In the late evening of October 12th 1875, at number 30 Clarendon Square, in the Warwickshire Spa town of Leamington, a baby boy was born. Named after his father, Edward Alexander Crowley was the first born son and future heir to Emily and Edward Crowley.Nobody, least of all his god-fearing parents, would have deduced that this child who later changed his name to ‘Aleister’ Crowley, was to become infamously known in later life as ‘the wickedest man in the world’. However if what has been written in later years can be believed; and there have been a mountain of books written by or about this man, legend has it that Edward Crowley the child, was born with four hairs upon the centre of his heart, curling from left to right, in the form of a swastika…The mark of ‘The Beast’
The story of this man has always fascinated my curious mind. I originally started researching this project back in 1986, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I decided to go back and look through the notes. In 1986. I had placed an advert in the Daily Telegraph, asking for anyone that could help in my research. I was inundated with replies. After meeting a few eccentrics and would be ‘Crowley Disciples and self proclaimed Crowley scholars,’ I met one ma, the son I recall, of Louis Wilkinson, the accomplished author , close friend and executor of Crowley’s estate . He showed me a book…it was a small hardback, with a pigskin cover, that was signed by Crowley, with a personal message to Louis Wilkinson on the cover page. He gave me an account of how Churchill had befriended Crowley; and related a story which really caught my imagination. Churchill came into his office one morning and told his staff, that he had just met his friend Aleister Crowley in Tottenham Court Rd Tube Station. he related that he had spotted Crowley going on the downward escalator, whilst he was travelling on the upwards esacalator, and that they had acknowledged one another. When Churchill arrived at the top of the escalator, Crowley was there waiting to greet him !…I remember keeping that book for a few weeks..but when I received a letter from a another man that professed to be a murderer and was living courtesy of HM Prisons, warning me to stay off this story and signed his letter with his own blood..I thought it was a subject best left alone, so the notes sat gathering dust for the next 20 years.
For many years I had wanted to re-open the notes and have another attempt at making a film on this peculiar character’s life. Here was a man, that was a Drug addict (long before narcotics consumption was considered illegal), he was branded by the press ‘ the wickedest man in the world’, he believed himself to be the ‘Great Beast’ with the mark on his body, he was a more than accomplished mountaineer, he was associated with some of the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the list of celebrity and high profile names endorsing the character both during his life and since his death is phenomenal; and yet he was a practicing satanist and occultist. He seemed to have numerous personas, including considering himself a spy, a Count, a Lord, and endless other less savory labels. I admit, when you look at photographs of the man during his life, he does appear to change on a regular basis, almost in stature and characteristics.
Under normal circumstances, I would have interviewed the man and those that knew him; and formed a conclusion. But AC was dead, most of those that knew him were also deceased; and much of what had been written about him was either written by those that idolised his beliefs, or those that thought he was a complete fraud.
Aleister Crowley died in a boarding house in Hastings in 1947, pennyless and without many friends; and yet he took his reputation to the grave, with the press announcing ‘ Farewell 666.’
Many years ago, I was taught that the basis of a good documentary has three main elements. One, that a blind person should be able to listen to the narrative; and understand the story. Two, that a deaf person should be able to follow the pictures and understand what is being portrayed; and Three’ if there is anyone proclaiming the story should not be told, then this is generally a good reason to go ahead and make the film. The Biography of Aleister Crowley could certainly tick this box.
I came up with the idea, that I could portray the biography, by recreating interviews with the characters. Taking Crowley’s own self biographies and those that had been already written about him, I could re-create a close resemblance to what would have been discussed and revealed during those conversations.
My job in making a documentary is to ‘sit on the fence’ and lay out the facts to the best of my ability, leaving the viewer to form their own opinion. You make up your own mind.
In Search Of The Great Beast
The child’s father, Edward Crowley came from a wealthy Quaker family. His father, and the child’s grandfather, another Edward, made his fortune as a brewer, establishing a number of public houses that sold Crowley Ale.
ALEISTER CROWLEY Inheriting a fortune, my father had no need to earn an income and instead became a self-appointed preacher of the Plymouth Brethren. They were a small separatist denomination that emphasised three beliefs. The literal truth of the Scriptures, the exclusion of all priestly authority, everyone was equal in the Brethren…; and the belief in the Second Coming. My father would travel on foot around Warwickshire and later when we moved to Redhill, the Surrey countryside, preaching that true Christianity could be found only among the Plymouth Brethren; I was often by his side on those wanderings.
But whilst his father was a lay preacher of the faith, it was Crowley’s mother Emily that enforced the strict doctrine of the Brethren at home. Life in that household could hardly be described as frivolous. There was no Christmas, no gifts, no childhood books, not even any toys.From the age of four, Crowley would be made to join the family and servants in the dining room for breakfast, where they would read aloud a chapter from the bible, each person reciting a verse. The expectation of the second coming of Christ set against the vigilant rejection of Satan set the standards by which Crowley was raised.During these early years he learned about the end of the world, the deliverance of the Plymouth Brethren and about the wickedness of sinning, he also learnt a great deal about death, something his father was obsessed by.
In his early years Crowley came to look upon his father as a role model. He became a Plymouth Brother, believing wholeheartedly that this was the only true faith, unable to conceive that anyone could be so foolish or indeed wicked enough to doubt it. As he grew older, his feelings began to wander, just as any young boys’ imagination would, but then Edward Crowley was not just ‘any’ young boy. When he was 11, his father died of cancer of the tongue. As Crowley recalled,
ALEISTER CROWLEY I had some respect, but little love for my father; and that from the moment of his funeral I entered a new phase of development, the main feature of which was nonconformity. My mother sent me to the Ebor School in Cambridge, for sons of Plymouth Brethren, run by the Rev Champney, where the main teaching instrument was the Bible and the main instrument for correction was the birch. It was around this time, that I began to rebel and fantasise about torture and blood, often imagining myself being hurt and in agony. Of course just as any young boy, my vivid imagination also began to turn to the opposite sex, but in particular, I had visions of being degraded and suffering at the hands of wicked women.
Perhaps these abnormal fantasies stemmed from his strict upbringing by his mother, or from some deep resentment for his father’s death, but they were to become stronger and more and more prolific as he grew older.Aleister Crowley and other authors documented a number of anecdotes from his boyhood life, none so sinister as that about a cat. Crowley had been told that a cat had nine lives; from this he reasoned that it must be near impossible to kill one.But whilst most young boys would imagine the consequences of such a conclusion, Crowley decided to act it out.
ALEISTER CROWLEY, ‘ I caught a cat, and having administered a large dose of arsenic, I chloroformed it, hanged it above the gas jet, stabbed it, cut its throat, smashed its skull; and when it had been pretty thoroughly burnt, drowned it and threw it out of the window so that the fall might remove the ninth life. The operation was successful. I was genuinely sorry for the animal; I simply forced myself to carry out the experiment in the interests of pure science.’
The young Crowley grew to loathe the religious doctrines laid down at the Rev Champney’s special sect school almost as much as he hated the cruel headmaster. He still continued to study the bible, but in particular, certain passages, especially those in Revelation. He became drawn to reading about the False Prophet, the Scarlet Woman and the Beast, and then one day, he came to a disturbing conclusion
ALEISTER CROWLEY Well it was just after I had been chastised by the headmaster, for attempting to corrupt one of the other boys who had visited my house during the school holidays. I can’t remember how or what I had attempted to do to,….I was at that experimental age..but I remember it was around that time that I realised I had become obsessed and fascinated by those that were the enemies of Heaven. My sympathies lay with them. And this fascination would remain with me for the rest of my life.
Details of the next few years of the young Crowley’s life vary from biography to biography but it was clear that there was no love lost between mother and Son.The pious Emily Crowley was undoubtedly concerned over the ungodly behaviour of her son and would on many occasions call him a ‘beast’. The young Crowley revelled in this new accolade and began to identify himself with the ‘Beast’ from the book of Revelation, whose number is the number of a man; six hundred and three score six, 666! His mother on the other hand, believed in the literal truth of the bible and would not have used this term lightly. It is clear that however much she rejected it; she probably foresaw the destiny of her wayward son.
ALEISTER CROWLEY In a way, my mother was insane, to the sense that all people who have watertight compartments to the brain; and hold with equal passion, incompatible ideas; and yet hold them apart lest their meeting should destroy both.My mother actually believed that I was the Anti-Christ of the Apocalypse, and yet she also believed that her poor lost erring son might yet repent and be redeemed by the precious blood.
Just after his father’s death, in 1887 Emily moved the family from Redhill to Thistle Grove in London, to stay with her brother Tom Bond Bishop. Bishop did not believe the accusations made against Crowley by the Rev Champney and much to Crowley’s delight, moved him away from the school. Bishop also recognised that the young Crowley’s health was poor and a doctor confirmed his fears when he diagnosed that Crowley would be unlikely to reach manhood. He decided to keep the boy at home and embarked upon employing a succession of private tutors over the next two years. He also resolved that the boy’s recovery required plenty of open air exercise including fishing and mountain climbing. Again this delighted Crowley.
Crowley progressed rapidly in mathematics, English Literature, Greek and Latin and welcomed the freedom he had been granted in being able to read books which had previously been denied him. He became adept in poetry and developed a yearning to become a great poet. Among the tutors that emerged, one Archibald Douglas, taught Crowley, not only English and maths however….he also introduced him to the vices of racing, billiards, betting, cards and on a trip to Torquay with Douglas, he was also introduced to the vices of women. It was on this trip at the age of fifteen, when Crowley lost his virginity to a woman he met in the theatre.
ALEISTER CROWLEY The nightmare world of Christianity vanished at the dawn. The obsession of sin fell from my shoulders into the sea of oblivion….it was a period of boundless happiness for me.
Whilst being introduced to the sins of the flesh may have instigated a period of happiness for Crowley, it certainly had the reverse effect on his mother. No more so than when she discovered that whilst the family was away, Crowley had experimented further with a young parlour maid…in his mother’s bed. The maid was dismissed and put out on the streets; and according to Crowley, she changed her name and became a prostitute. He also claimed that she met a fateful demise at the hands of no other than ‘Jack The Ripper. In later years Aleister Crowley would publish an article claiming that he had discovered the actual identity of Jack the Ripper, one Robert Donston, a black magician.
Crowley claimed to a member of the press that he had in fact met with Donston prior to his death in 1912 and that Donston had given him five blood-soaked ties, corresponding to the five murders committed in Whitechapel. How much truth can be held in these claims is debatable, but one thing that can be claimed for sure is, these were just two of the many sinister and strange coincidences that were to surround this iniquitous man for the rest of his life and beyond…!
TOM BISHOP Well after the business with the parlour maid, we sent him off to Malvern Public School, but after only three terms he came home with claims of being the victim of sexual abominations from other boys. My sister, Emily, of course refused to send him back and instead, we found him a place at Tonbridge. He seemed happy there, he spent the summer fishing and climbing and indeed he had regained his physical health. His moral wellbeing however was a different story. After being at Tonbridge for less than a year, he went on a trip to Glasgow and ended up contracting a sexual disease from a prostitute. Of course, in disgrace, he was asked to leave the school. We then sent him to live with a Brethren tutor in Eastbourne, where he attended day classes at the local school. This seemed more productive, in fact his studies improved. He took up Chess and excelled, winning many local championships….and he had also become quite a proficient rock climber. One of his favourite spots was Beachy Head, where he spent many days and nights camping and climbing. I think it was in 1894, when he joined the Scottish Mountaineering Club and went on his first trip to the Alps
In 1895 at the age of 20, the affluent Crowley went to Trinity College Cambridge, to read moral sciences, taking rooms at number 16 St Johns Street. It was also at this time that he decided to change his name from Edward to Aleister. He spent little time in the lecture halls and did most of his studying of English Literature in his rooms where he amassed a vast collection of books. He seldom ventured out of his rooms, other than to indulge in his love of chess. In his first year he joined the university chess club where he promptly triumphed over the club president. In the summer of 1895, he spent his vacation in the Alps, conquering a sole ascent of the Eiger. Crowley studied Russian and spent much of his vacation the following summer travelling through Europe and onto St Petersburg, as well as his favourite sojourn into the Alps. In the winter holidays of his second year at Cambridge, Crowley visited Stockholm and it was there on New Years Eve 1897 that something happened to Aleister Crowley that would set the course of his life forever. It was approaching midnight and he was asleep in his hotel room…
ALEISTER CROWLEY I was asleep and yet I was awake. But this wasn’t a dream. I became astutely aware that I possessed a magical means of becoming conscious of something inside of me. I could release a side to my nature that I didn’t know existed. It was a painful, terrifying and horrific experience, yet at the same time it seemed to be the answer…it seemed so pure and spiritual. My path had been chosen. I actually included this experience in a preface to a poem that I wrote later that year, ACELDAMA. Being a young man of means, I was able to privately print 100 copies and I found a bookseller in Cambridge to sell them. At that time, one of my ambitions was to be one of the great poets. I did little else during my time at Cambridge….there was of course the liaison with Pollitt, but as a young man of some standing, I didn’t want to be seen as a homosexual, I mean look what had happened to Oscar Wilde a couple of years before. No I didn’t have time for emotional relationships. I would find a local prostitute when I felt the urge, usually about every 48 hours or so. Its much easier …why waste time chasing something when you can have it delivered to your back door every evening with the milk!
The Stockholm experience had allowed me to discover what I wanted to spend my time on. I would be an Adept in the Secret Arts, a Magus and through my own true will I could guarantee immortality and control the secret forces of nature.
In his last year at Cambridge in 1898, Aleister Crowley wanted ultimate achievement in three different aspects of his life, Poetry, Mountain climbing and the search for spiritual truth.
By coincidence he was to form three long-lasting friendships that same year which would mirror those aspirations.The first of these was with Gerald Festus Kelly. Both Crowley and Kelly had come from similar backgrounds. Supporting one another as emerging artists, Crowley often sent Kelly his poetry for comment. No doubt including the pornographic collection of poems ‘White Stains’ which he had self published that same year.Crowley also claims to have enticed Kelly in later years to dabble in magical rituals. ‘Sir’ Gerald Kelly went on to became one of Britain’s leading portrait painters and one time President of the British Royal Academy
The second of Crowley’s new acquaintances was Oscar Eckenstein, an eminent Mountain Climber of some distinction. Both Crowley and Eckenstein shared a passion for the writings of the Victorian author and intrepid explorer Sir Richard Burton. Eckenstein would later take an important role in Crowley’s development as a skilled mountaineer.
The third friendship struck that year involved Crowley’s spiritual enlightenment, when after leaving university; he was introduced to man by the name of George Cecil Jones. Jones was a chemist, whom, Crowley discovered, used his knowledge of alchemy to further his studies of magic and the occult. Crowley would become a regular guest of Jones at his house in Basingstoke, where he would receive his first lessons in magical practice. Within a few weeks, Jones decided to confide in Crowley and disclosed that he was in fact a member of a magical society called The Golden Dawn. A meeting was set for Crowley to be introduced into the society.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I was taken along to Mark Masons Hall in Great Queen Street, which was used for the Outer Order Ceremonies. Membership to the club was ten shillings a year. There were a number of members I recognised, Florence Farr, the actress, Arthur Machen, the novelist and William Yeats the poet. And then on the 18th November 1898, I officially entered into the Order and accepted all the vows and obligations…
Crowley was warned as the ceremony proceeded, that the penalty for breaking the oath was severe….a hostile current would be set in motion against him, it would cause him to fall slain or paralysed’ as if blasted by a lightning flash’…
ALEISTER CROWLEY Thus was born in the Isis Urania Temple in Great Queen St, Brother Perdurabo, a Neophyte of the lowest degree of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Of course I had no intention of remaining in the Outer Order of such an assembly of nonentities for very long. Admission to the Second Order was much more appealing to my nature.
Crowley was a keen student of the ancient Egyptian philosophy of the Golden dawn. He rapidly rose through the grades with ease. By December he had passed the examination for invitation into the Zelator Grade, then over the next two months, progressed to the Theoricus and Practicus grades. In May 1899 he became a Philosophus. Aleister desperately wanted an invitation into the Second Order, but there was a required seven month period before that could take place. He would also need a special invitation from The Golden Dawn’s mysterious leader, Samuel Liddell Mathers; and there was something about Crowley that made Mathers cautious.
As well as being a Master Freemason, Mathers, had spent many years translating one of the oldest and most famous books on magic, The Key of Solomon. He had also written a book The Kabbalah Revealed, which he had translated from the Jewish Zohar.
SAMUEL LIDDELL MATHERS Many years ago, I discovered another old Hebrew manuscript, ‘The book of the Sacred Magic of Abra Melin the Mage’. It was a kind of teach-yourself-guide on how to impose your will on nature, using contemplation, prayer and abstinence. Not that far removed from Yoga. There are two schools of Magic. On one hand you have white magic, which invokes the forces of good; and on the other hand you have black magic, which invokes the forces of evil. Abra Melin teaches that the good forces are superior in power to the evil or satanic forces and that by prayer and leading a pure life, the practicing magician can call upon his Guardian Angel to help him use and harness the forces of the power of darkness. There are no real rituals, only lists of angels and demons which can be evoked. There are also talismans which can be used for such things as bringing the dead back to life, obtaining riches or for flying in the air. They can also be used for provoking desire between persons of the magician’s choosing. Access to the Second Order of the Golden Dawn, eventually led to access to one’s Guardian Angel. I wasn’t convinced that Aleister Crowley could steer clear of temptation or indeed that he knew where to draw the line between good and evil.
During the months of studying for the Golden Dawn, Crowley moved into new lodgings in numbers 67 and 69 Chancery Lane. London. He leased the rooms, claiming to be a Russian aristocrat under the guise of Count Vladimir Svareff. Mather’s suspicions were not unfounded. For when Crowley decorated his new lodgings, he turned two of the rooms into temples. Both had magic circles and pentagrams on the floor. One large one, covered with huge mirrors for the practice of White Magic. Whilst the other much smaller one was kept empty save a figure of an ebony Negro on his hands, supporting a small altar on his feet; and a human skeleton. This temple was for the practice of Black Magic. Brother ‘Perdurabo’ would feed this skeleton with blood, small birds and beef tea in an effort to bring it back to life.
During one of the ceremonies at the Isis Urania Temple, Crowley became aware of a powerful force, it appeared to radiate from a young man within the group…This man was Allan Bennett. Bennett was a highly revered member of the Second Order of the Golden Dawn, almost as highly esteemed as Mathers; and in addition he had a formidable reputation as a magician.
ALLAN BENNETT I had heard of Brother Perdurabu, Aleister Crowley, from Mathers and had been asked to keep a watchful eye over him. I approached him after the ceremony and told him that he had been meddling with the Goetia…..the ‘dark’ forces……he denied it of course….’‘in that case’ I said, ‘the Goetia has been meddling with you’. He left the temple rather timidly. But the very next day he arrived at my door, I shared a room in a rather shabby tenement building, and to my amazement he offered me lodgings in his grand Chancery Lane apartment. In return, he asked me to teach him all I knew about the occult. He was a very persuasive young man, so I accepted. I should probably mention that I suffered from chronic asthma; and to keep it at bay I would take regular alternate doses of morphine, opium, cocaine and Chloroform. Somewhat strapped for cash, I really had no other choice other than to accept Aleister’s offer, I must add, that I would never have accepted monetary rewards for my teaching, that would have been strictly against the code of honour.
Crowley had found what he had been searching for; a Master in occult wisdom;
ALLAN BENNET Within days of moving in, Crowley and I were performing and experimenting with magic ceremonies, calling upon demons and consecrating various talismans. Our experimentation into the occult went far beyond Crowley’s formal Golden Dawn grades, incorporating the use of mind altering drugs, opium, cocaine and hashish.
In 1899, drugs of this nature were openly available for those that had the means to pay for them. The first dangerous drugs act was not passed until much later in 1920 so it was quite legal and fashionable amongst many high society revellers to dabble in narcotics.
ALLAN BENNETT What wasn’t legal at that time however, was homosexuality; and Aleister had been warned by a female acquaintance that his Chancery Lane apartment was being watched by the police. We did, how should I say, bend the rules a little, Aleister and I were close, but never that close. Our relationship was based on one another’s devotion to understanding the occult and indulging ourselves in the affairs of magic. I was concerned however, that he was becoming addicted to narcotics and was always searching and experimenting with his state of consciousness.
Rumours of the questionable occult activities in Chancery Lane were filtering back to the other eminent members of The Golden Dawn, as well as whisperings of Crowley’s many promiscuous sexual relationships with both men and women. William Yeats, for one, highly disapproved of the man and let it be known to Mathers. In May 1899, Crowley went to Paris to meet the Leader of the Golden Dawn for the first time. Mathers wanted to be assured of the obedience and harmony amongst the members in London. Crowley on the other hand, wanted to be assured of his entrance into the Second Order. Despite Yeats protestation, Mathers trusted the judgement of Bennett. Consequently Crowley returned from Paris feeling reassured, that despite the claims made against him in London, entrance to the Second Order would soon be his. By the summer of 1899, Bennett’s health was deteriorating, brought on by the damp London air. He wanted to travel to the warmer climate of Ceylon to study Buddhism, but lacked the fare. Crowley could have paid it, but this would have broken the bond. Instead he decided that he would perform a ritual to conjure up the spirit of Buer…and ask him to supply the necessary funds. The very next day Crowley received a letter from a married woman with whom he had been having an affair but had ended the relationship.
ALEISTER CROWLEY Well her name was Laura. She was married to a Colonel posted in India.I’m not sure why as she was once a seductive siren who was seductive no longer, but I went to see her at her hotel. She begged me to come back to her and offered to do anything I asked. So I told her, give me one hundred pounds, I won’t tell you whom its for, except that its not for myself. So she gave me the money. It paid Allan’s passage to Ceylon and saved to humanity one of the most valuable lives of our generation. So much for ‘Buer’. I never did see her again, but I understand that matter of the hundred pounds was later reported to the police as theft, most likely by Colonel whatever his name was, although Laura refused to prosecute.
Whilst Allan Bennett left London for Ceylon, Aleister ‘Count Vladimir Svareff’ Crowley, had other plans. He intended to perform an intensive six month magical working – The Abra Melin Operation and for this he needed a country house. Funds were not a problem as he had by then, inherited a small fortune from his father’s estate. The precise details of the house are laid out in the Abra Melin text. The House should be in a secluded spot. Within the house a room should be set aside as an Oratory used exclusively for prayer and magic ritual. A door from this Oratory must face north, outside of which should be a terrace, which is covered in fine sand from a riverbed. At the north end of the terrace there should be a lodge where spirits both good and evil can be conjured; and those spirits can only be approached after the Holy Guardian Angel has been evoked. Crowley found the perfect location near the village of Foyers, overlooking Loch Ness and promptly purchased it.Boleskine!
Aleister Crowley certainly left his mark on this small Highland village. Many would talk of this strange man that had moved into the house in November 1899 and declared himself as the ‘Laird of Boleskine’.Crowley later wrote of his actions, declaring that ‘he had evoked endless demons, the lodge and the terrace became peopled with shadowy shapes, 111 servitors escaped from the lodge and entered the house wreaking havoc’. Those that visited or worked for Crowley did so at their peril. His housekeeper left, unable to stomach the sinister atmosphere of the house. His teetotal coachman suffered fits of delirium tremens or the ‘dt’s’, normally only found when an alcoholic abstains from alcohol, or a drug abuser withdrawing from drugs. One of his workmen went insane and tried to kill him. Even the accidental death of the local butcher was accredited to Crowley having put a curse on himHowever a few weeks into the operation, something was bothering Crowley. He had been informed by Florence Farr that his request for admission to the Second order was not going to be accepted. He immediately left Boleskine for Paris to visit and confront Mathers once again.
SAMUEL LIDDELL MATHERS Brother Perdurabo arrived at my apartment, dressed in full Highland dress. Things had not been going well with the Order in London, there was unrest and I was aware that my authority was being questioned by Yeats and Florence Farr. I needed an ally and Crowley was the ideal choice. I also needed his money, which he offered to put unconditionally at my disposal if I granted him access to the Second Order. So I performed the initiation to the next grade myself. Aleister became, much to his delight, a full Adeptus Minor.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I went straight to the headquarters of the Second Order at number 36 Blythe Road, to collect my documents for my new grade, but to my astonishment they refused to give them to me……on the grounds that they did not accept Mather’s initiation. There was mutiny in the camp! So Mathers and I hatched a rather grand plan to seize back control. I would gain access to the rooms, by persuading the landlord that I, the Laird of Boleskine, had the authority to enter, then simply change the locks. As the other members arrived they would have to swear allegiance or be down-graded to the Outer Order. So after watching the premises for a couple of days, my mistress at the time, Elaine Simpson and I carried out the plan. It all went rather well. We arrived and simply took possession. Over the next few days there were some comings and goings, other members demanding that we leave, including Yeats. But I stood firm, that was until a constable arrived and we were ejected by ‘the long arm of the law’ My time with the Golden Dawn was over…and by all accounts so was The Golden Dawn. I had heard that Mexico was an interesting place so I packed a bag and set off for Mexico City.
Arriving alone, the impulsive Crowley rented a house in the centre of the city overlooking the park and promptly found himself a young Indian girl to take care of his needs.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I felt the need to get straight back into my Magic so I chose to experiment with making myself invisible, by invoking the God of Silence, Harpocrates….After a few weeks it started to work, my reflection in the mirror grew weaker, until one day I went out into the streets, dressed in a scarlet cloak and a golden crown on my head……I was invisible to all those that passed me by.
In his biography of Aleister Crowley, author John Symonds noted that at this stage in Crowley’s life, three aspects of his psychology had become clear. One, he had no inhibitions whatsoever, throwing himself into any adventure that touched his fancy, the more horrible the better; and he was not afraid of madness. Secondly, he needed some strong or horrific experience to be aroused, he would sleep with wrinkled and ugly whores for stimulation to write his poetry And thirdly he had no respect for his own or anyone else’s body. His time in Mexico was not wasted. Based upon his own magic experiments he duly appointed himself as Adeptus Major.He formed his own new magical society the Lamp of Invisible Light. It had two members, one of which was Crowley. The second was Don Jesus Medina, one of the highest chiefs in Scottish Masonry, whom in return for membership of the LIL, initiated Crowley as a 33* Mason in the Scottish Rite. Apart from magic and sex, Crowley also took up his other great love in Mexico, when he took off on a climbing expedition with his old friend Oscar Eckenstein to climb the mountains Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihautl, both over 17000 feet high. By the end of the year, Crowley decided to leave Mexico and travelled via San Francisco and Hawaii, to Ceylon to meet his old friend and magical guru Allan Bennett.
ALLAN BENNETT It had been a year or more since I had seen him, he told me of Boleskine and the demise of the Golden Dawn and how he had progressed as Adeptus Major. We rented a bungalow up in the hills and spent the days meditating. He wanted to learn about Yoga. After a few months he had progressed to the state of Dhyana, which he described as a spiritual experience blending brilliance with meditation with extreme violence. I felt I was ready with my own studies to enter a monastery, so we parted once again, I went off to Burma, whilst Aleister decided to go wandering around India. It was a few months later when we met again, he came to visit me at the monastery
ALEISTER CROWLEY I remember it well, I knocked on the door of his bungalow, there was no reply. I noticed that his food was still sitting outside on the window ledge and the door was open, so I went in. There he was, about five feet off the ground, hovering weightless in the air… !
One mountain that Crowley and his friend Eckenstein wanted to climb was K2 in the Himalayas. The second highest mountain in the world and nobody had succeeded in conquering it. Whilst Crowley had been spending time with Bennett, Eckenstein had been preparing for the attempt and in March, 1902, the assembled team met in Delhi. By the beginning of July, the team had reached 20,000 feet, but conditions were atrocious. Eckenstein had fallen ill with influenza and Crowley was suffering from snow blindness. Two of the group continued and managed to get to 22,000 feet but by the 10th July the conditions worsened, a few days later they decided to abandon the climb.This expedition was the first ever attempt on K2 and they had lived for longer at the height of 20,000ft than anyone else before. K2 wasn’t finally conquered until half a decade later in1954. In October of 1902, Crowley left India for Paris to visit his old friend Gerald Kelly, he also intended to see Mathers, to collect some items he had left with him for safe-keeping. However on arriving at the apartment he was greeted by a stony silence and Mathers refused to return the items. This was a meeting of two very similar minds, both deeply rooted in the occult, both wanting absolute power.
ALEISTER CROWLEY It was a question of who would strike first; as it happens Mathers took the first blow….I don’t mean fist fighting, we both had far more powerful means at our disposal. Mathers employed the services of an old woman, a female vampire…! This woman invited me to tea on some pretext or another and when passing me the milk…something peculiar came over me…. I felt a strange dreamy feeling and something soft was touching my hand,…. I looked up and she was standing over me, but no longer an old woman, she had become a beautiful young girl. I recoiled my hand, but she came at me again, more beautiful than before. We were now battling for life, she tried to put her lips on mine but I held her off, she was screaming obscenities like a banshee, I returned her own current of evil through my hands as I held her… A strange orb of light circled her head, her hair turned white, her skin wrinkled and her eyes became dull….she was the aged old crone once again. Cursing me she left the room. I was rapidly tiring of Paris, so I decided to return to Boleskine. …Given the choice under different circumstances, I would probably have screwed the ugly old woman !
Crowley spent the next few months at Boleskine, terrorising the locals, experimenting with magic and writing his poetry. It was during this time that he completed his works, ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’.Gerald Kelly came to visit, which led to an opportune meeting for Crowley, with Kelly’s sister, Rose. Rose was fascinated by Crowley and he with her. She had just come from a troubled marriage and had become involved in an affair with a married man. Her family wanted her married off to another, but Rose was unhappy about the arrangement. Crowley on the other hand, found the idea of marriage appealing, a new adventure to be had. He could marry Rose to help her out of her predicament, she would be free to continue her affair, and he could continue to sleep with any woman he desired. Within a few days of meeting, Crowley had enticed Rose to marry him and much to the anger of her brother, the ceremony was performed in a civil ceremony in the town of Dingwall, the very next morning. In the weeks that followed at Boleskine, to his surprise, Crowley discovered that he actually loved Rose. In the summer months they travelled through France and then took a boat to Cairo.
ROSE KELLY In the beginning, I didn’t really have much to do with Aleister’s magical dealings., Probably one of my first initiations into the occult, took place on the night we were in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid,…. when I helped him invoke the ibis-headed God of Knowledge ‘Thoth’. From Cairo, we travelled into Ceylon and spent some time there. Our plan was to go on to Rangoon and visit Aleister’s friend Allan Bennett. But Aleister had a change of heart, he told me that something in his subconscious was telling him to return to Egypt, which we did. And we did it in some style. Aleister had grown tired of his persona and decided a new one would be more fitting with his new found life. In Aleister’s normal fashion, he declared himself Prince Chioa Khan, and took to wearing a turban studded with diamonds, a silk robe and a gold cloth coat. I was of course, Princess Chioa Khan. We would be driven around the streets of Cairo in our carriage, with two young men running in front, clearing our path. Oh yes, by then I was pregnant.
They took an apartment near to the Boulak Museum, where Crowley built his temple with the room facing north. By this time Rose was heavily involved in all of Crowley’s magic ceremonies. He called her ‘Quarda the Seeress’, Quarda being the Arabic for ‘Rose’. They engrossed themselves in the workings of the Abra Melin. Through one of the ceremonies Crowley claimed to have received a message whilst invoking the falcon-headed Egyptian god Horus.
ALEISTER CROWLEY Well ever since I had started on the Abra Melin workings at Boleskine, my prime intention was to meet my Guardian Angel. Now finally, the greatest moment in my life was revealing itself, the operation was a success. The voice of Aiwass, one of the secret Chiefs; and my Guardian Angel, through Quarda, was instructing me that a new dawn was coming for mankind and that I had been the chosen one to initiate it. I was told by Quarda to go into my temple on the 8th April at 12 noon and to write down everything I heard. I followed my instruction.
Locked in his temple, Crowley wrote solidly for one hour, the same procedure was followed the next day and again on the third, until finally the message from Aiwass was complete. What he had written down would later become one of Crowley’s most infamous works known as ‘The Book of the Law’, the doctrine in which the New Order would follow; and Crowley himself, would be the Chief of that New Order… The Beast 666 and his scarlet woman, Rose. ‘Do What Thou Wilt, shall be the whole of the law’ was probably the most famous line from this book, but there are also within the work, prophecies and revelations which would leave even the most sceptic of minds, wondering. ….and my number is 9 by the fools…..‘My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us.….Hail Ye Twin Warriors about the pillars of the world, for your time is nigh at hand,….For I have crushed an Universe and nought remains. Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire…
ALEISTER CROWLEY Well I was aware at the time, that there existed a certain amount of prophecy in the words of Aiwass. After all a new aeon was coming. Horus epitomised ‘Force and Fire…. undoubtedly his new aeon should manifest itself in a baptism of flames. The opening act of his reign would naturally be to plunge the world into a catastrophic, bloody and violent war. But I have to say, I didn’t realise the significance of the book until some years later. I had the work translated by the assistant curator at the Boulak Museum, on a stele of the Priest Ankh-f-n-Khonsu. The stele was exhibit number 666!
Crowley packed up his belongings in Cairo and returned to Boleskine, resuming the life of the Laird, a Scottish nobleman with his pregnant wife Rose. A few weeks later she gave birth to a baby girl. Crowley in his inimitable flamboyant style, named the child Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith. Rumours amongst the locals were rife, some saying that Crowley was in the adjoining room when Rose gave birth, performing rituals, that the child may be born a monster. For the next few months there was a sense of normality amongst the Crowley household. There were hunting parties and fishing trips, climbing expeditions. Crowley turned his time to writing more poetry and during the winter they holidayed in Saint Moritz, ice skating and skiing. For a while Aleister Crowley had become the proud father. By the spring of 1905, he was bored; and once again the challenge of a great mountaineering expedition beckoned. He still yearned to climb higher than any man had climbed before. This time it would be the Five Sacred Peaks of Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas and he would lead the expedition. This instance on leading the party, caused his old friend and climbing partner Oscar Eckenstein to decline.
OSCAR ECKENSTEIN The risk was just too great. Aleister was a great climber, but there was now way he could lead an expedition. He was far too much of a loose canon. On our last climb on K2, he had actually pulled a gun and threatened to shoot Knowles. So Aleister, with three Swiss mountaineers and an Italian who had no experience of climbing at all, in fact I believe he was an hotel manager that Aleister had met along the way, set off in the late Summer, with seven tons of food and equipment and two hundred and thirty porters, and three personal servants to mount the ascent on Kangchenjunga. This was the third highest mountain in the world at 28,150 feet.
The climb did not go well About halfway up, 130 of the porters, fearing the god of the sacred peaks, refused to go any further. The climbers began to argue amongst themselves, the Swiss not liking the brutal way Crowley treated his porters. More of the porters suffered from snow blindness and mountain sickness, others deserted, one of them falling to his death 1500 feet below the group. Crowley refused to go and help retrieve the body. Morale was low, but worse was to follow. The group was hit by an avalanche, one of the Swiss mountaineers and two more porters were killed. Crowley abandoned the mountain and returned to Darjeeling without knowing if the rest of his colleagues were dead or alive.
OSCAR ECKENSTEIN The climb was destined to fail. I cannot lay blame on Aleister for the tragic deaths on that attempt. When you are climbing a great mountain, you are completely in the hands of the environment; and accidents can happen. It’s a dangerous business. Aleister did cable an account of the attempt to the Daily Mail in London, which was quite inaccurate, expressing his disappointment in the rest of his team; and that he hoped to make another attempt the following year. ut when I later spoke to him and asked him why he had not gone to the aid of his friends, he confided in me. ‘Kangchenjunga Phobia’ he said, alone in that desolate environment of snow and ice, he heard voices, voices of the dead and the voice of the demon of the Five Sacred Peaks. For one of the first times in his life he said, he was afraid…. and fled.
Around his 30th birthday in 1905 Crowley meets up with his wife Rose and daughter Nuit in Calcutta. They decide to embark on a journey to China.Having arrived at Bhamo by Steamboat on the Irrawaddy, Crowley, Rose and their daughter set out on their journey, Rose and Nuit carried in a chair by porters and Aleister walked ahead…across the breadth of China ! Four months later, their journey complete they arrived at the seaport of Hai Pong
ROSE KELLY Aleister had become very distant; the experience in the mountains had left its mark.He was tormented by his very existence. Sadly as the days passed he became more and more hostile towards me. Not as violent as he had been with me in the past, I could tolerate that, but there was no longer any love for his wife and child. The only thing that mattered to him was Aiwass, his Guardian Angel. By the end of our journey I knew I would eventually leave him.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I had great works to accomplish, I had given myself to Aiwass, nothing else mattered. A Wife and Child were no longer part of picture. I began shaving my head to show my allegiance and I took up the pleasures of smoking opium. I had tried it before with Allan Bennett, but that was in powder form. I wanted to experience smoking it, so I bought my first pipe.I smoked 25 pipes, but with no effect. Then one of the porters told me that I was supposed to inhale it…
At Hanoi, Crowley and Rose parted company. He left for Hong Kong, to spend time with an old flame, Elaine Simpson. They spent the next 12 days performing magic incarnations, before he travelled back to England via Vancouver and New York Upon reaching Liverpool, he was greeted with a telegram His daughter Nuit had died of typhoid in Rangoon. Crowley showed little or no remorse for the death of his daughter, having abandoned them in China. Instead turned the blame towards Rose, claiming she had neglected to clean the child’s feeding bottle and had exposed the child to the disease.
ROSE KELLY We reunited at Boleskine some months later and there I remained for the next two years or so, a victim of his violent and vicious outbursts. He even threw my mother down the stairs on one occasion. Aleister wanted me to continue helping him with his magic work but I had lost interest and that just made matters worse… He was a cruel man; bringing his mistresses home, he would sexually and sadistically abuse them, whilst I would be forced to watch. On occasions they would be in our bed, whilst I would be hung by my ankles in the closet. Ironically, during that period, I gave birth once again to a beautiful daughter. We named her Lola Zaza.
Between 1906 and 1909, Crowley met some new acquaintances as well as renewing old ones. He travelled to Tangiers with one George Montagu, the 7th Earl of Tankerville. They returned, the worst of enemies. An Army Captain by the name of Captain John Frederick Charles Fuller, became a Crowley admirer and devotee. Writing and publishing an appraisal of Crowley’s work, entitled ‘A Star in the West’ …Fuller in later years would turn his admiration and devotion from Crowley onto another evil persona, Adolf Hitler. Crowley also took up again with George Cecil Jones and they plotted together on the formation of a New Magical World Order. The Argenteum Astrum or A.A. Whilst Crowley was undoubtedly a persuasive and fascinating character; he needed allies. Not only to satisfy his enormous ego, he also needed their money. The fortune inherited ten years before was disappearing fast.Crowley took to enticing affluent young men into his new Aeon, visiting his old haunts in Cambridge for likely candidates. Thus in 1908 Victor Neuburg entered Aleister Crowley’s twisted life Victor Neuburg spent the first few weeks as a probationer with Crowley at his lodgings in Paris prior to his initiation into the AA.
VICTOR NEUBERG In my mind, Aleister Crowley was a master, I had read some of his work prior to meeting him and was fascinated by the man.’One thing I must ask; let this book be assiduously circulated among the young. Let me seduce the boys of England; and the oldsters may totter, unconverted to their graves. Then these boys, becoming men, may bring about the new heaven and the new earth. You are not a Crowleian till you can say’ Yes thank you God, I am an atheist’ For the transvaluation of all values must yet again take place, when those are all dead and damned who have forced us into this painful position we now occupy Young men, there is the enemy. I am no coward; I hope and believe that I may make a fairly good general, at least no traitor. But without an army, I am useless; a Napoleon at St Helena..’ During the month I spent with Aleister in Paris, he became my sexual master and my guru and teacher in all things esoteric. To further my education, we went on a walking trip through Spain and Morocco. It was during this period, that he taught me the basic principals of conducting one’s life through Magic. First, always remain a gentleman; secondly one should never accept money for teaching magic. Never commit to a statement you cannot prove, uphold the dignity of magic through the application of science and philosophy and lastly never pretend you were better than you were. Just before we parted company at the end of that trip, I took the vow of Holy Obedience to study under the direction of Crowley. Something that I found in later years to be a tough undertaking.
In early 1909, Aleister Crowley read the just published novel by Somerset Maugham ‘The Magician’. He was immediately incensed; the main character in the book was modelled on no other than himself. Crowley had met with Maugham some five years previously. He responded by writing a scathing attack, accusing Maugham of plagiarism, under a pseudonym in the publication ‘Vanity fair’ which was edited by a friend of Crowley’s Frank Harris
ALEISTER CROWLEY It was clear by then that my destiny was set. The public needed to know the truth. I would declare my new order on the world. I began production of a series of biannual publications ‘The Equinox’. This would be the official voice of the Argenteum Astrum and the public would become aware of the New Magical Order.
In the summer of 1909, Victor Neuburg came to Boleskine to continue his studies.Whilst going through some papers, Crowley found his manuscript of the Book of the Law, which he had scribed in Cairo some years before.
ALEISTER CROWLEY The year had started well, The Equinox was a success; and then finding the manuscript, it all seemed to make perfect sense. I was the Chosen One. I would devote myself to the study of Thelema with my Guardian Angel Aiwass at my side.
VICTOR NEUBURG It was an intense period of magical retirement. For the first two weeks I was left alone secluded by day, practicing Yoga, fasting, reading, astral travel, mantras…and by night I would visit Aleister in his room. He had separate quarters from his wife Rose. I felt the master was cruel, he was a sadistic masochist….then for the next ten days I was made to sleep in a cold empty room, save for a bed of gorse as part of my initiation. The completion of my retirement however, was a successful one. I became a Neophyte in the A.A.
Crowley’s philandering had been taking its toll on the relationship with his wife Rose. She had taken to drinking heavily and suffered deep bouts of depression. She agreed to a divorce on the grounds of adultery, in return for a small financial settlement for their daughter Lola. Two years later, Rose would be committed to spend the rest of her life in an asylum, certified ‘insane’ Meanwhile Crowley and Neuburg went off together to Algeria…. During a long and arduous walk across the Sahara desert, stopping off at Oasis villages along the way, Crowley and Neuburg embarked upon a series of Enochian Magic rituals to invoke the 30 Ayethrs of Spiritual being. Crowley once again changed his appearance to enhance his prominence, by wearing a turban and growing a beard and wore a large star sapphire ring. To complete the display of a great Magician and gain the fear of the Muslim villagers, Crowley insisted Neuburg shaved his head and at times took to walking him through the streets on a chain leash around his neck. Crowley later described these scenes in his book of ‘confessions’ including one ritual which he termed as a ‘rite of Pan’ which involved an act of sex magic, in which Neuburg took the active role. The concept of combining sadistic sex acts with his magick rituals was something in which Crowley would become infamously adept.
VICTOR NEUBURG The tenth Aethyr was possibly the most dramatic of all the rituals Aleister performed in the desert, when he evoked the wrath of the evil spirit Choronzon. We had traced a triangle in the sand, to contain this terrible demon; and had cut the throats of three pigeons, one on each point of the triangle, their blood soaking into the sand. Then both Aleister and I entered the triangle, Aleister wore a black robe with a hood. However it should have been me alone entering the triangle of exorcism, to write down everything that I heard. Aleister should have stayed within the protection of the magic circle, but he intended to become possessed by Choronzon, which was indeed a foolhardy act. What transpired during the operation was a terrifying experience…….I actually thought I was going to die……at one point, I was flung to the ground by the demon who tried to rip out my throat with his razor sharp fangs. I called upon Aiwass for protection against this naked savage, and struck out with the Magical Dagger. Choronzon slithered back from where he had come; and the operation was over…
ALEISTER CROWLEY The final nine Aethyrs were a little more relaxed, I had succeeded in attaining the grade of Magister Templi… Master of the Temple. As I wrote in a letter to Captain Fuller before returning to England, ‘we had the Apocalypse beaten to a frazzle; it was the holiday-holyday of my whole life…!’
When Crowley was about to publish his third volume of the Equinox. Mathers however sought an injunction in the high court to ban the publication, on the grounds that it contained excerpts from the rituals of the Golden Dawn. Crowley appealed against the injunction and the case was found in his favour. The equinox was published the very next day, along with a front page story in the London Evening News “Secrets of the Golden Dawn”. This was Crowley’s very first success at notoriety. Another person also came into the picture around this time, a new member of the A.A. Leila Waddell, a strikingly attractive Australian musician. Crowley and Waddell immediately became lovers.As a bizarre means of replenishing his depleting funds, Crowley decided on putting on a public display of rituals. The venue was Caxton hall in Westminster. Himself and Neuburg would perform the Rites of Eleusis over seven consecutive nights, with Leila Waddell playing the violin and charging an admission fee to the public. A reporter from the publication ‘The Looking Glass’ wrote a scathing review, citing the performance and lyrics as ‘gibberish’ and also mentioning Crowley’s past acquaintances, including George Cecil Jones; as being involved with Crowley in unmentionable immoralities. Jones was furious and sued the publication. During the court hearing, Crowley who was not called by either side, was described by the defending barrister as ‘that loathsome and abominable creature’ Jones lost his case based upon Crowley’s evil reputation; and with it Crowley lost a number of benefactors who were helping to fund the Equinox and the AA, including Captain Fuller. Crowley decided it was time for him to bow out of leadership of the AA, its purpose had come to an end….he would find a fresh organisation for his New Aeon. During the next few months, Crowley remained with Leila Waddell, despite her reticence to indulge too deeply into the ‘Beast’s workings with the occult. There were of course, the occasional affairs and homosexual activities. However at the end of 1911, Crowley met a married woman, by the name of Mary Dempsey and became instantly attracted to her powerful personality. Within a few weeks they were consumed by an intensive affair, for Mary Dempsey did share Crowley’s passion for the occult. He had found a successor to Rose as his ‘Scarlet Woman.’ They took a trip to Switzerland, during which they performed a series of rituals which resulted in Dempsey, in a series of drug induced hysterical hallucinations, manifesting herself to Crowley as ‘Abuldiz’
During these ‘Abuldiz’ workings, a transcript was taken by Crowley, which would later be published as ‘Book Four’. In this book, Crowley first used the ancient spelling Magick, spelt with a ck to distinguish his work from those that he considered to be fraudsters. Following the trip to Switzerland they decided to move on to Italy and find a villa to rent, where they could continue the sex magick proceedings and continue the workings of Abuldiz. The problem however, was that Mary Dempsey had a 13 year old son by the name of Preston. The boy was due to join her for the Christmas holidays.The relationship between Preston and his mother’s lover was not harmonious, and the impression he made on the young boy only inflamed the tension. Crowley took to cutting his own arm with a knife whenever he broke his self-imposed conditions of mental discipline. Seeing this happen on a number of occasions, the boy later recalled in his autobiography ‘my mother and I were lucky to escape with our lives, if I had been a little older, he (Crowley) might not have escaped with his’. The boy was Preston Sturges, who grew up to be one of the most influential film directors in Hollywood. The affair predictably came to an end in May 1912, Crowley returned to London and reunited with Leila Waddell, took residence at number 33 Avenue Studios in Fulham. It was around this time that he came up against Theodor Reuss of the German Secret Society, the Ordo Templi Orientis. Reuss accused Crowley of revealing one of the OTO greatest secrets of its magical methods in his publication ‘The Book Of Lies’. The method in question was in short, the use of sexual rites between two magicians to make the effect far more powerful. For Crowley, despite protesting his innocence, found this revelation far more interesting.
ALEISTER CROWLEY It instantly flashed upon me, the entire symbolism, not only of freemasonry, but of many other traditions blazed upon my spiritual vision. From that moment, the OTO assumed significant importance. I had found the vehicle for my New Aeon.
The highest magical grade of the 9th degree of the OTO is only given to those that have discovered the knowledge of the great secret themselves. Accordingly, both Crowley and Waddell were initiated. Crowley was also made Grand Master General of Ireland, Iona and all the Britains. He also took on the new magical identity of ‘Baphomet’, a name for a blasphemous satanic idol, taken from the ancient Templar traditions. His Book of The Law was to form part of the OTO ritual and each member of the British Lodge, was to posses a copy. Crowley would use his leadership of the British OTO to spread the word of Thelema. During the summer of 1913 Crowley and Waddell turned impresarios once again. This time in an even more bizarre venture than the shows at Caxton Hall. They took a team of dancing girls to Moscow. The troupe were called The Ragged Rag-Time Girls.
ALEISTER CROWLEY It was on the whole, a course, vulgar, sickening business, altogether new to me. My time spent in Moscow however was not entirely fruitless. I spent my days writing; and in fact wrote some of my better known work there including my Gnostic Mass and the Hymn to Pan. There was of course a little deviation in the shape of a young Hungarian girl named Anny Ringler. Although we could not converse, I had forgotten my Russian and she spoke no English and very little German. We managed to communicate through the language of the flesh. She had a passion for pain; and I kept her happy almost every day, by inflicting my own form of physical cruelty. It was certainly this intense time of excruciating pleasure, which inspired me to write.
Bored with life as an impresario, Crowley abandoned the dance troupe in Moscow and returned to London.The Gnostic Mass, written during the trip, continues to this very day, to be performed on a weekly basis by OTO groups around the world. This ceremony is performed primarily between the priest and a priestess, who should either be a virgin, or have given herself solely to the service of the Great Order. The altar must face towards Boleskine During the ritual the priest parts the priestess’s sacred veil with his sacred lance and she removes her robe. The Priest then embraces her knees. In puritan countries it is acceptable for the Priestess to have replaced her robe before the embrace, Crowley however would prefer the Priestess used no such modesty and he also preferred to conduct the ceremony in private.
VICTOR NEUBURG Aleister was in his element. Not only did he have control of the OTO in Britain, he also had an excuse to experiment further with sexual magic and the use of bodily fluids to enhance the magician’s power. We went to Paris for seven weeks, to undertake 24 ritual workings. During the ritual sex acts, Aleister would play the passive and I would play the active role. It was an amazing experience with impressive results. Aleister, as usual, was embarrassed about his homosexual cravings.
ALEISTER CROWLEY The supreme rite would be to bring about a climax in the death of a victim. By this rite one would attain the summit of the magical art. Even better would be to slay a girl, preferably a willing victim. After violating her, she should be cut into nine pieces, with the names of the appropriate gods written on the skin of each piece… The head should be burnt in honour of either Juno or Minerva. This supreme rite should not be performed on ordinary occasions, only rarely and for great purposes.
VICTOR NEUBURG We did discuss the supreme rite, and concluded that this took the form of ‘black Magic. We never discussed it again. During one of the rituals, the 11th I believe, Aleister recalled one of his previous lives as Asarte, a sacred prostitute during the time of Christ, living in Southern Sicily. As the weeks went on however, the rituals became more and more sadistic and for the first time I began to have feelings of doubt. After all, I was funding much of his lifestyle and had been for a while. My mother had told me of a letter she had once received from Aleister, demanding 500 pounds or she would never see her son again. I didn’t believe it at the time, but then in hindsight, perhaps I didn’t want to believe it. Eventually the strain of this lifestyle became too much for me, I was in the early stages of having a nervous breakdown.When we left Paris for London, I summoned up the courage to tell Aleister that I was dissolving our association; and we parted company for the last time. I have lived in fear of the ‘Beast’ ever since.
In 1914, War had broken out in Europe, Aleister Crowley had contacted various departments in the British Government, requesting that they employ his services. After all he did consider that the war was due to his rituals in Paris; and that the prophecies of the Book of Law had begun. The Government declined his offer, which according to Crowley, was due to his sinister reputation. He gave up his London lodgings and leased Boleskine House. He had decided to visit the USA, setting sail for New York on the ill-fated Lusitania. Hoping that the rental income and revenue from his publishing endeavours would support his new adventure, he left with fifty pounds in cash; and all his magical texts and documents. He would remain in America for the next five years and for the first time in his life, he would find himself without the funds to live his lavish lifestyle. Upon arrival in New York, Crowley discovered, much to his amusement, that his reputation had gone before him. This was due to an article being published in The World Magazine, which described in lurid detail, Crowley’s Satanic exploits with a number of aristocratic women at his Fulham studio. The article went on to describe Crowley as ‘Intensely magnetic, he attracts people or repels them with equal violence.’ Crowley had by then developed some outrageous habits, one of which he describes as ‘The Serpent’s Kiss’ He had filed two of his teeth to points; and on meeting a woman, he would take her hand and bite her flesh, drawing blood in the process, thus, he adds, infecting her with my power.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I continued my studies on the 9th degree, using a number or prostitutes for the purpose of magical assistants. I was also in the course of my experimentation, sodomised by two strangers in a Turkish bathhouse and performed a small favour for another; but all done in the course of magical enlightenment, I would rarely indulge in sex for mere pleasure…
During the first few months in New York, Crowley met by chance, a German –American poet, by the name of George Sylvester Viereck. Viereck was working for the German Office of Propaganda in America.Crowley for some unknown reason, introduced himself as being of Irish descent, an Irishman, opposed to British Imperialism. As a result, Viereck, probably seeing Crowley as an eccentric oddball as well as a traitor, employed him. Crowley’s first propaganda stunt was on 3rd July in 1915, when he and Leila Waddell, who had followed him to America, stood at the foot of the Statue of Liberty and gave an Anti British speech. In the process, he pretended to tear up his British Passport. Viereck employed Crowley to write for the German propaganda publication ‘The Fatherland’ and also to edit another publication ‘The International’ Crowley, under the various titles of ‘Aleister Crowley, Baphomet, The Master Therion’ and Lord Boleskine filled the publication with anti British nonsense and articles on Magick. One article read…
For some reason or other in their last Zeppelin raid on London, the Germans appear to have decided to make the damage as widespread as possible, instead on concentrating in one quarter. A house close to my lawyer’s office in Chancery Lane was entirely destroyed….a great deal of damage was done at Croydon, especially at its suburb Addiscombe, where my Aunt lives. Unfortunately her house was not hit. Count Zeppelin is respectfully requested to try again. The exact address is Eton Lodge, Outram Road.’
In another article, Crowley praised and urged the use of unrestricted German submarine warfare on Allied shipping. In England, the British Government regarded these outbursts as treason; and raided the London Headquarters of the OTO.
ALEISTER CROWLEY It was an acquaintance, Frank Harris that brought the accusations to my attention. The fools could not see what good I was doing; look what happened to the Lusitania; this was my way of helping the allies. Because of me, the Americans entered the war; I should have been given the Victoria Cross. Apart from the poverty and humiliation, I did achieve one accolade in America however. Not from the British, American or German Governments. This was from a much more potent and higher order; I was initiated as a 9th Degree Magus. I also took up painting, which I became rather good at.
Crowley had placed an advertisement in a newspaper, looking for models to paint. It read:
Wanted, Dwarfs, Hunchbacks, Tattooed Women, Harrison Fisher Girls, Freaks of all sorts, Coloured women, only if exceptionally ugly or deformed, to pose for artist. Apply by letter with a photograph.
At the end of his phase in America, Crowley also met up with the next important woman in his life, Leah Hirsig
LEAH HIRSIG The first encounter….yes I remember it well. I was with my sister Alma, and we called at Aleister’s studio. Alma had met him a few weeks previously at one of his lectures. Without any introduction, he immediately began kissing me…..and didn’t stop for some time. My sister and I were of course surprised by this rather unusual way of greeting a total stranger, but I was even more surprised to find I was actually enjoying being embraced in this fashion by the Master Therion. Alma was studying Aleister’s paintings; and whilst she and Aleister were talking, he was taking off my clothes and began to sketch me. I remember he asked me, ‘What shall I paint you as?’ To which I replied ‘paint me as a dead soul’ The next day I recall, I visited him again. He made me kneel in the centre of the magic circle painted on the floor, whilst he performed the banishing ritual of the Pentagram. Then, with an act of sex magic, he consecrated me as his Scarlet Woman.
Leah Hirsig had a two year old son; and during her subsequent relationship with Crowley in America, she fell pregnant. In 1920, Crowley was living in Paris and had asked Leah to join him. During the Atlantic crossing, Leah befriended Ninette Shumway who also had a child and was travelling to Europe to seek work as a nanny. Crowley thought it would be a good idea for a nanny to take care of Leah and her new child; and subsequently employed her. Within a couple of months of them arriving in Paris, Ninette also fell pregnant with Crowley’s child.He now had two concubines, both pregnant and two young boys in his care.He had decided to establish a Temple to Thelma. For the location, he chose a small fishing village near Palermo on the Island of Sicily; and it was here in this small villa overlooking the Mediterranean, that he founded the Abbey of Thelema.
(The abbey is now totally deserted and has been left to rot in the elements, but it was in this ruin that the self-styled ‘Great Beast 666’ Aleister Crowley would earn his reputation as ‘The Wickedest Man in the World’).
LEAH HIRSIG Our daughter Poupee was born in Paris in February 1920. We moved to the abbey shortly after. We signed the lease on the abbey in joint names; he was Sir Alastor de Kerval; and I the Countess Lea Harcourt. Ninette had become obsessed by Aleister and jealous of me, I think she wanted him for herself, but he was having none of it. Her pathetic ideals were well beneath the doctrine for Thelemites. Each morning we would put on our magical robes and take our magical weapons outside. He with his Sword or dagger and the women with their chalice, we would all face East and recite a short prayer, ‘The Cabbalistic Cross’. Then at noon, in the evening and at midnight we would go outside to make our prayers to the Sun. Most nights we would perform acts of sex magic, usually between the three of us, sometimes with other assistants, which Aleister had found on the streets of Cefalu, or were visiting the abbey. He was also taking heroin by then. Jane Woolf the actress, I recall her visiting around that time.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I found having two wives a problem; they grow insanely jealous of each other. Whereas with three wives, the problem is different, two of them compare notes while you are with the third. Four is the ideal number because that makes a crowd; and a crowd can be neglected.
During the summer of 1920, the baby Poupee became ill. Over the next few months, her condition worsened. In the October she was taken to a hospital in Palermo, where on the 12th October, Crowley’s 45th birthday, she died.
LEAH HIRSIG Of course it was a terrible time, I had fallen pregnant again, but sadly I miscarried a few days after Poupee died. Aleister had found some notes written by Ninette in her diary, in which he discovered she had committed acts of witchcraft against myself, our beautiful baby girl and our unborn child. He was furious; and physically sick at the same time. He went into the temple and performed an exorcism on the demons that had worked her evil.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I gave Ninette a copy of the exorcism and kept another,
Ninette Fraux, Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Initiation purges. There is excreted a stench and a pestilence. In your case two have been killed outright; and the rest made ill. There are signs that the process may lead to purification and things made safe within a short time. But we cannot risk further damage. If the hate is still in course, it had better coil back on its source. Keep your diary going carefully. Go and live in Cefalu alone, go to the hospital alone … (looks up) she was heavily pregnant at the time (reads again)….the day before you come out, send up your diary; and I will reconsider things. I shall hope to see the ulcers healing. Do not answer this, simply do as I say. Love is the Law, Love under Will,
Signed….The Beast 666.
And she was then led away.
Crowley’s exploits in the abbey, of which he kept a ‘Magical Record’, became more and more bizarre, perhaps due to his heroin fuelled state of consciousness. His inhibitions about homosexuality had all but disappeared; and all potential Thelemites, both men and women wishing to indulge, were welcome. On occasions he would paint his face, in his words ‘like the lowest kind of whore’ before indulging in sex magick and acts of sodomy. His finances however, had become desperate. He had gone through his father’s, his mother’s; and three aunts’ inheritances. To find the solution to the problem he sought guidance through the occult; and promptly disappeared to Paris, leaving Leah in charge of the Abbey. For the next few weeks, searching for an answer to his problem, he performed his magic and gained a number of followers to his cause. On his return to Cefalu, he entered his temple and embarked upon the ultimate ritual a Magus could perform. Deep in despair over his poverty, he would put his destiny in the hands of the gods. As he later recalled, ‘if they willed him to live and to continue the Great Work, so be it.’ He would stand before them defiant; and announce that he was “The Ippsissimus” In ancient Occult tradition, the Ipsissimus is the highest order.
ALEISTER CROWLEY Well I survived, I am by insight and initiation an Ipsissimus, higher than the gods themselves, higher than the secret chiefs, there is nothing higher than the Ipsissimus.
In May 1922, Crowley and Leah Hirsig travelled to London. Crowley had plans to raise some much needed cash, by selling his story in an autobiography. When the publishers turned down the book, Crowley offered them an alternative, a novel loosely based on his life. ‘The Diary of a Drug Fiend’ One publisher took up the offer and paid Crowley an advance. He delivered the manuscript a month later. In November 1922, with Crowley and Hirsig back in Cefalu, the book was published.
LORD BEAVERBROOK Having reviewed the book, we ran a headline in The Sunday Express “A book for burning’ …we urged Collins the publisher to withdraw it from sale. We followed up the story a week later with a Front Page photograph of the shaven-headed Crowley. The headline read, ‘Orgies in Sicily’ and ‘The Black Record of Aleister Crowley’ and his ‘Preying on the debased’.
Crowley revelled in the publicity, in the belief that it would attract more paying disciples to Cefalu. It did attract one new disciple in particular, Raoul Loveday, a 23 year old man, who arrived at the Abbey on the 26th November 1922, with his young wife Betty May. Raoul wanted to study under the great master; Betty was sceptical and unsure of living in such a bizarre household.
BETTY MAY He had given us both razors, which we were to use to cut ourselves under our arms, if we were to use the term ‘I’, this was a word only Aleister Crowley could use in the Abbey. I was having none of it, I spoke exactly as I should, wherever I was. I believe I threw my razor away. Poor Raoul took the whole thing with deadly seriousness, but could not prevent himself for constantly saying I; and he was so conscientious that he always wounded himself as a punishment, until his body was covered with cuts.
By the January of 1923, having been in the Abbey for two months, Raoul became sick.
BETTY MAY I believe his illness came from a combination of all the drugs he had been taking. leister Crowley had been urging Raoul to experiment with large quantities of hashish. But there was also the business of the cat’s blood, which Raoul had consumed during a sacrificial ritual. His fever got worse, so much so that after a week, he was unable to move. I wanted to get him to the hospital, but we had no money left and we were totally dependant on the abbey for food and support. The Mystic had promised that the doctor was going to call, but he never did. I don’t think his last bill had been paid. I wanted to contact the British Consul in Palermo for help, but Raoul persuaded me not to, and Leah Hirsig made me sign a letter to say I wouldn’t contact any of the authorities. f I didn’t sign, they said they would throw me out. A few days later on the 16 February, Raoul died.
Raoul Loveday’s body was carried the next day from the Abbey and buried just outside the walls of the town’s cemetery. The burial ceremony was conducted by Aleister Crowley. Betty May, finally managed to get away from the Abbey; and on her return to England, she was interviewed by the Sunday Express.
LORD BEAVERBROOK We had a fantastic headline ‘ New Sinister Revelations of Aleister Crowley’ …’Varsity Lads Death’…citing Raoul and Betty May as Crowley’s victims we wrote, ‘once they were in Sicily they found they had been trapped in an inferno, a maelstrom of filth and obscenity’. The following week we ran another story ‘the horrors of the Beast and his abbey, this man Crowley is one of the most sinister figures of modern times. Then hot on our heels, John Bull came out with a series of articles, headlining Crowley as ‘ The King Of Depravity’ ‘The Wickedest Man In The World’ ‘A Man we’d like to Hang’ and one which sent shivers down Fleet St…’A Cannibal at Large’. They printed an account, that Crowley, during a Himalayan expedition’ had killed and eaten two of his native porters.
Aleister Crowley’s reputation had been damaged beyond repair. On April 23rd 1923, the Commissario in Cefalu, following the instructions of Mussolini, handed Alistair Crowley an expulsion order.
The Beast 666 and his Scarlet Woman departed Palermo on the 1st May.
The next few years of this man’s astonishing life, can best be described as his ‘wilderness years’ although he preferred the term ‘living in exile’ Now completely addicted to heroin, He wandered between North Africa, France and London; and wherever he went his evil reputation and his heinous tendency for experimenting in sex magick, closely followed. He had become a universal figure of hate. As for the other Thelemites from the abbey, their lives disintegrated The Scarlet Woman, Leah Hirsig left her son behind at Cefalu in the care of Ninnette, who had been accepted back by Crowley before his expulsion. Leah’s sister Alma took the boy back to America. As for Leah, living on the streets of Paris, a hopeless addict, penniless and selling her body for food.’ she eventually denounced Crowley. Leah returned to America and lived the rest of her life as a devout Roman Catholic
By 1924 Crowley was living in poverty in France. An old friend and famous literary figure and occultist, Frank Harris, kindly took him under his roof: Frank Harris lived with a woman by the name of Nellie O’Hara. Nellie had a friend in America, Pauline Pierce, who was married to Marvin Pierce, head of the McCall Corporation. In early 1924, Pauline traveled to France to stay with her friend. Thus it was that four individuals came together: Frank Harris, Nellie O’Hara, Pauline Pierce, and Aleister Crowley. According to Crowley’s diaries, during this period in Paris, Crowley underwent the “supreme ordeal” linked with his realization of the Grade of Ipsissimus, According to a description of the rite, on the appointed day the candidate is attended by one or more chosen and experienced attendants whose duty is (a) to exhaust him sexually by every known means (b) to rouse him sexually by every known means. Every device and artifice of the courtesan is to be employed, and every stimulant known to the physician.
If Crowley did go through this “ordeal” in 1924, then it is highly likely, based on his previous experiences, that his closest associates of that time — including Nellie and Pauline – performed as his magical assistants. Pauline Pierce returned to America in early October of 1924. 8 months later, on June 8, 1925, she gave birth to a girl named Barbara. Barbara Pierce married George H.W. Bush, who eventually became the 41st President of the United States and they had a son George W Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. Could ‘The Wickedest Man in the World’ Aleister Crowley be George W Bush’s grandfather? Some say this was a hoax, others that it was a rumour spread as an April Fool’s joke; and it probably was, but one can’t help noticing the distinct likeness between Barbara Bush and Aleister Crowley.
In 1925, Crowley received a letter from Theodor Reuss of the OTO in Germany. A vacancy had become available for International Head of the OTO; they had chosen ‘Baphomet’
ALEISTER CROWLEY To the British, and indeed the Americans, I may have been a flesh eating devil, but the Germans obviously still appreciated the Law of Thelema, I was still ‘Baphomet’ an Ipsissimus, the Great Beast 666.
Crowley spent the next couple of years living in Paris, his fortunes improving as new disciples donated to ’the cause’. His apartment was funded by benefactors of the OTO. Probably the most significant of these new disciples was Israel Regardie. Regardie would live to become one of the most significant Occultists of the 20th Century. He arrived in Paris on the 12th October 1928, Crowley’s 53rd birthday. On meeting Crowley, he was persuaded to hand over his entire life savings.
ISRAEL REGARDIE I had dinner with the ‘old man’ and his mistress; no sooner had we finished eating, when they got on the floor and started fornicating. Later he asked me ‘Got any money on you Regardie’ so like a fool I handed over all my cash….never did see it again. I was probably repaid a thousand-fold in knowledge though. Mind you, I must say, later on, when I was broke, he did help me out financially. He even sent me to his tailor to have a new suit made. I don’t think he ever did pay the bill. In return for ‘The Old Man’ being my magical mentor, I worked for him as a private secretary. It was later that year that his book, ‘Magick in Theory and Practice’ was published. This was the first publication of a new book on magical workings for centuries
This was a joyous time for Crowley. Not only did he have a new book and a continuous flow of finances, he also had a new Scarlet Woman, Maria de Miramar. But a visit from an Inspector of the Prefecture of Police would ‘dampen his spirits’. His infamy had once again caught up with him. Aleister Crowley, Maria de Miramar and Israel Regardie, were given 24 hours to leave the country or face imprisonment.
ISRAEL REGARDIE He wanted to stay in Paris to bask in the publicity surrounding the launch of his book, so the cunning old fox, packed me and Maria off to England, whilst he found a doctor to give him a certificate, which declared him unfit to travel. Things hadn’t been going too well between Crowley and Maria; they would fight all the time. She complained to me that she was fed up with him beating her and trying to give her one up the… you know, sodomise her. I guess that’s why we ended up having sex together, she wanted to punish him. She was a really fiery woman. I did confess this to him a few weeks later, but he didn’t seem to mind, in fact he thanked me for keeping her content. He married her a few months later.
After a year of living in London together during which he published his next book ‘ Confessions’, Crowley went to Germany, leaving Maria behind. With no means to support herself, and receiving none from her husband, she fell into dire straits and ended up in the public workhouse. By 1931, having attempted suicide, she was committed to an asylum in New Southgate, where she remained until she died 30 years later. Leaving a trail of unpaid debts in Berlin, and a nineteen year old mistress that had committed suicide, Crowley came back to London in 1932, and leased new lodgings at number 27 Albemarle St.
ISRAEL REGARDIE We began to drift apart. I wanted to work on independent studies, especially those on the traditions of the Golden Dawn. I don’t think he had one trusted disciple left in England; everyone was beginning to desert the Great Master. He was trying to gain some public respectability and spent a great deal of time wining and dining with socialites at the Café Royale. There was Christina Foyle of the famous ‘Foyle’s’ book store, she invited him as guest of honour at their literary luncheon at Grosvenor House, to speak on ‘The Philosophy of Magick’. He also formed a friendship with Nancy Cunard, the wealthy shipping heiress. I think he hoped they were going to pay his bills and fund his lifestyle. Most of them ran a mile, once they discovered his motives; and probably even more so when they discovered The Old man’s sexual preferences.
Some years previously, Aleister Crowley had been briefly acquainted with Nina Hamnett, the acclaimed model and painter. In 1932, she published her memoirs ‘Laughing Torso’ in which she included a great deal about her time spent with Crowley and Victor Neuburg. She insinuated in the biography that Crowley performed black magic at the abbey and also that a baby had mysteriously disappeared. Crowley was furious; and issued court proceedings against Hamnett and her publisher, to cease and desist from publication on the grounds of libel.
The trial commenced on April 9th 1934.
ALEISTER CROWLEY I was called as the first witness and was questioned by my own counsel. He asked me if I called myself ‘The Beast 666 and the Master Therium? I answered yes to both. What does Therium mean, he asked. To which I replied…Great wild beast. He then asked the question…Do these titles convey a fair expression of your practice and outlook on life… The Beast 666 only means sunlight; you can call me ‘little sunshine’…..to which there was roar of laughter throughout the court.
The trial lasted 4 days, at the end of which, the judge, Mr Justice Swift the following summing up to the jury.
I have been over forty years engaged in the administration of law in one capacity or another. I thought I knew every conceivable form of wickedness. I thought that everything which was vicious and bad had been produced at some time or another before me. I have learnt in this case that we can always learn something more if we live long enough. I have never heard such dreadful and horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by a man who describes himself to you as the greatest living poet.
ALEISTER CROWLEY As you can imagine, I lost the case. I couldn’t pay the costs and as a result, I ended up bankrupt. They took everything. But at least my name was scrawled across all the tabloids, the world knew I still existed.
It has been documented in various biographies, that Aleister Crowley offered his services during World War Two. In others there are claims that he knew Winston Churchill; and that it was he who gave Winston his famous V for Victory sign. Other historians claim that he actually worked as a spy in pre-war Germany. Crowley himself, claimed that he was responsible in part for Hitler’s Mein Kampf, claiming that he had sent a copy of the Book of the Law to Hitler in the early 1920s and that he had been greatly influenced by the Law of Thelema. He also claimed that the Nazi Symbol of the Swastika came from him. Whilst none of these claims can be verified, there was a plan to recruit his services by the Department of Naval Intelligence. Ian Fleming, the famous writer, was involved with many top secret operations during World War II, including the plan which lured Rudolf Hess to England by slipping him false astrological information. They believed that Rudolf Hess was ‘the’ gullible Nazi leader they were looking for and it proved true
During the interrogation Rudolf Hess spoke in strange ramblings which some viewed as occult. Ian Fleming, who was involved with those interrogations, decided that help was needed. He suggested to his boss, Rear Admiral John Godfrey, “that Crowley should be allowed to interview Hess about the role of the occult in Nazism. However it was an old friend, Maxwell Knight, who spoke strongly against Crowley’s involvement with Hess. In the end, Crowley was never summoned.
In 1942, a man by the name of Jack Parsons took over the California branch of the OTO, the Agape Lodge. This was the Church of Thelema in Pasadena, which practised the Gnostic Mass every day. They had been sending money to Crowley to support his cause. Jack Parsons was an eminent rocket scientist. He had written to Crowley about a new member who had become a disciple and with whom he had been performing rites of sex magick. His name was L Ron Hubbard. Hubbard remained a member of the lodge for two years, until he ran off with one of the priestesses L Ron Hubbard went on to found the Church of Scientology. He later claimed to have infiltrated The Church of Thelema to break up black magic in America and in the process rescued a girl they were using.
In 1945, after a brief spell at the Bell Inn in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, Aleister Crowley moved to his final lodgings, ‘Netherwood’ a boarding house in Hastings. In poor health, The Wickedest Man in the World’ was in his twilight years. His lifelong excesses had finally exhausted him. He was a wasted heroin addict given to doubts and rages During the night, on the 1st December 1947, at the age of 72, he died, uttering his final words ‘I am perplexed’. His legacy how ever has lived on, in the 1960s he became a Rock & Roll Hero. His photo appears on the cover of the Beatles Sgt Peppers Album. John Lennon was quoted as saying, the Whole Beatle idea was to do what you want, Do as Thou Wilt. Ozzy Osbourne called Crowley’ a phenomenon of his time, and penned a song entitled ‘Mr Crowley’ On the back cover of the Doors 13 album, the band are shown posing with a bust of Aleister Crowley. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin collected one of the largest collections of Crowley’s memorabilia, including Boleskine itself. Barrie Humphries AKA Dame Edna Everedge is another avid collector of Crowley memorabilia. David Bowie referred to Aleister Crowley in his song ‘Quicksand’ on the Hunky Dory Album. Graham Bond thought he was Crowley’s illegitimate son and recorded albums of satanic rituals with his band Holy Magick. Iron Maiden lead singer, Bruce Dickenson said, we’ve referred to things like the tarot and ideas of people like Aleister Crowley when referring to their song ’The Number of the Beast’. Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates admitted he follows Crowley. The Marylin Manson song, Misery Machine, contains the lyric ‘we’re gonna ride to the abbey of Thelema’ and has Crowley’s chants on his website. LSD Guru, Timothy Leary was a Crowley enthusiast….he once said, ‘I am sorry he isn’t around now, to appreciate the glories he started’. The Eagles song ‘Hotel California’ contains the lyric ‘you just can’t kill the beast’
On the 5th December 1947, on a cold grey afternoon, in a non-denominational chapel at a funeral home in Brighton, the Beast was cremated. During the service, his Hymn to Pan was read out loud, along with excerpts from the Gnostic Mass…… I rave and I rape and I rip and I rend, everlasting world without end.
Amongst the headlines that appeared in the National press the next day, was ‘Farewell 666’