power. Just as beautifully packaged and every bit as essential as The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction is an indispensable primer of persuasion and offers the best lessons on how to take what you want from whomever you want or how to prevent yourself from being taken.

A History of Celibacy by Elizabeth Abbot (Da Capo) Celibacy is a worldwide practice that is often adopted, rarely discussed. Now, in Elizabeth Abbott's fascinating and wide-ranging history, it is examined in all its various forms: shaping religious lives, conditioning athletes and shamans, surfacing in classical poetry and camp literature, resonating in the voices of castrati, and perme-ating ancient mythology. Found in every society of the past, practiced by both the anonymous and the legendary (St. Catherine, Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, Elizabeth I, Gandhi), celibacy has as many stories as adherents, and Abbott weaves them into a provocative, seamless tapestry that brings history alive.

The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality by Eugene Kennedy (St, Martins) The pain of the unhealed wound in human sexuality is felt everywhere. It is not inflicted by Jesus, who wants us to be whole and free of sin's burden, but by Church leaders who control people by manipulating their sexual feelings. They make good people feel bad for being human and sexual at the same time.

The cries come from the simple and the sophisticated, in questions asked in the confessional and in those sent to Dr. Sooth in GQ. Vatican II, attempting to restore the unity of human personality, did more to heal the wound than the Sexual Revolution that was its agonized groan of pain. Some wounded cry out, some act out, but all to many hide their conflicts or weep alone.

The Unhealed Wound accuses the Fall to a fallible Institutional Church, and those who wish to overturn Vatican II, of betraying the Church as a Mystery by keeping the wound open in order to maintain control over human beings.

Exercising such power over sexuality is in itself gratifying and explains why so many church leaders insist that Armageddon must be fought about issues in which their control of sexuality is preserved-birth control, priestly celibacy, and an implacable resistance to ordaining women. Tragically, the institution simultaneously reveals its own unattended wound in the sexual conflicts of its unhealed clergy.

These church leaders re-enact the mythic theme of the western Knight who, seeking the Grail, slew the eastern Knight who symbolized nature, inflicting a wound that will not heal until someone asks simply, "What is it that ails you?" This is the question Pope John XXIII asked the suffering world in Vatican II and is here placed again to church leaders who must ask it of and heal themselves before they can heal the world.

Eugene Kennedy was commissioned by the National Council of Catholic Bishops, in the early 1970s, to coordinate a pyschological study of the American Catholic Priesthood. When his research lead to conclusions contrary to those that were hoped for, the study was not given official approval. Before that, he was best known for FASHION ME A PEOPLE and COMFORT MY PEOPLE, two books in which he tried to address some of the sexual issues in the lives of priests and nuns--issues, by the way, that are still relevant in the present work! For anyone who has lived the Catholic experience for the past forty years, the truth of much of what Kennedy writes is painfully obvious. He carefully distinguishes between the Church as Institution (Beauracracy) and the Church as Mystery (People of God). It doesn't take reading Eugene Kennedy to realize that there is a very real difference between these two forms of Church. He is insightful when he points out that the sexual issues that await healing by the Church as Institution are issues that have already been resolved by the Church as Mystery. Anyone who hears confessions today can tell you that. The people who ARE the Church have no problem with the idea of a married clergy, or with divorced and remarried Catholics being readmitted to the Sacraments. For most lay Catholics, birth control is a dead issue! Real healing of these wounds is needed. The current paralyzed leadership is not up to the task. They will not bite the hand that feeds them. It will take a Pope John XXIV. Let's pray he's waiting in the wings!

The Encyclopedia of Sacred Sexuality: From Aphrodisiacs and Exstasy to Yoni Worship and Zap-Lam Yoga by Rufus C. Camphausen (Inner Traditions) This comprehensive reference book, lavishly illustrated and extensively cross-referenced, encompasses all eras and cultures in exploring the meaning of sexuality.

    Revised and Expanded Edition of The Encyclopedia of Erotic Wisdom
Updated and expanded with over 150 new or revised entries, along
with a vast array of new color illustrations
Contains the most recent scientific knowledge of the brain, mind,
and body as it relates to the erotic and sexual
An exceptional reference--including Internet resources--that
explores the farthest reaches of this fascinating subject
Over 25,000 copies of the first edition sold

This fully updated and expanded edition of The Encyclopedia of Erotic Wisdom contains more than 1,200 entries--150 of which are either new additions or were extensively revised for this edition--and a vast array of new illustrations, many in full color, from the author's recent travels to the Far East. The encyclopedia explains how to integrate body and mind, love and sexuality, and spiritual exercise and inner alchemical techniques in the practice of sacred sexuality. It also contains the most recent scientific knowledge of the brain, mind, and body as it relates to the erotic and sexual. Extensive cross references, quotations from sacred erotic scriptures, Internet resources, and 28 indexes to related topics within the book take the reader on an odyssey from almost any point of departure to the farthest reaches of this fascinating subject.


This encyclopedia has been designed and prepared to provide easy, meaningful, and intelligent access to a variety of lesser‑known facts concerning eros and sexuality. Its entries deal with information ranging from aphrodisiacs to ancient deities and demons, from erotic symbolism to lesser‑known sexual techniques and exercises, from mystery schools and religious sects concerned with sexual activity to worship directed toward male and female energies and/or the genitals themselves. Whether this information is medical, psychological, historical, or anthropological, the entries in this work have been selected in accordance with these criteria. Therefore no entries are included, for example, about such well‑known and often‑written about matters as AIDS, fetishism, Freudian theory, homosexuality, or sexual hygiene.

The encyclopedia's scope embraces inner and outer Tantric and Taoist teachings along with the whispered secrets of Western alchemists and cabalists, the erotic rituals and beliefs of our ancestors along with up‑to‑date scientific knowledge of brain, mind, and body‑wherever these fields of wisdom concern the erotic and sexual.

A reader opening The Encyclopedia of Sacred Sexuality for the first time should note the following about its use and design:

Extensive cross‑references have been made that can guide you on a mental odyssey‑from almost any point of departure‑further and deeper into related areas of interest. All terms with an asterisk indicate that the term has a meaningful entry in this encyclopedia.

Because many of the terms discussed in these pages have double or multiple meanings, the following rule has been applied throughout the text: If, for example, the Sanskrit term mudra has five different meanings, the term will be referred to as mudra/1, mudra/2, and so on, accordingly. In the appendix, a substantial number of lists have been provided for those readers who are interested in a specific, subject‑related pursuit. With the help of these listings you can focus your search, for example, on specialized areas such as these: Sacred and/or erotic primary literature; aphrodisiacs derived from animal substances; religious groups, sects, and schools; festivals, rituals, and customs; sexual biochemistry, and electromagnetism.

Other listings of key words allow access to all entries related to a certain cultural background. They give access to, for example, all Chinese or all American data. Having a large number of foreign‑language entries (including Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, and Latin, for instance) is unavoidable in a book such as this. In most of the entries that follow, the originating language and/or cultural background is specified, and translations have been provided as often as possible A variety of pictorial images have been collected for this work. They have been chosen in an attempt to balance the aesthetic with the erotic

Among all known cultures of all known times and all known places, there is but one generalized principle concerning human sexuality and the varied forms of expression it finds. This principle exists in spite of the incredible variety among humans concerning erotic activities, sexual or sex‑related concepts and rituals, gender roles, forms of relationship, customs, and taboos.

The principle can be stated in one simple sentence: It is the nature of every group to guide and/or control the sexual development of its members, as well as the individual and/or communal expression of their sexual energy.

In this context, the term group represents and embraces all related entities such as family, clan, tribe, people, society, or culture: any form of communal living in relatively close proximity. The term guide indicates life‑affirming, positive, and respectful approaches to educating and informing young members of the group. It is an important part of this approach to inform members that differences in tastes and preferences do exist, that individual choice is possible and desirable, and that there are few actual limits within the bounds of respect and consent. Although few groups have achieved this level of civilization, the generalized principle does provide for the best of all possible worlds. The term control indicates enslaving, guilt‑creating, negative, forceful approaches to imprinting and programming young members of the group. An important strategy of such an approach is to negate the possibility of personal choices and preferences and to punish or denigrate anyone not adhering to the particular set of locally accepted behavior. Although this approach is the one most commonly practiced in human history, we should recognize it as disrespectful, nonenlightened, counterproductive, and, in the final analysis, uncivilized. It is an approach not at all required for adherence to the generalized principle.

This generalized principle does not concern itself with any possible or probable local detail‑technical and/or conceptual‑but with humanity as a whole. The application of this principle‑in one way or another and more or less successfully from case to case‑gives rise to a specific and local psychological "climate" within which any given individual grows up, lives, flourishes and/or withers in varying degrees, and then dies.

Fortunately there are many possible varieties (nuances, tones, shades, hues) that exist between loving and respectful guidance and calculating and forced control, which will be evidenced in the pages of this encyclopedia that follow.

Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy—20th Anniversary Edition Now Colorized by Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger (Inner Traditions) considered the best guide to sex and mysticism, redesigned in full color for the new millennium with more than 600 illustrations of the erotic sentiment now with 100 in full color. Sexual Secrets combines the wisdom of the great Eastern sages with images from the West to present a celebration of creative sexuality. The text is basically the same and the only problem in its aging is the unconsciousness sexism it celebrates, a too glib heterosexist and antifeminist point of view. However even with these problems that are in the traditions reported upon much of the information is accurate and clear. Though there are some esoteric points that they fudge upon or get wrong, as often the traditions are more diverse and subtle on some issues than Douglas suggests.  Simply it is better on the erotica than the esoteria.

Biased erotica, mushy esoteria, Nostalgic for Mystic Sex

Looking at it now I realize we've evolved some as a culture less heterosexist. Now perhaps we are more aware of power and shape of female sexuality than we were then. Also it was easier to be accepting of stereotyping as some form of archetypal mandate of gender polarity than it is now. Again homosexuality and bisexuality seem now more normative (even if you are straight), so some of the gay bashing and other rigid gender typing imported from a superficial glance at sexual symbolism around the globe makes the book a little out of focus. Still for many of us, that God wants us to be sexy seems a sinful idea, then this little book will titillate us out of that ugly life-denying myth. So cheers for the effort even if the culture has moved into a wider and more sophisticated grasp of esoteric energy work and meditation than this book can possibly suggest. As a how-to the book is too superficial, and the esoteric meditations are not adequately reported as to become welcome guides on how to let divine energy catch afire in our lovemaking.

The colorizing of some of the black and white line drawings definitely adds to the erotica appeal of the work, and it is as a mild piece of sacred sexuality that the work best serves, that is as entertainment rather than instruction.

Sexual Secrets is the definitive guide to sex and mysticism, revealing the wisdom of the sages of India, Nepal, Tibet, China, and Japan whose teachings on sexuality unveil how physical love can be the pathway to spiritual liberation. In celebration of its 20th year in print, Sexual Secrets has been completely revised and redesigned and includes 100 color illustrations to complement Penny Slinger's unsurpassed black-and-white illustrations, which evoke all the major cultures of the East. Working from contemporary models and from ancient pieces originally commissioned by kings and emperors, Slinger blends images of the West with the sentiments of the East to further enhance the experience of the text and to help in the transmission of the secrets--a celebration of creative sexuality.

The Art of Sexual Magic: Cultivating Sexual Energy to Transform Your Life by Margo Anand (Tarcher Putnam) Cassette (Sounds True) is a landmark book on human sexuality makes the sacred lovemaking techniques of the East fully comprehensible to Western readers. Elegantly illustrated, it helps the reader acquire new attitudes and broaden his or her range of experience, to revitalize and strengthen relationships. 

The Art of Sexual Magic by Margo Anand (Tarcher Putnam) Cassette explores the truly magical power of human sexuality, showing readers how the practice of sexual magic enables couples to focus on their personal vision during sex, and create changes in their daily relationships and circumstances through the energy they produce. The Art of Sexual Magic helps couples discover that sexuality can be a way to satisfy both their physical instincts and their spiritual needs. Margo Anand guides the reader through a nine-week series of unique exercises, many based on ancient Tantric rituals. These exercises are designed to bring the student of sexual magic to actually experience the transformative powers available to every man and woman through this practice. Beautifully illustrated, The Art of Sexual Magic takes Tantric teaching to a new level by showing how focused sexual energy can transform anyone's personal world.

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