In 2020, while most people were in quarantine, carefully watching the news, or in the shock of lockdown, I was boarding a plane to Costa Rica to meet a guy from London who’d been romancing me the entire year. He had been sending me gifts, spending time with me on Zoom dates, and chatting with me for two hours a night. It was so exciting - I would meet my international lover for the first time!  

Not only that, but our love was tantric! We sent each other tantra articles and read them together, talked openly about our sexual desires and preferences, and shared ahem…a lot…over the phone.  Beautiful, intimate moments, silent moments, vocal moments. Or just breathing together for long stretches of time.  

So when I boarded the plane with my suitcase full of lingerie, feathers, and yoni eggs, I chuckled to myself - I was a tantric woman!  Embarking on a true lovers’ adventure! Nevermind the pandemic. Nevermind the economy. I was too busy daydreaming…imagining myself living in London, wearing chic fashion, going to hip restaurants with my new London friends, gaining admiration from folks back home.

Turbulence shook me out of my fantasy. It was mild compared to the shock and plot twist I was about to face, but had no idea was coming.
Let me backtrack to how I discovered tantra.

Tantra first entered my world in 2008 when I signed up for a subtle yoga teacher training in Asheville NC, not realizing the teacher’s background was in tantra. She invited us to chant a lot of mantra, which was done sweetly and with real purity, and she led us through a special tantric ceremony at the end. It was magical and left a lasting impact.

Then in 2017, tantra appeared in my life again, through another woman - a sacred sexuality coach. This woman happened to be Russian and her confidence, beauty, and naturalness captivated me. I did her main program for women and started doing the practices, noticing soon after that men seemed more drawn to me. They offered favors, attention, or guidance and I was able to receive from these men without guilt - a huge game changer for me!

So it turned out my London lover happened to be following the same teacher on Instagram and we started bonding over her content. Now here we were, a year later, manifesting it all in the 3D!  Plane tickets, two Airbnbs - one in the jungle with a pool, another with a view of a volcano with its own private trails, garden, and waterfall. Sloths, monkeys, beaches, hiking, hot springs, amazing food, and tantric sex - all waiting for us!

Soon the big moment arrived and we greeted each other at the airport in our masked awkwardness.Then we jumped in the rental jeep and headed into the unknown…

Several hours later it was night and we were still in the unknown - lost among Costa Rica back roads. I faintly remembered a coworker’s warning a few days earlier when I had told him the details of my trip: “That’s cowboy country. Better getcha’ one.” Luckily, the locals were out at 10pm, incredibly kind, and willing to help show us the way.

We finally got to the Airbnb, feeling tired and unsexy.

The next four days were glorious and I’ll always cherish them. But they quickly faded into the background. On the fifth day, things took a turn for the worse. My London lover was suddenly ill and as much as I tried to deny it, he had come down with the one thing we feared the most - COVID.

From there, it was all kind of a blur. I remember a lot of napping, laying around, and feeling miserable. Somehow we managed to make it to the next Airbnb. By that time he was on the upswing and now I was on the downturn.

The low point was sitting alone in my bikini poolside in the jungle with a fever and chills, crying and bored, trying to feel glamorous while he slept all day inside.

The high point was when we took a bunch of Tylenol and danced around naked in the Airbnb to disco music, trying to make the most of it.

Ultimately, you learn a lot about a person by how they handle hardship. You find out the truth of who they are and if their core values match yours. We parted ways after the journey. As rocky as it was and for personal reasons, it felt right to end it with him romantically.

What started out as a tantric fantasy ended as a huge reality check that shed light on what I thought tantra was vs. what it really is.

Tantra is a spiritual path of embracing reality intimately. Not just when things are going well. Not just when things are sexy. Not just when you’re on a high or in a bliss state. The true grit of tantra is to say YES to life in all its totality - even when it’s hard, when there’s suffering, when you feel low emotionally, and when your body feels sick. Tantra means opening to ALL the human experiences and, rather than being the cold observer or the quiet witness, being the engaging lover - communing with these gritty experiences as sacred. It’s a deep path, a radically embodied one, and an earthy intimate one.

After this epic failure of a romantic getaway, it occurred to me that the real love story here was with the Divine. A bigger Love had held me on that trip. Afterwards, I integrated that Love into my body and nervous system. The whole thing was a huge upgrade - an immune system upgrade, a spiritual upgrade, a wisdom upgrade, a truth upgrade, and a self-esteem upgrade.

Although my London lover and I did share some sexy moments on the trip, those moments were actually the least tantric of all. True tantra was life greeting me saying: “Welcome to the present moment! How deep are you willing to go? How intimately can you accept it? How much can you open to without shutting down?”

I believe that when our capacity for uncharted self-acceptance expands, we attract lovers, friends, and life partners who can meet us just as deeply.  

In 2021, the Divine love story continued. My relationship to tantra deepened when I was hired to work at a tantra school - the Tantrika Institute - supporting the work of a reputable male tantra teacher. From his books and talks, I learned much about the history and philosophy of tantra, and was humbled to learn that most of the embodied practices and meditations of classical tantra are all about the heart space and emotional integration.

Four months later, another safe illusion cracked wide open. This reputable male teacher revealed to us that he was half-a -million dollars in debt to investors and would need to lay off the entire staff in order to keep his beloved retreat center going.

Once again, tantra had come to peel off the rose-colored glasses, showing me that there was something even more tantric than organized ‘tantra’.  Tantra couldn't be sold or organized into a school. Tantra was life, unpredictability. True tantra was the wild nature of reality that expanded past any teacher’s knowledge or prestige.

You can call it liberation, the wild force of reality, Love, or Impermanence. It keeps leading me to new places and new connections, each one more aligned than the last. It has led me here to write for the New Earth Almanac and keeps inspiring me to grow my coaching business.

I continue to dance back and forth between classical Eastern tantra and more Westernized sacred sexuality. I equally enjoy selling yoni eggs and pleasure wands to women as I do discussing tantra philosophy and reading heady translations of Sanskrit.

Mostly, I hope to point people to their innate belonging! Tantra is a heart-centered, grounding, and transformative path. It makes us conscious of the immense power of our emotions/desires and makes us start to want our own life. It’s an energizing path of self-love, one that allows much expansion in the nervous system, along with pleasure, beauty, creativity, surprise, and epic plot twists along the way!

A Tantric Tarot Spread

This spread looks at how energy polarizes within us into masculine and feminine expressions as based on tantra yoga philosophy. The Shiva card reveals where we’re leading with penetrating awareness and the Shakti card reveals where our spontaneous feeling energy is leading, and the Union card shows how we can bring these extremes into balance.

Draw cards and place them according to the order of Shiva, Shakti and Union above!

Tara Kimes is a self-love coach who helps people honor their desires so they can feel abundant in or out of a partnership. She believes the moon can be a portal to magnetic power, attraction, and abundance. She uses embodiment, moon medicine, and tarot to help people change subconscious programs of striving/lack into ease, receptivity, and magnetic power. She has also recorded sacred chant music and produced an album "Nourishment" in 2020 with 25 people in Louisville, KY (on Spotify). Catch her weekly Instagram Live series 'Taroetry' on Thursdays (@readings_and_rituals).

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