THE GREAT BEAST 666 - A BIOGRAPHY & MUCH MORE

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Aleister Crowley  (12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947)

A man totally misunderstood and even feared by many of his contemporaries during his lifetime, Aleister Crowley channelled his true genius and numerous talents into magick in his firm belief that he was the reincarnation of one of the world's greatest magicians, Eliphas Lévi (1810 - 1875), who died in the same year in which Crowley was born.

He felt strongly about reincarnation and seriously believed that he had unveiled many of his previous incarnations including Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (1743 - 1795) and Pope Alexander VI (1431 - 1503) amongst others.

The spelling of magick in this manner, nowadays in more common practice, had been used centuries before Crowley came into being in his latest incarnation, but had gone out of fashion.  It was revived by him to distinguish the true science of the Magi from its various 'counterfeits' such as stage magic, legerdemain and illusion.  It could ‘possibly’ be coincidence, but 'k' also has an esoteric meaning – kteis in Greek translates into vagina, a fact I'm sure of which uncle Aleister would have been very well aware.

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N.B.  This page is much more than just a simple, straightforward biography telling the story of Aleister Crowley's life.  It contains several other major headings relating to certain aspects of his life as shown below.  Should you wish to go immediately to any particular section, simply click on the appropriate link, or alternatively just scroll down the page until you reach it - which could take longer than you think!  In fact, this biography was taking so long to load, that I have now split it into two parts as you can see below.

PART 1
A Biography of the Beast 666 & Much More This really is a comprehensive, albeit condensed biography of Aleister Crowley (already in excess of 51,000 words), and well worth reading even if you have already read his own autohagiography (which, incidentally, ended after his expulsion from Sicily in 1923 despite his living for a further 24 years) and/or any of the works by his many other biographers (as detailed much further down the page).  In addition, it contains images of associates and events some of which you won't find in other biographies.  Several readers have commented on how interesting they have found this biography to be besides being an excellent read.  With the biography being so large, we have broken it down into the following chronological sections.  Should you wish to read about one period in Crowley's life, or start at a particular point, click on the appropriate link.

      Life at Trinity College, Cambridge
      The Golden Dawn & beyond
      Attempt on K2 (Chogo Ri) & return home
      His first wife, Rose
      Attempt on K3 (Kanchenjunga)
      The Astrum Argentum A∴A∴
      The Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.)
      World War One - USA & return home
      Thelema & deportation from Italy
      Deportation from France
      The Laughing Torso law suit & bankruptcy
      World War Two
      Retirement to Netherwood & 'The End'

Crowley dedicates his autohagiography, Confessions, to friends and acquaintances as follows:

To Three Friends

J. W. N. SULLIVAN
who suggested this booklet
AUGUSTUS JOHN
who first gave practical assistance
P. R. STEPHENSEN
who saw the point

And To Three Immortal Memories

RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON
the perfect pioneer of spiritual and physical adventure
OSCAR ECKENSTEIN
who trained me to follow the trail
ALLAN BENNETT
who did what he could

PART 2
Crowley's Last Will & Testament Is an explanation needed?
In Summary This section contains several little interesting snippets of information not necessarily included within, but which certainly enhance the biography.
Where are Crowley's Ashes? Read on, but who really knows?
Life After Death Explains how and why Aleister Crowley has seemingly risen from the dead.  It is a well known fact that he is certainly more famous now than ever he was when he walked this earth.  Then, he could hardly sell a copy of his copious writings, yet nowadays the numerous reprints sell like hot cakes, some costing a small fortune.
In Conclusion The heading says it all!
And Finally Unbelievable?  This brief section tells you something about Amado Crowley, considered by many experts on The Beast to be a 'fraudster', who jumped on the resurrected 'Crowley bandwagon' by claiming to be Aleister's biological son and heir.

       

HA!  HA!  Don't make me laugh Amado!           

Quotes from the Master Therion Some of his better known 'quotations', included simply because of the much misleading and poorly-represented information to be found elsewhere on the web.
The Magical Mottos of A.C. & his Associates Self-explanatory.
Crowley's Biographers As it implies - along with details of the book(s) they have written about A.C.
A Short but Concise Chronology Gives brief but comprehensive details of the major milestones throughout Crowley's incredible life.

Return to top of page.




























And now - a Biography of The Beast 666


IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT THIS COMPREHENSIVE BIOGRAPHY BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PAGES RELATING TO THE FOUR ORGANISATIONS IN WHICH ALEISTER CROWLEY WAS INVOLVED, i.e., THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN, ASTRUM ARGENTUM AA, ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS AND THELEMA, SINCE THEY WILL CONTAIN SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION RELATING TO HIS LIFE WHILE A MEMBER OF THOSE ORGANISATIONS.


The Crowleys, devout members of the Plymouth Brethren, came from Alton.  The family had owned a brewery in Croydon, Surrey, for 200 years, and were very successful at selling a glass of one of its famous ales along with what was described as 'a first class sandwich' in the Alton alehouses for 4d (four old pence -- equivalent to 1.67 pence in today's currency).  This could probably be considered the forerunner of the modern-day ploughman's lunch.

After selling his shares in the brewery in 1871, Edward Crowley’s branch of the family relocated to Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, where he invested the proceeds of the sale in the highly profitable Amsterdam Water Works Company.

A son, Edward Alexander Crowley, his surname being pronounced as one pronounces the word ‘holy’ (ironic as this may seem to those who know anything about the man or 'Beast' he was to become), was born between 11 p.m. and midnight on 12 October 1875 at 30 Clarendon Square, Leamington Spa, into this wealthy and strictly religious Victorian family.

His body bore the three most important distinguishing marks of a Buddha.  Firstly, he was born tongue-tied, resulting in a surgeon cutting the fraenum linguae on the second day of this incarnation.  Secondly, he had the characteristic membrane which necessitated an operation for phimosis some 15 years later, and finally, upon the centre of his heart four hairs curled from left to right in the exact form of a Swastika.

By the age of four, young Edward could read extremely well, but the only book he was officially permitted to read was the Holy Bible.  From all accounts, although very well versed in the narrative, he had no real interest in the text with the exception of that found in Revelation in the New Testament.  He was fascinated by the opponents of heaven such as the Dragon, the False Prophet, the Scarlet Woman, and in particular, The Beast 'whose number is the number of a man, six hundred and three score six', with whom he felt he could identify.

Although he was brought up as an only child, his parents did conceive and bear another, a girl given the name Grace Mary Elizabeth, on 29 February 1880.  Sadly, at least for his parents, she lived for just five hours.  Young Edward was taken to see his sister's body, but despite the incident making a curious impression on him, he could not understand why he had been disturbed so needlessly.  After all, he could do nothing; the child was dead, lifeless.  He had no affection for it and considered the matter to be of no importance.

His feeling towards his parents, however, is one of the stranger facets of his early life, which would lead to his later contempt for Christianity.  His father was undoubtedly his hero, friend and mentor.  He was a ‘natural born leader of men’ who influenced thousands through his expressive preaching.  Edward junior remembered walking with his father in a field, when his attention was drawn to a clump of nettles.  He was warned they would sting if he were to touch them.  He did not remember what he answered, but whatever it was drew the question from his father, "Will you take my word for it or would you rather learn by experience?"  He replied, "I would rather learn by experience," and did so, diving headlong into the clump.  This attitude sums up the whole of Aleister Crowley’s remarkable life.

Despite having the greatest respect for his father, he supposedly despised his mother and treated her as one might have a servant in those austere Victorian times.  This becomes apparent when we read his autohagiography, although he did appear to have a ‘soft spot’ for her when we read between the lines.  For the young lad, it was not only a physical repulsion he felt, but an intellectual and social scorn, notwithstanding the fact that she was considered a very talented painter in watercolour.  In her school days, she was known as the ‘Little Chinese Girl’ because of her features.  Nevertheless, regardless of his supposed loathing of her, he maintained contact with his mother throughout her life, albeit infrequently, and was even gracious enough to save her life at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex.

The family moved from Leamington Spa to The Grange in Redhill, Surrey in June 1881.  The reason for the move is not entirely clear, something to do with the soil, but may have been as a consequence of the death of Grace.  His memories of this period were mainly of uninterrupted bliss.  He was introduced to a Presbyterian cousin by the name of James Ferguson Gregor Grant (Gregor Grant), the son of his mother's cousin Jessie and her husband George Gregor Grant, a Scottish watchmaker.  His cousin acquainted him with Burn's Poetry and the novels of Sir Walter Scott.

It was shortly after the move to Redhill that a tailor named Hemming came down from London to make new clothes for his father.  Being one of the Brethren, he stayed as a guest in the house.  During his visit, he offered to teach the boy the rudiments of the game of chess and clearly succeeded far too well, for he lost every game after the first.  It was around this time that young Edward became known as Alick, particularly by his mother, much to his annoyance.

At the age of eight he entered H T Habershon’s boarding school for boys in Hastings.  He hated the bullying and beatings and wished the old man dead.  His wish was duly granted, after which he was educated under the auspices of the Reverend Henry d'Arcy Champney ((1854 - 1942), M.A., of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), in his prep school for sons of the Brethren at 51 Bateman Street, Cambridge.  It seemed an ideal place for the boy to be educated.

While living in Redhill his father became gravely ill, rather ironically for such an eloquent and passionate preacher, with cancer of the tongue.  Despite the best treatment money could buy, he died on 5 March 1887; Alick had dreamt of his death at school two nights before it occurred.  The result of his hero's demise during the young boy's formative years changed his entire outlook on life.  He began to rebel against authority and started to question the very concept of Christianity, particularly after his Uncle Tom (Tom Bishop, his mother's brother) arrived on to the scene.

For a year or so after his father's death, his mother found it impossible to settle down and became even more fanatical about her religion.  During holidays, they stayed with her brother or in hotels and hydros.  She had grave concerns about bringing up Alick in London, but when Uncle Tom moved to Streatham she compromised by taking a house in Polworth Road, Lambeth.  This move occurred one year before the first brutal murder by Jack the Ripper which took place on Friday 31 August 1888 in the Whitechapel area of London.  Crowley was to maintain a fascination for the Ripper's outrages and was convinced he knew the identity of the murderer.  His knowledge of the Ripper is a very strange tale filled with twisted logic and speculation and does nothing other than throw further perplexity on an already complicated subject.  Right click HERE then select 'Save target as' to read Aleister's theory on Jack the Ripper.  Right click HERE then select 'Save target as' to download the details of all eleven Whitechapel murders.

Alick became a terribly unhappy child at the prep school in Bateman Street and developed a serious illness due to the constant bullying, deprivation and punishments he had to endure in those strict Victorian days, particularly under the authority of the Brethren.  He was diagnosed with albuminuria and for a while it really was touch and go as to whether the boy would pull through.  It was probably from experiencing hardships such as these at a tender age that he acquired a strong survival instinct which would stand him in good stead in later years, particularly on his intrepid mountaineering expeditions and arduous exploration of barren lands and deserts.

He clearly did recover, after which the school was investigated and closed down, when it was decided private tuition would be more beneficial for his well-being.  He was put on a special diet and had a series of tutors through whom he received a thorough grounding in Latin, geography, history, and arithmetic.  His favourite tutor was Archibald Charles Douglas (1866 - ????) a Yorkshireman who taught him how to play bridge and billiards, and, more importantly, introduced him to women of the world.

For the next couple of years he travelled constantly, mainly throughout the south west, Wales and Scotland.  Apart from receiving an excellent education, he climbed mountains (becoming a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club), fished for trout, and spent an enjoyable summer at St Andrews where Andrew Kirkaldy (c. 1860 – 1934), a Scottish professional golfer, taught him to play golf.  His health improved rapidly, and although he was allowed to study only for a limited number of hours daily his knowledge progressed in leaps and bounds through having his tutor's undivided attention.  Unfortunately, Uncle Tom got wind of the 'teaching methods' adopted by Mr Douglas, whereupon his role as Alick's personal tutor was terminated.

Following this enlightening episode in his life, Alick attended Malvern and Tonbridge public schools, although he did not remain at Malvern for any length of time as it seems 'sodomy was the rule' in that establishment.  Just as many mischievous schoolboys did, and probably still do, he amused himself through divers 'anti-social' activities.  For example, he created an extremely powerful explosive device with which he caused considerable damage and nearly killed himself.  Another very memorable episode was his killing of a cat in several horrible ways (not maliciously so he assures us) 'to test the theory of its nine lives'.  This experiment was obviously a tremendous success, because he concluded that the unfortunate animal had only the one.  Several writers suggest it was his own cat, ‘Mrs Hagar’, that he used in the experiments.  This may well be true, but in Confessions, Chapter 6, we are told he simply caught a cat for the purpose.

During this period, Uncle Tom contributed what he considered was a brilliantly witty article to the Boy's Magazine, an Evangelical attempt to destroy the manhood of our public schools, called 'The Two Wicked Kings'.  These two kings were described as tyrants who not only ruined the lives of boys, but also enslaved them.  Their names were SMO-King and DRIN-King.  Uncle Tom drew Alick's attention to his masterpiece, who said, with shocked surprise, "But, my dear Uncle, you have forgotten to mention a third, the most dangerous and deadly of all!"  He was at a loss to think of this third king!

Within a short time of attending Tonbridge his health broke down again, but this time it was due to a disease (gonorrhoea) passed on by a kindly Glaswegian prostitute.  It was evident that boarding school life was still detrimental to Alick's welfare, so it was arranged for him to study in Eastbourne, East Sussex, with a tutor named Lambert, another member of the Plymouth Brethren.  Later, during 1894/5, Crowley became an 'occasional student' at King's College, London, where he took part-time classes in Preliminary Science and Analytical Chemistry under his given name, Edward Alexander Crowley, in preparation for the entrance examination to Trinity College, Cambridge.  He had been recommended for Trinity by none other than Lord Salisbury (the Prime Minister) to study for a diplomatic career.

While studying in Eastbourne, he discovered the treacherous chalk cliffs at Beachy Head.  He began to climb the cliffs with Gregor Grant until his cousin announced he was engaged to be married, and ceased all climbing activities.  Alick then found a new climbing companion in a man by the name of JS New, with whom "we worked out the possible climbs systematically and made a largescale map of the cliff.  I ultimately contributed an illustrated article on the subject to the 'Scottish Mountaineering Journal'."

As he began to mature, Alick was rapidly becoming an expert rock climber.  He also made some 'impossible climbs' on the cliffs at Beachy Head, and more or less forced a congratulatory letter of apology from reputedly the greatest rock climber in the UK at the time, Albert Frederick Mummery (1855 – 1895).  Mummery had published a short account of his own work on the cliffs at Dover, where he lived, stating that at more than twenty to thirty feet above sea-level climbing was not possible on chalk.  Consequently, he doubted Alick's claims of his achievements, that is, until he saw the undeniable photographic evidence!  (Right click HERE then "save target as" for a FREE PDF COPY of Chalk climbing on Beachy Head by E.A. Crowley).

One fine summer's day, Alick took his mother to Beachy Head.  He helped her down to the grassy slopes (the Grass Traverse), which used to extend eastwards from Etheldreda's Pinnacle.  It was a bit of a scramble for her to reach the slopes from the top of the cliff, but with his guidance it was accomplished by descending a narrow gully called Etheldreda's Walk.  He left her in a safe, comfortable position where she could make a watercolour sketch, and went off alone to do some climbing on the Devil's Chimney, some distance west of the pinnacle.  This is his account of what happened that day:

"The general contour of the cliff is here convex, so that I was entirely out of her sight, besides being a quarter of a mile away.  Such breeze as there was, was blowing from the south-west, that is, from me to her.  I was trying to make a new climb on the west of the Devil's Chimney and had got some distance down, when I distinctly heard her crying for help.  At this time I had no acquaintance with psychic phenomena, yet I recognised the call as of this type; that is, I had a direct intuition that it was so.  It was not merely that it seemed improbable that it could be normal audition.  I did not know at the time for certain that this was impossible, though it was afterwards proved to be so by experiment.  I had no reason for supposing the danger to be urgent: but I rushed madly to the top of the cliff, along it and down to the Grass Traverse.  I reached her in time to save her life, though there were not many seconds to spare.  She had shifted her position to get a better view and had wandered off the traverse on to steep, dusty, crumbling slopes.  She had begun to slip, got frightened and done the worst thing possible; that is, had sat down.  She had been slipping by inches and was on the brink of a cliff when I reached her.  She had actually cried for help at the time when I heard her, as nearly as I could judge; but, as explained above, it was physically impossible for me to have done so.  I regard this incident as very extraordinary indeed.  I have never taken much stock in the regular stories of people appearing at a distance at the moment of death and so on; nor does the fact of something so similar having actually happened to me make me inclined to believe such stories.  I cannot offer any explanation, apart from the conventional magical theory that a supreme explosion of will is sometimes able to set forces in motion which cannot be invoked in ordinary circumstances."

His first experience of ‘true’ mountaineering came during a holiday in the Swiss Alps in the same year.  Although he was unaccustomed to such vast areas of snow and ice when rock climbing, and despite being a completely self-taught novice climbing alone on those dangerous mountains (he had already shunned the 'incompetent guides'), he became very proficient at the sport in a remarkably short time, even managing to rankle the senior members of The Alpine Club with his astonishing successes -- he is supposed to have led a cow to the top of the Matterhorn to prove how easy it is to climb.  Dr Tom Longstaff (1875 - 1964), a future President of the club from 1947 to 1949, said of him:

"Crowley was a fine climber, if an unconventional one.  I have seen him go up the dangerous and difficult right (true) side of the great ice fall of the Mer de Glace below the Géant alone, just for a promenade.  Probably the first and perhaps the only time this mad, dangerous and difficult route had been taken."

Alick returned to the Alps the following year and now felt confident enough to tackle the higher peaks, his first exploit being a solitary ascent of the Eiger.  He continued climbing in the Bernese Oberland during that summer, and wrote: "Certainly the Lord must have been leading me, for I hardly ever went out on a mountain without striking some episode which directed my thoughts into the right channel."  However, climbing this year came to a not unexpected end when he was called home by telegram; the entrance examination to Trinity College, Cambridge, was just a week away.

He passed without any difficulty, and in October 1895 took up residence at 16 St John's Street, Cambridge.  Throughout his three years at University, he lived in the manner of the privileged aristocracy, and indulged in copious amounts of sex with male and female partners.  In his practical life, Alick was still fervently engaged in cleansing himself of the ‘mire of Christianity’ through deliberate acts of 'sin'.

He excuses his lavish lifestyle by telling us, "... one really disastrous feature was the attitude which I was compelled to assume about money.  I was taught to expect every possible luxury.  Nothing was too good for me; and I had no idea of what anything cost.  It was all paid for behind my back.  I was never taught that effort on my part might be required to obtain anything that I wanted; but on the other hand I was kept criminally short of pocket money lest I should spend it in some disgraceful way, such as buying books or tobacco, or spending it on even worse abominations such as theatres and women.  (I was encouraged to keep a dog!)  I had therefore no sense of responsibility in the matter of money.  It never occurred to me that it was possible to make it, and I was thus trained to be dependent to the point of mendicancy.  The effect was, of course, disastrous.  When I got to Cambridge I still had everything paid for me and in addition I found myself with unlimited credit."

He took to wearing pure silk shirts and floppy bow-knotted ties at Trinity, while rings with semi-precious stones adorned his fingers.  An air of luxury and strict attention to detail pervaded his rooms.  Hundreds of books relating to science and philosophy, plus a modest collection of Greek and Latin classics along with a sprinkling of French and Russian novels covered the walls up to the ceiling and filled four revolving walnut bookcases.  Valuable first editions of British poets stood alongside extravagantly bound volumes published by Isidore Liseux (1836 – 1894), whose books were printed in small numbers on high quality paper with excellent typography.  An ice-axe with a well-used spike and scarred shaft hung over the door, while a canvas bag containing a salmon rod could also be seen.  Displayed prominently in a mahogany box upon a card-table scattered with poker chips was an expensive set of leaded Staunton chessmen (named after their designer Howard Staunton (1810 - 1874)).

His literary faculties developed tremendously at Cambridge; he read the whole of the works of such renowned writers as Carlyle, Swift, Coleridge, Fielding, Gibbon, and others, as well as a deal of French literature along with the best books by Greek and Latin authors.  He was already becoming a proficient linguist without much effort.  During his final year, he published his first poem of any note, Aceldama, a Place to Bury Strangers in, copies of which were being sold privately in the university for half-a-crown (12½ pence).

For many years he had loathed being called Alick, partly because of the unpleasant sight and sound of the word, but mainly because it was the name by which his mother called him.  He had no interest in Edward, and the diminutives Ted or Ned were even less appealing.  He had read somewhere that the most favourable name for becoming famous was one consisting of a dactyl (a metrical foot of three syllables, one long, or stressed, followed by two short, or unstressed, as in happily) followed by a spondee (a metrical foot of two syllables, both of which are long, or stressed, as in married) such as Jeremy Taylor.  Aleister Crowley fulfilled these conditions admirably, and since Aleister also happened to be a Gaelic form of Alexander he opted for that.  He also concluded that he would become famous irrespective of his name.

It was around this time that an interest in the occult began to occupy his fertile mind.  It may have begun subconsciously as a result of a near fatal accident at a railway station during his childhood when a porter dropped a large trunk which was inches away from crushing him; had it landed on him he would doubtlessly have been killed.  He heard his father remark, "His guardian angel was watching over him."  This latent interest was rekindled at midnight on 31 December 1896 during a short vacation in Stockholm, after being woken from his sleep with a deep conviction that he had magical powers.  "I was awakened to the knowledge that I possessed a magical means of becoming conscious of and satisfying a part of my nature which had up to that moment concealed itself from me. . . . . "

What did he mean by this?  Tobias Churton, in Aleister Crowley: The Biography, explains something many previous biographers seemed either to have missed or failed to explain; he had discovered buggery.

He needed to know more, and thus began his lifelong quest for deeper knowledge and greater understanding of the occult.  He discovered and read AE Waite’s (1857 – 1942) The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts (later republished as The Book of Ceremonial Magic).  He described Waite as "not only the most ponderously platitudinous and priggishly prosaic of pretentiously pompous pork butchers of the language, but the most voluminously voluble."

In spite of his opinion of this pompous pork butcher of the language, Aleister wrote to him enquiring about the 'Secret Sanctuary of the Saints'.  Waite replied telling him he needed to read much more and suggested Isabelle de Steiger's translation of Councillor von Eckhartshausen‘s The Cloud upon the Sanctuary.  He read that book, followed by The Kabbalah Unveiled (a translation of Knorr von Rosenroth's Kabbalah Denudata by SL Mathers) admitting to not understanding a word of it at the time.  He later reasoned that to maintain equilibrium in the universe the forces of good and evil must be equal in power, and then further decided that true spiritual freedom had to lie with Satan because the forces of good had tried their hardest to trample him underfoot throughout his life.

Aleister was rapidly approaching the age where he ought to consider a choice of career.  Entering the Foreign Office crossed his mind and met with his mother’s and Uncle Tom’s approval.  He was already developing a passion for travel and foreign languages, so during the summer vacation of 1897 he set off for St Petersburg with the intention of learning Russian.  At least two of his biographers, Tobias Churton and Richard Spence, suggest that Crowley had done so as an intelligence agent under the employ of the British secret service, speculating that he had been enlisted while at Cambridge.  [Author's note: It is suggested you remember this as it might help to explain some future events.]

On his way home, he interrupted his journey at Berlin to attend an International Chess Congress being held in the Architektenhaus from 13 September to 4 October 1897.  He had hardly entered the room where the masters were playing when: "I was seized with what may justly be described as a mystical experience.  I seemed to be looking on at the tournament from outside myself.  I saw the masters - one, shabby, snuffy and bleary-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.  I perceived with praeternatural lucidity that I had not alighted on this planet with the object of playing chess."

During October, a brief illness triggered considerations of man's mortality and ‘the futility of all human endeavour’, after which Crowley abandoned all thoughts of a diplomatic career in favour of pursuing an interest in the occult.  A hidden desire, even at this stage of his life, was to be someone whose name would be remembered for so long as man existed.  Evidently, he was already shrewd enough to realise he was unlikely to achieve this ambition through devotion to duty in the Diplomatic Service.

Although he was generally considered to be heterosexual (at the time homosexuality was illegal), bisexual would have been a truer portrayal of his sexuality.  He was having an affair with Herbert Charles Pollitt (1871 – 1942), much better known as the dancer and female impersonator, Jerome Pollitt (whose stage name was Diane de Rougy), a close friend of Aubrey Beardsley (1872 – 1898) the English illustrator and author.  In January 1898, Crowley rented rooms at 14 Trinity Street, Cambridge, where he and Pollitt spent the majority of their time together despite the fact that his guest disapproved strongly of his constant study of the occult and the overwhelming ‘magical’ decor in the premises.

Aleister reached a major milestone in his life during the Easter holiday.  He was taking a short vacation in Wasdale in the English Lake District with Pollitt, but other than climbing he spent his time reading The Cloud upon the Sanctuary, more or less ignoring his companion, much to his disappointment.  But the thrill for Aleister on this break was bumping into Oscar Eckenstein (1859 - 1921), a mathematician and railway engineer, but more importantly, an extremely experienced rock climber and mountaineer.

He took an immediate liking to Eckenstein for several reasons.  Firstly, he was a genuine expert in his field (and was to teach Crowley a great deal in the sport), secondly, his obvious disdain for ‘The Alpine Club’ which he described as ‘a retreat for self-advertising quacks who could barely climb a ladder without a guide’, and thirdly, the fact they both admired the works and achievements of the explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821 - 1890).

They may well have had similar thoughts about the Alpine Club and Burton, but their climbing techniques differed greatly.  Eckenstein was a natural athlete who climbed technically and logically without taking unnecessary risks, whereas Crowley was impulsive.  Where Eckenstein studied each move before selecting which muscles to use Crowley tended to use his whole body.  Nevertheless, they formed a very good partnership and planned to meet later that year in the Alps.  Crowley summed up Eckenstein as a climber thus:

"Eckenstein, provided he could get three fingers on something that could be described by a man far advanced in hashish as a ledge, would be smoking his pipe on that ledge a few seconds later, and none of us could tell how he had done it."

N.B. As a point of interest, in 1908 Eckenstein designed the first 10-point crampon, dramatically reducing the need for step-cutting in ice.  He was probably the best climber in England, even outstripping Mummery, but many of his achievements were little-known generally because of his almost fanatical objection to publicity.

Aleister left Trinity College, and Pollitt, in the summer of 1898, but before doing so he was introduced to a young undergraduate and aspiring artist, Gerald Festus Kelly (1879 - 1972), who had read his first published poem, Aceldama, which had aroused his interest and curiosity.  Kelly had two great passions in life, cricket and painting, although he was reading political science at Cambridge when he met Crowley.  He was to continue a relationship with Kelly (who, later in life,would be knighted and appointed President of the Royal Academy) for a number of years during which their paths were to cross often.

Aleister did not bother to attain a degree before leaving Cambridge because: "I saw no sense in paying fifteen guineas for the privilege of wearing a long black gown more cumbersome than the short blue one, and paying thirteen and four pence instead of six and eight pence if I were caught smoking in it; to write B.A. after my name would have been a decided waste of ink."

More realistically, he came into a large inheritance so now had a substantial private income.  Consequently, he no longer considered gainful employment to be essential -- in fact, to be truthful, he never even considered employment!.  His inheritance (£40,000 is mentioned by him in Confessions, although Susan Roberts in The Magician of the Golden Dawn tells us the sum was closer to £50,000, whereas others claim it was £30,000) would have been sufficient at the time to provide an excellent standard of living for any normal person for the rest of his or her life had it been invested wisely.  But, as will be revealed, Aleister was far from being that 'normal person' and set out on his mountaineering and magical quests with tremendous zeal and reckless extravagance.

Within a few weeks of leaving Trinity, he began some serious training with Oscar Eckenstein on the Schönbühl glacier near Zermatt, in the Swiss Alps, the intention being a future assault on K2, the second highest peak in the Karakoram Range in the Himalayas.  Bad weather forced them to remain on the glacier for longer than originally intended, during which time The Kabbalah Unveiled became Crowley's constant companion; he resolved to find the elusive 'Secret Sanctuary of the Saints'.

One evening, he gave an ad-hoc talk on alchemy in one of the beer-halls in Zermatt.  It appeared to have impressed the mainly English speaking captive audience, one member of which was Julian L Baker (1848 – 1925), an analytical chemist who claimed to have fixed mercury.  As a consequence of their conversation during the short stroll back to the hotel they were sharing Crowley realised Baker was a man who could possibly help him in his quest.

He went to sleep determined to speak with him again in the morning, but Baker had left the hotel early.  Aleister set off in hot pursuit, and eventually tracked him down some distance from Zermatt.  He convinced Baker of his desperate need to find the 'Secret Sanctuary', after which Baker intimated that he knew a man who was connected to an organisation that might possibly hold a key.  They arranged to meet later that year in London, and did so in October.

Julian Baker introduced him to George Cecil Jones (c. 1870 - 1953), a Welsh industrial chemist and a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G.D.).  He was widely read in Magick and, being by profession an analytical chemist, was able to investigate the subject in a scientific manner.  As soon as he realised that Jones really understood the subject, Aleister travelled to Basingstoke, Hampshire, where Jones lived, and basically 'sat in his pocket'.  He demonstrated the knowledge he had already gained and convinced his host of his potential to become a great magician, whereupon Jones put his name forward for membership of the Order.  Oddly, despite his being a member of the G.D. and his association with Crowley, comparatively little is known about his proposer.

Aleister Crowley had money.  In fact, at this early stage in his life he still had loads of money at today's values, so no time was wasted in recruiting him.  He joined the G.D. at Mark Masons' Hall in Great Queen Street, London on 18 November 1898 as a Neophyte, and took his membership very seriously advancing quickly through its grades (its rituals have been printed in The Equinox, Vol. I, Issues II and III).  Upon initiation he took the magical motto Perdurabo (Latin for 'I Will Endure'), and was shown the secret signs, handshake and steps of the Order.  He was entrusted with some 'priceless secrets' including the Sacred Alphabet, the names of the planets with their attribution to the days of the week, and details of the ten Sephiroth of the Kabbalah.  He was already well-versed in all of this and much more through his own reading and research, but understood how vitally important it is to drill any aspirant thoroughly in the essential groundwork.

He achieved the grade of Zelator in December, Theoricus in January 1899 and that of Practicus in February of the same year.  He could not advance to the next grade of Philosophus for a further three months, so did not attain that until May.  According to the rules of the G.D. a Philosophus cannot proceed to the Second Order for a minimum of seven months from achieving this grade and even after that period of time he or she must be specially invited.

However, Crowley quickly became disillusioned with the members of the G.D. having found very few 'of any intellect or spiritual stature'.  In the meantime, Jones, who was well aware of Crowley’s potential and passion for magick, had loaned him a copy of the recently translated Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage (Right click HERE then "save target as" for a FREE PDF COPY of this book), with which he became fascinated, or possibly fixated.

But in the spring of 1899 his disappointment was to turn to delight when he met an Adept of the Second Order by the name of Charles Henry Allan Bennett (1872 – 1923), known simply as Allan Bennett, who was already well-known as a magician and considered to be second only in this craft to Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, the Head of the G.D.  On their first encounter, which occurred in the disrobing room, Bennett knew instinctively that Crowley had been experimenting with Black Magick.  He looked him in the eyes, and said in a penetrating and, as it seemed to A.C., almost menacing tone, "Little Brother, you have been meddling with the Goetia!"  (Goetia is the technical word used to cover all operations of that aspect of Magick dealing with gross, malignant or unenlightened forces.)  Crowley told him that he had not been doing anything of the sort.  "In that case," Bennett retorted, "the Goetia has been meddling with you."  The conversation went no further.

Crowley's mind had been stimulated.  He discovered Bennett was living in a rather sordid, tiny tenement south of the River Thames, so invited him to stay at his more luxurious apartment in Chancery Lane where he used the alias Count Vladimir Svareff.  He realised Bennett could teach him much more in a month than anyone elsein the G.D. in five years.  Bennett gratefully accepted his generous offer and thereafter took him under his wing, showing Aleister not only where to find occult knowledge, but how to criticise it and, more importantly, how to apply it.

Crowley had constructed two temples in separate rooms in his apartment, one white, one black.  These represented the twin pillars of the Light and the Dark, Jachin and Boaz, which stood in the porch of Solomon’s temple.  The white temple was lined with six large mirrors to throw back the forces of invocations (ensuring nothing of the force was lost).  The black temple comprised a converted cupboard in which was found the ebony figure of a Negro standing on his hands supporting a round table which served as an altar.  Above the altar sat a human skeleton, supposedly the very one with which Hypatia Gay (Althea Gyles -- a young artist) achieved an orgasm.  The skeleton was a truly disgusting sight, for Crowley occasionally 'fed' it with blood and small birds in an attempt to give it life, but which simply caused the bones to be covered with a viscous slime.  Inscribed on the floor in both rooms were a magic circle, a triangle, and pentagrams.

The pair worked together performing Ceremonial Magick, evoking spirits, consecrating talismans, and so on.  He rapidly grew to respect and admire Bennett greatly, and considered him to be a friend -- very few people in Aleister's life achieved this highly exalted status!  An interesting tale relating to Bennett’s lustre (a long glass prism referred to as his blasting stick) concerns a member of a group of Theosophists who doubted it had any power.  Completely unperturbed, Bennett pointed the lustre at the unfortunate man; it took fourteen hours before he was able to move a muscle!

Allan Bennett suffered severely with chronic asthma and was relying heavily on a concoction of drugs to relieve the symptoms.  Crowley and Jones became extremely concerned for their friend’s health, so together they persuaded him to leave England for warmer climes.  Crowley knew Bennett would not agree to go if he thought the cost of relocation had come from close charitable means, i.e. him, so he explained the situation to Laura Horniblow (the wife of a colonel serving in India) with whom he was having an affair.  She gave A.C. £100 for the purpose, but that ‘gift’ was to be the beginning of much bad publicity he would get later in his life.  Bennett had no qualms about moving to the Far East because he firmly believed his future lay in Buddhism.

He set sail for Ceylon (known as Sri Lanka since 1972) where he joined a Buddhist monastery, taking the name Bhikkhu Ananda Mettaya after qualifying.  Then very early in 1902, he moved to another monastery in Akyab, Burma (Myanmar), where he considered Buddhism had remained uncorrupted.  Before leaving these shores, Bennett gave Crowley a number of his magical notebooks, one of which contained the foundations of a Kabbalistic dictionary which he would develop later into Liber 777.

At a loss following his friend's departure, Aleister continued to study the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.  The Egyptian mage says, "To perform the operation of conjuring up your Holy Guardian Angel you must first of all construct an oratory in a secluded place."  His flat in Chancery Lane was far too noisy for this purpose, so he wandered throughout the Lake District and Scotland in search of suitable premises.

In August, he discovered a property known as 'Boleskine' (which equates gematrically to 418) close to the village of Foyers; Loch Ness lay before it and a grand hill behind.  It was certainly remote, and the view was magnificent; in fact, it was the ideal location in which to practice Abramelin magick, although it is suggested he paid twice the market value to obtain the property.  Crowley spent a deal of time working from his Abramelin translation throughout the remainder of 1899 and after several months of concentrated effort he somewhat succeeded in his task, attracting a host of demons, several of which 'materialised'.

"On first arriving at Boleskine, I innocently frightened some excellent people by my habit of taking long walks over the moors.  One morning I found a large stone jar at my front door.  It was not an infernal machine; it was illicit whisky - a mute, yet eloquent appeal, not to give away illicit stills that I might happen to stumble across in my rambles."

By the end of the year, partly through Bennett's earlier invaluable guidance and instruction, and partly through his own dedication, the aspiring magician had completed the work necessary to advance to the Second Order of the G.D. in the grade of Adeptus Minor.  But the London controllers of the Order, Florence Farr and William Butler Yeats in particular (who disliked the ‘demonic upstart’ intensely -- the feelings were mutual by the way), refused to advance him.

Crowley, although slightly peeved (to put it mildly), was not overly troubled by their decision.  He went immediately to Paris to where Mathers had moved on a permanent basis.  Being in desperate need of a trustworthy ally in the G.D. in London, Mathers performed the necessary ceremony without hesitation in January 1900, an act which only served to further outrage the fractious London members.

The ensuing uproar caused several of those London members to resign.  Mathers was eventually 'expelled' from the original Order, mainly on the grounds that he had put its authority into jeopardy by revealing his suspicions that the founding documents linking them to an older occult order in Germany had been forged by another member.  Frater Perdurabo, accompanied by Soror Donorum Dei Dispensatio Fidelis (Elaine Simpson) who had also sided with Mathers, attempted to obtain possession of the Order's property on his behalf, as a result of which he too was 'expelled' from the G.D. just two years after joining.  This farce has been well documented.  See Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for further details, or read Crowley's Version of the Breakup.

Tired of the seemingly incessant infighting, Aleister felt a compelling need to escape from it all.  He decided to broaden his magical knowledge and outlook on life by circumnavigating the globe.  After leaving some personal belongings in Mathers' care, he headed for New York aboard the SS Pennsylvania, arriving there on 6 July, but stayed for only two or three days in the city.  New York, like the whole of the eastern coast of the USA, was experiencing an unprecedented heatwave which caused more than 400 deaths in Manhattan, 800 throughout the metropolitan area, and hundreds more in New England and New Jersey.  He decided New York was ‘hotter’ than the mayhem he had left behind in London, so boarded a train bound for Mexico City.

There are insinuations that he chose Mexico because the police wanted to question him concerning allegations made by Laura Horniblow.  She was a little annoyed with her toy boy for 'deserting' her, so had written to him requesting repayment of the £100 she had supposedly given him.  As was his wont, he ignored her request, so she lodged a complaint with the police.  She also reported that she had been tortured and sodomised by him, but did not wish to press charges for fear her husband would discover her infidelity.  Nevertheless, the name 'Aleister Crowley' was now known to the authorities.  A 'file' was opened which already contained inaccurate information, and which was to grow over the years.

Upon his departure, Aleister had corresponded with Soror D.D.D.F. who had since married and moved to Hong Kong.  They arranged to meet on a weekly basis in astral form, and to write down everything that occurred.  These ‘meetings’ brought some very conclusive results; she saw and heard him, and on comparing notes, their separate reports of conversations concurred.  Later, when he reached Hong Kong, he recognised the area immediately and picked out her house on a hillside, even though he had never seen a photograph of it.  But, as will be revealed, their reunion was not to be the happy occasion he had hoped and expected it would be.

He found Mexico, too, to be hot, but not like New York; Mexico City did not have huge glass and concrete skyscrapers which reflected and radiated the sun's heat on to the streets.  Up to this point in his life, he had only experienced a Northern European climate.  Aleister rented part of a house overlooking the Alameda, a municipal park in the downtown part of the city.  He hired a young local girl as his ‘maid’ and continued his magical studies, which now included experimenting with the recently rediscovered Enochian Magick and making himself invisible.

He gained a new concept of the Kabbalah and slowly began to perceive the real implications of what he was trying to achieve.  For example, the word abracadabra is familiar to almost everyone, but he wondered why it possessed such a reputation.  By means of the Kabbalah and his own analysis, he restored its ‘true spelling’ to abrahadabra (with its gematrical value of 418), which he considered to be the essential formula of the Great Work, adopting the word as the proper way to conduct all major Magical Operations.

Using the authority invested in him by Mathers, he formed an Order called The Lamp of the Invisible Light.  The Order demanded a light burn continually in a temple containing talismans corresponding with the forces of Nature.  Daily invocations were to be performed with the object of making the light itself a consecrated centre or focus of spiritual energy.  This light would then radiate and automatically enlighten such minds as were ready to receive it.  He left don Jesus Medina, supposedly one of the highest chiefs of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, to run the Order as its High Priest.  Before Crowley left Mexico, he tells us he was admitted to the thirty-third and final degree of Freemasonry by Don Jesus (Confessions, Part II, Chapter 23).  Other than a small paragraph in Confessions, he never mentioned The Lamp of the Invisible Light or Don Jesus again: "Even today, the experiment seems to me interesting and the conception sublime.  I am rather sorry that I lost touch with Don Jesus; I should like very much to know how it turned out."

Besides continuing his magical studies and development, he travelled extensively throughout Mexico, mainly on horseback and particularly through the Yucatán Peninsula in south-eastern Mexico.  On one such excursion:

"Crossing a hillside, I saw a Mexican some thirty yards below the track, apparently asleep in the sun.  I thought I would warn him of his danger and rode over.  He must have been dead three weeks, for he had been completely mummified.  Neither the coyotes nor the turkey-buzzards will touch a dead Mexican.  His flesh has been too thoroughly impregnated with chillies and other pungent condiments."

Oscar Eckenstein joined him in Mexico towards the end of the year.  He told Crowley to put aside magick for the time being and to practice meditation and concentration.  But the main reason Eckenstein was in Mexico was not simply to socialise with Aleister, but to climb, and to take him much higher than he had climbed in the Alps.  They scaled many of the country’s highest peaks during the next few months, including Iztaccihuatl (17,343’) where they stayed for three weeks in a camp at 14,000’.  They witnessed an eruption of the volcano Colima, which they subsequently attempted to climb; they did not get very far as their boots were burned through by the intense heat.  Popocatepetl (17,802’), too, was successfully ascended as could be certified by the hapless reporter from the Mexican Herald whom they dragged to the summit for having doubted their prowess.

After achieving the goals they had set themselves, they discussed the expedition to K2 in much greater detail before Eckenstein returned to England while Aleister continued his worldly travels.  His lasting legacy of Mexico was malaria, a disease from which he would suffer severe recurring bouts throughout the remainder of his life.  He later concluded that the best way to treat mosquitoes was as ‘friends’, i.e., welcome them, let them drink their fill, then they’ll go away and leave you in peace.

He reached San Francisco on 20 April, a place he described as "a glorified El Paso, a madhouse of frenzied money-making and pleasure-seeking."  The one area of the city which he did consider to be of interest was 'Chinatown', where he spent the majority of his time.

Honolulu was the next stop on his itinerary, arriving there on 9 May 1901.  He had gone there with the notion of renting a hut on Waikiki Beach, engaging the 'services' of a native girl, and devoting his time to poetry and magick.  He did get to spend most of his time on Waikiki Beach writing poetry, but this was in between indulging his passions with a non-native 'girl' called called Alice (Mrs Alice Mary Rogers, née Beaton), an ‘exquisitely beautiful American woman of Scottish origin’ whom he met in his hotel shortly after arriving in Honolulu.  She was ten years his senior and had a teenaged boy, named Blaine, in tow.  She was married to a lawyer in the USA and was in Hawaii to escape the hay fever season.  After some five or six weeks of unbridled passion Aleister persuaded Alice to accompany him to Japan; she did, but went back to ‘her provider’ soon afterwards.

"Alice had broken my boy's heart; she had taught me what women were worth.  For her I had surrendered my single-minded devotion to my spiritual Quest; I had sold my soul to the devil for sixpence, and the coin was counterfeit."

He saw very little of Japan, but did spend some time in Kamakura, a city located in the Prefecture of Kanagawa, about 31 miles south west of Tokyo, now a popular tourist destination.  Of Japan he said, "I did not understand the people at all and therefore did not like them very much."  He also resented their 'racial arrogance'.

Aleister set sail for Shanghai, but could not even be bothered to take a stroll through that city.  He was desperate to reach Hong Kong where he was to meet Elaine Simpson again.  He thought she would be able to 'understand, judge, encourage and advise him'; there was no-one better qualified as far as he was concerned.  Alas, he was dreadfully disappointed.  "She was still playing at magick, as another might play at bridge."  D.D.D.F. had married a Hong Kong merchant called Paul Harry Witkowski in May 1900, and now spent her time living the life of a colonial lady discussing dresses, dinners and dances.  The final bombshell came when he discovered she had attended a fancy dress ball in her Adept’s robes and regalia, and had walked away with the first prize!

Quickly putting his disappointment behind him, Crowley continued his journey to Singapore where he boarded another ship heading for Ceylon.  Here, he was genuinely delighted to renew his friendship with Allan Bennett who was now engaged as a private tutor to the younger sons of the Solicitor General of Ceylon, the Honourable Ponnambalam Ramanathan (1851-1930), a Tamil of high caste and 'the greatest Ceylonese of all times'.

The two friends went on a 'retirement' together to The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, where they stayed for several months.  The temple is situated in the royal palace complex which houses the Relic of the Tooth of Buddha.  Since ancient times the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds it holds the governance of the country.  Of his entire time spent in the Far East, Aleister wrote:

"I had been studying the original scriptures of Hinduism and Buddhism very thoroughly.  Besides this, I had discussed every aspect of religion and philosophy with immensely varied types of thinkers.  From men of such spiritual and scholarly attainment as Allan Bennett, the Hon. P. Ramanathan, Prince Jinawaravansa, Paramaguru Swami, Shri Swami Swayam Prakashanand Maithala, to such excremental exponents of error as theosophists, missionaries and even members of the Salvation Army."

Allan Bennett taught him the principles of Yoga; fundamentally, there is only one -- how to stop thinking!  He was given advice on how to achieve his samadhi, and he suggested Aleister develop a magical memory.  Prior to his departure from Ceylon, Bennett warned Crowley not to trust Mathers, and to distance himself from the man.  After bidding farewell, he sailed to India where he began to grow a beard and practise many of the points of conduct Eckenstein had told him should be observed when amongst Mohammedans.

During the few months Crowley was travelling throughout Southern India (to places such as Anuradhapura, Tuticorin and Madras), Allan Bennett relocated to Akyab on the western coast of Burma.  He was now living in a monastery called Lamma Sayadaw Kyoung, which is where the Bhikkhus 'could at least boast fidelity to the principles of the Buddha'.  Despite the fact he had seen Bennett recently, he decided to take the long coastal route to Burma and ‘drop in’ to pass the time of day with him.  Money was still no object at this time.  He stayed for a couple of weeks then departed for Calcutta -- he was expecting a very important message from Oscar Eckenstein.

He arrived on 26 February 1902 and checked his mail.  It was confirmed the expedition to K2 (known to locals as Chogo Ri) was to go ahead; the members of the expedition were to meet at Rawalpindi (commonly known as Pindi).  He left Calcutta on 7 March, passing through Benares, Agra (where he found the Taj Mahal to be 'interesting'), and Delhi, eventually reaching Pindi from where he took a train.  The carriage reserved for the expedition comprised a part of this train, so he introduced himself to his four new comrades.  They were Guy Knowles, a Trinity man who had no climbing experience (who was later to become an MI6 agent), an Austrian judge named Pfannl, reputedly the best rock climber in Austria, Pfannl’s regular climbing companion Wessely, and a Swiss ex-Army doctor by the name of Guillarmod.  The expedition was finally underway!

Eckenstein was the natural leader, with Crowley appointed Second in Command (he had, after all, financed the operation and was certainly the next best and most experienced mountaineer in the assembled motley crew).  Unfortunately, Oscar Eckenstein was barred from entering Kashmir and was detained by British authorities for three weeks on suspicion of being a spy.  He and Crowley were convinced that Sir Martin Conway was responsible for trying to interfere with their attempt on K2, and it was only after they threatened to take the matter to the press that Eckenstein was released.

They set off on 29 March, but the party suffered many hardships and logistical problems on the long trek to the base of the mountain.  With some three tons of baggage to move, clearly no easy task, they hired 17 ekkas (two-wheeled carts drawn by oxen) and 150 porters.  They also needed to hire new porters locally on a daily basis.  Travellers to Chogo Ri are limited as to season by the fact that the Zoji La, a high mountain pass between Srinagar (the capital of the northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir) and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range, is impassable before a certain date, which varies little from year to year.  They considered themselves lucky to have managed to cross as early as they did on 4 May.  The pass closes again in the autumn, so if a traveller fails to get back to Kashmir before the snow blocks it he is practically compelled to overwinter in Baltistan, a region of northern Pakistan.

In the middle of June, following several weeks of arduous trekking and climbing, they established Camp 10 at 18,733’.  Eckenstein became ill before they reached Camp 11, at roughly 20,000’, so it was agreed that Crowley should push on towards the summit with Pfannl and Guillarmod.  After several attempts, the summit, so near yet so far away, proved impossible to reach due to atrocious weather conditions.  Crowley claimed to have climbed to higher than 22,000', and provides compelling reasons to substantiate this claim, but official records show it was slightly less, at a mere 21,653'.  After this attempt, he suffered another severe bout of malaria, his temperature reaching 39.4° Centigrade.  All of the team members were suffering from one ailment or another:

"Knowles had lost 33 of his original 186 pounds; the doctor some 20 of his 167; a man with galloping consumption could hardly do better!  Their haemoglobin had diminished by twenty per cent.  Eckenstein was suffering from various complicated pulmonary troubles; Knowles and the doctor were repeatedly down with influenza; as for myself, the recrudescence of my malaria, which began with a violent liver chill on the twenty-seventh of July and lasted till the end of the month, kept my temperature at 39.3° or thereabouts.  Pfannl was suffering from oedema of both lungs and his mind was gone."

The entire story of this expedition takes up several chapters in Crowley's Confessions.  It is highly descriptive at every stage throughout and well worth reading as an adventure story in its own right, but is far too long to cover in a condensed biography such as this.

There are two ways of returning to Srinagar, one such being the way they had come.  The alternative was to cross the Deosai Plateau.  Eckenstein chose the former while Aleister returned via the plateau, the highest in the world, not counting Tibet.  Located at the boundary of the Karakoram and the western Himalayas, it is a high tableland (between 14,000’ and 17,000’) crossed by four principal rivers, and has a renowned reputation for its inhospitality.

The expedition ended for A.C. in mid-September when he returned to what could be termed ‘civilisation’.  Despite failing to reach the summit, the members of this K2 expedition made a remarkable effort at the time, and should be justifiably proud of their achievements and the fact that none of them had been killed.  A new record had been set for the length of time spent on a glacier (68 days by Crowley on the Baltoro glacier), and debatably, a world altitude record.  They would doubtlessly have reached the summit had it not been for the extremely adverse conditions.  But regardless of the weather, when we consider the lack of modern-day communications and equipment, including oxygen, clothing, footwear and provisions, it is not surprising the expedition failed to achieve its objective.  It is certainly worthy of note that no other person climbed higher on K2 until 1939, and the summit was not reached until 31 July 1954, some six and a half years after Crowley’s death and more than half a century after this attempt!

To cut a very long story short, the intrepid wanderer set off for home from Bombay (known as Mumbai since 1995) on 4 October, calling at Aden, a free trade port (at the time) in Southern Yemen, somewhere he describes as "a perfectly ghastly place to live in" (the author can personally vouch for this having spent almost 10 months there as a soldier serving with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers between 6 September 1966 and 30 June 1967).  He disembarked in Cairo, Egypt some ten days later and booked in to Shepheard's Hotel where he "was transported to the seventh heaven."  He stayed until 5 November, "wallowing in the flesh pots."

From Cairo he travelled to Paris, a city he grew to love and hate with equal passion.  During his prolonged absence, he had maintained some correspondence, albeit irregular, with Gerald Kelly; he met up with him again in his new studio in Rue Campagne-Première (off Boulevard du Montparnasse), where he 'moved in' for a while.

Typically, Aleister knew best so ignored Allan Bennett’s warning and called on Mathers.  On his departure for New York, he had asked Mathers to take care of an expensive dressing-case, a bag and a few valuable books, so his visit was primarily to request their return.  Mathers handed over the books, but was apparently in 'the process of moving' and could not lay his hands on the other items -- they were never seen again.  Crowley was keen to demonstrate his newly acquired skills, particularly in Yoga, but Mathers had no desire to listen, let alone treat him as an equal, which he now considered he was.

On returning to Gerald’s apartment, Aleister was asked by his host to free a friend of his, Miss Q, from the clutches of Mrs M, a vampire and sorceress who was staying with Miss Q.  Mrs M was modelling a sphinx with the intention of endowing it with life so that it could carry out her evil wishes; her victim was to be Miss Q.  Gerald took him to Miss Q’s apartment where he managed to get her 'out of the picture'.  Mrs M began to appear younger and more voluptuous to Crowley with each passing moment, but he skilfully resisted her wiles and managed to defeat her by turning her into an old hag who hobbled out of the room.  He discovered later that Mrs M had been sent by Mathers to kill him.  See Confessions Chapter 42 for a fuller description of this incident.

A favourite haunt of artists, poets and writers in Paris after the turn of the century was a restaurant in the Rue d’Odessa, close to the Gare Montparnasse, known as Le Chat Blanc.  Gerald Kelly was already part of the ‘in crowd’ and as such was able to introduce Crowley to some interesting personalities, one of whom was the sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917), who was being vilified over his statue of Balzac, the French novelist and playwright.  Aleister thought the work was magnificent, and Rodin’s best to date, so wrote a sonnet in his defence and praise.  This pleased him immensely, so much so he invited Crowley to stay with him, during which time he wrote Rodin in Rime honouring his other works.  After Rodin, the most important of these new acquaintances was Marcel Schwob (23 August 1867 – 12 February 1905), a talented French scholar of English.  Two of the other prominent people he met were William Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965), who based the protagonist in his book The Magician (Oliver Haddo) on Crowley, and the writer Arnold Bennett (1867 – 1931), to whom he was introduced by Schwob.

Busy doing nothing, A.C. became restless, a particular trait of his, so flitted frequently between Paris and London.  At one stage he became engaged to be married to Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976), a furniture designer and architect based in France, but on returning to the French capital after spending a week in London he was supposedly too 'shy' to resume relations with his fiancée, although he devoted several poems to her, one of these being Eileen.

By April 1903, he had become totally jaded with the Parisian highlife so returned to Boleskine.  He had already spent nine months in his 'manor' during the final quarter of 1899 and the first two of 1900 preparing for the Operation of Abramelin the Mage.  Throughout his three-year absence, the place had gained a fearful reputation among the locals who would walk miles out of their way to avoid the ‘demons’ which had taken up residence.  But the Operation, which requires six months of dedicated preparation, was to be put in abeyance again.

Aleister took a trip to Edinburgh in July, partly to replenish his depleted stock of quality wines, partly to engage the services of a companion/housekeeper (red-headed Arabella was his choice), but ostensibly to pass the time of day with Gerald Kelly who was to spend the summer at Strathpeffer in the Scottish highlands.  Then in early August, Kelly wrote to Crowley inviting him to join his party at Strathpeffer, which is where he met Gerald’s sister, Rose Edith, the widow of a Major Skerrett, who poured her heart out to A.C.  Red-headed Arabella never got to take up her position as companion/housekeeper, nor any other position with him.

Rose was engaged to a friend of Gerald’s by the name of Howell, and was also being pursued by a solicitor friend of his by the name of Hill.  She was in love with neither, but was being put under some pressure by the family to remarry for financial reasons.  She was, however, in love with another, a married man by the name of Frank Summers, but in her heart she knew that illicit affair would never go any further.  Aleister, ever the gentleman, offered to help her out of her dilemma by marrying her with no strings attached.  In other words, they would marry and then go their separate ways, meaning she could carry on her relationship with Summers and he would disappear from the scene.  She gratefully accepted.

They married in great haste at Dingwall on 12 August 1903, much to her family's initial shock and thorough disapproval.  Although the marriage was supposed to have been one of convenience, it did not work out as planned for one unconsidered reason -- they actually fell in love!  The Kelly family did come to accept the situation, but not before Rose’s father, the Reverend Frederick Festus Kelly, demanded that Crowley settle ten thousand pounds on his daughter; guess his response!

Aleister called his new wife 'Ouarda', an Arabic word for rose.  A belated honeymoon, beginning at the end of that summer, took them initially to Paris where Crowley spotted Moina Mathers looking like a 'streetwalker' during a stroll over the newly constructed Pont Alexander III close to the Eiffel Tower; he assumed Mathers must have fallen on hard times.  From Paris they headed south to Marseilles and boarded a boat bound for Egypt, where they spent a night together in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid.  To quote Crowley:

"We went, accordingly, after dinner, with candles.  More from habit than anything else, as I imagine, I had with me a small notebook of Japanese vellum in which were written my principal invocations, etc.  Among these was a copy of the 'Preliminary Invocation' of The Goetia.

We reached the King's Chamber after dismissing the servants at the foot of the Grand Gallery.  By the light of a single candle placed on the edge of the coffer I began to read the invocation.  But as I went on I noticed that I was no longer stooping to hold the page near the light.  I was standing erect.  Yet the manuscript was not less but more legible.  Looking about me, I saw that the King's Chamber was glowing with a soft light which I immediately recognised as the astral light.  I have been accustomed to describe the colour as ultra-violet, from its resemblance to those rays in the spectrum - which I happen to be able to distinguish.  The range varies, but it is quite noticeably beyond that visible to the normal human eye.  The colour is not unlike that of an arc lamp; it is definitely less coloured than the light of a mercury lamp.  If I had to affix a conventional label, I should probably say pale lilac.  But the quality of the light is much more striking than the colour.  Here the word phosphorescence occurs to the mind.  It is one of the mysteries of physics that the total light of the sky is very much greater than can be accounted for by the luminous bodies in the heavens.  There are various theories, but I personally believe that the force now called radio-activity which we know to be possessed in some degree by every particle of matter, is responsible.  Our eyes are affected with the impression of light by forces which are not in themselves recognised as luminous.

However, back to the facts.  The King's Chamber was aglow as if with the brightest tropical moonlight.  The pitiful dirty yellow flame of the candle was like a blasphemy, and I put it out.  The astral light remained during the whole of the invocation and for some time afterwards, though it lessened in intensity as we composed ourselves to sleep.  For the rest, the floor of the King's Chamber is particularly uncompromising.  In sleeping out on rocks, one can always accommodate oneself more or less to the local irregularities, but the King's Chamber reminded me of Brand; and I must confess to having passed a very uncomfortable night.  I fear my dalliance had corrupted my Roman virtue.  In the morning the astral light had completely disappeared and the only sound was the flitting of the bats."

Departing from Cairo, Aleister and his bride set sail for Ceylon where Rose announced she was pregnant shortly after their arrival.  As a consequence, Crowley abandoned his plans to visit Allan Bennett in Burma before continuing on to China.  Consequently, after the thrill (for A.C. at least) of a big-game hunting expedition in Ceylon, they returned westwards where they could be assured of better medical care and attention for Rose and their unborn child.

On 9 February 1904, they arrived back in Cairo from where they toured Egypt for several weeks.  Crowley wanted to study Mohammedism, particularly the mysticism of the fakir, the Darwesh and the Sufi.  He posed as a Persian prince by the name of Chioa Khan (pronounced Hiwa Khan), Hebrew for The Beast.  For his study of Islam, he persuaded (or most likely paid) a sheikh to teach him Arabic and the correct practices of ablution, prayer and so on.  This sheikh was well-versed in the mysticism and magick of Islam, so on discovering Crowley was a genuine initiate, had no hesitation in presenting him with books and manuscripts on the Arabic Kabbalah.  These helped to form the basis of his comparative studies, the correlation being given in Liber 777.

The happy couple returned to Cairo in mid-March, when Aleister underwent a life-changing experience.  He had been trying for several years to contact his Holy Guardian Angel using the methods described in The Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage, but without complete success, so what happened next came as a bolt from the blue.

He was trying to summon sylphs for his wife's amusement when she began to receive a 'very powerful psychic message' from the Ancient Egyptian God Horus.  Sceptical of her sudden clairvoyant ability, never previously having displayed any, he demanded answers to a series of questions he put to her, for not one of which could she have had prior knowledge.  After answering each one correctly, to test her further he took her to the famous Boulaq (or Boulak) Museum (now the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo), where they walked past several images of Horus, which she completely ignored.  Instead, she pointed across the room to a Stèle (an upright stone or slab with an inscribed or sculpted surface, used as a monument or commemorative tablet in the façade of a building) which certainly could not be seen clearly from where they stood.

Upon examination of this Stèle (now referred to as the Stèle of Revealing or Stèle 666), it was found to contain an image of Horus, and to Crowley's further conviction it was labelled as item number 666 in the museum’s catalogue of artefacts.  Crowley had adopted the number 666 as a form of rebellion against his strict religious upbringing as a child, and because his mother considered him to be the Beast, the Anti-Christ of the Apocalypse.

After invoking Horus following Rose’s precise instructions, Crowley made the breakthrough.  He was told 'The Equinox of the Gods' had arrived, that is, a new epoch had begun, and he was to formulate a link between the solar-spiritual force and mankind.  At the end of March and beginning of April, he made poetic notes/summaries of the inscription on the Stèle.

Ouarda next instructed him to enter the room of their apartment (where she had previously received the message from Horus) at noon exactly, and to leave at precisely 1 p.m., on 8, 9 and 10 April.  He was to write down word for word what he was told.  In those three hours on those three consecutive days he took dictation from a praeterhuman intelligence which identified itself as Aiwass.  The resulting text was Liber AL vel Legis, which became known as The Book of the Law.  Using Gematria, Crowley later discovered that the spelling of the name of this 'being' should probably be AIWAZ.

The Book of the Law was to become the core of his future philosophy.  He had been named the Prophet of a new Aeon, ending the Aeon of Osiris and bringing in the Aeon of Horus, signalling the start of a new era for mankind.  The old religions were to be swept aside.  Before leaving Cairo, Crowley arranged for a copy of the Stèle of Revealing to be made.  He now considered he had achieved the grade of Adeptus Major and started to use the motto Ol Sonuf Vaoresagi (I reign over thee).

Following this remarkable episode, the couple returned to Europe, firstly to Paris where Crowley wrote a formal letter to Mathers to inform him that he had been dismissed by the Secret Chiefs who had now appointed him (Crowley) as the visible Head of the Order.  They then renewed some old acquaintances before continuing their journey to Boleskine to await the arrival of their child, a girl named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith, born on 28 July 1904, and called Lilith (a mythological female Mesopotamian storm demon associated with wind) for short.  On arriving home, they arranged for a doctor named Percival Bott to stay with them to undertake the accouchement, and asked Crowley’s Aunt Annie (from Coventry) to preside over the household.

Having settled back in, they began to carry out the instructions given by Aiwass by preparing perfume and cakes according to the recipe in Chapter 3, verses 23 - 29 of the Book of the Law.  He spotted a beetle in the bathroom, which, despite his worldly experiences, was like no other he had come across before.  It was about an inch and a half long with a single horn, almost as long as itself, which ended in a small sphere similar to an eye.  From then on, for probably a fortnight or so, a plague of these beetles descended upon Boleskine, not only in the house, but on the nearby rocks, in the gardens, and by what was known as the sacred spring -- they were everywhere!  He sent a specimen to London to be examined by 'experts' at the Natural History Museum who were unable to identify the species.

Crowley saw this as a tangible piece of magick; the Book of the Law Chapter 3, verse 25 reads as follows: '..... make cakes & eat unto me.  This hath also another use; let it be laid before me, and kept thick with perfumes of your orison: it shall become full of beetles as it were and creeping things sacred unto me'.  This should have convinced him that the Book of the Law meant business, but he tells us, "It left me absolutely cold."

Since his marriage, Crowley had more or less put his beloved magick to one side, but shortly after their homecoming, and before the birth of Lilith, he had been forced to resume magical work of sorts on realising Mathers was attacking them magically.  He kept a pack of bloodhounds for hunting purposes at Boleskine, but Mathers had managed to kill the majority of them, and the servants became ill in various ways.

Other than the aforementioned happenings, one of the workmen suddenly became 'insane'; he attacked Rose for no apparent reason while she was inspecting the offices.  Aleister grabbed a salmon gaff and threw him into the coal cellar to await the arrival of the police.  After taking the necessary steps to ensure Rose was protected against the 'murderous onslaught' by the infuriated Mathers, he retaliated strongly by evoking Beelzebub along with his forty-nine servitors.  As soon as Beelzebub 'got on the job', as Crowley put it, the magical assaults ceased and his interest in all things magical waned again.  The Book of the Law was put to one side.

After Lilith’s birth, the Crowleys settled into matrimonial bliss and enjoyed a pleasant summer at Boleskine relaxing and entertaining.  "In summer in the Highlands, time seems to forgive.  At midnight one can sit and read in the open air even in the absence of the moon."  At the end of that summer, because winters in Scotland could be cold, damp and miserable, Aleister and Rose deposited Lilith with Rose’s parents and spent the season in St Moritz, Switzerland, returning home in early spring 1905.  (Is it not even colder there?)  It was during this vacation that Crowley met and played chess with the author Clifford Bax (1886 - 1962) at the Kulm Hotel, with whom he remained on friendly terms.  In the 1930s, Bax introduced him to the artist Frieda Harris and the writer John Symonds.

From time to time, various friends and acquaintances paid them a visit, including "a quite insignificant creature named Lieutenant-Colonel Gormley, who was a medical soldier and had spent countless years in India, Burma and South Africa without acquiring a single fact of interest.  Gormley claimed to have been flagellated by over two thousand women.  I rather suspect him of vain gloriousness: it seems a very large number.  He was in love with my wife, chiefly because she treated him with such disgust and contempt.  He had proposed to her several times a week, even before her first marriage, and he saw no reason why he should abandon this habit merely on account of Major Skerrett and myself."

Another of their guests was Jacot Guillarmod of the failed Chogo Ri expedition, with whom he discussed and arranged an assault on Kanchenjunga (K3), the third highest mountain in the Himalayas.  Guillarmod considered himself a great hunter and constantly bragged about his 'achievements', so Crowley decided to have a bit of fun with his guest.  Consequently, a humorous tale from this vacation concerned the successful hunting and killing of a haggis by the said Guillarmod (a haggis being described by Crowley as a rogue ram to his gullible visitor).  A few mornings later, Hugh Gillies, an employee of A.C., came rushing in to report a sighting of just such a beast.  Guillarmod was armed with a 10-bore Paradox, with steel-core bullets, a reliable weapon "that will bring an elephant up short with a mere shock, even if it is not hit in a vital part."  With such a firearm, he could advance fearlessly towards the most formidable haggis in the Highlands.

For an hour and a half they crawled, scrambled and climbed up the hill at the back of the house in icy rain which chilled them to the bone, before reaching the top of the hill.  Here the haggis loomed large in the mist, barely fifty yards away.  Unbeknown to Guillarmod, a huge supply of oats had induced the beast to feed in that same spot all morning.  "Guillarmod pressed both triggers.  He made no mistake.  Both bullets struck and expanded; he blew away the entire rear section of Farmer McNab's prize ram."  Guillarmod was well pleased with his prowess, and had the ram’s head stuffed and mounted with a suitable inscription engraved upon a plate of massive gold.

Although Aleister was now a husband and father, the associated responsibilities related to these key positions were cast aside; wanderlüst had beckoned once again.  On 6 May 1905 he 'deserted' Rose and Lilith leaving them to fend for themselves while he disappeared to lead an unsuccessful (most writers justifiably say disastrous) expedition to K3.  There was no time to spare if they were to attempt the climb this summer.  Guillarmod was to stock up on the necessary provisions and equipment in Europe, while he went directly to Darjeeling to make arrangements concerning transport and communications.

The party consisted of five Europeans, Crowley, his hotelier in Darjeeling (a young Italian Alcesti C Rigo de Righi), Guillarmod and two of his countrymen, Alexis Pache and Charles-Adolphe Reymond, three Kashmiris, the Sirdar (leader) of the porters, six personal servants and seventy-nine regular porters.  It left Darjeeling on 8 August, but even before the expedition got under way there were numerous logistical problems concerning supplies and equipment to overcome.  Crowley had invited Oscar Eckenstein to join the expedition but he had declined the offer, telling him he would never consent to go on a mountain again with Guillarmod and that his entire plan was 'a recipe for disaster' -- how prophetic this man turned out to be!

A.C. was egotistical, but was definitely not a team leader, as records show.  In difficult situations, instead of reacting like normal human beings, he expected everyone to be as resilient as he.  Without elaborating on the facts, suffice to say that regardless of holding almost every record alongside Eckenstein, Crowley was spurned by the entire mountaineering fraternity after this failed expedition for having walked down the mountainside alone leaving several members of the party dead while the remainder searched for their bodies.  His mountaineering days were over.  Unsurprisingly, he gave a completely different account from any of those given by other surviving members of the expedition.  He wrote accounts of his version of the expedition for the Pioneer of India and the Daily Mail of London, and republished them at a later date in Vanity Fair.

"I made the necessary arrangements about digging out the corpses and building them a commemorative cairn, which was done.  The next day, September 3rd, I left, and reached Darjeeling on Friday.  I was very sad at heart about the death of my friends, but with regard to the mountain I was in excellent spirits.  I had demonstrated beyond doubt the existence of an easy way up.  I was sure of being able to establish a main camp within striking distance of the summit, and I had familiarised myself with all the vagaries of the weather and the snow.  Cut short as the expedition had been, at its first leap, the actual attainment had not been insignificant.  We had reached a height of approximately twenty-five thousand feet, and found life at that altitude as enjoyable and work as easy as anywhere else.  I had written a detailed proposal to Eckenstein, suggesting that we should tackle the mountain in 1906 - but no foreigners!"

N.B. He often went to Switzerland for vacations throughout his life, but his love for the Alps slowly faded after his first view of the Himalayas.  He explained it thus, "The Himalayas had cured me of the habit of going to the Alps.  I could not play any longer with dolls after wooing such grown-up girls as Chogo Ri and Kangchenjunga."  Both spellings, of Kan(g)chenjunga are acceptable.

Crowley then went via Darjeeling to Calcutta to await the arrival of Rose and Lilith, which is where he received a most welcome invitation from the Maharajah of Moharbhanj to go hunting in his kingdom of Orissa (on the east coast of India, at the edge of the Ganges flood plain, by the Bay of Bengal).  He willingly accepted this generous offer, which helped to pass the time spent waiting for his family.  He also made astral contact again with Elaine Simpson who was now living in Shanghai.  During one of their astral meetings, on 22 October, he noticed a Secret Chief in the form of a hawk in her company, and realised the Secret Chiefs still demanded he work for them.  He had erased the Book of the Law and its implications from his conscious mind, but was now beginning to wonder where he might have put it.

When Rose and Lilith eventually arrived in Calcutta, he said to Rose, "You've got here just in time to see me hanged!"  He was overjoyed with the timing of her arrival because he had been advised by a local barrister to get out of the country pretty damn quick (pdq).  In one of his pockets he carried a Webley pistol, which he had used to shoot dead at least one of a group of assailants stalking him in a dark alley.  Of this incident, he wrote:

"My arms were held firmly to my sides, but even so I was too economically minded to fire through my pocket; I managed to raise the muzzle above the edge.  A violent explosion followed.  I had fired without aim, in pitch blackness; I could not even see the white robes of the men who held me.  In the lightning moment of the flash I saw only that these ‘whitenesses’ were falling backwards away from me, as if I had upset a screen by accident."

Throughout his time in Mexico, he had been experimenting with making himself invisible, but was far from satisfied with the results.  He had reached what he called the 'flickering stage', but had never succeeded in reaching complete invisibility.  Perhaps, because of the situation in which he found himself on this particular evening, he claimed to have accomplished it and slipped away unnoticed from the alley ("in pitch blackness, don't forget".  The perpetrator of this crime was now being sought by the police.  They were searching all ships and hotels for a European, possibly a sailor, matching a vague description given by the mob.

Rose, was offered a choice between Persia (known as Iran since 1935) and China for the next stage of her vacation.  Being bored with Omar Khayyam she opted for China, a country they had intended to visit on their honeymoon trip in 1903/04 before Rose announced her pregnancy with Lilith.  Leaving Aleister's cumbersome personal belongings in storage, they sailed initially to Burma, which is where he booked Rose and Lilith into a hotel while he called on Allan Bennett again.  Bennett, who was now revered in his adopted land being a 'white' Buddhist, lived in a monastery near Rangoon, but his health was deteriorating rapidly despite the much improved climate.  In addition to this, he had contracted several tropical complaints, so the Far East did not appear to be helping his condition as he and Jones had thought and hoped it might.

After saying farewell, the Crowleys set off up the Irrawaddy arriving in Mandalay 6 days later on 21 November.  They took a few days rest then continued the journey to their next stop, Bhamo, reaching this outpost on 1 December.  They were delayed here for seventeen days while they awaited the arrival of Chinese 'passports'.  Then, on leaving Bhamo en route to Teng Yueh (Tengchong, China), Lilith's nurse disappeared with one of the muleteers.  Three days later they crossed the Chinese frontier, marked only by a small stream in a ravine.  They soon discovered there were hardly any decent roads; in fact there was nothing recognisable as a road for the majority of this long and dangerous excursion into mainly uncharted territory.  Crowley rode on horseback for most of the journey, while Rose and Lilith travelled in a sedan chair.  A series of minor accidents occurred during the early days -- horses slipping, people tripping and so on.  According to A.C., "It could not be considered good going by the average goat."

Mr Litton was the British Consul in Teng Yueh.  He advised Crowley not to remain in the country, let alone attempt to cross it, particularly when he realised he was taking his wife and young daughter with him, because of the recent unrest in the country caused by the 'Boxer Uprising', a violent anti-foreign, anti-Christian movement by the Righteous Fists of Harmony.  Many Europeans had been murdered recently; diplomats, foreign civilians, soldiers and some Chinese Christians had been obliged to retreat to the diplomatic quarter.  But Aleister was undaunted by these warnings.  After all, he was Aleister Crowley and if he had made up his mind to do something, he went ahead and did it in his own inimitable manner!

China was the country in which Aleister was introduced to the ‘correct' art of smoking opium (he wasn't inhaling), which must have contributed to his to his later dependency on heroin.  China was also where he began his Augoeides invocations, which were to last throughout the journey.

Before leaving Teng Yueh, Litton advised Crowley how best to treat his coolies if he wanted to retain their loyalty, and provided him with notes describing the various stages of the long trip to Yunnanfu (Kunming, China).  These proved to be extremely useful.  He was also told that he must engage an interpreter, and found such a person in 'Johnny White' to fulfil this role.  He was the first Chinese person with whom Aleister had been in direct permanent association; he thought it highly amusing when he discovered that Johnny White's Chinese name was 'Ah Sin'.

Their primary objective was to reach an area where the rivers Salween, Mekong and Yangtze Kiang run almost parallel within a distance of forty miles, while at their mouths the distance between each is two thousand miles.  They crossed the Salween by means of a rickety bridge decorated with shrines, with a 'delightful' house for the toll-keeper.  The Mekong was crossed on the day after New Year 1906 into what is now Vietnam (formerly part of Indo-China).  East of the river the path became more dangerous partly due to geological differences.  The entire journey between Sha Yang and Chu Tung was across a steep, wide range.

The Crowleys had been assured they would find ample supplies of fresh food on all stages of the trek to Yunnanfu, but nothing could have been farther from the truth; they could not even get fresh milk as the Chinese considered it 'obscene to extract it'.  But they didn’t have to endure hardship for the entire journey.  In many of the townships through which the route took them they were wined and dined in style by consuls and other high-ranking dignitaries.

They eventually reached Yunnanfu, the capital of Yunnan province in Southern China on the northern shore of Lake Dian (Dianchi Pool), on 20 February, where they relaxed for ten days.  A.C. was delighted when he managed to purchase a number of old prints at prices so low that "he could hardly believe his ears."  On 2 March, after breakfast and Tiffin with the consul general, Mr Wilkinson, they continued on their incredible journey.  When he hired new coolies for this next stage, Wilkinson made him promise on no account to strike any of the men, but to rely on him to punish any misconduct when they returned to Yunnanfu.  On several occasions, Crowley was forced to bite his lip and ignore their rebellious and insolent attitude -- for the time being.

For various reasons, his original plan to descend the Yangtze had to be abandoned.  Earlier delays at Bhamo and Teng Yueh had robbed him of precious time, and he was anxious to return to Europe to prepare a second expedition to Kanchenjunga in the spring of 1907.  He decided instead to head south for Tonkin, the seaport for Haiphong, in Vietnam.  Arriving at Manhao, a village situated on the banks of the Red River (this river flows from southwestern China through northern Vietnam to the Gulf of Tonkin), Crowley hired a dug-out to take them down the rapids to Hokow (Hekou, China).  It was here he spotted an opportunity to settle the score with the coolies:

"Having got everything aboard, I proceeded to pay the head man the exact sum due to him - less certain fines.  Then the band played.  They started to threaten the crew and prevented them from casting off the ropes.  They incited the bystanders to take their part; and presently we had thirty or forty yelling maniacs preparing to stone us.  I got out my .400 Cordite Express and told Salama to wade ashore and untie the ropes.  But like all Kashmiris, thoughtlessly brave in the face of elemental dangers, he was an absolute coward when opposed to men.  I told him that unless he obeyed at once I would begin by shooting him.  He saw I meant it and did his duty; while I covered the crowd with my rifle.  Not a stone was thrown; three minutes later the fierce current had swept us away from the rioters."

But the real danger was seemingly about to commence.  According to A.C. this was the only part of the entire journey where they encountered any serious risk of disaster.  The Red River, although broad and deep, has all the traits of the wildest of mountain torrents, and falls steeply in a succession of dangerous rapids, made all the more perilous by sudden sharp curves in the channel.  At almost every turn they saw one or more wrecks -- certainly not a reassuring spectacle.

"I was given to understand, however, that disaster rarely overtook boats going down stream.  It is when they are being towed by insufficient power up the rapids that they get out of control and are dashed upon the rocks.  For all that, we managed to hit two nasty snags in the course of the day; one of them ripped a hole in us amidships; but the men managed to stop the leak with tarpaulin nailed in place by short boards with extraordinary speed and efficiency.  They were evidently well accustomed to similar jobs."

They arrived safely in Hokow on 18 March, where they met an Englishman (name unknown) who gave them Tiffin and dined with them later that same evening.  According to Crowley: "We got gloriously drunk celebrating the success of a journey, which in the opinion of all reasonable people was a crazy escapade, doomed from the first to disaster.  Another bubble had burst!  The awe-inspiring adventure had proved as safe as a bus ride from the Bank to Battersea."

Aleister was astounded by his wife’s durability in the four months spent crossing that vast, barren country in extreme changes of climate and terrain.  She had not only looked after Lilith admirably, but had 'flourished' in what were truly demanding conditions; but his admiration for her adroit motherhood was to be short lived.  The next day'sexcursion was to Lao Kay (Lao Cai, Vietnam) from where they hurried on to Yen Bay (Yen Bai) by train.  On 20 March they arrived in the capital, Hanoi, but stayed only for lunch as they wanted to catch the afternoon train to Haiphong.  Two days later they took a boat to Hong Kong, but even this simple crossing was not without its problems:

"We could not even get clear of our moorings without tearing away the port companion.  Twenty-four hours later we stopped.  The captain freely admitted that he had lost his reckoning, didn't know where he was, didn't know how to find out and didn't see why he should worry about it.  He went back to his cards, leaving a junior officer to get entangled with the sextant and chronometer.  Whether he obtained any results will never be known, for during the day we drifted in sight of Hoiho.  By some weird coincidence, this was our first port of call.  There being no harbour, we stood half a mile out to sea, rolling and bucking sickeningly while boats came from shore bringing our cargo; pigs in wicker crates which were stacked all over the ship three deep; and large baskets of poultry.  It became quite impossible to move about the main deck at all, and even on the upper deck there was considerable crowding.  The stench created by these animals, a number of which died on the voyage, was the limit."

Hong Kong was a haven after the rigours they had endured in a country Crowley surmised had not changed in a thousand years.  They relaxed in resplendent luxury to shake off the dust and fatigue accumulated over the previous four months.  Then, using the excuse that he was probably still a ‘wanted’ man in Calcutta, Aleister persuaded Rose to return to England with Lilith via the Western route, calling there to collect his belongings they had not taken on the trek, while he went east to New York to try to raise the capital needed to finance another assault on K3.

As Rose departed for Calcutta, Crowley set sail for Shanghai to meet Elaine Simpson again.  Together they invoked Aiwass who advised him to forget Soror D.D.D.F. and continue working with his current Scarlet Woman, i.e. Rose, because D.D.D.F., staying ever faithful to her husband, would not consent to having a sexual relationship with him, and therefore could not become his Scarlet Woman.

On leaving Shanghai, he was in some doubt as to whether to go to North America via Honolulu (he wanted to visit the Hawaiian island of Oahu once more) or by the northern Pacific route to Vancouver.  While he hesitated, "fate decided."  The last berth for San Francisco via the Sandwich Islands was sold during his deliberations.  He sailed on 21 April on The Empress of India.  After taking a fleeting glance at Japan the ship put out into the Pacific, and twelve days later docked in Vancouver.

"I was very disappointed with the Rockies of which I had heard such eloquent encomiums.  They are singularly shapeless; and their proportions are unpleasing.  There is too much colourless and brutal base; too little snowy shapely summit.  As for the ghastly monotony of the wilderness beyond them, through Calgary and Winnipeg right on to Toronto - words fortunately fail."

He continued eastwards towards Buffalo to see the Niagara Falls before heading for New York.  He spent ten days or so in the city cementing some useful new acquaintances and sampling the restaurants and theatres (and probably the local women), but did little, if anything, to attempt to raise funds for a new expedition to K3.  It seemed nobody in New York had even heard of the Himalayas.  This was a joyous period in Crowley's life, but it came crashing to an abrupt end when his ship reached Liverpool on 2 June.  He was handed a letter informing him of the death of Lilith (she had died of typhoid in Rangoon).  Rose was already pregnant with their second child.  What happened over the next few months is best summed up in Crowley's own words:

"From the moment of landing I struck a sequence of physical shocks.  As I struggled to my feet after the blasting bolt of my bereavement, I found myself with an infected gland in the groin which required excision.  The first day I left the nursing home I got a chill in the right eye which obstructed a nasal duct and required a whole series of extremely painful operations which proved unsuccessful.  In the course of these, I got neuralgia; this continued day and night for months, so violently that I felt myself going mad.  After a bare month’s comparative health I acquired an ulcerated throat which knocked me out completely until the end of the year.

On the top of all this came the discovery that my wife was an hereditary dipsomaniac.  When our baby was born it lay almost lifeless for more than three days and at three weeks old nearly died of bronchitis.  I had the sense to send for oxygen before the doctor arrived and this precaution probably saved the child's life.  I fought like a fiend against death.  The doctor gave the strictest orders that not more than one person should be in the sick room at one time.  My mother-in-law refused to obey.  I thought I had suffered enough.  It was her hypocrisy that had sought to justify her tippling by giving her children a share of the champagne and thus implanted in Rose the infernal impulse which had wrecked her life and love, and mine.  I made no bones about it; I took the hag by the shoulders and ran her out of the flat, assisting her down the stairs with my boot lest she should misinterpret my meaning.  So Lola Zaza lives today.  May her life prove worth the pains to preserve it."

Still in shock from the news of Lilith's death, he wandered around in a daze before meeting Rose again on 7 June in Plymouth.  It is said they fell into each other's arms, sobbing uncontrollably.  Even so, Crowley blamed Rose's alcoholism for her mistake in forgetting to sterilise the teat on the baby's bottle, which led to the child developing typhoid.  He may have had a valid point, but he never considered his own irresponsibility in abandoning Rose in Hong Kong on the other side of the world, leaving her to gather their belongings in Calcutta and make it home alone.  A supposed friend of Crowley's named Duncombe-Jewell callously remarked that the child had merely died of 'acute nomenclature', an unnecessary cruel comment which did not amuse anyone at the time.

Aleister had begun publishing his 'Collected Works' privately in 1905, offering a prize of £100 (a considerable sum of money at the time) for the best essay discussing his poetry and other works.  Captain John Frederick Charles Fuller (1878 – 1966) of the 1st Oxfordshire Light Infantry was stationed in Lucknow (now the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India) and had written to Crowley when he was in Darjeeling (after the unsuccessful attempt on K3) to ask how he could obtain a copy of his book.

By chance, Fuller happened to be on sick leave and was recuperating in Britain in the summer of 1906.  They met in one of Crowley's favourite haunts in London, the ostentatious Cecil Hotel at 80, The Strand.  They took an instant liking to each other, both being interested in the occult and sharing several other common interests, one such being anti-Christianity.  Fuller quickly finalised his essay and dispatched it forthwith to Boleskine.  Needless to say he won the prize with his entry The Star in the West, which praised Crowley greatly, although it is widely accepted that he did not pocket the prize money for his efforts.  It would also seem that Fuller’s entry was the only one submitted for the competition.  The Star in the West was published in its own right in 1907.

His own life having been turned upside down through circumstances not entirely of his own making, Crowley resolved to concentrate on completing the Operation of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.  The operation, as has been said elsewhere, requires six months of preparation, with the purpose being to obtain the Knowledge and Conversation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel.  When the Angel appears the magician must call forth the Four Great Princes of the Evil of the World followed by their eight sub-princes, and finally their 316 servitors.  To achieve a successful operation, it is vital to prepare and charge talismans with the powers of each of these spirits.  Anything is then possible!  Crowley eventually succeeded on 27 September 1906.

He paid a visit to George Cecil Jones, the man responsible for introducing him to the G.D. back in 1898, and discussed the setting up together of a new Magical Order.  He also spent many months in and out of hospital with the various problems described earlier in his own words.  Then, because of his severe throat problems, he visited a doctor in Bournemouth in mid-December, returning home on 29 January 1907.

During January, while convalescing in the south coast resort, Aleister wrote Liber 777 within a week without the aid of reference books.  Considering his phenomenal memory, this is plausible.  He had studied the Mohammedan secret tradition under a qualified teacher in Cairo, learned the elements of Shaivite Yoga from Sri Parananda, studied Vedanta and Raja Yoga with the Mahatma Jnana Guru Yogi Sabhapaty Swami, and Buddhism under Bikkhu Ananda Mettaya (Allan Bennett).  Bear in mind, too, he had been given the majority of Bennett’s magical notes before he left these shores to become a Buddhist in Ceylon.  Crowley apparently disliked Bournemouth intensely, for on leaving the resort he wrote in his diary, ‘Left Bournemouth – one may hope for ever’.

It was about this time when he began short-lived romances with the actress Vera 'Lola' Neville née Snepp (1888 – 1953), and the author Ada Leverson née Beddington (1862 – 1933).  His affair with Vera was chronicled in poems which would later become part of Clouds Without Water, and she was also the model for 'The Virgin of the World' in The Wake World.

In February, he was introduced to George Montagu Bennet (1852 – 1931), the 7th Earl of Tankerville, through a mutual acquaintance, a pharmacist by the name of Edward Whineray.  According to Crowley, Whineray was one of the most learned men in his profession; he had supplied Crowley with the rare ingredients necessary for some of his magical preparations.  The Earl, a paranoid cocaine addict, was utterly convinced his mother (the eldest daughter of the 6th Duke of Manchester) was using magick to try to 'dispose of him'.  He asked Crowley to help, which he agreed to do without hesitation, particularly as the Earl was to pay him not only a handsome retainer, but was also prepared to meet any expenses he incurred.  The unsuspecting Earl was blissfully unaware of just how quickly Aleister could spend money, especially someone else's now his own fortune had been squandered!

Crowley suggested Tankerville develop his own magical powers to counteract those 'being used by his mother', so over the next few weeks he gave him several books to study.  Then, to ensure they would not be disturbed during his training, Aleister hired a yacht which they moored upstream from Buckler's Hard, a maritime village on the western bank of the River Beaulieu in Hampshire.  For a week or so Crowley tried to teach the Earl how to establish his astral body, but it was proving to be a difficult task.  As a consequence, he considered a magical retirement to Morocco might rid the Earl of his paranoia and cocaine dependency (and more of his seemingly limitless money).

Upon their arrival in Tangiers, they found the country to be in turmoil because of an uprising against the sultan.  Despite being confined to the city, Crowley found plenty in the way of 'local entertainment', but was finding it more and more difficult to conduct a sensible conversation with the Earl of Coke and Crankum, as he referred to Tankerville.  Fortunately, they were not 'confined to barracks' for long; the sultan was overthrown and the country quickly returned to normal.  Aleister thoroughly enjoyed his wanderings while soaking up the atmosphere, particularly as it wasn't costing him a penny, but Tankerville was rapidly losing interest in his strange surroundings and instruction.  He eventually flipped and accused Crowley of being in cahoots with his mother, and burst out with, "I’m sick of your teaching, teaching, teaching, as if you were God Almighty and I were a poor bloody shit in the street!"

"I could not get Coke to take any interest in the people, their customs, their ideas and their art.  The sunshine on the sparkling sea, the infinite variety of colour and form, the tingling mixture of races and religions meant nothing to him.  Beauty was literally splashed over life like a bucket of cold water over an athlete.  Instead of exhilarating him, he shivered and moaned.  He kept on groaning like a wounded animal: I want my wife!  I want my children!  Of course, what he really wanted was cocaine, and that was just the thing I did not want him to have."

He did achieve some success with the Earl magically, but it was limited:

"I had managed to get rid of his persecution mania for the time being.  Whenever he noticed his mother flying past the moon on her broomstick, he would perform a banishing ritual, and sail out in his astral body on to the wood and chop the broomstick like Siegfried with the lance of Wotan, and down she would fall into the Straits of Gibraltar, plop, plop."

Eventually, A.C. succeeded in his mission to 'cure' the Earl and thus restore his sanity; they returned home on 21 July via Granada and Southampton, never to meet again.

His free holiday in North Africa had come to an end.  He had blown his inheritance so no longer had a regular source of income.  Crowley considered his limited options, then began to take in pupils, the proceeds from his instruction providing a vital route back into the type of society to which he had become accustomed.

The years 1907 – 1909 proved extremely constructive for Aleister.  He spent a good deal of time writing, turning out reams of poetry while criticising other poets and writers of the day.  [Louis Unfraville (Umfreville) Wilkinson (1881 – 1966), a friend and very talented writer under the nom de plume Louis Marlow (whom he met in Philadelphia in May 1916) tried to rid him of the habit, but to no avail.  It was simply part of Crowley's nature to criticise his peers.  Wilkinson was later to say about Crowley, "His vanity was his handicap.  He was too sure of his genius to criticise or revise his own work ......"  Unusually for A.C., they remained friends throughout, and Wilkinson was appointed one of his literary executors in his will.]

With Jones' assistance (with whom he was staying at the time due to illness yet again), and as a consequence of his own travels, experiences and the vast amount of occult knowledge he had acquired, plus the matter of the fragmentation of the G.D. along with the ending of relations between him and Mathers, Crowley decided he would set up his own replacement Order, the intention being for it to supersede the G.D.  Together they wrote Liber LXI vel Causae, and in 1907 founded the Astrum Argentum AA, the 'Order of the Silver Star', a magical organisation which centred on the Book of the Law, which he had still not come across.

In September 1907, Rose gave birth to their second daughter, Lola Zaza, a very sickly child as described earlier.  It is suggested he named her 'Lola' after his affair with Vera Neville. 

1907 was also the year in which he discovered Victor Benjamin Neuburg (1883 – 1940), an English poet and writer, particularly on Theosophy, and a friend and associate of Captain Fuller.  Neuburg was born into and raised in an upper middle-class Jewish family in London.  He spotted Neuburg's capacity for magick (apparently a synonym for homosexuality) almost immediately and regarded him as a new and important disciple.

"He was an agnostic, a vegetarian, a mystic, a Tolstoyan, and several other things all at once.  He endeavoured to express his spiritual state by wearing the green star of Esperanto, though he could not speak the language; by refusing to wear a hat, even in London, to wash, and to wear trousers.  Whenever addressed, he wriggled convulsively, and his lips, which were three times too large for him, and had been put on hastily as an afterthought, emitted the most extraordinary laugh that had ever come my way; to these advantages he united those of being extraordinarily well read, over flowing with exquisitely subtle humour, and being one of the best natured people that ever trod this planet."

Crowley devoted much time to building up Neuburg’s strength and training him in magical work.  In July 1908, he decided to bring his chela (a Buddhist term meaning novice) face to face with stark reality, so took him on a demanding trek through Spain with the intention of crossing to Tangiers from Gibraltar.

The pair set off from Bayonne, in south-western France, with about five pounds in sterling between them and slowly made their way to Madrid on foot, a distance of approximately 240 miles, arriving on 2 August.  By this time, Neuburg was not a well man; he could not stand the food, the fatigue or the exposure, though he stuck gamely to the task.  They booked into the first hotel they found in Puerto del Sol (Gate of the Sun), one of the best known and busiest places in the city.  Two or three days in bed saw a rejuvenated Neuburg.  He had recovered sufficiently to get out and about, but was in no fit state to endure any further hardships, so they continued their journey to Gibraltar by train then crossed to Tangiers where they rested for a short while before returning home.

During this time, Crowley, who began experimenting with Enochian Magick in Mexico in 1900, was becoming extremely proficient in its use.  Many commentators say Enochian Magick is a fraud, but Aleister was utterly convinced of its power, and it is certainly worth mentioning that several occult organisations are so afraid of its potency that its use is strictly forbidden.

Allan Bennett returned to England for about six months in 1908 in an attempt to establish Buddhism as a recognised religion in the country.  Bennett was intent on spreading Buddhism while Crowley was totally committed to magick.  He was obliged to return to England later in his life because of his progressively deteriorating health, which a smog-bound London did nothing to alleviate.  He died in Lavender Hill, Clapham, in 1923 while Aleister was out of the country.

On a 13-day magical retirement in Paris in October, Crowley wrote John St John (Liber DCCCLX), The Record of the Magical Retirement of G.H. Frater O.M., which chronicles his moment-by-moment progress.  He referred to it as "a perfect model of what a magical record should be."

Liber 777, although written in 1907, was not published until 1909, but Crowley became dissatisfied with the original version and began its revision.  Unusually for him, he never got round to completing its rewrite.  The final revised version, Liber 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings, was edited and updated from Crowley’s own notes by Israel Regardie, his one-time secretary.

Aleister also began publication of The Equinox in 1909.  This was to be a biannual publication released on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, which would be the official mouthpiece of the AA.  The cover bore the two phrases, The Aim of Religion and The Method of Science.  He considered this work to be the first to promote the method of science and the aim of religion with scholarship and commonsense.

In November, following the publication of the autumnal edition of The Equinox, he travelled to Bou Saáda in Algeria with Victor Neuburg (who was now a Probationer in the AA) intent on discovering the secret of the Enochian Keys and their thirty Aethyrs.  In the eleventh Aethyr, he saw the fortress on the frontier of the Abyss with its warrior wardens.  He knew he was progressing well and believed the ordeal to be over until he realised he had to cross the Abyss.  Crowley's own words describe what happened next, but see also Liber CDXVIII, The Vision and the Voice, which chronicles his astral explorations of the thirty Aethyrs of Enochian Magick:

"We went far out from the city into a hollow among the dunes.  There we made a circle to protect the scribe and a triangle wherein the Abyss might manifest sensibly.  We killed three pigeons, one at each Angle, that their blood might be a basis whereon the forces of evil might build themselves bodies.

The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual.  The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word --- that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real.  These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, "I am I!" though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth.

Choronzon appeared in many physical forms to Omnia Vincam, while I abode apart in my magical robe with its hood drawn over my face.  He took the form of myself, of a woman whom Neuburg loved, of a serpent with a human head, etc.  He could not utter the word of the Abyss, because there is no word; its voice is the insane babble of a multitude of senseless ejaculations; yet each form spake and acted as if aping its model.  His main object was to induce O.V. to leave the circle, or to break into it; so as to obsess him, to live in his life. O.V. had many narrow escapes, and once Choronzon made a long speech at a great pace to keep O.V. so busy writing it down that he would not notice that sand was being thrown from the Triangle so as to obliterate the Circle.  The torrent of obscene blasphemy was beyond his power to keep up, concentration being impossible.  It became an incoherent series of cries; then suddenly, perhaps catching the idea from O.V.'s mind, the demon began to recite Tom o'Bedlam.

There was now a gap in the circle; and Choronzon, in the form of a naked savage, dashed through and attacked O.V.  He flung him to the earth and tried to tear out his throat with froth-covered fangs.  O.V. invoked the names of God and struck at Choronzon with the Magical Dagger.  The demon was cowed by this courageous conduct and writhed back into the Triangle.  O.V. then repaired the Circle; Choronzon resumed his ravings, but could not continue.  He changed once more into the form of the woman whom O.V. loved, and exercised every seduction.  O.V. stuck to his guns and the dialogue took other forms.  He tried to shake O.V.'s faith in himself, his respect for me, his belief in the reality of Magick, and so on.  At last all the energy latent in the blood of the pigeons was exhausted by the successive phantoms, so that it was no longer able to give form to the forces evoked.  The Triangle was empty.

During all this time I had astrally identified myself with Choronzon, so that I experienced each anguish, each rage, each despair, each insane outburst.  My ordeal ended as the last form faded; so, knowing that all was over, I wrote the holy name of Babalon in the sand with my magical ring and arose from my trance.  We lit a great fire to purify the place and destroyed the Circle and Triangle.  The work had lasted over two hours and we were both utterly exhausted, physically and in every other way."

Having successfully defeated Choronzon and completed all thirty Aethyrs, Crowley considered he was now the equivalent of a full Master of the Temple, i.e. on a par with the Secret Chiefs, a Magister Templi.

In the early spring of 1910, a few days before the publication of the third issue of The Equinox, which contained the Ritual of the 5° = 6ø degree of the G.D., Mathers served Crowley with an injunction restraining its publication.  In a famous court case of the time Crowley won an appeal and was awarded costs.  After his triumph in court, the third issue was published, albeit late.  His name was now in the national press; he was becoming 'famous', but his name had also been noticed by Horatio Bottomley, a wealthy Liberal Member of Parliament and owner of John Bull magazine who perceived him as someone who worshipped Satan -- he started to delve into Crowley's past.

Still in the spring of that year, he met Leila Ida Nerissa Bathurst Waddell (1880 – 1932), an Australian violinist (but not a very competent one according to Crowley), and initiated her into the AA with the magical motto Agatha.  Several biographers and writers suggest that Leila (known as Laylah) was one of Aleister's Scarlet Women, but Martin Booth in A Magick Life refutes this.  While accepting the fact that she was doubtless his mistress, he claims she would not have become his Scarlet Woman because she lacked clairvoyant abilities.

It was also around this time that A.C. became friendly with the controversial journalist and propagandist Walter Duranty (1884 – 1957).  Aleister was living in a flat in Victoria Street, London with Laylah, but was also having an affair with Jane Cheron, "a devotee of that great and terrible god, Opium."  All three, Crowley, Duranty and Cheron, had a mutual interest in smoking opium, having homosexual sex and sharing Jane, or simply having a ménage à trois.  Some years later, Duranty married Jane.

Crowley made a successful evocation of Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars, while attending a house party in Dorset on 9 May, at the home of Commander Guy Montagu Marston, ex Royal Navy, who had a keen interest in the occult:

"My assistants were Commander Marston, R.N., one of the highest officials of the Admiralty, and Leila Waddell, an Australian violinist whom I had just met and who appealed to my imagination.  In the Triangle was Frater Omnia Vincam, to serve as a material basis through which the spirit might manifest.  Here was a startling innovation in tradition.  I wrote, moreover, a ritual on entirely new principles.  I retained the Cabbalistic names and formulae, but wrote most of the invocation in poetry.  The idea was to work up the magical enthusiasm through the exhilaration induced by music."

During the early summer, he returned to Boleskine with Neuburg and Kenneth Ward, an undergraduate he knew from climbing in Wasdale.  Neuburg, still a probationer, underwent a magical retirement during which Crowley checked on his progress in between fell-walking, climbing and fishing with Ward.  At the end of his 'sadistically cruel' retirement, Neuburg was initiated into the AA as a Neophyte.  The Secret Chiefs were certainly still watching over their 'prophet', for he found his ‘lost’ Book of the Law on 28 June, the very day they were due to leave Boleskine.  He discovered it when he went into the attic to look for some paintings of the four Elemental Watch Towers of Enochian Magick which he had completed in Mexico, and to get a pair of skis for Ward.

Other notorious rites were rumoured to have occurred around 1910 in the temple which Crowley had built in his flat, one such being The Rite of Artemis held on 23 August.  These rites were semi-private, of a theatrical nature, and believed by some to be of a pseudo-satanic nature.  It seems that many rich and famous people attended these rites where Crowley supposedly offered strange drugs in sacramental cups with invocations to Satan and Lucifer.  Stories of Black Masses drifted out through the literary circles from London to Paris, one of the most prominent of the gossip mongers being Gwendoline Otter whose lavish Chelsea parties many of the elite attended, including Aleister Crowley himself.

Possibly the most important event of this year occurred shortly after the aforementioned lawsuit between Mathers and Crowley when Theodor Reuss, a Grand Master of the combined Scottish and Memphis Rites of Freemasonry in Germany, contacted and subsequently met Crowley.  Reuss was not only a Grand Master of this organisation, but also the Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), an organisation which Crowley was invited to join.

In June 1912, Crowley was elevated to the IXº and became Head of the English speaking branch of the Order, an appointment which included authority over the lower Masonic degrees of the O.T.O., under the name Mysteria Mystica Maxima, or MMM.

Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad), a member of the AA who had maintained regular contact with Crowley, was chartered by Reuss to operate the O.T.O. in North America and Canada.  He opened a Lodge in Vancouver, British Columbia from where he was to send much appreciated funding, arising from donations or as his share of initiation fees, to A.C.

It was after joining the O.T.O. that Crowley took the name Baphomet as his magical motto.  Of the entire system of the O.T.O., Crowley wrote:

"It offers a rational basis for universal brotherhood and for universal religion.  It puts forward a scientific statement which is a summary of all that is at present known about the universe by means of a simple, yet sublime symbolism, artistically arranged.  It also enables each man to discover for himself his personal destiny, indicates the moral and intellectual qualities which he requires in order to fulfil it freely, and finally puts in his hands an unimaginably powerful weapon which he may use to develop in himself every faculty which he may need in his work."

Due to his earlier successful evocation of the spirit of Mars, Crowley wrote a series of seven rituals titled The Rites of Eleusis, which centred on each of the seven classical planets of antiquity:

  1. The Rite of Saturn
  2. The Rite of Jupiter
  3. The Rite of Mars
  4. The Rite of Sol
  5. The Rite of Venus
  6. The Rite of Mercury
  7. The Rite of Luna

In October and November 1910, the Rites of Eleusis were performed at Caxton Hall, Westminster, by A.C., Leila Waddell on violin, Victor Neuburg and Ione de Forest (Joan Hayes), who had been hired as a dancer.  They were intended to bring Crowley's new organisation, the AA, into the public eye.  These seven rituals were really seven acts of one play in which their order was essential.  The plot, summarised by the author, is this:

"Man, unable to solve the Riddle of Existence, takes counsel of Saturn, extreme old age.

Such answer as he can get is the one word "Despair".

Is there more hope in the dignity and wisdom of Jupiter?  No; for the noble senior lacks the vigour of Mars the warrior.  Counsel is in vain without determination to carry it out.

Mars, invoked, is indeed capable of victory: but he has already lost the controlled wisdom of age; in a moment of conquest he wastes the fruits of it, in the arms of luxury.

It is through this weakness that the perfected man, the Sun, is of dual nature, and his evil twin slays him in his glory.  So the triumphant Lord of Heaven, the beloved of Apollo and the Muses is brought down into the dust, and who shall mourn him but his Mother Nature, Venus, the lady of love and sorrow?  Well is it if she bears within her the Secret of Resurrection!

But even Venus owes all her charm to the swift messenger of the gods, Mercury, the joyous and ambiguous boy whose tricks first scandalise and then delight Olympus.

But Mercury, too, is found wanting.  Now in him alone is the secret cure for all the woe of the human race.  Swift as ever, he passes, and gives place to the youngest of the gods, to the Virginal Moon.

Behold her, Madonna-like, throned and crowned, veiled, silent, awaiting the promise of the Future.

She is Isis and Mary, Ishtar and Bhavani, Artemis and Diana.

But Artemis is still barren of hope until the spirit of the Infinite All, great Pan, tears asunder the veil and displays the hope of humanity, the Crowned Child of the Future."

Aleister claimed that the rites were designed to inspire the audience with religious ecstasy, and that simply reading them would help people to cultivate their highest faculties.  Not surprisingly, the popular press of the day thought otherwise.  Horatio Bottomley, with De Wend Fenton of The Looking Glass following Bottomley’s lead, considered they were no more than an immoral display riddled with blasphemy and erotic suggestion.  The Rites of Eleusis, just as Crowley had intended, had been brought into the public eye, but not in the manner he had hoped.

De Wend Fenton's 'Puritanical attitude' towards and ‘virtuous indignation’ shown for The Rites of Eleusis seem completely inexplicable when we consider an article printed in 1913 by the Daily Mail which showed this despicable man in his true light:

‘Mr De Wend Fenton, Editor of the Sporting Times, was fined £10 and £5.5s costs at Mansion House by Alderman Sir John Knill on each of six summonses - £91.10s in all – for sending through the post indecent articles contained in the paper.’

With the death of Lilith, his marriage had begun to show signs of strain.  He wrote, "... my domestic tragedy was coming to a crisis," and finally on 24 November 1910, following the conclusion of the Rites of Eleusis, Crowley divorced Rose on the grounds of her alcoholism (the doctor treating her had already thrown in the towel), leaving him free to indulge his insatiable passions for magick, drugs and sex (not necessarily in that order), no longer prohibited by the constraints of matrimonial duty.  Despite the divorce, he and Rose continued to cohabit, and he provided and cared for her until she was committed to an asylum in September 1911 suffering from alcoholic dementia.  Crowley’s relationship with her brother, Gerald Kelly, ended after the divorce.  Rose's parents were granted custody of Lola Zaza.

Just five days after his divorce, John Yarker appointed Crowley 'Sovereign Grand Inspector General' (33°) in the Ancient and Accepted Rite, recognising his (33°) Scottish Rite initiation in Mexico in 1900.

Then, with no pressing commitments on the horizon, he decided to return to North Africa, initially to Algiers, with Neuburg.  This second journey to the Sahara together took them much deeper into the remoteness of the desert.  They hired two camels, a man to drive them, and a boy to look after them, and A.C. no doubt.  For several weeks they wandered through the desert absorbing the marvels of nature, including a blizzard (right click HERE then select "save target as" to download a copy of Crowley's account of this)!  During this period spent in isolation, Crowley seemed to have given up magick completely.  After temporarily satisfying his irrepressible nomadic urge, he left Neuburg in Biskra in north-eastern Algeria to recuperate and returned to England to attend to the production of issue five of The Equinox.

The years leading up to World War I (WWI) were described as eventful, but then the whole of Crowley’s life could be described as such.  Since 1898, shortly after leaving Cambridge University, Crowley particularly enjoyed the atmosphere in and around the Café Royal which was considered the centre of literary and artistic life in London, and just like many creative people of that period, he fell in love with the place.  He was often seen in the Domino Room, a section of the Café Royal frequented by such dignitaries as Arnold Bennett, GK Chesterton and Jacob Epstein, a risqué sculptor, to name but a few.

In early 1911, Horatio Bottomley and De Wend Fenton began reinvestigating Crowley’s past after reviewing The Rites of EleusisThe Looking Glass in particular started to print more and more outrageous and scandalous reports about Crowley’s recent divorce, his adultery, the £100 gift from Laura Horniblow (which became £200 he had stolen from her), and more importantly, about his friends and allies such as Allan Bennett, of whom it was said 'conducted unmentionable immoralities with Crowley'.

Fuller pleaded with Crowley to sue, but he chose not to as he considered the magazine to be 'a rag' on the verge of bankruptcy and therefore unimportant.  George Cecil Jones eventually sued because, although not mentioned specifically, he felt he had been implicated through his association with Crowley.  Aleister sat in the gallery throughout the trial, which Jones lost (there was no proof of any implication and no suggestion of his homosexuality), refusing to testify:

"The case occupied two days.  I sat in court hardly able to contain my laughter.  Mr Schiller, an admirably adroit and aggressive advocate of the uncompromising, overbearing type, had everything his own way.  He actually got the judge to admit the evidence of an alleged conversation which took place ten years earlier and had no reference whatever to Jones.  The judge, Scrutton, was evidently bewildered by the outré character of the case.  He even remarked that it was like the trial of Alice in Wonderland."

Unlike Crowley, Jones and Fuller had scruples.  Jones ended his friendship with Crowley immediately, although he continued to oversee a trust set up for Lola Zaza.  Fuller also ended his friendship with him on the grounds that he had let down badly the man who set him on his magical path.  Fuller was to attain the rank of Major General and become a brilliant military strategist, writing several books on military history.  The loss of these two friends and associates was due entirely to his egotism and was to formulate a pattern for the majority of Crowley’s 'close' relationships.  Following the trial, new membership of the AA declined dramatically, but from 1913 it did begin to recover slowly, two new recruits being Nina Hamnett, with whom he was to cross swords in the future, and a friend, the socialite Gwendoline Otter.

Crowley met Mary d'Este Sturges (also known as Mary Desti and Mary Preston) in October 1911.  She was a friend and companion of the dancer Isadora Duncan (considered by many to be the creator of modern dance) celebrating her birthday at the Savoy in London.  He travelled to Paris at the end of the month to visit her in her apartment.  After ‘sweeping her off her feet’ he whisked her off to Zurich, then to St Moritz, and initiated her into the AA giving her the magical motto 'Virakam'.  On that most eventful trip to Switzerland his new Scarlet Woman had a vision in which she was given a message for Crowley by an entity identifying itself as Ab-ul-diz (see The Abuldiz Working).

"My first surprise was to find that I had brought with me exactly those Magical Weapons which were suitable for the work proposed and no others.  But a yet more startling circumstance was to come.  For the purposes of the Cairo working, Ouarda and I had brought two abbai (robes), one, scarlet, for me; one, blue, for her.  I had brought mine to St Moritz; the other was of course in the possession of Ouarda.  Imagine my amazement when Virakam produced from her trunk a blue abbai so like Ouarda's that the only differences were minute details of gold embroidery!  The suggestion was that the Secret Chiefs, having chosen Ouarda as their messenger, could not use anyone else until she had become irrevocably disqualified by insanity.  Not till now could her place be taken by another; and that Virakam should possess a duplicate of her Magical Robe seemed a strong argument that she had been consecrated by them to take the place of her unhappy predecessor."

He was instructed to write Book Four (Liber ABA -- Aleph, Beth, Aleph = 1 + 2 + 1 = 4), but in a specific location in Italy that Crowley would recognise from a given description.  With this information, a picture came into his mind of a hillside on which were a house and garden marked by two tall Persian nut trees.  Virakam had a dream of the location, and sure enough Crowley recognised it from the description given by Ab-ul-diz.  It was Villa Caldarozzo in Posillipo, near Naples.  Gematrically, Villa Caldarazzo equates to 418, as does 'Boleskine', the 'Great Work' and 'Abrahadabra'.

They began to write Book Four but it was not completed on this occasion.  A quarrel led to Mary's hasty retreat to Paris, but she repented almost before she arrived and telegraphed Crowley to re-join her, which he dutifully did, after which they went to London.  "There, however, an intrigue resulted in her hastily marrying a Turkish adventurer who proceeded to beat her and, a little later, to desert her.  Her hysteria became chronic and uncontrollable; she took to furious bouts of drinking which culminated in delirium tremens."

During this pre-war period, Aleister was gentlemanly enough to try to get some recognition for Laylah.  He formed a female dancing troupe, The Ragged Ragtime Girls, which she headed, and launched them in London at the 'Tivoli Music Hall' in The Strand in March 1913 (demolished in 1914 to enable widening of The Strand; rebuilt and reopened as 'The Tivoli Picture Theatre' in 1923).  He hired six young female violinists to accompany her and dressed them all in coloured rags.  Even though they were described as 'dreadful' by A.C., they were well received by the audiences, so in his new role as an impresario he took the show to Paris and Moscow, with reasonable success.  Of the six girls he hired, "three were dipsomaniacs, four nymphomaniacs, two hysterically prudish, and all ineradicably convinced that outside England everyone was a robber, ravisher and assassin."   They each carried a revolver, 'which they did not know how to use', although we are assured they were quite prepared to shoot the first person who dared to speak to them.

Throughout their six weeks in Moscow, Crowley indulged his passions with a young Hungarian girl named Anny Ringler.  He had more or less forgotten the meagre amount of Russian he had bothered to learn in 1897, and she spoke no English or German: "But we had not need of speech.  The love between us was ineffably intense.  It still inflames my inmost spirit.  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."

Mr Groves, the British consul in Moscow, related some incredible stories of corruption by the Russian authorities to Aleister, one of which he recounts:  "The most deliciously fantastic is that of what I may call the phantom battleship.  This vessel cost well over two million sterling.  She was to be the last word in naval construction.  She was launched at Odessa in the presence of a great gathering of notables, and the scene lavishly photographed and described in the newspapers.  Alas! upon her maiden cruise she was 'spurlos versenkt' (author's translation - sunk without a trace).  The fact of the matter was that she had never existed!  Her cost had gone straight into the pockets of the various officials, the photographs were simply faked, and the descriptions imaginary."

The tenth and final issue of Volume 1 of The Equinox was published in September 1913.  Crowley now decided to pay more attention to his own magical development, so travelled to Paris from where he summoned Neuburg to join him with the intention of embarking on a series of magical operations known as (The Paris Working).  During these workings, Neuburg appeared as Frater Lampada Tradam; having passed through the ordeal of a Neophyte, he was to undertake the next task to progress to the grade of Zelator.

The Paris Working involved copious acts of sex magick, mainly of a homosexual nature.  It began on 1 January 1914, and continued for six weeks without interruption.  At one stage Jane Cheron was brought into the operations during which they used substantial quantities of opium.  It was shortly after these workings that Neuburg, too, drifted away from Crowley's circle.  He was man enough to tell Crowley he was leaving, and was ritually cursed for his honesty.

The major reason for his falling out with his mentor was because he believed Crowley was responsible for the death of his lover, Joan Hayes, whom he met when she was hired as a dancer for the Rites of Eleusis.  Crowley was displeased with the relationship so was delighted when Joan married Wilfred Merton, a friend of Neuburg, and moved away.  However, the marriage lasted for just six months after which she moved into a flat in Chelsea and became Neuburg’s lover once again.  A.C. was furious and only ever referred to her as Circe.  He was worried she would seduce Neuburg away from his magical path.  In Magick in Theory and Practice, he states "he found it necessary to slay a Circe who was bewitching brethren."  He walked to the door of her flat and drew an astral T (traduire) and the symbol of Saturn with an astral dagger -- within 48 hours she shot herself.  Neuburg died from tuberculosis on 30 May 1940.

Jacob Epstein had recently designed the burial tomb of Oscar Wilde in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, which had outraged many for its blatant display of a male organ on a naked figure.  Epstein returned to the cemetery one evening and found that the testicles on the statue had been covered in plaster because the size of these ‘embellishments’ was considered unusual.  Eventually, as a compromise, a bronze plaque in the shape of a butterfly was placed over the offending part by the French authorities.  Furious that his work had been altered without his consent, Epstein refused to attend the unveiling which was performed in early August 1914 by Aleister Crowley.  However, the butterfly did not remain there for any length of time as Aleister raided the cemetery after the unveiling and removed it.  On his next visit to the Café Royal, he approached Epstein with it dangling round his neck and presented it to him as a gift.

Crowley spent the duration of World War I (WWI) in the USA; he had been refused entry into any of the active services because of phlebitis in his leg, but had expected to work for the intelligence services.  Consequently, he was a little narked to think that the offer to do so from a man of his intelligence and integrity had not been accepted!  Had he bothered to pay the additional six shillings and eight pence to use the extra ink to write the initials B.A. after his name by taking his degree at Trinity, things may well have turned out differently from what we read, or was this a deliberate act by the Intelligence Services to throw people off the scent?

Sailing on the RMS Lusitania on 24 October 1914, he took with him the equivalent of about fifty pounds sterling in American dollars, which was probably all he could raise at the time, so money was in very short supply.  One of the first persons he met was Mr D, whom he knew as a collector of rare books, paintings and sculptures.  Mr D (John Quinn) already owned some of Crowley’s works and showed an interest in purchasing more of his unique editions and manuscripts.

"I arranged to stay in New York until these could be sent over for his approval.  (As a matter of fact, I had understood him as offering to purchase them all outright.  In the upshot, he purchased between seven and eight hundred dollars' worth of my goods, instead of between three and four thousand dollars' worth, as I had expected; and this disappointment left me in great straits financially, as I had at that time no immediately available resources in England.)"

Aleister's so-called exploits ‘helping the German war machine’ in the USA are well documented, and were the reason for his being branded a traitor by many associates in the UK.  He met George Sylvester Viereck, owner of the anti-British publication The Fatherland.  He had met him previously in 1911 at the premises of Austin Harrison's The English Review and considered him to be an intelligent man; but his intelligence was not sufficiently subtle to comprehend Crowley:

"I praised Germany - I sympathised with Germany - I justified Germany - and he erroneously deduced, as the average Englishman might have done, that I was pro-German."

Crowley worked for The Fatherland writing much pro-German, pro-Sinn Fein and anti-British propaganda, but when we read between the lines we can detect that it was written ‘tongue in cheek’, and working for Viereck did at least provide him with a meagre income.  Note, he was working for that income, something completely foreign to Aleister’s nature!

He later met Frank Crowninshield the editor of Vanity Fair, another very intelligent man who thoroughly understood his business.  In the space of a couple of years he had pulled this paper up from the gutter to achieve regular sales of a quarter of a million.  He asked Aleister to write for him, and he became a frequent contributor to the magazine.  Click on the small image to the right to enlarge it, to see an article written by Crowley for the January 1916 issue (cover shown).

In addition to this work, he submitted articles to The International, and more or less took over writing that paper single-handedly under different guises from 1917.  His salary was twenty dollars a week, two dollars more than that of his typist!  He used The International not so much for political purposes or to ‘send up’ the Germans, but as a means of promoting the Law of Thelema.  His detective stories, The Scrutinies of Simon Iff were also serialised in this magazine.

His expertise in Astrology resulted in his introduction to a lady by the name of Evangeline Adams, a meeting which led to a lengthy association.  She wanted Crowley to write a book for her on the subject, but the intended plan did not come to fruition because of her efforts to "cheat him out of the profits."

Then, in the spring of 1915, Crowley met two potential Scarlet Women at a party, Jeanne Foster (the Cat) and Helen Hollis (the Snake):

"A magnetic current was instantly established between the three of us.  In the Cat, I saw my ideal incarnate, and even during that first dinner we gave ourselves to each other by that language of limbs whose eloquence escapes the curiosity of fellow guests.  It was the more emphatic because we were both aware that the Snake had set herself to encompass me with the coils of her evil intelligence."

The Cat (Soror Hilarion), a married woman, won his approval.  He wanted a son to fulfil the prophecy in Chapter 3, verse 47 of the Book of the Law, i.e. ‘one cometh after him, whence I say not, who shall discover the Key of it all.'  What the Cat did produce for Aleister was not a physical son (she proved to be barren) but a metaphysical son, in other words, a magical son.

Almost exactly nine months to the day after Crowley's attempting to produce a son with the Cat, Charles Stansfeld Jones contacted him to let him know that the Secret Chiefs had made him a Master.  This delighted A.C. who now considered Jones to be the ‘magical son’ who would eventually discover the 'key'.  This delight, however, was to be short-lived for Jones supposedly turned to Catholicism, which amongst other even more sordid deeds, caused Crowley to expel him from the O.T.O. in the mid-1930s.  Later on, he calculated this was the point at which he was made a Magus by the Secret Chiefs.  In 1924 Frater Achad wrote a paper on the R.R. et A.C.  Click HERE to read this text.

Author's note:  At this point in the biography, although not essential, it is suggested you take some time to read, or at least bookmark to read at some later stage, what I consider to be an extremely fascinating and well presented thesis by David George Mattichak Junior titled:

'The key to the order & value of the English Alphabet as foretold in the Book of the Law'

  Even those well-versed in Gematria and The Book of the Law could be surprised.  You can find this text by clicking HERE.

On 6 October, A.C. decided to take a trip round the coast.  He combined this with a ‘honeymoon’ with Hilarion who thought to spice up the romance and adventure by taking her husband along, although the couple did not complete the entire course with Aleister.  The first stop was Detroit, in the state of Michigan, where Albert Winslow Ryerson (1872 – 1931) lived and worked.  Ryerson, who was the General Manager of Universal Book Stores Inc., was later to prepare the publication of details of the O.T.O.’s US headquarters, and in the spring of 1919 would also print the first volume of The Equinox (known as The Blue Equinox because of the colour of its cover) after its five year period of silence.  Whilst visiting Ryerson, Crowley availed himself readily of his host’s mistress, Bertha Almira Prykryl née Bruce.  From Detroit he went to Chicago, a city which he described as "the forlorn outpost of civilised man."

He continued westward eventually reaching Vancouver where he was warmly welcomed by his ‘Magical Son’.  Jones had already established a successful Lodge of the O.T.O. whose numbers were increasing steadily.  These members had crafted effective furniture and ornamental decoration for the Lodge with their own hands, and Aleister was pleased to see Jones had drilled them well in the Rituals.  After this brief sojourn to Vancouver, he headed south to Seattle, then called in at Santa Cruz to see the famous 'big trees' (the giant redwoods), from where he visited Los Angeles and San Diego.  Throughout the journey he met at odd times with Hilarion, but they parted company at Los Angeles after a disagreement.

He returned east via the Grand Canyon, which he considered was "the best thing in the whole country, but not in the same class as Himalayan scenery."  He went down the Colorado River via Angel Trail (this trail starts on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and descends 4380’ to the Colorado River), and slowly returned to New York where he took up residence at 25 West 44th Street.

Leila Waddell joined him in the USA for a while.  Leila Waddell joined him for a while.  Although her arrival seems to have been unexpected, it pleased him immensely.  But he soon realised he had no love left for her, although she did inspire some new poems in addition to several chapters in The Book of Lies aka Breaks.  In due course, Laylah returned to Australia where, rather ironically from Aleister’s description of her musical talents, she took up a position as a music teacher in Sidney.  She died in 1932 of uterine cancer.

Crowley was approached by the Ceylonese philosopher and metaphysician Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy and his wife Alice Ethel, a Yorkshire woman née Richardson.  Coomaraswamy asked A.C. to help promote his wife's performances, which consisted of Indian song, under the stage name Ratan Devi.  Crowley wrote reviews of her act in Vanity Fair and offered her letters of introduction.  She soon became his lover and magical partner engaging in sex magic which resulted in a pregnancy.  Crowley assures us Coomaraswamy was aware of their affair and had even encouraged it as he wanted Crowley to take on her living expenses.  Aleister, in exchange, introduced Ananda to Gerda Maria von Kothek, a prostitute and former lover, and before long Coomaraswamy and von Kothek were living together.

This arrangement did not last, for when Alice's career began to blossom, Coomaraswamy decided he wanted her back.  Even though Alice was 'in love' with Crowley, she chose to return to England with her husband, miscarrying on the voyage as a consequence of severe seasickness.  A.C. blamed Coomaraswamy for the death of his child.

Plagued by the oppressive heat and atmosphere in New York City, he decided to take a magical retirement during the summer.  The city seemed to be slowly strangling his creativity so he accepted an offer from Evangeline Adams to stay at her cottage in New Hampshire on Lake Pasquaney, arriving on 23 June.  Here, Aleister was confirmed in the grade of Magus on 12 October, his birthday.  This grade was 'awarded' by the Secret Chiefs when his 'Magical Son' was born.  According to Colin Wilson in Aleister Crowley, The Nature of the Beast "this involved catching a live frog, baptising it as Jesus of Nazareth, then crucifying it on a cross and stabbing it with a dagger."  This act symbolised the removal of the dying god Osiris, thus bringing in the Aeon of Horus which would enable him to establish a new religion, Thelema, the very thing for which the Secret Chiefs had chosen him when taking dictation of the Book of the Law in Cairo in 1904.  (See Liber LXX - The Cross of a Frog.)  After this, he took the magical motto To Mega Therion.

Following this retirement at Lake Pasquaney, he travelled to New Orleans, one of his favourite places in the USA, arriving there on 9 December 1916.  He soaked up the atmosphere of the city and wrote six 'Simon Iff' stories to be serialised in The International beginning with the September 1917 issue.  Aleister then looked up a cousin, Lawrence Bishop, on his orange and grapefruit plantation in Florida.  Cousin Lawrence's wife was just over thirty years of age, but 'looked sixty'; she persecuted Lawrence and their children beyond belief:

"Cousin Lawrence saw how ill I was.  The family fed on offal which I would not have thrown to a decent pig.  He had stayed with us in England and realised that I could not be expected to eat such garbage, so he asked me kindly what I would like to eat so as to build up my strength.  I said, 'Don't bother about that'.  All I need is plenty of fruit and milk.'  It seems too rotten to be true but his wife made a point of cutting me off from milk as much as she dared, and went to the utmost pains to hide the supply, so as to cheat me out of the glass of milk I was supposed to have before going to bed.  (I always stayed up late working.)  The mean malice of this hag is too dreadful to contemplate, yet all things serve the poet's turn.  She gave me the idea of one of my best Simon Iff in America stories, ‘Suffer the Little Children’."

Still sick and penniless, Crowley arrived back in New York in the early spring of 1917.  He bunked down on a settee thanks to the kindness of one of his old disciples, Leon Engers Kennedy (1891 - 1970), a portrait painter and the adopted son of a multi-millionaire.  There then followed a period when Aleister felt really down in America.  He wrote:

"This period was inexpressibly distressing; apart from other unpleasantnesses, my health broke down in a quite inexplicable way.  There was no satisfactory diagnosis; the symptoms were confined to a spiritual and physical malaise which deprived me alike of ambition and energy.  The Secret Chiefs had it in mind that I should spend months of absolutely sickening solitude, direst poverty and impotence to take any action whatever, so that I might realise how the world feels to the very vast majority of the inhabitants of its civilised sections, to people without resources, prospects, friends or exploitable abilities."

Crowley's mother died of a heart attack on 14 April in Eastbourne, leaving £3000, but because of his divorce settlement this was left in trust to himself and his daughter, Lola Zaza.  Although he supposedly 'despised' her, it is said he felt terribly alone after his mother's demise, and wrote that he dreamt of her death two nights before it happened, just as he had his father's.

His health did begin to improve slowly then following a Magical Operation on 27 May, it was suddenly restored.  He performed two further important Magical Operations on 28 and 30 May, followed by another a few days later.  The result was that he secured control of The International in July and became its contributing editor (implying practically sole responsibility for the contents) in August.

During the year Aleister Crowley made a new friend, Frank Harris (1856 – 1931), the British-born editor, journalist and publisher who was staying at the St Regis Hotel, where Crowley would often stop by for a "petite verre of brandy" and some intelligent conversation.  Frank Harris introduced Crowley to the author, reporter and occultist William Seabrook (1886 – 1945).

Much later in 1917 he discovered Roddie Minor (Soror Achitha, known as 'the Camel' because she carried him through the 'desert' of his life).  She was a qualified pharmacist with a regular income and, more importantly, had unrestricted access to drugs!  In January 1918, she had a vision of two Persian nut trees, the very same thing that Crowley and Virakam had been told to look for by Ab-ul-Diz.  To begin with, he thought Ab-ul-Diz was also controlling her, but she told him it was someone called The Wizard, whom he found to be another entity known as Amalantrah.

And so began a series of magical workings called The Amalantrah Workings (see Liber XCVII the Amalantrah Working) in furnished rooms in Central Park West, New York City.  These were performed by means of sexual & Ceremonial Magick with the intention of invoking certain intelligences to physical manifestation.  Through February and March, Frater Achad and several 'sisters of the Order', whom Crowley likened to three scorpions of the desert through which the Camel was carrying him, helped with these operations.  They were Eva Tanguay (1878 – 1947) the highest paid vaudeville star of her time, Marie Lavrov née Roehling (b. 1891) 'Soror Olun' aka the Dragon, a Russian immigrant from Odessa who was to become one of his Scarlet Women, and Dorothy A Troxel (1896 – 1986), a musician whom Amalantrah called 'Wesrun'.

In actuality, the workings typically manifested as a series of visions and communications received through the mediumship of his partner, Roddie Minor.  Be that as it may, at least one such intelligence was brought into physical manifestation via the Magical Portal they created (a portal in this context is a magically created rent in the fabric of time and space).  The entity that came through was named Lam by Crowley.  He considered it to be of inter-dimensional origin, which was the then term for extra-terrestrial.  In communications with Lam, the symbolism of the egg featured prominently.

Crowley included the portrait of Lam in his Dead Souls exhibition held in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1919.  N.B. 'Lam' is the Tibetan word for 'The Path', and 'Lama' for 'He who goeth'.

By this time, his work on The International had made it so successful that it became saleable, and as such was sold in the autumn, leaving him stranded; each of his sources of regular income had now dried up:

"This magazine was originally the organ of pure literature, the only one in the United States of any authority.  Unfortunately, the editor - and to all intents and purposes the proprietor - was Mr George Sylvester Viereck.  At the outbreak of the war, he transformed the character of The International, introduced pro-German propaganda and thus ruined its reputation.  It was now on the black list in Canada and refused admission by the postal authorities of the colony.  Its best friends had withdrawn their support; its circulation had dwindled almost to nothing, and it staggered on mechanically from month to month without heart or hope.  In eight months I pulled it up so successfully that it became saleable.  It was bought by Professor Keasbey, who issued one number so dreary, unintelligible and futile that it died on the spot."

Having no immediate prospects, he went on another magical retirement: "I therefore borrowed a canoe, tent and camp outfit from a friend and started up the Hudson on a Great Magical Retirement with two dollars and twenty-five cents as my total capital, no prospect of obtaining more when that was exhausted, and full of confidence that the Secret Chiefs would supply my physical needs.  It was my business to do their work and theirs to look after their servant.  This Magical Retirement proved of critical importance.  A week's paddling put me in perfect physical and mental condition.  I found an ideal solitude on Oesopus Island.  I soon began to acquire the Magical Memory to recall my past incarnations. . . ."

The canoe and tent were borrowed from William Seabrook, to whom he had recently been introduced by Frank Harris.  Seabrook seemed somewhat concerned for his welfare, but A.C. assured him the Secret Chiefs would provide all he needed.  For much of the time he sat meditating, and during those long periods of meditation, local farmers would leave food and other vital supplies on the assumption that this strange man was a sage who would need nourishment when he came out of his trances.  Here on the island he began a translation of the Tao Te Ching and painted huge Thelemic slogans on the cliffs at the side of the river.  The past life memories he experienced were of being Ge Xuan (a legendary figure associated with various Taoist traditions), Pope Alexander VI, Alessandro Cagliostro, and Eliphas Lévi.

Upon his return to New York city he moved into a studio at 1 University Place in Greenwich Village.  When he told Seabrook he had developed and refined his magical skills during his retirement, Seabrook was clearly in doubt, so Crowley gave him a demonstration of ‘sympathetic magick’.  Walking down Fifth Avenue, he adopted the posture and gait of someone with the appearance of a well-to-do gentleman, and fell into step behind him.  He quickly copied his mannerisms so strongly that when he dropped to a squat the gentleman in front fell to the ground.  He and Seabrook helped him to his feet as he looked around for a banana skin and checked the heels of his shoes to find whatever had caused him to lose his footing.

Aleister decided to take up paint and paintbrush in an attempt to become an artist.  He put an advertisement in the local paper which said 'WANTED -- Dwarfs, hunchbacks, Tattooed Women, Fisher Girls, Freaks of all Sorts, Coloured Women, only if exceptionally ugly or deformed, to pose for artist.  Apply by letter with a photograph'.  Crowley said to an interested reporter, "I had never studied art and had never drawn or painted a picture in my life . . . What sort of an artist am I?  Oh, I don't know just what to call myself.  I'd say, off-hand, that I was an old master."

During the winter of 1917/18, he gave a presentation on magick where he came across a Swiss-American woman by the name of Alma Hirsig, who, several weeks later, introduced him to her younger sister Leah, a schoolteacher.  "The 'little sister' reminded me of Solomon's friend, for she had no breasts.  She was tall and strangely thin, with luminous eyes, a wedge-like face, a poignant sadness and a sublime simplicity.  She radiated an indefinable sweetness.  Without wasting time on words, I began to kiss her.  It was sheer instinct.  She shared it and equalled my ardour.  We continued with occasional interruptions, such as politeness required, to answer her sister in the rare intervals when she got out of breath."

Some twelve months later, in January 1919, he received an unexpected knock on his door.  Upon opening it, he was surprised to see Leah waiting on the doorstep.  She had begun a course of lectures on law and needed to live closer to New York University, so wanted his advice on finding a suitable apartment in Greenwich Village.  A.C. suggested she move in with him, and the rest, as they say, is history!

He gladly accepted an invitation to visit William and Kate Seabrook on their farm in Georgia in the early autumn at about the same time as a pregnant Leah travelled to Switzerland to care for an ailing sister.  Crowley wrote several letters to Jane Wolfe, a Hollywood silent screen character actress who appeared in more than thirty films, telling her how much he admired her and asked her to meet him, but she couldn't at the time.  He spent several delightful weeks free of charge in the south, then travelled north to Detroit to discuss some publishing details with Albert Ryerson.  From Detroit he went to inspect the 'Mammoth Caves' of Kentucky:

'Beneath the sandstone-capped ridges of Mammoth Cave National Park lies the most extensive cave system on earth, with over 350 miles of passageways mapped and surveyed.  And yet, after 4,000 years of intermittent exploration, the full extent of this water-formed labyrinth remains a mystery.'

That short excursion over, and following another fleeting trip to Detroit to finalise the previously discussed publishing details, he was free to return to England, to face the consequences!  But another reason to leave America pdq was the fact that Albert Ryerson was about to face trial for defrauding Universal Book Stores Inc. of in excess of $30,000 which he had used to publish the Equinox and set up a branch of the O.T.O.  Crowley’s legacy to the USA was a trail of bouncing cheques and IOUs.

Aleister arrived in Plymouth on 21 December, penniless, which was more or less how he left these shores in 1914.  Considering his well-publicised exploits in America, one might have expected him to have been arrested as a traitor, but for some [unknown] reason the British authorities ignored him.  Some suggest it was because the US authorities chose to ignore him after America entered the conflict having realised that his anti-British and pro-German columns in The Fatherland were genuinely written 'tongue in cheek’.  Alternatively, did the authorities have bigger fish to fry at the time, or had he really been working for British Intelligence by getting America to join the war?  Whatever the reason, his activities in the USA had been 'noticed'.

According to Tobias Churton in 'Aleister Crowley The Biography', 'details of how Crowley's relationship with the American secret services began are unsure.  Crowley wrote in Confessions that during the spring of 1916, "I was often away in Washington (Chapter 77)."  Confessions refers to helping the Department of Justice.  In an expunged passage of that book, he insisted the American investigators had 'brains, and they used them'.

US Freedom of Information legislation has brought to light several important documents.  A 'General Summary' of September 1918 showed US military intelligence enjoyed 'full cognizance' of Crowley's activities through British Consul Charles Clive Bayley'.

Horatio Bottomley, who had had his own well-documented problems during the war, became aware of Crowley's return from the USA.  John Bull was now a recognised patriotic journal, and its editor wasted no time in reporting Crowley's exploits in America, and continued to dig up and concoct sleaze from his past.  On 10 January, Bottomley printed the headline and story 'ANOTHER TRAITOR TROUNCED' and continued his contemptible assault on Crowley for some time (click on the image to enlarge it).  Aleister was advised to sue, but despite being deeply hurt and offended by these press reports, he ignored them; he had other pressing matters occupying his thoughts.

Now back in his homeland, being destitute and spurned by former acquaintances, and no longer having his mother to turn to, he stayed with an aunt in Croydon.  He needed money desperately.  Prior to his departure to the USA, Crowley conveyed ownership of Boleskine to the MMM, an act designed to relieve him of some of his financial burdens; it also released him from a £900 bond on the property.  He left George MacNie Cowie in charge of the financial affairs of the Order, and had received infrequent subsistence cheques from him until sometime in 1915 when he considered Crowley to be a German spy, and thus a traitor.  Cowie withheld further funding and transferred interest in Boleskine to himself, eventually selling the property along with its contents which included Crowley’s extensive library of extremely rare and valuable books relating to the occult.  The result of Aleister’s efforts showed the O.T.O. had no realisable assets.  In other words, he was definitely skint!

He looked up his old climbing companion, Oscar Eckenstein, and found him to be a stodgy married man.  Eckenstein was now 61 years of age while Aleister was just 44.  Nevertheless, in the years since their valiant attempt on K2 in 1902, Eckenstein had continued climbing until the age of 53 in 1912, whereas Crowley was more or less forced to call it a day after his dreadful assault on K3.  Eckenstein died of consumption (an old-fashioned word for tuberculosis) in 1921.

Unable to raise any immediate cash, he travelled to Paris where his creditworthiness seemed to have remained unaffected.  He was joined later in the month by a now heavily pregnant Leah Hirsig, along with her two (or three) year old son, Hansi, from a previous relationship.  They set up home at 11 bis rue de Neuville, Fontainebleau.  The couple engaged the services of Augustine Louise Hélène Fraux (Ninette) Shumway as a housekeeper and nanny.  She was an unmarried mother with a three year-old son (Howard) whom Leah had met on her crossing from America; she was soon to become Crowley’s mistress, and pregnant with his child.

Leah, whose magical motto was Alostrael, known as the Ape of Thoth or simply the Ape, gave birth to their child, Ann Léa, nicknamed Poupée by Ninette's son, Howard, in February 1920.  Shortly after Leah's arrival, Lady Luck paid Aleister a most welcome visit.  The money he had been craving dropped in his lap by way of an unexpected inheritance of £700.

A.C. now considered he had reached his peak (what he really meant was he had temporary liquidity) so decided it was now or never.  The time had come to release Thelema on the unsuspecting world.  The I Ching suggested Cefalu, about 40 miles east of Palermo on the island of Sicily, to be the ideal place to establish his abbey.  Towards the end of March, he left Paris with Ninette (now Soror Cypris) and the two boys, while Leah and Poupée went to stay with Crowley’s aunt (the one still alive in Croydon) until suitable premises had been found, and to sort out various affairs in England.

The advance party reached Cefalu on 31st, where they spent the night in a 'dirty and disgusting hotel room'.  The next morning, Crowley was shown the Villa Santa Barbara by a man named Giordano Giosus.  He rented the 'villa' without hesitation, describing it as ‘made to order'.  (It was, after all, April 1st.)  It fulfilled all his requirements despite the fact that it was simply a run-down farmhouse which would hardly have been considered a barn in anyone else's eyes.

The rectangular-shaped farmhouse had six rooms, five of which radiated from a central one which became his temple.  The 'villa', although ideal in Crowley's eyes, had no gas, electricity or sanitation, and the only available clean water came from a nearby well.  However, included in the rent was an added 'bonus' in the guise of a goat which provided the residents with fresh milk, and Sicily was a cheap place to live with a regular train service between Cefalu and Palermo for purchasing provisions.  Leah and Poupée joined them soon afterwards, when the lease on the villa was signed jointly by Sir Alastor de Kerval, Knight of the Sacred Lance, and Contessa Lea Harcourt, Virgin Princess of the Sea Grail.  He set to work furnishing his temple and painting the interior walls and floors with all manner of strange and erotic images.

Crowley ‘borrowed or stole’ the name Abbey of Thelema from François Rabelais (c.1495-1553), a Benedictine monk, physician, and humanist scholar.  Gargantua and Pantagruel was Rabelais' epic, in which he attacked clerical education and monastic orders and expressed an appreciation for secular learning and a confidence in human nature.  Like other humanists, Rabelais criticised medieval philosophy for being concerned with obscure, confused, and irrelevant questions, and expressed his aversion to medieval asceticism.  He attacked monasticism as life-denying, and regarded worldly pleasure as a legitimate need and aim of human nature.  His Abbey of Theleme is described as a kind of 'anti-monastery', the inhabitants of which were not governed by laws, statutes, or rules, but lived according to their own free will.  It was from here that the System of Thelema developed.  Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Jane Wolfe, with whom Crowley had been corresponding in America, joined them in early July via a circuitous route (see Confessions).  In Chapter 89 of Confessions Crowley tells us, "During her first few weeks at the abbey, every day was one long battle.  I hacked through her barbed wire of aggressive axioms.  I forced her to confess the incongruity of her assertions. ..."  Eventually Jane settled down and became an invaluable member of the community.

Sadly, Poupée died on 14 October, six months after arriving at the abbey.  Six days later, Leah miscarried with their second child, then five weeks after that mishap, on 26 November, Ninette gave birth to Astarte Lulu Panthea.  Crowley's inheritance had already been squandered along with most of his latest windfall, and now he was also burdened with the responsibility of two mistresses and several children (not all of his own making).  He was not sure of which way to turn despite being a Master of every kind of magick, and spent long periods away in London and Paris.

"I went down to Fontainebleau for fresh air and exercise, and also to make a little Magical Retirement.  As soon as I sat down to look at myself, I was aware of the old wound.  I knew there was only one way.  I must open it up and cleanse it thoroughly.  I went out northward.  On my left, as I came to the city wall, was the hospital where just over a year before, the child was born.  I strode fiercely forward with clenched teeth.  But at the first breath of forest air the universal sorrow of nature flooded me and I broke out into strong sobbing.  I refused to fool myself in any of the familiar ways.  I faced it open-eyed.  I felt its fullest force in every nerve.  So having attained the courage to accept it, without resistance or resentment, I conquered it.  I slew the fiend that had beset me.  From that hour to this I have suffered no more."

"Her breasts itch with lust of Incest.  She hath given Her two-year bastard boy to Her lewd lover's whim of sodomy, hath taught him speech and act, things infinitely abhorred, with Her own beastly carcass.  She hath tongued Her five-month girl, and asked its father to deflower it."

This is reputed to be a quote from Crowley's diary dated 12 August 1920.  It seems to imply that both Aleister Crowley and Leah Hirsig not only molested her son Hansi but that Crowley also 'deflowered' their own daughter (Anne Leah) who was only six months old at the time.  If this molestation is true then Crowley might have been directly responsible for causing her death two months later on October 14th.  We know that Poupée’s death was so traumatic to Leah that six days later she miscarried with their second child.

Returning to Cefalu, he was pleased to discover the abbey had another new member, Godwin (Cecil Frederick Russell (1897 - 1987)), whom he had met in America.  Other guests came and went, including Cecil Maitland and Mary Butts, two writers he had known in Paris.  They arrived in June 1921 but left after just three months, both as heroin addicts.  Besides their regular members, they were paid a visit by Cypris' two sisters, Mimi, her twin, and Helen, nearly twenty years her senior.  Mimi stayed for just a fortnight.

Shortly after Godwin's arrival at the Abbey he became a probationer in the AA as Frater Genesthai, after which A.C. prepared to conduct a new Magical Operation, The Cephaloedium Working, the first since The Amalantrah Working in 1918.  The participants were Leah (referred to as The Scarlet Woman), Russell (referred to as Iacchaion) and Crowley (referred to as The Beast).  N.B. Cephaloedium is simply Latin for Cefalu (Right click HERE then 'Save target as' to read the working in full).  The Cephaloedium Working had three goals:

1. To inspire Crowley to finish writing his commentary on the Book of the Law.
2. To invoke Hermes and Apollo.
3. To obtain a true understanding of the Tarot trump The Tower.

However, according to Richard Kaczynski in Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition, and Lawrence Sutin in Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley this working ultimately ended on a sour note, the 'Beast' deeming it a failure on 20 January 1921, and blaming Russell who often argued with Crowley and disliked the same sex sex-magic he was required to perform.

Several writers suggest Crowley performed another working shortly after this failure, but it bore no resemblance to The Cephaloedium Working.  He had already 'attained' the grade of Magus, but above this is the ultimate 'unattainable' grade, for humans, of Ipsissimus who is free from all limitations, including differentiating between good and evil, someone incapable of description (see Liber Collegii Sancti sub Figura CLXXXV for the tasks relating to all grades).  Aleister, for whom nothing was impossible, was not going to be restrained from attaining this grade, so on 23 May 1921 he purportedly 'achieved the impossible'.  He entered the temple along with an assistant (Leah).  Of the actual ceremony he says nothing, and at the conclusion, only "As a god goes, I go".  In the opinion of some occultists and writers, this is where he made a mistake, for the suggestion is he illegally assumed this most exalted grade and that it 'choked' him.  He did not reveal this attainment to anyone -- there is no mention of it in Confessions.  It is known only from his Magical Record, although in Magick in Theory and Practice, published privately in 1929, on page 301, he does hint of it:

"I, The Beast 666, lift up my voice and swear that I myself have been brought hither by mine Angel ..."  Also, "He made me a Magus ... Yea, he wrought also in me a Work of Wonder beyond this, but in this matter I am sworn to hold my peace."

It would seem that the Ape found him intolerable after he attained this grade, for at the time of their break up she wrote in her own magical diary that it was 'damn hard to think of the rottenest kind of creature as a Word' (i.e. Thelema).

Another welcome arrival at the abbey during 1921 was Frank Bennett (Frater Progradior (1868 –1930)), who, although born in Lancashire, England was now an Australian disciple of Crowley and founder and head of the O.T.O. in that country.  He joined the aforementioned small number of Thelemic luminaries, but soon stood out from the others with his enthusiasm and aptitude.  Aleister specifically rewrote an initiatory text, Liber Samekh, a ritual for attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, for Bennett to use during a magical retirement.  Frank Bennett kept a detailed account of his experiences during this retreat which has since been published as The Magical Record of Frater Progradior.

Crowley was immensely impressed with Bennett’s achievements and considered him a star pupil.  He was advanced rapidly through the grades of the AA, and took the Oath of an Adeptus Minor in October 1921.  Crowley formally admitted Bennett to the 9th Degree of the O.T.O. and officially appointed him his 'Viceroy in Australasia' before he returned to Australia in December of that year.  This act was to cause a major falling out between Crowley and Reuss.

In 1922, in his usual desperate need of money, Crowley returned to London (via Paris) with Leah where he signed a contract with the publishers, William Collins, to write a novel, The Diary of a Drug Fiend.  Receiving a meagre £60 advance on the work, he rented a room and completed the task in less than four weeks, Leah taking dictation in longhand.  The novel describes the disastrous results and physical torments of a drug addict.  He promptly took the manuscript to the publishers who presented him with another cheque for £125 as payment of advanced royalties on his autobiography.  The couple returned to Sicily, again via Aleister's second home (Paris), with much needed funding.

The moment the novel was published, the gutter press barons became aware that Mr Crowley had raised his ugly head again.  James Douglas of the Sunday Express wrote it was ‘A Book for Burning’, and started to print stories about his past and the 'evils happening in his abbey'.  The press reports caused the initial print of 3,000 copies to be sold almost immediately, but the publishers, in their infinite wisdom, chose not to reprint this potential blockbuster.  They also cancelled the order for Crowley’s autobiography (but he did get to keep the advance).

Regardless of the fact that many people were coming and going, the Abbey's fate was about to be sealed, although the religion/philosophy of Thelema still thrives through the auspices of the O.T.O.  Raoul Loveday, an undergraduate from Oxford and a genuine devotee of Crowley, joined the Abbey in November 1922 along with his wife, Betty May, who had been married twice previously.  Betty May, an alcoholic, had begged Raoul not to go -- he was not in good health.  She hated Crowley, the members and the environment from the moment of her arrival, and had no intention of fitting in; she caused uproar in the community at every opportunity.

Then, shortly after his arrival, Raoul developed acute infectious enteritis from which he died.  His illness came about not as a result of the lack of sanitation, as many have suggested, but from his drinking from a polluted stream during a long, hot walk across the island with his wife.  It was a well-known rule by everyone at the Abbey that under no circumstances should they drink the local water from such sources.

Each day thereafter, for some strange reason, Betty May seemed to grow fonder of the Abbey and its members.  She was grateful for the way Jane Wolfe and Leah had nursed Raoul during his illness, and truly appreciated the sympathy and attention the members had shown and given her following his death and funeral.  Nevertheless, she decided to return to England, and it was after her arrival that the trouble began!  The ghoulish reporters of England's gutter press pursued her relentlessly, plied her with alcohol, and prompted a sensational story from her which was one long series of falsehoods.

A headline on 23 February 1923 read 'NEW SINISTER REVELATIONS OF ALEISTER CROWLEY'.  It concerned testimony that Crowley had been responsible for the death of Raoul Loveday at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily.  Bear in mind, this scandal was following that caused by the publication of The Diary of a Drug Fiend -- Crowley really was an evil man according to the press.  Tales of horrors filled the pages of newspapers such as The Sunday Express for weeks and months thereafter; satanic rituals, black masses, animal sacrifice, and even human sacrifice were reported, or blatantly lied about, for the majority of the reports were simply not true or just fanciful exaggeration.  Horatio Bottomley libellously expanded on Douglas’ stories and ran headlines such as 'THE KING OF DEPRAVITY', 'A HUMAN BEAST' and 'A MAN WE'D LIKE TO HANG.'

Once again Crowley was advised to sue for libel, but on this occasion he really simply couldn’t afford to, even though he was almost guaranteed to win record damages.  Lord Beaverbrook, the owner of the Express Group, could afford to employ the best lawyers in the country, and Aleister was broke.  In his own words, "Five thousand pounds would not have given me a dog's chance."  Back in those days there were no solicitors offering their sordid 'No Win, No Fee' services!  These adverse press reports, along with an imagined threat of secret societies, came during the rise of the regime of Benito Mussolini, an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party in Italy.  Soon after these 'revelations' Crowley was summoned to the Chief of Police who handed him a deportation order signed by the Minister of the Interior expelling him from Italy, though he maintained no reason was given, and no accusation was made.  Nevertheless, he was banished from Sicily at the end of April 1923, although the other members of the community were allowed to remain.

A few days before Crowley's departure from Cefalu, Norman Mudd arrived.  Mudd was a lecturer in applied mathematics at Grey University College, Bloemfontein, South Africa and had been initiated into the O.T.O. by Charles Stansfeld Jones (Crowley's so-called magical son) when he took the magical motto Omnia Pro Veritae.  Aleister Crowley's own autohagiography ends at this point with the paragraph:

"It is heart-breaking to have to write on this matter, 'So much to do, so little done'.  I am overwhelmed by the multiplicity of urgent work.  I need the co-operation of a whole cohort of specialists and my helplessness lies heavy on my heart, yet the word which I uttered at my first initiation, 'Perdurabo', still echoes in eternity.  What may befall I know not, and I have almost ceased to care.  It is enough that I should press towards the mark of my high calling, secure in the magical virtue of my oath, 'I shall endure unto the End'."

Jane Wolfe was so disgusted with the articles appearing in the British press, she wrote a letter (a copy of which is shown on the left -- click on the image to enlarge it) refuting all allegations made, which Betty May later concurred in her own book, Tiger-Woman:

As a matter of record, from Tiger-Woman: My Story by Betty May, first published in 1929 e.v. by Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd.:

"For a time I was convinced that Raoul had been poisoned by the blood of Mischette.  {A cat}  But when he got steadily worse and a doctor was summoned I found out that he was suffering from enteric, a not uncommon disease in those parts.  It was then that I remembered how he had almost certainly caught this disease.  One day the Mystic {Aleister Crowley} had told Raoul and me to go off for an expedition together.  He was in one of his kindly moods and he said Raoul needed some relaxation.  He suggested that we should go to a marvellous monastery about thirteen miles off, where the monks would entertain us with food.  But he warned us of one thing, which was on no account to touch any water.

We were both delighted.  We started off.  It was one of the most wonderful days I have seen.  We went to the monastery, where the monks gave us bread and soup and showed us all over it.  On the way back the heat was appalling.  We were both so thirsty that we did not know what to do.  Suddenly we came to a mountain spring, bubbling up out of the ground.  It was an awful temptation.  I do not think that at that time either of us realized how important it was not to touch the water.  Although the Mystic had done his best to impress on us the dangers of drinking, the spring looked so cool and fresh and pure that Raoul could not resist.  He knelt down and drank, but in spite of my thirst I managed to restrain myself, though with great difficulty.  I suppose I saved my own life.  Anyway, I am certain that this is how Raoul caught the disease.  He was at once given the right treatment, but no improvement was effected, and he sank fast."

Having consulted his beloved I Ching, Aleister's best course of action was to head for Tunis.  Leah, despite losing all interest in him, along with any respect, was deeply concerned about his rapidly deteriorating health, so accompanied him on the journey.  They arrived on 2 May.  Mudd joined Crowley in Tunis two months later, and Leah returned to Cefalu for a much needed rest. In Tunis, A.C began a new diary which has been published under the title The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley Tunisia 1923.

Crowley and Mudd travelled to various remote outposts throughout Tunisia for several months performing ‘magick’ together; Leah returned and joined them towards the end of the year shortly before Crowley disappeared with whatever meagre pittance remained in the kitty.   He headed for Nice in southern France, where he met an old ally, Frank Harris.  Crowley was broke; Harris was just holding his head above water.  The pair decided their best course of action would be to buy the Paris-based Evening Telegram, although that idea never came to fruition as neither could raise the means.  Crowley left for the French capital after borrowing 500 francs from Harris.  Through various dubious means, and after having endured some unbelievable hardships, Leah and Norman managed to re-join Crowley in Paris.  “Why on earth did they bother?” is a question we may all ask.

Aleister was becoming thoroughly tired of Leah, regardless of everything she had sacrificed and done for him; the end of her reign as his Scarlet Woman was nigh.  He met Dorothy Olsen, a wealthy 32 year-old American (note that word 'wealthy'), and initiated her into the AA, giving her the magical motto Astrid.

On 28 October 1923, Theodor Reuss died of complications arising from an earlier stroke.  At the time of his death there were only three National Grand Masters in the O.T.O.: Heinrich Tränker in Germany (who had temporarily taken control of the German faction), Charles Stansfeld Jones in America and Aleister Crowley.  During the summer of 1924, Aleister, Dorothy, Leah and Norman Mudd were invited to an O.T.O. conference in Hohenleuben, near Weida, in Thuringia, Germany.  Their fares were paid by the O.T.O., which also settled their very large outstanding hotel bill.

The German group consisted of Herrn Heinrich Tränker, Karl Germer, Grosche, Grau, Hopfer and Birven, and Fräulein Martha Künzel.  In addition to several personality conflicts, the Germans were divided over the fact that Crowley had appointed himself head of the O.T.O., ousting Reuss with whom he had a 'misunderstanding' some years earlier, which Crowley stated had been 'resolved'.  Crowley maintained he had a letter from Reuss asking him to take over control of the Order, but that letter has never materialised.  The Germans were also not yet convinced about The Book of the Law, which had only recently been translated into German.

Eventually, Martha Künzel and Karl Germer sided with Crowley, soon followed by Tränker and Grosche, but Herrn Grau, Hopfer and Birven decided to keep the Pansophical Lodge independent.  Nevertheless, Aleister Crowley left the meeting as the undisputed Outer Head of the Order (OHO).  Of all the people Crowley met in Germany, the most important person was Karl Germer who would later spend most of his time promoting the organisation in the USA and who supported Aleister Crowley financially over the next ten years, almost bankrupting himself in the process.

N.B.  Grosche and Germer quarrelled, causing Grosche to remain independent.  After the closure of the Pansophical Lodge in 1926, Grosche regrouped a number of the ex-Pansophists to found the Fraternitas Saturni, which not only recognised Crowley’s status as a prophet, but accepted the Law of Thelema in a modified form, although Grosche insisted on keeping it independent from O.T.O. and under his own, rather than Crowley’s, authority.  Fraternitas Saturni continues to the present day in Germany, Canada and elsewhere, and does not represent itself as being O.T.O.

In September 1924, Leah realised it was definitely curtains for her when Crowley told her that the Secret Chiefs had instructed him to go on a magical retirement to North Africa with Dorothy.  He toured North Africa with Astrid for several months prior to spending the winter (and her money of course) together in Europe.  They revisited Tunis in the spring of 1925, eventually returning to Paris at the end of May.

Magical Operations were put on hold for the next few years as Aleister toured Western Europe and North Africa with Dorothy.  Karl Germer paid a visit to the Abbey of Thelema in January 1926 before meeting up with him in Tunisia in March.  Germer stayed until May when he went to the United States (where he was to marry his second wife, Cora Eaton, in New York on 15 January 1929) for a short while.

Leah had a short fling with Norman Mudd, but that didn't work out.  She then renounced magick, and Mudd, and returned to America where she resumed her previous vocation as a schoolteacher.  On 13 March 1926, Alma Hirsig (Leah's sister) published her exposé on Aleister Crowley's cult in a series of articles which began running in the New York Journal, titled My Life in a Love Cult, A Warning to All Young Girls.  Leah Hirsig gave her all to the idea of Thelemic freedom, and to the Beast, much more than any of her American predecessors, Jeanne Foster, Helen Westley, Alice Coomaraswamy, Gerda von Kothek, Roddie Minor, Marie Lavroff Röhling, and Eva Tanguay amongst others.  Other than Rose, Crowley's first wife, she was his longest serving Scarlet Woman; what a pity he didn't appreciate the sacrifice this woman had made a little more.  She died in Meiringen, Switzerland on 22 February 1975.

Norman Mudd had also reached the end of his tether.  He had finally come to realise that Crowley had no genuine interest in anyone but himself, simply discarding all those around him once they became surplus to requirements.  After leaving A.C. he ended up as a down-and-out.  On 16 June 1934, his body was found off the island of Guernsey, fully clothed, cycle clips around the bottom of his trousers and the pockets filled with stones.

The Beast, as only to be expected grew tired of his association with Dorothy.  Maybe her money had run out, or was it because he found she had no useful magical potential?  Probably the former in this writer's opinion!  According to Crowley, "Astrid blew out of the South" on 8 October 1926.  She reappeared for a few days of wild sex, then "Blew out to the West" on 12 October, i.e. she left him and headed back to America.  He never saw her again.

On his return journey to Germany, Karl Germer called on Aleister in Paris in August 1928.  He wanted to introduce him to his new wife, Cora.  They had a lovely meal that evening, and A.C. thought Cora was delightful.  Whatever her thoughts were of Crowley, Cora would grow to distrust and dislike him immensely over the next few years as her bank balance diminished rapidly.

In the meantime, an aspiring magician by the name of Israel Regardie (1907 – 1985) learnt of Crowley and wrote to him from America on Germer's advice.  In October 1928, Aleister eventually agreed to tutor him in magick, for which he was to become Crowley's (unpaid) secretary.  Regardie kindly handed over his savings to A.C. for safe keeping!

At about the same time as Regardie was discovering Crowley, so was a young Gerald Joseph Yorke (1901 – 1983).  He had attended Eton and Trinity Colleges where, unlike A.C., he gained a B.A. before joining the British Army in which he reached the rank of Major.  Aleister invited Yorke to Paris, and soon developed an affinity for him, probably because he appeared to be wealthy -- he had actually flown to Paris -- commercial flight was reasonably new and the domain of the very rich.  Crowley met him on 29 December 1927, and quickly initiated him into the AA, with the magical motto 'Volo Intelligere'.  He was a shrewd businessman who took command of Crowley's financial affairs, devising a funding structure which helped to provide a small but regular income.  He also concentrated on promoting Crowley's works and the O.T.O. in Britain.

Crowley's book Magick in Theory and Practice (Part III of Book IV) was published by Lecram Press in Paris in March 1929 at more or less the same time as he and his entourage were declared 'persona non grata' in France.  The reasons are ambiguous and far from clear, with biographers differing.  Some say it could have been because of a drugs scandal involving Don Louis Ferdinand de Bourbon-Orléans, a deported cousin of King Alfonso XIII of Spain.  Others say the French authorities thought his coffee maker was a device for distilling drugs, or he was a German spy because of his connections to the O.T.O.

The accepted reason, concurred by Israel Regardie, is that it was because of the actions of his sister in America.  She had read some of the material in copies of The Equinox which her brother had left behind, and became concerned for his welfare.  She contacted the American authorities who in turn notified the French.  This set the wheels in motion.  They dug up Aleister's chequered past from police and newspaper records in England and America, and discovered he had already been deported from Sicily.  Whatever the actual reason, Crowley was saddened at the thought of never being allowed to return to Paris, and the area around Montparnasse became lifeless without his imperious presence in its many cafés and restaurants.

Prior to receiving the deportation notice, Aleister had already met his next Scarlet Woman, Maria Theresa Sanchez (née Ferrari) de Miramar, a reasonably wealthy (it's that word again!) Nicaraguan, whom he referred to as Old Nile, or The High Priestess of Voodoo.  Crowley feigned illness resulting in a short stay of execution of the order, but Maria and Regardie had no alternative but to leave the country immediately.  They were refused entry into England and sent back to France (on the same ferry on which they had arrived), from where they went to Brussels in Belgium, another country which, although not deporting them, looked upon them as undesirables.  Why Regardie was not allowed to enter the country is a mystery; he was born in London to Barnet Regudy, a cigarette maker, and his wife, Phoebe Perry.

With time his excuses ran out and a week or so after receiving his advance copy of Magick in Theory and Practice, Crowley finally had no option but to leave France.  He headed for England accompanied by the usual press fanfare to which he had grown accustomed.  He concluded that the only way of getting a permit for Maria to enter England was to marry her.  But was this to be a marriage of convenience or inconvenience?  The Belgian authorities were not keen for foreigners to get married in their country, so he took a chance on Germany.  The gamble paid off for they were married in Leipzig on 16 August 1929 in the presence of the British Consul.  They returned to London, where Regardie, who had been working on Crowley’s publishing program and eventually having got permission to enter the country joined them.

It was during this short time in London that Aleister met the proprietors of the Mandrake Press.  One of these, Percy Reginald Stephensen (1901 – 1965), was impressed with much of Crowley's work, so much so he persuaded his partner to begin publishing some of his works.  Stephensen was to write his own 'biography' about the man titled The Legend of Aleister Crowley.

A.C. became ill yet again (the effects of malaria dogged him constantly, as did the concoction of drugs he was taking).  He moved to a rented house in Knockholt, Kent, close to where Stephensen resided.  Regardie moved to Kent with the Crowleys, but the household was not a happy one so he passed the majority of his time advancing his own literary skills under Stephensen's guidance.

The first two volumes of The Beast's six-volume Confessions were published by the Mandrake Press in 1929 and 1930, but the other four never saw print -- some say Crowley, completely out of character, had a disagreement with the publishers, although the truth is simpler than that; after several changes of ownership, Mandrake went into liquidation before the entirety of Crowley's Confessions could be published.

Aleister was invited to speak at a meeting of the Oxford University Poetry Society on 3 February 1930, so knowing full well that the historic Gilles de Rais case was a classic example of the suppression of knowledge by a theocracy, he was about to give the Poetry Society the unexpurgated facts as he understood them.  His lecture was in reality an attack on the Establishment with an explanation of how the Orthodoxy had always tried to suppress free thinkers.  The University's Roman Catholic Chaplain, Father Ronald Knox, got wind of this and succeeded in getting the lecture banned at the last minute, but this did not frustrate Crowley (not many things did) who immediately had the Banned Lecture printed and distributed.  Crowley often referred to this episode as 'the absurd affair about Oxford'.  It would seem our hero was correct about Gilles de Rais as the image to the right will confirm.  It is a report from Paris published in The Guardian newspaper on 17 June 1992.  Click on the image to read the article or see Appendix 7.

In his usual desperate need for cash, his next venture was an attempt to exhibit his paintings in London, but no gallery was willing to accept his masterpieces.  Aleister Crowley was becoming famous, or should that be notorious?  In April, undaunted by this setback, he paid a short visit to Germer, now living in the Charlottenberg area of Berlin.  He was introduced to the painter and astrologer, Hans Steiner, in whose studio he met Hanni Larissa Jaeger, a nineteen-year-old model and artist, whom he nicknamed The Monster.  Despite their age difference and Crowley's rather flabby appearance, she was fascinated by him, as nearly all the women he encountered seemed to be -- was he using his 'magical powers' or some form of hypnosis?  He returned to England in early May.

Soon after his homecoming, the elections in Germany saw a massive rise in support for Hitler's Nazi Party mainly because of the austerity and unemployment in the country, although seeing the changes and building work happening in Berlin, one would never have assumed there was any.  The SDP party took 8.3 million votes while the Nazis accrued 6.5 million.  Things were beginning to happen there.

Following his introduction to Steiner, and after much wheeling and dealing, he sent a quantity of his paintings to Berlin, but these were not actually exhibited until October 1931.  Aleister returned to Germany soon after their dispatch, and took up where he had left off with Hanni.

He spent some time with Karl Germer and his wife, then returned to London in August with Hanni at his side.  Shortly thereafter he and Hanni took a trip to Portugal but his relationship with the 'monster', or Soror Anu as she was now known, was one of constant fighting and reconciliations.  Hanni left Crowley and returned to Germany, shortly after which Crowley faked his suicide at Boca de Inferno (Hell's Mouth) near Cascais in September, where he left a suicide note before he also returned to Germany.  He had arranged the plot as a publicity stunt with a friend, Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet.  This action certainly created some interest in the press.  Boca de Inferno is now a major tourist attraction.

Friends such as Viola Bankes were shocked when they read of his death in their local papers.  Aleister Crowley, dead at the age of fifty-four of a suicide!  However, 'sightings' soon happened.  The Portuguese press began reporting that a healthy and very much alive Aleister Crowley was believed to have been seen fighting with Hanni in local restaurants, but it seems that no one was quite sure it was really them.  Still more sightings were reported in the local press, almost as if Crowley were the Loch Ness monster or a UFO sighting.  Even though he had slipped out of Portugal and headed back to Germany, that didn't stop the 'sightings'.  Portuguese newspapers continued to report that the Beast had been seen, even though he was in Berlin!  Clearly, Crowley wasn't really that irritated with Hanni because his diaries report that he joined her when he got back to Berlin.  But as only to be expected the relationship began to falter again.  When it did finally break down irreconcilably by the beginning of June the following year, it is thought Hanni actually did commit suicide, although we have not found any records to confirm this.  During some of this period Crowley was still living with Karl Germer and his wife, who seemingly were constantly complaining and arguing about the Beast's antics.

While he was having a ball and living the high life with Hanni, Maria, who was still legally his wife, had been cast aside just like his previous Scarlet Women.  Without any means, she was struggling to exist on her own in London.  Gerald Yorke took pity on the distraught woman and helped her out by providing money for food and rent, but his appeals to Crowley on her behalf surprisingly fell on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, back in France, it is said the Parisians were missing the antics of the Beast.  One writer, Wambly Bald, wrote that when things became dull 'rumours' surfaced that "Aleister Crowley is back in Montparnasse.  Then there is a thrill and new conversation."  Unfortunately, those rumours were false, for Crowley never did return to France after his expulsion in 1929, although Tobias Churton tells us he passed through France, and Paris, on his return to Germany after his trip to Portugal (The Beast in Berlin).

Crowley's life as an artist in Berlin really began on 1 October 1930 when he met a leading modern art dealer in the name of Karl Nierendorf (1889 – 1947).  Nierendorf thought many of Crowley's works were disturbing, and if those works disturbed him, he was in the presence of an artist.  This gave Aleister some great encouragement.

October 13th was a big day in German politics, the opening of the Reichstag (Parliament).  Hitler was barred from sitting as he was an Austrian citizen.  Rioting was happening all around the building, Jewish shops were being attacked and crowds were chanting, "Heil Hitler!"  A real power struggle was happening, so it was no wonder Crowley's antics in Portugal hardly got a mention in the German press.  By December, Nazi youths (Hitler's Brownshirts) were rioting and Crowley got severely beaten up by them.

Spurred on by Nierendorf, Crowley moved into a studio in February 1931 with Hanni and began painting furiously.  On 24 March he packed 3 boxes of paintings in readiness for his exhibition.  It should be pointed out that almost all of Crowley's time in Germany was being funded by Germer's wife, Cora, who was under the impression that he would soon be earning a fortune, not only from his art, but because of other 'publishing' opportunities.

During the year Crowley's diaries often mention his relationship with Herr Germer, for example, 9 February 1931 -- "Germer complaining again of my semen on his black satin ... I replied with the Mild Wisdom of the Sages: Since when, pray, have Cunts been water tight?"  There are also numerous entries concerning the writer Gerald Hamilton.

Many people are mentioned throughout Crowley's diaries, and this period of his life was no different.  We know that while in Berlin the noted author Christopher Isherwood could often be found in the 'Cosy Corner', a small working-class bar frequented by male prostitutes.  Isherwood decided to take Aleister for drinks to this establishment, but within minutes of entering the bar an altercation occurred which nearly resulted in his being beaten to a pulp by a very strong, blond-haired, blue-eyed German boy.  It apparently took a sizeable sum of money to 'appease' the would-be assailant.

In the spring and summer he had relationships with several women (Hanni was virtually out of his life), then in August he became enamoured of a Swiss 36 year-old divorcee by the name of Bertha Busch, nicknamed 'Bill' or 'Billie'.  They lived together in Karlsruher Straße in Berlin, where she became his Scarlet Woman (obviously on a temporary basis).  Perhaps 'co-existed' is a far better term than 'lived together', for they were forever fighting tooth and nail, punching and kicking each other with no holds barred.  Broken crockery was strewn throughout the apartment.  In December, they had their most violent argument when, in the 'heat of battle', Bertha stabbed Crowley below his shoulder blade inflicting a deep wound from which he lost several pints of blood.

Crowley's 'big day' in Berlin came and went with no fanfare and little success.  His exhibits (73 in number) went on display between 11 October and 5 November at Gallerie Neumann-Nierendorf Berlin W35.  It is not known whether any of the paintings were sold during or after the exhibition.

On Christmas Eve, Crowley wrote to Gerald Yorke pleading for money on the pretext that he would be ejected from his flat for non-payment of rent, and with having nowhere to live claimed exposure to the elements, particularly with his shoulder wound, would certainly kill him.  He wrote a will naming Yorke as his executor, and asked to be buried in Poets’ Corner (a section of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey where a number of famous poets, playwrights, and writers are buried and commemorated).

The new year brought even more difficulties.  Karl Germer and Crowley began to have serious fights and their relationship became strained.  As always, money was very tight for Crowley and his finances were in a terrible state of affairs.  To alleviate his financial straits, Gerald Hamilton was invited to move into Crowley's Berlin apartment as a paying guest, which enabled him to witness many of Crowley's and Bertha's antics first hand.  Hamilton was a communist through whom Crowley was introduced to many figures within the far left in the German capital; it is suggested he was operating as a spy for British intelligence at this time, monitoring the communist movement.  A.C. was eventually ejected from his flat in June 1932 when he returned to England, less than twelve months before Adolf Hitler came to power.

N.B.  To read the full details of Crowley's interesting exploits during his time in the Weimar Republic, it is suggested you read Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin by Tobias Churton.

In the meantime, Regardie, who was receiving no worthwhile instruction from Aleister because of his flightiness, became exasperated from being let down time and again, and he too decided to leave his tutor.  He went on to have a highly successful career in the USA as a chiropractor, psychotherapist and magician.  Even though it is said Crowley never forgave him until his dying day, Regardie acknowledged that everything he was he owed to Aleister Crowley.  He even wrote his own biography of the great man under the title The Eye in the Triangle which put right many of the biased and disgusting remarks made by John Symonds in The Magic of Aleister Crowley.  In addition to this, in the introduction to P.R. Stephensen’s The Legend of Aleister Crowley (1970) he throws some interesting light on John Symonds' character and motives:

"Crowley died in 1947.  Why he appointed John Symonds as one of his literary executors is a mystery that will never be divined.  It is perhaps another example of Crowley's poor judgement about people.  Symonds wrote a disgusting book over a decade ago entitled 'The Great Beast'.  It is a malicious contemptible piece of work crammed with deliberate misinterpretation and ignorant understanding of what Crowley stood for.  This wretched work was followed by another, 'The Magick of Aleister Crowley'.  In this second book, Symonds has extrapolated from the diaries and other works by Crowley in such a contemptible manner as to make 'the old man' look like a complete idiot.

Not content with this insolence, Symonds has steadfastly refused permission to me and several other writers to use any of Crowley's published material.  Evidently he has assumed that his literary executorship, instituted on behalf of and for the Ordo Templi Orientis, should be for his own personal gain."

Just as Regardie had, and Leah and Norman Mudd before him, Gerald Yorke came to realise that Crowley was only interested in his own well-being, and he too slowly drifted away, although they never fell out completely despite Crowley's accusing him of bungling his affairs.  Yorke withdrew his financial and moral support, but did not lose total respect for him, and was to attend his funeral in 1947.

Incidentally, the author remembers reading somewhere during his research of an entry in Crowley's diary for 8 May 1932 which read, "Heard Rose died in February."  Nothing else was written that day, nor for two or three following it, which shows the man actually did have a heart, and clearly still had some deep, inner feelings for his first and probably the only real love in his life -- she died on 11 February.

Having returned to England, probably for good, Aleister began to visit some old contacts.  On 25 June he had dinner with Gwendoline Otter in the Café Royal.  Then two days later he called on Rupert Grayson, the publisher of 'Grayson & Grayson' hoping to have his Confessions as well as his as yet unwritten book on Berlin published, but drew a blank there.  Apparently Crowley did not make a good impression on Rupert Grayson.

On 30 June he dined with Viola Bankes (the sister of Ralph Bankes who gave the Kingston Lacy estates to the National Trust in 1982) having met her through Ms Otter.  He also renewed contact with Maria de Miramar who, since 1930, had been periodically committed to Colney Hatch (in what is now the London borough of Barnett).  On 5 July he met with Drs Paterson and Alexander Cannon, the head doctors of the institute, to discuss Maria's sanity.  He was told that, for Maria's sake, he should maintain a distance from her.  Later, when she was finally released, she returned to Nicaragua where it is believed she died in a seedy hotel room from an overdose of heroin.  Another Scarlet Woman bites the dust!

In August, Crowley and Viola Bankes tried to persuade Paul Robeson (1898 – 1976), a famous black actor and singer, to play the role of Orlando, 'a Negro of the Tunisian Sudan' in Mortadello, a play Aleister had published in 1912.  Robeson respectfully declined their 'generous' offer saying something along the lines of, "I'm afraid it's no use, you see, there are certain lines and gestures which the British public would not care to see enacted between a Negro and a white woman.  As for the American stage, why, if I were to produce it over there, someone in the audience would stand up and shoot me with a revolver!"

During the following month, Viola Bankes joined Crowley at a Foyle's Literary Luncheon where he was giving a lecture titled 'The Philosophy of Magick' to an audience of a few hundred people, which was very well received.  Vyvyan Deacon, an Australian member of the O.T.O., was in the audience; it was first time he had actually heard Aleister speak and although he met the Beast in person at this function, there is no mention of him in Crowley's diaries until 1936.

Despite the ups and downs of their turbulent relationship, Aleister and Bertha remained together until March 1933 when he met a Bulgarian woman by the name of Marianne.  But Marianne did not reign supreme for long, for just four months later he discovered Evelyn Pearl Brooksmith (née Driver) on 1 September.  Pearl, as she was generally known, was a 34 year-old widow living at 40, Cumberland Terrace, east of Regent’s Park in the London borough of Camden.  Within a week, he had moved in and they began performing sex-magick together with the aim of producing an heir.  They were unsuccessful, and after a while she began to get on his nerves with her constant ‘visions’, which she insisted on describing in great detail.  Although their relationship ended in 1936, they remained good friends.

One particular notorious event in Crowley's life -- you may have noticed by now that he did have one or two during his 72 short years on this earth -- happened in 1934 when he lost The Laughing Torso libel case against Nina Hamnett and her publishers.  He had known Nina since 1913 when she became a member of the AA along with Gwendoline Otter.  In 1914, she moved to the Montparnasse area of Paris to study art.  Totally unconventional and overtly bisexual, she danced nude on a Montparnasse café table just for the hell of it.  Nina was sexually promiscuous, drank heavily, and had numerous lovers and close associates within the artistic community.  Prior to writing The Laughing Torso (published in 1932) she had posed nude for a sculpture of the same name by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891 – 1915).

In 1921, Nina introduced Aleister Crowley to John William Navin Sullivan (1886 – 1937), a science writer and literary journalist.  Sullivan's mathematical ability (reputed to be comparable to that of a Senior Wrangler at the University of Cambridge) allowed him to comprehend Einstein's general theory of relativity, which many in England were unable to do.  This enabled him to explain the theory in layman's terms and his articles on Einstein's general theory of relativity in April and May 1919 were among the first to appear in English.  He remained friends with Sullivan and met him on several occasions during his two year stay in Berlin.  He was one who encouraged Crowley to write his Confessions, and is mentioned in the dedications at the beginning of that tome.

Crowley had always abhorred litigation (he had already foregone several opportunities to sue successfully for damages throughout his life), but had recently resorted to it out of desperation and won a libel case against a Mr Gray, a small London bookseller.  He was awarded £50 in damages plus costs, so now assumed suing those guilty of libel to be a lucrative business after all.  He may well have been correct in his assumption, but first and foremost guilt has to be established!  This case was the beginning of the end for Aleister, or certainly would have been for any lesser person!

The facts are summarised thus: A.C. complained that 'in her book, 'Laughing Torso', Miss Hamnett stated that in his temple in Cefalu, in Sicily, he was supposed to have practiced Black Magic'.  The defendants denied that the words complained of were defamatory and further pleaded that if they were they were true in substance and in fact.  Mrs Betty Sedgwick (formerly Betty Loveday) gave evidence for the defence at the trial, which didn't help his cause.

He lost the case, lodged an appeal, and lost again, after which he was evicted from his apartment in Grosvenor Square.  The major problem for Aleister now was not so much where to live or even how to exist, but how best to avoid his clamouring creditors after so much publicity.  He was now a cornered rat.  He was summoned to appear before the Official Receiver in the bankruptcy court as case number 38 on 14 February 1935 with liabilities from both secured and non-secured loans totalling £4,695 (that were known of).

Although already penniless in reality, Crowley was totally ruined financially and declared a bankrupt.  Now he was now not only a junkie, but a bankrupt junkie without a publisher or a regular income.  After losing the case, he eked a living from hand outs, donations, small amounts received from sales of books, and money from initiates into the O.T.O. in America, basically as he had before the trial, so no change there then..

To make matters even worse, within a couple of months he found himself in court again, but this time he was in the dock for having received some letters said to have been stolen from Betty May!  The fact is, he had paid a 'gentleman' called Eddie Cruze, who happened to live in the same building as Betty May, the sum of five pounds to steal those letters which he produced in the 'Laughing Torso' libel case, much to his disadvantage.  This second trial lasted two days.  Found guilty, he avoided a six-month jail sentence by the skin of his teeth because 'no actual harm had been done'.  He was bound over for two years and ordered to pay the sum of fifty guineas towards the cost of the prosecution.  Eddie Cruze was never charged.  Despite these setbacks he never ceased to look for an opportunity, and enjoyed some periods of apparent opulence.

Charles Richard Cammell, who was to write his own potted biography of Aleister Crowley, had read much of Crowley’s poetry besides other articles by him and about him, including much of his bad press.  Viola Bankes, in her book Why Not?, had written an interesting article on Crowley, which only served to increase his curiosity about the man, so in the early spring of 1936 he accepted her invitation to join her for tea while she was entertaining this legend.  Crowley was 60 years of age when Cammell was introduced to him.  He soon came to have the greatest respect for Crowley’s true genius, although he certainly did not agree with the majority of his views.  He got to know The Beast as well as most people ever got to know him.  In his biography Aleister Crowley The Black Magician he wrote:

"Almost any other man would have abandoned hope in such a position, would have gone into hiding, humiliated and desperate.  Not so Aleister Crowley.  His imperious spirit remained unquelled; his pride unshamed; his courage undaunted.  His belief in his mission, real or imagined, his determination to dominate, remained inviolate.  His stoicism was extraordinary and admirable.  He never yielded to misfortune; he despised, and therefore stood above, disgrace.  His personality remained confident and commanding."

One remarkable achievement, of which we read or hear very little, is the fact that Aleister did eventually have a physical son, with a woman called Deirdre Patricia O'Doherty, later to become Deirdre MacAlpine.  The circumstances are bizarre to say the least.  She had watched Crowley during The Laughing Torso libel case from the public gallery and been impressed by his humour and devil-may-care attitude, although she had not fallen in love with him.  Some years later their paths crossed again.  They were walking together towards Pearl Brooksmith’s flat when he put his arm around Deirdre and asked her if she would like to have his child.  For some inexplicable reason she replied in the affirmative -- apparently it took a very long time and a great deal of encouragement before Aleister was capable!  Some writers suggest it was Deirdre who approached Aleister immediately after the court case.  However, logically this cannot be correct; the case was heard in 1934, so had he been approached by Deidre after the trial his son and heir (named Randall Gair) would have been born in 1935 as opposed to 2 May 1937.  His proud dad nicknamed him Aleister Ataturk.  Deirdre already had two illegitimate children with two other partners, and was to have a fourth child.

While working on his now world-renowned Book of Thoth, Crowley was looking for an accomplished artist to illustrate the Tarot cards.  In June 1937, he was introduced to Lady (Marguerite) Frieda Harris, née Bloxam (1877 – 1962) by Clifford Bax.  Her husband, Percy Harris, had served as a Liberal Party MP and was Chief Whip for the party.  He was created a baronet in 1932, so she was entitled to style herself Lady Harris but preferred to use Lady Frieda Harris.

Harris' interest in the occult was limited to say the least, so Aleister was dubious about how serious she was.  However, after she paid ten pounds for affiliation to the O.T.O., joined the AA, and offered him a stipend to tutor her in magick, he was satisfied.  She became his ‘disciple’ in May 1938 when he began her initiation into his Orders with the intention of starting the spiritual training necessary for her to design the powerful and symbolic Tarot deck into which it was to develop.  Lady Harris is pictured on the right; the lady to the left is Pearl Brooksmith.

N.B.  Several people say the lady with Crowley and Harris is Katherine Falconer.  I thought so too until I read the following extract from Remembering Aleister Crowley (ISBN-10: 1871438225) by Kenneth Grant.  In the letter on page 41 of this book Crowley asked Grant to bring him a picture of Katherine.  In the subsequent commentary Grant wrote:

"Catherine* Falconer: A friend of Crowley who served in the Womens' Royal Naval Service.  She paid occasional visits to 'Netherwood' during my stay there.  He sketched her portrait in pastels.  The picture survives.  In a letter to Louis Wilkinson, Crowley wrote: "This is the Girl of Girls!  You saw her impudently smiling face on my walls at 93 {Jermyn St.}.  Now look for her; the other end is prehensile; God's greatest gift to any woman."

* Should be 'K', Crowley's typist was in error.

You will read 'he sketched her portrait in pastels.  The picture survives'There is no mention of a photograph, and nowhere can I find any reference of Falconer with Harris.  In addition, there is no picture of Katherine in Grant's book.

However, I now know for certain that the 'lady' is definitely Pearl Brooksmith, as when I read Tobias Churton's Aleister Crowley The Biography (ISBN: 978-1-78028-012-7), Plate 39 shows the very same picture with the caption: Crowley's last 'Scarlet Woman', Pearl Brooksmith, escorting Crowley to Frieda Harris' car (c. 1939-41).

By Crowley’s own admission, the deck was supposed to have been purely traditional, but Lady Harris encouraged him to commit his brilliant occult, spiritual and scientific knowledge to the project.  Originally planned as a six-month project aimed at updating the established pictorial symbolism found in other decks, it was to take five/six years to reach fruition because he and Lady Frieda were so thorough in their work; she painted some of the cards as many as eight times before achieving the desired result.  Click on the image to the right to read a letter to Lady Frieda from A.C. on 27 March 1941 concerning magical weapons; click on the enlarged image to return to this page.

However, the relationship between Crowley and Harris was not all sweetness and light, and could even be fractious at times as his comments at the bottom of this telegram she sent him indicate (click on the image to the left to enlarge it, then click on the enlarged image to return to this page.  The date stamp on the telegram is illegible, but in a diary entry for 4 July 1944 Crowley noted receiving a 'Crazy wire from F.H.  Missing pictures -- I haven’t seen them for over 2 years!'  The following day he wrote that the mail brought 'No money, nothing but annoying drivel from Frieda ...' and that 'F.H. phoned later re. her missing pictures'.

Unfortunately, neither Lady Harris nor Crowley lived to see this fabulous deck published, the first full colour edition being issued in 1969 by Samuel Weiser Inc.  That initial print proved to be of inferior quality, so in 1977 the publishers had the original paintings re-photographed to produce a much superior second edition, which itself has been updated.  The Thoth Tarot deck is now the most sought after design of Tarot cards in the world!  Click on the image to the left depicting the Major Arcana to enlarge it.

Although he was rapidly advancing in years, his wit remained as sharp as ever.  On 19 April 1939 he recorded in his private diary a "Repartee at dinner" in which a woman named Peggy questioned his behaviour toward woman by asking, "You think we're fools and crude primitive animals!  What are we then?"  Crowley recorded that he simply replied, "Mind-Readers."

His exploits during the World War II (WWII) years are not entirely clear.  We do know he was delighted when Churchill became Prime Minister; he even posed in a Churchillian manner wearing a bowler hat, smoking a huge cigar, and scowling.

We also know he set up a second Abbey of Thelema in Barton Brow, near Torquay, in March 1941, with Grace M Horner (Charis -- Greek for Grace).  It was here he completed Thumbs Up! his 'National Anthem of free England'.  However, the abbey failed to attract any new members, so lack of finance to sustain the venture meant it was doomed, just like its predecessor.

He continued working on the Book of Thoth in between flitting in and out of London as the German bombing raids lessened or increased in intensity.  Many writers have theorised on whether Crowley became (or was) a government secret agent and provide several reasons to substantiate their theories.  He had a profound knowledge of the occult and it was a well-known fact that Hitler was obsessed with the matter, particularly Astrology, a subject in which he was very well-versed (click on the image to the left to see an order placed by Hitler on 28 June 1940 for several occult books).  In addition to this, A.C. spoke and wrote German reasonably and was very well connected in Germany through the O.T.O.

To further corroborate the possibility, he knew Guy Knowles (of the Chogo Ri expedition) who was now an MI6 agent.  He met Dennis Wheatley (1897 – 1977) several times before and during the war, after which Wheatley began writing his famous novels based on the occult (Wheatley assured us at the beginning of each such novel that he had never attended a Black Magic ceremony, but one can be dubious of this assurance).  Dennis Wheatley joined MI5 in 1943 and introduced Crowley to Maxwell Knight, a senior MI5 officer.  Knight respected Crowley’s undoubted abilities regardless of his 'infamous WWI activities' and they met and spoke often.  Another personality he knew well was Ian Fleming (1908 – 1964), author of the James Bond novels, who was also an MI5 agent.  Whether or not a combination of his knowledge of magick and the occult, complex code/cipher (including Gematria) and/or the German language and people helped the cause still remains a mystery.  But consider this:

Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987), was a prominent politician in Nazi Germany during WWII.  He was appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933 and served in this position until 1941 when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom.

During his interrogation, Hess is reported to have spoken in strange ramblings which some considered were of an occult nature.  Ian Fleming, who was involved in those interrogations, decided help was needed, so suggested to his superior, Rear Admiral John Godfrey, that Crowley should interview Hess about the role of the occult in Nazism.  Fleming thought Crowley would be able to obtain further details on the influence of astrology among the Nazi leaders.  Although it seemed a good idea, Maxwell Knight spoke strongly against any involvement by Crowley.  It is said that Knight had no intention of allowing Crowley anywhere near Rudolf Hess, even though some historians have indicated that Crowley was an MI6 agent who spied on the Nazis and Communists in pre-war Berlin for the British government.  Still, some members of the British Government, like Fleming, actually believed that Crowley could have helped in understanding Hess and other Nazi leaders.  Both sides argued over this issue but Knight won out, so it seems Crowley was never summoned, or was he?

It is known that Crowley wrote a brief letter to Ian Fleming, now the Director of Naval Intelligence, offering his help.
Sir:

If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department, in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Aleister Crowley

N.B. Hess was held in British custody until the end of the war, when he was returned to Germany to stand trial in the Nuremberg Trials of major war criminals in 1946.  Throughout much of the trial, he claimed to be suffering from amnesia, but later admitted this was a ruse.  Hess was convicted of crimes against peace, and conspiracy with other German leaders to commit crimes and was transferred to Spandau Prison in 1947, where he served a life sentence.  Repeated attempts by family members and prominent politicians to win him early release were blocked by the Soviet Union.  He committed suicide, still in custody in Spandau, in 1987 at the age of 93.

One extra snippet to make us ponder even more about A.C.'s involvement is Churchill’s prolific use of the V-sign.  According to Crowley, it was particularly suited to the task of bringing victory because of its esoteric correspondences.  In Magick, V was the sign of Apophis and Typhon which opposed the sign of the swastika, something Hitler or his advisers on occult matters would certainly have been aware of.  The V for Victory sign was attributed to the BBC broadcasters Victor de Lavalege and/or David Ritchie, but it is known that Aleister had suggested it to the authorities long before it was first mentioned on the BBC.  So, was it serendipity, or had the authorities actually been listening to Uncle Aleister?

During 1943 and the first half of 1944 he met Louis Grady McMurtry, an officer in Ordnance in the US Army, on several occasions when he was stationed in England.  McMurtry became a personal student of A.C., who elevated him to the IX° of O.T.O., giving him the name Hymenaeus Alpha (which enumerates to 777) in November 1943.  In September and November 1944 (and once again in June 1947), he received letters from Crowley referring to him as his 'Caliph' (or successor).

On 17 January 1945, he retired to Netherwood, a large nineteenth century Victorian mansion, which had been converted into a delightful guest house.  It stood in wooded grounds in an elevated area on the outskirts of the town of Hastings, East Sussex, called The Ridge.  From this vantage point (his room is circled), he had panoramic views over the town and could even see Beachy Head where he spent so many happy times climbing the chalk cliffs in his younger days.

Although the first two volumes of his autohagiography had been published by the Mandrake Press in 1930, the other four were still unknown entities; he had lost the galleys (long metal trays used for holding type ready for printing) of the third volume and the typescripts of the remaining three were scattered somewhere amongst his reams of papers.  The incredible account of the life of The Beast 666 would probably have been lost forever had Fate not paid a visit to Netherwood, Fate on this occasion being in the guise of John Symonds, who became one of his literary executors and biographers.  Symonds suggested he gather these papers together and give them to a typist.  Fortunately, he did, and sent one copy (bound in four parts) to Symonds.  In his reply to Symonds’ letter of thanks, he wrote:

"You were a little light-hearted in asking me to make sure of these volumes of the Hag not being lost to the world.  It cost me near forty pounds as makes no difference."

In 1946, shortly after the end of hostilities and towards the end of his life, Crowley was introduced to the man now considered the 'father of modern Wicca', Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884 – 1964), after whom Gardnerian Wicca is named.  His several meetings with Gardner led to controversy over the authenticity of Gardner’s Book of Shadows, the first draft of which was titled Ye Bok of ye Art Magikal.  It was alleged that Gardner paid Crowley to write the book for him, but this has since been discounted by 'experts'.  Extracts from material written by Aleister Crowley were supposedly contained within Gardner's book, but it was rewritten between 1954 and 1957 when most of that material was removed.  Excuse me, am I stupid, or is that really proof that Crowley played no part in the writing of the book?

Throughout the war, A.C. was very concerned about the whereabouts and welfare of his son Aleister Ataturk.  He had heard nothing from Deirdre since September 1942, so was shocked and amazed when she rang him at Netherwood on 13 May 1947 to let him know they were both fine.  Two days later they visited Aleister, who, despite not being the ‘sentimental’ type, was overjoyed.  He wrote his one and only letter to his son at the end of the month offering advice on handwriting, and suggesting he learn Latin and Greek, how to play chess, but most of all, master the English language by reading the Old Testament (a Black Magician suggesting this?) and works such as those by William Shakespeare:


Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

My dear son,

This is the first letter that your father has ever written to you, so you can imagine that it will be very important, and you should keep it and lay it by your heart.

First of all, let me tell you how intensely happy your reappearance has made me.  I feel that I must devote a great deal of my time to watching over your career.  I was very pleased to hear that you had decided to learn to read, and that, of course, means learning to write.  A word of warning about this.  In these last years, children have been taught to write script, as they call it, which is a very bad thing.  You must write in such a way that it impresses your personality on the reader.

On top of that, I wanted to tell you something about yourself.  One of your Ancestors was Duke of a place called La Querouaille in Brittany, and came over to England with the Duke of Richmond, who was the original heir to the English throne, to help him turn out the usurper, known to history as Richard III.  Since then, our family has made its mark on the world on several occasions, though never anything very brilliant.  Now, I want you to take this very seriously.  I want you to be very proud of yourself for belonging to such a family.  Owing to the French Revolution and various other catastrophes, the Dukedom is no longer in existence legally, but morally it is so, and I want you to learn to behave as a Duke would behave.  You must be high-minded, generous, noble, and, above all, without fear.  For that last reason, you must never tell a lie, for to do so shows that you are afraid of the person to whom you tell it, and I want you to be afraid of nobody.  I think that is all about now.

Now with regard to your education.  I want particularly to insist on learning Latin, and I will give you my reasons.  Firstly, anyone who knows Latin gains a greater command of and understanding of the English language than he would otherwise possess.  He will be able to reason out for himself the meanings of words with which he is unfamiliar.  Secondly, if you are well-grounded in Latin, you are halfway to a knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, for all these languages, as well as English, are derived from Latin.  Thirdly, the most important of all, much of the unconscious part of your mind has been formed by the writing of Latin and Greek authors.  This implies that you should also learn a certain amount of Greek.  One of the wisest men of olden time gave this instruction to his pupils: "Know thyself," and learning Latin helps you to do this for the reason I have already explained above.  I regard this as very important indeed.  There are a great many people going about today who tell you that Latin is no use to you in the ordinary affairs of life, and that is quite true if you are going to be some commonplace person like a tradesman or a bank clerk.  But you are a gentleman, and if you want to be an educated gentleman, you must know Latin.

There is another matter that I want to put before you.  It will be a very good plan if you learn to play chess.  For one thing, it is a very good training for the mind, and, for another, it is the only game, of all the games worth playing, which lasts you throughout your life.  You can get as much pleasure out of it when you are 60 as when you are 20.

I think that is all I have to say to you today, and I shall expect you to manage somehow to write me an answer.  You see, much of the time we shall not be able to communicate face to face, and there will be a good many questions that you will want to ask me, which you cannot do unless you write good English.

That reminds me.  There is one more point that I want to impress to you.  The best models of English writings are Shakespeare and the Old Testament, especially the Book of Job, the Psalms and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  It will be a very good thing for you to commit as much as you can both of these books and of the best plays of Shakespeare to memory, so that they form the foundation of your style.  In writing English, the most important quality that you can acquire is style.  That makes all the difference to anyone who reads what you write, whether you use the best phrases in the best way.  You will have to devote some time to grammar and syntax, and also to logic.  Logic is the science and the art of using words, and it teaches you to think correctly without making blunders in reasoning, which nowadays everyone is liable to do just because they have not got the training which I am proposing to give you.

Now, my dear son, I will close this long letter in the eager hope you will follow my advice in all respects.

                        Love is the law, love under will.

                                                Your affectionate father.

Aleister Crowley gained much well-deserved notoriety during his life and was (in)famously dubbed The Wickedest Man in the World, a title he did little to refute and doubtlessly encouraged.  His experiments with and continual use of drugs, which included laudanum, opium, cocaine, hashish, alcohol, ether, mescaline and heroin, had developed a dependency, particularly upon all forms of heroin, from which he suffered for the major part of his life.  Almost destitute because publishers shunned his writings, he spent his remaining days in Netherwood.

Bedridden for his last few days, although still jovial according to his visitors, Aleister died from myocardial degeneration and chronic bronchitis on 1 December 1947, aged 72, shortly after his doctor, William Brown Thomson, had refused to supply the morphine upon which he had become totally dependent.

Many tales surround his moment of death, but the one that seems most plausible, written by Richard Kaczynski and concurred by Lawrence Sutin, two of his fairer non-biased biographers, is the one included here.

His last words were reported to have been "I am perplexed."  Deirdre MacAlpine was at his bedside, but his son had left the room a few moments before his final breath.  Upon taking that breath, the curtains were blown in by a sudden gust of wind, and a peal of thunder was heard.  In one of his pockets were found an Abramelin talisman and a tattered, folded letter dated 10 September 1939.  It read:

"The Director General of Naval Intelligence presents his compliments and would be glad if you could find it convenient to call at the Admiralty for an interview. It would be appreciated if you will be good enough to communicate with Commander C.J.M. Lang, Royal Navy, Naval Intelligence Division, Admiralty, Telephone: Whitehall 9000, Ext. 484, in order to arrange a suitable time."

How ironic would it be if one day we were to discover under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that Mr Aleister Crowley, The Beast 666 also known as The Wickedest Man in the World, really did work for the Secret Service during WWII after being branded a traitor by so many in the previous conflict?

Click on the image to the left to read a Western Union telegram sent by Karl Germer to Jane Wolfe on 2 December 1947 notifying her of Aleister's death.

His funeral was held at Brighton crematorium four days after his death, with readings from selected works as per his wishes.  Other than the throng of reporters, about a dozen people attended the service, including Deirdre MacAlpine, Louis Wilkinson, a friend of Norman Mudd by the name of Gilbert Bayley, John Symonds, Kenneth Grant, Lady Frieda Harris and Gerald Yorke.

Following the service, affirmed by those attending to have been sad but very dignified, newspaper reporters mobbed the attendees asking questions and jotting down copious notes upon which to elaborate at will in their offices.  It is reported that John Symonds looked one of the tabloid reporters straight in the eye and said, “Beware what you write, Crowley may strike at you from wherever he is.”  Immediately afterwards, the heavens opened, releasing a tremendous downpour.

The next day, the newspapers reported on a 'shocking and irreverent' funeral (their reporters did not understand the significance of the various readings and assumed a Black Mass ceremony was taking place).  Brighton council had no alternative but to 'take appropriate steps to ensure this sort of thing could not happen again'.  It would seem Aleister Crowley, often referred to as ‘The Old Man/Boy’ and ‘The Crow’ by those who knew him well, was still capable of shocking people, even after his death, irrespective of the fact he was innocent of the charge yet again!

It is worth mentioning that the Order of Service pamphlet printed for Aleister's commemoration showed an incorrect date of birth of 18 October 1875.  Incidentally, he never got to be buried in Poets’ Corner as per his previous wishes -- apparently it was already full to bursting point, but then again, he did revoke all former wills!

A final item of interest in this limited biography is a copy of an invoice dated 1 December 1947 from the owners of Netherwood, Vernon and his wife 'Johnnie' Symonds, to the estate of the deceased Aleister Crowley relating to the depreciation of items in his room along with the cost of redecorating, inconvenience and loss of earnings.  Click on the image to show an enlargement of the text.  The enlargement has been written by the author, but is a 'Certified True Copy' of the original, which is difficult to read in some instances.

He never saw his daughter Lola Zaza again, although Gerald Yorke (a trustee of the fund set up in her name) had asked her if she would like to meet her father.  She was not sure so asked her uncle (Gerald Kelly) for his advice.  He informed her she was old enough to make up her own mind, and specially selected some of Crowley’s books for her to read to assist in the decision -- he obviously chose well!  She decided they were 'rude and conceited' and concluded as they were her father's words, he must have those traits.  Lola married Frank Hill in 1934, and died on 9 March 1990 in Reading, Berkshire.

His other daughter born to Ninette Shumway, Astarte Lulu Panthea, wrote to and saw him often during the years in France up to his being expelled.  There are reports and counter reports as to why he never saw her again after that period -- it is suggested that she was to be kept away from him, but other reports say she didn’t really want to see him anyway and only wrote ‘nice’ letters because her teachers made her.  She died on 20 November 2014 in Oakland, CA.

Towards the end of his life, Deirdre MacAlpine visited him several times with his son (officially called Aleister MacAlpine) for whom he supposedly made provision through the O.T.O.  Martin Booth, in his biography A Magick Life, tells us 'Aleister Ataturk Crowley' was aged 10 in 1947 at the time of his father’s death in December of that year.  Booth maintains his formal education began in 1948 at Wester Elchies, the Gordonstoun preparatory school.  It is believed he moved to the USA sometime later, and eventually fell out with the hierarchy of the O.T.O.  He spent a major part of his life in the house called 'Wheal Betsy' at the top of Chywoone Hill above the fishing village of Newlyn in Cornwall.

'Aleister Ataturk' was killed in a car accident in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire on 20 November 2002.  What is shown below is from the death certificate, which shows an incorrect date and year of birth (mistakenly given as 11 May 1939 – it should have been 2 May 1937).  His birth certificate records his name as Randal Giair Doherty, with that odd spelling.  This picture taken in 1980 shows Aleister Ataturk in his alter-ego as Count Charles Edward d'Arquires.

Charles Edward d'Arquires (formerly known as Randall Giair Doherty formerly known as Aleister Ataturk formerly known as Aleister MacAlpine), b. 11 May 1939, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, died on 20 November 2002 in Chalfont St Peter, Bucks.

Like so many other outstanding men who had preceded him, Aleister Crowley was undoubtedly a man born before his time.  He lived in a society that could neither understand him nor even begin to appreciate his rare genius.  He certainly did not suffer fools gladly.  Much of his writing so shocked the vast majority of the people (peers does not seem an appropriate word to use here as most of them did not come close to being his equal) of the time that he was probably robbed of the praise that so much of it deserved -- or was he really the wickedest man in the world?  Fortunately, that same world today is a much more enlightened speck of dust in the universe, and even more fortunately for those of us still living on that speck, his publications live on albeit many as costly reprints.

NOTE:  In Crowley’s latest biography by Tobias Churton, The Biography, Watkins Publishing UK and USA 2011, we learn:

Until now, Crowley’s life has not been written – it has been written over.

Here is the world's first complete, thoroughly researched biography of Aleister Crowley, demolishing the myths, establishing the facts and telling with verve and style the astonishing and exciting story of his life, including many "missing years", intrigues, discoveries and adventures -- all revealed and explained for the first time.

Tobias Churton has enjoyed complete access to all of Crowley's restricted papers, unpublished letters and personal diaries kept in trust at London's Warburg Institute and in the archives of Ordo Templi Orientis.  He reveals new insights, offering us a fresh approach to this extraordinary magus and thinker of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Our advice is READ IT - WOW - you will be amazed!  Here at Tomegatherion we doff our hats to Mr Churton.

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