Review: Elizabeth Sharpe’s “The Secrets of the Kaula Circle”

by writereaderly

elizabeth sharpe the secrets of the kuala circleA very strange book, recommended by DC as mystical marginalia after we had conversed on Alexandra David-Neel’s offerings. This one, in four parts: 1) an introduction explaining Sharpe’s historical credibility as an Indiophile and investigator of Tibetan/Buddhist/Hindu rituals in the early 20th century (she even corresponded with Mahatma Ghandi and Swami Vivekananda on matters spiritual); 2) a breathless lady’s “novel” as the character Mary La Mont, reporting on the dangers of tantric practices and warning young women against being duped by manipulative lamas (all without mentioning tantra or sex with anything nearing explicitness; the subject was, in fact, almost entirely a mystery but for the introduction; she did manage to include a swipe at Aleister Crowley – here known as ‘666’ – and his practices); 3) a fictional postscript by some old India hand who stiff-upper-lippedly protected the fictional La Mont’s papers from fearful, thieving lamas and gurus; 4) an esoteric document outlining the breath-yoga of the sun and moon, in 154 numbered, Wittgensteinian paragraphs. As I say, most odd. This reader wishes Sharpe had been less circumspect and more titillating: she was clearly afraid to infect young ladies by providing any description of the weird practices that could corrupt them unto death. Methinks this is for the dedicated occultists only, and best of luck to them.

Where it came from: DC’s Bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
Bed reads
Where it went: Home
Best line of the book: “Later I knew the meaning. I was not to be killed: but—keep away from the monks, my sisters—monks, especially whose lips have turned black.” (p.31) [Apparently they want to eat pure ladies’ “glands” to nourish their own longevity.]
Reminds me of/that: —
Who I’d recommend it to:
Cognoscienti of arcana and the occult
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac