These descriptions of the four seasons of love within tantric ritual are valuable, but only through experience can one really know.
The loving really begins in the winter season. Not that the loving is cold in any way; the love ritual is never cold. It’s just not yet hot. It’s in the beginning stage, when the lovers are reaching towards each other, feeling towards each other, touching, exploring. It’s a time of meeting each other, through touch and the senses of smell and taste, through the eyes, looking into the love, understanding, opening, beginning a journey together. The lovers reach out for each other, exploring, caressing, finding each other, and sharing. This is a time for the lovers to explore and recognize their spiritual connection. It’s a time to look more deeply and to see with more understanding. A deeper connection is being made at the roots, at the heart.
The lovers are grounding themselves to each other, aware of their separation but aware also of a growing connection. It is specially the time for spiritual recognition and appreciation, and a time of heart to heart attunement. This is important for the ritual beginnings. It sets forth an aura of spiritual love and grounds the lovers in their spiritual heart connection. Then, the sexual energies will rise from this recognized spiritual connection. The sexual energies will rise as a natural response to the heart connection, as though being pulled up from the heart.
As the experience of rising sexual energies become more dominant, the lovers enter into the Spring season of love. The spiritual appreciation will still remain, especially if this was well grounded in the winter. Yet the sexual excitement and fire of wanting the other becomes evermore dominant in Spring. The power of the sexual energies begins to rise and pervade the experience, pervading the body, emotions and mind. Both are getting more and more into it, as the sexual energy and excitement builds and builds upon itself.
During this stage of spring, each lover will be mainly expressing just one of love’s approaches, either that of the initiator or that of the receiver. In other words, one person will be more predominately assertive in love-giving, while the other will be more allowing and love-receptive. These two love-approaches are complementing and create a circulating flow of sexual exciting energy that is shared together. But as this continues and intensifies, each lover gradually forgets their distinct approach, as the experience of each partner gradually turns into a shared unity experience, whereby the usual distinctions of separate self and different approaches gradually disappears into a new stage of experience - the unity stage, which is the summer of this love ritual.
So the stage of spring begins with each lover in one of the love-approaches, but as this increases the sexual energy flow, there is a gradual dissolving of such distinctions and a gradual balance. The assertive-giver begins to also feel as the allowing-receiver, while the allowing-receiver begins to also feel as the love-giver. The love receiver begins to feel the other as also receiving, and the love-giver begins to feel the other as also love-giving.
There is an increasing recognition and experience of love unity, as the two love-approaches gradually balance and merge toward one unified experience of giving and receiving love simultaneously. Then, the love summer begins when both lovers are more in the experience of love-unity.
In the summer of love, the energy becomes evermore intense, verging on ecstatic and feeling like one will soon explode, feeling like it is reaching a peak, which is the orgasm of union. Though this doesn't mean that the man has to ejaculate, nor that the ceremony is over. This is the hot and juicy stage of summer, 'the heat', which can bring forth an explosion of complete union and individual annihilation, which is the nirvanic orgasm. The woman will usually ejaculate a sweet essence during her deep orgasm, but the man ought to transcend a physical ejaculation through one of the three techniques explained elsewhere. The actual peak of the union, the explosive bliss of this nirvana, can last for quite awhile, longer than most will think possible.
Then in the next stage, the autumn of the ritual, consciousness gradually descends some to a lower level of physical intensity, or we might say it begins to re-distinguish different aspects of the sexual experience, such as the reality of being a body, being feeling, being breath, and being aware of oneself. It is a stage of assimilating the experience of union into the body, heart, and mind, mainly through conscious breathing and the feeling of sharing all energies with the lover in a sweet and gentle union of being.
But all during this time, the sex is still going on, unless the man has ejaculated and ritual is over. Many consider this to be the most beautiful time of love’s embrace, where the movement is rhythmically gentle but deep, and the kisses are most tasty and sweet. Whereas portions of the summer loving can become almost a frenzy of passionate excitement and surrender, this autumn time has the quality of gentle and relaxed appreciation, delicately and slowly tasting the nectar of union and assimilating this actual essence of union.
At first, it’s like a gradual awakening from a sea of total undifferentiated blissfulness, and you feel like you’re emerging out from unity rather than coming into it as in the summer stage. The blissful energy is shared in a kind of waving sea of love, a oneness of love essence. Gradually, consciousness begins to differentiate the breaths, the bodies, and feelings of love, yet union still remains as the heart feelings and blissful essence flows freely in the lovers as one. This is a beautiful time of gentle love sharing. Gradually, within this autumn stage, the breaths, the bodies, and the feelings regain their own consciousness, though the experience of union remains. The lovers begin to feel more as two, yet in deep relation, rather than being one indistinguishable being. It is here that the lovers can hold the experience of union and remain in deepest connection.
The secret is remaining in the love flow and remaining deeply connected by consciously sharing the sweet essence of union through breath and feeling. The feeling of union, which is an actual essence-nectar accumulated and flowing throughout the lover’s bodies, is breathed in for assimilation into one’s body centres, and mainly into the heart of appreciation, and then this essence feeling of union is radiated out through the breath into the appreciating centres of the lover’s body.
Now there is more of an experience of separation in the lover’s consciousness and feelings, as the intense passion has simmered down. For remember that the transition between spring and summer involved a dissolving of personal separative experience, so in this autumn stage the separative experience has returned. This is not a negative thing; the ecstatic experience of non-separative unity cannot be maintained during all of the love making ritual.
So in the autumn of love the passion is still alive and simmering but not boiling over. This is a beautiful stage as well. Because the sexual energies are not as fired up and boiling over, the lovers can experience each other from a kind of aesthetic distance; realizing the beauty of their individual selves. This distance just means that the lovers are not so completely wrapped up in the experience and energy of union. The embracing relationship of each other’s body, energies, and feelings is still strong and intense, but the intensity of union has lowered to point where each lover can appreciate distinguishable features of the sexual experience, such as the beautiful features of the other, their sensual touch and movement, and distinct sensations throughout one’s body.
The spiritual quality of the lover can also be recognized and appreciated, as one’s consciousness can better focus with its own sense of perspective, not being so wrapped up and immersed in the ecstatic energy of sexual intensity or union. This is an easy time of appreciation and deep felt caring for the other, of simply enjoying the sensations of sexual touch and movement and the quality of the lover’s presence. Here, the lover is most sexually relaxed but remaining excited and aroused as well. There is a balance between arousal and relaxation.
So this is the final season of the love ritual. But it might not actually end at this time; because it can go on into another cycle, and even that could lead to even another cycle. And so the seasons of the love ritual can keep going on, repeating the cycle yet in an ever-deepening way.
So from the autumn stage, the lovers begin to build in excitement and desire for the renewal of increasing pleasure, and so another round towards union enfolds. The initiating lover begins to deepen and gradually speed up the thrusting. The man pushes or is pulled deeper into the woman, while the woman opens more to the man, and the passion increases. And so the ritual moves again into the love stage of spring, the developing heat of ecstasy. One of the lovers takes charge in initiating and stimulating the sexual heat, while the other receptively opens and allows the heat to rise and deepen in its intensity. This energy of rising excitement and desire for the other builds up and up upon itself, as it is reflectively shared between the lovers. The excitement gradually builds toward the stage of summer, when both lovers are passionately pushing themselves towards the other while simultaneously opening completely to the other’s passion and excitement for union. And so it goes.
Note that the stage of winter has been by-passed in this renewal of the cycle. One could enter again into winter but it is not necessary. So the lovers can re-enter right back into the spring; though of course the experience will now be different. And so it goes.
Four possible approaches in spring; four perspectives; four directions
Spring is also called the season of approach, because each lover is approaching the other in one of four possible ways, or from a possible perspective. What this means is that each is entering into love and will later make love and experience love, from a particular perspective. Any one of these perspectives will help rise the intensity of love at spring.
The two fundamental love-approaches have already been mentioned - that of the love-giver and the love-receiver, the assertive approach and the allowing approach. These are called the northern and southern perspectives. Two other approaches, the western and eastern perspectives, to be discussed later, have some similarity with the fundamentals of giving and receiving.
For now, let's discuss it all in a sort of an unorganized way, to see what insights might be gained.
One perspective, or approach, is the desire and intention to please the other. This is the feeling that you are seducing and arousing the sexual energy of your lover. You are the arousor of Shakti within the other. This is an assertive approach which is also being the love-giver. One is 'coming from the north' and being 'in relation to the south'. Its complementing opposite is the southern approach and perspective of being the receiver or of being love-allowing. Each way complements the other; though as the love ritual progresses these distinct approaches begin to balance more and gradually dissolve.
Also to understand is that the person who is in the southern perspective of being the receiver may also, at the same time, be feeling that they are giving as well; but their kind of giving is different - it is more like a giving of feeling (the feeling of love) rather than doing anything particular. For example, a love-giver might be caressing their partner's body, so that this partner is in the love-receiving perspective; and yet the love-receiver could be experiencing an increasing feeling of love for the one caressing - which from their [southern] perspective might feel that a kind of love-giving even the person is not physically doing anything.
In the beginning of a love ritual, the man is usually is the initiator, while the woman is receptive to his advance. But this doesn’t always need be the case. In some rituals the roles are quite reversed, and even within one particular ritual the roles may reverse back and forth at times.
In one ritualistic approach, the man is the horned god arousing the virgin princess. He is enrapturing her with his mouth, his touch and his thrusting hardness. He is taking her. He is serving her. He is the initiator of excitement, as he awakens and raises her sexual pleasure. The woman can take this approach as well. She can be the seducer, the magical priestess of love, the arouser of her lover's sexual excitement, taking initiative to serve his rising intensity of pleasure. Whether the arousor is the man or woman, one has the attitude of giving and serving, of directing energy and movement for the other's pleasure, or of awakening the sexual excitement of the other. This attitude is called the northern way.
The polar opposite of this approach, the southern approach, is being the seduced, the receiver of the other's seduction and giving of pleasure. Here, one feels the other as the giver of enjoyment and one receives this joyously. So in the northern approach, one is in an assertive pole of love-making. But in the southern perspective one has the attitude of receiving and being served, of being awakened and excited by the other's energy and movement. In one way, you feel as the giver and you are initiating more of giving; while in the other way, you feel as the receiver and allowing the other to initiate more of the giving. The two approaches compliment each other, since one is serving love, while the other is receiving love. One perceives the other as receiving one's giving, while the other partner perceives the other as giving what is received.
You see, these are different approaches and perspectives, yet both are related, as one intrinsically assumes the other. The giver approach perceives that his or her lover is enjoyably receiving, while the receiver approach perceives that the other is wonderfully giving. And in most cases the two will compliment each other in this manner. Yet it is possible that both lovers will be in the same perspective at the same time, which will create its own unique experience.
There are no right and wrong ways in all this. You can recognize what perspective you're in at the moment, and you can remain in that, or else alter the approach. There is no rule in this, and each lover can explore the perspectives and approaches without judging which is better and without having to even think much about it. The general advice of tantra is to explore all positions, approaches and perspectives, each in their own time; in order to complete one's understanding of love and to more balance the energies generated by these approaches.
In the spring time of love one of these perspectives will be experienced, one of these approaches will be taken by each lover at any given moment. Yet, the perspectives may reverse and rhythm back and forth during the rising of spring. As the heat of spring rises, the two approaches become closer and closer together and the experience of each may rhythm back and forth more rapidly. It is only in the summer stage that the two approaches or perspectives merge into one, when there is no more sense being the giver or the receiver.
This kind of rhythm, though, has nothing to do with the speed of the movements. The rhythmic movements of spring may become more rapid and almost frantic, or they may be very slow and gentle. Most ideas of tantric loving seem to be that it involves an intentionally slow rhythm, but this is not necessarily the way of tantra. The loving can be fast or slow, hard or gentle, depending on the mood of the moment and the desires of the lovers. The slower movement is often emphasized because of man's usual tendency to thrust hard and rapidly. Woman do like it this way, at times, but they often prefer the slower and gentler approach.
There are also the mistaken views that either the more rapid or the slower rhythm builds the man's excitement. Yet the truth is that both fast and slow rhythms can be intensely exciting. It just depends on the energies at the time, and there is no rule except to follow the way of one's feelings. If the man starts to feel over-stimulated and about to release himself when the movement is fast then he should slow it down, but if this over-stimulation arises when in slow rhythm then he can speed it up to release the tension without releasing his fluids. If the woman feels a desire to either slow it down or speed it up then she should either attempt to initiate this or kindly ask the man for her desire.
If the man or the woman is in the northern approach, he or she will want to serve the other's greatest enjoyment. If in the southern approach he or she will be enjoying the love that is given. Two other approaches are possible and evident in the love stage of spring. In one approach, called the eastern way, the lover seeks to serve his or her own enjoyment, initiating whatever one desires and going for what one wants. It is a kind of taking from the other what is desired. It is more like a grabbing and getting what you want, rather than an attitude of serving and giving what the other desires or what the other excites to. In this sense it could be called a selfish way, a kind of greediness and initiative to satisfy one's hunger for the other. But we shouldn't think this as wrong or unspiritual in the loving. There's nothing wrong with going for what you want or doing what satisfies.
In fact, this approach compliments well with a northern approach of the other, since if a lover's wish, intent and perspective is to serve and give to the other, then they would be well pleased that the other is not only enjoying what is given but reaching for what is wanted as well. The receiver of love's serving approach could also be actively reaching and grabbing for what is spontaneously desired. This active desire of the eastern approach would either be the same as what is being given, or complimentary to it, or in opposition to it. If in opposition, then the northern serving approach would naturally adjust to the eastern approach, since the northern seeks to serve the other's desire no matter what it is. We can think of the unselfish serving approach as complimenting well with the selfish getting approach, and vice versa.
The eastern approach is also complimenting to the southern approach. The self-assertive maneuvers of one lover toward satisfying their own desires will involve grabbing, thrusting, licking, kissing, or moving in whatever way pleases, which involves the other lover who, if in the southern perspective, will naturally enjoy any of this, seeing it all as pleasing gifts from the other. Even if the southern lover recognized this eastern selfish approach of their lover, he or she could either receptively appreciate the excitement of all this hungry grabbing and kissing as a delightful gift or, he or she might alter the perspective to the northern approach and feel as the willing giver of oneself for this hungry taking by the other. So, we can see how this eastern approach can compliment well with the other two as mentioned.
At times the differences between these three can feel to be very subtle. This is because they each can alter back and forth quite quickly in each person's experience. But generally, one will be recognized at any one moment. One way to view these is the northern as a kind of assertive giving, the southern as an appreciative receiving, and the eastern as an assertive taking. The last approach to speak about is the western approach or perspective. We can view this as an appreciative giving.
But first, use the imagination to understand the three perspectives so far. Imagine being the man thrusting the woman. He is in the perspective of `I'm pleasing her with my thrusting. I'm exciting her. I'm giving to her.' Imagine the woman on top of the man and rhythmically pushing herself down onto his hardness and in the perspective of `I'm pleasing him with my movement. I'm exciting him. I'm giving to him.' These are what we call northern perspectives.
Or, imagine the thrusting man is in the perspective of `I'm receiving so much enjoyment from her. She is giving so much to me.' The thrusting woman could be in a similar perspective as she delights from his hardness inside her. This is the southern perspective of receiving. The lover initiating movement or thrusting is more likely to be in the `I'm giving' perspective rather than the `I'm receiving' perspective, yet it is perfectly possible to imagine the opposite and this can easily be experienced in loving.
For the eastern, imagine the thrusting man in the perspective of `I'm getting the pleasure I want. I'm positively taking all I can. I'm taking enjoyment.' This is easy to imagine as the man thrusts into the woman. It is also easy to imagine the woman pushing herself down on the man with the same perspective and thoughts, `I'm getting what I want. I'm taking it for my pleasure.'
Try to see the difference in these perspectives. There is no judgment as to which is better or which is correct. All that might be said is that one would have a limited and one-sided perspective about loving if he or she always or predominately took only one of these approaches. One might also consider and explore how these different approaches create their own distinct energies and feelings in the love ritual and how they each might guide the love activity in different directions. In terms of energy flow the northern is assertively or willingly giving, the eastern is assertively taking or getting, and the southern is appreciatively receiving or accepting.
The western, then, is appreciatively giving. This is the most difficult to understand, because it is the least spoken of. It is the perspective that my appreciation and enjoyment of the movements and touch is my giving to the other's enjoyment. One gives to the other by appreciating and enjoying the other. One is accepting and enjoying the love given, the pleasure from the other, but the perspective of this is not of being served, as in the southern perspective, but rather of serving through the accepting appreciation.
Imagine the woman being thrusted by the man. She could have the perspective of `I'm giving myself to him. I'm serving his enjoyment'. This is northern. Or, she could have the perspective of `I'm receiving so much enjoyment from him. He gives me so much,' which is the southern. Or, she might have the perspective of `I'm getting what I want from him', where she doesn't feel so much that she is receiving his giving but is, instead, taking or grabbing what she wants. This is the eastern perspective of taking, but it is most likely in an assertive position on top of or above the partner, rather than below as in the above example. It is less usual for the woman when she is being thrusted and less usual for the man when he is being thrusted by the woman; yet, the perspective is possible.
In contrast with the northern perspective, the southern perspective is less likely when in the more dominant top positions, but this too is very possible and quite evident in people's experience. The western perspective, in contrast to the eastern, is more likely in the below positions and less likely in what are commonly thought of as dominant assertive top positions, yet it too is possible in any position.
The western perspective or approach is giving to the other's excitement and joy by accepting and appreciating whatever they give. It's like appreciating another human being for whoever they are, out of the intention to serve their expanding unfoldment. It is an approach of giving that is distinctly different from the eastern approach of taking. It is also different in that it appreciates whatever is given in experience, rather than assertively trying to get what one feels to be the most desired in experience as in the eastern approach. So it is a kind of accepting approach or perspective, accepting and appreciating what is already, rather than trying to get. Yet it is also a giving approach.
Being accepting and appreciative, it sounds like the southern approach. The difference is that the southern lover feels to be just receiving and served by the other, as in `he's giving me his loving and I'm soaking up the enjoyment.' While the western lover feels to be giving to the other by appreciating the other, as in `his loving grows for me as I appreciate it,' or `her love blossoms as I receive it with appreciation and enjoyment.' My appreciation, my excitement, my loving what she does for me turns her on, excites her, gives her enjoyment.
To some people this may sound like faking it or making the other believe they are great to boost their ego or whatever. This isn't to fake enjoyment or to give the other an illusion of excitement. You just get into what the other has to offer. You get into the appreciation, into the experience unfolding in the moment. You find what is enjoyable. You find what is good. Like with food, you begin appreciating the taste. Your appreciation grows as you give the food respect and open yourself to its appreciation. This western approach is like this. You are opening yourself to appreciation, which is opening yourself to your lover and their special kind of loving.
The approach is a kind of getting into the appreciation or opening to the enjoyment. It's not so passive as the southern approach which is purely receiving and enjoying the active love of the other. The western approach receives and enjoys, yet makes a certain effort to open appreciatively to what the other has to offer as a way of giving to the other. Appreciation becomes the gift of love to the other and it also opens one up to different possibilities of enjoyment, just as giving appreciation to a taste opens up more possibility of enjoyment.
You may have something else in mind that is thought to be more desired, or you may feel a desire to have the experience some other way, but instead of asserting your desire as in the eastern approach, or instead of asserting what you think would serve the other most enjoyably as in the northern approach, you assert nothing new. Instead, you respond positively and appreciatively to what is given. So it is a positive and giving response, a kind of serving as in the northern approach. Yet it is not a giving by what one is doing with one's body to stimulate the other. It is a giving by opening one's heart and appreciation for the other. This appreciation may be for what the other is giving, or it may be an appreciation or excitement over some attractive feature or expression of the other. It is not essentially an appreciation for being served with stimulation and excitement by your lover, the southern perspective of being the receiver of love-service. Rather, it is appreciating more of what is being given or more of how the other is, or appreciating more of the overall love experience, as a kind of love-service to your lover, an active giving of appreciation as a way of loving, a receiving of the other and an expressed enjoyment of the other as an act of loving. This is the western approach.
By using the four directions in these descriptions we are not suggesting anything about people who live in the south or in the east or wherever, nor about western and eastern societies. It is more about from where one approaches or from where the perspective. The northern symbolizes the attitude of service, as coming from above to below. The southern symbolizes the attitude of being served, as allowing the above from below. The eastern symbolizes the attitude of taking for oneself, as in grasping with the right hand. The east is on the right when looking at the north as above. And the western symbolizes the attitude of giving appreciation for what is given, as with the left hand or softer side of the body. These different approaches or perspectives are all within the season of spring.
The summer is a time of pure union or mergence, when there is no approach or perspective as in the spring, and the autumn is a time of warm, meditative after-glow just after the intense peaking of the orgasmic summer. The summer is really a continuous orgasm, though having various degrees of peaking intensity.
Autumn is a time of glowing, warm, melting love; contrasted with summer's hotness. Autumn is a different kind of ecstasy, a valley of ecstasy rather that a peak of ecstasy, not so intensely wild, but a love that is intensely close and warm.
Winter is the time of purely recognizing and appreciating spiritual qualities in the other with a certain aesthetic distance as one might do with forms of art. I don't mean a lot of distance, and I'm not suggesting one needs to be anymore physically distant. The couple could be in full embrace, lips touching and the hard Vajra thrusting. The winter also has a warm and cozy quality. But it is the least sexually intense, having more of an appreciating and heart quality. It is a time of connecting with the lover through the heart and through appreciation, which begins to arouse the more intense sexual feelings.
Also, in speaking about spiritual qualities, these are not beyond human qualities. The spiritual qualities are the qualities of love and beauty, as well as sexiness, enchantment, or any quality which has the power to move one to greater appreciation and enjoyment. We can also call these the lover qualities. They are most definitely human and of this person. We call these spiritual qualities for two reasons. One, because they are the most appreciated qualities of your lover. These are special enjoyed qualities about him or her as a radiant expressive being, not just about what he or she does or how they sexually feel. It's something about what comes through the personality, the face, the eyes, and the expressions.
Second, these qualities can be perceived as emerging through your lover from a greater spiritual being, one of the goddesses or gods. This is when you recognize your lover manifesting a great spiritual being. All of a sudden you might see this greater power inspiring and radiating through your lover. When you first open to this and see such a power or such an all-embracing love you may be instantly frightened. You may immediately turn away from this perception or shut it off, which is what many people do when this unexpectedly occurs. The experience is immediately denied. It's quickly cut-off from belief and acceptance. In fact, the potential power of this experience is why many people fear sex on the deeper level of opening. But the tantra encourages these spiritual experiences of the lover and accepts the possible immensity of it. The tantra lover opens her or himself to these experiences and even fearlessly surrenders to their great power.
These spiritual perceptions, appreciations and experiences begin in this winter stage when the lovers open to each other as spiritual human beings and begin to connect more strongly in their love and appreciation for each other. This spiritual connection and these spiritual recognitions will carry on into the other stages, being further assimilated into those seasonal experiences.
Within the love ritual these seasons will have their own time. None need to be rushed through or passed by. They naturally, spontaneously progress into eachother without any seeming effort, because when one season comes to its own fulfillment, at this time, the next season naturally unfolds from it. The ritual always begins in winter and most pleasantly ends in autumn. It always proceeds in the natural order of winter, spring, summer, autumn, and winter again. Winter cannot just become summer without a spring in between, nor can autumn unfold without a preceding summer. Yet regression is always possible and very likely within the overall ritual. There is nothing wrong with this, since the love experience might often rise with intensity, lower a bit, then rise again, and so on. Spring may drift back to winter for a bit, then come back to spring, or summer may drift back to spring and back again many times.
The archetypal ritual progresses continuously from winter to autumn without any drifting back in seasons, but this ideal model may or may not occur and it doesn't really matter if there is rhythmic movement between two seasons. In fact, this is very enjoyable. In the tantra we do not hold any sense of doing it just right or the same every time. You explore. You discover. You love. And you love the unfoldment as it so happens. There is no right or wrong. If there is a right ideal in the tantra it is the fulfillment of all seasons in the ritual and a greater ecstasy and variety of love's experience.