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Aleister Crowley
Born 12 October 1875(1875-10-12)
Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England
Died 1 December 1947 (aged 72)
Hastings, East Sussex, England
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Aleister Crowley (pronounced /ˈkroʊli/; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religion of Thelema. He was a member of the esoteric Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as well as a co-founder of the A∴A∴ and eventually a leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). He is known today for his magical writings, especially The Book of the Law, the central sacred text of Thelema, although he also wrote widely on other subjects, including a large amount of fiction and poetry.

Crowley was also a hedonist, bisexual, recreational drug experimenter and social critic. In many of these roles he "was in revolt against the moral and religious values of his time", espousing a form of libertarianism based upon the rule of "Do What Thou Wilt".[1] Because of this, he gained widespread notoriety during his lifetime, and was denounced in the popular press of the day as "the wickedest man in the world."[2][3][4][5] Alongside his esoteric activities, he was an avid chess player, mountaineer, poet and playwright, and it has also been alleged that he was a spy for the British government,[6] although this remains unproven.

In 2002, a BBC poll described Crowley as being the seventy-third greatest Briton of all time, whilst he has influenced and been referenced to by numerous writers, musicians and film-makers including Alan Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Kenneth Anger and Harry Everett Smith. He has also been cited as a key influence on many later esoteric groups and individuals, including figures like Kenneth Grant, Gerald Gardner, and to some degree Austin Osman Spare.[7]

Contents

Biography

Early years, 1875-1894

Aleister Crowley, aged 13.

Aleister was born as Edward Alexander Crowley at 30 Clarendon Square in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, between 11:00 p.m and midnight on 12 October 1875.[8] His father, Edward Crowley, was trained as an engineer but, according to Aleister, never worked as one,[9] instead owning shares in a lucrative family brewery business, which allowed him to retire before Aleister was born. His mother, Emily Bertha Bishop, drew roots from a Devon and Somerset family, and was despised by her son, whom she described as "the Beast", a name that he revelled in.[10] His father, who had been born a Quaker, had converted to the Exclusive Brethren, a more conservative faction of a Christian denomination known as the Plymouth Brethren,[11] as had his mother when she married him. His father was particularly devout, and spent his time as a travelling preacher for the sect, and subjected his wife and son to a daily reading of a chapter from the Bible after breakfast.[12]

On 5 March 1887, when Crowley was only eleven, his father died of tongue cancer. He would later describe this as a turning point in his life,[13] and he always maintained some admiration for his father, describing him as "his hero and his friend".[14] Inheriting his father's wealth, he was subsequently sent to Ebor School in Cambridge, a private Plymouth Brethren school, but was expelled for "attempting to corrupt another boy."[13] Following this he attended Malvern College and then Tonbridge School, both of which he despised and soon left after only a few terms.[13] He became increasingly sceptical about Christianity, pointing out logical inconsistencies in the Bible to his religious teachers[15] and went against the Christian morality of his upbringing, for instance embracing sex by visiting male and female prostitutes, from one of whom he caught gonorrhea.[13]

University, 1895-1897

In 1895 Crowley began a three year course at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was entered for the Moral Science Tripos studying philosophy, but with approval from his personal tutor, he switched to English literature, which was not then a part of the curriculum offered.[16] It was here that he further severed his ties with Christianity, later stating that:

The Church of England [...] had seemed a narrow tyranny, as detestable as that of the Plymouth Brethren; less logical and more hypocritical... When I discovered that chapel was compulsory I immediately struck back. The junior dean halled me for not attending chapel, which I was certainly not going to do, because it involved early rising. I excused myself on the ground that I had been brought up among the Plymouth Brethren. The dean asked me to come and see him occasionally and discuss the matter, and I had the astonishing impudence to write to him that 'The seed planted by my father, watered by my mother's tears, would prove too hardy a growth to be uprooted even by his eloquence and learning.'[17]

It was also at university that he made the decision to change his name from Edward Alexander to Aleister. Of this, he later stated that:

For many years I had loathed being called Alick, partly because of the unpleasant sound and sight of the word, partly because it was the name by which my mother called me. Edward did not seem to suit me and the diminutives Ted or Ned were even less appropriate. Alexander was too long and Sandy suggested tow hair and freckles. I had read in some book or other that the most favourable name for becoming famous was one consisting of a dactyl followed by a spondee, as at the end of a hexameter: like Jeremy Taylor. Aleister Crowley fulfilled these conditions and Aleister is the Gaelic form of Alexander. To adopt it would satisfy my romantic ideals. The atrocious spelling A-L-E-I-S-T-E-R was suggested as the correct form by Cousin Gregor, who ought to have known better. In any case, A-L-A-I-S-D-A-I-R makes a very bad dactyl. For these reasons I saddled myself with my present nom-de-guerre—I can't say that I feel sure that I facilitated the process of becoming famous. I should doubtless have done so, whatever name I had chosen.[18]
Aleister Crowley, whilst still a young man.

Crowley largely spent his time at university engaged in his pastimes, one of which was mountaineering; he went on holiday to the Alps to do so every year from 1894 to 1898, and various other mountaineers who knew him at this time recognised him as "a promising climber, although somewhat erratic".[19] Another of his hobbies was writing poetry, which he had been doing since the age of ten, and in 1898 he privately published one hundred copies of one of his poems, Aceldama, but it was not a particular success.[20] Nonetheless, that same year he published a string of other poems, the most notable of which appeared in White Stains, a piece of erotica that had to be printed abroad as a safety measure in case it caused trouble with the British authorities.[21] Part of this work "deserves a place in any wide-ranging anthology of gay poetry."[22] A third hobby of his was chess, and he joined the university's chess club, where, he later stated, he beat the president in his first year and practised two hours a day towards becoming a champion—"My one serious worldly ambition had been to become the champion of the world at chess."[23] He also related having beaten famous chess players Joseph Henry Blackburne and Henry Bird and was on his way to becoming a master chess player, till he visited an important 1897 tournament in Berlin where "I saw the masters — one, shabby, snuffy and blear-eyed; another, in badly fitting would-be respectable shoddy; a third, a mere parody of humanity, and so on for the rest. These were the people to whose ranks I was seeking admission. "There, but for the grace of God, goes Aleister Crowley", I exclaimed to myself with disgust, and there and then I registered a vow never to play another serious game of chess."[24]

At university, he also maintained a vigorous sex life, which was largely conducted with prostitutes and girls he picked up at local pubs and cigar shops, but eventually he took part in same-sex activities in which he played a passive role during anal sex.[25] In 1897, Crowley met a man named Herbert Charles Pollitt, and the two subsequently had a relationship,[26] but broke up because Pollitt did not share Crowley's increasing interest in the esoteric. As Crowley himself stated, "I told him frankly that I had given my life to religion and that he did not fit into the scheme. I see now how imbecile I was, how hideously wrong and weak it is to reject any part of one's personality."[27]

It was in December 1896 that he had his first significant mystical experience from which he would later claim, "this philosophy was born in me."[28] His later biographer, Lawrence Sutin, believed that this was the result of Crowley's first homosexual experience, which brought him "an encounter with an immanent deity."[29] Following this experience, Crowley began to read up on the subject of occultism and mysticism, and by the next year, he began reading books by alchemists and mystics, and books on magic.[8] In October a brief illness triggered considerations of mortality and "the futility of all human endeavour," or at least the futility of the diplomatic career that Crowley had previously considered[30] - instead he decided to devote his life to the occult. In 1897 he left Cambridge, not having taken any degree at all despite a "first class" showing in his spring 1897 exams and consistent "second class honours" results before that.[31]

The Golden Dawn, 1898-1899

In 1898, Crowley was staying in Zermatt, Switzerland, where he met the chemist Julian L. Baker, and the two began talking on their common interest in alchemy. Upon their return to England, Baker introduced Crowley to George Cecil Jones, a member of the occult society known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.[32] Crowley was subsequently initiated into the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn on 18 November 1898 by the group's head, S. L. MacGregor Mathers.[33] The ceremony itself took place at Mark Mason's Hall in London, where Crowley accepted his motto and magical name of Frater Perdurabo, meaning "I shall endure to the end." At around this time, he moved from the elegant accommodation at the Hotel Cecil to his own luxury flat at 67-69 Chancery Lane. There, Crowley would prepare two different rooms; one for the practice of White Magic and the other one for Black Magic.[34] He soon invited a Golden Dawn associate, Allan Bennett, to live with him, and Bennett became his personal tutor, teaching him more about ceremonial magic and the ritual usage of drugs.[35][36] However, in 1900, Bennett left for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) to study Buddhism,[37] whilst in 1899 Crowley acquired Boleskine House, in Foyers on the shore of Loch Ness in Scotland. He subsequently developed a love of Scottish culture, describing himself as the "Laird of Boleskine" and took to wearing traditional highland dress, even during visits back to London.[38]

However, a schism had developed in the Golden Dawn, with MacGregor Mathers, the organization's leader, being ousted by a group of members who were unhappy at his autocratic rule. Crowley had previously approached this group asking to be initiated into further orders of the Golden Dawn, but they had declined him. Unfazed, he went directly to MacGregor Mathers, who still held the post of chief at the time and who initiated him into the Second Order after learning of the situation.[39][40] Now loyal to Mathers, Crowley (with the help of his then mistress and fellow initiate, Elaine Simpson) attempted to help crush the rebellion, and unsuccessfully attempted to seize a London temple space known as the Vault of Rosenkreutz from the rebels.[41] Crowley had also developed more personal feuds with some of the Golden Dawn's members; he disliked the poet W.B. Yeats, who had been one of the rebels, because Yeats had not been particularly favourable towards one of his own poems, Jephthat.[42] He also disliked Arthur Edward Waite, who would rouse the anger of his fellows at the Golden Dawn with his pedantry.[43] Crowley voiced the view that Waite was a pretentious bore through searing critiques of Waite's writings and editorials of other authors' writings. In his periodical The Equinox, Crowley titled one diatribe, "Wisdom While You Waite", and his note on the passing of Waite bore the title, "Dead Waite".[citation needed]

Travels around the World, 1900-1903

The first Europeans ever to attempt to climb K2. Crowley, here bearded, is the third from the left on the upper row.

In 1900, Crowley travelled to Mexico via the United States on a whim, taking a local woman as his mistress, and with his good friend Oscar Eckenstein proceeded to climb several mountains, including Ixtaccihuatl, Popocatepetl and even Colima, the latter of which they had to abandon due to a volcanic eruption.[44] During this period Eckenstein revealed mystical leanings of his own, and told him that he needed to improve the control of his mind, and recommended the practice of raja yoga. Crowley had continued his magical experimentation on his own after leaving Mathers and the Golden Dawn, and his writings suggest that he discovered the word Abrahadabra during this time.[45] Leaving Mexico, a country that he would always remain fond of, Crowley visited San Francisco, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong and Ceylon, where he met up with Allan Bennett and devoted himself further to yoga, from which he claimed to have achieved the spiritual state of dhyana. It was during this visit that Bennett decided to become a Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, travelling to Burma, whilst Crowley went on to India, studying various Hindu practices.[46] In 1902, he was joined in India by Eckenstein and several other mountaineers named Guy Knowles, H. Pfannl, V. Wesseley, and Dr Jules Jacot-Guillarmod. Together the Eckenstein-Crowley expedition attempted to climb the mountain K2, which at that time no other Europeans had attempted. Upon the journey, Crowley was afflicted with influenza, malaria and snow blindness, whilst other expedition members were similarly stricken with illness. They finally reached a point of 20,000 feet before deciding to turn back.[47]

Returning to Europe, he visited MacGregor Mathers in Paris, and although they had once been friends, the two soon fell out; Crowley stated that Mathers had been stealing from him whilst he had been away (he subsequently stole the items back), and as Crowley's biographer John Symonds noted, both figures now considered themselves the superior esotericist and refused to submit to the other.[48] In 1903 Crowley wedded Rose Edith Kelly, who was the sister of Crowley's friend, the painter Gerard Kelly, in a "marriage of conveniance". However soon after their marriage, Crowley actually fell in love with her and set about to woo her. Gerard Kelly was in fact a very good friend of W. Somerset Maugham, who would later use Crowley as model for his novel The Magician, published in 1908.[49]

Aiwass and The Book of the Law, 1904-1906

In 1904, Crowley and his new wife Rose traveled to Egypt using the pseudonym of Prince and Princess Chioa Khan, titles which Crowley claimed had been bestowed upon him by an eastern potentate.[50] During this time, according to Crowley's own account, Rose, who was pregnant, had become somewhat delusional, regularly informing him that "they are waiting for you". It was on 18 March, after Crowley sought the aid of the Egyptian god Thoth, that she actually revealed who the "they" were - the god Horus and his alleged messenger. She then led him to a nearby museum in Cairo where she showed him a seventh century BCE mortuary stele known as the Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu (it would later come to be revered in Thelema as the "Stele of Revealing"); Crowley was astounded for the exhibit's number was 666, the number of the beast.[51] He took this all to be a sign and on 20 March began invoking the god Horus in his room. It was after this invocation that Rose, or as he now referred to her, Ouarda the Seeress, informed him that "the Equinox of the Gods had come".[52] This referred to a more cosmic version of the regular Golden Dawn ritual of the Equinox, when they changed their initiating officer and password. The Equinox of the Gods supposedly replaces the office's ruling deity Osiris with Horus.

"Had! The manifestation of Nuit.
The unveiling of the company of heaven.
Every man and woman is a star.
Every number is infinite; there is no difference.
Help me, o warrior lord of Thebes, in my unveiling before the Children of men!"

The opening lines of The Book of the Law, as told to Crowley.

It was on 8 April that Crowley first heard a voice talking to him and calling itself Aiwass. The nature of Aiwass has never been fully explained. Crowley's disciple and secretary Israel Regardie believes that this voice came from Crowley's subconscious, but opinions among Thelemites differ widely.[53] Aiwass claimed to be a messenger from the god Hoor-Paar-Kraat, meaning Horus as the child of Isis and Osiris. Crowley wrote down everything the voice told him over the course of the next three days, and subsequently titled it Liber AL vel Legis or The Book of the Law.[54] The god's commands explained that a new Aeon for mankind had begun, and that Crowley would serve as its prophet. As a supreme moral law, it declared "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law", and that people should learn to live in tune with their "True Will".

Returning to Scotland, in July, Rose and Aleister had a daughter, whom Crowley named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley after his favourite mythological females. Meanwhile in 1905 Crowley traveled once more to India in order to lead a mountaineering expedition up the Kangchenjunga, although they failed to reach the top, and four men were killed by an avalanche.[55] Crowley's apparently uncaring attitudes towards the deaths and the fact that he beat one of the porters made "himself odious in the eyes of all mountaineers."[56] Following the expedition, he stayed in Nepal a while, taking a local girl as his mistress[57] before traveling to China, where he met up with Rose and his daughter.[58] Leaving them in Indo-China (modern Vietnam), he traveled to Shanghai where he met up with Elaine Simpson once again who encouraged him to follow Aiwass and The Book of the Law. Upon his return to Britain, he learned that his daughter had died in Rangoon, something that he blamed upon his wife.[59]

The couple had another daughter, Lola Zaza, in the summer of that year, and Crowley devised a special ritual of thanksgiving for her birth.[60]

He also performed a thanksgiving ritual before his first claimed success in what he called the "Abramelin operation", on 9 October 1906.[61] This was his implementation of a magical work described in The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage – Crowley had begun his version in China. The events of that year gave the Abramelin book a central role in Crowley's system. He described the primary goal of the "Great Work" using a term from this book which he also applied to the voice of Aiwass: "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel". An essay in the first number of The Equinox[62] gives several reasons for this choice of names:

  1. Because Abramelin's system is so simple and effective.
  2. Because since all theories of the universe are absurd it is better to talk in the language of one which is patently absurd, so as to mortify the metaphysical man.
  3. Because a child can understand it.

These rituals, combined with hashish, produced the mystic experience of Samadhi as promised by the god Horus (according to Crowley's diary) in March 1904. Meanwhile Crowley and his old mentor George Cecil Jones had discussed the formation of a new magical order that the younger man would lead. In September they began reconstructing or reforming Golden Dawn ritual. After Crowley reported Samadhi, Jones urged him to claim one of the titles Mathers had reserved for the Secret Chiefs. He refrained at this time, but did feel that he had clearly surpassed his magical father and could take his place as a mystical authority.[63]

The A∴A∴, 1907-1911

Leila Waddell (Laylah), Crowley's muse during the writing of The Book of Lies

1907 saw two important events in Crowley's life. The first was the creation of a new magical Order called A∴A∴, and the second was the composition of the Holy Books of Thelema.[64] In Paris during October 1908, he again produced Samadhi by the use of ritual and this time did so without hashish. He published an account of this success in order to show that his method worked and that one could achieve great mystical results without living as a hermit. On 30 December 1908, Aleister Crowley using the pseudonym Oliver Haddo made accusations of plagiarism against Somerset Maugham, author of the novel The Magician. Crowley's article appeared in Vanity Fair, edited then by Frank Harris who admired Crowley and who would later write the famous work My Life and Loves. Admittedly, Maugham did model the character of his magician Oliver Haddo after Crowley himself and Crowley confessed Maugham acquiesced privately on the question of plagiarism.[65]

In 1909, Aleister and Rose divorced, largely due to her alcoholism. She was subsequently admitted to an asylum suffering from alcoholic dementia. Meanwhile, Crowley soon moved on and took a woman named Leila Waddell as his lover or "Scarlet Woman."[66] In 1910, Crowley performed his series of dramatic rites, the Rites of Eleusis, with A∴A∴ members Leila Waddell (Laylah) and Victor Neuburg.

The Ordo Templi Orientis, 1912-1913

According to Crowley, Theodor Reuss called on him in 1912 to accuse him of publishing O.T.O. secrets, which Crowley dismissed on the grounds of having never attained the grade in which these secrets were given (IXth Degree). Reuss opened up Crowley's latest book, The Book of Lies, and showed Crowley the passage. This sparked a long conversation which led to Crowley assuming the Xth Degree of O.T.O. and becoming Grand Master of the British section of O.T.O. called Mysteria Mystica Maxima.[67]

Crowley would eventually introduce the practice of male homosexual Sex Magick into O.T.O. as one of the highest degrees of the Order for he believed it to be the most powerful formula.[68] Crowley placed the new degree above the Tenth Degree – not to be confused with any title in his own Order – and numbered it the Eleventh Degree.[69] There was a protest from some members of O.T.O. in Germany and the rest of continental Europe that occasioned a persistent rift with Crowley.[70]

In March 1913, producer Crowley introduced Leila Waddell in The Ragged Ragtime Girls follies review at the Old Tivoli in London where it enjoyed a brief run. In July 1913, the production enjoyed a six-week run in Moscow where Crowley met a young Hungarian girl named Anny Ringler. Crowley went on to practice sado-masochistic Sex Magick with Anny Ringler. According to Crowley, "... She had passed beyond the region where pleasure had meaning for her. She could only feel through pain, and my own means of making her happy was to inflict physical cruelties as she directed. The kind of relation was altogether new to me; and it was because of this, intensified as it was by the environment of the self-torturing soul of Russia, that I became inspired to create by the next six weeks." While in Moscow, Crowley would see Anny for an hour and then he would write poetry. During this summer in Moscow, Crowley would write two of his most memorable works, the Hymn to Pan and the Gnostic Mass or Ecclesiae Gnosticae Catholicae Canon Missae. The Hymn to Pan would be read at his funeral thirty four years later. Certain Thelemites regularly perform the Gnostic Mass to this day. It symbolizes the act of sex as a magical or religious ritual. Crowley would perform the literal version in privacy and there is no record that Crowley ever practiced sex magick in the presence of more than two other individuals.[71] Upon returning to London in the autumn of 1913, Crowley published the tenth and final number of volume one of The Equinox. In December 1913 in Paris, Crowley would engage Victor B. Neuburg in The Paris Working. The first ritual took place on New Year's Eve 1914, witnessed by Walter Duranty. In a period of seven weeks, Crowley and Neuburg performed a total of twenty four rituals which they recorded in the 'holy' or partially holy book formally entitled Opus Lutetianum.[72] Around eight months later Neuburg had a nervous breakdown. Afterward, Crowley and Neuburg would never see each other again.[73]

Theory of Crowley as a British spy

Richard B. Spence writes in his 2008 book Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult that Crowley could have been a lifelong agent for British Intelligence. While this may have already been the case during his many travels to Tsarist Russia, Switzerland, Asia, Mexico and North Africa that had started in his student days, he could have been involved with this line of work during his life in America during the First World War, under a cover of being a German propaganda agent and a supporter of Irish independence. Crowley's mission might have been to gather information about the German intelligence network, the Irish independent activists and produce aberrant propaganda, aiming at compromising the German and Irish ideals. As an agent provocateur he could have played some role in provoking the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, thereby bringing the United States closer to active involvement in the war alongside the Allies.[74] He also used German magazines The Fatherland and The International as outlets for his other writings. The question of whether Crowley was a spy has always been subject to debate, but Spence uncovered a document from the US Army's old Military Intelligence Division supporting Crowley's own claim to having been a spy:

Aleister Crowley was an employee of the British Government ... in this country on official business of which the British Consul, New York City has full cognizance.[75]

Crowley's magical life in the United States, 1914-1918

Aleister Crowley’s rendition of the Unicursal Hexagram.

During his time in the U.S., Crowley practiced the task of a Magister Templi in the A∴A∴ as he conceived it, namely interpreting every phenomenon as a particular dealing of "God" with his soul.[76] He began to see various women he met as officers in his ongoing initiation, associating them with priests wearing animal masks in Egyptian ritual.[77] A meditation during his relationship with one of these woman, the poet Jeanne Robert Foster, led him to claim the title of Magus, also referring to the system of the A∴A∴.

In June 1915, Crowley met Jeanne Robert Foster in the company of her friend Hellen Hollis, a journalist; Crowley would have Sex Magick affairs with both women. Foster was a famous New York fashion model, journalist, editor, poet and married. Crowley's Sex Magick plan with Foster was to produce his first male offspring but in spite of a series of Magical Operations, she did not get pregnant. By the end of 1915, the affair would be over.[78] During a trip to Vancouver in 1915, Crowley met Wilfred Smith, Frater 132 of the Vancouver Lodge of O.T.O., and in 1930 granted him permission to establish Agape Lodge in Southern California.[79]

In early 1916, Crowley had an illicit liaison with Alice Richardson, the wife of Ananda Coomaraswamy, one the greatest art historians of the day. On the stage, Richardson was known as Ratan Devi, mezzo-soprano interpreter of East Indian music. Richardson became pregnant but on a voyage back to England, in mid-1916, she had a miscarriage. Just before his affair with Ratan Devi, Crowley was practicing Sex Magick with Gerda Maria von Kothek, a German prostitute.[80]

Two periods of magical experimentation followed. In June 1916, he began the first of these at the New Hampshire cottage of Evangeline Adams, having ghostwritten most of her two books on astrology.[81] His diaries at first show discontent at the gap between his view of the grade of Magus and his view of himself: "It is no good making up my mind to do anything material; for I have no means. But this would vanish if I could make up my mind." Despite his objections to sacrificing a living animal, he resolved to crucify a frog as part of a rehearsal of the life of Jesus in the Gospels (afterward declaring it his willing familiar), "with the idea ... that some supreme violation of all the laws of my being would break down my Karma or dissolve the spell that seems to bind me."[82] Slightly more than a month later, having taken ether (ethyl oxide), he had a vision of the universe from a modern scientific cosmology that he frequently referred to in later writings.[83]

Crowley began another period of magical work on an island in the Hudson River after buying large amounts of red paint instead of food. Having painted "Do what thou wilt" on the cliffs at both sides of the island, he received gifts from curious visitors. Here at the island he had visions of seeming past lives, though he refused to endorse any theory of what they meant beyond linking them to his unconscious. Towards the end of his stay, he had a shocking experience he linked to "the Chinese wisdom" which made even Thelema appear insignificant.[84] Nevertheless, he continued in his work. Before leaving the country he formed a sexual and magical relationship with Leah Hirsig, whom he had met earlier, and with her help began painting canvases with more creativity and passion.[85]

Abbey of Thelema

Soon after moving from West 9th St. in Greenwich Village New York City with their newborn daughter Anne Leah nicknamed Poupée (born February 1920 and died in a hospital in Palermo 14 October 1920), Crowley, along with Leah Hirsig, founded the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalù (Palermo), Sicily on 14 April 1920, the day the lease for the villa Santa Barbara was signed by Sir Alastor de Kerval (Crowley) and Contessa Lea Harcourt (Leah Hirsig). The Crowleys arrived in Cefalu on 1 April 1920.[86] During their stay at the abbey, Ms Hirsig was known as Soror Alostrael, Crowley's Scarlet Woman, the name Crowley used for his female Sex Magick practitioners in reference to the consort of the Beast of the Apocalypse whose number is 666.[87] The name of the abbey was borrowed from Rabelais's satire Gargantua,[88] where the "Abbey of Thélème" is described as a sort of anti-monastery where the lives of the inhabitants were "spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure."[89] This idealistic utopia was to be the model of Crowley's commune, while also being a type of magical school, giving it the designation "Collegium ad Spiritum Sanctum," The College of the Holy Spirit. The general programme was in line with the A∴A∴ course of training, and included daily adorations to the Sun, a study of Crowley's writings, regular yogic and ritual practices (which were to be recorded), as well as general domestic labour. The object, naturally, was for students to devote themselves to the Great Work of discovering and manifesting their True Wills. Two women, Hirsig and Shumway (her magical name was Sister Cypris after Aphrodite), were both carrying Crowley's seed. Hirsig had a two-year old son named Hansi and Shumway had a three-year old boy named Howard; they were not Crowley's but he nicknamed them Dionysus and Hermes respectively. After Hirsig's Poupée died, Hirsig had a miscarriage but Shumway gave birth to a daughter, Astarte Lulu Panthea. Hirsig suspected Shumway's Black Magic foul play and what Crowley found when reading Shumway's diary (everybody had to keep one while at the abbey) appalled him. Shumway was banished from the abbey and the Beast lamented the death of his children. However, Shumway was pretty soon back in the abbey again to take care of her offspring.[90]

Mussolini's Fascist government expelled Crowley from the country at the end of April 1923.

After the Abbey

In February 1924, Crowley visited Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. He did not meet the founder on that occasion, but called Gurdjieff a "tip-top man" in his diary.[91] Crowley privately criticized some of the Institute's practices and teachings, but doubted that what he heard from disciple Pindar reflected the master's true position. Some claim that on a later visit he met Gurdjieff—who firmly repudiated Crowley.[92] Biographer Sutin expresses skepticism,[93] and Gurdjieff's student C.S. Nott tells a different version. Nott perceives Crowley as a black or at least ignorant magician and says his teacher "kept a sharp watch" on the visitor, but mentions no open confrontation.[94]

On 16 August 1929, Crowley married Maria de Miramar, from Nicaragua, while in Leipzig. They separated by 1930, but they were never divorced.[95] In July 1931, de Miramar was admitted to the Colney Hatch Mental Hospital in New Southgate where she remained until her death thirty years later.[96]

In September 1930 Crowley visited Lisbon and with the assistance of Fernando Pessoa faked his death at the notorious rock formation, Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell). In fact Crowley left the country and enjoyed the newspaper reports of his death – reappearing three weeks later at an exhibition in Berlin.[97]

In 1934, Crowley was declared bankrupt after losing a court case in which he sued the artist Nina Hamnett for calling him a black magician in her 1932 book, Laughing Torso. In addressing the jury, Mr. Justice Swift said:

I have been over forty years engaged in the administration of the law in one capacity or another. I thought that I knew of every conceivable form of wickedness. I thought that everything which was vicious and bad had been produced at one time or another before me. I have learnt in this case that we can always learn something more if we live long enough. I have never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by the man (Crowley) who describes himself to you as the greatest living poet.
—Mr. Justice Swift

However, Patricia "Deirdre" MacAlpine approached Crowley on the day of the verdict and offered to bear him a child, whom he named Aleister Atatürk. She sought no mystical or religious role in Crowley's life and rarely saw him after the birth, "an arrangement that suited them both."[98]

In March 1939, Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley met publicly for the first time. Fortune had already used Crowley as a model for the black magician Hugo Astley in her 1935 novel The Winged Bull.[99]

During World War II, Ian Fleming and others proposed a disinformation plot in which Crowley would have helped an MI5 agent supply Nazi official Rudolf Hess with faked horoscopes. They could then pass along false information about an alleged pro-German circle in Britain. The government abandoned this plan when Hess flew to Scotland, crashing his plane on the moors near Eaglesham, and was captured. Fleming then suggested using Crowley as an interrogator to determine the influence of astrology on other Nazi leaders, but his superiors rejected this plan. At some point, Fleming also suggested that Britain could use Enochian as a code in order to plant evidence.[100]

On 21 March 1944, Crowley undertook what he considered his crowning achievement, the publication of The Book of Thoth, limited to 200 numbered and signed copies bound in Morocco leather and printed on pre-wartime paper. Crowley sold ₤1,500 worth of the edition in less than three months.[101]

In April 1944, Crowley moved from 93 Jermyn St. to Bell Inn at Anston Clinton, Bucks. Daphne Harris was the landlady.[102]

Death

In January 1945, Crowley moved to Netherwood, a Hastings boarding house where in the first three months he was visited twice by Dion Fortune; she died herself of leukemia in January 1946. On 14 March 1945, in a letter Fortune wrote to Crowley, she declares: "... The acknowledgement I made in the introduction of The Mystical Qabalah of my indebtness to your work, which seemed to me to be no more than common literary honesty, has been used as a rod for my back by people who look on you as Antichrist."[103]

Crowley died at Netherwood on 1 December 1947 at the age of 72. According to one biographer the cause of death was a respiratory infection.[104] He had become addicted to heroin after being prescribed morphine for his asthma and bronchitis many years earlier.[105] He and his last doctor died within 24 hours of each other; newspapers would claim, in differing accounts, that Dr. Thomson had refused to continue his opiate prescription and that Crowley had put a curse on him.[106]

Biographer Lawrence Sutin passes on various stories about Crowley's death and last words. Frieda Harris supposedly reported him saying, "I am perplexed," though she did not see him at the very end. According to John Symonds, a Mr. Rowe witnessed Crowley's death along with a nurse, and reported his last words as "Sometimes I hate myself." Biographer Gerald Suster accepted the version of events he received from a "Mr W.H." who worked at the house, in which Crowley dies pacing in his living room.[104] Supposedly Mr W.H. heard a crash while polishing furniture on the floor below, and entered Crowley's rooms to find him dead on the floor. Patricia "Deirdre" MacAlpine, who visited Crowley with their son and her three other children, denied all this and reports a sudden gust of wind and peal of thunder at the (otherwise quiet) moment of his death. According to MacAlpine, Crowley remained bedridden for the last few days of his life, but was in light spirits and conversational. Readings at the cremation service in nearby Brighton included one of his own works, Hymn to Pan, and newspapers referred to the service as a black mass. The Brighton council subsequently resolved to take all the necessary steps to prevent such an incident from occurring again.[104]

Beliefs and viewpoints

Thelema

Thelema is the mystical cosmology Crowley announced in 1904 and expanded upon for the remainder of his life. The diversity of his writings illustrate his difficulty in classifying Thelema from any one vantage. It can be considered a form of magical philosophy, religious traditionalism, humanistic positivism, and/or an elitist meritocracy.

The chief precept of Thelema, derived from the works of François Rabelais, is the sovereignty of Will: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Crowley's idea of will, however, is not simply the individual's desires or wishes, but also incorporates a sense of the person's destiny or greater purpose: what he termed "True Will."

The second precept of Thelema is "Love is the law, love under will"—and Crowley's meaning of "Love" is as complex as that of "Will." It is frequently sexual: Crowley's system, like elements of the Golden Dawn before him, sees the dichotomy and tension between the male and female as fundamental to existence, and sexual "magick" and metaphor form a significant part of Thelemic ritual. However, Love is also discussed as the Union of Opposites, which Crowley thought was the key to enlightenment.

Science and magick

Crowley claimed to use a scientific method to study what people at the time called spiritual experiences, making "The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion" the catchphrase of his magazine The Equinox. By this he meant that religious experiences should not be taken at face value, but critiqued and experimented with in order to arrive at their underlying mystical or neurological meaning.

In this connection there was also the point that I was anxious to prove that spiritual progress did not depend on religious or moral codes, but was like any other science. Magick would yield its secrets to the infidel and the libertine, just as one does not have to be a churchwarden in order to discover a new kind of orchid. There are, of course, certain virtues necessary to the Magician; but they are of the same order as those which make a successful chemist.[107]

Crowley's magical and initiatory system has amongst its innermost reaches a set of teachings on sex magick. He frequently expressed views about sex that were radical for his time, and published numerous poems and tracts combining pagan religious themes with sexual imagery both heterosexual and homosexual, as well as pederastic. One of his most notorious poetry collections, titled "White Stains" (1898), was published in Amsterdam in 1898 and dealt specifically with sexually explicit subject matter. However, most of the hundred copies printed for the initial release were later seized and destroyed by British customs.[108]

Sex magick

Sex magick is the use of the sex act—or the energies, passions or arousal states it evokes—as a point upon which to focus the will or magical desire for effects in the non-sexual world. In the view of Allen Greenfield,[109] Crowley was inspired by Paschal Beverly Randolph, an American Abolitionist, Spiritualist medium, and author of the mid-19th century who wrote (in Eulis!, 1874) of using the "nuptive moment" (orgasm) as the time to make a "prayer" for events to occur.

Crowley often introduced new terminology for spiritual and magickal practices and theory. In The Book of the Law and The Vision and the Voice, the Aramaic magickal formula Abracadabra was changed to Abrahadabra, which he called the new formula of the Aeon. He also famously spelled magic in the archaic manner, as magick, to differentiate "the true science of the Magi from all its counterfeits."[110]

He urged his students to learn to control their own mental and behavioural habits, to the point of switching political views and personalities at will. For control of speech (symbolised as the unicorn) he recommended to choose a commonly used word, letter, or pronouns and adjectives of the first person (such as the word "I"), and avoid using it for a week or more. Should they say the word he instructed them to cut themselves with a blade on each occasion to serve as warning or reminder. Later the student could move on to the "Horse" of action and the "Ox" of thought.[111] (These symbols derive from the cabala of Crowley's book 777.) In this respect Crowley has been a strong influence on post-modern Chaos Magic with the concept of the different Selves, and the idea, and practice, of Belief Shifting. Crowley has also been labeled by some anthropologists as a practitioner of neoshamanism and revivalist of shamanistic philosophies in the early 20th century.[112]

Controversy

Author and Crowley expert Lon Milo Duquette wrote in his 1993 work The Magick of Aleister Crowley that:

"Crowley clothed many of his teachings in the thin veil of sensational titillation. By doing so he assured himself that one, his works would only be appreciated by the few individuals capable of doing so, and two, his works would continue to generate interest and be published by and for the benefit of both his admirers and his enemies long after death. He did not—I repeat not—perform or advocate human sacrifice. He was often guilty, however, of the crime of poor judgment. Like all of us, Crowley had many flaws and shortcomings. The greatest of those, in my opinion, was his inability to understand that everyone else in the world was not as educated and clever as he. It is clear, even in his earliest works, he often took fiendish delight in terrifying those who were either too lazy, too bigoted, or too slow-witted to understand him."[113]

In this vein many of Crowley's more audacious and outright shocking writings were often thinly veiled attempts to communicate methods of sexual magick, often using words like "blood", "death" and "kill" to replace "semen", "ecstacy" and "ejaculation" in the yet puritanical sexual environment of late 19th/early 20th century England. Take for instance the highly repeated quote from his thickly veiled Book Four: "It would be unwise to condemn as irrational the practice of devouring the heart and liver of an adversary while yet warm. For the highest spiritual working one must choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force; a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory."[114] Author Robert Anton Wilson, in his 1977 The Final Secret of the Illuminati (aka Cosmic Trigger Volume One), interpreted the child as a reference to genes in sperm. Crowley added in a footnote to the text on sacrifice, "the intelligence and innocence of that male child are the perfect understanding of the Magician, his one aim, without lust of result."

In the "New Comment" to The Book of the Law, "the Beast 666 adviseth that all children shall be accustomed from infancy to witness every type of sexual act, as also the process of birth, lest falsehood fog, and mystery stupefy, their minds ... Politeness has forbidden any direct reference to the subject of sex to secure no happier result than to allow Sigmund Freud and others to prove that our every thought, speech, and gesture, conscious or unconscious, is an indirect reference!"

Spiritual and recreational use of drugs

Crowley was a habitual drug user and also maintained a meticulous record of his drug-induced experiences with opium, cocaine, hashish, marijuana, alcohol, ether, mescaline, morphine, and heroin.[115] Allan Bennett, Crowley's mentor, was said to have "instructed Crowley in the magical use of drugs."[116]

The Cairo revelation from Aiwass/Aiwaz specifically recommended indulgence in "strange drugs". While in Paris during the 1920s, Crowley experimented with psychedelic substances, specifically Anhalonium lewinii, an obsolete scientific name for the mescaline-bearing cactus peyote and initiated the writers Katherine Mansfield and Theodore Dreiser in its use.[117] In October 1930, Crowley dined with Aldous Huxley in Berlin, and to this day rumours persist that he introduced Huxley to peyote on that occasion.[118]

Other drug use

Crowley developed a drug addiction after a London doctor prescribed heroin for his asthma and bronchitis.[119] His life as an addict influenced his 1922 novel, Diary of a Drug Fiend, but the fiction presented a hopeful outcome of rehabilitation and recovery by means of magical techniques and the exercise of True Will. At the time of his death he was taking heroin on his doctor's prescription.[120]

Racism

Biographer Lawrence Sutin stated that "blatant bigotry is a persistent minor element in Crowley's writings."[121] The book's introduction calls Crowley "a spoiled scion of a wealthy Victorian family who embodied many of the worst John Bull racial and social prejudices of his upper-class contemporaries,"[122] Sutin also writes, "Crowley embodied the contradiction that writhed within many Western intellectuals of the time: deeply held racist viewpoints courtesy of their culture, coupled with a fascination with people of colour."[123]

Crowley defended the use of violence against the Chinese, specifically the lower classes.[124] He applied the term "nigger" to Italians (in Diary of a Drug Fiend Book I, Chapter 9) and Indians,[125] and called the Indian theosophist Jiddu Krishnamurti "negroid."

Crowley, according to the biographer, Lawrence Sutin, used racial epithets to bully Victor Neuburg during a sadomasochistic magical working: "Crowley leveled numerous brutal verbal attacks on Neuburg's family and Jewish ancestry".[126] The two became lovers by the end of that year if not before, but "[w]hether or not Crowley and Neuburg had sexual relations during this magical retirement is unclear," according to Sutin.

Crowley's published expressions of antisemitism were disturbing enough to later editors of his works that one of them, Israel Regardie, who had also been a student of Crowley, attempted to suppress them. In 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley (Samuel Weiser, 1975), Regardie, who was Jewish, explained his complete excision of Crowley's antisemitic commentary on the Kabbalah in the sixth unnumbered page of his editorial introduction: "I am ... omitting Crowley's Preface to the book. It is a nasty, malicious piece of writing, and does not do justice to the system with which he is dealing."[127]

What Regardie had removed was Crowley's "Preface to Sepher Sephiroth", originally published in Equinox 1:8. Written in 1911,[128] which contained a statement of Crowley's belief in the blood libel against the Jews:[129]

Human sacrifices are today still practised by the Jews of Eastern Europe, as is set forth at length by Sir Richard Burton in the MS. which the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress,[130] and evidenced by the ever-recurring Pogroms against which so senseless an outcry is made by those who live among those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals.

Crowley rhetorically asked how a system of value such as Qabala could come from what "the general position of the ethnologist" called "an entirely barbarous race, devoid of any spiritual pursuit," and "polytheists" to boot.[129] As Crowley himself practiced polytheism, some read these remarks as deliberate irony.[131]

Crowley repeated his claim that Jews in Eastern Europe practice ritual child-murder in at least one later work as well, namely the section on mysticism in Book Four or Magick. Here he uses quotation marks for "ritual murder" and for "Christian" children.[132]

An article at The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum makes the following claim while speaking of the previously mentioned remark[114] elsewhere in Magick:

At first glance Crowley seems to be advocating an atrocity, the sacrifice of a child, the bugaboo of witchhunters and anti-Semites everywhere. But in fact he is claiming that the historical legend of child sacrifice, used to persecute so many "witches" and Jews, veils a sexual formula of self-sacrifice. In a secret document of the IX*, the "blood libel" against the Jews – the story that they celebrate covert rituals employing the blood of sacrificed children – is taken as a statement that certain sects of the Hassidim possess this secret. The early Christians were accused of such practices by the Roman establishment, and the Gnostic Catholic Church considers this to be evidence of a continuity of the sexual secret from the Gnostics.[133]

Crowley studied and promoted the mystical and magical teachings of some of the same ethnic groups he attacked, in particular Indian yoga, Jewish Kabbalah and goetia, and the Chinese I Ching. Also, in Confessions Chapter 86,[134] as well as a private diary which Lawrence Sutin quotes in Do What Thou Wilt chapter 7, Crowley recorded a memory of a "past life" as the Chinese Taoist writer Ko Hsuan. In another remembered life, Crowley said, he took part in a "Council of Masters" that included many from Asia. He has this to say about the virtues of "Eurasians" and then Jews:

I do not believe that their universally admitted baseness is due to a mixture of blood or the presumable peculiarity of their parents; but that they are forced into vileness by the attitude of both their white and coloured neighbours. A similar case is presented by the Jew, who really does only too often possess the bad qualities for which he is disliked; but they are not proper to his race. No people can show finer specimens of humanity. The Hebrew poets and prophets are sublime. The Jewish soldier is courageous, the Jewish rich man generous. The race possesses imagination, romance, loyalty, probity and humanity in an exceptional degree.

But the Jew has been persecuted so relentlessly that his survival has depended on the development of his worst qualities; avarice, servility, falseness, cunning and the rest. Even the highest-class Eurasians such as Ananda Koomaraswamy suffer acutely from the shame of being considered outcast. The irrationality and injustice of their neighbours heightens the feeling and it breeds the very abominations which the snobbish inhumanity of their fellow-men expects of them.[135]

All these remarks must necessarily be contrasted with Crowley's explicit philosophical instructions in his last book Magick Without Tears. Chapter 73, which is titled "'Monsters', Niggers, Jews, etc," states his essentially individualistic and anti-racialist views:

... you say, "Every man and every woman is a star." does need some attention to the definition of "man" and "woman." What is the position, you say, of "monsters"? And men of "inferior" races, like the Veddah, Hottentot and the Australian Blackfellow? There must be a line somewhere, and will I please draw it? ... Not only does it seem to me the only conceivable way of reconciling this and similar passages with "Every man and every woman is a star." to assert the sovereignty of the individual, and to deny the right-to-exist to "class-consciousness," "crowd-psychology," and so to mob-rule and Lynch-Law, but also the only practicable plan whereby we may each one of us settle down peaceably to mind his own business, to pursue his True Will, and to accomplish the Great Work.

The "Thelemic" philosophical position which he taught in this volume (which is a series of letters of direct personal instruction to a student of Magick) is clearly an anti-racist one. Even in private comments on Mein Kampf, Crowley said that his own preferred "master class" was above all distinctions of race.[136]

Sexism

Biographer Lawrence Sutin stated that Crowley "largely accepted the notion, implicitly embodied in Victorian sexology, of women as secondary social beings in terms of intellect and sensibility."[137] Occult scholar Tim Maroney compares him to other figures and movements of the time and suggests that some others might have shown more respect for women.[138] Another biographer, Martin Booth, while describing Crowley's misogyny, asserts that in other ways he was pro-feminist who thought women were badly served by the law. He considered abortion to be tantamount to murder and thought little of a society that condoned it, believing that women, when left to choose outside of prevailing social influences, would never want to end a pregnancy.[139]

Crowley stated that women, except "a few rare individuals," care most about having children and will conspire against their husbands if they lack children to whom to devote themselves.[140] In Confessions, Crowley says he learned this from his first marriage.[141] He claimed that their intentions were to force a man to abandon his life's work for their interests. He found women "tolerable", he wrote, only when they served the sole role of helping a man in his life's work. However, he said that they were incapable of actually understanding the nature of this work itself.[142] He also claimed that women did not have individuality and were solely guided by their habits or impulses.[143] In this respect Crowley displayed the attitude to women conventional for a male of his time.

Nevertheless, when he sought what he called the supreme magical-mystical attainment, Crowley asked Leah Hirsig to direct his ordeals, marking the first time since the schism in the Golden Dawn that another person verifiably took charge of his initiation.[144] In the Hierophant section of The Book of Thoth, Crowley interprets a verse from The Book of the Law that speaks of "the woman girt with a sword; she represents the Scarlet Woman in the hierarchy of the new Aeon.(...)This woman represents Venus as she now is in this new aeon; no longer the mere vehicle of her male counterpart, but armed and militant."

In his Commentaries on The Book of the Law Crowley stated what he considered to be the correct Thelemic position towards women:

We of Thelema say that "Every man and every woman is a star." We do not fool and flatter women; we do not despise and abuse them. To us, a woman is herself, absolute, original, independent, free, self-justified, exactly as a man is.[145]

Writings

Crowley's 1917 novel, Moonchild.

Crowley was a highly prolific writer, not only on the topic of Thelema and magick, but on philosophy, politics, and culture, as well as producing much poetry and fiction. Widely seen as his most important work was The Book of the Law (1904), the central text of the Thelemic religion, although he claimed that he himself was not its writer, but merely its scribe for the angelic being Aiwass. He also wrote books on ceremonial magick, namely Magick (Book 4), The Vision and the Voice and 777 and other Qabalistic writings, and edited a copy of the grimoire known as The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King. Another of his important works was a book on mysticism, The Book of Lies (1912), whilst another was a collection of different essays entitled Little Essays Toward Truth (1938). He also penned an autobiography, entitled The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (1929). Throughout his lifetime he wrote many letters and meticulously kept diaries, some of which were posthumously published as Magick Without Tears. During his lifetime he also edited and produced a series of publications in book form called The Equinox (subtitled "The Review of Scientific Illuminism"), which served as the voice of his magical order, the A∴A∴. Although the entire set is influential and remains one of the definitive works on occultism, some of the more notable issues are "The Blue Equinox", "The Equinox of the Gods", "Eight Lectures on Yoga", "The Book of Thoth" and "Liber Aleph".

Crowley also wrote fiction, including plays and later novels, most of which have not received significant notice outside of occult circles. His most notable fictional works include Moonchild (1917), Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922) and The Stratagem and other Stories (1929). He also self-published much of his poetry, including the erotic White Stains (1898) and Clouds without Water (1909), although perhaps his best known poem was his ode to the ancient god Pan, Hymn to Pan (1929).[146] The influence of Crowley's poetry can be seen through the fact that three of his compositions, "The Quest",[147] "The Neophyte",[148] and "The Rose and the Cross",[149] were included in the 1917 collection The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse.

Legacy and influence

Crowley has remained an influential figure, both amongst occultists and in popular culture, particularly that of Britain, but also of other parts of the world.

Occult

After Crowley's death, various of his colleagues and fellow Thelemites continued with his work. One of his British disciples, Kenneth Grant, subsequently founded the Typhonian O.T.O. in the 1950s. In America, his followers also continued, one of the most prominent of whom was Jack Parsons, the influential rocket scientist. Parsons performed what he described as the Babalon Working in 1946, and subsequently claimed to have been taught the fourth part of the Book of the Law. Parsons would also later work with and influence L. Ron Hubbard, the later founder of Scientology.

One of Crowley's acquaintances in the last month of his life was Gerald Gardner, who told him about his own personal initiation into the New Forest coven of Witches in 1939. Gardner, who was initiated into the O.T.O. by Crowley, subsequently went on to found Gardnerian Wicca, an early form of the Neopagan religion of Wicca, and various scholars on early Wiccan history, such as Ronald Hutton, Philip Heselton and Leo Ruickbie concurred that Gardnerianism's early rituals, as devised by Gardner, contained much from Crowley's writings such as the Gnostic Mass. Indeed, Gardner liked Crowley's writings because he believed that they "breathed the very spirit of paganism." In the 1950s, Gardner's High Priestess Doreen Valiente went through many of the early Wiccan scriptures in the Book of Shadows and removed what she saw as "Crowleyanity", believing it to have a damaging effect on the new tradition, and describing Crowley himself as a "brilliant writer and a splendid poet but as a person he was simply a nasty piece of work".[150]

In Britain during the 1970s, an occultist calling himself Amado Crowley who claimed to be Aleister's illegitimate son emerged on the esoteric scene. He made the claim that the Book of the Law had in fact been a hoax and that he himself knew the true understanding to Crowley's teachings, which he subsequently published through several books.

Popular culture

Fictionalised accounts of Crowley or characters based upon him have been included in a number of literary works, published both during his life and after. The writer W. Somerset Maugham used him as the model for the character in his novel The Magician, published in 1908.[49] Whilst recognising this plagiarism, Crowley was flattered by Maugham's fictionalised depiction of himself, stating that "he had done more than justice to the qualities of which I was proud... The Magician was, in fact, an appreciation of my genius such as I had never dreamed of inspiring."[151] Similarly, in Dennis Wheatley's popular thriller The Devil Rides Out, the Satanic cult leader Mocata is inspired by Crowley, and in turn the deceased Satanist Adrian Marcato referred to in Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby is likewise a Crowley-like figure. Long after his death Crowley was still being used for similar purposes, appearing as a main character in Robert Anton Wilson's 1981 novel Masks of the Illuminati. Meanwhile, the acclaimed comic book author Alan Moore, himself a practitioner of ceremonial magic, has also included Crowley in several of his works. In Moore's From Hell, he appears in a cameo as a young boy declaring that magic is real, whilst in the series Promethea he appears several times existing in a realm of the imagination called the Immateria. Moore has also discussed Crowley's associations with the Highbury area of London in his recorded magical working, The Highbury Working.[152] Other comic book writers have also made use of him, with Pat Mills and Olivier Ledroit portraying him as a reincarnated vampire in their series Requiem Chevalier Vampire. He has also appeared in Japanese manga, such as D.Gray-Man and To aru majutsu no index, as well as the hentai series Bible Black, where he has a fictional daughter named Jody Crowley who continues her father's search for the Scarlet Woman.[citation needed]

Crowley has been an influence for a string of popular musicians throughout the 20th century. The hugely popular band The Beatles included him as one of the many figures on the cover sleeve of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, where he is situated between Sri Yukteswar Giri and Mae West. A more intent interest in Crowley was held by Jimmy Page, the guitarist and co-founder of 1970s rock band Led Zeppelin. Despite not describing himself as a Thelemite or being a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, Page was still fascinated by Crowley, and owned some of his clothing, manuscripts and ritual objects, and during the 1970s bought Boleskine House, which also appears in the band's movie The Song Remains the Same. The later rock musician Ozzy Osbourne released a song titled "Mr. Crowley" on his solo album Blizzard of Ozz, whilst a comparison of Crowley and Osbourne in the context of their media portrayals can be found in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.[153]

Crowley has also had an influence in cinema; in particular, he was a major influence and inspiration to the work on the radical avant garde underground film-maker Kenneth Anger, especially his Magick Lantern Cycle series of works. One of Anger's works is a film of Crowley's paintings,[citation needed] and in 2009 he gave a lecture on the subject of Crowley.[154] Bruce Dickinson, singer with Iron Maiden, wrote the screenplay of Chemical Wedding (released in America on DVD as Crowley),[155] which features Simon Callow as Oliver Haddo, the name taken from the Magician-villain character in the Somerset Maugham book "The Magician", who was in turn inspired by Maugham's meeting with Crowley[156]

The Italian historian of esotericism Giordano Berti, in his book Tarocchi Aleister Crowley (1998) quotes a number of literary works and films inspired by Crowley's life and legends. Some of the films are The Magician (1926) by Rex Ingram, based upon the eponymous book written by William Somerset Maugham (1908); Night of the Demon (1957) by Jacques Tourneur, based on the story "Casting the Runes" by M. R. James; and The Devils Rides Out (1968) by Terence Fisher, from the eponymous thriller by Dennis Wheatley. Also: "Dance To The Music of Time" by Anthony Powell, "Black Easter" by James Blish, and "The Winged Bull" by Dion Fortune.[citation needed]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Symonds 1997, p. vii.
  2. ^ Powter, Geoff (2006-08-01). Strange and dangerous dreams. The Mountaineers Books. p. 131. ISBN 9780898869873. 
  3. ^ Owen, Alex (2004). The place of enchantment. University of Chicago Press. p. 186. ISBN 9780226642017. 
  4. ^ Spence, Lewis (2007). Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing. p. 203. ISBN 9780766128156. 
  5. ^ Crowley, Aleister (2004-01-01). Diary of a Drug Fiend. Book Tree. p. Back Cover. ISBN 9781585092451. 
  6. ^ Sutin 2000, p. .
  7. ^ Sutin 2000, p. 207.
  8. ^ a b The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley (Tunisia 1923): Edited by Stephen Skinner; page 10
  9. ^ The Confessions of Aleister Crowley
  10. ^ Sutin (2000:18-19)
  11. ^ Sutin (2000:17-23).
  12. ^ Symonds 1997, p. 11.
  13. ^ a b c d Symonds 1997, p. 12.
  14. ^ Sutin (2000:21)
  15. ^ Sutin (2000:25-26)
  16. ^ [[#CITEREFBooth2001|Booth 2001]], p. 49.
  17. ^ "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley". Hermetic.com. http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/confess/chapter12.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  18. ^ "''The Confessions of Aleister Crowley''". Hermetic.com. http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/confess/chapter16.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  19. ^ Symonds 1997, p. 13.
  20. ^ Symonds 1997, p. 14-15.
  21. ^ Symonds 1997, p. 15.
  22. ^ Sutin 2000, p. 46.
  23. ^ (Confessions, p. 140)
  24. ^ Crowley 1929, p. 140.
  25. ^ Magical World of Aleister Crowley, Francis King, page 5
  26. ^ Sutin, pp. 47, 159, 245
  27. ^ Crowley 1929, p. .
  28. ^ Symonds (1997:14)
  29. ^ Sutin 2000, p. 38.
  30. ^ Sutin 2000, p. 37-39.
  31. ^ Sutin 2000, p. 35-36.
  32. ^ Symonds (1997:18-19)
  33. ^ Symonds (1997:23)
  34. ^ Symonds (1997:25)
  35. ^ Sutin Do what thou wilt, pp. 64-66
  36. ^ Symonds (1997:20)
  37. ^ IAO131 Thelema & Buddhism in Journal of Thelemic Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 2007, pp. 18–32. Archived 2009-10-25.
  38. ^ Symonds (1997:29)
  39. ^ Symonds (1997:32)
  40. ^ Sutin p. 73-75.
  41. ^ Symonds (1997:32-37)
  42. ^ Symonds (1997:37)
  43. ^ Owen, Alex (2004). The place of enchantment: British occultism and the culture of the modern. University of Chicago Press. p. 62. ISBN 0226642017. 
  44. ^ Symonds (1997:38-41)
  45. ^ Sutin, p. 84-85. See also Abrahadabra.
  46. ^ Symonds (1997:42-44)
  47. ^ Symonds (1997:46-52)
  48. ^ Symonds (1997:54-56)
  49. ^ a b Curtis, Anthony; Whitehead, John (1987). W. Somerset Maugham: the critical heritage. Routledge. p. 44. ISBN 0710096401. "... in Paris in 1905... At that time he got to know Aleister Crowley,..." 
  50. ^ Symonds (1997:64)
  51. ^ Symonds (1997:65)
  52. ^ Symonds (1997:65-66)
  53. ^ Wilson, R. A. with Miriam Joan Hill, Everything is Under Control: Conspiracies, cults and cover-ups, HarperPerennial 1998. ISBN 0-06-273417-2. Kenneth Grant vs Israel Regardie p. 134. Grant's alien claim "widely shared in occult circles," p. 212.
  54. ^ Crowley (2004:7-9)
  55. ^ Symonds (1997:79-91)
  56. ^ Symonds (1997:90)
  57. ^ Symonds (1997:93)
  58. ^ Symonds (1997:97-100)
  59. ^ Symonds (1997:101-102)
  60. ^ Sutin, pp. 171–173.
  61. ^ Sutin, pp. 173–174
  62. ^ The Temple of Solomon the King, pub. The Equinox, Vol. I No. 1 (1909) retrieved 15 June 2006, from http://www.the-equinox.org/vol1/no1/eqi01014.html
  63. ^ Sutin, pp. 171-174.
  64. ^ Magical World, F. King, page 41
  65. ^ Sutin. Do what thou wilt. p. 190. "But Crowley could not leave The Magician unavenged" 
  66. ^ Symonds 1997, p. 132-133.
  67. ^ King, Magical World, pages 80–81
  68. ^ Newcomb, Jason (2005). Sexual Sorcery: a complete guide to Sex Magick. Weiser. p. 42. ISBN 1578633302. "...more powerful than heterosexual or lesbian acts" 
  69. ^ Lachman, Gary. Turn off your mind: the mystic sixties and the dark side of the Age of Aquarius. The Disinformation Co.. p. 227. ISBN 0971394230. 
  70. ^ Sutin. Do what thou wilt. p. 228. "Crowley also added a new degree of his own devising - an XI° magical working utilizing anal sex which was, in practice, primarily homosexual." 
  71. ^ Sutin. Do what thou wilt. pp. 232–236. "Once arrived in Moscow, Crowley was entranced by the beauty of the city..." 
  72. ^ The material AC considered holy "is inextricably imbedded in the Class <> text, often without the benefit of quotation marks." The Holy Books of Thelema 1984 ed, p xxiii.
  73. ^ Sutin p. 241
  74. ^ Spence, Richard B. (2008). Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult. Port Townsend: Feral House. ISBN 978-1-932595-33-8. 
  75. ^ Spence p.6, quoting US National Archives, Record Group 165, Military Intelligence Division file 10012-112, "General Summary", Intelligence Officer, West Point, New York, 23 September 1918
  76. ^ Liber ABA Part II gives this task.
  77. ^ Sutin p 251.
  78. ^ Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt, pp. 251-254
  79. ^ Knowlton, Janice; Newton, Michael (1995). Daddy was the Black Dahlia killer. Simon & Schuster. p. 129. ISBN 0671880842. "... Smith got things rolling in Hollywood by luring celebrities to special invitation-only rituals at which "sex magick" was one of the major attractions." 
  80. ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2000). Do What Thou Wilt: a life of Aleister Crowley. Macmillan. p. 256. ISBN 0312252434. 
  81. ^ Sutin p257.
  82. ^ Sutin pp260, 261.
  83. ^ Sutin p258.
  84. ^ Sutin pp271, 272.
  85. ^ Sutin p275
  86. ^ Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt, pp.279-280
  87. ^ Levenda, Peter (2002). Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 132. ISBN 0826414090. "Perhaps the most famous to Crowley's enthusiasts was the ghostly Leah Hirzig, the younger sister of the Swiss-German Alma Hirzig,..." 
  88. ^ Nature of the Beast by Colin Wilson; page 73
  89. ^ Rabelais, F. Gargantua and Pantagruel Ch. 1.
  90. ^ Sutin, Laurence (2000). Do What Thou Wilt: a life of Aleister Crowley. Macmillan. p. 285. ISBN 0312252434. 
  91. ^ "Heard more sense and insight than I've done in years." Quoted in Sutin, p. 317.
  92. ^ James Webb, The Harmonious Circle, p. 315. Quoted in Introduction to Gnosis #20, online version. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  93. ^ "If this brutal banishment did occur, then it is remarkable that Crowley, who harbored animus toward so many rival teachers, never did so toward Gurdjieff." Sutin p.318.
  94. ^ Teachings of Gurdjieff: A Pupil's Journal
  95. ^ "The Encyclopedia of Thelema & Magick | Maria de Miramar". Thelemapedia. http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Maria_de_Miramar. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  96. ^ Sutin, Lawrence (2000). Do what thou wilt: a life of Aleister Crowley. Macmillan. p. 359. ISBN 0312252434. 
  97. ^ "The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Fernando Pessoa's Esoteric Writings" in Gnostics 3: Ésotérisme, Gnoses & Imaginaire Symbolique (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2001) pp693–711.
  98. ^ Sutin, pp 373–374.
  99. ^ Sutin, Do what thou wilt, p. 407
  100. ^ Sutin, pp. 388–389
  101. '^ Sutin Do what thou wilt, pp, 400-401
  102. ^ Sutin Do what thou wilt, p. 402
  103. ^ Sutin Do what thou wilt, pp. 407-408
  104. ^ a b c Sutin, pp. 417–419
  105. ^ Sutin pp 411, 416, initial prescription p 277.
  106. ^ "Daily Express". 4 December 1947.  and "The Winnipeg Free Press". 31 May 1969. . See also Sutin p 418.
  107. ^ Confessions Ch. 64 para. 5
  108. ^ ">> literature >> Crowley, Aleister". Glbtq.com. http://www.glbtq.com/literature/crowley_a_lit.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  109. ^ The Scarlet Letter Vol V no 2, December 1998, web version. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  110. ^ (Crowley, Magick, Book 4, p.47)
  111. ^ Liber III vel Jugorum
  112. ^ Shamans/neo-Shamans: ecstasy, alternative archaeologies, and contemporary pagans By Robert J. Wallis. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  113. ^ DuQuette, Lon Milo (2003). The Magick of Aleister Crowley. Weiser Books. ISBN 1-57863-299-4. 
  114. ^ a b "Of the Bloody Sacrifice and Matters Cognate." Magick Book 4 Part III, Magick in Theory and Practice, Chapter 12. Samuel Weiser edition.
  115. ^ "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography" by Aleister Crowley (Arkana Publishing, 1989); "Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley" by Lawrence Sutin. (St. Martin's Press, 2000); "The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley" edited by Stephen Skinner (Weiser, 2003)
  116. ^ Owen, Alex (2004-04-14). "Aleister Crowley in the Desert". The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (Hardcover ed.). University of Chicago Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-226-64201-7. http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/642011.html. 
  117. ^ Confessions, pp. 386 and 768.
  118. ^ Cornelius, 2001.
  119. ^ "Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley" by Lawrence Sutin. (St. Martin's Press, 2000) ch. 7, p. 277
  120. ^ ["Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley" by Lawrence Sutin. (St. Martin's Press, 2000)] p. 416
  121. ^ Sutin, Lawrence. Do What Thou Wilt," pp. 223–224
  122. ^ Sutin, Lawrence. Do What Thou Wilt," p. 2.
  123. ^ Ibid., ch. 10, p. 366
  124. ^ (Crowley Confessions pp. 471–4) "One cannot fraternize with the Chinese of the lower classes; one must treat them with the utmost contempt and callousness."
  125. ^ (Crowley Confessions pp. 473)
  126. ^ (Sutin, Lawrence. "Do What Thou Wilt", p. 197)
  127. ^ 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley edited by Israel Regardie, (Samuel Weiser, 1975), sixth unnumbered page of the editorial introduction
  128. ^ 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley edited by Israel Regardie, (Samuel Weiser, 1975)
  129. ^ a b Equinox 1:8
  130. ^ The MS Crowley referred to in this passage was "Human Sacrifice among the Sephardine or Eastern Jews" by Sir Richard Francis Burton; it was thought so inflammatory and damaging to the author's reputation that it was never published, and in her will Burton's widow Isabel asked for it to be destroyed to protect her husband's name. References here [1] and here [2]
  131. ^ For example, by Bill Heidrick in note on Crowley's introduction to Sepher Sephiroth, retrieved from Lucky Mojo, 17 January 2008.
  132. ^ Book Four Part I, Mysticism. Preliminary Remarks, fn. Samuel Weiser edition
  133. ^ Crowley and Tantric Magick: The Beast Demystified. Retrieved 18 January 2008.
  134. ^ "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley". Hermetic.com. http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/confess/chapter86.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  135. ^ Confessions chap. 54
  136. ^ Sutin, p. 377
  137. ^ Sutin, ch. 1, p. 28
  138. ^ Facts and Phallacies by Tim Maroney (1998) (Originally published in The Scarlet Letter, Volume V, Number 2). Retrieved from [3], 8 June 2006
  139. ^ "A Magick Life", Martin Booth, p400, Coronet, ISBN 0-340-71806-4
  140. ^ (Crowley Magick Without Tears p. 254); Aleister Crowley (1982). Magick Without Tears. Phoenix, AZ: Falcon Press. ISBN 978-0-941404-17-4. 
  141. ^ (Crowley Confessions p.415); Aleister Crowley (1989). The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography. London: Arkana. ISBN 978-0-14-019189-9.  Gender Bias: "There is yet a further point. My marriage taught me many lessons, and this not the least: when women are not devoted to children - a few rare individuals are capable of other interests - they take a morbid pleasure in conspiring against a husband, especially if he be a father. They take advantage of his preoccupation with his work in the world to conceive and execute every kind of criminally cunning abomination. The belief in witchcraft was not all superstition; its psychological roots were sound. Women who are thwarted in their natural instincts turn inevitably to all kinds of malignant mischief, from slander to domestic destruction." – Chapter 50
  142. ^ (Crowley Confessions pp. 95)
  143. ^ (Crowley The Confessions of Aleister Crowley pp. 96–7)
  144. ^ (Sutin Do What Thou Wilt pp. 282–290)
  145. ^ Crowley, Aleister (1996-10). Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers: The Equinox v.4, No.1. Hymenaeus. Beta (ed.). Red Wheel/Weiser. ISBN 0877288887. 
  146. ^ "''Hymn to Pan''". Paganlibrary.com. http://www.paganlibrary.com/music_poetry/crowleys_pan_invocation.php. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  147. ^ ""The Quest"". Bartleby.com. http://www.bartleby.com/236/314.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  148. ^ ""The Neophyte"". Bartleby.com. http://www.bartleby.com/236/315.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  149. ^ ""The Rose and the Cross"". Bartleby.com. http://www.bartleby.com/236/316.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  150. ^ Valiente 1989
  151. ^ Symonds 1997, p. 132.
  152. ^ Doyle-White 2009
  153. ^ Christopher M. Moreman, "Devil Music and the Great Beast: Ozzy Osbourne, Aleister Crowley, and the Christian Right," Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 5 (2003), University of Saskatchewan
  154. ^ Anger, Kenneth. 2009. Do What Thou Wilt: Kenneth Anger and Aleister Crowley and the Occult. [4]
  155. ^ Chemical Wedding at the Internet Movie Database
  156. ^ "Roadrunner Records". Roadrunner Records. http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/Blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=79442. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 

References

  • Sutin, Lawrence (2000), Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley, Pindar Press, ISBN 1899828214 
  • Symonds, John (1997), The Beast 666: The Life of Aleister Crowley, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0312252434 
  • Booth, Martin (2000). A Magick Life: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Coronet Books, London. ISBN 978-0-340-71806-3
  • Berti, Giordano (1998). La Grande Bestia: Luci e Ombre, first chapter of Tarocchi Aleister Crowley. Lo Scarabeo, Torino. ISBN 88-86131-73-9
  • Bull, John. "The Wickedest Man in the World". Sunday Express, 24 March 1923. Verification that the Sunday Express did make article:[1]
  • Carroll, Robert Todd (2004). "Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 30 December 2004.
  • Cornelius, J. Edward (2001). The Friends & Acquaintances of Aleister Crowley in Red Flame: A Thelemic Research Journal no. 3.
  • Cornelius, J. Edward (2005). Aleister Crowley and the Ouija Board.
  • Crowley, Aleister (1990). "The Tao Teh King, Liber CLVII: THE EQUINOX Vol. III. No. VIII. ASCII VERSION". Retrieved 30 December 2004.
  • Doyle-White, Ethan (2009). The Occultic World of Alan Moore in Pentacle.
  • Wlodek, Nikodem (2004). Satans Raw.
  • Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2005). The Equinox. Retrieved 24 March 2005.
  • Grant, Kenneth (1991). Remembering Aleister Crowley.
  • Kaczynski, Richard (2002). Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley. New Falcon Publications. ISBN 1-56184-170-6
  • Rubio, Frank G. (2001). El Continente Perdido. Valdemar, Madrid. ISBN 84-7702-349-2
  • Thelemapedia. Aleister Crowley.
  • Wilson, Robert Anton (1977). Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati. Pocket Books, New York.
  1. ^ "US Grand Lodge, OTO: Aleister Crowley". Oto-usa.org. http://oto-usa.org/crowley.html. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  • Sandy Robertson "The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook". Forward by Colin Wilson Quantum Books 2002.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Love is the law, love under will.

Aleister Crowley (12 October 18751 December 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, was a British occultist, mystic, poet, and social provocateur, famous for his development of the philosophical system called Thelema, and his concepts of Magick.

Contents

Sourced

A man may be misled by the enthusiasm of an illumination, and if he should find apparent conflict between his spiritual duty and his duty to honour, it is almost sure evidence that a trap is being laid for him and he should unhesitatingly stick to the course which ordinary decency indicates...
  • I was in the death struggle with self: God and Satan fought for my soul those three long hours. God conquered — now I have only one doubt left — which of the twain was God?
    • Aceldama : A Place To Bury Strangers In (1898) Preface
  • I am certainly of opinion that genius can be acquired, or, in the alternative, that it is an almost universal possession. Its rarity may be attributed to the crushing influence of a corrupted society. It is rare to meet a youth without high ideals, generous thoughts, a sense of holiness, of his own importance, which, being interpreted, is, of his own identity with God. Three years in the world, and he is a bank clerk or even a government official. Only those who intuitively understand from early boyhood that they must stand out, and who have the incredible courage and endurance to do so in the face of all that tyranny, callousness, and the scorn of inferiors can do; only these arrive at manhood uncontaminated.
  • I am inclined to agree with the Head Master of Eton that pæderastic passions among schoolboys 'do no harm'; further, I think them the only redeeming feature of sexual life at public schools.
    • "Energized Enthusiasm : A Note On Theurgy" in The Equinox Vol. 1 no. 9 (Spring 1913)
  • There seems to be much misunderstanding about True Will ... The fact of a person being a gentleman is as much an ineluctable factor as any possible spiritual experience; in fact, it is possible, even probable, that a man may be misled by the enthusiasm of an illumination, and if he should find apparent conflict between his spiritual duty and his duty to honour, it is almost sure evidence that a trap is being laid for him and he should unhesitatingly stick to the course which ordinary decency indicates ... I wish to say definitely, once and for all, that people who do not understand and accept this position have utterly failed to grasp the fundamental principles of the Law of Thelema.
    • Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley : Tunisia 1923 (1996), edited by Stephen Skinner p.21
Sit still. Stop thinking. Shut up. Get out!
  • Black magic is not a myth. It is a totally unscientific and emotional form of magic, but it does get results — of an extremely temporary nature. The recoil upon those who practice it is terrific.
    It is like looking for an escape of gas with a lighted candle. As far as the search goes, there is little fear of failure!
    To practice black magic you have to violate every principle of science, decency, and intelligence. You must be obsessed with an insane idea of the importance of the petty object of your wretched and selfish desires.
    I have been accused of being a "black magician." No more foolish statement was ever made about me. I despise the thing to such an extent that I can hardly believe in the existence of people so debased and idiotic as to practice it.
    • Article "The Worst Man in the World" in The Sunday Dispatch (2 July 1933); quoted in The Magical Revival (1972) by Kenneth Grant.
  • Sit still. Stop thinking. Shut up. Get out!
    The first two of these instructions comprise the whole of the technique of Yoga. The last two are of a sublimity which it would be improper to expound in this present elementary stage.
    • Eight Lectures On Yoga (1939) Ch. 4
  • The best models of English writing are Shakespeare and the Old Testament, especially the book of Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. ... In writing English the most important quality that you can acquire is style. It makes all the difference to anyone who reads what you write, whether you use the best phrases in the best way.
    • First and only letter to his son Aleister Ataturk (May 1947), as quoted in Do What Thou Wilt : A Life of Aleister Crowley (2000) by Lawrence Sutin, p. 416

The Book of the Law (1904)

Also known as Liber AL vel Legis
Every man and every woman is a star.
  • Every man and every woman is a star.
    • I:3
  • These are fools that men adore; both their Gods & their men are fools.
    • I:11
  • I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.
    • I:13
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
Love is the law, love under will.
  • Then saith the prophet and slave of the beauteous one: Who am I, and what shall be the sign? So she answered him, bending down, a lambent flame of blue, all-touching, all penetrant, her lovely hands upon the black earth, & her lithe body arched for love, and her soft feet not hurting the little flowers: Thou knowest! And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.
    • I:26
  • I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.
    • I:29
  • Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
  • Love is the law, love under will.
    • I:57
  • Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you!
  • I am the blue-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky.
  • To me! To me!
  • The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.
    • I:63-66
  • Now a curse upon Because and his kin!
  • May Because be accursed for ever!
    • II:28-29
  • ...Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy. Be not animal; refine thy rapture! If thou drink, drink by the eight and ninety rules of art: if thou love, exceed by delicacy; and if thou do aught joyous, let there be subtlety therein!
  • But exceed! exceed!
    • II:70-71
  • There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
    • III:60
  • There is a splendour in my name hidden and glorious, as the sun of midnight is ever the son.
    • III:74
  • The ending of the words is the Word Abrahadabra.
    • III:75
  • The Book of the Law is Written and Concealed.
  • Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
    The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.
    Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.
    • The Comment, This section restates several phrases of the work as a whole, in a summary way.
  • There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
    Love is the law, love under will.
    • The Comment; This is a summary combination and restatement of the assertions of I:40 and I:57

Magick Book IV : Liber ABA

A work in four parts, first published between 1911 and 1936.
  • The old spelling MAGICK has been adopted throughout in order to distinguish the Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits.
    • Part II : Magick (1912)

Part III : Magick in Theory and Practice (1929)

Magick in Theory and Practice
ALL may understand instantly that their souls, their lives, in every relation with every other human being and every circumstance, depend upon MAGICK and the right comprehension and right application thereof.
  • This book is for
    ALL:
    for every man, woman, and child.

    My former work has been misunderstood, and its scope limited, by my use of technical terms. It has attracted only too many dilettanti and eccentrics, weaklings seeking in "Magic" an escape from reality. I myself was first consciously drawn to the subject in this way. And it has repelled only too many scientific and practical minds, such as I most designed to influence.
    But
    MAGICK
    is for
    ALL.
    • Introduction
  • In my third year at Cambridge, I devoted myself consciously to the Great Work, understanding thereby the Work of becoming a Spiritual Being, free from the constraints, accidents, and deceptions of material existence.
    I found myself at a loss for a name to designate my work, just as H. P. Blavatsky some years earlier. "Theosophy", "Spiritualism", "Occultism", "Mysticism", all involved undesirable connotations.
    I chose therefore the name.
    "MAGICK"
    as essentially the most sublime, and actually the most discredited, of all the available terms.
    I swore to rehabilitate
    MAGICK,
    to identify it with my own career; and to compel mankind to respect, love, and trust that which they scorned, hated and feared. I have kept my Word.
    • Introduction
  • I must make
    MAGICK
    the essential factor in the life of
    ALL.

    In presenting this book to the world, I must then explain and justify my position by formulating a definition of
    MAGICK
    and setting forth its main principles in such a way that
    ALL
    may understand instantly that their souls, their lives, in every relation with every other human being and every circumstance, depend upon
    MAGICK
    and the right comprehension and right application thereof.
    • Introduction
  • Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.
    (Illustration: It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take "magickal weapons", pen, ink, and paper; I write "incantations" — these sentences — in the "magickal language" ie, that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth "spirits", such as printers, publishers, booksellers and so forth and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of Magick by which I cause Changes to take place in conformity with my Will.)
    In one sense Magick may be defined as the name given to Science by the vulgar.
    • Introduction
There is a single main definition of the object of all magical Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm.
  • The essence of
    MAGICK
    is simple enough in all conscience. It is not otherwise with the art of government.
    The Aim is simply prosperity; but the theory is tangled, and the practice beset with briars.
    In the same way
    MAGICK
    is merely to be and to do. I should add: "to suffer". For Magick is the verb; and it is part of the Training to use the passive voice. This is, however, a matter of Initiation rather than of Magick in its ordinary sense. It is not my fault if being is baffling, and doing desperate!
    • Introduction
The first task of the Magician in every ceremony is therefore to render his Circle absolutely impregnable.
  • There is a single main definition of the object of all magical Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.
    • Ch. 1 : The Principles of Ritual
  • Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and had better come first. Purity means singleness. God is one. The Wand is not a Wand if it has something sticking to it which is not an essential part of itself. If you wish to invoke Venus, you do not succeed if there are traces of Saturn mixed up with it.
    • Ch. 13 : Of the Banishings and of the Purifications
  • The first task of the Magician in every ceremony is therefore to render his Circle absolutely impregnable.
    • Ch. 13 : Of the Banishings and of the Purifications
  • Acts which are essentially dishonourable must not be done; they would be justified only by calm contemplation of their correctness in abstract cases.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • Love is a virtue; it grows stronger and purer and less selfish by applying it to what it loathes; but theft is a vice involving the slave-idea that one's neighbor is superior to oneself.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
The Magician must be wary in his use of his powers; he must make every act not only accord with his Will, but with the properties of his position at the time.
  • Crime, folly, sickness and all phenomena must be contemplated with complete freedom from fear aversion or shame. Otherwise we shall fail to see accurately, and interpret intelligently; in which case we shall be unable to outwit and outfight them.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • It has always been fatal when somebody finds out too much too suddenly. If John Huss had cackled more like a hen, he might have survived Michaelmas, and been esteemed for his eggs. The last fifty years have laid the axe of analysis to the root of every axiom; they are triflers who content themselves with lopping the blossoming twigs of our beliefs, or the boughs of our intellectual instruments. We can no longer assert any single proposition, unless we guard ourselves by enumerating countless conditions which must be assumed.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • The Magician must be wary in his use of his powers; he must make every act not only accord with his Will, but with the properties of his position at the time. It might be my Will to reach the foot of a cliff; but the easiest way — also the speediest, most direct least obstructed, the way of minimum effort — would be simply to jump. I should have destroyed my Will in the act of fulfilling it, or what I mistook for it; for the True Will has no goal; its nature being To Go.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • A parabola is bound by one law which fixes its relations with two straight lines at every point; yet it has no end short of infinity, and it continually changes its direction. The Initiate who is aware Who he is can always check is conduct by reference to the determinants of his curve, and calculate his past, his future, his bearings, and his proper course at any assigned moment; he can even comprehend himself as a simple idea.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
The Inmost is one with the Inmost; yet the form of the One is not the form of the other; intimacy exacts fitness. He therefore who liveth by air, let him not be bold to breathe water.
  • His own infinity becomes zero in relation to that of the least fragment of the solid. He hardly exists at all. Trillions multiplies by trillions of trillions of such as he could not cross the frontier even of breadth, the idea which he came to guess at only becuase he felt himself bound by some mysterious power.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • His first conception must evidently be a frantic spasm, formless, insane, not to be classed as an articulate thought. Yet, if he develops the faculties of his mind, the more he knows of it the more he sees that its nature is identical with his own whenever comparision is possible.
    The True Will is thus both determined by its equations, and free because those equation are simply its own name, spelt out fully. His sense of being under bondage comes from his inability to read it; his sense that evil exists to thwart him arises when he begins to learn to read, reads wrong, and is obstinate that his error is an improvement.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • We know one thing only. Absolute existence, absolute motion, absolute direction, absolute simultaneity, absolute truth, all such ideas: they have not, and never can have, any real meaning. If a man in delirium tremens fell into the Hudson River, he might remember the proverb and clutch at an imaginary straw. Words such as "truth" are like that straw. Confusion of thought is concealed, and its impotence denied, by the invention. This paragraph opened with "We know": yet, quesitoned, "we" make haste to deny the possibility of possessing, or even of defining, knowledge. What could be more certain to a parabola-philosopher that he could be approached in two ways, and two only? It would be indeed little less that the whole body of his knowledge, implied in the theory of his definition of himself, and confirmed by every single experience. He could receive impressions only be meeting A, or being caught up by B. Yet he would be wrong in an infinite number of ways. There are therefore Aleph-Zero possibilities that at any moment a man may find himself totally transformed. And it may be that our present dazzled bewilderment is due to our recognition of the existence of a new dimension of thought, which seems so "inscrutably infinite" and "absurd" and "immoral," etc. — because we have not studied it long enough to appreciate that its laws are identical with our own, though extended to new conceptions.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • The discovery of radioactivity created a momentary chaos in chemistry and physics; but it soon led to a fuller interpretation of the old ideas. It dispersed many difficulties, harmonized many discords, and — yea, more! It shewed the substance of Universe as a simplicity of Light and Life, manners to compose atoms, themselves capable of deeper self-realization through fresh complexities and organizations, each with its own peculiar powers and pleasures, each pursuing its path through the world where all things are possible.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis
  • The Inmost is one with the Inmost; yet the form of the One is not the form of the other; intimacy exacts fitness. He therefore who liveth by air, let him not be bold to breathe water. But mastery cometh by measure: to him who with labour, courage, and caution giveth his life to understand all that doth encompass him, and to prevail against it, shall be increase. "The word of Sin is Restriction": seek therefore Righteousness, enquiring into Iniquity, and fortify thyself to overcome it.
    • Appendix VI : A few principle rituals · Liber Regulis

Book VI : Liber O (1909)

Book VI : Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae
By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.
  • In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.
  • There is little danger that any student, however idle or stupid, will fail to get some result; but there is great danger that he will be led astray, obsessed and overwhelmed by his results, even though it be by those which it is necessary that he should attain. Too often, moreover, he mistaketh the first resting-place for the goal, and taketh off his armour as if he were a victor ere the fight is well begun.
    It is desirable that the student should never attach to any result the importance which it at first seems to possess.

777 (1909)

Liber 777 at bibliotecapleyades.net - The Complete Revised 777 (including Arabic parts) - Liber 777 at hermetic.com PDF file
  • The following is an attempt to systematize alike the data of mysticism and the results of comparative religion.
    The skeptic will applaud our labours, for that the very catholicity of the symbols denies them any objective validity, since, in so many contradictions, something must be false; while the mystic will rejoice equally that the self-same catholicity all-embracing proves that very validity, since after all something must be true.
    Fortunately we have learnt to combine these ideas, not in the mutual toleration of sub-contraries, but in the affirmation of contraries, that transcending of the laws of intellect which is madness in the ordinary man, genius in the Overman who hath arrived to strike off more fetters from our understanding.
  • Here again, there is no tabulation; for us it is left to sacrifice literary charm, and even some accuracy, in order to bring out the one great point.
    The cause of human sectarianism is not lack of sympathy in thought, but in speech; and this it is our not unambitious design to remedy.

Liber XV : The Gnostic Mass (1913)

The central rite of Ordo Templi Orientis and its ecclesiastical arm, Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. Full text online
I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is THELEMA.
  • I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS, the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the Earth; and in one Air the nourisher of all that breathes.
    And I believe in one Earth, the Mother of us all, and in one Womb wherein all men are begotten, and wherein they shall rest, Mystery of Mystery, in Her name BABALON.
  • I believe in one Gnostic and Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty, the Word of whose Law is THELEMA.
    • III Of the Ceremony of the Introit, "Creed of the Gnostic Catholic Church"
  • I believe in the communion of Saints.
    And, forasmuch as meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance, I believe in the Miracle of the Mass.

    And I confess one Baptism of Wisdom, whereby we accomplish the Miracle of Incarnation.
    And I confess my life one, individual and eternal that was, and is, and is to come.
    • III Of the Ceremony of the Introit, "Creed of the Gnostic Catholic Church"
  • There is no part of me that is not of the gods!
    • VIII : Of the Mystic Marriage and Consummation of the Elements

The Book of Lies (1913)

The Book of Lies : Which is also Falsely Called BREAKS. The Wanderings or Falsifications of the One Thought of Frater Perdurabo, which Thought is itself Untrue. Liber CCCXXXIII [Book 333]
The Many is as adorable to the One as the One is to the Many.
  • The Many is as adorable to the One as the One is to the Many.
    This is the Love of These; creation-parturition is the Bliss of the One; coition-dissolution is the Bliss of the Many.
    The All, thus interwoven of These, is Bliss.
    Naught is beyond Bliss.
    • 3 : The Oyster
  • I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.
    • 44 : Chinese Music

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (1929)

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley : An Autohagiography Only the first 2 Parts were published in 1929, the full 6 Parts in 1969.
The people who have really made history are the martyrs.
  • The definition of self-respect contains a clause to include pitiless contempt for some other class. ... English society is impregnated from top to bottom with this spirit. The supreme satisfaction is to be able to despise one's neighbor and this fact goes far to account for religious intolerance. It is evidently consoling to reflect that the people next door are headed for hell.
    • Ch, 3
  • Adaptation to one's environment makes for a sort of survival; but after all, the supreme victory is only won by those who prove themselves of so much hardier stuff than the rest that no power on earth is able to destroy them. The people who have really made history are the martyrs.
    • Ch. 4
No event can be fairly judged without background and perspective.
  • As long as sexual relations are complicated by religious, social and financial considerations, so long will they cause all kinds of cowardly, dishonourable and disgusting behaviour.
    • Ch. 7
  • The conscience of the world is so guilty that it always assumes that people who investigate heresies must be heretics; just as if a doctor who studies leprosy must be a leper. Indeed, it is only recently that science has been allowed to study anything without reproach.
    • Ch. 17
  • To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worth while. The natural laziness of the mind tempts one to eschew authors who demand a continuous effort of intelligence. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter.
    People tell me that they must read the papers so as to know what is going on. In the first place, they could hardly find a worse guide. Most of what is printed turns out to be false, sooner or later. Even when there is no deliberate deception, the account must, from the nature of the case, be presented without adequate reflection and must seem to possess an importance which time shows to be absurdly exaggerated; or vice versa. No event can be fairly judged without background and perspective.
    • Ch. 23
  • The pious pretence that evil does not exist only makes it vague, enormous and menacing. Its overshadowing formlessness obsesses the mind. The way to beat an enemy is to define him clearly, to analyse and measure him. Once an idea is intelligently grasped, it ceases to threaten the mind with the terrors of the unknown.
    • Ch. 33; also quoted with Americanized spelling as The pious pretense that evil does not exist only makes it vague, enormous and menacing.
  • Destiny is an absolutely definite and inexorable ruler. Physical ability and moral determination count for nothing. It is impossible to perform the simplest act when the gods say "No." I have no idea how they bring pressure to bear on such occasions; I only know that it is irresistible. One may be wholeheartedly eager to do something which is as easy as falling off a log; and yet it is impossible.
    • Ch. 48
  • Falsehood is invariably the child of fear in one form or another.
    • Ch. 49
  • I embrace hardship and privation with ecstatic delight; I want everything the world holds; I would go to prison or to the scaffold for the sake of the experience. I have never grown out of the infantile belief that the universe was made for me to suck. I grow delirious to contemplate the delicious horrors that are certain to happen to me. This is the keynote of my life, the untrammeled delight in every possibility of existence, potential or actual.
    • Ch. 54
I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.
  • Modern morality and manners suppress all natural instincts, keep people ignorant of the facts of nature and make them fighting drunk on bogey tales. ... Knowing nothing and fearing everything, they rant and rave and riot like so many maniacs. The subject does not matter. Any idea which gives them an excuse of getting excited will serve. They look for a victim to chivy, and howl him down, and finally lynch him in a sheer storm of sexual frenzy which they honestly imagine to be moral indignation, patriotic passion or some equally avowable emotion. It may be an innocent Negro, a Jew like Leo Frank, a harmless half-witted German; a Christ-like idealist of the type of Debs, an enthusiastic reformer like Emma Goldman or even a doctor whose views displease the Medial Trust.
    • Ch. 57
  • I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worth while seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.
    • Ch. 66
  • Intolerance is evidence of impotence.
    • Ch. 69

Magick Without Tears (1954)

  • The customer is usually wrong; but statistics indicate that it doesn't pay to tell him so.
    • Ch XXI
  • As soon as you put men together, they somehow sink, corporatively, below the level of the worst of the individuals composing it. Collect scholars on a club committee, or men of science on a jury; all their virtues vanish, and their vices pop out, reinforced by the self-confidence which the power of numbers is bound to bestow.
    • Ch LXXIII
  • How right politicians are to look upon their constituents as cattle! Anyone who has any experience of dealing with any class as such knows the futility of appealing to intelligence, indeed to any other qualities than those of brutes.
    • Ch LXXIII

Disputed

  • Knowledge is power; knowledge shared is power lost.
    • This has been attributed to Crowley on the internet, but without citation. No incidents of it in Crowley's works have as yet been located.
    • Variant: Knowledge is power and knowledge shared is power lost.
    • This was quoted as an "occult tradition" in Fundamentals of Experimental Psychology (1976) by Charles Lawrence Sheridan, p. 17, but without any reference to Crowley.

Quotes about Crowley

  • Crowley is, admittedly, a complicated case. One can hardly blame people for feeling hatred and fear toward Crowley when Crowley himself so often exulted in provoking just such emotions. Indeed he tended to view those emotions as inevitable, given what he regarded as the revolutionary nature and power of his teachings and the prevailing hypocrisy of society ... Revile Christianity (but not Christ, mind you) as he might, seek its downfall as he did, Crowley desired nothing less than a full-fledged successor religion — complete with a guiding Logos that would endure for millenia, as had the teachings of Jesus. "Thelema" was the Logos Crowley proclaimed, Greek for "Will." "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" was its central credo. Let us concede that this credo — so redolent, seemingly, of license and arnarchy, dark deeds and darker dreams — terrifies on first impact, as does Crowley the man. ... Say what you will of Crowley, judge his failings as you will, there remains a man as protean, brilliant, courageous, flabbergasting, as ever you could imagine. There endure achievements that no reasoned account of his life may ignore...
    • Lawrence Sutin in Do What Thou Wilt : A Life of Aleister Crowley (2000) Introduction

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Simple English

Aleister Crowley
Born 12 October 1875(1875-10-12)
Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England
Died December 1, 1947 (aged 72)
Hastings, England

Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875December 1, 1947) was a British mystic, occultist, writer, poet, mountain climber and nicknamed "The Wickedest Man In the World.".[1]

He was an influential member in some occult organizations, such as the Golden Dawn, the A∴A∴, and Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.),[2] and is better known today for his occult books and papers.

Crowley also started a mystical philosophy known as Thelema, the Abbey of Thelema, and revived the term magick.

Contents

Early life

Edward Alexander Crowley was born at 36 Clarendon Square in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, between 11:00pm and 11:59p.m. on October 12, 1875.[3]

In 1895, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge after going to Malvern College and Tonbridge School. In his three years at Cambridge, his father passed away and left him a large sum of money.

In December 1896, Crowley took interest in occultism and by the next year, he began reading books on alchemy and mysticism. A year later, he published his first book of poetry (Aceldama), and left Cambridge, only to meet Julian L. Baker who introduced him to Samuel Mathers and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The Golden Dawn

Samuel Mathers, acting leader of the Golden Dawn organization, acted as his early mentor in western magic. Crowley lost faith in his mentor's abilities in 1900 but did not officially break with Mathers until 1904.[4]

Death

Crowley died of a respiratory infection in a Hastings boarding house on 1 December 1947 at the age of 72.[5] He had been addicted to heroin after being prescribed morphine for his asthma and bronchitis many years earlier.[6]

Readings at the cremation service in Brighton included Hymn to Pan, and newspapers referred to the service as a black mass.[5]

Popular culture

  • Ernest Hemingway references Crowley in his memoir "A Moveable Feast". In it, Ford Maddox Ford claims to have "cut" a man he thinks was Hilaire Belloc, but which in fact turns out to be "Alestair Crowley, the diabolist"[7] .
  • In the song Quicksand on his 1971 album Hunky Dory, David Bowie sings : “I'm closer to the Golden Dawn, Immersed in Crowley's uniform of imagery”.
  • Crowley and his beliefs were the subject of testimony in the 1994 murder trial of Damien Echols, as shown in the documentary film Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.

Sources

  • The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley (Tunisia 1923) : Edited by Stephen Skinner
  • Bull, John. "The Wickedest Man in the World". Sunday Express, 24 Mar. 1923. Unverified that this is the article: [8] Verification that the Sunday Express did make article: [9]

References

  1. [Bottomley, Horatio] (1923-03-24). "The Wickedest Man In The World". John Bull. http://www.lashtal.com/nuke/module-subjects-viewpage-pageid-18.phtml. Retrieved 2006-05-28. 
  2. Crowley, Aleister. Confessions.
  3. Diaries; page 10
  4. Sutin, pp. 80, 90-91
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sutin, pp. 417-419
  6. Sutin p 411, 416, initial prescription p 277.
  7. Ernest Hemmingway, A Moveable Feast, from the chapter Ford Madox Ford and the Devil's Disciple
  8. 1923 March 24 - John Bull - Aleister Crowley Articles :: lashtal.com :: Home of The Aleister Crowley Society
  9. US Grand Lodge, OTO: Aleister Crowley

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