In India, it is normal and even healthy that women love each other, and that they have sexual relationships with one another.
However, this implies that they also have a male lover. The girls of high social stature were raised in the company of SAKHI - girls coming from poor families, who were considered and treated as sisters of the rich girl.
The intimate, physical erotic contact has always been considered as normal and healthy in all oriental cultures. Quite often, the sisters or friends used to share the same bed.
Nonetheless, the term SAKHI is related to the term SHAKTI , which signifies the principle of the sheer vital feminine force, the primordial energy of the Tantra . Having a SAKHI as companion was vitalizing, auspicious and 'different'.
The accepted belief is that within such a community of sisters (owing to the complex processes of resonance), the womanliness of all members/participants became stronger and more accentuated.
Through subtle consonance and empathy, a SAKHI would add her own qualities and experiences to those of her sister, enriching thus her inner universe.
The rich women and their SAKHI-S were often inseparable. Moreover, when a rich woman was getting married, her SAKHI-S became naturally the husband's concubines, and they would assist the wife in their rituals performed always with sexual continence .
Within such a community of sisters, the Sapphic activities were considered perfectly natural, and the ancient Hindu art has illustrated this fact in many instances.
The communities of sisters have evolved, in time, in a polygamous society. Usually, the wives and sisters would share a profound intimacy, and the caresses they exchanged were not considered perversions, on the contrary, they were encouraged and viewed as the expression of true and deep love and affection.
Ramayana, the famous Hindu epic, contains a fragment describing in a poetic manner the Sapphic practices in a home:
'Countless beautiful, sensuous women were lying or sleeping on the carpets, after they had spent their night making love. Their breath was perfumed because of the sweet vine. While still dreaming, some of them would turn towards their companions and taste the sweetness of their lips as if they were the lips of the master.
Their passion, once aroused, drove them to make love to one another, and afterwards they would sleep in their luxurious sheets, in the arms of their lover, with the head on their bellies, breasts, thighs, or back. These charming young women, having made love to one another, would now sleep haphazardly, allowing a sweet slumber to take them over.'
The rich Hindu women would regularly hire a number of female servants, whose duties included, among other things, bathing, ointment, smearing, massaging - in short the adornment of their mistress.
This custom is still in use in contemporary India. The close relationships with the SAKHI-s would naturally develop into Sapphic relationships, especially in the case of beautiful, sensuous and lonely women.
The KAMA SUTRA offers detailed descriptions of the way women should use their mouth and tongue in order to stimulate the YONI . The same book describes the way in which the sexual desires may be satisfied using certain bulbs, vegetables or fruits, whose form resembles to that of the LINGAM .
Unlike male homosexuality, which is considered sinful, Sapphic love was never looked upon as a sin or an insult for the Hindu law. The miniature paintings dating from the medieval period often show several women caressing each other.
For instance, the paintings presenting Krishna and his Gopi-s, often related to the Gopi-s in an erotic manner, that is they are presented in passionate sensual embraces.
The Tantric and Buddhist literature contain a multitude of references to the extraordinary regenerative and transcendental power inherent in such communities of sisters. This teaching is especially underlined in the Taoist tradition.
Moreover, the contemporary Hinduism describes five distinct categories of Sapphism. The 'classic' form of Sapphism practiced in the West is the inferior type in Orient.
In fact, it is considered degeneration from the highly spiritual forms of Sapphism, which imply continence and not the orgasm with the discharge of sexual energy.
In the old times, Southern India had close contacts with Egypt. India was famous for its refined silk, spices, and last but not least, for the women expert in the art of lovemaking and for the dancers in the temples.
The ancient Egyptian laws did not forbid Sapphism; moreover, there is certain archaeological evidence that the Egyptian women often had intimate relationships.
The images inside the Egyptian tombs present servants sensually caressing their mistresses, as well as some images from the harem, of a striking resemblance with the Hindu.
The Jewish law did not forbid Sapphism as well. As to the Islamic society, which has always encouraged polygamy, Sapphic love was quite popular, and a common practice not only inside the harem, but also outside it.
There are some traditions sustaining that Mohamed had declared Sapphism an outlaw practice. However, the Arabic historian Abd-al-Latif al-Baghadi wrote in the 13th century: 'the woman who has not tasted the delights of another woman's body certainly is not from our part of the world'.
The obvious contradiction may be explained in term of Arabic men being afraid that the women would gain in strength. The Arabic mentality implies that the woman is a mere possession symbolizing the man's social status, reason for which they should be kept under control rather than elevated or free through mystical sexuality.
In many of the so-called 'heathen' cultures across the world, the intimate sexual contact between women is considered as healthy and natural. This fact is valid mostly in the matriarchal societies. Many tribes in Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and Southern America consider Sapphism as integrant part of their socio-religious system.
For instance, in the African tribe Paia, belonging to the Bantu culture, a woman may lose her virginity only having sexual relations with another woman. The later is carefully chosen, because they will become sisters afterwards and will spend together three days each month, during which they will practice Sapphism.
A similar habit exists in the Luduku tribe, in Congo. The young women from New Guinea tribes are accustomed to practice oral sex with their elderly friends, in the idea that thus they will absorb a part of the feminine wisdom and sensual charm of their more experienced friends.
In China and Japan, Sapphism is quite natural and common. According to the Taoist tradition, the woman has an almost inexhaustible Yin energy. Moreover, the principle according to which beautiful and sensuous women may increase reciprocally their vital fluids is a basic one.
In the West, the communities of women have often been misjudged and misunderstood. Recent research indicated that the great majority of Western women have had, along their lives, Sapphic experiences, once or several times. Nonetheless, in the West the conviction that Sapphism is a perversion continues to hold important place.
The most famous of all gay women was undoubtedly the Greek poetess Sapho. Most of her writings were destroyed in 1073, at the order of Pope Gregory the VII-th. Sapho lived on the Lesbos Island in the VI-th century before Christ.
The term 'lesbianism' and 'Sapphism' derive directly from her reputation of loving women. According to Socrates' own words, Sapho was a woman of dazzling beauty and incredible intelligence. Plato called her 'the tenth muse', and the great poet Ovid used to recommend her work to all young women.
Practically, her name gained the infamous present connotation only after the affirmation of Christianity.
Nonetheless, the communities of women do not necessarily imply that they have sexual relationships. Still, if such occasions arise spontaneously, the methods through which two women may reach sexual satisfaction are varied and numerous.
The esoteric teachings underline the importance of kiss. Kiss is said to increase the element Water in a person, element associated usually with the moon, which governs the menstruation.
The Taoist teachings insist on the importance of oral stimulation of the mouth, YONI , breasts, etc., as being an excellent means for women to amplify their feminine qualities.
The Tantric and Taoist teachings share the same perspective on this aspect, and even encourage the sexual relationships with continence , between women, but indicating also that the women should also have a male lover.
However, Western women attempting to explore their own sexuality should be warned that Sapphic love is not an alternative to heterosexual love. Neither the Tantric teaching, nor the Taoist teaching encourages exclusive practice of Sapphic love. The reason is that both traditions consider that the most important aspect is the absolute unity of the two universal principles, masculine and feminine.
A Sapphic relationship, or even a community of women who practice Sapphism implies a mutual, true love, sexual continence, profound state of transfiguration and generosity.
The modern woman is determined to look upon the other women as competition, rather than friends or allies. The women of the ancient Orient knew the true communion and feminine solidarity based on attraction and even love.
The Tantric tradition has a lot to offer to modern women, if they tried to understand the profound significance of Sapphic love, as well as the practical methods through which women may become emancipated in the true sense of the word, gaining thus an inner, lasting freedom.