Aleister Crowley was a man who became a living legend in his own time and continues to influence different people for different reasons long after his death. Blessed with a keen, inquisitive mind, a charismatic personality and voice, and a gift for being in the right place at the right time, Aleister Crowley changed the world of Western Magick forever.
Aleister Crowley was born in Leamington, England on October 12, 1875 and died peacefully in England on December 1, 1947. His last years found him in poor health. But as a young man, he became one of the world’s greatest mountain climbers and was known throughout his life as a vigorous, athletic man. He was openly bisexual and was noted privately as well as publicly for his numerous love affairs with both women and men.
Crowley was many things to many people. That he explored and documented his interest in many teachings and studied various religions is well known. His vision was to create a religion to replace all established religions. Crowley’s vision included a religion that was comprised of four approaches: Science, sacred knowledge, sex, and magick. Most readers of the supernatural, magick, and occult are well aware of the statement he spoke which governed his teachings: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, Love under will.”
Crowley was reared in a Victorian setting of wealth and upper class. His family had wealth from a brewery business. Like the Victorians of his era, Crowley had their prejudices and bias, which were typically English. Crowley was brought up in a strict Christian sect known as the Plymouth Brethen of the Closed, and he rebelled against it after the death of his father.
Crowley was married to two women in his life, and was involved with numerous others. The names of his two wives were Rose Edith Kelly and Maria de Miramar. During his lifetime, he would father several children which included Nuit Lilith, Lola Zaza, Anne Lea, Astarte Pathea, and a son he name Aleister Ataturk. These were his known children.
From 1915 to 1919, he lived and wrote in the United States. During 1920 he moved to Sicily where he established the Abbey of Thelema located at Cefalu. It was at this time and location that Crowley was ordained a God by his followers. Due to the rituals and activities taking place at the Abbey of Thelema, Mussolini ordered the Italian authorities to expel him.
Crowley lived and enjoyed a remarkable life of wanderings and gathering of sacred knowledge. He believe each person was capable of fulfilling his or her own personal destiny. He advocated a doctrine of total sexual freedom, and his sexual appetite was well-known and documented. He was known to have a ten-inch penis, of which he made reference to.
In 1898 Crowley was initiated into the secret order of the Golden Dawn and came into direct contact with many important figures of the time such as Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, William Butler Yeats, and A. E. Waite who were also members of the Golden Dawn. He would later break with the Golden Dawn in 1900. During 1912 he joined the Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of Eastern Templars, aka O.T.O). Crowley is credited with introducing the O.T.O into the United States with the help of his followers.
Crowley was a highly shrewd promoter, a skilled showman, and a master of what today would be called advertising hype. He would do whatever it took to promote and spread his teachings, and was a success doing it. Unfairly nicknamed “The Great Beast” and “The Beast,” he was oftentimes called those names due to his scandals and shocking activities. In addition to writing, and poetry, he was also an artist.
His masterpiece is The Book of the Law (1938), also referred to as Liber Legis. Among his prolific writings are found Aceldama (1898), The Star and the Garter (1903), Why Jesus Wept (1904), Oracles (1905), The Rites of Eleusis (1910), The Book of Lies (1913), Magick in Theory and Practice (1929), Moonchild (1929), The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (1929), The Equinox of the Gods (1937), The Book of Thoth (1944), among many others. Some critics have seen a kindred spirit in the writings of American fantasy author, H. P. Lovecraft. For those interested in Crowley’s writings and life, it is best to check the numerous computer websites available, his books published by Weiser Books, or the public library.
Crowley was neither good nor evil. He created his lifestyle determined to be a unique individual named Aleister Crowley, a man the world would remember. He became one of the greatest scholars of Western Magick to have lived. A little known fact about Crowley was he experimented with psychedelic drugs.
Following the death of Crowley, his body was cremated. His ashes were sent to his devoted followers in the United States. Crowley believed that the United States would become the fertile home for his teachings and Western Magick.
This writing is meant to reveal aspects of who and what the man Aleister Crowley was. I share it with the reader as a personal analysis from an Adept and Master of the Temple of the Golden Dawn. My essay is not meant to endorse, praise, or condemn Aleister Crowley, but to shed some light on the many misunderstandings which continue to surround him.