Back in my film student days someone gave me a copy of a novel called “Moon Child” and told me to read it and let them know if it had any potential for a script and would I like to write one based on it. I said I would but did not. I was not “into Crowley.”
Many years later, I happened upon a reference to something called “Baphomet”
in a book about the Knights Templar and began a lengthy attempt to learn the
origins and nature of the so-called “idol,” even if it turned out to be an
invention of the Inquisition. I dabbled
in Crowley, who
actually called himself “Baphomet,” only he signed his Masonic insignium
spelling it “Bafomitr” as the practical Qabalah of gematria would have it,
allowing him to claim references, numerologically speaking, with many gods and
devils and other occult matters.



If I’ve lost you don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Suffice to say that as I had not found what I thought I wanted in all the world’s monotheisms, pagan rituals, mythological beasts, and the full panoply of psychic and supernatural phenomena, and as I
had invested many thousands in ritual implements, ancient books of this and
that (no, no first edition of the Bornless Ritual). And since I became for a while a True Believer
in all of this silly stuff, between the known and the revealed I found
nothing. That’s when I began to read Crowley. Most people today know nothing about
him. Perhaps they have heard that the
then-equivalent of Murdoch’s gutter press in England labled him “the Wickedest
Man on Earth” and a British jurist denied him a farthing when he sued for
defamation, ruling, “Mr. Crowley cannot be defamed as a matter of law.”



I for one love the memory of the man. I have always admire people who create their own legend, which becomes, upon their passing a myth, or who create a persona that can only be interpreted as myth.
These people are very very rate.
Cocteau is one. When Alexander
Edward Crowley took as his magical name, “To Mega Therion” (the Great Beast) he
knew he would be excoriated by polite society as well as the press. (I write magickal with a K because he did: the
“k” is Elizabethan spelling and, after all, in a prior incarnation he had been
Sir Edward Kelley, secretary to the queen’s astrologer, a couple of devious men
if ever there were.)



I read as many books as I could from Crowley’s reading list in “Magick in Theory and Practice,” including Nietzsche, Huysmans, Gerald Massey, and many others, and I read books about Crowley as well as the man’s
magickal diaries, which are full of sexual indulgences and drugs and such. Just my kind of guy. Crowley joined the same occult order as
Yeats, the Golden Dawn, already peopled by such other notables as Florence
Farr, Arthur Machen, and A. E. Waite.
Young Aleister, as he was calling himself, plotted an overthrow of the
powers that be at the Society, but Yeats and others nipped the revolution in
the bud.



The remainder of Crowley’s life reads like salacious porno from the early 60s, stuff like “Memoirs of a Young Rakehell.” There are a few good
biographies out as well as an amusing quasi-biography, “Crowley,” whose alterate title, “The Chemical
Wedding,” is a reference to a tantric sex-magickal ritual but may also
characterize efforts to make a Moonchild or to invoke the Scarlet Woman,
Babalon. (The movie coyly and correctly
suggests that when Crowley went into magickal
retirement in 30s he depended upon California
chapters of his magickal order, the OTO, for subsistence living. He learns by post that Jack Parsons, rocket
scientist and ceremonial magician, probably won’t be sending any more money as
a fellow named L. Ron Hubbard just stole it all.)



I read many, many books, poems, and essays by the Great Beast himself. Memorable, some of them: “Magick In Theory and Practice,” his work on Tarot, his essays on yoga, “The Banned
Lecture” (on the likelihood that the Catholic Church framed poor Gilles de
Retz), and perhaps especially a collection of his essays on the magic of
numbers as it pertains to Jewish mysticism, “777 and Other Qabalistic Writings.” I forget which of these books had the
statement, but Crowley
expressed the opinion that atheism is just as good a philosophy as any and a
lot less likely to cause harm.



What to make of his religion, which some wags call “Crowleyanity”? In its organized form it is a waste of time, as delusional as any other religion. There are various orders of Thelema, some even claiming hands-on
sanctioning by the old man himself, actually litigated in a federal court in California, some with
connections to Parsons. I once believed
in evocation and invocation but now think it not much more valuable that
strolling down the aisle Sundays to cup my ands for the “Heavenly Host.” You do not have to worship Unkle Al to be a
good Thelemite and they don’t go after you like the Scientologists for
apostacy. For me, Crowley is so much fun to read – even his
prose works are poetic – I can appreciate them on a whole new level. He’s a favorite writer of mine.



And remember, Do what thou wilt!

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Comment by L. Olcott on February 22, 2011 at 7:04pm
Nice blog posting.  I work with a lot of material that is thelemic.  It is hard to find commentary or articles on non-religious thelema.  I'll keep an eye on your work!
Comment by James M. Martin on August 4, 2010 at 7:36pm
Thank you Wesley. I think the documentary must be a vicious attack on Led Zep and their most controversial member, Jimmy Page, who was a Crowley fanatic. He had groupies in Hollywood scouring the second-hand stores and garage sales, anywhere they might stumble upon Crowley works, and it is entirely possible they had a hand in the wholesale theft of books from members of the OTO, Crowley's church. (I'm just kidding, and I'm not even Capricorn.) Now, the rumor circulated that you can tell Page sold his soul simply by winding (the Lp) of "Stairway to Heaven" backwards, you can make out the distinct words, "My Sweet Satan." I donno, never tried it. If I did I might hear something wholly different. I am not that paranoid. Crowley's philosophy would appeal to rockers if anyone; perhaps they interpret his "Do what thou wilt" just as literally as the fundamentalists their Booble. They will be sorely disappointed, as no word in "Liber Legis" can be read in isolation with every other word. The full statement is thus: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will." (Pace Thelemites, I know I may have gotten the capital letters wrong.) When you say things like this, you are no less important to religion than Mosheh, Muhammed, or Christ.
Comment by wesley van der Linden on August 4, 2010 at 2:37am
Did you know that mr. Crowley stands on cover of the Beatles album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"!

Sorry just a word from a musician who doesn't know that much about mr. Crowley as you do. I know his name and red a biography of mr. Crowley after his name pop-up in a Christian documentary called "They sold there soul to rock & roll".

In my younger days I was searching for the answer on the personal question what religion is. I went to bible studies, talk to rabbi's and have discussions with imam's to question religion. I watched the documentary for 45 minutes and walked away. I was angry about the fact that in this documentary it was full of judgements against musicians and mr. Crowley. The good thing about this documentary was that I had found persons and musicians who where atheists like myself and had inspiration to know more about atheist.

A hint, I've you want to laugh or get angry watch this documentary...

Nice blog!

Cheers

Wesley

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