Tantra Goddess of the Surrealist Movement
Maria de Naglowska was a Russian occultist and author who was the founder of the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow in Paris. In this occult society she lectured and taught about the rituals of Sex Magic and how orgasmic power can be harnessed for spiritually transformative purposes. She led her group from 1932-1935 and immediately became the darling of the French Surrealist movement. “The Brotherhood” included likes of Man Ray, André Breton and many other notable artists of that time. During these years she published a newsletter called “La Flèche (The Arrow) that featured contributions from herself and other occultists. Her writings were considered so revolutionary that it earned her the name of: “La Sophiale de Montparnasse” (The Wise Woman of Montparnasse).
For someone who was so ahead of her time, Maria’s origins are decidedly bourgeois: She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1883 and after being orphaned at age 12 she was raised by her aristocratic relatives who expected her to become just another pretty face in St. Petersburg society. But Maria was having none of that; she eloped with someone outside of her social economic sphere and ran away to Geneva, Switzerland. As fate would have it, her jerk of a husband abandoned her and she was forced to go to work as a school teacher. In order to supplement her income, Maria also began working as a journalist and it was around this time that she discovered the works of an obscure American writer named Paschal Beverly Randolph, who was the founder of the American Rosicrucian Order and a practitioner of Sex Magic. As a result of his teachings, Maria began to advocate the power of Sex Magic in her writings and it caused so much controversy in stuffy Geneva that she wound up being imprisoned and eventually deported from Switzerland, as if such a thing were possible!
After her deportation, she continued working as a journalist first in Rome and then finally in Paris where her practice finally took off. She compiled and translated the writings of Randolph and had them published in book form. If it wasn’t for her proselytizing of his works, the world may have never heard of him, or Sex Magic. But again, the powers that be were out to get Maria and she found herself once again running afoul of the law. Fortunately the French were a bit more open minded than the Swiss and she was able to overturn her conviction for “outrage to public decency” in a court of law.
However she was not without controversy even within the parameters of her group. She was criticized for embellishing many of her rituals with satanism and the unsafe practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. Her explanation being that the latter helped the subject focus on their orgasm through sensory deprivation. I guess there are somethings which are too “out there” even for the French Surrealists. But I must say in her defense that there was an element of truth to her claim; Let me get one thing straight before going any further: I do not approve of the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. It is too risky and we have lost many people as a result of this. (Can you hear me in the afterlife Messrs Bourdain & Carradine?) There is a safer way to practice sensory deprivation called the “Yoni Face Mudra” which allows the person to be in control of the sensory deprivation while preventing any unfortunate “accidents”.
Inspite of the prurient reputation surrounding her, Maria was a well travelled, cultured individual. She studied with many masters throughout the world, in Alexandria, Egypt she connected with followers of Madame Blavatsky and rumor had it that she became part of Rasputins inner circle when she was growing up in St. Petersburg. Maria was fluent in ten languages and in addition to publishing “La Flèche” she also authored over six books on the subject of Sex Magic and worked as a journalist/translator. Click here to be directed to her Simon & Schuster Official Publisher Page.
Towards the end of her life, Maria became the muse of the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier. He was a serious occultist himself and found inspiration in her teachings and how they matched his own interpretation of sacred architecture. But Maria was not meant to be attached to her mortal coil for very long and in 1936 she a premonition of her own death in a dream. She decided to return to Switzerland where she died a year later. Leaving behind this little known, but very powerful legacy.
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