Sam Webster's rather charming little book (just over 100 pages) will no doubt appeal to a small but identifiable market: people who have some familiarity (or questions) about both Thelema and Tantric Buddhism. Neither of these paths are particularly mainstream, but some analysis seems maybe overdue and Webster has a not bad go at it.
A nice touch is each chapter beginning as if dedicated to his wife, as if it were written for her alone. The opening words will be, "My Darling," or "Beloved" before he proceeds to tell her "like he thinks it is." While this might sound overly cute, it has a warmth and sense of a mentally loving, devoted frame of mind that is not altogether inappropriate for various spiritual tasks. He shows his scholarship in his interpretation - or re-interpretation - of Thelemic invocations in the manner of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and vice-versa. His slightly academic approach would seem to demonstrate at least basic understanding of both systems, and his attempt to be all-inclusive with his dedications (effectively hoping the fruits of his work will benefit all humanity) avoids the insularity and 'black brother' syndrome that has been the bane of a great number of would-be thelemites and tantric Buddhists that have fallen by the wayside.
The good points alone are probably enough to justify at least a swift reading of this modestly priced volume if you have done some homework already and know your Scarlet Woman from your Vajra-Yogini. But, for all his obvious learning, I can't help but feel that Sam-ji has skimmed over the fact that both Tantric Buddhism and Thelema (Padmasambhāva or To Mega Therion / Aleister Crowley respectively) traditionally expect the student to spend hours upon hours of mastering basic techniques such as concentration, breathing, sitting still, trance and what-have-you to a fairly high degree. Thelema is not the 'lifestyle' choice of Wicca Pagans, nor is Tantric Yoga the simplistic religion of lighting a few joss sticks and saying a prayer to Lord Buddha.
There is much book knowledge behind the writing, and no small modicum of experience in comparative religion. So how does it promise so much yet deliver something so modest? A clue can be found at page 60 where he adapts the famous Egyptian invocation to his own liking. In his 'wisdom', he decides to replace the powerful key name of the all-important Egyptian priest with his own name (to mention just one of the changes). I won't go into his justification, but it is a clear chink in his armour. By failing to invoke the gatekeeper, he clings to his own sense of self - the very thing that needs to be lost if his invocation is to succeed.
It is hardly surprising that by the end of the book he is relying not on original writings of Thelema or of Tantra, but on modern interpretations and commercial reprints. We also see the modern trend to re-invent a system of chakkras with corresponding sounds, and even a `Sam Webster guide' to 'sex magic!' The marketing still manages to be more subtle than usual, and his book learning, dropping memes by the score, makes it more convincing than many. It has the warm-and-cuddly feel of a Sogyal Rinpoche book or something from the Theosophists. Any mention of hardcore characters like Aleister Crowley is minimized (readers tend to be frightened off at the thought of spiritual work that demands a training as hard as an army marine and a mental development sufficient to write Ph.D thesis). Sam Webster probably gets on with just about everyone, and seems like a genuinely nice man. His favoured system is 'Open Source' magick - a sort of Linux-while-you-Waite - and it might be churlish to pick faults without acknowledging the insights of his comparative religion approach, which seem mostly valid within their limits.
I'm not sure of the wisdom of invoking Tantric Gods with Egyptian nomenclature, or Egyptian ones with nods to Buddha. It has great possibilities in terms of understanding correspondences - not to mention allowing the author to 'invent' his own system out of different coloured pieces of cloth; but it strikes me as limited in its practical application. On the plus side, it is a nice series of guided meditations - much as you would find in any popular pay-as-you-go Friday night meditation class. One could describe Sam Webster's 'Tanric Thelema' as parlour meditations with nicely exotic trappings of holiness. But at least he has made an attempt, of sorts, in an area that has evaded academic rigour for a long time. It makes an interesting read, and I would struggle to find anything offensive in his work, even if serious students might well be warned off from joining his 'club!'