I became aware of Craig Williams in recent months and his deep body of work. I really like Craigs focused and serious approach to these practices and the fruits that come from them. That these fruits are part of reality that with proper training, preparation and earnest effort can be experienced by those on the path. So I contacted Craig with an assortment of questions, he has quite wisely condensed these down into the responses below. If you find this interview as interesting as me then you can follow Craig on his blogs that are listed at the end of the interview.
Background and how I became an Ordained Gnostic Bishop / Esoteric Voudon adept
Craig WIlliams: I grew up with a strong fascination of Asian martial arts and Eastern spiritual paths of spirituality. My karma was very blessed as I was born into a family that was very encouraging of my precocious spiritual interests while at the same time making sure I was sent to Catholic Schools for a well-rounded education. My parents were “liberal Lutherans” and my education was Catholic, so this exposed me to a wonderful study of scripture and Christian gnosis. Since I was not Catholic, my immersion in Catholic education was very relaxed, I did not encounter any negative experiences but rather was inspired by the exposure to the theater of the mass and the mystical connotations of the sacraments.
Around the age of 12, I discovered the Bhagavad Gita and became enamored with what would he termed “Hinduism.” I found great inspiration in learning and studying Hindu teachings, particularly the paths of Yoga and Tantra and saw important connections between these ideas and many of the ideas I was being exposed to in my study of Chinese martial arts and Qi Gong / Nei Dan. After about a year of studying the Bhagavad Gita and practicing meditation, I was blessed with a mysterious vision of the Goddess Dhumavati. This vision transformed my life overnight and ignited my lifetime of devotion and study of the Vedic sciences of Yoga, Vedanta, Jyotish, Tantra, and Ayurveda.
From the ages of 15-20 I also was deeply interested in the writings of Aleister Crowley, Franz Bardon, and Rudolf Steiner but eventually dedicated the majority of my spiritual study to “Hinduism” and Buddhism. In college I pursued undergraduate degrees in English Literature, Philosophy and Religious Studies with a focus on Eastern Religions and Gnosticism. During my time in college, the Nag Hammadi scriptures were just becoming available for academic study and I was deeply inspired by the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Phillip, The Hymn of the Pearl, etc. This eventually led to a fascination with Martinism and French streams of occultism.
After my undergraduate studies, I pursued a graduate level study in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Ayurvedic Medicine. After obtaining my Master’s in Science in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture and study with Dr. Vasant Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute, I opened a private practice in Austin, Texas specializing in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Nutrition, Qi Gong, and Health Coaching. During my years of graduate work, I also under took a 15 year path of study of the Vedic Sciences in a Gurukula program (one-to-one initiatic study) with Vamadeva Shastri ( Dr. David Frawley) and the American Institute of Vedic Studies focusing on the areas of the inner limbs of yoga, tantra, ayurveda, jyotish, tantra and Vedanta. Traveling throughout India and Tibet deeply informed and transformed my life as well as my spiritual sadhana and was a wonderful inspiration for my personal Dharma in this incarnation.
During my early 30’s I discovered the strange and inspiring work of Michael Bertiaux, and wrote him for more advanced study of the Monastery of the Seven Rays. This was the early 1990’s, long before so many materials were available. Michael and his associate Courtney Willis were very gracious and sent me extensive private materials to study and this began an interesting journey into the world of what is termed “Esoteric Voudon.” I was eventually ordained as a Gnostic Bishop and have written extensively on my use of Tantric Physics within the currents of Esoteric Voudon under the encouragement of Michael Bertiaux. I know guide a gnostic group “Ecclesia Gnostica Nigra” which focuses on the use of the sciences of Sanatana Dharma and the inner teachings of the Nag Hammadi and Esoteric Voudon.
Initiatic study / academic study of the Vedic Sciences
Craig Williams: My academic studies were mainly focused on the scriptures of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, The Major Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, as well as Buddhist Vajrayana as well as Taoist streams of thought. After years of “academic” work, I pursued what would be termed in India a “Gurukula” path of study, which means direct one-to-one study of all branches of the Vedic Sciences with a private teacher, typically occurring within an initiatic stream or Parampara. My Gurukula path of study was with Vamadeva Shastri and the American Institute of Vedic Studies as well as the Academy of Traditional Ayurveda guided by Durgadas Lingham.
During this path of study, I traveled to India and Tibet for initiatic study in various streams of tantric and yoga, as well as advanced study in Ayurveda and Jyotish ( Vedic Astrology). I was awarded the prestigious titles of “Vedakovid” meaning an adept in all branches of Vedic Study, “Yogacharya” meaning master teacher of Yogic sciences, and “Ayurvedacharya” meaning master teacher of Ayurveda. I was honored to receive the spiritual name of Indra-Das” and receive initiation into a rare familial Vedic as well as Tantric tradition via Vedakovid Durgadas and now serve as the head of the American branch of the Academy of Traditional Ayurveda. I was also honored to receive the spiritual of “Sri Indra Ram Das Aghori” from Sri Aghorarcharya Vishnuswami and the spiritual name of “Rigdzin Jhampa Trinley” and Ngakpa ordination from Lama Glenn Mullin, as well as the title of “Kaulacharya” recongnizing my Tantric study of Sri Vidya from Guru Sri Kutupanda Nath who awarded me the spiritual name of “Sri Subhagananda Nath”.
My “academic” and “initiatic” study of all aspects of Sanatana Dharma is never ending and always evolving and growing.
My approach to praxis via magical / initiatic system
My overall approach to praxis within initiatic magical systems is a fundamental grounding and mastery of the root metaphysics of the respective system coupled with a fire for innovation born from a deep understanding of the overall goals of the respective system. In my personal opinion, any and every “magical system” should offer the practitioner tools for literal Self-Realization as well as a map of Self-Realization. If this is not the root goal of a system, the practice typically becomes an egoic fantasy game akin to what we would term “Larping” in contemporary parlance. How is the praxis helping one burn away the cloud of Maya which obscure one’s true nature? How is the praxis helping one understanding their unique path of dharma in this particular incarnation? I feel these are important questions for practitioners to ponder.
How the eight limbs of yoga, the earthly elements, and alchemical practices come together in “Cult of Golgotha”?
My book “Cult of Golgotha” is a specific expression of my unique use the inner limbs of Yoga and earthly elements of Tantra within the stream of Esoteric Voudon. Michael Bertiaux was fascinated by my work in respect to this synergy and asked me to create a unique expression of this. From this request, the book “Cult of Golgotha” was born. This text reveals how I experienced and studied a wide range of esoteric streams from Louisiana, Haiti, India, and Tibet, and how one could see their entire life as a constant evolving stream of alchemical gnostic evolution. Each chapter reveals a unique vision of reality which explores and express strange landscapes of esoteric experience. This book was also deeply inspired by my work with Dr. Reginald Crosley. He deeply inspired me and he and I had many inspiring private conversations concerning his work and how I could use his work as inspiration. He was very encouraging to me and very supportive of my writings and my ideas, so in many ways I see this book as a dedication to him. It is my hope that “Cult of Golgotha” inspires readers and practitioners to view occultism in a more creative lens, and for readers to see the streams of experience that has informed their lives and use these streams as gnostic threads to weave a unique expression of their own individual expression of gnosis.
How do “Entering the Desert”, “Cult of Golgotha”, and “Tantric Physics” fit together?
How would you describe each?
The text “Entering the Desert” was inspired by my travels in Tibet, specifically the desert plains of Tibet. The Desert text outlines a primordial / elemental expression of what I would term “pagan sacramental gnosticism.” “Entering the Desert” presents a basic metaphysical infrastructure which can be applied to any spiritual system to help deepen one’s path of study, as well as presents a type of experiential grimoire which can potentially shift the reader’s consciousness into deeper states of primordial awareness.
The text “The Cult of Golgotha” presents my unique amalgamation of Eastern streams of gnosis with the system of Esoteric Voudon expressed by Michael Bertiaux. Golgotha also expresses ideas concerning ways for human consciousness to resist the Asuric / Ahrimanic forces which seek to homogenize, secularize, and limit the evolution of human awareness. Golgotha presents a diverse array of ideas which provide extensive paths for readers to explore and then use to create their own systems of personal gnostic protection.
The text “Tantric Physics Vol. I / II: Cave of the Numinous and Sacred Body, Sacred Space” comes both books into one complete volume. This text is my ultimate expression of a lifetime of initiatic study within Hindu and Buddhist streams of Tantra. Volume I: “Cave of the Numinous” presents an in-depth discussion of important foundational concepts as well as initiatic rituals, Volume II: “Sacred Body, Sacred Space” ushers the reader into the inner chambers of Tantric Physics and explores extensive devotional poetry which contains hidden teachings / transmissions of Rishi Yoga.
All of these books are available in paperback from the wonderful Anathema Publishing.
I am currently writing my new book for Anathema Publishing: “Desert Meditations: Gnostic Cartography (A Handbook of Agni Yoga). This book will be published in the coming year and present over 20 years of teachings taken from private and public classes and lectures concerning both Eastern gnosis and the Nag Hammadi scriptures. I actively teach private classes on all streams of the Vedic Sciences , as well as help guide the Academy of Traditional Ayurveda as well as have a busy private medical practice so I am always busy! However I feel extremely blessed to have a human incarnation and find all aspects of my life inspiring! I actively write on my two blogs so readers can always keep up to date with my writings on my blogs (blog 1 and blog 2). Thank you very much for the interesting questions!