In memory of Phyllis Evelina Seckler, also known as Soror Meral. Born on this date in 1917, in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. – I would like to share the following essay which I wrote a few years back. It was originally distributed in a small booklet included with the custom chalice covers made from her alter material and has not otherwise been published.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
In May of 1998, the Grand Master Sabazius instituted the Orders of the Lion and of the Eagle as a way of formally recognizing “men and women of the past who have contributed in diverse but important ways to the development and advancement of the great principles of our Order.” Soror Meral (a.k.a. Phyllis Evalina Seckler) was inducted into this noble Order in August of 2018, and will forever be remembered as one of Thelema’s most influential proponents. It is fitting that she and Grady McMurtry would be the first two from the modern Ordo Templi Orientis (as established under the Caliphate) to be inducted into this august Order.
Soror Meral took her Minerval initiation into the O.T.O. on the 26th of August, 1939, and would ultimately go on to become a IX°. Her initiation into the Order took place near Playa Del Rey under the auspices of Agape Lodge in Pasadena, California. The officiating officer was Wilfred Smith, but also in attendance were Regina Kahl and Jane Wolfe, who both aided.
It was Kahl who first introduced Phyllis to the Order. She was a drama teacher at Los Angeles City college and Phyllis was one of her students. In time, Regina would invite Phyllis to a Gnostic Mass at Agape Lodge where she was the presiding Priestess. Once Phyllis had met some of the regulars, she quickly fell in with the community and shortly thereafter moved into the Lodge.
Jane Wolfe (a.k.a Soror Estai), who already lived at the Lodge, took a liking to Phyllis and the two were fast to become friends. Ultimately Jane would be- come her mentor, and in April of 1940 Jane wrote Crowley asking permission to admit Phyllis as a Probationer of the A∴A∴. Crowley, who deeply trusted Wolfe, agreed, and on the 3rd of June, at exactly 8:50 pm, Phyllis was officially accepted in the A∴A∴ under Soror Estai. The two would remain close right up until Wolfe’s death in March of 1958, and Jane would leave all of her books and papers to Phyllis, who by all accounts, was both her heir and her closest confidant.
After Jane died, Soror Meral worked with Karl Germer, who had been serving as the head of both O.T.O. and A∴A∴ since Crowley’s death in 1947. Phyllis would type out several of Crowley’s manuscripts at the behest of Germer, including the original multilith plates for Magick Without Tears. In 1952, Germer acknowledged that Phyllis had achieved the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and sometime later they would share a brief romantic affair.
One of Phyllis’s greatest contributions to the Thelemic community was the work she did in aiding Grady McMurtry to restart the Order. The two were married, albeit illegally, in Mexico in the early 1970’s. Together they forged the modern O.T.O. as we have it and inspired a whole new generation of Aspirants
to the A∴A∴. But likely her greatest achievement, in my opinion, is the dramatic impression she left upon so many who would go on to become officers and teachers, scholars and authors. Her legacy is magnificent, and she personally touched the lives of so many of the Thelemic community’s prominent members. She was, in fact, the first Thelemite I would ever meet.
In 1979, Phyllis was granted a charter for 418 Lodge, which was located in her home in Oroville, California. However, Lodge activity was minimal. In 2003 this would change, when a handful of local Thelemites worked together to revive the Lodge. Its inaugural Gnostic Mass was held on October 12th, Crowley’s birthday. I was the officiating Priest that day and had the honor of baptizing four and confirming five members of our budding community. This mass is one of my fondest memories as it was the only one I ever got to perform for her. After, she said the kindest words to me and praised my performance, stating it was the best she had ever seen, (though I knew this could not be true). I was, of course, nervous as hell to perform mass for her and completely humbled by her words. It was at this moment that she pointed out that the ewer we had used that day for mass and baptisms was actually a teapot that had belonged to Jane Wolfe, who purchased it just prior to leaving for Cefalu and carried it with her to the abbey. I carry it with me now and still perform baptisms with it.
Eventually 418 Lodge would relocate to the Sacramento area and was first located in my home in Orangevale, CA. Then, on the final day of May, 2004, our founder, Soror Meral, would shed her earthly vehicle. Sometime later the Lodge moved with me into an artist loft located on K street in the heart of downtown Sacramento where we began to hold regular masses.
Throughout this period a permanent temple was being built across town in the back of David Shoemaker’s house, who had been serving as Lodge Master since Phyllis’s death. This temple would eventually and affectionately be known as the Soror Meral building, in remembrance of our Past-Master. After the Lodge relocated to this temple, which would serve as its home for many years, it was decided that a new super altar should be built and much of Phyllis’s old temple equipment was retired. Many of us volunteered throughout the process of building this temple. It was a matter of local pride that this building had been erected from the foundation up for this sole purpose.
I was there aiding on the day that the new altar was being assembled. The old material was simply going to be discarded and replaced. Being personally and emotionally attached to Phyllis’s old furnishings, I thankfully saved her altar cloth from the garbage bin—I just couldn’t see tossing it out. I didn’t know for what reason I should save it, only that it could be repurposed in some meaningful manner someday in the future and so carefully stored it away.
Approximately 15 years later, after her induction into the Order of the Eagle, it occurred to me just how I could share her legacy with others and pass on some of her energy to those serving as Priestesses today.
It is when I saw the pall of Soror Amiana that all the final pieces fell into place and this project was born. I asked her if she would aid me in creating something similar to her own fashioned out of Phyllis’s altar material and thankfully, she agreed. We began discussing our vision for this project, and what you now hold in your hands is the fruit of our labor.
May each and every one of you truly treasure this relic and assure the continuance of our heritage.
Phyllis was stubborn and strong, and passionate about the work. The way she lived Thelema, applying it in all aspects of life was efficacious and inspiring. She was a good ear and a wonderful friend who could lovingly tell you how it was! And she was a wonderful teacher, most especially of astrology, which was her specialty. For all that she has given the greater Thelemic community, and to me personally, I am eternally grateful.
It is my honor to able to share her legacy with you.
[Raising Cup] — To Soror Meral; may your contributions long be honored, and your memory cherished.
Love is the law, love under will