a deep background in Indian religion, especially Tantra, some Afro- Caribbean concepts and terms, and of course the basic reading in Lovecraft’s ouevre. It is a daunting task for the general reader, to be sure, and it is hoped that this study will facilitate greater understanding of the writings of this important occult author as well as encourage wider reading in the topics covered.
It should be noted that Grant’s preoccupation is with the magical aspect of Tantra. Even though he does acknowledge its basic theological premises and the Hindu and Buddhist formulas for withdrawing from the world of illusion to attain the ultimate level of enlightenment, he is still quite distracted by the practical uses to which Tantric principles may be applied. This is due at least partly to his Thelemic allegiance, otherwise why not simply become a Tantrika and abandon Thelema (and by extension Western occultism) entirely? Tantra represents a collection of texts, practices, and a peculiar worldview; Thelema on the other hand pretends to be a global spiritual movement with the aim of liberating all peoples in the New Aeon. The pursuit of Tantra is a highly individual one, even though small groups may be involved. The pursuit of Thelema, on the other hand, requires a broader social perspective. Grant, as much as he admires Tantra, still sees it as a tool—among many in the Thelemic workshop. He interprets much of Thelema in Tantric terms and this may be because at times he sees Thelema as a “Tantra for the West,” and at other times he senses that both disciplines are discussing the same basic principles and he cannot resist pursuing those links and associations as deeply as possible because the one may help explain the other … or enrich the other through the additional correspondences. In other words, he must find Tantra lacking in something, a something that Thelema can provide.
It is certain that Tantra is Indo-centric. All the terminology and references are to Indian religion, culture and language and require a knowledge of what is popularly known as Hinduism, and Buddhism. This would be ideologically unpalatable to a follower of Thelema who may recognize—intellectually—the contributions of the sub-continent to world religions but who would reject Hindu and Buddhist belief systems.
Thus, Grant’s project is to strip away as much of the Indian component of Tantra as he is able and to replace it with Western occult and magical references. (It is a re-interpretation of Tantra, which is why it would be rejected by Tantrikas in Asia and most likely by Tantra scholars in the West.) In order to accomplish this, Grant needs to look at the technology of Tantra—the rituals themselves—and peel away the objectionable theology as much as possible. What he is left with should be a system of universal
applicability, interpreted within the Thelemic context. And this, of course, is feasible.
In recent years this approach has been made somewhat easier by the works of scholars in Jewish mysticism and alchemy who have speculated that Tantra may very well be the fons et origo of the Sepher ha-Zohar, for instance, and who use Tantric references to help expand upon Kabbalistic and alchemical themes.
In addition, Tantra has always been a controversial field and even the definition of Tantra eludes most scholars, Asian and Western, so an eccentric British magician’s point of view may be as legitimate as anyone else’s.
That said, we will now look at how Grant understands the intensely sexual rituals he describes in the Trilogies. We will take as our starting point and template the brief description of those rituals he provides in Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God.
This basic form can be characterized as an initiated version of Crowley’s Gnostic Mass. It involves a priest and priestess, or a magician and a “witch” (in the popular, not the Wiccan, sense). There may be others in attendance, but the prime operators are a male and a female couple.
The goal of the ritual is the collection of kalas, the magically-charged vaginal secretions of the female partner before they become ojas. We will ignore for the moment the timing issue, as it is a bit complex, but will return to it later on. There is also a appended to this volume a list of the kalas—as lunar digits—and their associated characteristics (probably the first time this has been presented to a Western, occult-oriented readership). The priestess should be an initiate capable of raising Kundalini. That does not mean that she should be able to raise it perfectly through all six chakras to reside in the seventh, but she should be capable of stimulating the rise of Kundalini to a certain level. The priest may assist in helping her raise it to higher and higher chakras during the ritual, but only as long as
there is no danger to the priestess.
The intention of the ritual must be clear from the outset, plainly stated so that all participants are in agreement. This must reflect an act of will from all parties, otherwise the ritual degenerates into a form of “vampirism” with the magician using the priestess for his own ends, or vice versa.
In the Thelemic context we have been discussing, the ritual space must be created according to the understanding of the magician, perhaps using the Star Sapphire or Star Ruby rituals to cast a circle: a sacred space, a chakra. The design of the altar and the space may be purely Thelemic, or it may also incorporate Tantric elements such as the Sri Chakra which represents interlocking power-zones based on triangles, the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, etc. and is a form of the yoni—or vulva—of the Goddess.
Perfumes should be chosen with care, to reflect the nature of the ritual. Lighting should also be carefully designed before hand. It is common in
Western ceremonial magic to use candles of a certain number, a certain
color, etc. and this may be employed. Or oil lamps may be used instead.
The altar should be provided with a mat or some soft covering for that is where the priestess will be located during the most intense portions of the ritual. The altar should face the north, or the head of the priestess should be in the north, for that is from where the amrita will descend. This is especially so if the ritual is being performed at midnight on the night of the Full Moon, for at that time the Moon is directly overhead (i.e. in the south) and the Sun will be directly opposite, in the north. In the case of Tantra, and the collection of amrita, the Moon is male and the Full Moon is full of the nectar of immortality (the semen of the God Chandra), and the Sun is female, red and pulsing with heat and fire. If it is desired to incorporate Lovecraftian elements in the ritual (as Grant’s cultus was known to do) then the appropriate times may be chosen according to the position of the Big Dipper, but always with further reference to the position and the quarter of the Moon.
The deities should be invoked into the priest and priestess, so that they identify with their respective godforms. They may partake of alcohol at this time, both in homage to the original pancatattva ritual of the Kaula Circles but also because this was a method Crowley also used in order to release inhibitions in his assistants. Naturally, only a sip of alcohol should be employed.
The central part of the ritual now takes place, which involves the priestess raising Kundalini. According to Grant, this transpires as she is being sexually aroused by the magician who is performing certain mudras over her body, not necessarily touching her but making passes directly over her erogenous zones (with a wand or with his hands) and raising her
to a fever pitch. The goal of this process is to activate Kundalini, to raise it gradually to the higher chakras so that they may be “burned” by the power of the Serpent Goddess and thus release their potencies into the bloodstream of the priestess. These chakras should have been previously opened by the priestess through Kundalini yoga or some other technique, otherwise opening them for the first time this way can be dangerous to her. The magician should bring the priestess to the point of orgasm, but stop just before orgasm is reached. The magician may have sexual intercourse with the priestess if it is considered necessary to bring the priestess to the desired pitch of excitement, but neither priest not priestess should achieve orgasm at this point because it is premature to “ground” or “earth” the energy before it has been fully utilized. (This is in contradistinction to much normative Tantra which requires the orgasms of both parties and even the ejaculation of the male in order for the rite to be “perfect.”) It is necessary that there is a flow of secretions from the female genital outlet. These kalas will be collected by the magician—either orally, as in cunnilingus, if the intention is to increase the occult power of the magician or to bring him into contact with supramundane forces, etc.; or on a specially constructed talisman of metal or parchment, or on the leaf of a sacred plant, or some other way if the intention is to store it for future use. The magician will then energize them magically so that they become ojas.
In an operation described in Beyond the Mauve Zone, the magician can also use disks of some metal, placed ove the chakras of the priestess in order to become magnetically charged by the ritual. This occurs as an operation of what Grant calls “stellar magic” and involves the sixth, or ajna, chakra. The idea is to charge this chakra—what Grant calls the “sixth power-zone”—so that it magnetically attracts the Fire Snake, causing it to rise from the muladhara chakra up the sushumna (the “middle pillar” of the body) to reach the ajna chakra. The metal disks collect the ojas that are generated this way and are then kept in a closed jar for later use, when they may be drenched in the kalas of the priestess to activate them further.
What is the goal of this type of magical ritual? A predictably Lovecraftian one:
In due course is born a being that is adapted perfectly to existence on a chosen star.176
This is an extremely delicate operation. If either the priest or the priestess becomes distracted by lust and by the need to satisfy themselves in orgasm ahead of time then concentration has been lost and the rite loses all its efficacy. The kalas become “earthed” in their usual way, and all that is left is two persons having sexual intercourse. That both participants remain in a heightened state of concentration and focus is critical to the success of the ritual. From the magical point of view, there is nothing particularly powerful in semen and vaginal secretions if they have not been charged previous to being released. The object is not to create a human child (most people can manage that), but something else entirely (as the above quotation from Grant illustrates).
As we have seen, the Valentinians concentrated on the Divine during sex so that they would produce Divine offspring. The method seems strangely similar. Old Whateley was concentrating on incarnating one of the Old Ones on earth. Crowley’s quasi-fictional magicians in his most famous novel were pretending to create a Moonchild. Magic is the creation of forms, of illusions, of whole new realities. In Tibetan shamanism, this is known as creating tulpas: homunculi designed for specific purposes, as was most famously recounted by Alexandra David-Neel. And in Jewish mysticism, we have the Golem.
Thus, what is needed is not two sexually-active people who will have intercourse surrounded by weird diagrams and sandalwood incense. Instead, we need two intelligent and mature—and dedicated—magicians who will push the envelope of sensation as far as it will go, realizing that their sexual energy is more than a metaphor for the primal act of creation
—and that it contains power of an incredible nature if taken beyond the normal methods required for human reproduction.
This brings us to the question of initiation. In the Shakta tradition, the female is the more important partner and the emphasis is placed on her secretions. Tantra in this tradition is a very refined, very highly-articulated form of Goddess worship. Women can initiate men into this tradition, which is the reverse of what even Crowley would approve. At the same time, the selection of the appropriate partner was an all-consuming endeavor for Crowley and he went through many women in his quest for the perfect soror mystica, or “sister of the mysteries,” probably due to his reluctance to take women seriously as advanced adepts. To many
Tantrikas, the female kalas are the focus of the rites and the yoni—the vulva—is the object of veneration.
The reverse is obviously true for those who favor the Shaivite tradition which elevates the male principle above the female. However, the solution to this problem—as Grant rightly points out177—is the fact that Crowley’s New Aeon is the Aeon of the Child: the offspring of the two principles of male and female, of Shiva and Shakti. The Child partakes of the combined essences and natures of each and represents a new focus, a new paradigm, for not only magic but for the social order in general. It is, in fact, this Magickal Childe that troubles Lovecraft so much that he castigates the concept as the deformed and dangerous creature conceived by poor Lavinia Whateley, but it is nevertheless the focus (expressed or implied) of all New Aeon magical ritual.
Thus, in this case, the kalas are not the only important secretion as the seminal fluid of the magician is also required to effect the “magical birth.” This substance is to be charged just as carefully as the kalas in order to be effective, which requires the magician to practice a form of seminal retention and “recirculation.” Like the priestess, he must postpone or completely avoid orgasm in order not to “earth” the fluid before it has been charged. He must practice raising Kundalini and sealing the chakras in the same manner as the priestess. In many Tantric traditions it is completely unnecessary (and moreover undesirable) for the male practitioner to achieve orgasm, and especially forbidden for him to ejaculate and thus waste the seminal fluid and its associated subtle essence. Such methods as that known as karezza were employed to keep the male Tantrika in a constant state of sexual excitement and arousal during the ritual. If ejaculation did take place, there were methods for limiting the damage.
One to which Grant refers is the practice known as the vajroli mudra, which is a way of halting ejaculation in pre- or mid-ejaculation. This involves a great deal of preliminary work in contracting the urethral sphincter (a practice which is also beneficial in curing premature ejaculation). Advanced practitioners are said to be able to use this method to “vacuum” ejaculated semen from the vagina back into the penis where its subtle essence can be drawn up the spine and to the cranial vault as the Kundalini rises. The Shiva Samhita—a venerable Tantric text which discusses the vajroli mudra—claims that the loss of semen leads to death and that the Tantrika should never lose his semen under any circumstances.