Remembering Soror Meral

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Eleven years ago today Phyllis Seckler, AKA Soror Meral, Celebrated her Greater Feast. She was the first Thelemite I ever knew and the first I called teacher, but most importantly she was a dear friend. Someone who taught me how to BE a Thelemite.

Phyllis was initiated into the O.T.O. in 1939. With Crowley’s consent she was received as a Student of the A∴A∴ under Jane Wolfe in 1940. She would later be elevated to 5=6 of the A∴A∴ and a IX degree of the O.T.O. by Karl Germer: who was himself directly appointed by Aleister Crowley. When Germer died in 1962 Soror Meral was the most senior member of the A∴A∴ and continued on in this work right up until her own death in 2004.

Phyllis also married Grady McMurtry (albeit in Mexico) and together they worked to reconstitute the O.T.O. as we have it today. She would also receive Grady as a Probationer of the A∴A∴ in 1970. Several years later Grady swore the Oath of the Abyss and shortly thereafter Phyllis moved to expel him. But Grady now claimed a Grade higher then her own. For this and many other reasons their relationship was turbulent for the remainder of Grady’s life and Phyllis never accepted his claims in regard to A∴A∴ – Yet what can’t be denied is the absolute influence these two would have on the modern Thelemic landscape.

Though not always in agreement, Phyllis work has none the less spawned at minimum four current and active claimant groups of the A∴A∴ and I personally applaud all those who carry on in her stead. Counting among my dearest friends, members throughout these groups, I can assure you that one thing we can all agree on was her Light. She is missed and her influence profound.

Yesterday I visited with some dear friends in northern CA and at some point of the evening the conversation turned to Phyllis and we shared stories of our memories of her and looked at some pictures of her house and garden… and I was reminded just how wonderful of an astrology teacher she was as I recounted a story of how she often (at random) would pull the chart of some famous person, but without the persons personal information attached, and charge us with the task of identifying the individual based upon their traits; an exercise I much enjoyed and it sure beat listening to those Regardie tapes of hers.

The final photo in this set is of two of Phyllis personal temple implements. One always kept in her Fire alter and the other always sat upon her Water alter. These were her implements of Consecration and Purification. They were given to her by her Teacher Jane Wolfe who carried them with her in Cefalu when she was doing her A∴A∴ work under Crowley.

1) Phyllis at Golden Gate Park
2) Making a toast
3) In her Temple (which was located in her basement)
4) Jane and Phyllis’s Water and Fire implements.

“Love is the law, love under will”


The Star in the West

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”

Here is something you won’t see every day. It is a first edition of J. F. C. Fuller’s “The Star in the West” — A Critical Essay Upon the Works of Aleister Crowley – (1907). Singed by both Crowley and Fuller. This limited edition which was done in cream buckram decorated and lettered in gilt on both the spine and front board and limited to 100 copies; this being number 25.

This particular copy has a unique history and is inscribed by Crowley, reading, “To my Darling ZUHRAH the lustre of the Stars – With a lover’s love. “Turn by the Grace these Dregs into Pure Wine.” 20th July 1907.

The inscription is to Vera Snepp a young 17yr old actress whom Crowley had an affair with when he was 32. She acted under the name of Vera Neville though she called herself Lola and was the inspiration for Crowley’s daughters’ name, Lola Zaza. She was a romantic interest he met just as he was about to break with his wife Rose and who deeply affected him.

Crowley dedicated Gargoyles to Lola and wrote that she inspired the Maiden/virgin of the “Wake World” and “Clouds Without Water.”

“At Coulsdon, at the very moment when my conjugal cloudburst was impending, I had met one of the most exquisitely beautiful young girls, by English standards, that ever breathed and blushed. She did not appeal to me only as a man; she was the very incarnation of my dreams as a poet. Her name was Vera; but she called herself “Lola”. To her I dedicated Gargoyles with a little prose poem, and the quatrain (in the spirit of Catullus) ‘Kneel down, dear maiden o’mine.’ It was after her that my wife called the new baby!”

In his dedication to Gargoyles he calls her Lola Bentrovata which has a double meaning. In the end it was to be a very short lived but very powerful love affair, what we don’t know is why Crowley never gave her this copy. It showed up in the private archives of a well know English collector. Initially the inscription was covered over by a picture from the equinox but this was carefully removed when the owner noticed something underneath. I was contacted by a good friend who sells these sort of items out of New York, to help identify it.

The inscription is from the story of Salaman and Absal, an allegorical story of carnal attraction between a Prince and his wet-nurse. Written by the famous Persian prophet Jami and translated by Fitzgerald in 1904.

Oh God! This poor bewildered Kurd am I,

Than any Kurd more helpless!—Oh, do thou
Strike down a Ray of Light into my Darkness!
Turn by thy Grace these Dregs into pure Wine,
To recreate the Spirits of the Good!
Or if not that, yet, as the little Cup
Whose Name I go by, not unworthy found
To pass thy salutary Vintage round!

The definition of the word Zurah is Venus, the Morning and Evening Star, and the perfect name for a young maiden… given as 276 in Liber 777… which coincidently is also the value of Meral and represents a certain Lunar formula.

“Love is the law, love under will”

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