Miscellaneous Items/Stories relating to Aleister Crowley
This page on the To Mega Therion website includes newspaper/magazine reports along with any little nuances, idiosyncrasies and 'other anomalies' that do not fit into a particular niche, but which, nevertheless are important to relating the life and times of Aleister Crowley. Click on the headline link below to go directly to the item you wish to read, or simply scroll down the page until you reach it. The majority of these articles are from American newspapers, and thus the American spelling of many of our words has been retained.
Where you see a small image shown against an article, you can click on that image to enlarge it, but note that the text you will see on that larger image is the same as that which you can read within the article.
The Standard - 1 April 1896
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Daily Mail - 3 April 1897
Oxford vs Cambridge Chess Match
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Looking Glass - 29 October 1910
Report on the Rites of EleusisAN AMAZING SECT
We propose under the above heading to place on record an astounding experience which we have had lately in connection with a sect styled the Equinox, which has been formed under the auspices of one Aleister Crowley. The headquarters of the sect is at 121, Victoria Street, but the meeting or séance which we are about to describe, and to which after great trouble and expense we gained admittance under an assumed name, was held in private at Caxton Hall. We had previously heard a great many rumours about the practices of this sect, but we were determined not to rely on any hearsay evidence, and after a great deal of manoeuvring we managed to secure a card of admission, signed by the great Crowley himself. We arrived at Caxton Hall at a few minutes before eight in the evening - as the doors were to be closed at eight precisely - and after depositing our hat and coat with an attendant were conducted by our guide to the door, at which stood a rather dirty looking person attired in a sort of imitation Eastern robe, with a drawn sword in his hand, who, after inspecting our cards, admitted us to a dimly lighted room heavy with incense. Across the room low stools were placed in rows, and when we arrived a good many of these were already occupied by various men and women, for the most part in evening dress. We noticed that the majority of these appeared to be couples - male and female. At the extreme end of the room was a heavy curtain, and in front of this sat a huddled-up figure in draperies, beating a kind of monotonous tom-tom. When all the elect had been admitted the doors were shut, and the light, which had always been exceedingly dim, was completely exhausted except for a slight flicker on the "altar". Then after a while more ghostly figures appeared on the stage, and a person in a red cloak, supported on each side by a blue-chinned gentleman in some sort of Turkish bath costume, commenced to read some gibberish, to which the attendants made responses at intervals.
Our guide informed us that this was known as the "banishing rite of the pentagram."
More Turkish bath attendants then appeared, and executed a kind of Morris dance round the stage. Then the gentleman in the red cloak, supported by brothers Aquarius and Capricornus - the aforesaid blue-chinned gentlemen - made fervent appeals to Mother of Heaven to hear them, and after a little while a not unprepossessing lady appeared, informed them that she was the Mother of Heaven, and asked if she could do anything for them. (She may be seen in the photograph on page 140 sitting on the chest of "the Master" - Mr Crowley - and apparently endeavouring to perform some acrobatic feat.) They beg her to summon the Master, as they wish to learn from him if there is any God, or if they are free to behave as they please. The Mother of Heaven thereupon takes up the violin and plays not unskilfully for about ten minutes, during which time the room is again plunged in complete darkness. The playing is succeeded by a loud hammering, in which all the robed figures on the stage join, and after a din sufficient to wake the Seven Sleepers the lights are turned up a little and a figure appears from the recess and asks what they want. They beseech him to let them know if there is really a God, as, if not, they will amuse themselves without any fear of the consequences. "The Master" promises to give the matter his best attention, and, after producing a flame from the floor by the simple expedient of lifting a trap-door, he retires with the Mother of Heaven for "meditation", during which time darkness again supervenes. After a considerable interval he returns, flings aside a curtain on the stage, and declares that there is no God.
He then exhorts his followers to do as they like and make the most of life. "There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment, and no reward. Dust we are, and to dust we will return." This is his doctrine, paraphrased. Following this there is another period of darkness, during which the "Master" recites - very effectively, be it admitted - Swinburne’s "Garden of Proserpine."
After this there is more meditation, followed by an imitation Dervish dance by one of the company, who finally falls to the ground, whether in exhaustion or frenzy we are unable to say.
There is also at intervals a species of Bacchie revel by the entire company on the stage, in which an apparently very, young girl, who is known as the "Daughter of the Gods," takes part.
On the particular occasion we refer to the lights were turned up at about 10:15, after a prolonged period of complete darkness, and the company dispersed. We leave it to our readers, after looking at the photographs - which were taken for private circulation only, and sold to us without Crowley’s knowledge or consent, and of which we have acquired the exclusive copyright - and after reading our plain, unvarnished account of the happenings of which we were an actual eye-witness, to say whether this was not a blasphemous sect whose proceedings conceivably lend themselves to immorality of the most revolting character. Remember the doctrine which we have endeavoured to faintly outline - remember the periods of complete darkness - remember the dances and the heavy scented atmosphere, the avowed object of which is to produce what Crowley calls "ecstasy" - and then say if it is fitting and right that young girls and married women should be allowed to attend such performances under the guise of the cult of a new religion.
New religion indeed! It is as old as the hills. The doctrines of unbridled lust and licence, based on the assumption that there is no God and no hereafter, have been preached from time immemorial, sometimes by hedonists and fanatics pure and simple, sometimes by charlatans whose one thought is to fill their money-bags by encouraging others to gratify their depraved tastes.
In the near future we shall have more to say about this man Crowley - his history and antecedents - and those of several members of the sect - and we also hope to be in a position to give a description of the "happenings" at the flat in Victoria Street on the occasion of what we may call "private matinee performances."
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New York Times - 13 November 1910
Foreign Report on the Rites of Eleusis
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Vanity Fair - June 1915
ALEISTER CROWLEY MYSTIC AND MOUNTAIN CLIMBER by Arthur Loring Bruce
All the Britons who are not fighting in the Great War seem to be coming to New York this year. One of the most extraordinary of our recent British visitors is Aleister Crowley, who is a poet, an explorer, a mountain climber, an "adept" in mysticism and magic, and an esoteric philosopher; in short, a person of so many sides and interests that it is no wonder a legend has been built up around his name. He is a myth. No other man has had so many strange tales told about him.
He is an Irishman and was educated at Malvern and Trinity College, Cambridge, as a preparation for the highly respectable and sedate Diplomatic Service. But such a mission was not to his taste. He soon found that he had no liking for the beaten tracks in life. So he became an "adept", a mystic, a wanderer on the face of the earth.
He has published more volumes of poetry than he has lived years, and has climbed more mountains than he has lived months.
"The Equinox," his work on occultism, is only a part of the gigantic literary structure which he has built up in the past five years, yet the work contains the stupendous number of two and a half million words.
Mr. Crowley has a habit of disappearing from Paris, only to bob up again in Zapotlan, Tali Fu, Askole, Hambantota, or Ouled Djellal. To him a long journey is an achievement, a satisfying thing in itself, like the "hidden knowledge" which he is forever in search of. In 1900 he explored Mexico without guides. Two years later he spent three months in India at an altitude of 20,000 feet. In 1906 he crossed China on foot. The success of his magic-drama, "The Rites of Eleusis" in 1910, in London, did not tempt him to settle down there for long as he was next heard of in the heart of the Sahara.
As a naked Yogi he has sat for days under the Indian sun, begging his rice. Like every true magician he has experimented with hundreds of potions in order to discover the Elixir of Life and the Elixir of Vision. He has spent much time in the art of materializing divine influences, which he does by the aid of secret incenses; of invocations; and of rituals inherited from the Gnostics and Rosicrucians. He once masqueraded through a Cairo season as a mysterious Persian prince. He shocked the orthodox by his book "The Sword of Song" – which was virtually an attack on everything established – but soon compelled them to forgive him for the religious fervor of his next volume – a book of devotional hymns. He holds – like all good mystics – that "All thought, or speech, is false; Truth lies in all divine ecstasy beyond them."
He lives in Paris when not on his travels. One of his friends is Augustus John, the painter, one of whose beautiful sketches of Mr. Crowley we are privileged to print.
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New York Times - 13 July 1915
Ten patriots at Daybreak Renounce Allegiance to England near Statue of Liberty
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New York Times - 21 July 1915
Letter by A. Crowley to the Editor
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Lincoln Sunday Star - 11 March 1917
Society Finds New Substitute For Bridge
Have you heard, card enthusiasts, that just as whist was superseded many years ago by bridge and bridge by auction, so auction is to been superseded, by a new game – pirate bridge. It is said that people in the east are quite mad about the new game of bridge and that pirate bridge parties are the dernier cries. It was invented by Aleister Crowley and in a recent short article Mr. Crowley explains that the real reason for the invention is the six major drawbacks in auction which he gives as follows:
First. Mismated partners. You get a fiend for a partner and you can’t shake him off.
In the same breath he gives the six major advantages of pirate bridge:
First. You can – if you are clever – avoid tying yourself up with a tedious, poetic, alcoholic or idiotic partner.
The rules have just been submitted to the New York Bridge club and will probably soon be having enthusiastic converts. At any rate it is safe to guess that everyone will at least give “pirate” a try out and if it is as much of an improvement as bridge and then auction – pirate is doomed to stay until someone else invents something better.
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New York Evening World - 26 February 1919
Painting Dead Souls with Eyes Shut Easy for Subconscious Impressionist, Greenwich Village's Latest Sensation
His name is Aleister Crowley. He doesn’t look at all like the average village artist, having more of the snappy appearance of a Wall Street broker. His hair, instead of being worn with Bolshevik abandon is close cropped. Instead of shaving every three months he shaves every day. His clothes are neat but not gaudy and have the close-fitting and knobby lines of a fashionable tailor.
Mr Crowley’s studio, on the third floor of 63 Washington square south, is far from removed from the den of the average village artist of the well known “struggling” type. It is luxuriously fitted with cavernous easy chairs, mahogany davenports, expensive tapestries, a fine rug or two, an expensive and many-pillowed divan, with here and there a rare rosewood antique.
Mr Crowley is an Englishman who at the outbreak of the great war was in the confidential service of the British government. In this service he was shot in the leg he says. He then came to this country, late in 1915 on a special mission for the British, and later became editor of the International, a radical magazine, published in Greenwich Village.
“I had been involved in various literary pursuits all my life.” Said Mr Crowley as he held a small glass of cognac up to the light.
“I have written forty books of poetry among other things. There are some of my books on these shelves.” He pointed to several rows of books over the fireplace.
“I had never studied art and had never drawn or painted a picture in my life. When I tried to draw these covers I became so interested in the work that I gave up editorship of the magazine and went in for art. What you see around is the result. What sort of artist am I? Oh, I don’t know just what to call myself. I’d say off-hand that I was an old master because I’m a painter of lost souls.
“My art? Well I don’t know just what you’d call it. But please, whatever you do, don’t call me a cubist or a futurist or anything queer like that. I guess you might call me a subconscious impressionist, or something on that order. My art really is subconscious and automatic.
“I’ll tell you why. When I found I couldn’t paint a portrait I didn’t decide to go abroad and study for thirty or forty years.
“Instead I walked up to a blank canvas one day and standing very close to it, I put the wet brush upon it and closed my eyes. I had no preconceived idea of what I was going to paint. My hand simply moved automatically over the canvas.
“I don’t know how long I worked in that subconscious way, but you can imagine my astonishment when I found I had painted a likeness of a friend whom I had not seen in many years. It was that person’s dead soul I had painted. I have it about the studio somewhere.
“All my work is done that way. I never know or have a preconceived idea of what is to appear on the canvas. My hand wanders into the realm of dead souls and very frequently the result is the likeness of some living person.
“Now take that picture hanging over there, for instance. It is done in water color. It is entitled ‘the Burmese lady.’ If you will look at it closely you will discover it is none other than our old friend, Bennett.”
The painting indicated by Mr Crowley did resemble Arnold Bennett if he blackened his face and donned a Hottentot’s wig.
“Now over there you see a weird looking lady with something resembling a pig. The title of that is ‘Ella Wheeler Wilcox and the Swami.’ One of my best works that.
“Of course, my impressions are not always those of well known people. That one over there on the east wall isn’t a bad thing. That girl’s head. It is entitled ‘Young Bolshevik Girl With Wart Looking at Trotzky.’
“That one with all the little figures? Oh, the name of that is ‘A Day Dream of Dead Hats.’ You see, it shows a lady asleep on a veranda while the spirits of bygone bonnets pass across a mystic bridge on the heads of undressed ladies. You’ll probably admit that most women when they take a nap dream of dead bonnets.
“That fluffy one dancing on one toe is supposed to be the dead spirit of Eva Tanguay.”
One of his pictures which Mr Crowley likes best is that of Madame Yorska, the French actress. It shows the face of a woman, thrown backward in death, a bejewelled dagger thrust in her throat.
“That large three-panelled screen is called the ‘Screen of the Dead Souls.’ All those figures you see on it are dead souls in various stages of decomposition. That central figure in the middle panel is the queen of the dead souls. Of course, you recognise the head looking over her shoulder. That’s Hearst. Over her other shoulder is Oscar Wilde. I don’t know how he got in there, because I really hate him. The parrot sitting on the head of the dead lady’s soul in the third panel is one that belongs to Bob Chanler.
“Study art? Never have and never intend to.”
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Muskogee Times - Democrat - 12 March 1919
You Agree With Artist, His Pictures Look Best With Your Eyes Shut
This newspaper must previously have displayed a self-portrait by Aleister Crowley and asked its readers to comment. In this issue, they show a photograph of Aleister Crowley along with the self-portrait and some other paintings. Click on the image to the right to enlarge it to read a summary of their replies - the summary is within the picture shown below the newspaper heading.
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John Bull - 10 January 1920
Another Traitor TrouncedCAREER AND CONDEMNATION OF THE NOTORIOUS ALEISTER CROWLEY
Recently we called the attention of the police and the public to the announcement that Frank Harris, a base creature who has fouled the national nest, and had cast mud at Britain from the safe security of America - before our cousin came into the war - was returning to this country. Now we hear that the traitorous degenerate, Aleister Crowley, is anxious to sneak back to the land he has sought to defile. Crowley is no stranger to the columns of John Bull. As long ago as November, 1910, we pilloried this man for his bestial posturings and his disgusting blasphemies. He was then, forsooth, the inventor of a new religion, with its pseudo-teaching supposed to be derived from the medieval alchemists, and it’s licentious cult in which dark rooms, impressionable women and poems recited to throbbing music played their appointed part. But, having then denounced this person, we should have been well content to leave his so-called religion to the execration and disgust of every healthy-minded man. But, as we observed in relation to Frank Harris, the war which brought out the best in human nature, also forced the scum to the top, and Aleister Crowley is of the scum.
Like Harris, he sought satisfaction for his degraded soul in America, and, like Harris, he was heralded as "a distinguished literary man." O! literature, what offences are committed in thy name! He was heralded as a poet; the fact that he won honours at Cambridge adds to his dishonour. Never forget that when these traitors and renegades emitted the venom of their poisoned natures in America the war was in its early stages - the die had been cast, the issue was in the balance. Crowley added such power as his pen could command to the campaign of calumny against his native land, and vied with Harris in the cruel bitterness of his inventive. Easily getting in touch with one George Silvester Viereck, a German-American, and one of Dernberg’s agents, and the owner of such notorious German journals as the Fatherland and the International Monthly, Crowley found a ready market for his prostituted talents. In July, 1917, this creature assumed sole control of the International, and changing the cover into the hated Hun colours of black and yellow, launched out into a propaganda of venom more cruel and virulent than before. But earlier, in the autumn of 1916, the Deutschland arrived in America - the super-submarine which by the irony of fate has now come into our possession, and is being visited by hundreds of thousands at its anchorage in the Thames. That masterpiece of the enemy’s mechanism of destruction carried on its voyage copies of Count Reventlow’s book "The Vampire of the Continent" - a false and bitter arraignment of British policy from the days of Queen Elizabeth. Naturally, the Fatherland, and equally naturally Aleister Crowley, took it as a text for more onslaught on the Old Country - the country which stood between the Hun and the destruction of civilisation. And this is a sample of its traitorous writing:- There is only one solution to the problem of England’s piracy - the Sovereignty of England must be destroyed once and for all. England herself has understood this with admirable if devilish clarity. It is for this reason that she has not only destroyed the Sovereignty of Ireland, but deliberately ravaged and depopulated it. She must be made to swallow a dose of her own medicine. England must be divided up between the Continental Powers. She must be a mere province, or better still, colonies of her neighbours, France and Germany. Count Reventlow has found the word for the situation; that word is "vampire". Let him look therefore to tradition. It is not enough to kill a vampire in the ordinary way. Holy water must be used and holy herbs. It must be severed limb from limb, its heart torn out, and the charred remains run through with a stake.
Now we ask, in all seriousness, can such a dirty renegade be permitted to return to the country he has spurned and insulted? We await an assurance from the Home Office or the Foreign Office that steps are being taken to arrest the renegade or prevent his infamous feet ever again polluting our shores. In August, 1915, Crowley wrote this in a Chicago magazine, The Open Court:-
"In the present crisis there are more pigmies than men. Obscene dwarfs like George V., pot-bellied bourgeois like Poincare, could only become heroic by virtue of some Rabelais’ magic-wand . . . But Wilhelm II, is the genius of his people. He has the quality that Castor and Pollux had for Rome . . . He seems omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and beautiful, sent to save the Fatherland from savage foes. Even if he perishes, he will not perish as a man. He will acquire the radiance of Milton’s Satan, and go down the ages as a hero of the great lost cause of humanity."
To what extent this picture, so blasphemous, grotesque, represents the skulking figure of Ammerongen we need not stop to inquire, it is enough for us that it was painted by the creature whom, we are credibly informed, intends to return to this country, if the authorities are supine enough to permit him. We warn the Government of the danger they run. Both Harris and Crowley pose as patriotic Irishmen. They are dangerous firebrands; we pay them the compliment of declaring that their presence here or in Ireland would involve perilous consequences. It is the duty of the Government, in the natural interest and for the sake that splendid patriotism which these creatures have denied to take immediate and effective action against them.
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John Bull - 19 May 1923
A Man We'd Like To Hang
The infamous Aleister Crowley, who has been expelled from Italy, proposes to return to this country. He is not wanted here. We do not want a man of his record on British soil. Apart from anything else, he is a beast whose disloyalty is only exceeded by his impudence.
The Italian police, who have been kept informed of our revelations concerning Aleister Crowley, the debased and blasphemous person who both preaches and practises corruption, have taken the appropriate action. They have ordered him peremptorily to leave their country within seven days, never to return.
So far, so good. It is at least a tribute to public decency that this man should be bundled unceremoniously out of his Abbey at Cefalu, where he practised his horrible rites and perverted his victims.
But clearly what is required is concerted international police action. Otherwise Crowley will simply transfer his malevolent activities elsewhere; and continue to find fresh followers. At present his intention after a short stay in Paris, where he is at the moment, is to come to London. This must not be allowed.
He has written to his agent in London, the notorious Jane Wolff, to outline this programme. Jane Wolff has not been surprised at the expulsion of the "Master" from Italy. Crowley had to leave America with almost equal precipitancy, when the police of the United States were on his track some time ago.
Probably Crowley expected such a development himself. Hence his recent visit to England. He was not able to complete his arrangements, however, owing to the publicity given to him in our columns, and he returned hurriedly to Sicily.
Jane Wolff in the meantime is taking a holiday in this country, and proposes to go for a tour of the Surrey Hills, and after that to make a journey through the West of England. She declares that the police cannot touch her, although she was much annoyed at their activity after our article describing the interview with her by our Special Commissioner, whose identity she was at the time unaware.
Detectives called at the address in Russell Square, W.C; given in that article, and as a consequence, the landlady made it clear to Jane Wolff that her presence was undesirable, and requested her to go at the earliest possible moment. Crowley himself is much more wary. But even he does not make any secret of his identity and character. When he went to Sicily he changed his name from Aleister Crowley to Alestor de Kerval. He took with him, in addition to Jane Wolff, another woman who is the mother of his two children, and who calls herself Countess Lea Harcourt. They opened a joint bank account at the Banca di Sicilia, with a deposit of some thousands of francs in bonds; and all cheques drawn were to be signed by both, Alestor de Kerval, Knight of the Sacred Lance, and Countess Lea Harcourt, Virgin Priestess of the Sea Grail. An astonishing mummery indeed, which might well have aroused local suspicion.
Gradually things began to leak out of Cefalu, and one of the consequences was, after our Articles had reached Italy, a raid by the local police. The Abbey was searched for opium and other drugs, but the search was unsuccessful.
Crowley was rather pleased. He was able to point out to his followers how easily he had duped the police, and the séances were renewed with every circumstance of blasphemous indecency.
The Italian police, the American police, and the British police have all dossiers concerning this man. Obviously it is a case for concerted and drastic international action. This creature is an enemy of mankind, and should be dealt with accordingly.
If there is no other way of dealing with him as an undesirable, he could be made amenable for his treasonable attacks upon the King of England.
We do not propose to reproduce his obscene - sneers. It is sufficient to say that they are on record and in print, and will justify the police of this country in being at least as active and determined to vindicate public decency as the police of Italy.
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The Helena Independent - 27 November 1927
Latest "Black Magic" Revelations About Nefarious American "Love Cults"How the Law Is Laying Bare the Unholy Secrets of “Brotherhoods” and “Orders” Flourishing from Greenwich Village to The Golden Gate and Imperiling Our Girls
(MYSTIC SYMBOL. Insignia of the Sacred Order of the White Brotherhood Which Resembles the Star and Circle of Aleister Crowley’s “O.T.O.” a Symbol He Seared into the Flesh of Girl Neophytes with a White-Hot Dagger.)
HIGH PRIESTESS. Mrs Gertrude Wright, Called “Zareda” by Her Followers, Whom Oakland Police Lodged in Jail on Immorality Charges.
SO-CALLED love cults and black magic -- regarded by some readers as too fantastic to be real -- not only thrive in America, but they are spreading in ever-widening concentric circles, judging by recent arrests in many parts of the country.
Now, instead of smiling indulgently over “alarmist reports,” police authorities, social and economic experts are shaking their heads and declaring that the wave of mysticism -- be it paganism, Tantricism or medieval diablerie -- constitutes a very real menace to American homes and American girlhood.
They point out that “Main Street” is bounded on the West by the so-called Sacred Order of the White Brotherhood in California, on the South with voodoo still secretly thriving in parts of Louisiana; on the East by the Nyack, N.Y. cult of Pierre Bernard, self-styled Oom the Omnipotent, and Aleister Crowley’s mystic “O.T.O.” in Greenwich Village, girl neophytes of which bared their breasts to be seared by a white-hot dagger with the symbolical star and circle; on the North by Albert W. Ryerson’s branch of the “O.T.O.” and House of David, both of them in Michigan.
Nearly all modern cults fall naturally into two classes. The first is the practical working-out -- or attempt to work out -- advanced ideas in sociology, where groups of men and women form colonies for the upbringing of their children along scientific lines. In this connection, it may be stated that even so profound an observer as Judge Ben B. Lindsay, of Denver, has recently described marriage as a “worn-out institution, fit only for the discard.” The second type of “cult” is frankly a “throwback” to the Middle Ages, carrying with it all of the superstition of those medieval times -- devil-worship, Satanism and paganism.
The Medievalists are generally the most radical of all the modern cultists. Stemming from the Black Mass mystics of Central Europe, their American equivalents strive to reproduce ecstasy by means of incantations, the burning and “torturing” of their enemies’ waxen or wooden effigies, and, in certain sombre instances, by the shedding, as an oblation, of some animal’s blood -- that of a “dedicated” goat or kid, and on occasion that of a “sacred” cat or bird.
When police of Oakland, California, raided the exotic quarters of the so-called Sacred Order of the White Brotherhood, they found in the “throne room” a golden coffin and the effigy of a woman with a sword piercing her heart. Incoherent messages and ritualism indicated that only in death could supreme ecstasy be found; and the nearest thing to it was defined as love. Mrs Gertrude Wright, alleged leader of the cult and known to her followers as “Zeralda;” Miss Emma Gibbs, twenty-five, known as “Ermengarde;” Miss Caroline Merwin, seventeen, whose sacred name was “Zeralda,” together with Louis Alley and his son, Lloyd, so-called “supermen” of the order, were taken into custody on charges of contributing to juvenile delinquency and indulging in immoral practices.
It was relatives of Miss Merwin who caused the investigation. The seventeen year old “Zeralda,” it was said, had been selected by cult leaders to become the mother of “the perfect child” or “new Messiah.” Before detectives had worked an hour on the case, they discovered that the Brotherhood, which mixed Yoga philosophy, astrology, Buddhism, sun-worship, Vedantism and kindred occult beliefs, had won converts by the thousands among California’s wealthy.
On the roster of the Oakland order alone there were the names of more than 200 persons prominent in business and the arts.
Affairs of the Brotherhood are due for a further airing when the five defendants are brought to trial during July.
Voodooism does not flourish exclusively in the South. Sometimes it appears in the North. Two years ago the State of New Jersey sighed in relief. It had -- at last -- killed the dark snake of Voodooism, which had caused half a dozen scandals, threatened to wreck many homes and sent several black magic “kings” to jail.
But the serpent, it turned out, had not been slain; only scotched. Once again it reared its vicious head. But in the arrest of the “Rev.” George O. Gaines, black “emperor” of potions and philters and amulets, the authorities got, finally, to the bottom of the tangle and stopped the exploitation of credulous young girls and women.
Gaines’ downfall can be attributed to one thing -- and one thing only -- namely: the walk which pretty 22-year-old Carmella di Francisco took one afternoon in Jersey City to soothe her tortured nerves. Having lost her boy baby several months before, the young mother was a victim of melancholia, had difficulty in sleeping at night and was generally run down physically. Suddenly she saw a modest sign, proclaiming that inside was a “spiritualist and healer.” Let Carmella tell what she saw:
“The room was so dimly lighted that each object therein seemed to glow as if witch phosphorous. The furniture was rich, there were many tapestries. Dull gold candlesticks held tapers which revealed several religious murals. While I shivered in the atmosphere, a big black man entered and introduced himself to me as the ‘Rev.’ Gaines.
I told him of my condition; explained that the doctors were unable to give me any relief. He laughed. He said that wasn’t strange, for it was nothing physical that bothered me. Someone, he said, had ‘put a curse on me,’ and he thought it was my mother-in-law. For $200 he offered to anoint me with a salve that would neutralize the curse. So I stripped to the waist at his bidding, allowed him to massage an oily substance into my skin.”
When I returned for another ‘treatment,’ my sister, Mary Narduca, was with me. ‘Rev.’ Gaines insisted that she also had been cursed, and he offered to cure her for $100. She allowed him to rub in the salve in the same manner as I had. But when certain other things occurred, she came to my home and told me. We then visited the police and lodged a complaint against him.”
“Emperor” Gaines was tried, convicted and sentenced to a prison term. His books revealed that many prominent and extremely wealthy women had paid huge sums to be dispossessed of devils or relieved of ‘curses’. But none save Carmella and her sister would testify to being molested.
Much has been written about the Nyack cult of Pierre Bernard -- self-styled “Oom the Omnipotent” -- for his Tantric love colony includes women so rich, so beautiful, so prominent socially that no society page is complete without mention of their names. Bernard is regarded as a sort of man-God before whom they chant. “Be to me a living guru; be a loving Tantric guru.”
Almost equally well-known is the mystic “O.T.O.,” which for a space was presided over by the brilliant Aleister Crowley in Greenwich Village.
Whether Albert W. Ryerson, middle-aged Detroit book publisher and millionaire, lacked Crowley’s fiery magnetism or his genius for leadership, isn’t known, but it is true that the Michigan man made a dismal failure of his branch of the “O.T.O.” After acquiring a large following among Detroit’s bohemian colony, he caused his palatial home in aristocratic Grosse Point to become headquarters of the ‘do what thou wilt’ and ‘love is everything’ disciples. And Mrs Ryerson got a divorce.
When the millionaire cult leader got over the shock of that, he proposed to one of the most zealous of the disciples. She was a bob-haired, fiery beauty whom Detroit’s theatrical fold knew as Bertha Bruce, about twenty years old and as recklessly extravagant as she was beautiful. When Ryerson put his foot down on her lavish spending, she, too, consulted a lawyer and instituted proceedings for a divorce.
An artist’s model, Maizie Mitchell, followed the pretty Bertha as mistress of Millionaire Ryerson’s mansion. She became “high priestess’ of the cult. Three months -- ninety days to be exact -- and Mrs Ryerson 3rd besought her freedom from the bonds of matrimony, charging, among other things, that the publisher publicly whipped her during a meeting of the “O.T.O.” followers, offering her scarred body as proof whereof she spoke.
Although Ryerson denied her allegations and was corroborated by a host of friends, the publicity which the cult had received was sufficient to kill it in Detroit. Shortly thereafter the publisher left on an “extended vacation.”
But the “O.T.O.” isn’t dead, for it still numbers scores of chapters throughout the United States and Canada. It conducts its meetings in secret places, its ritualism is guarded as more precious than gold and its disciples are bound by oath not to divulge the names of their leaders. Besides it there are many other similar cults, some masquerading as “study clubs” and “literary societies.”
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Ogden Standard Examiner - 22 April 1928
Hounding The King Of The Devil Cults Around The GlobeBarred from England, Raided in Italy, the "Beast 666" Bobs Up in Paris -- and Gets Yawns Where Once He Thrilled and Horrified
By NIGEL TRASK, PARIS
Aleister Crowley is back again, a fatter, balder, older, sadder but apparently no wiser man. This high priest of dark devil cults, once hated and feared by Parisians, he who mysteriously disappeared from America, was driven from London and hounded from Sicily, returns to the boulevards like a figure from his own fantastic pages on black magic. Thereby hangs an amazing tale.
Last year they said Crowley was dead, murdered by other demonologists in the high places of ancient Tibet. Now the Parisians assert he sent out this story himself to protect himself from his sworn enemies.
If that is true, Crowley might have saved himself the trouble. The most tragic thing that could happen to "the Beast of the Apocalypse" has happened -- he has become old-fashioned, he is no longer feared, he is considered just a mild, harmless, slightly eccentric, elderly Englishman, not rich and not at all terrifying.
The celebrated "basilisk stare" that made scores of women his "love slaves" doesn't seem to work anymore, the mumbo-jumbo of his paganistic rituals calls forth laughter.
The other day I talked to a charming blonde, blue-eyed American flapper, aged 22, who had met Crowley at the Cafe du Dome the day before. She could hardly describe the incident for pent-up giggles.
"Of course I have heard of Aleister Crowley," began Miss 1928. "Mamma used to know him, and every time she mentioned him she used to shudder. He was so dark, dangerous and handsome, and he had those hypnotic eyes. He was so mysterious, daring, and evil. Of course I wanted to meet him.
"Well, it happened, and he was a shock, but not in the way he expected to be. He grabbed my hand, just like any Yale man on his best night club behavior, but with a difference in results, drew me over to him, and began to yodel sotto voce: 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law!'
"Can you imagine! I learned afterward that that is always his opening line. It's part of his funny pagan ritual. Then he began working his eyebrows fast, just like old Svengali himself. I'm telling you, that may have got results in the naughty nineties, but it seemed just a wee bit ham to me.
"Then he told me that I was Nuit, his lady of the starry heavens, that I should take my fill of love, that my ecstasy was his, and his joy was to see my joy. I was simply aghast, but I let him carry on just for the fun of the thing. Then when he came up for air I answered.
"Listen," I said, "you ought to see Jung. He does a lot for cases like you. You have a Messianic complex because you were dropped in a pulpit as a child, or something. Any behaviorist could tell at a glance you haven't been properly conditioned. Your reactions are dated, and your manifestations of ego show a desire to escape from actualities. Besides, your chemistry is different from mine. I don't like you.'"
I really think that pretty Miss 1928 is a little hard on the famous Aleister Crowley. I have known him for years, and have often found him a delightful companion. He is a man of tremendous energy, mountain climber, explorer, novelist, painter as well as King of the Devil Cults. He is also a poet of some distinction.
But the reaction of this 22 year old child shows why Crowley's astonishing power has fled, why he is no longer feared. The world has advanced and he has grown older. His dark, mysterious power -- and he undoubtedly had it -- fades before the shibboleths of the new, materialistic generation. Jung, Freud, Adler and the behavioristic psychologists, which Miss 1928 drew on so amusingly by way of reprisal, have done for him.
Those who hated and hounded him around the globe, called him "monster," "Satanist" and "Sadist," now snap their fingers in derision. The king is deposed!
Crowley still has his followers in Paris, who tried to give the "Beast" a welcome on his return from "death," but their number has dwindled to a pitiable few. Yet this bald-headed man with the hypnotic eyes was only a few years ago the self-proclaimed "Anti - Christ," the head of the celebrated "O.T.O." cult, with secret branches all over the world. Many people, including Crowley himself, believed he could perform miracles.
He first became widely known in the London of the nineties as a brilliant young poet. You will find a number of his poems in the Oxford Book of Mystical Verse. His friends were the most distinguished writers, artists and diplomats of the Yellow Book days. Then he turned to mysticism as a cult, and to drugs, but was never enslaved by them.
Crowley never did anything half way. His researches in ancient religious and mystical beliefs consumed years. He probably knows as much about these subjects as any man living today. He emerged from these studies to found the cult of "O.T.O.," founded on the ancient practices of the Rosicrucian Order and the Gnostics.
But Crowley was not satisfied with the teachings of books; he went among people. He lived for three months among Hindu religious fakirs and starved himself as they did. He walked across China, he studied the Mayan and Aztec religions in Mexico.
When he started his cult everything went swimmingly at first. He was handsome -- then -- and magnetic. Women were drawn to him, men liked him, too; he drew his disciples from both sexes. I have always thought he was absolutely sincere, but he was an excellent showman and instinctive psychologist in the bargain. A tremendous egotist himself, he catered to the egos of other people.
His maxim, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," summed up his philosophy. He believed that people should be freed from the restrictions placed on them by civilized society. This phrase, beginning "Do what thou wilt," was the opening line in his ritual. He would say it and his disciples would then answer, "Love is the law, Love under will."
Another part of the ritual contained these words; "Dress ye all in fine apparel, eat rich food, and drink sweet wines and wines that foam; also take your fill of love, when, where and with whom you will."
These paganistic words pleased some people and horrified others. It was bruited about in London that the Crowley cult was a mere excuse for licentious love practices. Stories were told of Crowley branding beautiful women, whom he had selected as high priestesses, with the circle and star of cult, applied with a hot dagger. Other stories told how women had been whipped by men and by one another -- as part of the ritual. This was known as mortification of the flesh.
London husbands, whose wives were becoming interested in the "Beast," kicked up a fearful row. Crowley disappeared, showed up in Paris, where his practices excited more horror, then dropped from sight again, followed by tales of narcotic orgies, which failed to master him.
He next appeared in New York's Greenwich Village, where he made many converts. I was in that city at the time and attended several of his séances where the 'black mass' was read. There were blue lights, spirals of blue smoke, and Crowley, in dark monkish garb, sitting just outside the magic circle, intoning the words of his demonic services. I never saw any brandings, but Crowley acknowledged that they occurred.
In New York he met Lea Hirsig, "Lea, the Dead Soul," whom he vitalized into a brilliant personality. She had been a school teacher before she met him, a cool, aloof, delicate person. Crowley made her his high priestess, and she has been devoted to him ever since. He used to have her recite these words:
"I am the blue-lidded daughter of the sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky. Sing the rapturous love song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you!"
No wonder a bright new look came to Lea's quiet eyes! She became one of Crowley's branded disciples.
At this time the Beast -- he used to sign his letters, "The Beast 666" -- turned painter. He worked furiously, turning out weird pictures that he called solemnly "examples of introspective art." They were really childishly naive in their attempts to reproduce the nightmarish and horrible.
Then Crowley, "the purple priest" disappeared from Greenwich Village as mysteriously as he had come. He was next heard of in Sicily, where his cultish caperings created a downright scandal.
He established the Abbey of Thelema in the picturesque little town of Cefalu, on the Mediterranean. There his converts gave homage to him.
One of Crowley's adherents was Raoul Loveday, a brilliant and fragile young Oxford poet, who brought his beautiful artists' model wife to the colony. Loveday swallowed Crowley's teachings hook, line and sinker, but his wife didn't. When Loveday died, his wife returned to London and published articles which insinuated that Crowley was in some way responsible for her husband's death. This was disproved, as it was shown that Loveday died from inflammation of the intestines. Nevertheless, Mrs Loveday told such fantastic and harrowing stories of the goings-on in the colony that the Sicily experiment ended suddenly. Again the enemies of the Beast had driven him to cover.
Then came the story of the retreat to a Tibetan monastery, and the report of his murder.
Well, Aleister Crowley walks the boulevards again, a wrinkled, bald, old man. His hypnotic stare is as piercing as ever, his manner as solemn, 'his self-confidence as great. But the ladies! -- they have found new gods.
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Aleister Crowley In London
Daily Sketch - 7 February 1929
One of the most interesting and talked of men in Europe is now visiting London after a long absence. He is Aleister Crowley, famed for his knowledge and reputed practice of black magic, who was asked to leave France two months ago. Crowley (as you see here) has an amazing appearance, and eyes which, when you first look into them, are literally terrifying. I hate to imagine what they must be like when he is not in a benevolent mood.
He has been branded in many countries, and showed me, with some amusement, a newspaper cutting concerning himself, and headed "The Human Beast."
But stories about him have been exaggerated to a ridiculous extent. Actually he is a very brilliant and interesting man, who has travelled all over the world observing religious practices and philosophy. He has been in the most remote places, like the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and was once a tremendous mountaineer.
Crowley, who is exceptionally witty, is publishing a volume of his short stories soon, and these will probably be followed by his memoirs. The latter dealing largely with the practice of the magic arts, are unique and enormously long.
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Milwaukee Journal - 17 April 1929
France 'Gives the Gate' to 'High Priest of Evil'
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New York Times - 17 April 1929
Paris To Expel A. CrowleyOrder Against "Black Magic Authority" Becomes Effective Today
Special cable to the New York Times
PARIS, April 16 - 1929 -- An expulsion order from France, becoming effective tomorrow, has been issued by the French police against Aleister Crowley, an Englishman, who was well known in New York during the early part of the war. Crowley, who has recently used on his visiting cards the title of Knight, asserts that he is the foremost authority on black magic, which he says he has studied in Mexico, China and Africa.
While in America he wrote articles for German papers, but declared he was a member of the British counter-espionage service. Various charges have been made against him and he has already been expelled from Italy. For the past six years he has been living in Paris, presiding at times over demonstrations of "magic" of an exotic character. In his youth Crowley climbed some of the highest peaks in America and Asia. He gained some reputation as a poet.
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A French Newspaper - 17 April 1929
Sir Aleister Crowley Est "Refoulé" De FrancePHOTO PRISE HIER Á PARIS
Aujourd’hui sera «refoulé» de France le baronnet anglais sir Aleister Crowley, suspecté d’espionnage pendant la guerre et de pratiques de magic actuellement. Le «refoulement» ne comporte que le retrait de la carte d’identité
PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN YESTERDAY IN PARIS
Today the English baronet Sir Aleister Crowley, suspected of espionage during the war and of currently practicing magic will be deported from France. The deportation includes the withdrawal of his identity card.
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The Tribune - 28 April 1929
Voice Of Tribune ReadersHotel Metropole, Brussels. April 26, 1929
To the Editor of The Tribune:
Let me thank you for your article of the 17th. At the same time, you will add to my gratitude if you will permit me to make the following corrections on important matters.
1. I was not expelled from France. It was merely a question of "Refus de Sejour."
2. The police treated me with the utmost politeness and consideration.
3. The Prince Sixte de Bourbon has nothing to do with the matter. The gentleman in question is Don Luis de Bourbon, whom I have never met or corresponded with in any way in my life.
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Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden, Utah - 19 May 1929
Why France Finally Kicked Out The High Priest Of The Devil CultWhen the Mystic Leader's Name Was Linked With Scions of Royalty Parisian Patience Gave Out and the Police Said, "Go!"
Aleister Crowley, High Priest of the "Devil Worshipers," said by scientists to know more of the secrets of black magic than any white man today, finally tried the patience of the Parisian police so much that they have expelled him from France.
England, Italy and America have previously taken somewhat similar action against the founder of the mysterious Oriental Love Cult, which is reported to have secret chapters in America and Europe.
Behind the closed doors of their smart drawing rooms members of the haut monde are excitedly discussing the findings of the Surete General. Their concern arises from the fact that certain noble names, including that of Prince Louis of Bourbon, scion of the royal house of Spain, are mentioned in connection with the activities of Crowley, the "Purple Priest."
Just what these findings include has not been-completely revealed. It is thought by many, however, that the doctrine of Crowley's mysterious cult, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," may have led to demonstrations which even the tolerant French could not overlook.
For years, strange stories regarding his mystical seances, the peculiar influence he is said to have wielded over disciples recruited from both sexes, have recurred with persistence. But last year when he suddenly bobbed up in Paris after one of his characteristic "disappearances" those who had heard these tales smiled incredulously.
He had been described in former years as dark, dangerous, handsome -- the man with the celebrated "basilisk stare." Here was that same Aleister Crowley, a rather fat, bald-headed, old man! Whatever strange adventures might have occupied him in the past, he presented anything but a formidable picture on the occasion of his latest appearance. At least that was the opinion of the majority of the people who met him.
Apparently, however, the Surete General did not dismiss the once colorful figure so casually. It is evident now that the French Secret Service decided to keep him under surveillance.
Some people say there is no foundation for the sensational stories involving Prince Louis of Bourbon and other notable figures, but the fact remains that another country has shut her doors to Aleister Crowley and that fantastic stories of his past have been revived with fresh enthusiasm.
These stories present a curious picture. He has been called by his friends and enemies everything from an "immortal genius" to an "inhuman monster." The man who is now a virtual exile from four countries may look back upon his life and consider that he has practically run the gamut of human experience.
He first burst into prominence as a poet when he was in his twenties. Then England considered him a promising young genius. Those who knew him in those London days depict him as an aesthetic young man endowed with a brilliant mind. Some of his poems may be found in the Oxford Book of Mystical Verse. Numbered among his friends were the distinguished writers, artists and diplomats of the Yellow Book days of the nineties.
Then his mind turned to mysticism and he delved into the ancient religious rites of the "Devil worshipers," into Eastern occultism and philosophy. He began developing the strange cult that was later to bring men and women from all parts of the globe under his influence. As a result of these studies he founded the secret order of the O.T.O. on the ancient practices of the Rosicrucian Order and the Gnostics.
That was the beginning of his trouble with the authorities and of his peculiar kind of fame. Black magic it seemed was but one phase of his astonishing cult. It was said that aristocratic English, French and American ladies were falling under the spell of the mystic ceremonies and that one of the doctrines set forth by Crowley, "The Purple Priest," was, "Dress ye all in fine apparel and drink sweet wines that foam, also take your fill of love." Indignant London husbands became so incensed that the supreme ruler of the order decided to leave for parts unknown.
After a time he showed up in Paris, where he found new disciples. Again news spread of the weird practices of the order, and he dropped from sight, later to appear in New York's Greenwich Village.
By this time it is said that the erst-while poet had convinced himself he was the reincarnation of Eliphas Levi, the Abbe constant, an able scholar, who made an elaborate study of magic. He also signed himself "The Beast 666." Stories were circulated regarding demoniac services held in the very heart of New York City, and of women branded with the symbol of the order, the circle and the star. Similar stories told of women voluntarily submitting to other cruelties as part of the ritual. This was known as mortification of the flesh.
Finally some reputable citizens determined to investigate the truth of these fantastic tales had succeeded in gaining admittance to the "Black Mass'" and other ceremonies conducted by Crowley. In describing the scenes he had witnessed, W.B. Seabrook, famous author, wrote, "It was difficult to believe the evidence of my own eyes. Black-hooded figures in a dimly lighted room chanting mystic phrases in lifeless voices -- strange music -- an altar resplendent with multi-colored mosaics marked with cabalistic symbols -- high priestesses fulfilling orders of "The Beast" wearing monkish, black robes. This was but part of the unholy ritual thought to invoke the spirit of the Evil One."
One of the most startling developments came with the revelation of the type of women who joined the order and even became the so-called High Priestesses. In England it was said that Miss Leila Waddell, a tall, beautiful young woman was the Lady of Mystery, or High Priestess, who played the violin for the "Black Mass" services. In Greenwich Village a little school teacher, Leah Hirsig, became a spectacular figure in the cult.
When "The Beast" first met her he is said to have called her "the dead soul," but through his influence, he declared he vitalized her into a vivid personality. Before her metamorphosis Leah was a cool, aloof, delicate person. Later she is said to have repeated these words dictated by "The Beast."
"I am the blue-lidded daughter of the sunset. I am the brilliance of the voluptuous night sky. Sing the Rapturous love song unto me! Burn to me perfume! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you!"
The revelations of Crowley's activities in New York caused an outcry of indignation, and about this time he decided to find a less conspicuous setting for his activities. In the quiet little village of Cefalu, Sicily, he renewed his mystic ceremonies. The "Abbey of Thelema," his next colony, was founded in an obscure farmhouse of the Sicilian countryside. His disciples followed him, and before long a group of cult adherents had been established.
But in this isolated farmhouse temple an event soon took place which resulted in downright scandal. One of the most ardent of the flock was Raoul Loveday, a brilliant and fragile young Oxford poet. He had brought his beautiful artists' model wife to the colony. Unfortunately for Crowley, the young wife, Betty, did not share her husband's enthusiasm for the Satanic teachings. Still more disastrous to the magician was the fact that the young man sickened and died.
It was shortly before this that Aleister Crowley directed his talents in a slightly different channel, but produced a similar sensational effect. He wrote and published "The Diary of a Drug Fiend." Some critics denounced it as "unspeakably wicked." Others called it a work of sheer genius that "will rank with De Quincy's classical 'confessions of an Opium Eater.'"
During his erratic career there have been other evidences of Crowley's inherent brilliance, of his instinctive genius as a psychologist, and of the magnetic influence he exerted over men and women alike. At times he was painter, scholar, explorer. Again he cast away the monkish garb worn while presiding as "High Priest" and disappeared for months at a time. Here another curious characteristic is revealed.
This man so successful in dominating people would journey about the world unheralded and unaccompanied. For two years he tramped through dangerous parts of Mexico without a guide. In 1906 he crossed China on foot. Again he became a naked Hindu yogi, begging for rice under the Indian sun, and then a recluse in the Sahara Desert.
One man summed up his strange nature in this manner: "A tremendous egotist himself, he catered to the egotism of others."
Another, who had studied him carefully, said: "One never knew where the real mystic ended and where the charlatan began. But it is true that he sincerely believed he was able to invoke demons and spirits, actually making them talk to him and do his bidding."
Regarding his powers, one well known scientist, after years of careful personal investigation, made the following statement: "Whatever else Aleister Crowley may be, I am convinced that he is one of the greatest mystics the world has probably ever known."
But when black magic involves European nobility, France apparently decides that the "Devil Worshipers" will have to find another stronghold.
"The Beast" has been forced to run to cover again. The place of his retreat is not known, but Brussels has been suggested as a possibility."
Despite his age, Crowley has retained his fighting spirit and remarkable courage that have distinguished his career. "The Beast" has not accepted the late victory of his opponents without giving battle. He has declared that his enemies who fear his power to reveal the truth about life have again organized their forces in a drive against him. He has denied the current stories regarding the alleged findings of the Surete General as well as the aspersions cast upon him and the scion of the royal house of Spain.
He is indignant about his expulsion from France. Crowley is said to have stated his attitude in the disdainful exclamation, "These are petty contingencies. Eastern philosophy and magic raise the soul far above them."
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The Times - 19 August 1929
Aleister Crowley MarriedCeremony in Leipzig after being banned from France
The marriage ceremony, according to an announcement, was performed in the presence of the British Consul.
Mr Aleister Crowley was recently refused the right to stay in France.
He stated that his fiancée had also been forced to leave France. Mr Crowley was born at Leamington, 53 years ago, and was educated at Malvern and Trinity College, Cambridge. He had been through China on foot, has been received by the sacred Lamas at Tibet, and has reached other remote places such as the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
He came into prominence in London in 1911 when his picture was painted by Augustus John.
During the war he went to America and participated in German counter-espionage, declaring that he did this at the request of the British Naval Intelligence Department.
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Aberdeen Press Journal - 25 October 1929
Fantasy And GeniusMOONCHILD, By Aleister Crowley. Mandrake Press: 10s 6d
"Moonchild" is one of the most extraordinary fantastic yet attractive novels we have read. A twice-divorced "widow" falls in love with Cyril Grey, who turns out to be a magician and member of an altogether saintly order of thaumaturgists. It is desired that Grey’s child by this woman shall be fashioned by pre-natal influences that it will grow up to be a great regenerator of mankind. A hostile corps of magicians set themselves to frustrate this experiment and a battle of demonology rages round the Neapolitan villa where the honeymoon couple have their quarters. The upshot need not be disclosed, but it’s significance is rather more obscure than that of the body of the story.
The charm of "Moonchild" lies in the telling. We are constantly reminded of the moods of Anatole France and the methods of Rabelais. From extensive dissertations on magic and spiritualism we are suddenly switched into humour that is sometimes normal, sometimes sardonic. From a glimpse into the blackest mysteries of Ilecate we are transferred to a wonderful white vision of the poets. From the trivialities of peace we emerge into the horrors of the Great War. "Moonchild" is not more fantastic than a thorough-going "thriller", but it is also a satire and an allegory, full of disorder and genius.
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The Chronicle-Telegram (Ohio) - 29 November 1929
Witchcraft In France Gaining In AdherentsPARIS - a survival of sorcery, witchcraft and the black masses which were practiced in the days of Cagliostro and the Marquis de Sade, is now sweeping many parts of France.
Following the enforced departure, some months ago, known here as the High Priest of Black Magic, frequent cases of devil-worship have come to the attention of the French police. The most popular rendezvous of these votaries is said to be in the Fontainebleau forests some 50 miles from Paris, where on moonless nights mystic rites are started as a distant clock strikes twelve.
Although these ceremonies occur in various parts of the country, it is said they are all carried out in the same manner. A circle is generally drawn in which the worshippers gather on their knees after marking cabalistic signs on the ground before them. Then bowls of incense are lighted and the priest, standing before a candle-lit altar, invokes the evil spirits.
As the rule the invocations are blasphemous in the extreme. Hymns of praise are sung to the devil. Then the Mephistophelian one is asked to bestow worldly riches upon his followers or to fulfil their sinful desires. In return, they promise to give him their souls for eternal damnation.
Pacts Signed in Blood
One of the strangest phases of this devil-worship is the almost legal form it sometimes takes. There are many cases in which pacts with Satan are written out on foolscap in documentary style and formally signed in blood. A notable French lawyer, Maurice Garcon, in a recent address before the Paris Institute of Metaphysics told about some of these contracts which he himself had seen.
He declared that most of them revealed an effort on the part of the signatory to cheat the devil of his promised soul, through the insertion of some tricky clause or phrase. The lawyer explained that apparently most of these people regarded his Satanic Majesty as a most unscrupulous trafficker in evil and therefore that they felt themselves entitled to cheat him.
During his address, Maître Garcon also related how he had witnessed black masses at which evil spirits and even the devil himself were invoked.
Sorcery Soured Milk
There have recently been numerous cases in the provincial courts of farmers charging their neighbours with bewitching children cattle, milk and harvests. A baker of Fontenay-sous-Bois has just accused a man of having through sorcery made his milk turn sour thus ruining his business.
In Paris, itself, it is alleged that black masses are conducted, but most discreetly and only the initiated are permitted to attend the rites. The police, however, are carefully on the watch to see that none of these ceremonies include human sacrifice.
During his stay in Paris, Aleister Crowley, who is revered in certain circles as The Master Therion, gathered about him a large following. And since his departure, his books on Black Magic have continued popular. The teachings which he formulated in them are regarded with the reverence of religious precepts by his fellow-believers.
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The Manchester Guardian - 4 February 1930
Ban On An Oxford Lecture"Disciplinary Action if Delivered"
A STRANGE AFFAIR
A lecture which was due to have been given to the University Poetry Society by Mr Aleister Crowley tonight has been officially banned. Mr Crowley, who was to have spoken on the fifteenth-century magician Gilles de Rais, has received notice from Mr H Speight, the secretary of the Poetry Society not to come to Oxford as disciplinary action would be taken if his lecture were delivered here. The secretary's letter was as follows:
I am writing to tell you that we have been unfortunately forced to cancel next Monday's meeting of the Poetry Society. It has come to our knowledge that if your proposed paper is delivered disciplinary action will be taken involving not only myself but the rest of the members of the society. In these circumstances you will, I trust, understand why we have had to cancel the meeting.
Mr Crowley's Statement
Mr Crowley, when interviewed at his home in Kent, said he considered that there was "some underhand business" behind the prohibition. He said he thought the trouble was due to a report that said he was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the death in Italy of a young Oxford undergraduate, Mr Raoul Loveday, who was his secretary. He also said:
"Perhaps the refusal to let me lecture has come because Gilles de Rais is said to have killed some 800 children in ritual murder and in some way this was connected with myself since the accusation that I have not only killed but eaten children in one of the many false statements that have been circulated about me in the past."
Copies of the lecture which Mr Crowley would have delivered are to be on sale in the streets of Oxford tomorrow.
N.B. At this stage it has not been ascertained from which newspaper the article headed Timid Oxford came.
Click HERE to read the lecture in full.
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Berliner Tagesblatt Evening Edition - 3 May 1930
Met in Berlin: Aleister Crowley*
The now 55 year old recognised instantly by us, is here in Berlin to prepare an exhibition of his paintings in the autumn. Aleister Crowley is a painter with passion. He is such because he has seen air and light moods as a mountaineer, and sees things much clearer than other humans. Crowley has climbed all the peaks of Mexico. Then he made two attempts to conquer the Himalayas. The last of his Himalayan expeditions was in 1905. Crowley reached a height of 7000 meters. Then, a mutiny forced him back. His autobiography, which includes details of his mountaineering experiences and other major events in his life, (he lived for a while as a Yogi) has just begun to appear in print. He advised the leader of a German expedition to the Himalayas to go via a specific glacier. If they did as he suggested the party would reach the summit, otherwise it would perish. The Germans took their own chances.
To the English public Crowley is the Bohemian gentleman a controversial presence. Some consider him to be a revolutionary philosopher, others think he is a foolish artist. No one can deny that this mountaineer, chess player, poet, philosopher and painter was an extraordinary (maybe odd is better) phenomenon. To us he is a cross between Karl May and Schopenhauer, maybe he is much more, maybe less.
* Translated as closely as possible. If anyone can suggest something better, please let us know.
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An Italian Magazine - around the turn of the century
Translation of this article has been provided by Mr R Bray and his Italian-speaking wife for which we are most sincerely grateful.
Simply click on each image below to enlarge it, and then click on the enlarged image to return to this page once you have 'read' the article.
Line across top of first two pages:
Investigation into the Devil - The true story of the 'Wickedest man of all time' [The Wickedest Man In The World] ... [illegible] ... how he claimed to be the most disturbing of the occultists. It was right here in Italy, in Cefalu, that he founded his Church of Evil.
Main headline: ALEISTER CROWLEY, THE MASTER OF MASTERS, WHO WANTED TO BE “THE BEAST 666”, THE MONSTER [BEAST] OF THE APOCALYPSE
Sub-headline: Various Satanic sects were and still are inspired by him. In his books, rites and bloody human sacrifices invoke evil spirits.
First column, p.1
Written by: Enzo Caniatti Londa – December [presume typo for Londra (London)?]
In the middle of the 1800s new forms of mysticism were spreading in Europe, a mixture of occultism, spiritualism, Gnostic Christianity and ancient pagan cults. Their prophets are 'santoni' [no translation found] who claim to have learned their knowledge in far off and mysterious places. England gave us he who many consider the necromancer par excellence, of the calibre to be the Devil incarnate: Aleister Crowley, the man who defined himself as The Beast, with reference to the satanic Beast of the Sea described in the Revelation of St. John. For this he chooses his as his own magic number 666.
A celebrated mountaineer, but then... But who really is Aleister Crowley? Born in 1875, he distinguished himself as a climber, able to scale various famous peaks. He's good. But soon he begins to feel an irresistible attraction to the occult. He is interested in alchemy and in 1898 he meets people who introduce him into The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He decides that that will become his realm. From simple initiate he climbs the hierarchical ladder, reaching the highest degrees of occult knowledge in a few months. Convinced of being able to proceed on his own terms, he rents an apartment in London and furnishes two floors as a temple: one for white magic rituals, the other for black magic. It's in the latter that Crowley feels the strongest sensations. He knows however that to develop the arts of Goetia (magical operations involving malign forces) he needs a master. He finds him n Allan Bennett, influential member of the Golden Dawn and asthmatic guru who, to alleviate his suffering, used a lot of opium, morphine and cocaine. The master explained to him that the drugs don't only serve to ease the pain but also have some capacity to open the doors of the world beyond the veil of the material. Fascinated by this revelation, Crowley begins to experiment on himself mixing opium, cocaine and hashish, which he easily procures in large quantities because anti-drug laws only come into force in 1921.
He transforms himself into “Lord Of The World” [unsure of trans.]
During these 'trips' Crowley discovers that on another 'plane' exists his real self: a superman whose greatly elevated thoughts put him in contact with the Secret Chiefs or Superhuman Intelligence who transform him from common magician to Lord Of The World [again, unsure]. He convinces himself to have lived before whether in human form or higher: he describes for example his own participation in a Council of Masters, a little before the birth of Mohammed. Having come into possession of an ancient magical tract written by Abra-Melin in 1458, Crowley, who was now calling himself Lord Boleskine, moves into a Scottish manor where he tries to invoke demons. He claims to have succeeded. Having returned to London, he enters into a violent dispute with some high members of The Golden Dawn. He leaves England and heads for Mexico where he divides his time between climbing and esoteric practices. Then he leaves for a long tour of the world to places that were still wild: from Japan to India. Everywhere he goes he experiments with what he learns about the ancient magic arts of the countries he visits. The more shadowy, perverse, violent and bloody they are, the more he believes they can help to put him in contact with malign forces. In Egypt the falcon-headed god Horus 'sends' him a guardian angel called Aiwass: who dictates to him various messages in verse that Crowley transforms into Liber Legis. Aiwass in reality is the devil and affirms that there are no laws except one: “Do What Thou Wilt”.
A new and potent magic formula
From that moment Crowley complies to this scrupulously, particularly as Aiwass 'reveals' to him a new magic formula: Thelema, and he informs him that the Secret Chiefs have nominated him [Visible Leader] of the Order. He then sends an official letter to Mathers, the Grand Master of the Golden Dawn, informing him of the event and claiming that members of the Order swear absolute obedience to him. Mathers doesn't even reply. But Crowley, in his drug induced visions, is by now convinced that he is engaged in an epic magic battle with his ex-master and that he will succeed in defeating him with the help of a host of demons. It is a fact that in order to rest from the exhaustion of the 'clash', Crowley, a new father of a daughter, abandons mother and child to go and climb the peaks of the Himalayas. The expedition in Nepal becomes a tragedy: one climber and three porters die. Crowley denies any responsibility for his companions and returns to occupying himself full-time in magic. Now his interest, inspired by Aiwass, is concentrated on sex, which he practises like a madman, without distinction between the sexes, using every type of drug.
Secret rituals based on sodomy
In 1913, ever more attracted by representatives of his own sex, he discovers that in Germany there exists a Secret Society, the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order Of The Temple Of The East, whose members claim to practise 'secret rituals' of the Knights Templar, a sexual magic that the Templars learned in the east to evoke and worship the devil and which prescribe acts of sodomy; the (false) accusation that carried the knights to the stake and led to the dissolution of their order. Crowley didn't miss the opportunity and with the magical name Baphomet (the mysterious devil-man idol of the Templars) he becomes head of the English division of the OTO. The grand master of the order Theodore Reuss however is a left-leaning man: he belongs to the Socialist League, creating not a little trouble between the members of the organisation, many of whom are committed Pan-Germanists, followers of Lanz and List. In the same period Crowley gives to the press the work which will make him famous with Satanists all over the world: Magick In Theory and Practice, where he explains what magic is, describing it as a technique with which a man can bend nature to follow his own will. [The purpose is to present rituals re-elaborated from the experiences within the Golden Dawn. - unsure here]. And he expounds his own method of attaining union with the cosmic conscience, making explicit reference to his sexual tastes and obsessions. When the First World War breaks out, Crowley, who is in Switzerland, returns to his homeland to offer his services to the government. But he is met with a firm refusal. He therefore returns to plunging into an abyss of drugs and sexual perversions, wandering the world until 1919, founding initiation centres, luring women who he transforms into priestesses in orgiastic rituals, and leading some of them to suicide.
The black masses and orgies of Cefalu
In the early 1920s he creates in Cefalu, in an old abbey, his church of Evil, where he conducts black masses and practises obscure liturgies making blood sacrifices. Soon terrible rumours spread: [that] during his orgiastic rites not only animals but babies were slaughtered. The police investigated but found nothing. Expelled in 1925 from Italy he went to Gera in Thuringia to take part in the grand assembly of the OTO: the aim is to elect the supreme chief of the Order. To offer his candidacy, he sends ahead a copy of Liber Legis, hurriedly translated into German. Not all the participants appreciate him. The OTO is divided between those who support him and those who would like him chased out of the order, but in the end, 'The Beast' triumphs and the German [...]s bow to his will.
He obtains the finances to found a publishing house, publishing the works in German and for spreading them in Germany. He finds admirers amongst the occultists who would go on to found the National Socialist party. Some maintain that Crowley was for a certain period of time even in contact with Hitler, referring to a letter sent by the philosopher Rene Guenon to another philosopher, fervent admirer of National Socialism, Julius Evola. Guenon writes in fact that Crowley, while he was in Portugal, had staged in 1931 his own suicide in the sea. He thus went to Berlin to take the role of secret advisor to Hitler, who was on the brink of taking power. But making an exception of this letter, there is no proof that Crowley knew Hitler: it is instead proved that when the Nazis came to power, all the German […] of the OTO would be dissolved and some of its members imprisoned. Crowley survived the years of conflict undamaged. He dies in 1947, leaving a sinister legend destined to grow in the decades to follow.
p.1: Caption for AC photo:
THE FACES OF EVIL
p.2: Caption for Abbey photo:
Line across top of p.3:
Investigation into the Devil > The story: Crowley faked suicide to become a secret advisor to Hitler
p.3 top right panel:
THE SECRET SOCIETY INSPIRED BY FREEMASONRY
p.3 bottom left panel:
THE GOLDEN DAWN PROMISED ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE TO ADEPTS
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The Miami News - 26 November 1933
This Girl Gossip Insulted The Best Of 'EmNobody Squawked But "Beast 666"
The rumor that the spectacular cultist, Mr Aleister Crowley, could not be insulted appears to be unfounded. Not that the rumor was without basis. In fact, when you consider the wealth of abuse and epithet that Crowley has been subjected to, you would come to consider that his imperviousness to insult was not rumor but fact. However, Achilles had his heel.
It is difficult to think of any term of disparagement in the English language that has not been applied to Aleister Crowley either by word of mouth or in print. He has been labeled charlatan, faker, scoundrel, thief, torturer of women, foe of men, and so on, through the whole gamut of adjectives used to describe an evil person.
He has adopted "Beast" as his own signature. Not just any beast, but "Beast 666". France and England have each ushered him to the nearest frontier and requested him to be gone and not to come back. The courts of Detroit, Mich., once rang with denunciations of him. The Italian authorities in Sicily haunted his "castle" hoping to find proof enough to get rid of him. In the midst of their investigations Crowley betook himself to Paris and never went back.
A Little Remark Touches Off a Tremendous Ego
Never has the man offered the slightest protest in rebuttal of all this. While his far from dainty reputation has been pictured in this way he has kept silent, except on one occasion when he emerged from his calm and announced:
"These are petty contingencies. Eastern philosophy and magic raise the soul above them."
You may well wonder what searing blast of denunciation has finally overcome the "Eastern philosophy and magic" that have protected his ego until now. You could well expect it to be of such force as has never issued from the human mind in the whole annals of epithet. You would never guess it, so here it is:
"-- he is a poseur who has come to believe in his own poses -- so that they are no longer poses -- and that having built up this sinister reputation for himself he goes on playing it up."
Just a gentle criticism that is bandied around all the time among less hardy souls with no bad feeling, but Mr Aleister Crowley rushes to court and sues for libel in England.
Miss Ethel Mannin is the culprit who has stirred Crowley. An English authoress who has lived widely, highly and handsomely, Miss Mannin recently wrote a book called Confessions and Impressions. Half the book is autobiographical, and the latter half devoted to word pictures of famous people she has known. Some of the portraits are complementary, many are distinctly critical. Her mention of Crowley is merely in passing. It is a feathery sideswipe compared to some of her other strictures, and of all who endured the blows of her opinion only "Beast 666" takes umbrage!
There are those who do not feel Mr Crowley to be an utter charlatan and who grant him a measure of some strange genius. His life has been unusual and contradictory. He first attracted attention when, as a young man in his twenties and recently graduated from Oxford, he wrote some highly praised poems for the Oxford Book of Mystical Verse. He numbered among his friends distinguished authors, poets, and painters. His early mystical turn developed with his years and he nurtured this learning by prodigious study and long wanderings throughout the world.
He crossed China on foot; explored Mexico without guides; has climbed the highest mountains of the world; has sat immobile as a naked yogi in India and begged for rice; and has been heard from in every hidden corner of the globe.
During this time he studied esoteric philosophy and finally appeared in New York announcing himself to be the "Beast of the Apocalypse" and as such adopted as his signature, "Beast 666." He made his headquarters in Greenwich Village, and started what was called a cult of evil.
This was known as the Order of the O. T. O. and was enmeshed in an elaborate ritual designed to impress the participants, or just to make it more fun. Meetings of this group were attended by mysterious circles, black gowns, incense, gibberish, the "Black Mass", and all the other routine mumbo-jumbo that is associated with such doings.
But when Mr A. W. Ryerson, of Detroit, was sued for divorce by his young and beautiful ex-model wife it became apparent that there was more to the O. T. O. than secret services. Stories were told of orgies of great barbarity. The details have never been published, because they were so lurid.
It came out that the motto of commandment, of the group was: "DO WHAT THOU WILT SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW."
If there was any doubt in the minds of the practitioners as to what to do a hand-book of the creed explained it to them.
Immediately a storm of abuse descended upon Mr Crowley, as the Purple Priest and head man of the group. He fell into signal disrepute, but was completely unconcerned. He went to Cefalu, Sicily, and for a time nothing was heard of him.
Then Mrs Betty May Loveday, wife of a young English poet, arrived in London claiming that Crowley had killed her husband. The charge proved unfounded, but as a result of it further details of the carryings-on of the O. T. O. came to light.
Young Loveday had come entirely under the spell of the hypnotic Crowley and had joined the O. T. O. His wife had refused to do so, but she had been present during the ceremonies and told all. It was the same sort of recital as came from Detroit. Again Mr. Crowley moved. This time he went to Paris, as usual, accompanied by violent denunciations by less esoterically inclined people.
Finally came the news that the French government had requested him to leave -- a request that would brook no refusal. Further abuse was given him, and he disappeared from public notice.
Now a memoir writer chides him with being a poseur and he resents it. Aleister Crowley is truly a devious person.
N. B. We have read nearly every one of the biographies of Aleister Crowley and have never come across a reference to this lawsuit. The only other time we have found any reference to it is in another USA newspaper, The Charleroi Mail dated 5 July 1934. Click HERE to read the article, or scroll down the page until you reach it.
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The Adelaide Mail - 14 April 1934
Black Magic Charges Shock Judge
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Nevada State Journal, Reno - 14 April 1934
'Black Magic' Brings Lawsuit For LibelLONDON, April 13 -- (UP) -- Magic, black or otherwise, today failed to help Aleister Crowley, author, in his libel action against Miss Nina Hamnett, based on passages in her book, "Laughing Torso."
"Never have I heard such dreadful, horrible, abominable, blasphemous stuff as that produced by this man describing himself as the greatest living poet."
Crowley's suit was based on the charge that the book imputed he practised "black magic."
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The Daily Gleaner – 16 April 1934
Founder Of Love Cult Castigated By High Court Judge
(Canadian Press by D.W.I. Cable Co.) LONDON, April 14. – Alastair Crowley “priest of evil” and founder of a love cult in New York’s Greenwich Village yesterday lost his libel suit against Miss Nina Hamnett, writer, whom he had charged with defamation of character.
The jury in the King’s Bench Division after listening to a severe verbal spanking of Crowley by the Court returned a verdict for the defendant. The Court’s charge was a broadside against Crowley’s magic practices in a Cefalu Villa in Sicily, Italy.
Previously a witness for the defence testified that Crowley sacrificed a cat and made the witness drink its blood. “I have been over forty years in the administration of the law. I thought everything which was vicious and bad had been produced at one time or another before me, but I have learnt in this case that we can always learn something more if we live long enough,” declared the judge.
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The Lima Sunday News - 24 June 1934
Astounding Revelations Of Wickedness When "Beast 666" Went To CourtBy Milton Bronner, LONDON
ALEISTER CROWLEY, novelist, short story writer, poet of sorts, student of magic, white and black, some time resident of the United States, brought his character into an English court the other day in a libel suit and received, so to speak, several knockout lams on the solar plexus.
Ghosts of Crowley’s past rose in the court room, ghosts in the shape of books he had written, books which had been printed in very limited editions. They were accordingly very scarce.
The defense not only knew about them. It had them. It not only had them, it read extracts from them.
The judge and jurors sat with wide-open eyes and ears. They could visibly be seen making up their minds. From being the aggressor in a libel suit, Crowley was soon seen to be fighting a losing action.
The whole case for the plaintiff had been heard. One witness for the defense had been heard.
The bell rang for the next round. The jury punched straight for the jaw. It intimated it wanted to know whether it was a correct time for it to intervene. Time!
And then up spoke Mr Justice Swift of King’s Bench, London: “I have never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by the man who describes himself to you as 'the greatest living poet.'”
Without leaving the jury box to consult, the jurors announced their unanimous verdict for the defendants. Crowley has not appealed his case to a higher British court.
Some time ago Crowley was angered by a book called “Laughing Torso,” written by Miss Nina Hamnett. He promptly brought a libel suit against her, the publishers and the printers.
He said there were passages in the novel which imputed that he practiced black magic and that this constituted a libel upon him. The defense was a plea for justification. There-upon the issue was fought out before a crowded court room.
Crowley, a big, smooth-faced, rugged-looking man of about 60, was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, and inherited about $160,000, which enabled him to lead a life of leisure.
He devoted much of his time to poetry, art, travel and mountaineering. He climbed the Alps and walked across the Sahara Desert. He became interested in the study of religions of the world and in magic.
On his behalf, his attorney said there were two kinds of magic – white magic, which was beneficent, and black magic, which was evil and which his client had always fought and sought to expose.
In 1920 he started a little artistic colony in Cefalu, Sicily. The book complained of said he was supposed to practice black magic there. A baby was alleged to have mysteriously disappeared. The inhabitants of the Sicilian neighborhood were alleged to have been frightened of him.
Crowley took the stand as the principal witness for his side. He strenuously denied that he ever practiced or attempted to practice black magic. Giving further evidence, he denounced black magic as foul and abominable and, for the most part, criminal. One of the main instruments of black magic, he said, was murder.
A passage in the novel was read to him which stated that every day after tea he performed a ceremony called the Pentagram. He was alleged to have entered a room decorated with cabalistic signs and to have seated himself on a kind of throne before a brazier containing a charcoal fire, around which were hung sacrificial knives and swords and surrounded by a magic circle. He was then alleged to have indulged in ecstatic dances, lashing himself into a frenzy and brandishing a sword.
Crowley said the whole passage was inaccurate. There was no throne and no sacrificial knives. The Pentagram was a ceremony which invokes God to afford the protection of His archangel. There was no obscenity, no animals were sacrificed and nobody was invited to drink their blood.
So far all seemed fair in the case. Then began a long cross-examination. He admitted he was suing because he alleged his reputation had suffered. Then came a machine gun fire of questions:
“For many years have you been publicly denounced as the worst man in the world?”
“Only by the lowest kind of newspaper.”
“Did any paper call you the ‘Monster of Wickedness’?”
“I don’t remember which papers.”
“From your youth have you openly defied all moral conventions?”
“Did you proclaim contempt for all the doctrines of Christianity?”
“That is quite wrong.”
Later on, he admitted that he assumed the designations of “Beast 666" and “The Master Therion” (The Great Wild Beast). Crowley said that 666 was the number of the Sun and he could be called “Little Sunshine.” He said he had written several novels and about 8 short stories, besides many poems.
“Have you published material which is too indecent to be read, too indescribably filthy to be read in public?”
“No. I have contributed certain pathological books entirely unsuited to the general public and only for circulation among students of psycho-pathology.”
“Have you been attacked in unmeasured terms in the press of many countries?”
“I am not so familiar with the gutter press as that.”
“They have all accused you of black magic?”
“I am a busy man and don’t waste my time on garbage.”
Here the cross-examining attorney referred to one of the plaintiff’s books, “White Stains.”
“Is it a book of indescribably filth?”
“It is a serious study of the progress of a man to the abyss of madness, disease and death.”
“You have made a sonnet of unspeakable things, haven’t you?”
He said only 100 copies of the book were made and handed to an expert on the subject in Vienna.
“Was that done because you feared prosecution if it was published here?”
“It was not. It was a refutation of the doctrine that sexual perverts have no sense of moral responsibility and should not be punished. I said they had and showed how they went from bad to worst.”
“Do you want your reputation of be wider?”
“I should like to be universally known as the greatest living poet.”
Then came the American chapter in his life. Before America came into the war, when Crowley was in the United States, he contributed to a magazine in Chicago. Counsel read from an article and asked:
“Did you write that against your own country?”
“I did, and I am proud of it.”
“Was it part German propaganda in the United States?”
He explained that what he wrote was done with the intention of turning that propaganda into rubbish and that the British agents knew what he was doing, and why.
The first witness for the defense was Miss Betty May Sedgwick, authoress of “Tiger Woman.” With her then husband, Raoul Loveday, in 1922 she went to Crowley’s place in Sicily. She described the occurrence there and insisted that a cat had been killed and that her husband had to drink a cup of blood. Attorney for the plaintiff asked her if every word of that was not pure fiction.
“No, every word of it is true.”
Following the close of her evidence, the jury intimated it had heard enough, and after the judge’s short declaration, returned its verdict in favor of the defendants.
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The Charleroi Mail - 5 July 1934
"Beast 666," Cult Chieftain, Loses Defamation SuitCharges Libel by Authoress; "Impossible," Rules British Judge
The reputation of being "the worst man in the world" which the amazing Crowley has enjoyed for years, doesn't seem to impress British judges and juries as a good basis for claiming damages. But the two suits have brought this "master of magic" and "love-cult high priest" back into the limelight after a lapse of some years, and the question now arises, whom will Crowley sue next?
This man, whose weird "religious" orgies have gotten him kicked out of country after country, turned suddenly sensitive a few months ago when Ethel Mannin, chatty English authoress, referred to him in print as a "poseur who has come to believe in his own poses."
He sued her. In reply she used against him some of the writings which Crowley had claimed were delivered to him in person by satan himself -- and the case collapsed.
His second futile attack, on Nina Hamnett, authoress of "Laughing Torso," a book of memoirs, has just been thrown out of court -- with indignation -- by a London judge and jury. Miss Hamnett told half-humorously about her acquaintance with Crowley, "who was supposed to be very clever and very wicked."
She described his invention of a laudanum cocktail, drew a vivid pen-picture of the "magician" with his red and purple robes, shaven head and heavily painted features, mentioned how he nibbled hasheesh somewhat as other folks nibble candy, and repeated the gossip about the blood rites of the "O.T.O." love cult, which Crowley ran for years in New York's Greenwich Village before transferring it to Cefalu, Sicily.
Nina Hamnett's attorneys put enough such stuff in evidence so that, after four days, Crowley's suit collapsed and Justice Swift declared:
"Never have I heard such dreadful, horrible blasphemous stuff as that produced by this man calling himself 'the greatest living poet!'"
This stirred echoes of the famous Ryerson scandal in Detroit a decade ago, when a branch of Crowley's "O.T.O." love cult was exposed in federal court, and Frank Murphy, now governor general of the Philippines, then an assistant United States district attorney, branded Crowley's mysterious volume "The Equinox" as "The most lascivious and libidinous book ever published in the United States."
Went to Cambridge
Born in England of a family of Plymouth Brethren, Crowley wrote mystical verse as a Cambridge student and was hailed as a poetic successor to Shelley and Swinburne. He disappeared in the Orient for several years, returning with wild tales of having climbed Himalaya peaks, sat in the sun with a rice-bowl as 'a Yogi priest,' and being the world's greatest student of magic both black and white.
In a Greenwich village studio, he thrilled his followers -- mostly neurotic women -- with "O.T.O." rites featuring himself as "Beast 666" -- and his priestess Lea Hirsig, a former school teacher, as "The Scarlet Woman."
Branches were organised in various American cities, including Detroit.
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The New Tabloid Magazine - November 1939
Astounding Secrets Of The Devil Worshipper's Mystic Love CultNOTE: Throughout this article the name of Leah Hirsig has been spelt Lea.
Beast or poet? Monster or moralist? Genius or magician? These are questions Europe asked for years about Aleister Crowley, one of the most complex characters in the modern world and one of the most extraordinary in human history.
You will read of a man -- who has won fame by sublimely beautiful religious poetry, yet has committed blasphemies and sacrileges such as the world has never known.
Who has revelled in orgies that astounded Paris, yet has sat motionless for months as a naked yogi, begging his rice under the hot sun of India.
Who steeped himself in opium, yet never became enslaved.
The following chapters will contain the intimate revelations of his astounding character by the writer, who knew and studied Aleister Crowley most closely during his four years in America.
By W. B. Seabrook
ALEISTER CROWLEY, already notoriously famous in England, Europe and the Orient -- called by his friends and enemies everything from "immortal genius" to "inhuman monster" -- arrived in America from nobody knows where.
He may have come from a cell in some Chinese Buddhist monastery -- from a tent in the middle of the Sahara -- from a scholarly library in London -- or an opium dive in Montmartre.
They were all equally his "home".
My first glimpse of this man who has been described as a "poet, mystic, mountain climber, big game hunter and general lunatic", came at a very social party a few years ago at the Metropolitan Opera.
Crowley appeared during the first entre-act intermission. He gave the impression of a punctiliously correct Britisher in conventional evening clothes -- a big man of heavily athletic build, who looked as if he had spent most of his life outdoors. But the conventionality was only on the surface. On being presented to each member of the party, instead of murmuring the usual, "How do you do?" he said: "DO WHAT THOU WILT SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW."
And thereafter, for the entire evening, he sat like an incarnation of Buddha, staring straight before him, saying nothing at all. The women of the party, I noticed, seemed strangely fascinated by this man -- a fascination mingled with a sort of repulsion and fear. Their eyes were on him more than on the stage. He paid no more heed to them than if they hadn't been present. At the end of the evening he said. "Every man and woman is a star."
He said it precisely as you would say "Goodnight," or "It has been a pleasure to meet you," and quietly he took his departure.
My next meeting with him was an experience which left a more indelible impression on my brain than the most vivid and fantastic novel I have ever read.
It began in Crowley's New York studio, then at No. 1 University Place. Imagine an immense room hung with Oriental tapestries, enormous divans on the floor covered with dull cloth-or-gold, eastern images and idols and statues everywhere -- some exquisitely beautiful, some hideous beyond belief. Imagine a cosmopolitan gathering of a dozen men and women, invited by Crowley, "for after-dinner coffee and an evening of conversation." Imagine Crowley himself in a coat and trousers, made in pyjama style of very heavy corded silk, swathing him in black, sombre as a priest.
That night Crowley was brilliant, witty, talkative. The only person who did not join in the general talk was a girl between twenty-five and thirty, name Lea Hirsig, pretty but dressed with the utmost quietness and dignity, with a face that seemed a bit sad, a bit disdainful. I learned afterward that she was a teacher.
After a time, this girl added a few words to the conversation, and as she began to speak a remarkable change came over Crowley. I was watching his face, and it became, as you have seen the faces of actors become, the face of a man I had never seen before. I do not mean anything supernatural, but a kind of power blazed from it.
"You have spoken," he interrupted, and curiously enough, his voice was a monotone like her own. "You have spoken, but I am Baphomet, and by my power your dead soul shall wake. You are Lea the Dead Soul. You shall become Lea, the Scarlet Woman."
Her answer came like a dash of cold water in the tense silence: "Mr Crowley -- I believe that is your name -- you are absurd. You have no power over me. I am not interested in your absurd pretensions."
Crowley was now standing, looking down at her. He stretched out his arms and began to recite a formula in some curious Hindu dialect. It lasted less than a minute.
Not another word did he speak to her the entire evening. The guests, including myself, left about midnight -- all except Lea. Without a word to Crowley, and without a word of explanation to anybody, she simply stayed.
Four days later I went back one afternoon to see Crowley. I was drawn by an irresistible curiosity. I did not believe in magic. And you can interpret the events as you please, calling it hypnotism, charlatanism, as you like. I shall merely resound them.
Crowley's big studio was on the main floor. The street door was opened by a porter. I knocked on Crowley's own door. His voice said, "Who is it?" I told him. The voice said, "Come in."
The door yielded to the simple turn of the knob, and the scene that greeted me was so amazing that I might not now believe the evidence of my own eyes if there were not others -- reputable people in New York -- who know it to be true.
Lea, the "Dead Soul," was kneeling in the center of a chalked circle, in the middle of the floor. She was barefooted, like a penitent nun, clad only in a loose robe drawn back over her shoulders, and Aleister Crowley was bending over her -- burning magical symbols on her chest with the point of a heated dagger!
Why didn't I interfere? Why didn't I call the police? The girl was not bound, not held in any physical way. if she wanted the scene interfered with she could have stopped it by raising her voice -- once.
I looked at her face. She was not drugged. She was not in a stupor. She was obviously in pain. But it was equally obvious that she was -- where she wanted to be. An amazing thing in the New York of the twentieth century. But there it was. And it was her affair and his.
The girl must have suffered, but she did not make a single murmur until he was finished. Then, with his help, she got to her feet and retired to an adjoining room.
Though I wanted to ask a thousand questions I asked none. At the end of an hour Lea emerged, calm, smiling; talked interestingly on more or less ordinary subjects, and said when I left, as if her permanent union with Crowley was a matter of course: "I hope you'll drop in often to see us again."
I did see her often after that, lying like a queen or princess of the Arabian Nights on a great cloth-of-gold divan in Crowley's studio -- dressed in a robe of purple silk, her little white feet encased in slippers of scarlet vaire.
"I am happier than I ever dared to hope," she told me. And as you reflect on Crowley's mystical adoration of Lea you may think that any romantic girl might be intrigued and pleased by such wooing. But wait.
One afternoon I visited Crowley's study. This time the door was locked, but he let me in. In the center of the room was an enormous easel, so massive it was almost a scaffold. And bound to this easel, facing it, was Lea -- fastened by the wrists and ankles, her arms outstretched like a woman crucified, her dress stripped from her shoulders, her white flesh criss-crossed with red stripes.
Seeing my amazement, Crowley greeted me with a diabolical grin and tossed a broken dog-whip into the corner. "I have been awakening the Dead Soul," he explained cheerfully. "She doesn't object. If you are troubled with chivalrous scruples, you can ask her. Permit me to explain that the efficacy of pain as a spiritual stimulus is a subject misunderstood and neglected by modern woman. Sit down."
And while Lea stood there, still bound, like a picture of some unwritten martyr, Crowley calmly made me a learned discourse on the importance of asceticism and whipping and fasting.
If I convey the idea that Crowley was occupying himself with the domination of one woman, I am giving you a wrong picture. The man's energy was terrific. At this period he was writing, painting and bringing under his psychic influence, in one way or another, many women, some of whom were destined later to figure in his strange career.
I have told you that I could produce the evidence of reputable witnesses to substantiate the extraordinary facts of Crowley's unbelievable career. One of these witnesses was Harry Kemp, famed poet and novelist, who has actually attended and seen with his own eyes one of the Satanist ceremonials.
Here is how Harry Kemp describes the "Black Mass" which he watched while sitting beside the "high priest" in Crowley's studio:
"Black curtains parted, and one by one the worshippers entered, mostly women of the aristocratic type, their delicate fingers adorned with costly rings. Everybody wore a black domino with a hood which concealed the upper part of the face making identification impossible.
Suddenly the flame of the single candelabra that lighted the place went out, and there was a subterranean noise like the sound of a violent wind moving innumerable leaves. Then came the monotonous chant of the 'high priest': "There is no Good; Evil itself is Good.' I could hardly believe my eyes as I observed what followed.
Amid floating clouds of nauseating incense, a great crystal sphere rose slowly form the floor, and from it ascended a shape like a white puff of cloud. It wafted off, alighting on the floor, and assumed the form of a diminutive nude black being. Other clouds arose, to materialize in the same manner. These were supposed to be the incarnations of evil spirits. In absolute nudity, they wove a grotesque dance in the gloom to the music of a hidden drum and flute.
A woman cried out hysterically. Tearing off her mask, she revealed the fair face of a girl of pure Anglo-Saxon beauty. She was quickly led away and the other worshippers began to moan and sway. The candelabra suddenly became lit again. Aleister Crowley, in the role of 'high priest', stepped forward to the altar, from which he took a short, curiously shaped knife. His eyes bloodshot and stony, he began gashing his chest. His disciples came forward and he made a mystic mark in blood on each of their foreheads as they knelt.
After this, the affair rapidly degenerated into an indescribable orgy. Men and women danced about, leaping and swaying to the whining of infernal and discordant music. The moral ideas taught for centuries were thrown to the winds. All I desired was to escape unobserved."
I quote Harry Kemp because his corroboration will help you to believe the even more startling revelations I have to make about this hidden sect. More startling? Yes! Because Harry Kemp did not see the real "Black Mass", the amazing ritual which is the central ceremonial of the Devil-Worshippers the world over.
I have seen the real "Black Mass." I have studied its ancient origins.
Imagine a large studio, hung with black curtains to represent a chapel. The "worshippers'", men and women, in black hoods, are seated as solemnly, on benches, as if they were in a real church ready to hear a real service.
At the end of the room, hidden by a veil, is the "Altar", a wooden block about four feet high and three feet across the top, covered with black velvet. Lying upon this altar is a girl, nude.
Her head thrown backward at right angles to the body, her arms and streaming blonde hair hang down perpendicularly along the right side of the block; and her lower limbs, bent at right angles at the knees, hang down the left side. She lies motionless in the dim light like a figure cut out of marble.
As if in a trance, she lies motionless while violins play and the "priest" intones his profane ritual, the worshipers joining in the responses.
At the culmination of the "Black Mass", the "priest" lifts a golden cup, drinks wine from it, and sprinkles a little on the girl’s body, where it gleams like tiny drops of blood on the white skin.
The girl lies motionless on the "altar", untouched by the "priest" throughout the ceremonial. The curtains are drawn and the abominable performance is ended. This is the real "Black Mass". No "magic", no orgies. Unholy, blasphemous, but quiet and solemn.
The orgy which Harry Kemp witnessed, and at which I was not present, was a different sort of ceremonial. The only part of his evidence which I have found it difficult to reconcile with the facts -- in the light of my intimate knowledge of Crowley's practices -- is his description of the materialization of the dancing figures of evil spirits. I have seen Crowley try to do that -- and fail. Perhaps he didn't expect to succeed. One never knew when the real mystic ended and the charlatan began. He sincerely believed that he was able to invoke demons and spirits and actually make them do his bidding -- but he declared to me that he had never been able to make them physically visible. I asked him outright about the materializations Harry Kemp described, and Crowley admitted that they were illusions -- partly explained by the hypnosis of the spectators and partly by tricks which Crowley had learned during his long stay in India.
Nevertheless, Crowley's command of powers of some kind is a fact admitted both by his followers and his enemies.
In the next chapter I shall tell how I became acquainted in New York with Leila Waddell, who had been the "high priestess" of Crowley's cult in England, and how I learned more of its mystic séances and alleged "crucifixions."
(To Be Continued in the December Issue.)
NOTE: To date we have not had any success in locating a copy of the December issue.
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New York Times – 2 December 1947
LONDON, Dec 1 (Reuters) -- Edward Alexander Crowley, better known as Aleister Crowley, author and poet, who was an alleged practitioner of "black magick" and blood sacrifice, died today in Hastings at the age of 72.
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Union-Bulletin Walla Walla – 2 December 1947
Mystic's Potion To Prolong Life Fails
HASTINGS, England -- Aleister Crowley, magician and mystic, claimed that when he was 40 he had distilled and drunk the true elixir of life supposed to prolong life forever. Monday night, at 72, he died.
Crowley, center of fantastic stories, once said of himself, “They have called me ‘the worst man in the world.’ They have accused me of doing everything from murdering women and throwing their bodies into the Seine to drug peddling.
We magicians are misunderstood.” He added.
Eighteen years ago, when he was refused the right to live in France, Crowley denied practicing black magic.
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Daily Express - 4 December 1947
Crowley's Doctor Found Dead in BathExpress Staff Reporter
Sixty-eight year old Dr Thomson was found dead in his bath in his Mayfair flat. For more than three years Dr Thomson was Crowley’s physician. At first, Crowley went to a West-End chemist to get morphia tablets on Thomson’s prescription. A year ago Crowley tried to get more morphia than was prescribed. After that, Dr Thomson always went to the chemist with him. Three months ago Crowley’s morphia was stopped. He put a curse on the doctor. But Scotland Yard are sure that both men died from natural causes. Crowley will be cremated at Brighton tomorrow.
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The American Weekly - 11 April 1948
"The Beast's" Last Curse
Aleister Crowley, who gloried in being called the World’s Worst Man, lay on his bed recently in Hastings, England, nearing the end of his long wicked career.
Once he had concocted an elixir of life designed to give him perpetual youth, but now – at 72 – he was wracked with pain and pleading with his doctor for morphine.
“I can’t stand it any longer,” he said. “You’ve got to renew my prescription.”
“No,” Dr William Brown Thomson shook his head. “You deceived me. I don’t know how you did it but you’ve been wheedling morphine out of somebody. You’ve been taking it in dangerous doses and I can’t let you have any more. Your prescription has been withdrawn.
“You can’t do that to me,” Crowley screamed. “The pain will kill me and if it does, you’ll die within 24 hours after my death. I swear it by the great god Taphtatharath!”
Soon after that he was dead – not from pain but from ravages wrought by a lifetime of excess.
What happened next was pure coincidence. Everyone concerned with the case is sure of that. Just the same, it was strange.
Eighteen hours after Crowley’s death, Dr Thomson died, too, from natural causes according to the death certificate filed by the attending physician.
In his memoirs, Crowley confided that he first discovered the lethal effectiveness of his mystic powers when he was eight. He began to wish for the death of a headmaster who had caned him, and sure enough, he wrote, the object of his wrath died a few weeks later.
He was Alexander Edward Crowley then, the repressed, rebellious son of a couple who were leaders in a strict Puritanical sect called the Plymouth Brethren. His father was wealthy and after attending several private schools young Crowley went to Cambridge where he attained distinction as a classical scholar.
It was there that he developed his interest in Magick, as he insisted on calling it. Bitter against conventional religion, he turned to evoking devils.
It was simple enough, he said, but it took time and effort. First one had to find a place which would be free from any interruption or disturbance. Sitting within a circle made with red paint, the supplicant wished with increasing fervor and concentration – sometimes for six months – for the appearance of wicked old Taphtatharath. Once he appeared, it was necessary to call for the Four Great Princes of Evil, then their eight sub-princes and finally their 316 servitors.
What happened after that was strictly a matter between Crowley and his visitors because of course, if anybody else were around they wouldn’t appear.
Crowley, who for reasons of his own preferred to be known as “Beast 666,” claimed to have obtained his secret knowledge from the Grand Lama of Tibet. He had planned a diplomatic career, but he gave up his studies, abandoned his literary efforts (he had published dozens of volumes of poetry), neglected his mountain climbing (he had climbed hundreds) and disappeared for long intervals, turning up suddenly in Zapotlan, Tali Fu, Askole, Hambantota or Ouled Djellal.
He explored Mexico without guides, crossed China on foot, sat as a scantily-clad Yogi under the Indian sun to beg his rice, and masqueraded in Cairo as a Persian prince.
He claimed to have walked around London in a red robe and a golden crown, invisible and unnoticed by anyone, but when he was challenged during a law suit to repeat the performance, he said it could only be done when he was in the proper mood.
Gradually his devil worship evolved into a cult which practiced offensive rites. He wrote and published a ritual for a Black Mass which was climaxed by sacrilegious revelry. He opened a temple in Paris, a city where almost anything was tolerated, but after a few months even the Parisians were revolted. He was ordered to leave the country.
London permitted him to operate for a while in a temple in Chancery Lane. Shortly before World War I he came to the United States and started a cult in Detroit with only one precept: “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
He announced a plan to build a headquarters after the sun temples of the ancient Chaldeans, with exotic furnishings, fountains spraying jets of perfumed water amidst burning jars of incense, and silken divans for the faithful to “worship and recline on.”
He said similar temples would be erected in all large American cities, but before his mystic “O.T.O.”, could expand it was hit by a law suit against Albert W. Ryerson, manager of a book firm which had published Crowley’s book of ritual, “The Equinox,” which Supreme Court Justice Francis Murphy has called “the most lascivious and libidinous book ever published in the United States.”
Stockholders of the company charged that Ryerson had spent $35,000 of the firm’s money in promoting Crowley’s cult, which they claimed was “unspeakably vile.”
Before the suit came to trial, Crowley fled to Sicily. He operated an establishment there in a little town named Cefalu, attracting devotees from all parts of the world until Mussolini finally ejected him. Witnesses told of repugnant, weeklong ceremonies during which cats and goats were sacrificed. Crowley scorned denials. His comment was: “For most purposes, human sacrifice is best.”
He sued a British author who described him as a practitioner of black magic, claiming he had been libelled because he practiced only white magic. The presiding justice, who might have been color blind, stopped the trial with the observation: “I have been engaged in the administration of the law for more than 40 years, and I have never heard such dreadful, horrible blasphemous and abominable stuff.”
Scores of Crowley’s disciples attended his cremation, obviously hoping that some of his cronies from the netherworld would appear to stop the proceedings. They didn’t. Part of the weird rites were devoted to recitation of his best known poems including his “Hymn to Pan,” in which he wrote:
“O man! My man!
The rest of it, like so much that came from the strange brain of the “worst man in the world,” is unprintable.
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The Daily Telegraph - 11 January 1950
Died 3 Years AgoThe name of Mr. Edward Alexander Crowley, 72, who died near Hastings in 1947, appeared in last night's London Gazette. He was said to practise black magic and described himself as "The worst man in the world."
A notice appearing under intended dividends in bankruptcy described him as "commonly known as Aleister Crowley, whose present address or place of business the petitioning creditors are unable to ascertain, a domiciled Englishman, domiciled in English author."
When Mr. Crowley was made bankrupt in 1935 his liabilities were 4,700 pounds, and his assets a doubtful book debt of 15,000 pounds. Four years later a "first and final" dividend of 2d in the pound was paid. The reason for the new notice is that more funds have become available and proofs of debts will be received up to Jan 27.
The description in the London Gazette of the bankrupt has to follow exactly that given in the receiving order announcement.
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The Sunday Gleaner - 7 March 1954
The Magician of Chancery LaneAction for Libel by Joseph Dean
The law may concede a farthing to a blackmailer. It has refused even that contemptuous trifle to a black magician.
No other man in the prime of his life has ever enjoyed, or enjoyed so greatly, the dark, satanic notoriety which attached to the name of Aleister Crowley, mountaineer, poet, sex-maniac, drug-fiend, and above all, magician.
He was acclaimed the King of depravity by the London Press, which also dubbed him The Wickedest Man in the World.
Other titles he chose for himself such as Prince Chio Khan, Baphomet and the Beast 666.
He was therefore the last man to be expected to come to court to claim damages for a libel on his good name.
But egotism is more blinding than blindness itself, and Crowley’s egotism had been maturing steadily since he came down from Cambridge at the turn of the century and devoted his violent, unstable energies to experiments in sex, drugs and magic.
Over 30 years he wrote books (printed privately) in which he described the results of the fruits of his researches. He established, in a Sicilian farmhouse known as the Abbey of Thelema, a pagan sex-cult which was intended -- under his quasi-divine inspiration -- to rejuvenate the world.
Visitors from England went out to the Abbey of Thelema, and returned with strange tales of the rites performed there.
Eventually Crowley was expelled by the Italian Government and found himself once more in London. It was then that his egotism -- his need for publicity and his need for money to indulge his passions-- could only be satisfied with success in a sensational trial.
He found this passage about himself in a book of reminiscences entitled Laughing Torso.
Crowley had a temple in Cefalu in Sicily. He was supposed to practise Black Magic there, and one day a baby was said to have disappeared mysteriously. This all pointed to Black Magic, so people said, and the inhabitants of the village were frightened of him.
Crowley sued Nina Hamnett and Constable and Co., the authoress and publishers of the book, for damages for libel.
His action was tried in 1934 and lasted for four days.
All went well to begin with. Crowley entered the witness box, and claimed to be the student of a system of benevolent white magic.
“Magic,” he told the judge, “is the science and art of causing change to occur in confirmation with the will. It is White Magic if the will is righteous and Black Magic if the will is perverse.”
But this picture of a harmless eccentric was quickly destroyed in cross examination by Malcolm Hilbery KC (now Mr Justice Hilbery) on behalf of Constables. Crowley chose to be ludicrously flippant.
“Did you take to yourself the designation of ‘The Beast 666’?” --- “Yes.”
“Do you call yourself ‘The Master Therion’?” --- “Yes.”
“What does ‘Therion’ mean?” --- “Great wild beast.”
“Do these titles convey a fair impression of your practice and outlook on life?” --- “The Beast 666,” replied Crowley, “only means ‘sunlight’. You can call me ‘Little Sunshine’.”
Hilbery read some of Crowley’s verses and asked:
“Have you not built a reputation on books which are indecent?” --- “It has long been laid down that art has nothing to do with morals.”
“We may assume you have followed that in your practice of writing?” --- “I have always endeavoured to use the gift of writing which has been vouchsafed to me for the benefit of my readers.”
“Decency and indecency have nothing to do with it.” --- “I do not think they have. You can find indecency in Shakespeare, Sterne, Swift, and every other English writer if you try.”
“I regret,” Crowley added, “that my reputation is not much wider than it is.”
“You would like to be still more widely known as the author of these, would you?” --- “I should like to be universally hailed as the greatest living poet. The truth will out.”
Many passages from Crowley’s writings were read to him. His magical experiments began, of all unlikely places, in a flat in Chancery Lane, where ‘I had two temples: one white, the walls being lined with six huge mirrors, each six feet in height; the other black, a mere cupboard, in which stood an altar, supported by a negro standing on his hands. The presiding genius of this place was a human skeleton which I fed from time to time with blood, small birds and the like.’ …..
“Was that true?” --- “Yes.”
“That was white magic was it?” --- “It was a very scientific experiment.”
….. ‘The idea was to give life, but I never got further than causing the bones to be covered with a viscous slime.’
“I expect,” said Crowley, “that was the soot of London.”
And so the dreadful story was unfolded.
Demons appeared in Chancery Lane and in the house which Crowley then took in the Highlands. Workmen and neighbours were mysteriously injured. In Mexico he carried out experiments in invisibility. “By invoking the God of Silence, Harpocrates, by the proper ritual in front of a mirror, I gradually got to the stage where my reflection began to flicker like the images of one of the old fashioned cinemas . . . I was able to walk out in a scarlet and gold robe with a jewelled crown on my head without attracting any attention. They could not see me.”
He had written that in India he sacrificed a goat and on another occasion had crucified a toad. His “magical writings” spoke much of “the bloody sacrifice” to be made within “the Circle or the Triangle.”
Hilbery had exposed Crowley as the blackest of Black Magicians, and a pathological liar. It was left to Martin O’Connor, cross examining on behalf of Nina Hamnett, to show him in the character of a fraud and imposter.
“I understand you to say that you are a gentleman who sees visions: is that right?” --- “Sees visions yes.”
Crowley was asked about a bill from Mrs Rosa Lewis for his stay at the Cavendish Hotel in Jermyn Street.
“Were you summoned for the amount of your bill by Mrs Lewis in the Westminster County Court in April 1933?” --- “I have no information on the subject.”
“What?” --- “I do not know. People do all sorts of things like that and I never hear of them.”
“That is peculiar, and I will tell you why. County Court summonses have to be served personally.” --- “Yes but I do not know. Someone gives me a paper and I put it in my pocket. I think no more about it. A fellow gave me a judgment summons only yesterday. I have never seen one before. It was a very nice shade of yellow.”
But the judgment summons was not to be found, and so O’Connor proposed a test: “You say that you have visions. Conjure up a vision of when you are going to pay Mrs Lewis the £24 for which she had judgment against you last April. Now throw a vision. Tell my Lord and the jury when the vision tells you that you are going to pay Mrs Rosa Lewis the amount for which she has judgment for your board and residence.” --- “If I am bound to pay her I shall pay her.”
“When?” --- “When I can . . . “
O’Connor now conceived the idea that Crowley’s magic should be demonstrated in court, where so many arts, crafts and sciences have been exhibited to a select and critical audience.
“You said yesterday that as a result of early experiments you invoked certain forces with the result that some people were attacked by unseen assailants. That is right is it not?” --- “Yes.”
“Will you try your magic now on Mr Hilbery?” --- “I would not attack anybody.”
“Is that because you are too considerate or because you are an imposter pretending to do things which you cannot do?” --- “I have never done wilful harm to any human being.”
“My friend, I am sure, will consent to your harming him. Try it on.”
But the magician was reluctant and the judge objected.
“Mr Martin O’Connor,” he said, “we cannot turn this court into a temple.”
“There is one other question,” O’Connor resumed, “You said, ‘On a later occasion I succeeded in rendering myself invisible. Would you like to try that on? You appreciate that if you do not I shall denounce you as an imposter?” --- “You can denounce me as anything you like. It will not alter the truth.”
Crowley remained visible and Mr O’Connor resumed his seat.
That was the end of Crowley’s evidence. Out of all his acquaintances in the literary and artistic worlds only one man, a German merchant, then came forward to testify to his good character.
A witness for the defence described life at the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily. Each evening, she said, there was a magic ritual known as “Pentagram” which lasted for about two hours and longer on Fridays.
Crowley and his mistress appeared in robes. Crowley gave long readings, interspersed with incantations such as “Artay I was Malcooth -- Vegabular, Vegadura, ee-ar-la, ah moon.” The walls of his bedroom (“the Room of Nightmares”) were decorated with terrible and indecent paintings, and there was a bureau full of bottles of drugs, all labelled. Finally this witness described the sacrifice of a cat called “Mischette.” Her husband, she said, had drunk its blood.
The truthfulness of this witness was questioned, but before very long the jury indicated that they wished to hear no more.
Counsel for Crowley was called upon to make his final speech, and then Mr Justice Swift summed up.
“I have been,” the judge declared, “over 40 years engaged in the administration of the law in one capacity of another. I thought that everything which was vicious or bad had been produced at one time or another before me. I have learnt in this case that we can always learn something if we live long enough. I have never heard such a dreadful, horrible, blasphemous, and abominable stuff such as that which has been produced by the man who describes himself to you as the greatest living poet.”
As soon as the judge had finished, the jury returned a verdict against Crowley but Crowley appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Since it had not proved that a baby had disappeared in the Abbey of Thelema, he was, his counsel argued, entitled to at least a farthing damages. But the Court of Appeal were firmly of the opinion that there had been no miscarriage of justice, and Crowley’s appeal, like his claim, was dismissed with costs.
Crowley went bankrupt and disappeared from the lurid limelight which had been his special attribute for so long. He died in 1947 in a Hastings boarding house. At his funeral in Brighton Crematorium his Hymn to Pan and part of his Gnostic Mass was recited, a magical performance which provoked the wrath of the town council.
“Rose of the World!” Crowley once wrote in a poem to his wife.
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The Sunday Times (Spectrum) - 5 October 1969
The Odd Beginning Of Ron Hubbard's CareerThe writing contained within the picture reads:
"In 1946 Aleister Crowley (left), the sorcerer and mystic whose dabblings in black magic earned him the title The Wickedest Man in the World, found a new disciple and welcomed him to one of his occult communities in California. The extraordinary activities of this new and enthusiastic disciple are described in a vast collection of papers owned by a former admirer of Crowley which we have examined. The man in question is Lafayette Ron Hubbard (right), head of the now notorious Church of Scientology."
The text of this amazing story as reported in the newspaper at the time is as follows:
JOHN WHITESIDE Parsons, a brilliant rocket fuel scientist, joined the American branch of Crowley's cult in 1939. He struck up earnest correspondence with "The Beast 666," as Crowley was known by his followers, and soon became his outstanding protégé in the United States. By January, 1946, Parsons was impatient to break new frontiers in the occult world. He decided to take the spirit of Babalon, the "whore of Babylon," and invest it in a human being.
But to carry out this intricate mission Parsons needed a female sexual partner to create his child in the astral (spiritual) world. If this part of the fixture went successfully Parsons would be able to call down the spiritual baby and direct it to a human womb. When born, this child would incarnate the forces of Babalon. During his magical preparations for this incarnation Parsons found himself overwhelmed with assistance from a young novitiate named Ron Hubbard.
Parsons wrote to Crowley at the beginning of 1946. "He (Hubbard) is a gentleman, red hair, green eyes, honest and intelligent and we have become great friends. Although he has no formal training in magic he has an extraordinary amount of experience and understanding in the field. Ron appears to have some sort of highly developed astral vision. He describes his angel as a beautiful winged woman with red hair whom he calls the Empress and who has guided him through his life and saved him many times." He concluded almost ecstatically, "He is in complete accord with our own principles. I have found a staunch companion and comrade in Ron."
But within two months the bonds of friendship were under some strain: Ron claimed Parsons' girlfriend, Betty. With admirable restraint Parsons wrote to Crowley, "She has transferred her sexual affection to Ron. I cared for her rather deeply but I have no desire to control her emotions." As if to cement their loyalties Parsons, Hubbard and Betty decided to pool their finances and form a business partnership.
Meanwhile preparations for the mystical mission were well under way. From January 4 to 15, 1946, Parsons and Hubbard engaged in a nightly ritual of incantation, talisman-waving and other black magic faithfully described in Parsons diary as Conjuration of Air, Invocation of Wand and Consecration of Air Dagger. With a Prokofiev violin concerto blaring away the two of them pleaded with the spirits for "an elemental mate" -- a girl willing to go through sexual rites to incarnate Babalon in the spirit world.
Parsons mentions that windstorms occurred on a couple of nights and one night the power supply failed. But nothing seriously responsive until January 14, when Ron was struck on the right shoulder and had a candle knocked out of his hand. "He called me," Parsons wrote, "and we observed a brownish yellow light about seven feet high. I brandished a magical sword and it disappeared. Ron's right arm was paralyzed for the rest of the night."
The following night was even more portentous. Hubbard apparently saw a vision of one of Parsons' enemies. Parsons wrote, "He attacked the figure and pinned it to the door with four big throwing knives with which he is expert." For four days Parsons and Hubbard were in a state of tension. Then, on January 18, Parsons turned to Ron and said, "It is done." He added, "I returned home and found a young woman answering the requirements waiting for me."
The incarnation ritual set out in Parsons' manuscript, The Book of Babalon, is difficult reading for the unconfirmed spiritualist. Broadly interpreted, Parsons and Hubbard constructed an altar and Hubbard acted as high priest during a series of ceremonies in which Parsons and the girl shared sex. The owner of the documents, who is an expert on Crowley's magic, says that Parsons at this stage was completely under Hubbard's domination. How else can one explain Hubbard's role as high priest in the rites after only a few weeks in the trade?
For the first of the birth ceremonies which began on March 1 Hubbard wore white and carried a lamp while Parsons was cloaked in a black, hooded garment carrying a cup and dagger. At Hubbard's suggestion they played Rachmaninoff's Isle of the dead as background music.
Parsons account of the start of the birth ritual is as follows: "The Scribe (Hubbard) said, 'The year of Babalon is 4063. She is the flame of life, power of darkness, she destroys with a glance, she may take thy soul. She feeds upon the death of man, beautiful -- horrible.' The scribe, now pale and sweating rested awhile, then continued," There are two possible reasons why Hubbard showed anxiety at this stage of the ceremony, the owner of the papers says. He was either deeply moved by the spiritual depth of the ceremony or he couldn't think what to say next.
Hubbard further instructed Parsons: "display thyself to our lady; dedicate thy organs to her; display thy mind to her; dedicate thy soul to her, for she shall absorb thee. Retire from human contact until noon tomorrow. Speak not of this ritual. Discuss nothing of it. Consult no book but thine own mind. Thou art a god. Behave at this alter as one before another."
On the third day the ritual began four hours before dawn. Ron tells his companion, "Lay out a white sheet. Place upon it blood of birth. Envision her approaching thee. Think upon the lewd, lascivious things thou coulds't do. All is good to Babalon. All. Preserve the material basis. Thus lust is hers, the passion yours. Consider thou the Beast raping." These invocations along with other passages in the ritual indicate that Parsons had collected specimens of his own sperm and the girls menstrual fluid.
The climax of the ceremony occurred the following day with Ron at the altar working his two subjects into a sexual frenzy. Over Rachmaninoff he intoned such gems as:
Her mouth is red and her breasts are fair and her loins are full of fire,
And her lust is strong as a man is strong in the heat of her desire.
An exalted Parsons wrote the next day, "Babalon is incarnate upon the earth today awaiting the proper hour of her manifestation. And in that day my work will be accomplished and I shall be blown away upon the breath of the father even as it is prophesied." (In fact, Parsons was "blown away" in a rocket experiment laboratory in Pasadena in 1952.)
Unable to contain his joy, Parsons decided to tell Crowley what had happened. On March 6 he wrote, "I can hardly tell you or decide how much to write I am under command of extreme secrecy. I have had the most important, devastating experience of my life." Crowley was dumbfounded by the news of the incarnation ceremony. He wrote back, "You have me completely puzzled by your remarks. I thought I had the most morbid imagination but it seems I have not. I cannot form the slightest idea what you can possibly mean."
With a distinct note of concern he dashed off a letter on the same day to the head of his American cult saying, "Apparently Parsons or Hubbard or somebody is producing a Moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts." (This acid rebuke comes from a man whose activities were once summed up by a judge like this: "I have never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by the man who describes himself as the greatest living poet.")
By May that same year Crowley was not only concerned about Parsons spiritual well-being. There was a smaller matter of certain moneys. When the trio formed their business enterprise, Parsons is believed to have put in 17,000 dollars, Hubbard about 1,000 dollars, and Betty nothing. Using about 10,000 dollars of the money, Hubbard and his newly acquired girlfriend, Betty, bought a yacht. A report to the head of the American branch by another cult member says, "Ron and Betty have their boat at Miami, Florida, and are living the life of Riley, while Brother John (Parsons) is living at rock bottom and I mean rock bottom."
In a more sinister way, the report added: "Let us consider this matter of the magical child which Jack Parsons is supposed to turn loose on the world in nine months (now seven). Ron, the Seer, was the guy who laid down the main ideas, technic (sic), etc., of said operation."
On reading Parsons' accounts of the ceremony and the reports from branch headquarters in America, Crowley cabled his U S office on May 22: "Suspect Ron playing confidence trick -- Jack Parsons weak fool -- obvious victim prowling swindlers." In a letter a few days later he said, "It seems to me on the information of our brethren in California that Parsons has got an illumination in which he lost all his personal independence. From our brother's account, he has given away both his girl and his money. Apparently it is the ordinary confidence trick."
A much-chastened Parsons wrote to Crowley on July 5, "Here I am in Miami pursuing the children of my folly. I have them well tied up. They cannot move without going to jail. However, I am afraid that most of the money has already been spent. I will be lucky to salvage 3,000 to 5,000 dollars." Just how Parsons managed to capture the errant lovers is in keeping with the other extraordinary chapters of this story. "Hubbard attempted to escape me," Parsons wrote, "by sailing at 5 p.m. and performed a full invocation to the Bartzabel within the circle at 8 p.m. (a curse). At the same time, however, his ship was struck by a sudden squall off the coast which ripped off his sails and forced him back to port where I took the boat in custody."
Parsons recovered financially and possibly as a backlash to his experience with Hubbard, he took the Oath of the Antichrist in 1948 and changed his name to Belarion Armiluss Al Dajjal Antichrist. In his scientology publications Hubbard says of the period, "Crippled and blinded at the end of the war I resumed studies of philosophy and by my discoveries recovered so fully that I was reclassified in 1949 for full combat duty."
Hubbard claims that more than two dozen thinkers, prophets and psychologists influenced scientology (which he launched in 1951); everyone from Plato, Jesus of Nazareth to Sigmund Freud whom he says he studied under in Vienna. The record can now be righted with the inclusion of Aleister Crowley, the Beast, 666.
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The Sunday Times - 28 December 1969
Scientology: New Light on CrowleyON 5 OCTOBER 1969, Spectrum published an article, "The odd beginning of Ron Hubbard's career." The Church of Scientology has sent us the following information.
“Hubbard broke up black magic in America: Dr Jack Parsons of Pasadena, California, was America's Number One solid fuel rocket expert. He was involved with the infamous English black magician Aleister Crowley who called himself "The Beast 666." Crowley ran an organisation called the Order of Templars Orientis over the world which had savage and bestial rites. Dr Parsons was head of the American branch located at 100 Orange Grove Avenue, Pasadena, California. This was a huge house which had paying guests who were the USA nuclear physicists working at Cal. Tech. Certain agencies objected to nuclear physicists being housed under the same roof.
L. Ron Hubbard was still an officer of the US navy and because he was well known as a writer and a philosopher and had friends amongst the physicists, he was sent in to handle the situation. He went to live at the house and investigated the black magic rites and the general situation and found them very bad.
Parsons wrote to Crowley in England about Hubbard. Crowley "The Beast 666" evidently detected an enemy and warned Parsons. This is all proven by the correspondence unearthed by the Sunday Times. Hubbard's mission was successful far beyond anyone's expectations. The house was torn down. Hubbard rescued a girl they were using. The black magic group was dispersed and destroyed and has never recovered. The physicists included many of the 64 top US scientists who were later declared insecure and dismissed from government service with so much publicity.”
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The New York Times - 22 February 1970
He knew how to spell Abracadabra and Magick
BY JULIAN MITCHELL FEB. 22, 1970
Over the last hundred years or so Christianity has rapidly failed as a cohesive social and spiritual force, and the collapse of its credibility has led to much confusion and unhappiness in Western religious life. These obvious facts have caused many people to wonder what the world is coming to. Others have simply paid no attention. A smaller cannier group, however, has seen the situation as a call to positive action. A period of spiritual and moral relativism, while undoubtedly rough on the earnest seeker after truth, is a high old time for the religious con-man, the crank, and even, I'm sorry to say, for the eager but stupid cleric.
The Confessions Of Aleister Crowley
An Autohagiography. Edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant.
When high-minded clergymen can defend D. H. Lawrence in the English courts on the grounds that sex may be a Christian sacrament, no one is likely to dare to protest against the description of drug trips (or stumbles) as “valid” mystical experiences. We don't know where the heaven or hell we are. We live in the age of Aleister Crowley, the Beast 666, magus, mountaineer and bore.
Crowley claimed Breton ancestry, which he didn't have. His family were solid English brewers, but unfortunately for him his father had given up brewing to become a Plymouth Brethren missionary by the time Aleister was born in 1875. Family life consisted mainly of terrible rows about invisible points of doctrine. He went to two public schools and Cambridge, and inherited at 21, by which time he was a confirmed Satanist. He spent his money like water, traveling fast and far -- China, Ceylon, Africa, Spain --- and climbing all over the world. He claimed many “firsts” in the Lake District, the Alps, Mexico and the Himalayas, but he climbed spiritually as well as physically.
He wrote incessantly and badly, publishing his books at his own expense, and worked his way sure-footedly up the ladder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He saw visions and took drugs and experimented wildly; it's very hard to tell how much he believed in what he was doing. A great friend became a Buddhist monk, but Crowley was not amenable to discipline.
He married the sister of the painter Gerald Kelly, apparently on a whim, but then claimed to love her. He bought a large lonely house above Loch Ness, which had a reputation for nameless horror among the Highland peasantry long before he started playing magic there. He seems to have had an idea of himself to which he was constantly trying to live up, but which had little relation to his real personality.
By the time World War I began, his wife was in a home for alcoholics, and he was broke. He came to New York, hoping to sell his manuscripts to John Quinn, the legendary bookman and collector, who wasn't interested. So he wrote anti-British propaganda for the Germans, saying that his ludicrous excesses could only bring sympathy to the British cause. It was typically back-handed, but he was very hurt when he found that other people didn't recognize this as a form of patriotism.
After the war he moved to Italy with girls and disciples and founded his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalú in Sicily. There his confessions were dictated under heroin to his current girlfriend, the Ape of Thoth. Long withheld from their unimaginable public, they are now issued at full, which is to say unreadable, length.
The editors are very sparing in their comments on the claims made in the book, but I think we can be sure that nothing whatever can be taken on trust. Somewhere, the “Confessions” are presumably going to be essential reading: our chaos is such that no folly is too great to be sanctified by someone. But it's very hard to think where numerology, Free masonry, cabalistic crossings with “The Golden Bough” and all the rest of the hocus-pocus is likely to make a lasting impression. The most astonishing thing about the book is that it is being published at all. Crowley died in 1947. His reputation was already faded then. Who cares about him now, in England or America? Reluctantly, I have to admit that probably lots of people do.
In the words of Crowley, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. Like most things about Crowley, the slogan is second hand. (It comes from Rabelais.) The most entertaining parts of Crowley's “auto hagiography” are unquestionably the illustrations, which show him in a variety of poses -- even naked, demonstrating yogi technique of breath control. Usually he is wearing a costume designed by himself. There is a particularly charming photograph of him making the sign of Pan and sporting the head-dress of Horus, looking exactly like a small boy who's been at the dressing-up box for an hour now, and it's still raining. He is thoroughly bored with his own game.
Yet Crowley never did get bored with his own game, and perhaps he never admitted to himself what a game it was. Committed to his “truth,” he stuck to it with all the truculence of a man determined to be at odds with the rest of the world. This “truth” was discovered in 1904, shortly after he and his still sober wife had spent a night in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid. Mrs. Crowley had mystical intimations from the gods which she passed on to her grateful husband, who then sat down and wrote, "as if inspired," The Book of the Law, which contains, if you only know how to read it, the answer to absolutely everything: "The Book of the Law was given to mankind chiefly in order to provide it with an impeccable principle of practical politics". After that, of course, there was really nothing to do but imitate Dad, and Crowley spent the rest of his life vigorously spreading his own gospel.
He never, under any circumstances, gave himself less than his due. He fancied himself as a poet -- he was far greater than Yeats, for instance, and up there with Shelley and Milton.
He seems genuinely to have been a good mountaineer in his youth, though he failed in his two Himalayan expeditions. He knew exactly how to deal with everyone he met on his travels, yet he was plagued with idiots and fools and disloyal madmen wherever he went. As one reads on and on and on, it gradually becomes clear -- Crowley is Superman. He can call anything he likes from the vastly deep, and it comes at once, so long as he's got the ritual straight -- god, dwarf, astral light, inspiration.
Then one looks again at the photographs. Aleister Crowley wasn't Superman, he was an absurd bore of a peculiarly English kind, the man who lives for being a "gentleman" -- which no real gentleman, naturally, ever does. He is the apotheosis of the amateur. His prose is all pomp and circumstance, just as his verse is all Swinburne. His vehement boasting rings in the ear like a beggar's whine. He is a snob, and like all snobs, suffers from terrible social insecurity. What it all springs from is never explained, though it's easy to guess that Plymouth Brethren and two public schools had a lot to do with it. Despising the public schools, he is a typical obsessed product. He needs no instruction in anything; he is a genius he knows how to teach himself.
As a result, he knows nothing worth knowing. It is all conceit and how to spell Abracadabra and Magick. It is twaddle.
When I was a schoolboy the more lurid Sunday papers used to carry frequent articles about Crowley and the nameless orgies that went on at his "abbey" at Cefalú. No orgy is nameless these days, of course, and California beats Cefalú any day for black magic and murder; but perhaps Crowley's name still carries some weight.
This vast tome should settle his reputation once and for all. It is a sharp stake through the heart of the Beast 666. But God knows what monsters are stalking in his steps.
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The Sunday Gleaner - 25 April 1970
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Chambers Biographical Dictionary 1984
Page 353Entry for Aleister Crowley
CROWLEY, (Edward) Aleister (orig. Alexander), 1875-1947), English writer and 'magician'. He became interested in the occult while an undergraduate at Cambridge at the time of the 'magic revival' of the late 19th cent., and was for a time a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, which W. B. Yeats (q.v.) also joined. Expelled for extreme practices, he founded his own order, the Silver Star, and travelled widely, settling for several years in Sicily with a group of disciples at the Abbey of Thelema near Cefalú. Rumours of drugs, orgies and magical ceremonies involving the sacrifice of babies culminated in his expulsion from Italy. In 1921, a series of newspaper articles brought him the notoriety he craved -- he liked to be known as 'the great beast' and 'the wickedest man alive' -- and certainly many who associated with him died tragically, including his wife and child. See The Great Beast by J. Symonds (1951), and The Confessions of Aleister Crowley ed. by J. Symonds and K. Grant (1969).
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Ann Arbor News - 3 November 1987
Disciplined anarchy keeps 'Aleister Crowley' in lineBy CHRISTOPHER POTTER
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Daily Express - 6 April 2001
It’s a last resort for the curse of Devil’s ChimneyBY CHERYL STONEHOUSE
That’s the name of a south coast landmark – a 200ft high chalky section of Beachy Head which fell into the sea on Wednesday.
The site near Eastbourne – famous for its beaches, pleasure gardens and retirement homes – has been out of bounds for walkers for the past 50 years.
But the collapse of the landmark has triggered memories of the eccentric Victorian Aleister Crowley, mountaineer and occultist, who advocated human sacrifice and became known during his lifetime as The Beast.
The son of a wealthy businessman, he was 19 when he first successfully climbed the Devil’s Chimney in 1894 while at school in Eastbourne.
Some years later, when his pagan writings and rituals had made him notorious, he claimed: “When Devil’s Chimney falls so will the fortunes of Eastbourne.”
High Priest of British White Witches, Kevin Carlyon, is helping to organise the weekend gathering at Beachy Head.
He claims to have “cleansed” the Channel Tunnel and a Royal Mail sorting office of unpleasant vibrations, and hopes to perform a similar function at the seaside resort.
He said yesterday: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Aleister Crowley was a very powerful magician and that Beachy Head is a place which exerts a strong force on people that go there.
“I doubt whether Crowley could claim to have created that force – stories about the pull of Beachy Head go back thousands of years – but he was the kind of man who would have tried to harness the force and use it for his own ends. We think it’s better to be safe than sorry and now that the chimney has collapsed I’ll be holding a simple cleansing ceremony there on Sunday, together with a handful of other white witches, if only to put people’s minds at rest.
Although the Beachy Head Countryside Centre and a local pub are both open for business, much of the clifftop area is closed due to foot-and-mouth restrictions.
“I’m not sure how close we’ll get but we’ll do our best,” said Mr Carlyon, 42.
Quite why Aleister Crowley decided to pick on Eastbourne is a bit of a mystery, say locals. He left the town to go to Cambridge University, and then moved to Scotland where he bought Boleskine House overlooking Loch Ness, deciding it was the perfect place to practice magic.
He was said to have summoned 115 spirits to the house and grounds, including Lucifer.
Yet local historian Dr John Surtees says that the South Coast seems to have had a fascination for Crowley.
After frittering away his inheritance and becoming addicted to morphine, he died in a boarding house in Hastings just down the coast from Eastbourne, in 1947.
“He was quite a character, someone who would have gone down well as a modern game show host,” said Dr Surtees.
“What few people realise is that he made several attempts to climb the Devil’s Chimney before he succeeded, and got himself stuck several times having to be rescued from the sea or by members of the Alpine Club.
“He complains in one his memoirs of being rescued and delivered to Eastbourne by his rescuers still covered from head to foot in chalk.
“He recalled that he had to walk through the town with all the common people looking at him and thinking he was a baker or a miller.
“He was the kind of man who would be very cross about being laughed at. Perhaps that is what his ‘curse’ is all about.”
With the local tourist trade trying to combat the effects of foot-and-mouth restrictions, which has put the surrounding countryside out of bounds, Eastbourne’s local councillors feel that a century-old curse is the least of their worries.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “The collapse of the stack is a natural phenomenon. Our only concern is that if people do want to come to see for themselves, they obey every foot-and-mouth restriction and keep well away from any livestock they see.
“People should also be very wary of trying to walk along the cliff base from Eastbourne. It’s a three-hour walk and it is all too easy to get cut off by the tide.”
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The Observer - 19 April 2009
For Sale On Loch Ness: Aleister Crowley's Centre Of Dark SorceryA plot of land once owned by the self-proclaimed "most wicked man in the world" has been put up for sale, attracting interest from rock stars, developers and disciples of the dark arts.
Boleskine Bay, on Loch Ness at Foyers, was part of an estate renowned at the start of the 20th century as "a centre of black magic, evil and sorcery" under the ownership and influence of satanist Aleister Crowley.
The "Beast of Boleskine", who died in 1947, owned Boleskine Estate between 1899 and 1913, during which time he tried to smother the Highlands in black magic by coaxing out the forces of evil.
The estate, once the home of millionaire rock star Jimmy Page, has been linked to a number of incidents over the years, including at least two violent deaths.
As well as black magic rituals to invoke the four princes of evil, Crowley and his devil-worshipping followers used the estate to make talismans and offered animal sacrifices to Satan.
"The demons and evil forces had congregated round me so thickly that they were shutting off the light. It was a comforting situation. There could be no more doubt of the efficiency of the operation," Crowley wrote of his experiments at the estate.
Now, a 1.9-acre plot on the former estate has been put on the market for £176,000 with planning permission for a three-bedroom log house, and 140ft of the Loch Ness foreshore.
"There's been a great deal of interest in the plot because of the Crowley connection. We've had various enquiries from all over the place. People do tend to be interested in things that are sinister, but we've also had enquiries from people who just want a base in the Highlands with some nice views over Loch Ness," said Kevin Maley, of Inverness agents Strutt and Parker.
"The house and plot are owned by different people. The plot has been in the same family for the last 40 years, but the owner has decided it's time to go. It's an unusual one in that it's being sold with planning permission for a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, but it would make a perfect holiday cottage," he said.
The estate agents' brochure claims the area is perfect for fishing, shooting and hunting, an activity also favoured by Crowley, who took his pack of bloodhounds on manhunts across the estate.
Crowley and his disciples used drugs, sex and blood sacrifices of goats and cats during debauched rituals. The black magician also took pleasure in the suffering that his sinister practices apparently brought to local villagers. He bragged about how an employee of the Boleskine estate got drunk one night - after 20 years of abstinence - and attempted to kill his wife and children.
The family of Crowley's lodge keeper, Hugh Gillies, also suffered a series of tragedies. First his 10-year-old daughter died suddenly at her school desk and a year later his 15-month-old son died of convulsions on his mother's knee.
Such is the reputation of the white-stoned home of sorcery that during his three years in residence, at the beginning of the 20th century, the villagers of Foyers avoided the estate at all costs.
Although Crowley died penniless in 1947, the years have not erased the memories of his association with the Scottish Highlands home. Visitors to the estate have reported seeing lights flashing on and off by themselves, windows shattering and a chair which belonged to Crowley moving on its own.
In 1960 the then owner of the house, Major Edward Grant, shot himself in the bedroom which had been used by Crowley for some of his satanic rituals.
Jimmy Page, in a 1975 interview, said: "The estate was owned by Aleister Crowley but there were two or three owners before Crowley moved into it. On the site of the house there was also once a church that burned to the ground with the congregation inside."
He said: "Strange things have happened in that house which have nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there."
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The Telegraph - 5 August 2010
The Tumbledown Italian Shed That Will Sell For £1.2 MillionNick Squires in Rome posted at 9:00pm BST A tumbledown building in the Italian countryside is to sell for €1.5 million (£1.2 million) because it once belonged to a British hedonist, writer and occultist who was dubbed "the wickedest man in the world".
The dilapidated, whitewashed Italian villa, set amid the hills of Sicily, was owned in the 1920s by Aleister Crowley, whose outrageous drug-taking, keen sexual appetite and interest in mysticism later made him a cult figure for the Beatles, David Bowie, Ozzie Osbourne and Iron Maiden.
The cottage, near the town of Cefalu in Sicily, contains explicit, erotic frescoes of men and women entwined together, painted by Cambridge-educated Crowley when he lived there in the early 1920s.
The frescoes, inspired by the work of Gauguin, also include naked devils, satyrs and serpents.
The estate agents that are selling the property, which has been abandoned for years and is overrun with bushes and long grass, have suggested that it should be turned into a museum devoted to Crowley's extraordinary life.
He called the house the Abbey of Thelema and turned it into a kind of commune, where daily life revolved around yoga, adoration of the Sun and the study of his own mystical philosophical writings.
Eventually his libertine tastes so offended Mussolini's fascists that they expelled him and his lovers from the country in April 1923.
Local people believe that the villa, which hosted orgies and experiments in free love that predated the hippy movement by decades, is cursed and refuse to go near it.
Crowley, who called himself The Great Beast, created a religious philosophy known as Thelema and is known for his mystical writings, including The Book of the Law, in which he set out the main tenets of Thelema.
He was also a keen chess player and mountaineer, taking part in the first British attempt to climb K2 in the Himalaya, in 1902.
He travelled widely in Europe, Asia and the Americas and was thought to have been a spy for British intelligence.
He died in a Sussex boarding house in 1947 at the age of 72.
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Leamington Spa The Courier – 10 September 2010
Mark of Satan: plaque for Leamington birthplace of notorious Aleister Crowley?
And now the man who proclaimed himself 'The Great Beast' and was denounced as 'wicked' by the press of his day could get his very own commemorative plaque in the town.
For, along with cooker manufacturer Sidney Flavel, pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury and jet engine designer Sir Frank Whittle, among others, Crowley has appeared on a list of approved candidates drawn up by Leamington's Blue Plaque Scheme.
Author's Note: He was not selected! For a list of those who have been, click HERE.
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The West Australian Today - 27 November 2012
Welcome to his Nightmare
Aleister Crowley's art goes on display in Perth, Australia. Jimmy Page, Marilyn Manson, The Beatles, Ozzy Osborne, David Bowie, the Doors, Smashing Pumpkin and even yacht rock smoothie Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates, have all worshipped at the metaphorical altar of British occultist and artist Aleister Crowley. Click on the image to the right to read the article.
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X-press Magazine - December 2012
The Nightmare Paintings
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Mail Online - 21 April 2013
Forget Scientology, celebs are now falling for an even more sinister 'religion': Introducing the Satanic sex cult that's snaring stars such as Peaches GeldofBy Richard Price for the Daily Mail
• Founder Aleister Crowley dubbed 'the wickedest man in the world'
Taken at face value it was an innocent enough remark, encouraging friends to explore 'a belief system to apply to day-to-day life to attain peacefulness'. But when Peaches Geldof chose to share her 'religious' convictions with her 148,000 followers on Twitter, it lifted the lid on a much more sinister world than first impressions would suggest. The socialite, 24, is a devotee of Ordo Templi Orientis, known as OTO, and even has the initials tattooed on her left forearm.
Sinister: Peaches Geldof has an 'OTO' tattoo (left) which is an acronym for the creepy Ordo Templi Orientis.
Given her tendency to flit between fads and fashions (at one point she was a Scientologist, more recently she has wandered into Judaism), this could be dismissed as another harmless flirtation.
But a closer look at OTO — and Aleister Crowley, its founding 'prophet' — gives the lie to that assumption.
Crowley, who was born into an upper-class British family in 1875, styled himself as 'the Great Beast 666'. He was an unabashed occultist who, prior to his death in 1947, revelled in his infamy as 'the wickedest man in the world'.
His form of worship involved sadomasochistic sex rituals with men and women, spells which he claimed could raise malevolent gods and the use of hard drugs, including opium, cocaine, and mescaline.
Crowley’s motto — perpetuated by OTO — was 'do what thou wilt'. And it is this individualistic approach that has led to a lasting fascination among artists and celebrities, of whom Peaches is the latest in a long line.
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, for example, routinely took part in occult magical rituals and was so intrigued by Crowley he bought his former home, Boleskine House, on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland.
And there are now OTO lodges scattered around the country, practising the same ceremonial rituals and spreading the word of Crowley.
While membership is secret, Peaches is said to have been initiated into it, raising the prospect that many of her impressionable fans could try to do the same.
Converts: Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and Rapper Jay-Z (right) are believed to be involved with OTO.
Indeed, when one of her Twitter followers asked how she could find out more about Thelema, another word for Crowley’s teachings, Peaches directed her to read his books, which she described as ‘super interesting’.
Other celebrities linked to OTO include the rapper Jay-Z, who has repeatedly purloined imagery and quotations from Crowley’s work. Whether wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with 'Do what thou wilt' or hiring Rihanna to hold aloft a flaming torch in his music videos (a reference to the Illuminati, an outlawed secret society whose name supposedly derives from Lucifer, or 'light bringer'), he has given the sect priceless publicity.
His clothing line, Rocawear, is shot through with OTO imagery such as the 'all seeing eye' in a triangle, the 'eye of Horus' (an ancient Egyptian symbol frequently referenced in occult texts) and the head of Baphomet (the horned, androgynous idol of?Western occultism).
Some conspiracy theorists have seized on this as evidence that he is a member of a secret Masonic movement which they believe permeates the highest levels of business and government.
Others take a more pragmatic view: that it is commercial opportunism, cashing in on impressionable teens' attraction to the 'edginess' of occult symbolism.
Yet OTO is much more than a marketing opportunity for attention-seeking celebs. It is a living religion, with adherents still practising occult rituals set out by Crowley in his books.
This week I tracked down John Bonner, 62, the head of OTO in the UK, to his home in East Sussex. He told me: "We are not a mass-appeal sort of organisation — in the UK we number in our hundreds. Worldwide it’s thousands."
Malevolent: OTO was set up by Aleister Crowley (right), who revelled in the title of 'the wickedest man in the world'.
"Celebrities are not always a boon or a benefit. We are used to being misunderstood. Many stories about Crowley, like people saying he filed his teeth down into fangs, are nonsense.
You could call us a sex cult in a way, because we recognise, accept and adore the whole process which goes towards making tangible the previously intangible."
According to adherents of OTO it takes years of study before you can begin to understand what the religion is about — much like the equally controversial Church of Scientology.
Bonner takes issue with the comparison, saying it is 'extremely expensive' to study Scientology, yet OTO demands no financial contributions.
Given her own dabbling in heroin and casual sex, particularly during a rootless period when she lived in Los Angeles a few years ago, it is perhaps natural that the troubled offspring of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates should be attracted to such a liberal school of thought.
And if Peaches' own interest is so shallow, heaven knows what her impressionable — and mostly very young — fans will take from it.
A former FBI agent, Ted Gundersen, who investigated Satanic circles in LA, found that Crowley's teachings about 'raising demons to do one's bidding' suggested human sacrifice, preferably of 'an intelligent young boy'.
John Bonner is dismissive of any idea that he and his fellow believers would even begin to countenance such excesses, pointing out that his is the only religion that sends people a letter of congratulations when they decide to leave ('because they are exercising free will, which is what we're all about').
But he accepts many people may not be able to deal with Crowley's complex teachings. 'You're not supposed to just jump straight in to it. It takes time and study, but our rituals are not for public consumption. You need to join us and go through the initiation process before you can begin to understand.
"But according to our beliefs we can’t turn anyone away. So if you are over 18, are passably sane and are free to attend initiations, then you have an undeniable right of membership."
Peaches Geldof is playing with fire. One can only hope her fans treat this latest pose with the scorn it deserves.
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Sydney Morning Herald - 6 September 2013
Aleister Crowley and esoteric art open window to the sacred
By Andrew Taylor
Artists are renowned for leading debauched lives but few were as outrageous as the English occultist Aleister Crowley, described by one Sunday newspaper as "the wickedest man in the world".
Also known as The Great Beast 666, Crowley set up the occultist "anti-monastery" The Abbey of Thelema in 1920 and was a frequent drug user who had ritual sex with both men and women.
His portraits, landscapes and trance paintings were created as part of his occult practices and influenced by symbolism and expressionism, says curator Robert Buratti.
His work, like those created by the "witch of Kings Cross", Rosaleen Norton (see left), sought out the divine, but were shunned by the art world.
"Its premise lies in the idea that art can succeed where organised religion has failed," Buratti says, "Hence the movement has suffered the disdain of wider society, who prefer that art exists as simple decoration."
Crowley and Norton are among the artists whose works are on show in Windows to the Sacred: An Exploration of the Esoteric at S.H. Ervin Gallery.
The exhibition also includes works by Canadian Jeff Martin and others who have been influenced by Crowley and Collective 777, the art guild of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a religious cult led by him in the early 20th century.
Also included is work by Indigenous artist Danie Mellor, who uses the symbols of Freemasonry to approach the secret tribal knowledge of indigenous Australians and their culture clash with the West.
"Often the imagery of esoteric art such as Aleister Crowley's The Moon (see right) is confronting, and certainly not something to match your curtains to," Buratti says. "Rosaleen Norton wasn't creating work to meet a fashionable market, and Aleister Crowley certainly wasn't painting to please the aristocrats."
Norton's graphic illustrations and paintings of devils and demons appear quaint these days, but were regarded as pornographic and obscene in the 1930s and '40s, with police regularly removing her artwork from public display.
She became even more notorious after becoming the lover of English conductor Sir Eugene Goossens, who was arrested for trying to bring 800 erotic photographs, film and ritual masks into Australia from London.
Artists like Crowley and Norton suffered intense vilification during their lifetime, but became influential figures in popular culture.
Crowley was included on the cover sleeve of the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page collected his clothing, manuscripts and ritual objects and Ozzy Osbourne released a song titled Mr. Crowley.
Norton's life has been depicted on stage and inspired a number of books including Homage to Pan: The Life, Art and Sex Magick of Rosaleen Norton.
Buratti says esoteric art is usually part of a personal spiritual practice, often of a ritual or magical nature.
"It fundamentally asks the artist to delve into their own existence, and the artwork functions like a diary of that ordeal or a prompt to delve even further," he says.
He says esoteric artists such as Norton and James Gleeson, the father of Australian Surrealism, use techniques like meditative trance to find a deeper truth.
"Sometimes the resulting images can be very disturbing, while others manifest a kind of beauty that only esoteric art seems to conjure."
Windows to the Sacred is on at S.H. Ervin Gallery until September 29.
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The Guardian - Friday 9 May 2014
Black magician Aleister Crowley’s early gay verse comes to light by Maev KennedyNotebook of poems written by heartbroken occultist in 1898 to be exhibited at antiquarian book fair in London.
In 1898 the Wickedest Man in the World was feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. The occultist Aleister Crowley's first great love affair, with fellow Cambridge undergraduate Herbert Jerome Pollitt, was in ruins, and he took to poetry as his only solace.
"When my sick body in his love lies drowned/ And he lies corpse-wise on me, nor will rise/ Though my breath shudders, and my soul be dead," he wrote – and much, much more – in a tiny notebook of unpublished manuscript poems which has recently resurfaced.
The actor and rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who will exhibit the little book at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this month, concedes that this is not great poetry. "The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him – and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising."
Crowley, who called himself the Great Beast 666 and pursued a lifelong interest in magic and the wilder shores of religion and sex, was nicknamed the Wickedest Man in the World by the British magazine John Bull after a former follower made a series of lurid allegations, including the claim she and her husband had been forced to drink the blood of a sacrificed cat.
Born in 1875, Crowley was a novelist, yoga enthusiast, heroin addict, occultist, sexual adventurer, magician, some say spy, and perhaps most improbably, enthusiastic mountaineer who scaled K2, the Eiger and many other peaks.
His bisexuality led to his expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a society dedicated to arcane ritual and magic which flourished across Europe in the late 19th century, with celebrity followers including the poet WB Yeats, who detested Crowley. The Great Beast founded his own cult inspired by Ancient Egypt, with tortuous rituals – including anal sex – for different grades of initiates, and was later thrown out of Sicily by Mussolini for sexual depravity. He died penniless in a Hastings boarding house in 1947.
In 1898 he was 22, and had fallen heavily for Pollitt, a fellow undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, renowned in student circles as a theatrical female impersonator under the name Diane de Rougy. They met in October 1897, broke up before Christmas, wrote yearning letters to one another over the holidays, and became lovers on New Year's Eve, an event recorded by Crowley as "admitted to permanent office in the Temple, midnight, December 31, 1897". A few months later it was all over.
Crowley would later write: "Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise. His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth. He possessed one physical beauty - his hair ... its colour was pale gold, like spring sunshine, and its texture of the finest gossamer. The relation between us was that ideal intimacy which the Greeks considered the greatest glory of manhood and the most precious prize of life."
Pearson, who found the notebook through his interest in early gay literature, says it is the earliest known Crowley manuscript.
Explicitly homoerotic and often sadomasochistic – "A sailor's kiss is branded on my throat/ Where his teeth infamous bit hard the skin" – the poems would have been unprintable when written, says Pearson, and only two have ever been published.
However, he is intrigued that Crowley had spared the collection of eight sonnets, including "He, who seduced me first" and "I, who am dying for thy kiss", and six other poems, all written in pencil in a cheap palm-sized notebook bought in Amsterdam, when he destroyed all his other early poetry.
"He destroyed the poetry because he was the priest, the master, the leader, and it didn't suit his image to be seen as weak and vulnerable. But he kept this little book all his life, so the poems obviously meant a great deal to him," Pearson adds.
The book will be for sale at the fair, priced at £12,500. "It's one of those distillates of history that tell us so much more than the official version," he says.
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San Francisco Chronicle - 7 December 2014
Aleister Crowley’s daughter Louise has Died 2014 … Obituary and History
Louise Shumway Muhler, daughter of Aleister Crowley, passed away peacefully of natural causes on November 20, 2014, at the Piedmont Gardens Skilled Nursing facility in Oakland, CA. She was born in Cefalu, Sicily, and her given name was Astarte Lulu Panthea. Her mother was Augustine Ninette Fraux Shumway and her father was Aleister Crowley. Louise came to the United States in 1930 and graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1937. She attended Mills College for two years and graduated from the University of California in 1941. In 1940 Louise married Virgil A. Muhler, now deceased, and divorced in 1970. Louise served as a Vista Volunteer for a year in Laredo, Texas, and in 1970 she began working as an ESL teacher in the Oakland Adult Education School and taught for over 25 years.
Lou was a member of Montclair Presbyterian Church for over fifty years and had a strong focus on social justice issues. She was also an active member of the Mills College Alumni Association. Lou loved nature and was an avid gardener and amateur expert in botany, zoology, and bird watching. She shared these passions with others for 15 years as a volunteer docent in the Natural History wing of the Oakland Museum. She travelled extensively in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America and was fluent in French and Spanish. She was preceded in death by her brother Howard Shumway.
She is survived by her sister, Jeanette Fraux, and brother Richard Shumway; her children, Susan Joan Muhler, William Mead Muhler, John Eric Muhler, and Wendy Louise Nicholson; five grandchildren, Tamara Christine Muhler, Nathaniel Westbook Muhler, Tymon Bennett Nicholson, Alexandra Cristina Aguirre Muhler, and Zoë Andrianne Mountain Muhler; and two great-grandchildren, Kira Louise Muhler Reyes, and William Generoso Muhler Reyes.
A memorial service will be held at the Rheinhardt Alumnae House at Mills College on January 17, 2015, at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Mills College for the Louise Shumway Muhler Memorial Scholarship.
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Paul Fraser Collectibles - 12 December 2014
Aleister Crowley silk robes make $17,500 in London sale
Aleister Crowley wore the silk robes in a famous photograph taken in 1934.
A set of embroidered silk robes belonging to legendary occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) have sold for £11,000 ($17,288) at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury in London.
The lot, which appears in a famous 1934 photograph, led the Autographs, Manuscripts and Documents sale on December 11.
Crowley founded Thelema, a religious and philosophical order, in the early 1900s. The Book of the Law, the basis for the religion, was apparently dictated to him by a mysterious being named Aiwass.
His eccentric and libertine lifestyle was at odds with its era (he freely indulged in sex, drugs and black magic) and he became a figure of fascination in the press.
He also helped popularise yoga in the west, after picking up the discipline in Asia.
From the 1960s onwards he was referenced by a number of British bands, including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
A ritual dagger that also appeared in the 1934 photograph made £10,000 ($15,716).
Both pieces came from the collection of Deirde Patricia Maureen Doherty, mother of Crowley's son Aleister Ataturk.
According to Dreweatts, Aleister presented them to her to "provide for her and their son should the need ever arise."
For full details of the sales, click HERE.
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BBC Business News - 15 July 2015
New £20 note contenders
The Bank of England releases the list of visual artists nominated to be on the next new £20 bank note. What a list. Includes Deco potter Clarice Cliff, grand gardener Capability Brown, awesome visual artist Abram Games, and film giant Cubby Broccoli. Too many incredible talents to list on Business Live - 600 of them - but a joy just to read the names. With almost 30,000 nominations there are some unlikely contenders. Occultist Aleister Crowley among these.
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The Guardian - 15 October 2015
Unseen Aleister Crowley writings reveal 'short-story writer of the highest order'
Aleister Crowley, the occultist once dubbed the "wickedest man in the world", is due for a reassessment as a short-story writer, according to a new anthology of his uncollected writing which includes never-before-published work by the author.
Crowley, who died in 1947, was the author of The Book of Law, a text which he said was dictated to him in Cairo by an entity named Aiwass, and which became the central text of Thelema, the religion he founded which tells its followers that "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". Crowley, who was also a mountaineer, yoga enthusiast, occultist, poet, painter, rumoured spy and magician, became known in the press as "the wickedest man in the world" after the wife of one of his disciples blamed her husband's death on drinking the blood of a sacrificed cat.
But he was also the author of more than 70 stories, only 35 of which were published before his death. Now Wordsworth Editions has released The Drug and Other Stories, which includes five works that have never been published before: Ambrosii Magi Hortus Rosarum, The Murder in X. Street, The Electric Silence, The Professor and the Plutocrat and The Ideal Idol.
Wordsworth director Derek Wright says he was approached by the organisation holding the copyright to Crowley's works in November 2008 about publishing some of the occultist's short fiction, including previously unpublished material.
"As a result, we made contact with William Breeze, a specialist in the works of Crowley and the current head of Ordo Templi Orientis, an international organisation of which Crowley had been a member. The first edition of the book was published in 2010 and proved enormously popular with both the adherents and followers of Crowley throughout the world and the more general reader," said Wright.
"It was during discussions earlier this year for a new cover for the book that Mr Breeze suggested that this would be an opportune moment to add further new, unpublished material, together with recently discovered notations to the texts by Crowley, plus further new material in the endnotes covering the most recent research into his life and works."
Much of the uncollected work, writes Breeze in an introduction to the book, "has languished for a half-century or more in old journals and archives, and is long overdue for a critical appraisal".
Crowley, adds Breeze, "was many things and excelled at most: a record-setting mountaineer, a competition-level chess player, the best metrical poet of his generation in the estimation of some, a literary critic of international reputation, an innovative editor and book designer, a pioneer in the use of entheogens, and a lion of sexual liberation – he was above all a lover, of men, women, gods, goddesses and himself".
While "outsiders to Crowley's milieu often suspect that he exerted some baleful, sinister hold on his enthusiasts and friends", this was not the case, according to Breeze. "Not at all: the key to his appeal was (and is) that he was as fun as he was smart. In truth his only satanic feature was his pride, which was admittedly of Miltonian proportions."
British poet and artist David Tibet, in a foreword to the new edition, says that Crowley's stories are overdue a reassessment. "It is time to reassess these witty, strange and occasionally very dark works as the rare and lovely jewels they are," he writes, comparing Crowley's story The Stratagem to Ray Bradbury and Jorge Luis Borges.
"The difficulty of accessing the pieces collected here for the first time – scattered as they were through obscure journals such as the Equinox or the International or appearing in extremely rare first editions – has prevented their author from being reassessed as a remarkable and idiosyncratic short-story writer of the highest order," according to Tibet. "If Crowley's wit is not quite as consistently barbed as that of Saki … it certainly covers a wider range of social (and sexual!) situations."
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The Scotsman - 23 December 2015
Aleister Crowley’s Inverness mansion destroyed by fireThe onetime home of black witch Aleister Crowley – the self-confessed “most evil man in Britain” – has been virtually destroyed by a fire which ripped through the 18th-century Loch Ness-side mansion.
The blaze at Boleskine House was spotted around 1:40pm yesterday by a motorist on the A82 Inverness to Fort William road, which runs along the north side of the loch. Within just two hours the flames had claimed 60 per cent of the building, which has also been owned by Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page.
More than 30 fire crew, some of them wearing breathing apparatus, used six water jets in their attempt to dowse the blaze. No one was in the house at the time. Police closed the B852 road between Dores and Foyers as smoke caused visibility problems for motorists as well as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Annette MacGillivray bought the house from Page and sold it a few years ago to a Dutch couple, who use it as a holiday home. It is believed it was due to go on the market. Mrs MacGillivray, who now lives in North Berwick, said: "When we bought it, it was a hovel. Just a shell and we paid too much for it. We spent a lot of money, stripping it back to the bare walls and re-roofing it. It had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a huge drawing room, dining room, library and various smaller rooms. It is unlikely it will ever be rebuilt unless there is someone out there with an interest in the occult wanting to spend a lot of money."
Asked if she had experienced any 'strange' occurrences, Mrs MacGillivray replied: "Not one. Absolutely none. I am a non-believer and didn’t listen to all that rubbish. We had a great time there, and my late husband and I had wonderful parties. It is so sad as we put a lot of our life into that house."
Local legend has it that the house was built on the site of a church which was burned down, killing the entire congregation who were attending Mass. Originally named Boleskine Lodge, it was built as a hunting lodge in the late 18th century by the Hon Archibald Fraser, who was related to Lieutenant General Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat.
The house was built on land acquired from the Church on a site that was reputedly chosen to annoy Lord Lovat, whose estate surrounded the property. The Frasers retained the house until the late 19th century and its notoriety stems from Crowley, 'the Beast of Boleskine', who bought it in 1899. He was a self-proclaimed magician and the press of the day reported accounts of black magic, devil worship and human sacrifice, calling him 'the wickedest man in the world'.
Unexplained and unconfirmed stories of the time include those of a local butcher cutting off his own hand with a cleaver after reading a note from Crowley written on a piece of paper with a spell on the reverse.
There are rumours of a tunnel from the cellars of the house to the burial ground which lies below the house by the loch side.
In 1971, the house was bought by Page, who was influenced by Crowley’s ideas. In a 1975 interview, Page said: "Strange things have happened in that house which have nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there."
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The Observer - 15 January 2016
Occult Art Show Features the Work of Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Anger - by Guelda Voien
A new exhibit up at a New York University gallery was the occasion for the following sentence — a strong contender for Most Convoluted Arts Writing of 2016: "A visual vocabulary is offered up by them, so that we all might be initiated into their imaginal mystery cults and dialog with the ineffable." No, "imaginal" is not a typo.
But if you can get past that (and we won't blame you if you can't), "Language of the Birds: Occult and Art" may intrigue you.
The exhibit, which opened on Tuesday, looks at 100 years of occult art, from ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley and the adored cult films of Kenneth Anger to the sprawling contemporary work of Kiki Smith. Tell your inner teenage goth to stay calm.
The undue application of ten-dollar words continues in the show's description on gallery 80WSE's website:
"While several of the pieces deal with 'high' or ceremonial magic, others draw from so-called 'low magic' practices and have deeply chthonic roots… 'Language of the Birds' suggests that all [of the works] are part of the same lineage: one that pulls on threads from the esoteric web of alchemy, Hermeticism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, divination and witchcraft."
But really, there may be some interesting art on display. Austin Osman Spare's "automatic drawings" and Kurt Seligmann's surrealist engravings round out a century's worth of work that takes the esoteric, and often with it, traditionally forbidden topics from alchemy to sex, as its subject.
The show is up until Feb 13, but during its penultimate weekend NYU will host The Occult Humanities Conference 2016: Contemporary Art and Scholarship on the Esoteric Traditions. The conference looks at the often-marginalized history of occult thought and practice and how technology is affecting our understanding of the occult in the present day.
Bring your creepy cousin Anton, and make a day of it.
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© The Shropshire Star - 12 February 2017
Rare Aleister Crowley book could raise £1,000 for Shrewsbury charity shop
A Shrewsbury charity bookshop is set for a windfall after receiving a rare work by legendary English occultist Aleister Crowley.
The town's Oxfam Book Shop has decided to put the book, which was limited to a print run of 200, on eBay with a hope of raising £1,000.
The book, Tannhauser, is unusual in that it is based on an opera by Wagner, and was confined to such a limited print run.
Store manager, Tom Coton, explained how the shop came into possession of the rare copy.
He said: "It came from a donation from a member of the public. We have got an ongoing donor whose family have a link to Crowley or are collectors of his books.
Mr Coton said that they hope the book will attract considerable interest.
He said: "It has a £1,000 auction listing and if it sells for that then that's fantastic.
Crowley is an influential figure in British culture and features on the cover of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
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© the Metro online - 21 February 2018
Painting from 100 years ago ‘could show the first alien to visit Earth’, expert claims
By Rob Waugh
In 1918, the famous English occultist Aleister Crowley performed weird occult rituals in New York while absolutely off his head on drugs.
Whacked on drugs including mescaline, opium and hash, Crowley 'made contact' with a being which now looks oddly familiar … like the 'grey aliens' beloved of UFO fans.
Crowley made a painting of the entity, which he called 'LAM' – and his fans later linked the painting with planets beyond Pluto, Paranoia magazine reports.
Could the occultist have summoned UFOs to our world, via some kind of inter-dimensional portal thing?
Maybe so, reckons Paranoia magazine, which analysed claims that Crowley may have made contact with aliens in 1918 – and birthed the whole UFO thing.
Crowley, author of Diary of a Drug Fiend was described as 'the wickedest man in the world', and is still a cult figure, immortalised in songs such as Ozzy Osbourne's Mr Crowley.
Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual, says, 'I don't think this convincingly shows that the alien greys are visiting due to magical incarnations initiated 100 years ago.'
'What it does indicate is our fascination with extra-terrestrial entities is long-standing and how Kenneth Grant linked Crowley's LAM vision with a trans-Plutonian planet and this progressed to incantations to open portals to allow ETs to visit us.'
'At least it makes a change from the concept of lumbering 'nuts and bolts' spacecraft travelling vast distances, just to scare Earthlings in the night.'
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© thevintagenews.com - 14 May 2018
Abbey of Thelema: The Italian villa where occultist Aleister Crowley shocked the world
By Kristin Thomas
Known for its medieval monuments, ancient cathedrals, and picturesque Sicilian countryside, Cefalú in Italy is a top touristic destination that attracts millions of visitors yearly. While tourists are busy checking out Cefalú’s historic attractions that date back to at least 3rd century BCE, also on hand is a dilapidated villa that in the early 20th century was inhabited by the “wickedest man in the world,” Aleister Crowley.
The place is known as the “Abbey of Thelema,” and it was both Aleister's home and the Thelemic spiritual center from 1920 to 1923. His time at the Abbey ceased when Aleister's demonic practices and rituals were exposed to the press, which led to his eviction from Italy by Benito Mussolini's government.
In 1955, occult-filmmaker and Crowley-devotee Kenneth Anger brought a crew to the Abbey of Thelema to film a documentary. Although the documentary was never released, Kenneth was able to uncover the majority of Aleister's murals and symbols the locals of Cefalú had white-washed 30 years prior.
Today the small Italian villa that once housed Aleister Crowley and his dedicated Thelemic followers is barely standing. It has been vacant for nearly 95 years except for tourists and locals either paying their respect or adding to the vandalism. Current images show the Abbey’s roof almost entirely caved in, inches thick of garbage and debris thoroughly masking the floor. Some original furnishings of the home are still there, although marked by rust, weeds, and shrubbery taking over. The walls that are still intact feature modern graffiti, showing little of the originals painted by the infamous Aleister Crowley.
As of 2010, the former Abbey of Thelema is for sale with a hefty asking price of $1.6 million. Even though it may collapse tomorrow, it could make quite the conversation piece.
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© cornwalllive.com - 21 October 2018
Inside the abandoned Aleister Crowley house of West Cornwall
By Greg Martin
There are plenty of abandoned houses in Cornwall, but only one has tales that involve Aleister Crowley, the Dalai Lama, Virginia Woolf, famous artists and the murder of a celebrity.
Mention the 'Aleister Crowley house' in conversation with someone in West Cornwall, and you could either get a knowing look or a frosty silence. Despite being dead for more than 80 years, the English occultist who was branded a Satanist and 'the wickedest man in the world' is still controversial enough to stir up ill-feeling in those who would rather his links with Cornwall, however small, were forgotten.
And then there are those who will tell you in hushed tones that they have visited the house - often as a dare. The bravest will claim they have spent the night there, writing their names on the walls to document their courage, but the more honest will tell you they got too scared to hang around.
For the most part, though, it seems those who have heard about the 'Aleister Crowley house' in West Cornwall, know very little about it, including where it is.
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© thesun.co.uk - 24 October 2018
Master of Darkness. How Brit sex cult leader followed by Kanye and Peaches made fans drink semen and cat's blood – and wanted them to DIE during orgasm
By Natasha Wynarczyk
Satanist Aleister Crowley scandalised society with his teachings on depraved sex, drugs, and his dark rituals that killed followers. FORCING people to drink the blood of sacrificed cats, encouraging his followers to eat poo during orgies and summoning lizard demons - these are the depraved acts of sex demon Aleister Crowley, the 'wickedest man of the world'.
The infamous satanist has been dead 70 years - but his evil legacy lives on in his thousands of followers, who had included major celebrities like Peaches Geldof and Kanye West.
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Encyclopaedia Britannica - 22 March 2019
Entry for Aleister Crowley British Occultist
Written By: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
Aleister Crowley, original name Edward Alexander Crowley, (born October 12, 1875, Royal Leamington Spa, England—died December 1, 1947, Hastings), British occultist, writer, and mountaineer, who was a practitioner of "magick" (as he spelled it) and called himself the Beast 666. He was denounced in his own time for his decadent lifestyle and had few followers, but he became a cult figure after his death.
Crowley's father was an heir to a brewing fortune who became an evangelist for the Plymouth Brethren, a Nonconformist religious denomination. The younger Crowley, however, formed an aversion to Christianity early in life. As a student at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, he began to use the name Aleister and gained a reputation for skill at chess. In 1898 he left the university without taking a degree. His own inheritance left him free to travel widely and to arrange for the publication of his writings. His first book of poetry appeared in 1898, and numerous books followed.
As a mountaineer, Crowley honed his skills on cliffs in Great Britain before taking part in pioneering attempts to climb Earth's second - and third-highest mountains, K2 and Kanchenjunga. The K2 expedition of 1902 reached an elevation of 18,600 feet (5,670 metres), while the Kanchenjunga expedition three years later was marred by tragedy when four of Crowley's fellow climbers were killed in an avalanche. It was said that Crowley, who had advised them against taking the fatal route, ignored cries for help from the survivors of the accident.
Like many other religious skeptics of the 19th century, Crowley became interested in occultism. In 1898 he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an organization derived from the Rosicrucians. One of Crowley's rivals within the London Golden Dawn group was the poet William Butler Yeats. On a visit to Egypt in 1904, Crowley reported mystical experiences and wrote The Book of the Law, a prose poem which he claimed had been dictated to him by a discarnate being called Aiwass. In it he formulated his most famous teaching: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." The sentiment was not new -- the French author François Rabelais had expressed it more than 300 years earlier in Gargantua and Pantagruel -- but Crowley made it the basis of a new religion he called Thelema, thelëma being the Greek word for "will." The Book of the Law was accepted as scripture by the Ordo Templi Orientis, a mystical group of German origin. In about 1907 Crowley founded his own order, A∴A∴, using initials that stood for the Latin words for "silver star." Starting in 1909 he disseminated his teachings in the periodical The Equinox. His assistant in the early years of this endeavour was J.F.C. Fuller, later a well-known military strategist and historian.
During World War I Crowley resided in the United States, where he contributed to the pro-German newspaper The Fatherland. After the war he moved to Cefalù, on the Italian island of Sicily, where he converted a house into a sanctuary he called the Abbey of Thelema. During this time he wrote The Diary of a Drug Fiend (1922), which was published as a novel but was said to have been based on personal experience. The death of a young follower in Sicily, allegedly after participating in sacrilegious rituals, led to denunciations of Crowley in the British popular press as the "wickedest man in the world" and to his expulsion from Italy in 1923. Having exhausted his inheritance on travel and extravagances, Crowley moved back to England in the early 1930s. His last notable achievement was the publication of The Book of Thoth (1944), in which he interpreted a new tarot card deck, called the Thoth, that he had designed in collaboration with the artist Frieda Harris.
Crowley died in poverty and obscurity in an English rooming house in 1947, but after his death he became a figure of fascination in popular culture. The Beatles put his picture on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page purchased a house previously owned by Crowley near Loch Ness in Scotland.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
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