Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Phyllis Seckler

I keep worrying that I'm getting into a rut with the types of people that I've chosen to post about this month.  There are so many other genres of creative weirdness out there, but I've got to go with what I know....

I didn't know Phyllis Seckler (also known as Soror Meral, 1917-2004) personally, but I've known and admired some of her students.  She was a ceremonial magician, poet, artist, and teacher.  She was also a crucial link in keeping alive the traditions of the school of thought known as Thelema through some lean, difficult times.

In many ways, her approach to Thelema was pretty "by the book," but there was one thing that she seemed to really excel at: discussing the personal, subjective connection that is sought between a Thelemic mystic and his or her Holy Guardian Angel (HGA).  This being is defined by some as an external entity and by others as an interior "higher soul" (or Jungian archetype of wholeness).  Many teachers have said that it doesn't matter whether the HGA is objectively or subjectively real; just the experience matters.  Still, this makes for difficulty in conveying the concept to students.  Thus, Seckler tried to use poetry -- which can be similarly ambiguous about identity and metaphor -- to do some of the heavy lifting.  Much of her poetry, published from the 1970s to the 1990s in a periodical called In The Continuum, could be read as either intense love poetry or as the yearning of the mystic for their HGA...
"Eternal Lord, bind my everlasting course with Thee
From aeon to aeon for all eternity;
Closer to Thy heart that I be fit symbol
Of encompassing love; hold me lest I tremble.

These words are poor that fall before Thy face,
Lend me still of Thy intoxicating grace
That I may pour my heart out in Thy praise
And joined with my Lord, remain a Star ablaze."
She also often illuminated her verses with some amazing sketches.  William Blake, eat your heart out...

Click for bigger version
Interested readers can find more of Soror Meral's poems and teachings here and here.


  1. My favorite of your profiles, yet. Even Neil. That's how much I loved this post.

    Her verses sound like hymns.

    1. Then by all means have a look at those last two links -- many more hymns are there.

      It's a shame that there's been a bit of a schism between two groups of her students... takes you to the So-Cal branch; is, well, Nor-Cal. :-)

  2. That is impressive artwork. Multi-talented people are awfully intimidating!

    1. My goal is to bring these folks a wider audience, and thus help them compete on the battleground of ideas with the Big Names. :-)

      More than a year ago, I did a bit of meandering rumination on the value, and intimidation factor, of having exemplars to look up to.

  3. Poetry to do the heavy lifting. Nice.

    1. Looks like Kal-El is doing some heavy lifting today!

      (I like that Blogger preserves old avatars in comments, by the way... They could just as easily have them auto-update to the most current version when you reload an old page. But there's interesting archaeology there...)