Aleister Crowley

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Apropos of nothing (sorry to butt in) a nice story about Crowley - probably apocryphal, but I like it.

Dylan Thomas was drinking and doodling aimlessly on a napkin in a pub on The Strand in London when he noticed the "Great Beast" himself staring at him across the soggy carpet and discarded dog ends. Crowley had also been drawing on a note pad and when he left he dropped a sheet of paper on the world-champion endurance drinker and Welsh poet’s table. When Thomas finally screwed up the courage to look at the paper he found an exact replica of his own doodle.

Another one while I am at it - quoted from Peter Bushell’s book London’s Secret History.

“Aleister Crowley...used to stalk to his table wrapped in a cloak which he believed rendered him invisible. He was only once persuaded to take it off - when he was seen to be wearing nothing but a beautiful bronze butterfly, it’s wings extended to cover his loins, which he had stolen from Epstein’s nude statue of Oscar Wilde. It is not known whether he ever returned it, but he still owes the Cafe Royal a hundred pounds.”

I don’t know much about Crowley so these might be well-known stories - my apologies if they’re common knowledge or have already been mentioned.
 

FraterLibre

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Observation & Deduction

Spook said:
Apropos of nothing (sorry to butt in) a nice story about Crowley - probably apocryphal, but I like it.

Dylan Thomas was drinking and doodling aimlessly on a napkin in a pub on The Strand in London when he noticed the "Great Beast" himself staring at him across the soggy carpet and discarded dog ends. Crowley had also been drawing on a note pad and when he left he dropped a sheet of paper on the world-champion endurance drinker and Welsh poet’s table. When Thomas finally screwed up the courage to look at the paper he found an exact replica of his own doodle.

Another one while I am at it - quoted from Peter Bushell’s book London’s Secret History.

“Aleister Crowley...used to stalk to his table wrapped in a cloak which he believed rendered him invisible. He was only once persuaded to take it off - when he was seen to be wearing nothing but a beautiful bronze butterfly, it’s wings extended to cover his loins, which he had stolen from Epstein’s nude statue of Oscar Wilde. It is not known whether he ever returned it, but he still owes the Cafe Royal a hundred pounds.”

I don’t know much about Crowley so these might be well-known stories - my apologies if they’re common knowledge or have already been mentioned.
Cool stories. As I understand it, the Dylan Thomas episode is true and was nothing more than Crowley closely observing the pencil movements Thomas made and letting his own hand follow along. Fairly impressive from across the room but as the drawings or doodles in question aren't reproduced anywhere, we can't say how close AC's was to DT's. (And I must note, what a monogram for the Welsh bard, hm?)

As for the other, no. Crowley did not have a cloak which he believed rendered him invisible. He discusses his notions of passing unnoticed -- invisibly -- among crowds and it has nothing to do with some magical cloak. He was not a superstitious or magical thinker at all. This story was obviously deduced incorrectly by conventional minds who witnessed him in his silly cloak. And yes, he was probably gadding around nude under the cloak, for a lark, or as some exercise, thus adding to his reputation as an eccentric.

Not sure about the bronze butterfly but it smacks of apocrypha. I mean, really, OSCAR WILDE? lol

AC owing the pub a hundred pounds, though, is right in character. Sure he'd stiff 'em if he could. Especially if they refused to carry Crowley Ale.
 

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Seabrook

There is some interesting stuff about Crowley in a book called Voodoo Island by William Seabrook. Seabrook, a well-known journalist of anomalies at the time, met Crowley in NYC at about the time AC was planning his trip to upstate New York, to paint his cliff.

Seabrook found Crowley to be a charming rogue, avuncular and mischievous, and dismissed all the talk of Crowley actually being the wickedest man on earth as typical hype to sell pamphlets and tracts and to hone the agenda of the haters. He thoroughly enjoyed his visit with Crowley and wished him well, significant insofar as Seabrook was not one to pull punches.

In one incident Crowley said, "Watch this," as they walked along the crowded streets. AC fell into lock-step a few paces behind a man who was walking briskly along. For a short time AC exactly mirrored the man's pace and gait, and then Crowley suddenly dropped to the ground onto his hands, (backwards, into a crab walk), and bounded back up to a normal walk.

The man ahead of Crowley, although apparently unaware of Crowley, fell down as if his feet had been taken out from under him. He gaped around in surprise, as if looking for the dolt who'd pushed him.

Seabrook asked about it and Crowley explained it was a matter of matching the man's rhythm so that he's aware of it subconsciously, then tossing in a jarring note, which is translated by the man's subconscious into physical arhythmia, thus making him fall. It's akin to syncopation throwing a novice drummer off the beat.

No supernaturalism needed.

Crowley then went upstate, where he lived an ascetic life for a time. He took nothing but the clothes he wore, not having much more at the time, and wandered over farms and wild areas, eating either what he could find or what kind farmers offered in exchange for a bit of work. He found a cliff and decided to paint a message on it, and somehow found white wash, a brush, rope, and so on. His mountain climbing skills no doubt served him well here. He was sustained by a kind, interested local farmer who left him fresh eggs each morning.

He painted DO WHAT THOU WILL SHALL BE THE WHOLE OF THE LAW and it was visible for miles until rain destroyed it.

He even made a sojourn in the wilderness, forced by being impoverished, into a chance to recharge his inner batteries and cleanse himself of the recent past's tribulations.

As for other stories, well, they're best told by others about me perhaps.

*w*
 

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Get Real

How can anyone reincarnate if they haven't yet died?

And no, I am a wholly distinct Beast unto myself, not some pathetic Uncle Fester wanna-be. lol
 

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Spook said:
Apropos of nothing (sorry to butt in) a nice story about Crowley - probably apocryphal, but I like it.

Dylan Thomas was drinking and doodling aimlessly on a napkin in a pub on The Strand in London when he noticed the "Great Beast" himself staring at him across the soggy carpet and discarded dog ends. Crowley had also been drawing on a note pad and when he left he dropped a sheet of paper on the world-champion endurance drinker and Welsh poet’s table. When Thomas finally screwed up the courage to look at the paper he found an exact replica of his own doodle.

Another one while I am at it - quoted from Peter Bushell’s book London’s Secret History.
I'm quite interested in looking at this tale more closely - have you got a reference for it please? Is it also in London's Secret History or perhaps a Dylan Thomas biography??
 
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The Yitthian said:
I'm quite interested in looking at this tale more closely - have you got a reference for it please? Is it also in London's Secret History or perhaps a Dylan Thomas biography??
Yep. Both stories are from the same book. The only detail I didn't repeat is that the pub that the first incident was supposed to have occured in was the Coal Hole public house on The Strand.
 
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Re: Observation & Deduction

FraterLibre said:
Not sure about the bronze butterfly but it smacks of apocrypha. I mean, really, OSCAR WILDE? lol
Lifted the following information after a quick Google this morning -

Epstein, Artist Against the Establishment by Stephen Gardiner (NY: Viking Penguin, New York 1993 HB). Pg.107 mentions the theft of the plaque on Oscar Wilde's tomb which was hung in the fashion of a fig leaf on a naked figure carved by Epstein, stating; "Not that the plaque lasted long: some poets and artists raided the cemetery and removed it, and one evening, during the war, that supremo of black magic, Aleister Crowley, approached Epstein in the Cafe Royal with it dangling round his neck, and presented it to him."
 

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Spook said:
Yep. Both stories are from the same book. The only detail I didn't repeat is that the pub that the first incident was supposed to have occured in was the Coal Hole public house on The Strand.
Ah! I know the pub well, less than 5 minutes walk from my college in fact. I never really liked the place though, far too dingy at one end and crowded with 'suits' at the other. Nevertheless, I can happily imagine Crowley tucked away there with a book. Thanks Spook.
 

FraterLibre

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Logic

That Crowley returned the bronze doesn't mean he stole it in the first place, of course, but it does seem a prank he'd have been glad to take part in. And I'm still smiling at the irony of AC and Co. defrocking, as it were, Wilde's statue.
 

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Graphic Novels

Grant Morrison sounds quite interesting; thanks for posting the link for this interview.
 

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By weird coincidence I have just been reading Promethea.
Absolutely great - much recommended.
You could almost regard it as basic groundwork in the western esoteric tradition but I suspect I enjoyed it more because I already knew a bit about all that kind of thing .....
FraterLibre I highly recommend it to you.
Don't know that much about Grant Morrison, but I know someone who has worked with him and he said he was "mental" which is always a good sign :D
 

FraterLibre

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Affording

I'm going to see if I can afford any or all of these this weekend, I think. They sound very much to my taste and interests. Thanks.
 
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Although it has links with things mentioned in these threads on Gardner, the Seocnd World War and Jack Parsons:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13044

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13006

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6586

as well as number of similar articles in FT (the Parsosn's one, Gordon Rutter's WWII one, etc.) it has to go here really:

Beyond belief

From yoga to punk, notorious occultist Aleister Crowley has had a profound influence on modern culture, writes Tim Cummings

Saturday July 10, 2004
The Guardian



"There is no law beyond do what thou wilt; every man and woman is a star; the word of sin is restriction." For some, these three short epigrams heralded the end of Christianity and the dawn of a new age. They certainly provided successive generations of beats, hipsters, hippies, punks and ravers, whether they knew it or not, with a manifesto of sorts.

The words come from The Book of the Law, an obscure prose poem written 100 years ago by Aleister Crowley, often described as the key to the notorious Magus's vast pantheon of writings. A multi-layered template of a magickal system, encompassing Qabalah, single-point meditation, sex rituals, excessive drug use and a good deal more, The Book of the Law made Crowley one of the 20th century's hidden prophets, a truly outrageous figure presiding over rock culture's original spirit of misrule.

Crowley died in relative obscurity in an eccentric Hastings boarding house in 1947. And yet, in the 21st century, his legacy has an afterlife, one that few of his contemporaries would have imagined possible. Last year he was voted number 73 in the BBC's league of the top 100 Britons. There is a continual stream of biographies and editions of his work, from a centenary edition of The Book of the Law to a reprint of Francis King's excellent study Megatherion. "To Mega Therion", meaning "the great beast", was one of Crowley's numerous magickal names. In The Book of the Law, he is identified as 666. "It means merely sunlight," he told the judge in a libel case that bankrupted him. "You may call me Little Sunshine."

He wrote The Book of the Law over three days in April 1904, between midday and 1pm, in a room near the Cairo Museum. The 29-year-old Crowley had come to Egypt to honeymoon with his wife Rose. Together they spent a night in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid, where Crowley tried to impress her by conducting a magickal ritual to illuminate the chamber with astral light. Rose had no interest in the occult, but soon afterwards it was she who fell into a trance, repeating "They are waiting for you", and instructing her husband to take his dictation at the appointed day and hour.

However, Crowley always denied he was the author of the book, claiming that it had been dictated by an entity called Aiwass, an emissary of the hawk-headed Egyptian god Horus promising ecstatic union and violent conflict in more or less equal measure. Aiwass would overthrow the "slave religion" of Christianity and liberate humanity with one commandment instead of Christianity's 10. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" is probably the phrase most associated with Crowley, and the key to much of his work. For him it became a liberation theology in 11 single-syllable words, with "Love is the law" as the addendum. "Love under will."

Though the likes of WB Yeats called him "indescribably mad" - they engaged in magickal battle when both were members of the Golden Dawn in the 1890s - Crowley's reputation as the world's wickedest man obscures much that is fascinating about him. He was a master of ceremonial magick, yoga, Qabalah, Tarot and numerous meditation traditions; a mountaineer, poet, and chess player of distinction; mentor to the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, a friend of the American writer Frank Harris, and the source of Malcolm Lowry's magickal symbolism in Under the Volcano.

Yet the hysterical press accounts of sex, drugs and sacrifice at his Abbey of Thelema, in Sicily in the early 1920s, remain the core of the myth of Crowley as evil incarnate. It was an image, along with his famously hypnotic stare, that led Bond author Ian Fleming to model Blofeld on Crowley. They met when Fleming worked in British intelligence during the war. That a man so publicly reviled could still penetrate the corridors of power is a prime example of his unlikely reach. Crowley was Fleming's first choice for interrogating Rudolf Hess when the occult-obsessed Nazi was captured in Scotland after a bizarre astrological sting.

It was also Crowley who gave Churchill his famous victory sign, a magickal gesture to counteract the Nazi's use of the swastika. Indeed, his hand appears in many unexpected places - there is even a story that he aligned Stamford Bridge and gave Chelsea its team colours - but his hidden influence was not restricted to the British war effort or the Premiere League.
In the 1940s, one of his closest followers was a young Californian adept, Jack Parsons, one of the founding fathers of the American space programme. His work at the fledgling Jet Propulsion Laboratories lay the groundwork for the Apollo moon missions.

Rocket fuel, space exploration and Crowley's brand of ceremonial sex magick was a powerful mix. Working with Parsons was none other than L Ron Hubbard, who later founded the cult of Scientology, which now attracts so many Hollywood stars. Hubbard would also abscond with Parsons' money and wife, but not before Parsons had written a fourth "chapter" of The Book of the Law and unleashed the powerful sex magick of the Babalon Working with his Scarlet Woman, Beat artist Marjorie Cameron. Cameron would go on to star in films by Kenneth Anger and Curtis Harrington, and was the inspiration behind the classic Eagles song, Hotel California. As for Parsons, he blew himself up in his lab in 1952 and there is a crater named after him on the dark side of the moon.

A hundred years on, Crowley remains one of those figures often dismissed in public, but whose work is collected and studied in private. His immediate following may have been small, but his influence on modern culture is as pervasive as that of Freud or Jung. As an occultist, he can justly claim to have made a lasting change on the world, refashioning the occult with his famous dictum to combine the aim of religion with the method of science.

There were followers such as Gerald Yorke, the epitome of the English gentleman, who worked as his secretary for many years, and who later became the Dalai Lama's emissary, almost single-handedly bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the west. Crowley himself played a pioneering role in the western study of eastern religions. His writings on yoga are still regarded as the most lucid ever produced. His writings on drugs, too, are prescient; decades later, psychedelic gurus such as Timothy Leary would find themselves literally following in Crowley's footsteps.

"Worship me with wines and strange drugs whereof I shall tell my prophet, and be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all!" proclaimed The Book of the Law. Six years after it was written, Crowley introduced psychedelics to Europe, with a sacrament of mescaline in his 1910 staging of the Rites of Eleus in London. It was a kind of prototype of the rock band Hawkwind's epic Space Ritual of the early 1970s. Both comprised music, dancers, poetry, hallucinogens, and, in Hawkwind's case, projections and strobes they turned on themselves as well as the audience.

As Gary Lachman makes explicit in his book on the occult and the 1960s, Turn Off Your Mind, Crowley's most visible presence is in rock music and the post-Beat counterculture; on films such as Don Cammell's Performance, and Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising; on the Satanic Majesties-era Stones, with Jagger donating a dissonant synthesiser soundtrack to Anger's cinematic enactment of one of Crowley's rituals, Inauguration of My Demon Brother.

Crowley is there on the cover of Sergeant Pepper, and in the music and myths of Led Zeppelin, whose Jimmy Page is one of the most famous rock'n'roll adherents. And then there is David Bowie, "closer to the Golden Dawn, cloaked in Crowley's uniform of imagery". Bowie lived almost entirely on a ritual level for several years in the mid-1970s and, like Crowley, his drug use had a magickal as much as a hedonistic base. It is a period he now professes not to remember, preferring to dine out on the fruits of that work instead.

But while the hippy era is most closely identified with the explosion of the occult, it was punk that was the manifestation of Do What Thou Wilt. The energy of punk at its purest was about disruption, chaos and transformation - with whatever magickal accoutrements came to hand. Bands from Throbbing Gristle and Killing Joke to the Only Ones, Eddie and the Hot Rods and Coil absorbed, by osmosis or design, the essence of Crowley's Thelema.

Rock'n'roll has always been the devil's music, with a powerful, uncontrollable element of invocation, and Crowley is one of its grandfathers. Rock's initial spirit of upset, outrage and teenage rampage was the very spirit Crowley believed was unleashed with The Book of the Law.

In the age of the crowned and conquering child, it doesn't matter whether you believe in Crowley's magick or not. Like Tarot or astrology, it's not a question of belief; it's whether and where the pattern fits. "Certain actions," said Crowley, "produce certain results." Sentiments worth bearing in mind for those curious about the life, work and legacy of this extraordinary, flawed, complex and often shocking figure.

· The Book of the Law is published by Samuel Weiser (Airlift Book Co, 020-8804 0400). Megatherion is published by Creation Books (Turnaround, 020-8829 3000).
http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,12084,1257166,00.html

How solid are some of those facts (esp. the ones I highlighted)? I think some of them have come up before here and I'm not sure anyone managed to pin them down.

Emps
 

FraterLibre

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Good Article

This is a good overview I've read before, probably when it first appeared.

It's accurate as far as I can tell; the assertions you highlight are not proven but more along the lines of well-known facts among small groups. They are likely, oddly enough. No way to prove it, other than perhaps some diary citation, and that'd be called hearsay anyhow.
 
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Re: Good Article

FraterLibre said:
This is a good overview I've read before, probably when it first appeared.
The review is from last Saturday's Garudian - is it a rehash of an earlier piece?

FraterLibre said:
It's accurate as far as I can tell; the assertions you highlight are not proven but more along the lines of well-known facts among small groups. They are likely, oddly enough. No way to prove it, other than perhaps some diary citation, and that'd be called hearsay anyhow.
Well a diary citation would be somehting to be going on with.
 

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Saw It

I saw it several months ago so it's probably a reprint from somewhere. This seems to be verbatim what I remember reading, too.

Interesting but then such an article isn't necessarily out-dated if the Guardian needed it for some reason, filler or passing along spy codes or something. LOL

And yes, a diary entry would be something to go on but it would instantly be called a hoax and "debunked" and so on, and we'd end in the same muddle we're in now.

Sad that it works that way these days but it does.
 
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Re: Saw It

FraterLibre said:
I saw it several months ago so it's probably a reprint from somewhere. This seems to be verbatim what I remember reading, too.

Interesting but then such an article isn't necessarily out-dated if the Guardian needed it for some reason, filler or passing along spy codes or something. LOL
Yes although it is supposed to be a book review the book under review is a reprint of The Book of The Law so a sneaky bit of recycling probably wouldn't have seemed too wrong in the circumstances.

I've checked for spy codes and found nothing so........ ;)
 

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Relieved

Whew, relieved to hear there are none of those pesky spy codes. Blair's in enough hot water for lying and, unlike Bush, he can't blame his spooks anytime he feels cornered.

Fascinating whatching whose dirt will prove the most intimidating, isn't it?

Crowley would have been chortling all through this pathetic mess, probably as he sipped Fleming's Eart Grey laced with Glen Morangie.
 

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A barmaid at my old "local" from many years ago, actually met him when he was in his last years (he died here in this town), she was a maid or somesuch at the place he was living at. Her comment was "He was an evil old bugger, could'nt wait to get away from him":eek!!!!:
 

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From Which We Learn...?

Nothing. One can't go so far as to hope she actually based this opinion, such as it be, on any incident or observed behavior or anything, can one? In short, did she say why?

Otherwise we're left with a subjective reaction in a vacuum, without context.

Also, for the record, it is the observation of many who met him, particularly in his last years, that he was unfailingly polite and mannerly, and well-spoken, too. An amusing old coot sort of fellow, not at all the imposing Beast he'd once been. He even seems to have shrunk.
 

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Only reporting what she said.Gave her the creeps.This was aparently before she knew who he was.
 

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It is thinking like that...

...which allowed Blair and Bush to be elected and even supported, even now. lol

Speaking of giving people the creeps, how about Cheney, or Ashcroft, or any of that crew? Whoa.
 

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I'd be inclined to trust a barmaid's opinion of a customer. Barmaids see how a person really is as customers don't go out of their way to impress them, especially after a jar or three.

At the recent very enjoyable symposium on the fillum 'Performance' in Manchester, I learned that its director Donald Cammell was a godson of Crowley's!

The fillum is full of Crowley references, it seems. :eek:
 

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I read the Lawrence Sutin biography a few years ago and one thing always sticks in my mind; the ritual to acheive the grade of Ipissimus which is described on page 290. crowley refuses to describe 'the deed' he carried out in the ritual and promises never to speak of it. Being so outspoken, and having had to eat the scarlet woman's shit, partake in bestiality etc in previous rituals it seems strange he should be so reluctant to speak of it. What could have been so upsetting for him?
With reference to the 'child of perfect intelligence ' quote, I'd just like to point out that David Icke uses it as part of his evidence towards his lizard/satanist conspiracy. Icke digs his own absurd hole by stating that he must have sacrificed thousands of children over the years. And nobody noticed! Typical of Icke's research he didn't even bother to read the dust jacket of a Crowley book and never realised that Frater Perdurabo and Crowley were the same person. Just goes to show that people can base their belief systems (sometimes fanatical) on completely unfounded and unresearched ideas.
 

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Uncle Al's Wit

You're presuming he was at all serious in not mentioning it. Bad assumption. For all we know, there was no deed left unmentioned. He loved mind games, and hiding the last vital bit of information is standard esoterica. I'd guess it's all there for those with eyes to see.

AC himself stated boldly that he sacrificed millions of children; he meant his sperm. This is touched upon in Sutin's biography and when it comes to the quality or depth of Icke's research, well.

Still, apparently a barmaid having had a bad reaction to him in his dotage is enough to prove he was evil incarnate, so perhaps we shouldn't be too harsh on Icke. Actually reading AC's work? Well, that's too much work entirely, especially when one remembers that much deeper and broader reading will be necessary before one even begins to grasp Crowley's work.
 

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The series of rituals up to that point were designed to debase him, as I understand it, and so break from human and connect with the divine. The last ritual must have involved something fairly serious. It only took 30 minutes, whatever it was. According to Crowley's notes of course...
 
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