Tantra is a powerful substream of Hindu teachings, outside both orthodox Hinduism and the six classical schools of Indian philosophy, but none-the-less, deeply embedded in the matrix of Hinduism.
I have studied Tantra with Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila Saraswati) and Lucy Becker.
Tantric practices seek illumination through the unification of quintessential polarities inherent in the world and one’s self. These opposites are symbolically subsumed as Shiva and Shakti or consciousness and energy, personified as male and female.
Shiva represents universal consciousness diffused throughout the galaxies, while Shakti, divine mother, is the power swinging in a celestial dance, between energy and matter, giving birth to all creation, both TANgible and TRANscendent.
Two paths are available in Tantric philosophy
Dakshina Marga – Right Hand Path
The first path is called Dakshina Marga or the “right-hand path” which means the individual practices meditations designed to unite Shiva and Shakti forces within his own body and without recourse to a partner.
Vama Marga – Left Hand Way
The second path is “Vama Marga” or the “left-hand” way, and it is this way that is sometimes termed “sacred sex” or sexual Tantra. The couple, with their “coupling” worship each other as incarnations, or murtis (forms), of Shiva and Shakti, and the Shakti is the dominant psychic energy that, with worship, can lift them beyond mundane connecting to an ultra-dimensional realm of ego-loss.
Tantra is the yoga of lingam and yoni, shiva and shakti, wand and cup, spine and skull, wafer and wine, candle and bell.