Naglowska, Maria de
Maria de Naglowska (1883-1936) was a Russian author and journalist who wrote and taught about Sexual Magic practices.
Beyond this subject, Maria also influenced the surrealist art movement. The "Lexique succinct de l'erotisme" in the catalog of the 1959 International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris noted her important influence. Surrealist Sarane Alexandrian wrote a detailed account of her life.
Rene Thimmy described her thus
Somehow an atmosphere of purity, of chastity emanates from this small and quiet woman, who sat there modestly, speaking little and gesticulating even less and whose way of life seemed to be more or less ascetic. Her ordinary meals consisted of milk coffees and croissants or rolls. She practically never drank alcohol and her sole vice were some cigarrettes
Although we cannot see this from the photos it was her blue eyes that were her most arresting feature – “blue and cold like a glacier but lightened by a fire from within”.
Naglowska was born in 1883 in St. Petersburg, Russia, the daughter of a provincial governor of Kazan. She was orphaned at age 12 - her Father was murdered by nihilists - and educated in the exclusive private and aristocratic Institute Smolna. According to Rene Thimmy [Maurice Magre) even early in her childhood she had ‘mediumistic gifts’.
Following a rift with her aristocratic family caused by her falling in love with a Jewish commoner, Moise Hopenko, she moved with him first to Berlin and then to Geneva where they were married and subsequently had three children.
Around 1910, Hopenko abandoned her to move to Palestine. Naglowska earned a living as a school teacher. She also worked as a journalist but her radical writings led to her imprisonment and eventual expulsion from Switzerland, after which she moved to Rome around 1920. While in Rome she again worked as a journalist.
In 1929, she moved to Paris. In order to support herself, she conducted occult seminars drawing upward of 40 people to hear her ideas on Sex Magic. Attendance at these sessions included notable avant-garde writers and artists such as Julius Evola, William Seabrook, Man Ray, and André Breton.
Her most ardent followers were Claude Lablatiniere, Jean Carteret and the surrealist poet and painter Camille Bryen, but others included Michel Leiris, Ernest Gengenbach, Georges Bataille and Jean Paulhan.
Naglowska's occult teaching centred on what she called the Third Term of the Trinity, in which the Trinity is used in its original form and includes the divine feminine – Father, Mother and Son. Her practices aimed to “bring about a reconciliation of the light and dark forces in nature through the union of the masculine and feminine, revealing the spiritually transformative power of sex”. Darkness and Light, Masculine and Feminine are both symbolic in this context.
She also used the symbol of Satan, but there appears to have been a widespread misunderstanding of her use of Satan.
Satan is actually Saturn – the symbolic Planet. Saturn the planet is a heavily masculine intellectual figure and thus a block to spiritual progress. In all activities designed to move you towards enlightenment the aim is to suppress the ‘Dark Satanic’ – Memory, Desire, the strong masculine ego, and instead concentrate on invoking the emotion of LOVE – personified by Venus. For more details see How to get to Heaven.
If you are a man or heavily ‘Satanic’, there is an urgent need to find the feminine in you and this can be done by – amongst many other activities the Sex based ones. If you are a woman however, you already are Venus and probably have little of the Satanic in you.
The key always is balance not exclusion, as such women have to find a bit of the Satanic in them –the urgent need is to concentrate on Reasoning power [which sadly is little used by many women – and I can say this because I am a woman] – to balance the Venus. In effect, women have love and other emotions in droves, as well as wisdom and inspiration, but they seem unable to express the wisdom they have gained in a usable way, they always pepper it with irrational emotion and lose the argument.
This is why Naglowska referred to herself as "a Satanic woman." Women don’t actually benefit spiritually from Sex Magick, but as it produces men who are a darn sight more loving and responsive [and fun] than normal, they are more than happy to help out in the process of helping men.
In this respect women are acting in the role of the High Priestess, Maria herself was billed in her talks as the "High Priestess of Love of the Temple of the Third Era".
She explicitly encouraged her followers to imagine Satan – in reality Saturn – as a symbol, not some evil being invented by religion. The attributes of Saturn are in all of us, but they can become an extremely destructive force as is all too evident at the moment. The combination of memory with its erroneous belief systems, flawed learning system and a Reasoning system that acts only on what is within and not without, is wreaking havoc on our planet.
Overall Maria was trying to get men to abandon the destructive Saturn traits and move towards Wisdom gained via Venus allied with Reason. Wisdom plus Reasoning power is one of the most powerful forces for good there is. But as Maria said "Reason is in the service of Satan [Saturn]" and not Venus!
Her events were apparently quite controversial. In 1935, Naglowska presented a speech at the Club de Faubourg in which she spoke on the topic of "Magic and Sexuality: What is Magic Coitus? What is the Symbolic Serpent." The serpent is of course - in this context - the kundalini serpent, but Institutionalised religion has so distorted the symbolism that presumably the authorities again misunderstood. The club was tried and convicted for "outrage to public decency" but later successfully appealed the conviction.
One ritual for which there exists a first-hand account recalls that the ceremony included a naked Naglowska lying supine upon the altar while a male initiate places a chalice upon her genitalia and proclaims, "I will strive by any means to illuminate myself, with the aid of a woman who knows how to love me with virgin love...I will research with companions the initiatory erotic act, which, by transforming the heat into light arouses Lucifer from the satanic shades of masculinity."
Lucifer is not a personification of evil either. Again the religious fanatics – who really are the only evil ones – have distorted the meaning. Lucifer in this context is the Light giver – the masculine who has found his feminine and is thus an enlightened being. Without any hesitation whatsoever I can say that every women needs a Lucifer. Sex magick is truly sex magick once you have found a Lucifer – you soar to the stars and beyond together.
There are other problems in the interpretation of the Sex Magick practises. Her later book on advanced sexual magic practices, Le mystère de la pendaison (The Hanging Mystery) details her advanced teachings on the spiritually transformative power of sex, and the practice of ‘erotic ritual hanging’’. But in this there is some confusion and it may have been brought about by the problems caused by continual harassment of people in this area by the authorities, so that they have difficulty getting access to the correct original texts. Most if not all of the practises that Maria taught came from India and spread East to China [in Qigong for example], north to Tibet and beyond, East to Japan [the Geisha system for example] and then on to Indonesia. They were carried west via the Sufis, then the Kabbalists [Jews], the Alchemists, the Knights Templar and so on.
Wherever Maria learnt her sex magick, it had been passed on through a lot of hands, who may not always have been the right ones to understand it. All of these practises were heavily symbol-based for reasons we have explained extensively on the site, and it only takes one literal interpretation for it all to go horribly wrong. One suggested source for her knowledge of the sexual magick she practised is the Khlysty sect. The alternative is her husband who was described as a passionate Zionist – which may mean intensely religious or intensely spiritual. She also visited Alexandria – the home once upon a time of the Egyptian Mysteries.
‘Hanging’ in the eastern system has nothing to do with erotic asphyxiation, if you follow the link it will tell you what it involved and why it was done – it is actually based on testicle manipulation. For some it may bring tears to the eyes to read it, but it has little to do with strangling yourself. Thus there may have been some very unfortunate literal interpretations of an old yogic/qigong practise. Sex magick and sexual stimulation are intended to be acts of love not hurt, and here, her teachings may have gone terribly wrong. There is an added meaning to hanging which is derived from the symbolism of the Hanged Man [or woman it can also be a woman]. Thus an agent of change who inverts the old order - but a mystic saint.
In 1935, Naglowska had a dream foretelling her death and shortly thereafter went to live with her daughter in Zurich. She died there, at the age of fifty-two, on April 17, 1936.
In 2011 and 2012, Naglowska's works were, for the first time, translated into English and published in the United States by Inner Traditions, translated by Donald Traxler and accompanied with a foreword by Hans Thomas Hakll.
- Magia Sexualis: Sexual Practices for Magical Power - In 1931, Maria compiled, translated and published in French a collection of published and unpublished writings by American occultist Paschal Beverly Randolph on the subject of sexual magic and magic mirrors. Her translation and publication of Randolph's previously little known ideas and teachings was the source of Randolph's subsequent influence in European magic. She augmented the text with what she said were some of his oral teachings.
- Le Rite Sacre' de l'amour magique (The Sacred Ritual of Magical Love) - 1932 a semi-autobiographical novella,
- La Lumiere du sex (The Light of Sex) - a guide to sexual ritual that was required reading for those seeking to be initiated into the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow.
- Advanced Sex Magic: The Hanging Mystery Initiation
- La Flèche (The Arrow) - During her time in Paris, she also published a newspaper called La Flèche (The Arrow) to which she and other occultists, including Julius Evola, contributed articles. The paper released twenty issues over the course of its three-year existence. It too is available in book form.
Marc Pluquet's La Sophiale is her biography. As Maria’s pupil, many believe that Marc was in the best position to write this biography. La Sophiale de Montparnasse was Maria’s nickname when she taught in Paris.
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