Encyclical Letter

Vernal Equinox 1987 E.V.

Phyllis Seckler
[Soror Meral]

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Happy New Year?  If we do not allow things to get us down, we strive to aspire to the True Path [Atrekes Atrapos] and we endeavor to see the multitude of today's 'false prophets' and 'pseudo-christs' for what they are and reveal them to others ... yes ... it can be a happy new year.

In these dreaded Eighties we are surrounded by a plethora of fundamentalist [pseudo-]Christians, TV evangelists, occultists pretending to teach the esoteric arts and sciences while actually serving their own petty, personal ego-centric desires at the great expense of others, and the new bunch of so-called new age teachers who put on their silly little shows of 'trance channelling', which is nothing but the same old con game of phony mediumship, clumsily mixing up spiritualism with UFOism, rehashing the trivialities that were rehashed in the sixties.  These, along with the more established and 'orthodox' organized religions today which have degenerated over the centuries, serve only to mislead and misguide humanity.  The smaller groups like the Hymenaeus [Caliphate] pseudo-O.T.O. are by comparison only very small and insignificant fish in a very immense ocean.  Why then do I spend my valuable time on them?  There is only one simple answer to that.  They directly effect Thelema in an adverse manner by misrepresenting Aleister Crowley and perverting the teachings.  It is a necessary part of my True Will of Adjustment to point out such perversions and misrepresentations, counterbalance them with the truth, and provide the student with an alternative, more accurate and revealing point of view.  In this case I feel rather like a garbage man or sewer worker, however, as they perform necessary functions in society so too do I.  It's not very glamorous, but somebody's got to do it.

At the expense of aspirants and students of Thelema, the handful of pseudo-O.T.O. representatives travel about and hold 'seminars' during which they dish out regurgitated material that can be found in dozens of books and proceed only to mislead those who are all too willing to follow anyone with the appearance of authority.  They are nothing more than misinformationists, and that is being kind.  One such person, in my opinion, is Phyllis Seckler, a.k.a. Soror Meral, the ex-wife of the late Grady McMurtry [Hymenaeus Alpha] who was the first 'Caliph' of the pseudo-o.t.o. that dishonestly claims to be the Ordo Templi Orientis, constantly asserting that they are "Aleister Crowley's O.T.O." in the hope of brainwashing people into believing it.  They stress rules and regulations and yet they themselves break all of the rules and regulations while making a very great deal out of things that are so small as to be insignificant.  A letter, for instance, in which Crowley gave McMurtry, when the latter man was in his twenties, the temporary authority, provided that Karl Germer approved, which he did not, to relay Crowley's commands to the last remaining O.T.O. Lodge in Pasadena that was composed of individuals going off in all kinds of lunatic directions without A.C. present to guide them, was decades later abused by McMurtry and obviously misinterpreted to give him the false authority to name himself, without due election or appointment by either Crowley or Germer, Outer Head of the Order of the O.T.O..  Grady is now dead - the story of his death, when he spent his last hours in torment seeing what kind of people he had surrounded himself with and realizing, at least dimly, what damage he has done, has been told elsewhere.  We are left now with his ex-wife, Meral.  [Note:  Meral in Greek, Mu, Epsilon, Rho, Alpha, Lambda, comes to the numeration of 176 which is also the numeration of nekra, meaning "dead, lifeless, useless, ineffective."]

Let us travel back in time a few months or so and attend, with the idea of reviewing, a 'seminar' Meral gave to a small group of young men and women in their twenties and early thirties.  There she was, very fat, with white hair and glasses, a Gemini sun sign fast approaching seventy years of age, looking more like a player in a church bingo game rather than a teacher of magick.  True, looks can be deceiving, but in this case they are not - they are revealing.

Meral talks a little bit about herself and then says that if anyone now hears different they can say that that must be wrong since it does not agree with Meral's words about herself.  Of course that is assuming that Meral speaks truly about herself and in many matters this does not seem to be so.  In fact, she insists that people get themselves together while she obviously possesses a fault common to the Gemini and vigorously avoids honestly facing herself and getting herself together.  "Metaphysician, heal thyself."

Off and on, over and over again, she brags about being a born teacher and yet it comes out that it took her six years to get an M.A. in art and that for twenty years she was only a high school art teacher.  [I say "only" because she pretends to be so much more than that, not to denigrate high school teachers of art or any other subject.]  What I have seen of Meral's artwork is very crude and childish and it seems to be a case, now as then, of "Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach".  Now had Meral been, say, an English or History teacher we would at least be more inclined to take her boasting a little more seriously.  Oh ... she does go on about having read a great deal on psychology as if this gives her words some authority.

On and on she talks, very boringly, badly rehashing things that can be found in dozens of books, uninspiringly talking to an essentially unresponsive crowd of people who only liven up a bit when one of their peers cracks a joke to relieve the unendurable monotony of her lifeless chatter.  When she drones on, sometimes mumbling and becoming difficult to hear, she says things about how the True Will cannot sometimes be "wiped out" by anything, but only further obscured.  If drugs rule you, Meral says, "you don't know what it is to be a Thelemite yet", mispronouncing 'Thelemite' as if both E's were Epsilons whereas the first is an Epsilon [short-E] and the second is an Eta [long-E], while at the same time either ignoring the fact that her ex-husband was ruled by both drugs and alcohol, or perhaps taking a sly shot at him as is natural for her.

"Do what thou wilt," she says, then adds, "and you usually have one will; you don't have a lot of little wishes and wants really", and still the people listen without realizing how silly and childish all this is.  Usually you have only one True Will?  You do have only one True Will, one straight path to what some might call "God Realization", others Atmadarshana, others still the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, as well as the fulfillment of your purpose for existing.  There is no "usually" about it.  Will is and can only be One.  As for people not having "a lot of little wishes and wants" - absurd!  All of us have only one True Will and yet we are filled with plenty of little desires, wishes and wants, which are mostly ego-oriented.  The lady does not even understand the simplest things about human nature that even a little intelligent reading in psychology, or better still, personal study of human nature and introspection, can provide.

Aleister Crowley, Meral tells us, "would give authority to the worst kinds of characters you can imagine."  We cannot disagree with her on this point, although we must realize that sometimes he was forced to rely upon individuals who had little inner strength.  For instance, back in the forties A.C. sent that letter of temporary emergency authority to McMurtry which was so obviously misinterpreted and abused by him decades after Crowley's death.

Speaking of Grady, Meral says that "we had our difficulties and after six years I got tired of the expense so I moved him out ... I couldn't afford him anymore."  Here she is actually agreeing with yours truly.  Often I have said, in various ways, that in my opinion Grady, having waited for possible challengers to his claims to die or lose interest, started the pseudo-o.t.o. in order to accumulate followers to supply him with all of his ego-oriented needs in his old age, and not for any noble purpose.  Here Meral tells us that Grady was indeed a freeloader.

The pseudo-o.t.o. [she, of course, erroneously calls it "The O.T.O."], Merals tells us, is "now about 700 or so strong all around the world."  This is intended to impress those around her.  Most people, feeling inferior and impotent in our society, have a desire to be part of something much larger than themselves.  It is empowering.  It is natural.  I only wish that exercising reason was as natural for most people.  As for a worldwide organization of only 700 people out of a total number of billions, this is not at all very large.  Furthermore, most of the 700 long ago stopped paying their dues and by the group's own rules they are not then members, but of course they are still kept on the books and sent the group's publication for the sake of not only ego but also to maintain such things as bulk rate status with the post office.  Quite often it turns out that a "Lodge" or "Camp" of the pseudo-o.t.o. is composed of only one person or a few, none of which do anything more than talk about Thelema and Magick once in a while, perhaps wearing and flaunting occult jewelry, carrying occult books around more for effect than anything else.  There are, in fact, among the less than 700 members, only a very small handful of people who actually do any practical or magical work whatsoever - and that for the most part very poorly and ineffectively.  Meral even tells us during this seminar that the pseudo-o.t.o. is so designed that "if they," that is members of the group, "don't want to work it's also designed to accommodate people who just like to fool around and be sociable."  This, of course, identifies the majority of the people who join the group just to play at being magicians and socialize.  It also proves what I have said for years now, that this group is composed mostly of loafers and wasters - freeloaders.  Like attracts like.  I hardly think Aleister Crowley, Baphomet, past O.H.O. of the O.T.O., would agree with or approve of this!

We listen to Soror Meral as she goes on to say "Don't ever judge the O.T.O. by whom you meet.  That is a big mistake because behind some of those persons you disapprove of there are others.  Just keep searching for the others you would rather be associated with."  I doubt whether most listening thought about that statement, but here she is admitting that there are a lot of idiots and wasters in the group and then she urges new members to stick it out in the hope of meeting someone who is not one of "the outcast and unfit."  If we cannot judge an organization by its membership that leaves only its works to judge it by and since things began with this little 700 club that has been pitifully little indeed!  The only thing of worth they have ever done was to republish Crowley works that were already available, along with only a trivial amount of hitherto unpublished material.  Their first 'Caliph' never even published a decently intelligent and worthwhile article and after over a decade they still have not succeeded in organizing their organization.

"We are pioneering in the O.T.O.," she says, "and therefore we do not yet have full-blown Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Degrees because the persons haven't worked themselves to those degrees yet."  Operating for over a decade and so far they have only managed to develop the first three degrees of the order, which, by the way, anyone interested is entitled to.  This does not say much for their ability to get things done nor does it say much for the membership.  Meral goes on to say that "we have developed the Ninth which is a synthetic grade ... a political degree" given to members only as a reward even if they are not qualified for that degree and lack the knowledge of it.  As I have always said and as Meral herself here confirms, their degrees are meaningless and intended only to flatter the ego, thus opposed to the nature of the Great Work.

By the way, we are constantly irritated throughout with her efforts to sell her poorly produced publication, In The Continuum as well as the bastard-Equinox, Volume III, Number 10, and the Xeroxes of Crowleyana she has with her.

Meral gets into the story of the so-called Solar Lodge of the O.T.O., i.e. the gang having no connection whatsoever with the original order who broke into Karl Germer's home after his death, beat up his wife Sascha and took a great deal of the books and artifacts of the Crowley/Germer library.  She mentions how Sascha later accused Meral's Catholic daughter of the theft and so forth.  Finally she mentions that they gathered up what was left whereupon "Grady was acting very strange" and wanted possession of the remains.  Meral then took the material, those books and papers, and hid it after which "it was then stolen back from me," she says, "I think by the O.T.O.".  It becomes clear that we do not have a 'fraternity' here, but rather a bunch of jealous, dishonest, rapacious people involved in petty bickering among themselves and highly dishonorable activities.  It also becomes obvious that there is a petty rivalry between the group as a whole and Soror Meral's little section of it.

Who in their right mind would want to be a part of such pettiness and dishonesty?

Meral tells us how there often seems to be more gossiping in the group than there is worthwhile work being done and we agree with her but would like to point out that she is one of the biggest gossips in the group, revealing more than is good for the group, but valuable to outsiders as a window through which to see the truth.  Grady, for instance, she tells us "was not always an honorable person."  This does not speak well of their first 'Caliph' who should have been, above all, an honorable man, an example of what Thelema is all about, but it comes as no surprise to yours truly.  And bitterly Meral tells us that she was "pushed practically out of the O.T.O." and proceeds to make herself sound like a saint persecuted by sinners - the sinners, of course, being Grady and the others around him, and in a way she has a valid point there ... except that she is by no stretch of the imagination a saint.

Throughout she gives the young and impressionable students around her 'wise' advice such as the little secret she lets us all in on:  "You have a problem?  Don't try to tackle it on this plane; it doesn't quite work out.  Go to the next plane up!  And from there you can tackle it."  The error in such advice is in its general nature since this cannot apply well to all cases all of the time.  For instance, if you are suffering from a disease, which is certainly a problem, before you resort to magick to solve it upon a higher plane of consciousness, I suggest you consult with a physician and deal with the physical problem on the physical level.  Supplement this with magick, but do not ignore the problem on the physical plane.  Her ignorance is often astounding.  If you have a problem, that problem most probably exists upon several planes at once and therefore must be dealt with upon several planes or levels of consciousness.  Literally her advice can kill.

"I can forget anything and everything" she tells us incidentally and truthfully without realizing what she is saying, obviously not having learned the vigilance that yogic and elementary magical practices are supposed to teach one.  Meanwhile she tells us that if someone cannot recite a chosen chapter of Liber LXV or The Book of the Law from memory they "prove" themselves not to be members of the A.·.A.·. since that is part of the early tasks of the Order.  We must wonder here if she can recite the material from memory.  Has she ever been tested and asked to "prove" her membership in this manner?  She does claim to be a member of the Great Order.  "I do have a genuine link in one way" to the A.·.A.·., Meral tells us and then elaborates upon this in her own fashion.  More fully and accurately this is how it goes:  Jane Wolfe, an actress who obviously failed in Hollywood, briefly visited A.C.'s Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu.  She did little actual work, did nothing to distinguish herself, was always flighty and undisciplined and too spiritualistically oriented.  A.C., even though disappointed in Jane, recognized her aspirations, as faulty as they were, and issued her a Probationer form.  Now this form does not make one a member of the A.·.A.·. - technically only the successful crossing of the abyss and attainment of the Magister Templi grade does that - it only states that the person issuing the document recognizes someone's desire and attempts to aspire to that Order [of Being].  Jane Wolfe left the abbey after a short while and only after years renews her relationship with Crowley through the mail.  Everyone belonging to the Agape Lodge of the O.T.O. in Pasadena in the thirties and forties went off in lunatic directions and Jane was no exception.  The only thing that distinguished her from the rest was that Crowley once met her in person whereas he did not know the others.  It was not until the forties that Crowley and McMurtry met a few times and very briefly - a thing that McMurtry blew way out of proportion to make it seem as if he was directly educated by Crowley.

Jane, a Probationer, the lowest possible grade of the A.·.A.·., and not even of the Third Order proper, typed up a bogus Probationer form and gave it to Phyllis who in turn 'admitted' Grady into the Order and so it went from there.  The catch is that Jane Wolfe did not have the authority to issue such a document, that a Probationer cannot admit other Probationers as one must be of a higher grade to do so, and the genuine Probationer document only recognizes a person as an aspirant to the A.·.A.·. and is not proof of membership.  This is what Meral bases her claims of membership upon.  Are you with me so far?  Soror Meral reminds us, during the seminar, of the words of The Book of the Law, that "Success is your proof."

Meral boasts that she is a born teacher - although we must take notice that she failed to convince her own children of Thelema's value - however, it seems obvious that if she is a born teacher she is a born bad teacher.  She insists that if one cannot recite from memory the chosen chapter of Liber LXV or Liber AL vel Legis one is proven not to have done the work of the A.·.A.·. and yet we wonder if she was ever put to the test herself and if she can take it as well as dish it out.  What is most important here is that her attitude is exactly like that of the bad teachers who crank out high school and college graduates who do not themselves even know how to read.  She stresses the importance of memorizing when in fact it is what is learned through the attempt to memorize that is important and not the memorization itself.  Besides, the lady constantly stressing the importance of memorization consistently calls Crowley's H.G.A., the Angel of the Æon, Ankh-af-na-khonsu when any student of Crowley's writings easily remembers that that name is Aiwass [also spelled Aiwaz] and that Ankh-af-na-khonsu was "Crowley's" name in a past incarnation in dynastic Egypt.  Was that the 18th dynasty?  one of the young people asks her, after yet another student corrects the 'teacher' regarding the name of the Angel.  The 'teacher' replies that she does not know.  It was, by the way, although there is now some debate about this, the 26th dynasty - a simple fact she should have easily memorized.

"Success is your proof", Meral constantly reminds us, yet she also tells us that her so-called College of Thelema has experienced "about 100% failure" with students through the mail and "99%" failure when teaching face to face.  Her college, she tells us, after over a decade, is run out of her home and at any one time she has only about twenty-five students who are seldom together and most of whom fall away from her very quickly.  This 'college' has, including herself, only two teachers - and we already know what one of them is like - and she tells us that she began it because aspirants were "at sea".  So I ask you this, how does she propose to help by tossing them grossly inaccurate charts and an anchor?

We hear her mispronouncing words all over the place and while claiming to be a teacher, admitting that she, after nearly seventy years, has not herself learned how to pronounce the terms she constantly uses in 'teaching'.  She cannot even pronounce names, and it is not because of a speech impediment.  Consistently she calls Dion [Dee-on] Fortune "Diane".

Soror Meral goes on and on for over three hours and we find ourselves nodding.  But we prop ourselves up and listen closely while most people nod and accept whatever she says no matter how obviously stupid it is.

She, a self-proclaimed member of the A.·.A.·., tries to explain the grades of the Order, merely repeating from memory the information given in Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice and proves that she has failed to memorize even this simple material, muddles it all up, and the 'teacher' must be corrected by the students again.

Soror Meral goes on to explain the Qabalah and tells us that Nephesch, a part of the soul in the Hebrew tradition, "exists in Yesod."  I refer the reader to Liber 777, table IV, column XCVII.  Nephesch is attributed to Malkuth, not Yesod, and this even a Probationer should know - but I notice most of those around me accepting what she says without even giving it a thought.

"If Thelema catches on," she begins to say, showing us that her convictions are something less than firm.  If?  She is obviously not committed to Thelema and she has obviously not practiced the yoga instruction of the A.·.A.·.which should at least lead to Dhyana if not Samadhi, conferring absolute conviction.  A true Thelemite would never say "if" but rather something like "When Thelema is firmly established, recognized and accepted...", as I myself would say without a moment's hesitation or doubt.  I personally intend to see that this happens despite people like Soror Meral who undermine the establishment of Thelema in society by misrepresenting and perverting it, turning away the potential geniuses and other intelligent people offended by ignorance and stupidity, judging Thelema by those who speak of it and falsely claim to be Thelemites.

"I like to skim over the surface of things," she admits and we are sure it is true for she seems so very ignorant of even the simplest details - and details are all important.  O-rings, for instance, are important to space shuttles.

Soror Meral dishes out misinformation regarding the tarot as she did the Qabalah and when asked if the Holy Guardian Angel, the True Self, can make mistakes she answers instantly that It can.  Perhaps this is true for what she erroneously assumes is her True Self, i.e. her ego, but it is very doubtful indeed that That which essentially exists above the abyss and is a native of the Absolute makes errors.  "To err is human...", but the H.G.A. is suprahuman, it is divine.

On and on she goes, boring most of the listeners, definitely misinforming everyone, unable to invoke questions from the audience - the people sometimes prompted by those hosting the 'seminar' to even show a little interest - while the mark of a good teacher is that he or she fires the imagination and curiosity of students and quickly becomes inundated by questions.

A fellow, appealing to the fact that she claims to also be an astrologer, makes mention of a possible thirteenth zodiac sign and instead of discussing the possibility or explaining the improbability, she dismisses him rudely and indicates that she thinks a straying from tradition [i.e. what she has more or less memorized over the years and hates to see upset forcing her to try and memorize new facts] is somehow taking an ego trip, rudely putting the student down.  And finally Soror Meral says something that I can agree with.  Telling us that people seeking admittance to the A.·.A.·. [distinct, I must remind you, from the O.T.O.] should first undergo psychoanalysis, while telling us that she never submitted to it herself, and then Meral says, "Maybe I should go through therapy."

Maybe she should.

What then is the point of this Encyclical Letter?  It is simple.  Be vigilant!  Ask questions!  Put people who claim to be teachers, gurus, guides and so forth on the spot.  Be polite, but be firm.  Do not ... DO NOT ... allow someone to take the lead in your life if they do not first give you a very good indication that they know the Way.  Do not easily accept someone as a teacher or guide.  Ever since I was a very young boy it has amazed me that such people as Phyllis Seckler who are as transparent as glass to me cannot be seen for what they actually are by so many people who have to go through hell before recognizing the obvious.  The student must first learn to wake up, be alert, observe, listen carefully, seek clarification when something is not understood, and examine everything done and said by the 'teacher' very closely and carefully.  It is my objective, not pessimistic, opinion that at least 99.9% of the occult teachers and gurus, evangelists, new age teachers and religious leaders are either unscrupulous charlatans or unbalanced and very commitable lunatics, sometimes both, and for this reason you the student and aspirant must be extremely careful.

Phyllis Seckler, her bogus College of Thelema and the pseudo-o.t.o.?  As I have said, they are very small fish in a very large ocean.  Insignificant as they are in themselves, they do great harm by misrepresenting Thelema, turning away intelligent people, and so undermine the establishment of Thelema in a society that badly needs it now more than ever before.

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally yours,
[Frater Keallach 93/676]

December 31st, 1998 E.V. Note:  Since the original writing of this article, a higher number of members has been claimed by the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., and yet aside from the remarks above, one should also remember that the vast majority of those "members", called by the gang "Associate Members", are merely subscribers to their newsletter, a publication which often does not meet its deadlines, and they have virtually no other contact with the organization, such as it is.  Today the so-called College of Thelema may make greater boasts, but essentially the situation is no better now than it was then.  As for the Caliphate gang in general, I hear from various "members" and disgruntled ex-members alike that, for instance, the membership is supposed to adhere to certain bylaws, specific rules, which, however, the leadership does not divulge to the general membership, these being secret commandments trusted only to group leaders.  Not only must one wonder about such secrets, remembering too that "Mystery is the enemy of Truth", but one must also question how members are supposed to obey rules that they are not even permitted to know!  And once again, here is another indication of the restrictive nature of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., which falsely claims to be a Thelemic body, the very heart of Thelema being Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law, in which it is stated, Chapter I, Verse 41, "The word of Sin is Restriction."  And yet not only do they make restrictive rules that they expect the members to obey, but they even go so far as to restrict knowledge of these very same bylaws!  It is not only unthelemic; it is utterly insane.