Hê eis Hen Askêsis
Exercitatio ad Unitatem
Exercise for Unity
Tantra LITE

(c) 1995, Apollonius Sophistes


Empedocles was a Greek shaman (iatromantis) of the fifth century BCE and one of the founders of Greek philosophy (he discovered the four elements). Empedocles explained that there are two great living forces in the universe, which he called Love (Philotês) and Strife (Neikos) and assigned to Aphrodite and Ares. According to Hesiod, the Goddess Love and the God Strife, offspring of Night (Nux), were ancient dieties, predating the Olympians. The original golden age was the Reign of Aphrodite, when all things were united and Love permeated the length and breadth of the well-rounded cosmic sphere. But Strife, as the River Styx surrounding the Sphere, broke its Unity, and cleaved the One into Many. It divided the four elements, which ever since combine and separate under the opposing actions of Love and Strife to produce the changing world with its manifold objects and qualities. As Heraclitus said, "Through Strife all things come into being." Into the world with Strife came dualism and the tools of discrimination (for good or ill): oaths (sworn on the Styx), bargains, justice, weights and measures, science.

Empedocles said that Strife also divided the one immortal soul of Love into many individual souls, each comprising both Love and Strife in some proportion; these immortal souls are reborn time and again into mortal bodies, which are animated by mortal souls compounded from the four elements.

In this day now we have come from the apex of the Reign of Aphrodite to the nadir of the Reign of Ares. We have come from the solidarity of the tribe to the strife of group against group and individual against individual. For Neikos is the attraction of like for like, which separates the four elements and divides people from those unlike them; Ares works through jingoism, racism, bigotry and selfishness.

Aphrodite was called Pandemos - the Goddess of All People - for, like Philotes, She draws together everything, both like and unlike, into One. To return to the Reign of Aphrodite we must invite Philotes into our lives, for Aphrodite does not demand that we be passionate, sexual lovers of everyone else; it is sufficient that we be united by Philotes, whose name means Affection and Friendship as well as Love. She comes when Strife is banished, and whenever we dissolve the divisions between us, we take a step back to the "well- rounded sphere permeated by Philotes," which was the cosmos of the golden age. This is based on Empedocles' Hymn to Her:

Philotes, Thou whose arms surround the world,
embracing all together, joined as one,
we contemplate Thee, who cannot be seen,
and feel Thee dwelling in our mortal limbs.
We call Thee Friend, for Harmony's Thy gift,
and Joy Thou'rt named, and Aphrodite too.
When people gather, You arrive unseen;
in lofty clouds You circle like a dove,
and draw us close in bonds of common Love.
Hail, fair Goddess! Khaire!
The following "Exercise toward Unity" is one step in this direction.


This exercise aims to dissolve interpersonal boundaries by encouraging openness, trust, compassion, kindness, connection, respect, affection and love. These attitudes are encouraged if the participants wear little or no clothing, but that's not necessary. After creating sacred space, banishing Strife and invoking Love, participants are paired up randomly, and a simple counting device ensures that eventually each participant is paired with each other participant. (Since sexual intimacy is not a specific goal, but dissolving inhibitions is, no distinction is made between different- sex and same-sex pairings.) Each pair works through three activities,
Admiration, Praise and Touch, which may overlap or blend into each other. Central to all three is experiencing the embodied divinity in the other -- "Thou art God. Thou art Goddess." The work of each pair begins with the partners saluting each other.

(1) In Admiration, each partner admires the other as embodied divinity and each accepts the admiration of the other as that befitting a divinity. Every characteristic of the other is seen as a manifestation of this divinity, and therefore worthy of praise. This is a kind of meditation, in which the goal is for your awareness to zoom in and focus on the partner in the here-and-now; your partner should fill your consciousness, so that it begins to merge with the divine other. Allow your heart open to your partner and feel the boundaries begin to dissolve.

In this first activity the partners connect primarily through their eyes and the sense of sight, secondarily through the sense of smell.

(2) In Praise each partner compliments the other, and the hearer strives to accept the praise as the adoration that a devotee owes a divinity. This is not a time for lies, but for honest admiration of the other, for whatever their appearance may be, they are embodied divinity and therefore praise-worthy; giver and receiver should each accept it in this way.

The partners connect through the sense of hearing.

(3) In Touch each partner treats the other as a divinity to whom they owe the pleasure of touch, and by whom they expect to be blessed by touch. They may touch each other in whatever ways are acceptable to them both; caressing, hugging, kissing and licking are typical. Partners may feed each other fruit, candy etc. Sexual contact is fine, if mutually agreeable, but the limited time during which partners are paired (5-10 min.) will preclude serious sex. The attitude of each to the other is as a devotee to a God/dess; each strives to honor and expects to be honored.

In this activity the partners connect through the senses of touch and taste.

The three activities together allow the partners to relate through all five senses. (The activities correspond loosely to the second and third sacraments of the Liturgia Philotetos; the first sacrament is also included if each participant engages in self-admiration, (silent) self-praise and self-touch - essentially honoring their own divinity.)

At the end of a pair's time together, they salute each other with some words such as "Thou are God/dess." After all pairs have connected, the Goddess is thanked and the circle is opened.


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