This article is from the Magick Tantra FAQ, by Tyagi Nagasiva email@example.com, Catherine Yronwode firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Ceremonial magick is a Hermetic enterprise which assimilates
what it can from a number of global mystical disciplines as
it is able to apprehend them. Tantra yoga has preceded
ceremonial sex magick (of various types) by centuries, but it
is often re-interpreted within the Hermetic framework to add
mystery and draw membership. It is often engaged by individuals
who are members of an occult group and often presumes the
"expertise" or "power" of physical (rather than merely symbolic)
sexuality as a part of the ritual.
Folkloric sex magic has roots that go back to the neolithic
period. Insofar as tantra yoga is thought to derive from a
prehistoric form of goddess-worship, it shares some imagery
and beliefs with folk magic, such as the notion that there
are special magical consequences attendant upon contact
with menstrual blood or other sexual effluvia. However, the
distinguishing characteristics of yoga -- body postures,
breath control, and meditation -- are generally absent in
folk-magic. Folkloric sex magic is most often embarked upon by
solitary practitioners or by professionals (e.g. a root worker)
on behalf of a client. It often presumes the efficacy of an
object (herb, mineral, charm) or an incantation (spell or
prayer) in the manipulation of sexuality.
Tantra yoga is usually undertaken with the guidance of a guru
in a religious group and often presumes the "inferiority" of
practice which includes mere sexuality. It generally involves
a great many supplementary beliefs about cosmology and the
nature of divinity that go far beyond magical workings.
Hindu tantrics seem to regard magic per se as a byproduct
of mystical endeavour, rather than something which infuses
the accomplishment of mystical disciplines. This premise
is at odds with how a variety of Western occultists (e.g.
Aleister Crowley) have portrayed their mystical systems --
Crowley, for instance, placed yoga as a *precursor* to
his sex-magical practice.
For further comparison between sex magic and spiritual sexual
practices see also