These are some of the most amazing articles. I have returned to them again and again over the years, and they never cease to inspire me and launch me into new gnostic vistas:
Today I remember my dear friend and teacher, Phyllis Seckler (Soror Meral). I wrote this in 2004 on the day of her death.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I first met Phyllis in 1991 e.v. I had written to her as a young man in seek of the Light of Truth, with all of the arrogance and naivete that youth embodies.
My letter was not too long, simply stating that it was “my Will to become a Probationer of A.’.A.’.” She replied back some weeks later with an add for In the Continuum, and a brief letter explaining that she would not admit anyone to A.’.A.’. without first completing Course I of the College of Thelema. My eyes being set on the reward, I immediately wrote back with a letter giving some of my background, and an order for all of the issues of I.T.C.
Weeks passed with no response. I began to feel that my application had been rejected. Then one afternoon the phone rang. It was her. I was speechless. Eventually I managed to get out a few sentences, and it was agreed that I would come up for a private visit.
That first to visit to Oroville is still clear in my mind. As I pulled up into her driveway, she was standing in the garage getting her truck ready. I got out of my car, shaking timidly, and walked up to her. She smiled radiantly and said “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” I replied “Love is the law, love under will.” We shook hands and went inside. Later that day we went to lunch in Oroville and she asked me to do Will. I was completely green, and had not even memorized the small rite, and made a complete fool of myself stumbling through it in front of her. The whole time she was smiling with a twinkle in her eyes, encouraging me. I became her student that day, and nine months later I was admitted into the A.’.A.’. under her guidance as a Probationer.
It was only years later that Phyllis would tell me one day that my first letter to her almost ended up in the trash. She was initially put off by the presumption of my letter, and that I was telling her what my Will was without even asking if she might be willing to take me on as a student. She reconsidered though, and decided to give me a try. The rest is of course history.
Over the years I continued to work under her guidance, travelling to Oroville whenever I could to sit with her for hours and discuss A.’.A.’. and related matters, either in her beautiful garden or in the living room. Sipping on wine, I would sit for hours just listening to her many stories and sharing much laughter.
Phyllis never questioned my direction or choices, but rather always supported the work I was doing and encouraged me to strive for the heights. Through thick and thin, she continued to refer to me as “her rascal.” When I was studying Buddhism and finding ways to incorporate the practice into my work, she encouraged me, saying that she had always admired the Buddha’s writings. When I began integrating Hindu tantrik practices into my studies, she encouraged me greatly, pointing out some of the similarities between the Book of the Law and the Bhagavad Gita. When I told her it was important for me to be able to work the A.’.A.’. system in as pure a form as was possible and independently, she encouraged it, just advising me not to become an “unthinking Crowleyite” (with a little twinkle in her eyes as she said it!) and to never change the name of the lineage from honoring her teacher, Soror Estai. She was open minded enough, and secure enough in her own attainment, to see that there were many avenues and channels of approach to the Light, and that what was right for one aspirant was not necessarily so for another. She was never hung up on “grades, titles and attainments.” She took endless joy in laughing about the ego driven politicking in the various esoteric circles we were involved with, always pointing out that people should rather be focused on doing the Work of Self Attainment rather than bickering and plotting endlessly.
Above all she taught me that Love and Will are paramount to all, and to never lose site of the Holy Guardian Angel, who is the sole rule and comfort, the supreme guide and teacher. She always strongly encouraged the daily reading of the Holy Books, especially AL and Liber LXV, insisting that just a chapter every night before bed would solidly place the books in memory over the years. It was this simple teaching that would form the genesis of the Diamond Sapphire Gem of Radiant Light and the Ordo Sunyata Vajra. She took great joy in pointing out to anyone within ear shot how thickheaded I was at astrology, always taking the opportunity to have me stumble around the triplicities or houses at a class. Well dear soror, I am afraid I am still a poor astrology student! I can see her now shaking her head at me, all the time smiling and radiating so much joy and light, wisdom and strength. Phyllis taught me again and again the importance of laughter in our work, and to always focus on the work and not get caught up in the politics and personalities that abound in Thelema.
Thank you, Soror, for all of your support, love, encouragement and guidance these past 13 years. I will do my best to honor your name, and continue on in the tradition of which you so lovingly taught and entrusted us. I am honored to have been your student and friend.
Love is the law, love under will.
Among the many meanings of the word tantra (root tan, “extend,” “continue,” “multiply”), one concerns us particularly – that of “succession,” “unfolding,” “continuous process.” Tantra would be “what extends knowledge” (tanyate, vistarayate, jnanam anena iti tantram).
We must reckon with possible Gnostic influences, which could have reached India by way of Iran over the Northwest frontier. For more than one curious parallel can be noted between tantrism and the great Western mysterio-sophic current that, at the beginning of the Christian era, arose from the confluence of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Greco-Egyptian alchemy, and the traditions of the Mysteries.
It is noteworth that tantrism developed in the two border regions of India — in the Northwest, along the Afghan frontier, in western Bengal, and especially in Assam. On the other hand, according to Tibetan tradition, Nagarjuna was a native of Andhra in southern India — that is, in the heart of the Dravidian region.
… for the first time in the spiritual history of Aryan India, the Great Goddess acquires a predominant position… In Hinduism, the Sakti, the “cosmic force,” is raised to the rank of Divine Mother who sustains not only the universe and all its beings but also the many and various manifestations of the gods. Here we recognize the “religion of the Mother” that in ancient times reigned over an immense Aegeo-Afrasiatic territory and which was always the chief form of devotion among the autochthonous peoples of India.
But we also recognize a sort of religious rediscovery of the mystery of woman… every woman becomes the incarnation of the Sakti. Mystical emotion in the prsence of the mystery of generation and fecundity — such it is in part. But it is also recognition of all the is remote, “transcendent,” invulnerable in woman; and thus woman comes to symbolize the irreducibility of the sacred and the divine, the inapprehensible essense of the ultimate reality. Woman incarnates both the mystery of creation and the mystery of Being, of everything that Is, that incomprehensibly becomes and dies and is reborn.
A well known myth thus accounts for the birth of the Great Goddess. A monstrous demon, Mahisa, threatened the unverse and even the existence of the gods. Brahma and the whole pantheon appealed to Vishnu and Siva for help. Swollen with rage, all the gods put forth their energies in the form of fire darting from their mouths. The flames joined into a fiery cloud, which finally took the form of a goddess with eighteen arms. And it was this goddess, Sakti, who succeeded in crushing the monster Mahisa and thus saved the world.
Quoting Zimmer: the gods “had returned their energies to the primeval Sakti, the One Force, the fountain head, whence originally all had stemmed. And the result was now a great renewal of the original state of universal potency.”
We must never lose sight of this primacy of the Sakti – in the last analysis, of the Divine Woman and Mother – in tantrism and in all the movements deriving from it. It is through this channel that the great underground current of autochthonous and popular spirituality made its way into Hinduism. Philosophically, the rediscovery of the Goddess is bound up with the carnal condition of Spirit in the kali-yuga. Thus the tantric writers present the doctrine as a new revelation of timeless truth, addressed to the man of this “dark age” in which the spirit is deeply veiled under the flesh.
Tantra is antiascetic and antispeculative. “Donkeys and other animals wander about naked, too. Does that make them yogins?” – Kularnavatantra.
In some tantric schools, contempt for asceticism and speculation is accompanied by complete rejection of all meditation; liberation is pure spontaneity. Saraha writes “The childish Yogins like the Tirthikas and others can never find out their own nature… One has no need of Tantra or Mantra, or of the images of the Dharanis — all these are caused of confusion. In vain does one try to attain Moksa by meditation… All are hypnotized by the system of the jhanas (meditation), but none cares to realize his own self.” Again, another Sahajiya author, Lui-pa, writes: “What use is meditation? Despite meditation, one dies in pain. Give up all complicated practices and the hope of obtaining siddhis, and accept the void as your true nature.”
Viewed from outside… tantrism would seem to be an “easy road,” leading to freedom pleasantly and almost without impediments.
“No one succeeds in attaining perfection by employing difficult and vexing operations; but perfection can be gained by satisfying all one’s desires” – Guhyasamajatantra
…all contraries are illusory, extreme evil coincides with extreme good. Buddhahood can – within the limits of this sea of appearances – coincide with supreme immorality; and all for the very good reason that only the universal void is, everything else being without ontological reality.
But the “easiness” of the tantric path is more apparent than real… The fact is that the tantric road presupposes a long and difficult sadhana, which at times suggests the difficulties of the alchemical opus.
… the void (sunya) is not simply a “nonbeing”; it is more like the Brahman of the Vedanta, it is of an adamantine essense, for whch reason it is called vajra (=diamond). “Sunyata, which is firm, substantial, indivisuble and impenetrable, proof against fire and imperishable, is called vajra.” (Advayavajra-samgraha).
For tantric metaphysics, both Hindu and Buddhist, the absolute reality… contains in itself all dualities and polarities, but reunited, reintegrated, in a state of absolute Unity (advaya).
The creation, and the becoming that arose from it, represent the shattering of the primordial Unity and the separation of the two principles (Siva-Sakti, etc); in consequence, man experiences a state of duality (object-subject, etc.) — and this suffering, illusion, “bondage.” The purpose of tantric sadhana is the reunion of the two polar principles within the disciples own body. “Revealed” for the use of the kali-yuga, tantrism is above all a practice, an act, a realization (=sadhana)…
From (from Yoga: Immortality and Freedom by Eliade)