Tantra: The Yoga of Sex, by Omar V. Garrison. Hdbk. Purple cloth boards. Lacks d.j. New York, 1964. 252 pp. One flyleaf, its verso possibly containing an illustration, may or may not have been removed: the purple endpaper at any rate is slightly torn where it joins the spine. In other respects this book is in good condition.
“As a medical man who has practised gynecology and psychosomatic medicine for more than twenty years . . .” booms William S. Kroger M.D. at the very start of his Introduction, just to make sure we all acknowledge the deep scientific seriousness of this Sixties sex manual. A little later on he generously concedes that “The female is not less than the male . . .” Well, that’s big of him.
We all know what the Swinging Sixties led to, and Peace and Love (or ‘Love-Tenderness-Respect-Dignity and the Holy’ as Dr Kroger phrases it, with a beatific grin all over his otherwise very solemn face) were not, disappointingly, on the menu; it all ended in tears (assassinations, the Manson killings, Hell’s Angels policing Stones concerts, the Vietnam War and the rest of it).
However, this book still retains some of the freshness and even innocence that were part of that psychedelically coloured false dawn (if you can remember it, you weren’t there, but, reader, I was, and I do). With titles such as ‘Wheels of ecstasy’, ‘Fragrance of Being’ and ‘The Wellspring of Youth’, the fourteen chapters of this learned volume cannot fail to lure in the tyro who wants to know more about tantrism, and maybe set about ‘working with this book’ (Kruger, again), preferably with at least one other partner. Even the slightly faded purple boards have period charm.
Moreover it contains such helpful passages as the following: 'With eyes closed, try to penetrate the interior of the heart. Visualize an arched, dimly lighted cavern, filled with clouds of red mist. Gradually the swirling vapor clouds part and a figure clothed in bright golden light emerges.
Still breathing lightly but rhythmically, focus your deepest thought and aspirations upon this luminous figure. Mentally address to it your wordless longing for contact with your soul's lost identities. Say to it:
"Reveal, reveal thyself to me."
Wait in profound silence until the golden figure is enveloped once more by the billowing red mist, and the cavern of the heart echoes a single note of pure sound, which softly dies away into silence.'
I can’t say that I’ve ever tried this, and at my age it might not be advisable. (Chemical stimulants may well have helped the author, and almost certainly did help many of the book’s original readers.)
One might argue that no one interested in that strange but significant decade should be without a copy of this book; nor should any serious student of yoga. £9.99