Interview With Mystic Gregory Peters On Crowley, Grant, and His Work With Legend Phyllis Seckler
Recently, I had the honor to talk with Gregory Peters. He is a Thelemite, a devotee of the Great Goddess, and has been a student of Eastern and Western systems of attainment for over 20 years, holding various offices in western esoteric groups, and is an initiated tantrik in Hindu and Buddhist lineages. I would like to take this time to welcome Mr. Peters to the Papers in the Attic family. How are you?
Gregory Peters: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Thank you for asking to discuss the Work. It is always a pleasure to share in our ongoing research and expeditions into the vast realms of consciousness. Below are your questions and my responses. If anything requires more clarification or details, please let me know.
Warlock Asylum: It is an honor indeed to be able to talk with you and gather a few insights along this shared path. However for our readers who may not be familiar with your person, how would describe yourself?
Gregory Peters: As with any individual, I am a multi-faceted and complex person. I have a brief bio at http://newaeontantra.com/about/ that will help to set the “tone.” At the simplest, I am an explorer. This manifests throughout my life’s journey in my love of travel and trekking, as well as the deep exploration of western and eastern occultism, tantra and mysticism.
Warlock Asylum: How did you get involved in the occult arts, specifically Thelema?
Gregory Peters: It all started in childhood with an unusual interest in all things occult, paranormal and otherworldly themed. An avid reader, I early on discovered the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and voraciously read through his work, as well as getting my first Simon Necronomicon at an early age (never mind that I was so terrified of inadvertently opening the gates after reading it that I tore it to pieces and burned the scraps into ash… that is another story in itself). In my teenage years this interest had moved into Buddhism and eastern mysticism, then finally into paganism and the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The study of Golden Dawn led to the writings of Israel Regardie, Robert Anton Wilson and naturally to Regardie’s study of Aleister Crowley in The Eye in the Triangle. I followed up with reading Crowley, obtaining anything I could find by him. Crowley’s writings, and in particular Liber AL vel Legis, sparked a deep interest that would end up directing the course of my life, leading me eventually to the work of Kenneth Grant, Hindu and Buddhist tantra, Advaita, Bertiaux, and more.
Warlock Asylum: It’s good to see that you are still active. In your opinion, What changes have you seen since getting involved in the occult world?
Gregory Peters:The growth of the Internet has without a doubt had a huge influence. So much that used to be arcane, secret or somewhat “mysterious” is now blasted all over the web. Almost every organization has a web presence now. You used to have to actually write carefully thought out letters of introduction to the addresses you found in rather hard to find books, and hope to get a response. These days, people more often than not look up a contact address on the web, dash off a quick email to a group that catches their interest, and go back to browsing Facebook! The inundation of information and the worldwide connectivity afforded from near instantaneous electronic communications has shifted the face of the occult scene tremendously. Rather than go through the effort of letter writing and getting to know potential contacts in the occult, these days people more often than not are able to sit at home (or in Starbucks) and ask several groups to initiate them remotely.
I have found that many people now are so used to having near immediate response via email, web searches, and text messaging (to name a few), that they are not willing to put in the time and effort to actually read a book in-depth, or sit for meditation or ritual for extended periods of time. There is always a variety of experiences of course, but it seemed before the wide adaptation of the internet there was much more emphasis on putting in the time with both solitary and group work.
Another change seems to be a decided lack of creativity in the occult world. It is almost as if the status quo of the occult has become somewhat ossified, repeating the same traditions over and over with little new insight or innovation. While there is certainly an important need to protect and preserve that which has come before (the idea of occult lineages), the Work has to move forward and advance into new realizations and territories.
Some of the more cutting edge occultists are championing this pioneer approach; for example, the very unique and threshold crossing work of Kenneth Grant, Austin Osman Spare and their successors, and the creative talent coming out of the Voudon Gnosis traditions of Bertiaux are highlights of truly unique and artistic creative occultism.
Warlock Asylum: When people hear the name Aleister Crowley, images of a controversial, but skilled magician appears in the minds of the uninitiated. What is your opinion of Crowley and the legacy he left?
Gregory Peters: Crowley was the herald of New Aeon of Thelema and the philosophy of Do what thou wilt. His life work was a truly brilliant synthesis of spiritual technology from both the Western occult traditions and the yoga and mysticism of the East. The reception of Liber AL vel Legis (the Book of the Law) was a milestone in the history of humanity, paving the way for a new tradition based on an individual relationship with the Divine and the world. His work inaugurated the New Aeon and laid a foundation for future generations to build upon and expand.
People that discard Crowley because of his less than savory history in the press and his many human failings are falling prey to the “Demon Crowley” and missing the diamonds hidden in the rough. I tend to think that Crowley had many layers to his personality, and each served a specific purpose. The “Demon Crowley” is a type of ordeal, a proving ground. Pass through that Pylon, and you will see the incredible value in his work. People may not like the man or what he did on a personal level, but that should not be a bar to realizing the intrinsic value of his work and the importance of such a liberating and empowering philosophy as Thelema.
In addition to the reception of Liber AL, Crowley’s work in revitalizing the Tarot with the artist Lady Freda Harris was a remarkable achievement. The Tarot is a visual compendium of the Universe, composed of living talismanic art. Armed with only the Tarot, one has the keys necessary to unlock and experience the complete path of gnostic attainment.
Crowley is a starting point. His work and legacy needs to be preserved and studied, as a great master. From this solid foundation, we expand and build fresh avenues of exploration and attainment. This is how art works, and how the creative impulse is nurtured and grown, opening to new vistas and regions undreamed of. The gnostic revelation is not static, but rather ever dynamic, a dance of ecstatic energies in eternity.
Warlock Asylum: I am sure that you will agree that over the last ten years interest in non-traditional forms of religion and magic as a whole has grown rapidly. Some say that this is a good thing, since they can live a more comfortable lifestyle, one in conjunction with their mystical practice. Others claim that while things are more open than they used to be, the occult arena is now filled with armchair magicians. What is your opinion in this regard, being that you have been involved with the art for quite some time?
Gregory Peters: With the diffusion of the occult into mundane life there is certainly a more open dialogue, and the peripheral students and seekers have their time cut out for them as there is a seeming endless supply of websites, books, seminars, groups and more to keep them occupied. Naturally this means there is a larger body of seekers and dilettantes than there are serious, practicing adepts and magicians. I think however this has always been the case; it is just that now there is more of everything and everyone, and we are all connected. As has always been, the serious practitioners are hidden, sometimes in plain sight, sometimes not, and engaged in their Work.
Warlock Asylum: It must have been a great honor to work with the late Phyllis Seckler, also known as Soror Meral! How was that experience for you? Can you tell us a little something about the remarkable Phyllis Seckler?
Gregory Peters: I am truly grateful to have studied under Phyllis and to have counted her as a dear friend. I met Phyllis when I was 21 years old and became her student the same day, working directly under her until her death. She was… remarkable. Sharp mind, quick wit, gentle yet sparkling eyes, and a laugh that would cut through all of your pretense and ego. She was a truly great Adept, although she would never admit it as such. Any discussion of grades would be met with a quick “that doesn’t matter! do the Work!”
Spending afternoons with Phyllis in Oroville were magical, inspiring times. This really taught me the value of teacher-student relationships, as the time spent in personal one on one and seminar type settings was instrumental in teaching me the Work. Being in the presence of ones teacher conveys a certain subtle wisdom in all that one does. Something as simple as putting some water to boil in the kitchen while listening to her discuss the True Will or various personalities in the Thelemic world conveyed far more energetically than could ever be learned from just reading a book. I think this is one of the reasons in the Eastern traditions the student would be so close to the guru, doing seemingly mundane tasks day after day with perhaps no overt instruction for months or years at a time. The teachings are alive and they are transmitted through life itself, by being in close, regular proximity to the teacher.
She always emphasized the vital importance of the Holy Books of Thelema. Phyllis would be able to quote from Liber ALby memory for any circumstance, any life event that would come up. She was a real embodiment of Thelema, living and expressing it with her every thought, word and deed. Soror Meral was the main inspiration behind the practice of reading the Holy Books that would evolve over the years into the Diamond Sapphire Gem of Radiant Light(http://newaeontantra.com/?s=diamond+sapphire) and the Ordo Sunyata Vajra (http://www.ordosv.org), which originally got started after she indicated that students were not studying the Thelemic Holy Books enough.
Working with her was a greatly inspiring and productive time. In addition to being completely orthodox in her A.’.A.’. training, she never suffered from any of the problems you often see with occult teachers: no ego trips, no attempts to control. Rather, she was encouraging, nurturing and empowering – helping her students to find their True Will and embody the Star that they are. Always, again and again, her emphasis would be on the Book of the Law and the True Will to handle every situation in life.
Warlock Asylum: How did you get into writing?
Gregory Peters: I seem to have had a natural predilection for writing since early childhood. I wrote my first “book” – a sequel to The Empire Strikes Back – with pencil and paper at the age of 10. This was followed with sequels to Halloween and some Dune inspired poetry in the next few years. Sadly, these are all lost now (unless they show up on eBay at some point!). Writing has always been an easy method of self expression for me.
Warlock Asylum: Are there any new projects coming for Gregory Peters that we can expect in the future?
Gregory Peters: I recently finished a new book, the Magickal Union of East and West (http://newaeontantra.com/2013/09/17/coming-in-july-2014/) due out from Llewlleyn in 2014. It will explore many of the themes and practices of New Aeon Tantra that I have been working with over the last decade or so. On a similar theme, quite a lot of development has been going on inside the Ordo Sunyata Vajra and its other orders that members will be able to engage with. The tantra of the Book of the Law continues to be the primary focus and drive in all of this Work.
On a personal level, my ongoing work with vamamarga lines of tantrik sadhana, as well as the deepening of work with the Typhonian Gnosis continues to expand. Where this will ultimately lead, and what new vistas will be experienced, are yet to be seen.
Warlock Asylum: There are always challenges in life and this is the beauty of the magical arts. Life can become your canvas. What challenges have you faced, if any, due to your pursuit of the magical and mystical arts?
Gregory Peters: Life is indeed the canvas for our arte magick. The dynamic interweaving of energy that are the variegated waves of life develop a rhythm that, seen over time, show the path of a Star in the cosmos.
I have found that this path has enhanced my life tremendously, and afforded me the experience of a worldview that truly has “no problems.” Whatever life brings, if one is seated firmly in the Truth of Self – the True Will – then ones course of action and point of view remain in the base of consciousness. This is the silent watcher, the Hidden God that is witness and experiencer of the entire cycle of life. From this point of view, whether experience is outwardly positive or negative, one is in a condition of equipoise at the foundation of being. A helpful exercise to reinforce this worldview is adapted from the Oath of the Abyss, wherein one views every experience of life as a direct dealing of the Divine with the individual self.
On a more mundane level, of course our daily interactions with the world have their ebb and flow, good days and bad days. I might have a cold that gets me physically down; I may get into an argument with a loved one; I may encounter any number of irritations. The key, I feel, is not to obsess over the transitory flow, but rather to again and again re-establish consciousness in the base. In this way, samsara and nirvana are truly experienced as one and the same. “All the sorrows are but as shadows, they pass and are done, but there is that which remains.” (Liber AL). When one lives from the center, there is a true freedom and fearlessness every moment, in every aspect of life. Every act is an act of Love, ultimately.
Warlock Asylum: What advice would you give to our readers and to those who are newly interested in the occult arts? Any final thoughts?
Gregory Peters: Whatever you choose, stick with it. Persevere! This path requires real work and real discipline. It is not a hobby, and not some fetish to play around with on weekends or when the fancy strikes. In order to achieve anything, you have to commit to yourself and maintain honesty and integrity in your work. Too often I have seen people get caught up in grades and recognition from others. None of that matters the least bit when Yama is at your doorstep. If you want real results; if you really want to Know and Fulfill your True Will, and taste the Unknown, you will have to work at it, daily, regularly, relentlessly. You will need to make such an impression on the Infinite, that it can not help but take notice and respond.
In the beginning, it is natural to search around different ideas and systems, perhaps move from one philosophy and group and practice to another. This is the Seeker stage, and a natural way to survey what is out there. Eventually, one has to settle down and choose one school or system to work with; this is how Adepthood is attained. Many of the western systems will take about 4 -5 years to go from beginner to the first stage of Adepthood, and you should be willing to commit to this in order to achieve a solid foundation. Traditional eastern tantrik paths may take even longer, depending on the lineage and guru one is working with.
Once a particular system is stabilized and the outer college is past (for example, when one achieves Adeptus Minor in a Golden Dawn based tradition), there is room to again explore other areas of study and mastery, but no longer with the virgin eyes and naiveté of a beginner, but rather the experience and solid foundation of an Adept. From this, true creativity and new developments may arise, when the inspiration and guidance of the Augoides takes hold and leads you on your journey.
Another piece of advice: always follow your gut (some may prefer to say “follow your heart.”). As trite as that may sound at first glance, there is a part of you that always knows what the “right” thing to do (or not do) is. It may be clouded by personality complexes, or societal and cultural norms, or any of a host of other blocks, but ultimately your intuition is always right, if you can hear it and follow it. This is the silent, almost hidden path, overgrown with conscious and unconscious obstructions, to your True Will. Follow that, and you will find the Heart of the Master.
Warlock Asylum: I would like to express my deepest thanks on behalf of the Art of Ninzuwu team and our subscribers for taking the time to answer a few questions. I must say this exchange has been an encouraging step on my journey. We wish you all the best!