Nicknames: “The Great Beast” and “The Wickedest Man in the World”
My research shows that Aleister Crowley was a witch, a poet, a prophet and famed occultist. As a child, he constantly rebelled against the Christian teachings of his parents. He didn’t necessarily disbelieve in God or Satan, but he felt there was more of a spiritual aspect that needed exploring. He went to college where he wrote and studied poetry. His first book of poetry, Aceldama, A Place to Bury Strangers In”, was published in 1898. In the preface of the book he wrote about how God and Satan had fought over his soul. He wrote, “God conquered-and now I have only one doubt left-which of the twain was God?”.
He became interested in the “Great White Brotherhood”, a brotherhood of occultists. He joined the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, the elusive Great White Brotherhood, in November of 1898. He then joined a coven, New Forrest Witches, in 1899, but was kicked out due to his bias toward homosexuality and his hatred towards women. Crowley advanced quickly through the ranks of the Golden Dawn, but was dismissed in 1900 due to issues within the order and with MacGregor Mathors.
Crowley began studying Tantric Yoga, Buddhism and I Ching. He lived in isolation for a while near Loch Ness in Scotland. In 1903 he met and married Rose Edith Kelly. The two of them took a trip to Egypt in 1904 and participated in a ritual. He claimed to receive messages from the Gods during this ritual.
In 1909 he was using “Enochian” magic and explored the levels of the astral plane. This resulted in his claim to uniting his consciousness with the universal consciousness. In his magazine, The Equinox, he published the rituals of the Golden Dawn. And by 1913 he was becoming known as a Black Magician and Satanist. He often used the number 666 to identify himself. This seems to be the point in his life that triggered the outrageous behavior associated with his reputation. He was engaging in sexual magic with several Scarlet Women trying to produce a “Magical Child”. The book “Moonchild” was published in 1929 and describes his attempts.
In 1920 Crowley established the Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu. Many claimed that there were satanic rituals going on there. Although most of these allegations have been proven wrong, the ruler of Italy banished him from Sicily in 1923.
Witchcraft continued to be a major part of Crowley’s life. His research and practice became more and more prominent. In 1932 he began meeting with Sybil Leek, a 9-year-old hereditary witch. She later wrote her autobiography, “Diary of a Witch”, and spoke of Crowley’s visits and their talks of witchcraft.
Bankruptcy plagued Crowley in 1934. He was living in a hotel at the time of his death and left instructions to be cremated. His ashes were sent to some of his followers in the United States.
Although the reputation of this man centers around Satanism and the black magic it is associated with, Crowley’s writings and knowledge of witchcraft and magic are now being reprinted as more people either become curious about his work or appreciate his “genius” status of the arts and the spirituality of life.
I’m not quite sure what to think about his man. If I go on his reputation, I would be scared of him! However, I try not to judge people based on their reputation. Perhaps he was like all scientists are…curious and knowledgable. Curiosity leads us to dip into things we do not understand. We are all curious about life, spirituality, life after death and the capabilities of the mind. Most of the time we find that acquiring that knowledge leads to experiences. Maybe Aleister Crowley wasn’t such a bad man after all….maybe he was. You decide.