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Most models on the origins of tantrism have been either inattentive to or dismissive of non-literate, non-sectarian ritual systems. Groups of magicians, sorcerers or witches operated in India since before the advent of tantrism and continued to perform ritual, entertainment and curative functions down to the present. There is no evidence that they were tantric in any significant way, and it is not clear that they were concerned with any of the liberation ideologies that are a hallmark of the sectarian systems, even while they had their own separate identities and specific divinities. This paper provides evidence for the durability of these systems and their continuation as sources for some of the ritual and nomenclature of the sectarian tantric traditions, including the predisposition to ritual creativity and bricolage.


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Davidson, Ronald M., “Magicians, Sorcerers and Witches: Considering Pretantric, Non-sectarian Sources of Tantric Practices,” Religions (Special Issue on Society for Tantric Studies) 8(9), 2017,188. doi:10.3390/rel8090188.



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