Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Tantra Goddess by Caroline Muir

I am pretty sure that conventional little ole me is not really the correct audience for this book. I mean, when I veer from the traditional, it's something like prefering to receive tulips over roses for Valentine's Day. It's not in living an open and polyamorous lifestyle or sharing intimacy with multiple partners on a constant basis and calling it sexual healing. Not only is it not up my alley, but I am more than a little sceptical about the movement as a whole. So this book, while eye-opening in many ways, was more than a galaxy outside of my own personal comfort zone.

Caroline Muir's memoir of sexual awakening opens as she is trapped in a stultifying marriage trying to be the mother she was not ready to be. She finds sex uninteresting and lackluster and so finds it odd that her husband is crushed by her infidelities. Escaping the staid suburban existence that she finds so suffocating, she starts on her quest to become a fully realized woman, marrying again (twice), and continually changing her life at each new stage, reinvention at its most extreme. Ultimately she meets Charles Muir, who becomes her beloved and introduces her to the practice of tantric sexual healing. The bulk of the memoir is focused on Muir's relationship, personal and professional, with Charles Muir, one of her husbands and co-author with her of a book that is apparently the seminal work on tantric sex.

She works through her own feelings of possessiveness about Charles and embraces the life of multiple sexual partners, the concept of healing someone through sex and touching, and the casual, contancy of sex that her husband advocates. Although the memoir is billed as a memoir of sexual awakening, it is quite overwhelmed by the descriptions of sex, both physically and emotionally, offering little else in the telling. Important people in Muir's life are introduced but only discussed in terms of their place in her bed or in helping her to heal (through sexual play and touching of course) and so they never become fully realized people in their own right.

Quite honestly, Muir comes off as not terribly comfortable with the lifestyle which she chose, only living it to please her beloved, who is not willing to give up other women even when Muir begs him (he's their teacher and healer, after all). This pattern of pleasing the man in her life was also the case with the men who came before Charles Muir so in this at least she seems not to have made any progress. She claims female empowerment but this claim just doesn't come through her story at all. And for as many sexual encounters as Muir details, the specifics are awfully similar in each case. There were countless times during sex, either with Charles or with one of the women they were healing, that the reader is informed that Muir soaked through 4 towels in her release of amritsa (female ejaculatory fluid). Her terminology for body parts is apparently grounded in the whole tantric movement but really just comes off as coy and strange; calling them a yoni and a lingam does not make them any less a vagina and a penis and makes it sound as if she's avoiding calling them what they are in an effort to minimize the fact that she and her then-husband are having copious amounts of unprotected sex with virtual strangers under the guise of teaching and healing.

Worse yet, when I set the book down, I had no desire to pick it back up again and read more about this fairly yawn-inducing alternative lifestyle. Writing the book may have given Muir insight into her own polyamorous sexuality and I hope she's living the contented, happy life she has been so obviously chasing all her life to the detriment of the connections she already had (most obviously with her daughter), but the journey as presented here left me cold.

Thanks to Meryl Zegarek Public Relations for sending me a copy of the book to review.


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