Considering the majority of books which have recently appeared on the subject, surprisingly, this is a very good book about sexual practices, facts, and beliefs surrounding tantric magick and "normal" sexual love. Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy is a marvelous compendium of various Hindu, Buddhist, Taoistic and other cultural works on the subject - works such as the Kama Sutra, The Perfumed Garden by Shaykh Nafzwai, Gheranda Samhita, Kaula Tantra, Chandamaharosana Tantra, Kalachakra Tantra, Ananga Ranga, and many others.
Sexual Secrets is simply worded and beautifully illustrated with reproductions from ancient erotic and tantric art as well as more contemporary erotica. This book covers many related subjects such as the various forms of yoga, apparel, diet, chamber furnishings and accessories, reflexology and others. Where the authors cannot go into great depth other works are referred to and the book is concluded with an excellent bibliography and glossary.
All in all it is a superb book and highly recommended by us. However, every work has its faults.
While the authors show a good deal of knowledge on the subject of Eastern sexual beliefs and practices, supplemented by "modern" Western knowledge, they seem to be a bit ignorant of the Qabalah and Our Father the Beast 666.
Very little is actually said about the Qabalah and there were only a few minor errors on page 115. This is understandable since they have obviously put everything into their chosen field of study, and with such excellent results. Still, it would have been easy for them to say so little concerning the Qabalistic Tree of Life [OTz ChIIM] and to say it accurately.
On page 303 it is written
"...the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis, founded by Karl Kellner, after learning the sexual secrets from two Hindu Tantric Yogis and an Arab; this order was later taken over by Aleister Crowley)..."
This oversimplification implies that Aleister Crowley usurped the leadership of the O.T.O. and this was not so. The leadership [O.H.O.] of the O.T.O. was given to A.C.
On page 340 it is written, concerning "homosexuals masquerading as mystics":
"Aleister Crowley (an active bisexual), the expounder of the secret rites of the O.T.O. ... and founder of his own magical fraternity, where individuals who used mysticism to promote their own sexual proclivities."
A.C. is carelessly associated with such men as C.W.Leadbeater, and this is an error. Crowley was neither homosexual nor was he, strictly speaking, bisexual, as any study of his diaries will show. He practiced homosexual magick during only a small portion of his life, and at various isolated times. There seems to have been only one time in his life when he was actually in love with another man and that was when he was quite young, isolated from women, and the other young man appeared very feminine and was a female impersonator. Chances are this young man, Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt, was more "yin" than "yang", and was what we might call today "a woman trapped in a man's body". We are all capable of such a love, whether we would admit it or not, and we all possess "homosexual" tendencies.
Crowley was a pioneer who learned to overcome his sexual aversions for the most part, at an early age. Still, it should be noticed, he abandoned all homosexual workings finding them inefficient - for him, that is, because he was not homosexual by nature. In his diaries you will find that the majority of his XI° Workings failed and the entries concluded with the word "anxiety". All this aside, it is or it should be obvious that Aleister Crowley was very heterosexual and yet felt the need to experiment, to apply the scientific method to magick, and also, we might imagine, to live up to the title of The Beast 666.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It is also worth noting that Crowley did not practise sexual magick to "promote" his "sexual proclivities". The authors trivialized A.C. and his work. The ultimate purpose of Therion's magical opera was always the Knowledge and Conversation of, and the eventual union with, his Holy Guardian Angel, as well as the accomplishment of his Will on earth.
It seems to us that, though the authors' attitude towards lesbianism is rather lovely, their attitude towards male homosexuality is somewhat over harsh - and this coming from two strict heterosexuals, I refer of course to your reviewers, though I feel sure that we could say the same about Nik and Penny.
Throughout the book Eastern terms are used, but not over used, and they are always defined in the text and in the glossary. However, there is one "concept", referred to with various terms, that is never defined. That "concept" is "the Higher Self", "the Universal Self", "the Self", and so on. This is a very grave error as many of those who will be reading this book may have no idea that this refers to the Genius [the Holy Guardian Angel] and what That is.
Aside from this neglect to define "the Self", the unbalanced attitude towards homosexuality, and the ignorance concerning Aleister Crowley, probably the result of inadequate study and meeting with many pseudo-thelemites, Sexual Secrets is a very beautifully done book and we applaud its appearance. Such faults as those mentioned above are, however, redeemed by statements like the following from page 142:
"The term mystic child refers to the magical field produced by sexual love. This 'field', or psychic atmosphere, is a potential entity in itself and, when directed by Will, can serve a magical function."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sexual Secrets has been revised to include more artwork of a colourful nature, however I am not aware of any textual changes that may have been made in the new edition of this book. - February 2000 E.V.