The Beast 666, The Black Magician
-A Biography by Dorian Borsella
"Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law."
Aleister Crowley-A Magickian for All Times
Aleister Crowley was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on 12 October 1875. Crowley was a magician. At times he even admitted that it would not be inaccurate to call him a "black magician." He began his magical career with Golden Dawn magic and later progressed to a type of modified tantric sex magic as was associated with the higher grades of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Aleister Crowley possibly represents the path of "high magic" carried to its extreme.
|Examining the life of Aleister does provide a fascinating study to a man who devoted his life to a particular path. Crowley wanted to pursue a conversation with his "holy guardian angel" and with a wide variety of gods, goddesses--and even demons. It would not be an understatement that Crowley was relentless in that pursuit.|
|Crowley was also one of those amazing Victorian/Edwardian characters who could only have existed in the rarified pure-species form at that particular time in history. The very possibility that there would be such a character seemed to end after World War I in England, and|
|although some of the characters themselves lived on, it was in a sort of fossilized form. In Israel Regardie's biography of Crowley, this erstwhile disciple cuts off the biography around 1914, believing that Aleister had completed the creative portion of his life by then! And yet Crowley did not make his transition until l947.(Crowley himself had sometimes claimed to be a reincarnation of Eliphas Levi, despite mild logistical problems: the former, a defrocked French priest, had not died until after Aleister was born.||
THE SCARLET WOMEN
|Aleister flung himself around the globe: Mexico, Ceylon, India, Burma, Paris, Cairo, China, Spain, Moscow, the Sahara, the United States, Sicily, Germany, N. Africa and Portugal, en route to dissipating a substantial inheritance. In general, he viewed himself as a Great Man, and was a taker much more than a giver. He had a long string of female associates and a couple of wives. The women did not necessarily serve consecutive terms. His women had to measure up to his definition of "Scarlet Woman." The Scarlet Woman's oath was to be loud and adulterous.|
| Crowley wasn't looking to Hawthorne in his use of the term "scarlet woman." He was looking at the pre-Christian cult of
Shaitan-Aiwass, where the scarlet woman equates with the priestess of Kali, the goddess of time. Babylon beheld the Scarlet Woman of the Apocalypse--the concept of woman as the great whore or prostitute. Magical worldviews often have a tripartite view of woman as maiden, mother, crone.
But there is a 4th possibility.
| Crowley had perhaps two male friends with whom relations did not end with a quarrel: Allan Bennett, who became a Buddhist monk, and Oscar Eckenstein, one of his mountain-climber friends. One reason Crowley had such contentious relationships with so many of his male friends was that be probably didn't really want friends. He preferred disciples.
Two photos are two of women claimed to be Crowley's Scarlet Women" Leila Wadell and Leah Hirsig.
LOVE UNDER WILL
| Aleister's motto was, "Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the
law." He began his writings and letters with this phrase. He greeted visitors with it. In one of his later books, "Little Essays Toward Truth"--in an essay called "Love," he expounds on his concept of "Love under Will." His example is the sephira on the Kaballistic Tree, Binah, "...for she is omniform as love and as death, the great sea whence all live springs, and whose black womb reabsorbs all. She thus assumes in herself the duplex process of love under will.
For is not Pan the all-begetter of the heart of the groves at high noon and...yet
|let it not be forgotten that though she be love, her function is but passive, she is the vehicle of the word, of Chokmah, wisdom, the all-father who is the will of the all-one. And thus they are with grievous error and dire, who prate of love as the formula of magick; love is unbalanced, void, vague, undirected, sterile, nay, more, a very shell, the prey of abject arts demonic: love must be under will."|
ALEISTER AND THE GOLDEN DAWN
|As a young man, Aleister was mountain climbing in Switzerland when he met an Englishman named Julian Baker. Crowley stated that he was interested in finding a master. Baker said that he himself was not a master, but there was someone whom Crowley should meet. This man proved to be George Cecil Jones of the Golden Dawn. Crowley entered the outer order of this famed magical society on 18 November 1898. He did describe his first meeting which his would-be magical colleagues as somewhat of a shock.|
|There was Florence Farr the actress and Arthur Macken the novelist. Aleister said "It was such an assemblage of nonentities."
But he did enter the order and accept all of their vows and responsibilities. He stood before the altar with the robe covering his face as the voice within the hall cried: Child of earth: Wherefore hast thou come to request admission to this order?
"My soul is wandering in the darkness seeking the light of occult knowledge and I believe that in this Order the knowledge of that light may be attained."
|Child of Darkness: long has thou dwelt in darkness. Quit the night and seek the day.|
|The poet William Butler Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn. He and Crowley seemed to take an instant dislike to each other. Crowley's version: One night Crowley called on Fr. Demon Est Deus Inversus (Yeats) to show him his (Crowley's) book of poems. He had expected that Yeats would claim him as the great fellow-poet. Instead, "...he forced himself to utter a few polite conventionalities, but I could see what the truth of the matter was. I had by this time become fairly expert in clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience. But it would not have been a very dull person indeed who failed to recognize the black, bilious rage that shook him to the soul.|
|I instance this as a proof that Yeats was a genuine poet at heart, for a mere charlatan would have known that he had no cause to fear an authentic poet. What hurt him was the knowledge of his own incomparable inferiority."|
|Less than two years later, the Golden Dawn blew sky high. There was a tremendous schism after which it was never again the same Order. Who was at the root of all this contentiousness? Aleister Crowley. Crowley advanced in his Golden Dawn studies. The grades were identified with the Kaballistic Tree of Life. You started at Malkuth, the bottom, and worked your way up the tree. In the earliest grades, the member was only in the outer order. You had to complete several grades before you were admitted to the inner order. The neophyte started at grade zero. John Symonds writes that Crowley certainly did better in the Golden Dawn than he did at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he spent three years and was given no degree at all! After advancing through several preliminary degrees, Aleister was entitled to be admitted to the inner order of the Golden Dawn. The London adepti refused, citing moral turpitude.|
||McGregor Mathers was living in Paris, where he was still the overall head of the Order. Crowley shuttled over to Paris where Mathers initiated Crowley himself, a figurative slap at the London Isis-Urania lodge. At the same time, Mathers was declaring his superiority over the other main founder, William Wynn Westcott.
This controversy went back to the old issue of the Secret Chiefs (who had not actually shown themselves in material form). Mathers claimed that he himself was the highest chief.
|He then sent Aleister Crowley himself over to London to weed out the dissenters and anyone who would not sign complete loyalty to Mathers. Any who might be loyal to Mathers still was to take a personal oath to that effect. The result of this effort was a big battle at the London temple's door at 336 Blythe Road. Crowley appeared at the door in mask, sword and full Highland dress. Yeats was the man who confronted Crowley at the door. The police received a very unusual appeal to straighten it all out. Crowley wanted the police to evict the London lodge. Yeats wanted Crowley arrested as an interloper.|
SOME WRITINGS, SOME COURT BATTLES
|Crowley was a prolific writer. His writings contain his peculiar sense of humor. It is hard to tell when he is putting the reader on. One instance is his essay on children's nursery rhymes: Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck one, the mouse ran down, hickory dickory dock. Aleister argued that the clock symbolized the spinal column. The mouse is the ego, "MUS," that is "SUM" or "I am" spelled Kabbalistically backwards! The ego or prana or kundalini force is being driven up the spine.. The clock strikes one--in other words, the duality of consciousness is abolished and the force again subsides to its original level! Humpty Dumpty's great fall from the wall, according to Crowley, is the descent of spirit into matter.|
|Liber Tzaddi-Book of the Hermetic Fishhook is an invitation to the magician to lose himself in love, detaching himself through attachment to all "things."
I ask you to sacrifice nothing at mine altar; I am the God who giveth all.
Light. Life. Love. Force. Fantasy. Fire. These do I bring you; mine hands are full of these.
There is joy in the setting out, there is joy in the journey; there is joy in the goal.
Oh my children, you are more beautiful than the flowers; ye must not fade in your season.
This immortality is no vain hope beyond the grave.
I offer you the certain consciousness of bliss.
Also I give you power earthly and joy earthly; wealth and health and length of days. Adoration and love shall cling to your feet, and twine around your heart.
Then Aleister gives you something more obtuse: "I who am beyond wisdom and folly, arise and say unto you, achieve both weddings; Unite yourself with both. Beware, beware, I say, lest you seek after the one and lose the other."
|Crowley had several scrimmages with the courts of law. One of these battles involved an occult magazine that he was putting out, the Equinox. In 1909 he was preparing Equinox #3. In it, he planned to publish most of the secret rituals of the Golden Dawn. Macgregor Mathers scrapped up enough money to apply for an injunction on the grounds that he owned the copyright to the materials. Mr. Justice Bucknell, who was a leading freemason, probably held the view that a secret ritual should remain secret. He issued the injunction against publication. Aieister took his case to the Appeals Court, consecrated a talisman "to gain the favor of a judge" and won the case. Equinox #3 was published, along with the rituals.|
RITES OF ELEUSIUS
|Crowley's mistress at the time was a violinist named Leila
Waddell. She, Victor Neuberg, and a group of other dramatically skilled people, created a ritual centered around Leila's violin-playing, Neuberg's dancing, and other talents. The ritual aimed to invoke Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars. The group decided that enough talent existed for the thing to go public. The public performances were initially in Crowley's flat at 123 Victoria Street. Later the group rented Caxton Hall. A young woman named Ione de Forest had been hired as a dancer. She was only in her teens, and this was her first experience with the occult. A scandal sheet, the "Looking Glass," ran a sensational article on "The Rites of Eleusius." There was suggestion that sexual irregularities had occurred in the semi-darkness.
| Scarlet Woman,
Leila Waddell (left),
and Victor Neuberg (right)
|Captain Fuller, a strong supporter of Crowley, urged suing the newspaper. Crowley thought he'd better not. But George Cecil Jones, a supposedly happily married man with several children, proceeded to do so: the newspaper article suggested that he and Aleister had engaged in some questionable activities. This set the state for one of those great British court trials, a trial that displayed some of the wit and cleverness of the Oscar Wilde trials in the 1890's. Dr. Berridge remarked that he could not express a view too strongly "...as I see that there are ladies in the court." Judge Scrutton remarked that any ladies who might be present in that court were surely well beyond such scruples! At one point, Crowley tried to help matters by observing that Judge Scrutton's name was an anagram for "cunts rot." The finding of the court was against George Cecil Jones. Captain Fuller bowed out of the association.
The young woman, Ione de Forest (aka Joan Hayes) who had performed in the Rites of Eleusius married a man named Wilfred Merton in December 1911.. Six months later she left the marriage and became the mistress of Victor Neuberg. For some reason, this made Crowley furious. Two months later, Ione de Forest shot herself to death. Neuberg blamed Crowley for putting a spell on her. Crowley seemed to be trying to take the credit, for he had written in "Magick in Theory and Practice" that he had once found it necessary to slay a Circe who was bewitching brethren.
By now, Crowley had battled Mathers in the courts a couple of times. He was beginning to get a following. As a result, he was admitted into many occult and pseudo-masonic groups, including the Order of Eastern Templars, the OTO. Mathers, in court, had declared himself to be the sole chief of the Rosicrucian order. This proclamation angered some occultists--including some cranks--who believed themselves to be the chief of the order.
|The OTO -ORDO TEMPLI ORIENTIS|
|The higher grades of the OTO were teaching a Western form of tantric yoga that used the sexual act in its rituals, either with a partner or auto-erotically. This sexual act was seen as the means of obtaining the divine union.|
|In 1912 Crowley was paid a visit in his London flat by one Theodur Reuss. Reuss, who was rumored to be a paid agent for the German Secret Service, was the head of the OTO. The German accused Crowley of revealing the OTO's innermost secrets of the 9th degree. Crowley was puzzled since this was a degree to which he had not yet attained. Thinking quickly on his feet, he surmised that Reuss was referring to western tantric practices. Aleister had arrived at the information independently. The two men talked for hours. Reuss expounded on sexual alchemy. He agreed that Crowley should head a new British section of the OTO, the Mysteria Mystica Maxima.Talismans were made and charged by a technique where one concentrated on the talisman and on its intention during the sex act. It was claimed that these tailsmans would give success in any occult operation, from the invocation of a god to the finding of hidden treasure. One ex-disciple used his to find rare occult books.|
|NEUBERG AND THE PARIS WORKINGS -THE RITUALS|
|In the beginning of 1914, as many good men in England marched off to war (and often to slaughter), Aleister Crowley and Victor Neuberg began a series of tantric-magickal rituals known as the "Paris Workings." These daily magick workings lasted about one month.|
|Hear Crowley's voice; he speaks Enochian|
|Click on link to download and play on your computer:|
|The Call of the Second Aethyr (Enochian version)|
was the disciple. He had been a Cambridge undergraduate from 1906 to
1909. He had been a friend of Captain J. F. C. Fuller. This union was
improbable: Neuberg was Jewish and Fuller would later claim Adolf Hitler
as a personal friend! Crowley had visited Neuberg in his rooms in
Cambridge and introduced himself in 1909. Crowley was 34. Victor, who
was born May 6, 1883, was in his mid-20's.
Neuberg likely became infatuated with Aleister. He was captivated by his personality, by his poetry, and most of all by his magick. Crowley decided that Neuberg must immediately make a 10 day magical retreat. At the term's end, Crowley took Neuberg to stay at his Scottish home, Boleskine. We have some notes by Neuberg on this magickal retreat:
rose on the planes, reaching rapidly the white light. I struggled
through to the top where I was crucified by two angels. I threw the
angels off with the pentagram. Then I floated about in space, helplessly
attached to the cross. This also, I got ride of by the pentagram. ...I
reached soon after a fountain or whirlpool of red light; struggling
through this, I was confronted by a Red Giant against whom I was
powerless, though I attacked him furiously by every means in my power.
All my weapons and words were useless against him. He cut me to pieces
and chased me back to my body, effectually preventing me from rising by
falling upon me every time I strove to rise
|....I had rather great difficulty in arranging myself in my body after my return, falling once or twice in the effort. At length, however, I accomplished the feat successfully."
As the above diary quotes would suggest, some of the interactions between Victor and Aleister during this magickal retreat were of a sado-masochistic nature. Neuberg's vision suggests that he, the masochist, had finally found the master whom he sought.
The prime object of the 1914 Paris workings was to invoke the Gods Jupiter and Mercury. The second object was to get these same gods to provide Crowley and Neuberg with money.
No one seems to know what caused the breakup between the two men, but very shortly after the Paris working, Neuberg fled gay Paree. Crowley had written the following postscript: "Victor became Jupiter the bestower and many unworthy folk became his guests." Jupiter is the sphere on the tree of life signifying generosity to a fault! Possible translation: Victor was very generous with his money but was spending it on other people than Aleister. Although Crowley's writings give multi-paged descriptions of his fallings out with other people in his life, nil is said about his breakup with Victor Neuberg.
It is known that Victor spent that summer with his mother in south Devon and with a neighbor, Victoria Cremers. Cremers was into the occult. She had been friends with Crowley in the past, but at this time he was on her shit list. War broke out August 4, 1914. Two months or so later, Crowley left for America. Victor met with him before he left and let him know that he wanted to dissolve their association. Aleister's response was that he either cursed out Neuberg or put a curse on him! Victor suffered a nervous breakdown.
According to Jean Overton Fuller, ("The Magickal Dilemma of Victor Neuberg"), no one dared, after that, to mention the name of Crowley in Victor's presence. Victor eventually married. But his poetry was a thinly disguised pining for Crowley!
|Neuberg did go on to have a life and discover and promote the career of the great poet Dylan Thomas. But the most significant person in his life---was Aleister Crowley. Aleister had that effect on people. It's been said that spending an evening with him was so intense and magickal and amazing that you'd be tired out for the whole week.|
|Fuller's book describes a final poignant scene when Victor encountered Aleister one final time. Victor was browsing in the Atlantis Bookstore, Museum Street, London, with a friend named Runia. Suddenly he drew close beside her and turned a deathly white. "Let us leave," he said. "Aleister Crowley's just come in. He was standing looking at the books, almost next to us. I don't think he saw us." This incident likely happened in the late 1930's. Victor died May 30, 1940.|
|LEAH HIRSIG, NORMAN MUDD|
|Two other of Crowley's followers were Leah Hirsig and
Norman Mudd. In the spring of 1918 when Crowley was staying in New York, Leah Hirsig visited him at his studio at 1 University Place in Greenwich Village, at the corner of Washington Square. Crowley had just given a lecture on Magick. Leah was 35 at the time. Aleister commented that "you always look as though you were about to cry." Leah answered, "I have felt that way all of my life." Apparently that answer met one of Crowley's criteria. Leah became one of Aleister's scarlet women, mistress, magickal partner. Eventually he broke up with her.
At the time, the group was in Paris. Leah spent a period of time in a state of near breakdown; homelessness; prostitution. This description was given of Leah during her bleak Paris days: "Her mind began to take on the attitude which regards everything as symbolic. Words were realities. Every event had its magickal meaning, every single occurrence was interpreted as a message from the gods., the influence of the planets, the activities of malign of benign forces. She consulted daily the I-Ching and worked out the kabbalistic meaning of names. Visions and dreams were recorded and scrutinized. In her cold Paris room she sat in yogi posture and offered up her magical prayers." (If a magickian has a nervous breakdown, this seems to be a logical form for it to take).
She pined after Crowley for years. But she did possess, somewhere, a special spark of strength that saved her. She later returned to the United States and resumed her vocation as school mistress rather than Aleister's mistress. As John Symonds, one of Crowley's biographers, was writing his first edition in 1949, Leah's family requested that he not mention her name. Symonds respected the request and altered the name. Leah died in 1951.
As noted, when the (First World) war came to England, Aleister immediately scurried over to the US of A. Two of his scarlet women there, he gave the nicknames of "the dog" and "the camel." The camel was Roddie Minor. A married woman living away from her husband, Crowley's description of her from the Symonds book gives curious insight into his view toward the opposite sex:
"She was physically a magnificent animal, with a man's brain well stocked with general knowledge and a special comprehension of chemistry and pharmacy...I have said that she had a man's brain, but despite every effort, there was still one dark corner in which her femininity had taken refuge and defied her to expel it...I treated her as an equal in all respects and for some months everything went as smoothly as if she had really BEEN a man. But that beleaguered section of her brain sent out spies under cover of night. The idea was born and grew that she was essentially my inferior. She began to feel my personality as an obsession. She began to dread being dominated, though perfectly well aware that I wished nothing less, that her freedom was necessary to my enjoyment of her. But she failed to rid herself of this hallucination and when I decided to make a Great Magickal Retirement on the Hudson, in a canoe, in the summer of 1918, we agreed to part."
There was, however, an extra-terrestrial entity whom Crowley was in communication with in 1918 through the mediumship of Roddy Minor--name of Amalantrah.
Norman Mudd was a mathematics professor who had first met Crowley as early as1907 when Mudd was an 18-year-old. He was the leader of a student group which discussed magick and called themselves the Pan Society. He was described as short, plain and depressed--just Aleister's type! He was ripe for someone like Crowley coming into his life.
In Mudd's words (thankfully so many of these people kept journals and magickal diaries!), "I then understood for the first time what life was or might be; and the spark of that understanding has been with me ever since, apparently unquenchable, working always (consciously or unconsciously) in spite of all my failures, betrayals, baseness, and desperate absorption in worldly matters, always reviving again when I least expected it, always potent by the challenge of its mere presence to convert instantly all other aims and ambitions into dust and ashes."
In 1909-1910 the college clamped down on the relation. Mudd was ordered by the dean to stop distributing Aleister's works on the campus. Crowley was forbidden to set foot on it. The battle raged for some time.
|Crowley --the man who liked to call himself the most evil man in the world, the Beast 666, Perdurabo, etc. --reveled in the fray. Thirteen years later, Mudd, now a math professor, gave up his professor's chair to follow Crowley. At the time, Crowley was at a low point, having just been expelled from Sicily over the notorious Abbey at Thelema scandal.|
|He had spent some months in Tunis staying in cheap hotels, playing chess, sleeping, getting more heavily into the narcotic drugs that he originally took for his asthma (opium and cocaine). These substances were just beginning to become controlled at the time. This is the point that Mudd joins Crowley. Aleister had some idea that Mudd might be able to help him make a mathematical expression of the Book of the Law. As Regardie would later do, Mudd immediately forked over to Crowley all of his savings. Mudd's parents were less than happy.|
MUDD A SUICIDE
|Norman Mudd's job was to be a type of PR man to rehabilitate Crowley's reputation. In November of 1923, he was writing to the editor of "Isis," "The Oxford University Magazine" and other organs, prefixing his letters with
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." "I have known Aleister Crowley for 13 years. He is admittedly one of the most remarkable poets and writers of the present day. I have studied his scientific memoranda with great care and I am satisfied that they would lead to discoveries which will furnish mankind with a new instrument of knowledge and a new method of research...the honor of England is concerned that her greatest poet should not perish under the neglect of his fellow-countrymen."
Norman Mudd was one more of Crowley's associates to end up badly. In Mudd's magickal diary for 19 November 1924 was pasted a ticket: "#10513 Metropolitan Asylums Board--Homeless Poor--Please admit Norman Mudd."
Aleister Crowley had prophesized that Mudd would die by drowning. Mudd must have been eager to fulfill his master's prophesy. On 16 June 1934 a body was found near the island of Guernsey, fully clothed, cycle clips around the bottom of the trousers and all the pockets filled with stones. This was the body of Norman Mudd.
An important chapter in Crowley's life was his establishment of the "Sacred Abbey of Thelema." (Thelema is the name of the religion which Crowley promoted. The word means "will" and the chief doctrine of Thelema is the discovery by each person of his own true will or purpose). The Abbey was modeled on Rabelais' abbey. Crowley located a vacant villa l/2 mile beyond Cefalu in a fishing village on the northern shore of Sicily. In the spring of 1920, Aleister and his followers rented the villa. The walls were painted with some of Crowley's sex magick artwork.
|Upon awakening, the Thelemites donned their magickal robes, picked up their magickal weapons and facing the East performed the Kabbalistic Cross and banishing ritual.. For special occasions the Gnostic Mass was performed. It began with "Do what you wilt. I proclaim the law of light, life, love, liberty and the name of IAO (Isis, Apophis, Osiris).
Problems developed at the abbey. Two of Crowley's women were jealous of each other. There was a lot of sickness and dysentery. Cynics commented that the magickal record of Crowley's experiences reads more like a medical chart of a hospital patient. There was certainly drug use on the part of Aleister. Crowley's child, Poupee, his daughter by Leah Hirsig, remained ill and finally died. Leah also had a miscarriage.
Aleister himself took frequent breaks from the Abbey, for his daily consulting of the I-Ching instructed him to travel to Paris and London. Perhaps he went to London to get his cache of drugs, which were being prescribed by a Harley Street physician. In London Crowley got into a bit of a scrape. He had published his book "Diary of a Drug Fiend" in which he advocated the controlled use of drugs in magickal rituals. The book advertised Crowley and his abbey, inviting any who might be interested in this experiment to contact him. (The folks at the abbey needed money). Some brave or foolish souls did contact him. One such young man claimed never to have had sexual intercourse of any kind, but he did admit to a weakness: he enjoyed being flogged. Crowley replied, "You don't tell me your age, but you can't be very old, and messing around with these assorted nuts may find you a very dry and dusty raison at 50. Come to me that I may trample you underfoot and press out wine for the Lord Dionysus."
The newspaper THE EXPRESS attacked Crowley in a big way over the book. This paper also interviewed one Mary Butts, who had lived at the abbey and been shocked. The paper had as its headline, "Complete Exposure of Drug Fiend Author." The publisher decided to let the book go out of print.
ENTER RAOUL LOVEDAY
|In the summer of 1922 a young Oxford undergraduate, Raoul Loveday, married an artist's model, Betty Mae. Loveday, who had received a first in history, was in London looking for work. Instead of work, he found Aleister. One night while he and Betty were in the Harlequin, a Soho café, the conversation turned to magick. A Ms. Betty Bickers disclosed that Crowley was staying with her. She offered to introduce Raoul to Aleister. The initial meeting was a great success. Crowley wrote, "His character was extraordinary. He possessed every qualification for becoming a Magickian of the first rank."
The Lovedays packed up to go to the Abbey. Betty Mae was reluctant. But both she and her husband signed the "oath" as affiliates: "I, willing to abide within the Abbey of Thelema, make Oath and sign: That I do utterly deny, abjure and condemn all allegiance soever to all gods and men, accepting the Law of Thelema as my sole Law...that I dedicate myself utterly and without stint my body and soul to the Great Work, which is to proclaim and execute the law of Thelema."
The Lovedays settled in. Betty Mae noted that the head of the abbey was the only person allowed to use the pronoun "I'-- everyone else had to say "one." The penalty was that one had to cut oneself on the arm for every "I." This practice was meant to rid the Thelemites of ego.
ONE MORE DEATH
|Neither Aleister nor Raoul had been feeling well. Mysterious attacks of illness hit both of them. The local doctor diagnosed their problem as an infection of the liver and spleen. Raoul Loveday's condition got much worse. Crowley consulted Raoul's horoscope and proclaimed, "It looks as though you might die on the l6th of February at 4 'clock." This remark was made in early February. On 11 Feb. Betty got so angry with the hopelessness of the situation that she left the abbey. She believed her husband had been poisoned by drinking the blood of a sacrificed cat. Crowley denied such a sacrifice. Betty posted a letter of complaint about Crowley and the abbey to the British Council at Palermo. On l4 February Aleister observed "I feel a current of Magickal force--heavy, black and silent threatening the abbey." The next day Rauol was worse. He died on l6 February.
There followed a tremendous scandal as Betty May hurried back to London to tell the story. The tabloids grabbed hold of it and there were such headlines as "New sinister revelations of Aleister Crowley. Varsity Lad's Death." "Enticed to Abbey!" "Dreadful ordeal of a young wife." "Scenes of horror, drugs, magic and vile practices." Somewhere around this time, Aleister received the tribute of "the most wicked man in the world."
The fascists were in power in Italy then. They kicked everyone out of the abbey. After all had departed, the abbey was exorcised and all the pornographic murals by Crowley painted over. In 1955 filmmaker Kenneth Anger went to the abbey and uncovered all of Crowley's artwork, which still lay beneath the whitewash.
|ISRAEL FRANCIS REGARDIE
By 1928 Crowley had a new disciple and secretary (unpaid). Israel Francis Regardie, a 21 year old, British born but raised near Washington D.C., joined Crowley's menage. Aleister's domestic situation was not stable at the time. Just a few months after Regardie joined up with him, Crowley, Regardie and Crowley's current mistress Maria Teresa de Miramar, were all kicked out of France as undesirables. They were eventually reunited in England.
TROUBLE WITH THE SCARLET WOMEN
|Crowley called Maria Teresa "The High Priestess of Voodoo." He wrote that, under her influence, he had been able to start serious magick with ritual precautions. At the climax of their first ceremony, there rose a sudden, violent wind. These two were married in Germand l6 August 1929. They appeared to be a settled married couple. Within a year, however, Aleister had found a new lover,
Hanni Jaeger, a 19-year-old German artist. Crowley wrote to his wife, "You should get a divorce--find a man who will stand for your secret drinking and your scandalous behavior. He omitted any reference to his own behavior. Hanni was now pregnant. Maria Teresa was admitted to Colney Hatch mental hospital suffering from the delusion that she was the daughter of the king and queen. Around this time Hanni left Crowley.
Shortly after that, he met his next scarlet woman, Billy Busch. The two moved into a flat with money that was usually paid for by Carl Gerner and his wife. But the Gerners wrote to Crowley to complain, "The $l5,000 I have given you, were spent not in real constructive work but in expensive cigars, cognac, cocktails, taxis, dinners, wives and sweethearts and anything that you desired at the moment. I am not trying to insult you but I think that you have a Me and God complex."
Around this time came the inevitable falling out with Regardie, whose books on Kabbalah and other magickal topics were beginning to outnumber Crowley's. Aleister topped this falling out by sending a scurrilous letter to all the men's friends. Regardie went on to have a highly successful career in the United States as a chiropractor, psychotherapist and magician. He acknowledged that everything he was, he owed to Aleister Crowley. He wrote his own biography of Crowley, thinking that Symonds' book had been too negative.
WHEN TWILIGHT COMES
|Moving into the twilight years: Aleister's health was not good but he was still up to fathering a child by a young woman admirer who had rushed up to him after one of his court trials. Money was scarce. Aleister had some minor communication with L. Ron Hubbard, the eventual founder of Scientology.|
|The career of a Tantric (or sex) Magickian has its limits. In June 1940 Crowley complained in his diary of something he had never written of before: weak erection. In April 1944 the bombing of London drove Aleister out of his lodgings at 93 Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, to the Bell Inn, Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire; and later to Netherwood, Hastings, a boardinghouse that was to be his last lodging. He went to Hastings 17 Jan. 1945. He still entertained occasional guests, and greeted them with the Thelema salutation, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."|
|Symonds visited him these final couple of years and noted that he looked exhausted. "He was not much more than medium height, slightly bent, and clad in an old-style plus-4 suit with silver buckles below the knee...he had a thin goatee beard and a moustache...a brooch with the image of Thoth was on his silk tie. He wore a large ring with Egyptian hieroglyphics. He had a sweet small from Abramelin oil....he talked of the end of the world, the prophecies of Nostradamus. His daily intake of heroin was likely enough to have killed a roomful of run-of-the-mill addicts."
|A young man named Kenneth Grant visited and sometimes helped Crowley with his work. One of Grant's assignments was to go to the London Jermyn Street flat and smuggle out various items which Aleister had left there. This task was not always easy as rent was owed. (One can stand in the back of the church yard at St. James, Piccadilly, back among the tombstones, and get an excellent view of 93 Jermyn Street where Aleister spent so many years. Imagine the unfortunate tenants who might have lived upstairs, their sleep probably disturbed far into the night by Aleister's sex magick workings).|
|Prince of Wands|
|On l December 1947 Crowley died of myocardial degeneration and chronic bronchitis. His last words were supposed to have been "I am perplexed."
The funeral, 5 days later, was such that the Brighton Council resolved to take all necessary steps to prevent such an incident occurring again.
Francis King - "Ritual Magic in England"
Elie Howe - "The Magicians of the Golden Dawn"
John Symonds - "The Great Beast"
Jean Overton Fuller- "The Magical Dilemma of Victor Neuberg"
Sandy Robertson - "The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook"
Kenneth Grant - "Remembering Aleister Crowley"
-Compiled by DB93
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