Aleister Crowley, born Edward Alexander Crowley (October 12, 1875 – December 1, 1947) was an
occultist, mystic, sexual revolutionary, and drug user (especially opium). Other interests and accomplishments
were wide-ranging (he was a chess master, mountain climber, poet, writer, painter, astrologer and social critic).
He was quite notorious during his life, and was dubbed "The Wickedest Man In the World"; the term first appeared
in 1928 in John Bull, a tabloid pictorial of the day.
Edward Alexander Crowley was born at 36 Clarendon Square in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England,
between 11:00 pm and 12 midnight on October 12,1875. Aleister was the only child born to his parents who were
wealthy, and considered quite respectable. His father, Edward Crowley, once maintained a lucrative family brewery
business and was retired at the time of Aleister's birth. His mother, Emily Bertha Bishop, drew roots from a Devon
and Somerset family.
Crowley grew up in a staunch Plymouth Brethren household. His father, after retiring from his daily duties as a
brewer, took up the practice of preaching at a fanatical pace. Daily Bible studies and private tutoring were
mainstays in young Aleister's childhood; however, after his father's death, his mother's efforts at indoctrinating her
son in the Christian faith only served to provoke Aleister's scepticism. As a child, young Aleister's constant
rebellious behavior displeased his devout mother to such an extent she would chastize him by calling him "The
Beast" (from the Book of Revelation), an epithet that Crowley would later happily adopt for himself. He objected to
the labeling of what he saw as life's most worthwhile and enjoyable activities as "sinful".
In response, Crowley created his own philosophical system, Scientific Illuminism — a synthesis of various Eastern
mystical systems (including Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra, the predecessor to Western sex magick, Zoroastrianism
and the many systems of Yoga) fused with the Western occult sciences of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
and the many reformed rituals of Freemasonry he later reformulated within the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O). This
system also appeals to scientific and philosophical scepticism. His undergraduate studies in chemistry at Trinity
College, Cambridge helped forge the scientific scepticism that later culminated in the many-volumed and
unparalleled occult publication, The Equinox.
On February 29, 1880, Crowley's sister, Grace Mary Elizabeth, was born but lived only 5 hours. Crowley was taken
to see the body and in his own words: "The incident made a curious impression on him. He did not see why he
should be disturbed so uselessly. He couldn't do any good; the child was dead; it was none of his business. This
attitude continued through his life. He never attended any funeral but that of his father, which he did not mind
doing, as he felt himself to be the real center of interest."
Crowley's father died March 5, 1887; he was 11 years old. Following the death of his father, the young Crowley
(then "Alec" or "Alick") turned to a form of Satanism in grief. However, within a few years he abandoned this for
atheism and hedonism, or in his words, "began to behave like a normal, healthy human being."
In 1895, Crowley went to Trinity College, Cambridge, after schooling at the public schools Malvern College and
Tonbridge School. He originally had the intention of reading Moral Sciences (philosophy), but with approval from
his personal tutor, he switched to English literature, which was not then a part of the curriculum offered. His three
years at Cambridge were happy ones, due in part to coming into the considerable fortune left by his father.
In 1896, Crowley had what he called "an encounter with an immanent deity," which some maintain came about as
a result of his first homosexual experience. Later that year, he briefly fell ill, and the sudden awareness of his own
mortality convinced him to give up Cambridge and a potential diplomatic career to pursue mysticism. During the
year 1897, he slowly came to view earthly pursuits as useless and began his lifelong exploration of esoteric
matters. A number of events contributed to this change.
In 1898, Crowley published his first book of philosophical poetry, called Aceldama, A Place to Bury Strangers In.
This same year he was introduced to George Cecil Jones who in turn introduced Aleister to Samuel Liddel
Mathers, chief of The Golden Dawn Society. Crowley was initiated into the golden Dawn in November of 1898, ten
years after it's inception. Beginning in 1899, Aleister began to explore a variety of eastern spiritual traditions. In
1900, Aleister traveled to Mexico and studed yoga in Mexico, He traveled to Ceylon and India in 1901 & 1902,
during which time he studied various forms of Buddhism and Hinduism.
His friend and former Golden Dawn associate Allan Bennett introduced him to the ideas of Buddhism, while
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, acting leader of the 'Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn', Crowley joined on
November 18, 1898 and was given the magical name of Perdurabo, which means 'He who will endure.' Mathers
acted as his early mentor in western magick but would later become his enemy. Several decades after Crowley's
participation in the Golden Dawn, Mathers claimed copyright protection over a particular ritual and sued Crowley
for infringement after Crowley's public display of the ritual. In a book of fiction entitled Moonchild, Crowley
portrayed Mathers as the primary villain, including him as a character named SRMD, using the abbreviation of
Mathers' magical name. Arthur Edward Waite also appeared in Moonchild as a villain named Arthwaite, while
Bennett appeared in Moonchild as the main character's wise mentor, Simon Iff.
In October of 1901, after practising Raja Yoga for some time, he said he had reached a state he called dhyana —
one of many states of unification in thoughts that are described in MAGICK Book IV . 1902 saw him writing the
essay Berashith (the first word of Genesis), in which he gave meditation (or restraint of the mind to a single object)
as the means of attaining his goal. The essay describes ceremonial magic as a means of training the will, and of
constantly directing one's thoughts to a given object through ritual. In his 1903 essay, Science and Buddhism,
Crowley urged an empirical approach to Buddhist teachings.
In 1903 Crowley married Rose Edith Kelly. Aleister said that a mystical experience in 1904 while on vacation in
Cairo, Egypt, led to his founding of the religious philosophy known as Thelema. Rose started to behave in an odd
way, and this led him to think that some entity had made contact with her. At her instructions, he performed an
invocation of the Egyptian god Horus on March 20 with (he wrote) "great success". According to Crowley, the god
told him that a new magical Aeon had begun, and that Crowley would serve as its prophet. Rose continued to give
information, telling Crowley in detailed terms to await a further revelation. On April 8th and for the following two
days at exactly noon he heard a voice, dictating the words of the text, Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the Law,
which Crowley wrote down. The voice claimed to be that of Aiwass (or Aiwaz "the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat," or
Horus, the god of force and fire, child of Isis and Osiris) and self-appointed conquering lord of the New Aeon,
announced through his chosen scribe "the prince-priest the Beast."
Portions of the book are in numerical cipher, which Crowley claimed the inability to decode (Setian Michael Aquino
later claimed to be able to decode them). Thelemic dogma (to the extent that Thelema has dogma) explains this
by pointing to a warning within the Book of the Law — the speaker supposedly warned that the scribe, Ankh-af-na-
khonsu (Aleister Crowley), was never to attempt to decode the ciphers, for to do so would end only in folly. The
later-written The Law is For All sees Crowley warning everyone not to discuss the writing amongst fellow critics, for
fear that a dogmatic position would arise. While he declared a "new Equinox of the Gods" in early 1904,
supposedly passing on the revelation of March 20 to the occult community, it took years for Crowley to fully accept
the writing of the Book of the Law and follow its doctrine. Only after countless attempts to test its writings did he
come to embrace them as the official doctrine of the New Aeon of Horus. The remainder of his professional and
personal careers were spent expanding the new frontiers of scientific illuminism.
Rose and Crowley had a daughter, whom AC named Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley, in
July of 1904. This child died in 1906. They had another daughter, Lola Zaza, in the summer of that year, and
Crowley devised a special ritual of thanksgiving for her birth. He performed a thanksgiving ritual before his first
claimed success in the Abramelin operation, on October 9, 1906. The events of that year gave the Abramelin book
a central role in Crowley's system. He described the primary goal of the "Great Work" using a term from this book:
"the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel." An essay in the first number of The Equinox gives
several reasons for this choice of names:
1. Because Abramelin's system is so simple and effective.
2. Because since all theories of the universe are absurd it is better to talk in the language of one which is patently
absurd, so as to mortify the metaphysical man.
3. Because a child can understand it.
While he did not officially break with Mathers until 1904, Crowley lost faith in this teacher's abilities soon after the
1900 schism in the Golden Dawn (if not before).
In 1907 Crowley is expelled from the Golden Dawn and with George Cecil Jones created a magical order to
continue where the Golden Dawn had left off, they called it A.'. A.'., the Argentum Astrum - The Silver Star. It
became the primary vehicle for the transmission of Crowley's work based on the principles of Thelema.
Rose and Crowley were divorced in 1909.
In 1910 Crowley joined the O.T.O., and became known as Frater Baphomet and was recognized as a VII degree
member. He joined at this advanced level because the O.T.O. had a policy which stated that any indiviual who was
a 33 degree Scottish Rite mason, which Crowley was since 1900, could join the O.T.O. at the equivalent degree.
Crowley was notorious in his lifetime — a frequent target of attacks in the tabloid press, which labelled him "The
Wickedest Man in the World" to his evident amusement. At one point, he was expelled from Italy after having
established a sort of commune, the organization of which was based on his personal philosophies, the Abbey of
Thelema, at Cefalu, Sicily.
In 1920, Crowley, along with Leah Hirsig, founded the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily. Crowley's idea was the
the Abbey would be a model commune, while also being a type of magical school, giving it the designation
"Collegium ad Spiritum Sanctum," The College of the Holy Spirit. The general programme was in line with the
A.*.A.*. course of training, and included daily adorations to the Sun, a study of Crowley's writings, regular yogic
and ritual practices (which were to be recorded), as well as general domestic labor. The object, naturally, was
for students to devote themselves to the Great Work of discovering and manifesting their True Wills. Mussolini's
Fascist government expelled Crowley from the country at the end of April 1923.
In January 1929 Crowley wrote in a letter: "There have been about four men in my life that I could say I have
loved... Call me a bugger if you like, but I don't feel the same way about women. One can always replace a
woman in a few days."
On August 16, 1929 Crowley married his second wife, Maria de Miramar, from Nicaragua. They separated in
1930 but were never divorced.
In 1934 Crowley was declared bankrupt after losing a court case in which he sued the artist Nina Hamnett for
calling him a black magician in her 1932 book, Laughing Torso. In addressing the jury, Mr Justice Swift said: "I
have been over forty years engaged in the administration of the law in one capacity or another. I thought that I
knew of every conceivable form of wickedness. I thought that everything which was vicious and bad had been
produced at one 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, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which
has been produced by the man (Crowley) who describes himself to you as the greatest living poet."
Aleister Crowley died of a respiratory infection in a Hastings boarding house on December 1, 1947, at the age of
72. According to some accounts he died on December 5, 1947. He was penniless and addicted to heroin after
being prescribed morphine for his asthma and bronchitis many years earlier.
Biographer Lawrence Sutin passes on various stories about Crowley's death and last words. Frieda Harris
supposedly reported him saying, "I am perplexed," though she did not see him at the very end. According to John
Symonds, a Mr Rowe witnessed Crowley's death along with a nurse, and reported his last words as, "Sometimes I
hate myself." Biographer Gerald Suster accepted the version of events he received from a "Mr W.H." in which
Crowley dies pacing in his living-room. Supposedly Mr W.H. heard a crash while polishing furniture on the floor
below, and entered Crowley's rooms to find him dead on the floor. Patricia "Deirdre" MacAlpine, the mother of his
son, denied all this and reports a sudden gust of wind and peal of thunder at the (otherwise quiet) moment of his
death. According to Patricia MacAlpine, Crowley remained bedridden for the last few days of his life, but was in
light spirits and conversational.
Crowley's funeral took place four days after his death at Brighton Crematroium, with readings from his works as he
had desired. Readings included one of his own works, Hymn to Pan, and newspapers referred to the service as a
black mass. The Brighton council subsequently resolved to take all necessary steps to prevent such an incident
Crowley learned to play chess at the age of six and first competed on the Eastbourne College chess team (where
he was taking classes in 1892). He showed immediate competence, beating the adult champion in town and even
editing a chess column for local newspaper, the Eastbourne Gazette (Sutin p.33), which he often used to criticize
the Eastbourne team. He later joined the university chess club at Cambridge, where he beat the president in his
freshman year and practised two hours a day towards becoming a champion -- "My one serious worldly ambition
had been to become the champion of the world at chess" (Confessions, p. 193).
However, he gave us his chess aspirations in 1897 when attending a chess conference in Berlin.
But I had hardly entered the room where the masters were playing when I was seized with what may justly be
described as a mystical experience. I seemed to be looking on at the tournament from outside myself. I saw the
masters — one, shabby, snuffy and blear-eyed; another, in badly fitting would-be respectable shoddy; a third, a
mere parody of humanity, and so on for the rest. These were the people to whose ranks I was seeking admission.
"There, but for the grace of God, goes Aleister Crowley," I exclaimed to myself with disgust, and there and then I
registered a vow never to play another serious game of chess. I perceived with preternatural lucidity that I had not
alighted on this planet with the object of playing chess. (Confessions, Ch.16).
In the summer of 1902, Oscar Eckenstein and Crowley undertook the first attempt to scale Chogo Ri (known in the
west as K2), located in Pakistan. The Eckenstein-Crowley Expedition consisted of Eckenstein, Crowley, Guy
Knowles, H. Pfannl, V. Wesseley, and Dr Jules Jacot-Guillarmod. During this trip he won a world record for his
hardships on the Baltoro Glacier, sixty-eight straight days of glacial life.
In May 1905, he was approached by Dr Jules Jacot-Guillarmod (1868 - 1925) to accompany him on the first
expedition to Kanchenjunga, the third largest mountain in the world which is located in Nepal. Guillarmod was left
to organize the personnel while Crowley left to get things ready in Darjeeling. On July 31 Guillarmod joined
Crowley in Darjeeling, bringing with him two countrymen, Charles-Adolphe Reymond and Alexis Pache.
Meanwhile, Crowley had recruited a local man, Alcesti C. Rigo de Righi, to act as Transport Manager. The team
left Darjeeling on August 8, 1905, and used the Singalila Ridge approach to Kangchenjunga. At Chabanjong
they ran into the rear of the 135 coolies who had been sent ahead on July 24 and July 25, who were carrying
food rations for the team. The trek was led by Aleister Crowley, but four members of that party were killed in an
avalanche. Some claims say they reached around 21,300 feet before turning back, however Crowley's
autobiography claims they reached about 25,000 feet.
Crowley was sometimes famously scathing about other climbers, in particular O. G. Jones, whom he considered a
risk-taking self-publicist, and his 'two photographers' George and Ashley Abraham).
Science, magic, and sexuality
Crowley claimed to use a scientific method to study what people at the time called "spiritual" experiences, making "The Method of Science, the
Aim of Religion" the catchphrase of his magazine The Equinox. By this he meant that mystical experiences should not be taken at face value, but
critiqued and experimented with in order to arrive at their underlying religious meaning. In this he may be considered to foreshadow Dr. Timothy
Leary, who at one point sought to apply the same method to psychedelic drug experiences. Yet like Leary's, Crowley's method has received little
"scientific" attention outside the circle of Thelema's practitioners.
Crowley's magical and initiatory system has amongst its innermost reaches a set of teachings on sex "magick." He frequently expressed views
about sex that were radical for his time, and published numerous poems and tracts combining pagan religious themes with sexual imagery both
heterosexual and homosexual.
Sex Magick is the use of the sex act — or the energies, passions or arousal states it evokes—as a point upon which to focus the will or magical
desire for effects in the non-sexual world. In this, Crowley was inspired by Paschal Beverly Randolph, an American author writing in the 1870s
who wrote (in his book Eulis!) of using the "nuptive moment" (orgasm) as the time to make a "prayer" for events to occur.
The religious or mystical system which Crowley founded, into which most of his writings fall, he named Thelema. Thelema combines a radical
form of philosophical libertarianism, akin in some ways to Nietzsche, with a mystical initiatory system derived in part from the Golden Dawn.
Chief among the precepts of Thelema is the sovereignty of the individual will: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Crowley's idea of
will, however, is not simply the individual's desires or wishes, but also incorporates a sense of the person's destiny or greater purpose: what he
termed the "Magick Will." Much of the initiatory system of Thelema is focused on discovering one's true will, true purpose, or higher self. Much
else is devoted to an Eastern-inspired dissolution of the individual ego, as a means to that end.
Within the subject of occultism Crowley wrote widely, penning commentaries on the Tarot (The Book of Thoth), yoga (Book Four), the Kabbalah
(Sepher Sephiroth), astrology (The General Principles of Astrology), and numerous other subjects. He also wrote a Thelemic "translation" of the
Tao Te Ching, based on earlier English translations since he knew little or no Chinese. Like the Golden Dawn mystics before him, Crowley
evidently sought to comprehend the entire human religious and mystical experience in a single philosophy. He self-published many of his books,
expending the majority of his inheritance to disseminate his views. Many of his fiction works, such as the "Simon Iff" detective stories and
Moonchild have not received significant notice outside of occult circles. However his fictional work Diary Of A Drug Fiend has received acclaim
from those involved in the field of substance abuse rehabilitation.
Crowley's most grandiose work is The Equinox, a large bi-annual periodical that served as the official organ of the Argenteum Astrum (.A.'.A.'.),
and, later, the O.T.O. It was subtitled "The Review of Scientific Illuminism" and remains one of the definitive works on occultism.
Crowley's other major works include:
The Book of Lies
The Holy Books of Thelema
Konx om Pax
He also wrote a short, highly readable introduction to yoga (Eight Lectures on Yoga) and a polemic arguing against George Bernard Shaw's
interpretation of the Gospels in his preface to Androcles and the Lion. Crowley's piece was edited by Francis King and published as Crowley on
Christ, and shows him at his erudite and witty best.
Crowley had a peculiar sense of humour. In his Book Four he includes a chapter purporting to illuminate the Qabalistic significance of Mother
Goose nursery rhymes. In re Humpty Dumpty, for instance, he recommends the occult authority "Ludovicus Carolus" -- better known as Lewis
Carroll. In a footnote to the chapter he admits that he had invented the alleged meanings, to show that one can find occult "Truth" in everything.
The title to chapter 69 is given as "The Way to Succeed - and the Way to Suck Eggs!" a pun, as the chapter concerns the 69 sex position as a
Many Crowley biographies relate the story of L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons and their attempt to create a "moonchild" (from Crowley's novel
of that name). In Crowley's own words, "Apparently Parsons and Hubbard or somebody is producing a moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I
contemplate the idiocy of these louts." Clearly the admiration Hubbard had for Crowley was not reciprocated.
More famously still, he baited Christians by naming himself To Mega Therion, or "The Great Beast" of the Book of Revelation.
Crowley was also a published, if minor, poet. He wrote the 1929 Hymn to Pan, perhaps his most widely read and anthologized poem. Three
pieces by Crowley, "The Quest ", "The Neophyte", and "The Rose and the Cross", appear in the 1917 collection The Oxford Book of English
Mystical Verse. Crowley's unusual sense of humour is on display in White Stains, an 1898 collection of pornographic verse pretended to be "the
literary remains of George Archibald Bishop, a neuropath of the Second Empire;" the volume is prefaced with a notice that says that " The Editor
hopes that Mental Pathologists, for whose eyes alone this treatise is destined, will spare no precaution to prevent it falling into other hands."
Miscellany and Rumours
Crowley tried to mint a number of new terms instead of the established ones he felt inadequate. For example he spelled magic "magick" and
renamed theurgy "high magick" and thaumaturgy "low magick". Many of his terms are still used by some practitioners.
Crowley remains a popular icon of libertines and those interested in the theory and practice of magic.
Crowley has been attributed as selecting the "V for Victory" sign during World War II as used by Sir Winston Churchill.
"In World War I Aleister Crowley ingratiated himself with a Hermetic sect in order to reveal to the Americans that its head was a highly dangerous
German agent. In World War II it was well known in British Intelligence that many leading Nazis were interested in the occult and especially in
astrology. Crowley did some work for MI5, but his project for dropping occult information by leaflet on the enemy was rejected by the authorities."
- Richard Deacon, Spyclopaedia.
Crowley wrote alot of German propoganda during the war. The question of whether Crowley was a spy has always been subject to debate.
Richard Spence, author of "Secret Agent 666, Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult", uncovered a document from the US Army's
old Military Intelligence Division supporting Crowley's own claim to having been a spy for the Allies.
Aleister Crowley was an employee of the British government, in the United States on official business of which the British Consul, New York city
has full cognizance.
Aleister - The Poet, recorded in 1920
Obituary, New York 1947
LONDON, Dec 1 (Reuters) -- Edward Alexander Crowley, better known as Aleister Crowley, author and poet,
who was an alleged practitioner of "black magick" and blood sacrifice, died today in Hastings at the age of 72.
In The News: The following are transcripts of found newspaper articles re: Mr. Crowley
1934 - June 24 The Lima Sunday News, Lima Ohio
Astounding Revelations of Wickedness when "BEAST 666" went to Court
1927 - November 27 The Helena Independent, Helena Montana
Latest "Black Magic" Revelations About Nefarious American "Love Cults"
1934-07-05 Charleroi Mail, Charleroi Pennsylvania
"BEAST 666," CULT CHIEFTAIN, LOSES DEFAMATION SUIT
1948-04-11 San Antonio Light - San Antonio, Texax
"The Beast's" Last Curse
The second precept of Thelema is "Love is the law, love under will" — and Crowley's meaning of "Love" is as complex as that of "Will". It is
frequently sexual: Crowley's system, like elements of the Golden Dawn before him, sees the dichotomy and tension between the male and female
as fundamental to existence, and sexual "magick" and metaphor form a significant part of Thelemic ritual.
Thelema draws on numerous older sources and, like many other new religious movements of its time, combines "Western" and "Eastern"
traditions. Its chief Western influences include the Golden Dawn and elements of Freemasonry; Eastern influences include aspects of yoga,
Taoism, Kabbalah and Tantra.
Crowley in his room, 93 Jermyn Street, Piccadilly circa 1943, abt 68. In April 1944, the bombing of London drove Crowley out of his
lodgings to the Bell Inn, and later to Netherwood, Hastings, a boardinghouse that was his last lodging. He went to Netherwood Jan 17, 1945.
Near the end of his life. Cover from
'Portable Darkness' pub. 1970
At 'Netherwood',Hastings, a
boarding house in Sussex.
ca 1896 while at Trinity
From 'Do What Thou Wilt:
A Life of Aleister Crowley'
circa 1930, abt. 55
ca. 1899, Osiris Risen
circa 1910, wearing the
headress of Horus, making the
sign of Pan
His first year at Trinity College, Cambridge, ca. 1895-1896
The Magician ca.1910, in his Robe and
Crown, aremed with Wand, cup, Sword,
Pentacle, Bell, book and Holy Oil.
circa 1905, age 30
Cover from 'The
ca. 1912, age 37
The Mad Arab smoking
rum-soaked Perique Tobacco
"with little left but Pipe
Examining his ornately carved
wand, Aleister always signed his
name so that the 'A' formed the
shape of a phallus.
circa 1931, Age 56
Cover from 'The Nature of
Aleister performing the 'Rite of Saturn',
part of the Rites of Eleusis sequence,
Posing as Fo-Hi, the Chinese
God of Joy and Laughter
1919, Decatur Georgia,
notice the tuft of hair.
Painting Oct, 1919,
ca. 1889, age 14
Aleister, as the 'Baphomet'
The Arabian Alchemist
In 1895 Crowley finally
overcame family opposition
and went up to Cambridge
University, where he spent
He spent much of his time at
college indulging in hobbies
like mountain climbing and
chess. He was also a frequent
client of male and female
His final year at Cambridge
was 1898, he was 23 years old.
Carroll, Robert Todd (2004). "Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 30 December 2004.
Crowley, Aleister(1990) "The Tao Teh King, Liber CLVII: THE EQUINOX Vol. III. No. VIII. ASCII VERSION". Retrieved 30 December 2004.
Free Encyclopedia of Thelema (2005).
The Equinox. Retrieved 24 March 2005.
A biography of Crowley by Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt (2000) ISBN 0312288972.
Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski
The Magick of Thelema - A handbook of the Rituals of Aleister Crowley by Lon Milo Duquette
Crowley as Chinese poet Kwaw Li Ya
"Every man and every woman is a star." "I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star."
Crowley 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.
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
Click here for photos and more info on Crowley's Scarlett Women
Photos, videos, and newspaper clippings.
Order of service pamphlet for Aleister's funeral. The birth date
Aleister Crowley's Last Days
In 1975 Rodney Davies met Kathleen "Johnny Symonds" who had been Aleister's landlady during the last months of his life in 1947. Here's his
entertaining piece about it.
Crowley brought with him some special gold coins, which he claimed had magic powers and was anxious about keeping safe, and a box of 'I
Ching' sticks. He made frequent use of the latter. When he had an appointment for the dentist, for instance, he threw the sticks in the air. And
once he called me and said, 'Pone the dentist immediatley? The sticks have told me not to go.' The dentist was very amazed.
The Great Beast soon settled into a regular daily routine. At nine each morning the housekeeper Miss Clark took him his breakfast, and at ten,
if the weather was fine, he would take a troll in the garden, where Johnny kept some beautiful plump white rabbits, which he nicknamed "The
Chrysanthemums" and would love to watch. When the sun shone he would often sit with his hands held heavenwards.
Crowley then spent most of the rest of the day sleeping in his room,
where he also took his other meals. His favourite snack was sardines
sprinkled with curry powder. He roused himself as darkness fell, and sat
up all night either writing letters, reading or indulging in his heroin drug
'He had a ration of heroin which was allowed him,' Mrs Symonds said. 'It
used to come down from a chemist called Heppel's in London. But the
police knew about it. I've often watched him stick a needle in his arm. He
According to Johnny, Aleister Crowley was an easy-going, trouble-free
resident, who not only spent much of his time in his room, but who
rubbed along well with the other visitors and with her and her husband.
Indeed, her feelings about him were entirely positive: "I liked him," she
said. "He was great fun."
There have been quite a few rumours surrounding Crowley's death. Most of them relate that he was penniless, addicted to heroin, which had
been prescribed for his asthma and bronchitis, at the time. He died on December 1, 1947 at age 72, some accounts wrongly put the date as
December 5, 1947.
Several different accounts of his death:
1. At the age of 71, Aleister Crowley, with his son Ataturk at his side, succumbed to his Greater Feast and died. His ashes were buried near a
tree on the property of Karl Germer, a holocaust survivor, and his successor to the O.T.O.
2. His last words have been reported as, "I am perplexed.", though he did not die alone and the only other person with him, Patrica 'Deirdre'
MacAlphine, the mother of his son, denied this and claimed he said 'Sometimes I hate myself'. According to MacAlpine, Crowley remained
bedridden for the last few days of his life, but was in light spirits and conversational. Readings at the cremation service in nearby Brighton
included one of his own works, Hymn to Pan, and newspapers referred to the service as a black mass. Brighton council subsequently resolved
to take all necessary steps to prevent such an incident occurring again.
From "The Magick of Thelema", Author Lon Milo DuQuette writes:
Aleister Crowley is dead. He died of natural causes on December 1, 1947 at the age of 72 at his residence at Netherwood, Hastings. His body
was discovered by his landlord who reported that, only moments before, he had heard the old man pacing back and forth across the floor of
his second story apartment. There was no one with him when the end came; therefore subsequent reports that his last words were "I'm
perplexed" are patently false.
Contrary to many reports, he did not die a raving lunatic. He was bright and witty to the end. (Two of his most extraordinarily brilliant works,
The Book of Thoth and Magick Without Tears, were penned in his last years.) He did not die amid squalor and abject poverty. His modest
residence in Hastings was, and still is, a charming and reputable country boarding house.
The Rites of Eleusis
Performed at Caxton Hall Westminister in October and November 1910 and was centered
around Leila Waddell's violin playing and Victor Newburg's dancing.
The event transpired over a period of seven days, each night was designated an astrological
sign and a color (the audience was requested to don clothing of corresponding colors).
The ritual aimed to invoke Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars and altering the consciousness of the
audience and participants. An unexpected magickal outcome was hooking up Crowley to the
O.T.O. via yellow journalism and public trial.
Part of the source material for the Rites was derived from some of Crowley’s more rubicund
poetry, which owed much to Algernon Swinburne, Crowley’s chief bardic influence. The
Swinburne style, with its emphasis on meter and rhyme and sensual imagery(at the expense
of clarity of meaning) was well-suited to the hypnotic effects the Rites intended to evoke.
The positive aspect of it was this was the vehicle by which Crowley came to the notice of the
O.T.O. The rest is history.
Publicity photos for Rites of Eleusis
Last Will and Testament
'THIS IS THE LAST WILL of me EDWARD ALEXANDER CROWLEY commonly known as Aleister of 'Netherwood' The Ridge Hastings Sussex
I HEREBY REVOKE all wills and testamentary dispositions at any time heretofore made by me.
I DIRECT that my executors shall ascertain as they may think fit beyond all possibility of error the fact of my death.
I DESIRE that on my decease my body shall be cremated and that my ashes should be preserved in a casket together with my seal ring and
entrusted to the Grand Treasurer of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
I APPOINT Karl Johannes Germer of 260 West 72nd Street New York City, Lady Frieda Harris the wife of Sir Percy Harris of 3 Devonshire
Terrace Marylebone High Street London W.1. and Lousie Umfraville Wilkinson, doctor of Letters whose address is care of Westminister Bank
limited Shaftesbury Avenue London W.C.1. to be the Executors of this my will (hereinafter referred to as my Executors) except for the
purposes property and effect (including copyrights) of and in connection with my profession of an author for which purposes property and
I APPOINT the said Louis Unfraville Wilkinson and John Symonds of 121 Delside road London W.C.3. the executors hereof (hereinafter
referred to as 'my literary executors')
I DIRECT my literary Executors to collect as soon as practicable after my death all my books, writings and effects of a literary nature
whatsoever and wheresoever including all such effects over which I may at the date of my death have any power of disposition or
I GIVE AND BEQUEATH my books and writings and literary effects so collected to my literary Executors free of all death duties ON TRUST
that they shall hand the same to the Grand Treasurer General of the Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Temple of the East) at 260 West
72nd Street New York City with a request that the collection shall be for the absolute use and benefit of said Order and
I DECLARE that the receipt of the Grand Treasurer General of the said Order shall be a sufficient discharge to my literary Executors subject
to the payment of my debts and funerary and testamentary expenses
I GIVE DEVISE BEQUEATH AND APPOINT all the rest residue and remainder of my property estate and effects whatsoever and
wheresoever unto such of the Said Karl Johannes Germer, Lady Frieda Harris and Louis Unfraville Wilkinson as shall be living at the date of
my death and if more than one equally between them for their or his or her absolute benefit but with a request that they he or she will dispose
of the same amongst my faithful friends in accordance with any wishes expressed by me during my lifetime or set out in any memorandum
written or signed by me or left amongst my papers at my death but i declare that no such memorandum shall be deemed to form part of my
Will nor shall the foregoing expression of my wishes create any trust or legal obligation.
IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of June one thousand nine hundred and forty seven.
Crowley is, admittedly, a complicated case. One can hardly blame people for feeling hatred and fear toward Crowley when Crowley himself so
often exulted in provoking just such emotions. Indeed he tended to view those emotions as inevitable, given what he regarded as the
revolutionary nature and power of his teachings and the prevailing hypocrisy of society ... Revile Christianity (but not Christ, mind you) as
he might, seek its downfall as he did, Crowley desired nothing less than a full-fledged successor religion — complete with a guiding Logos
that would endure for millenia, as had the teachings of Jesus. "Thelema" was the Logos Crowley proclaimed, Greek for "Will." "Do what thou
wilt shall be the whole of the law" was its central credo. Let us concede that this credo — so redolent, seemingly, of license and arnarchy,
dark deeds and darker dreams — terrifies on first impact, as does Crowley the man. ... Say what you will of Crowley, judge his failings as you
will, there remains a man as protean, brilliant, courageous, flabbergasting, as ever you could imagine. There endure achievements that no
reasoned account of his life may ignore...
Where are the Ashes?
Karl Germer, Grand Treasurer of the O.T.O., received the urn containing Crowley's ashes. He
had relocated to a rural property in or near Hampton, New jersey. There he buried the urn
beside a large pine tree on the property. It has since been established that Germer's house is
not in Hampton proper, but rather in Changewater, which is in Lebanon Township. This coincides
with the deed to the property.
For some reason, Germer told McMurtry in 1951 that his wife Sascha had smashed the urn upon
the side of a tree, proclaiming it the Aleister Crowley Tree. However, in his correspondence with
Jane Wolfe he state that they had indeed buried the urn at the foot of the tree.
"On April 8th, Sascha and I gave A.C.'s ashes the final resting place. We have 5 very large Pines
in the front of our house and Sascha suggested the foot of the finest (called Aleister) as the
spot. I dug a pit under the pine and we had a small ceremony on April 8th. The ashes are in a
small casket which in turn is in a strong box."
Jane Wolfe, Phyllis Seckler, and Karl
Germer in 1957.
Years later when the Germers moved to California, karl attempted to recover the urn to take it with them. Someone had clearly beaten him to
it. What he had revealed to Jane Wolfe was somehow leaked to someone with no qualms about stealing from Germer, for when he went
digging for Crowley's remains, all that he found were a few rusty nails that were once part of the strong box. The urn was gone.
At Cambridge, Crowley changed his name to Aleister to shed his mother's nickname for him, 'Alick'
"For many years I had loathed being called Alick, partly because of the unpleasant sound and sight of the word, partly because it was the name
by which my mother called me. Edward did not seem to suit me and the diminutives Ted or Ned were even less appropriate. Alexander was too
long and Sandy suggested tow hair and freckles. I had read in some book or other that the most favourable name for becoming famous was
one consisting of a dactyl followed by a spondee, as at the end of a hexameter: like "Jeremy Taylor". Aleister Crowley fulfilled these conditions
and Aleister is the Gaelic form of Alexander. To adopt it would satisfy my romantic ideals. The atrocious spelling A-L-E-I-S-T-E-R was suggested
as the correct form by Cousin Gregor, who ought to have known better. In any case, A-L-A-I-S-D-A-I-R makes a very bad dactyl. For these
reasons I saddled myself with my present nom-de-guerre—I can't say that I feel sure that I facilitated the process of becoming famous. I should
doubtless have done so, whatever name I had chosen."
from Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski
Crowley gained no respect while living and received even less in death. When it was discovered that his attending physician, William Brown
Thomson died within twenty-four hours of Crowley, rumors of a curse dueled further headline, like "Crowley's Doctor Dies: 'Curse Put on
Him.'" The fact that Thomson was fifty-eight years old did nothing to deflect conspiracy theories of postmortem revenge.
Aleister Crowley stands as one of the most remarkable and innovative figures of his century: a man of fervent belief, he devoted his life and
squandered his fortune seeking a glimpse of spiritual truth and sharing that vision with anyone willing to listen. Tragically, he spent his last
years discredited, impoverished, and far from his family and friends in London. Yet he was ultimately successful in a way few people are:
despite adverse or indifferent responses to his message, Crowley never doubted the correctness of his vision or his role as its advocate.
Thus he lived every moment of his life based on his convictions regardless of their personal cost, whether to his fortune, friendships, or
Below are transcripts of newspaper clippings I've found. Aleister Crowley loved publicity and reveled in the 'Shock value' to the Victorian
norm. I don't believe he considered in his early life that his reputation would cause him problems in later life. Of course, the press loved it!
It was just as true yesterday as today, 'Don't believe everything you read!'
In 1919, Leah Hirsig and Crowley were living together in New York. They decided to flee the heat of New York's summer by going to
Montauk, Long Island where they stayed for awhile. Shortly afterwards Crowley decided to spend the holidays with his friends, Kate and
William Seabrook at their farm near Decatur, Georgia. He decided to leave Leah in New York. He was only in Georgia a couple of weeks.
Crowley wrote a letter to Jane Wolfe from Decatur dated Oct 16, 1919. He wrote a letter to 'Jo, Janet' from Detroit dated Nov 15, 1919.
Audio File of Crowley
Crowley's health was not good but he still fathered a child around 1937 (abt 61) with Patricia "Deirdre" MacAlpine. In June 1940 Crowley
wrote in his diary complaining of something he had never written of before: weak erection.
1939-11 Sensation, The New Tabloid Magazine
Astounding Secrets of the Devil Worshiper's Mystic Love Cult
Audio File of Crowley
"The Call of the Second Aethyr"
1928 - April 22 Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden Utah
Hounding the King of the Devil Cults Around the Globe
1929 - May 19 Ogden Standard Examiner, Ogden Utah
Why France Finally Kicked Out the High Priest of the Devil Cult
1910 - November 11 The Washington Post, Washington DC
"Teaching" Titled Beauties to Raise "Evil Spirits"
Newspaper article that appeared in The Washington Post November 11 1910 regarding the
performance of "The Rites of Eleusis."
1934 - April 14 Nevada State Journal, Reno Nevada
"Black Magic" Brings Lawsuit for Libel
(1875 - 1947)
From early 1915, in an unpublished essay "The Whole Duty of Woman" reprinted in
The Magical Link IX:3. Images from The Ogden Standard-Examiner, 19 May 1929
Click image to enlarge.