The Demonizing of Aleister Crowley
By James Donahue
Even a half century after his death, the Christian demonizing of brilliant magician and occult writer
and psychic Aleister Crowley continues nearly unabated.
About a year or two ago I caught part of a television "special" about alleged Satanic cults in America,
and heard the moderator incorrectly use Crowley’s name as an example of a Satanist.
I also was saddened to see the media’s treatment of a story about a hotel owner near Inverness,
Scotland, who purchased a bed and some other furniture that came from Boleskine, one of Crowley’s homes. This story was a prime example of how the image of Crowley gets twisted by people who have no idea what
they are talking or writing about.
Hotel owner Andy Pavitt said the old bed, and a child’s bed purchased with the set of furnishings,
needed to be exorcised because he thought they were haunted. The story said Pavitt was hiring Kevin Carlyon, the high priest
of white witches, to conduct a cleansing ritual under a full moon set for January of that year.
Pavitt claimed the large bed always has a damp and musty odor, and sometimes shakes in the night,
frightening lodgers. The room where the child’s bed has been placed is always cold.
"It is almost like trying to exorcise Satan himself," Pavitt told the local news reporter. "Crowley
has such a reputation that it will be the ultimate battle between good and evil."
Obviously Pavitt has not taken time to read Crowley’s writings or study a biography of this
amazing contemporary. He appears to be taking the twaddle of religious finger pointers at face value without checking the
The story was obviously a publicity stunt for Pavitt’s hotel, but done at Crowley’s expense.
Crowley, probably best known as the man chosen by the mysterious entity Aiwass to pen the Book of
the Law, was a highly gifted writer, magician and psychic who spent his life exploring all of the religious and occult mysteries.
Born in England in 1875, Crowley was raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian home and grew up
with a thorough biblical education. He eventually rejected the entire concept of Christianity as the hoax on humanity that
He attended Trinity College at Cambridge University, leaving shortly before completing his degree.
It was in this part of his life that Crowley became interested in the Hermetic Order of the Golden
Dawn, an occult society that taught magic, kabbalah, alchemy, tarot and astrology. He was initiated into this society in 1898
and climbed rapidly through the grades.
By 1900, Crowley was traveling extensively throughout the Far East, where he learned and practiced
the mental and physical disciplines of yoga, ritual magic and Oriental mysticism.
In 1903 Crowley married Rose Kelly. While in Cairo, Egypt on their honeymoon, he was contacted by
the shadowy entity identified as Aiwaiss, that dictated three chapters of verse known as Liber AL vel Legis, better known
as The Book Of The Law.
The book, which is filled with symbolism and riddles, heralds the dawning of the new aeon of Horus
which is to be governed by the Law of Thelema, or Law of Will. Crowley spent the rest of his life writing and developing his
In 1910 Crowley was contacted by Theodore Reuss, the head of a German-based organization called Ordo
Templi Orientis (O.T.O.). Crowley not only joined this group but eventually took over as its leader. During this time he reformulated
the rites of the O.T.O.and conformed them to the Law of Thelema.
Accusations that Crowley was a heroin addict are correct. Throughout much of his life, Crowley suffered
from a chronic lung disorder and heroin was prescribed by doctors to relieve the symptoms. It was not an illegal narcotic
at that time. Of course, Crowley became addicted to the drug and could not wean himself away from it.
Crowley was not a Satan worshipper, although he enjoyed promoting the public conception of himself
as an evil person. He liked to refer to himself as The Beast and frequently used the numbers 666 as a personal signature.
A brilliant scholar with a sense of wit and humor buried deeply throughout his writings, Crowley did
much to develop a contemporary interest in occult matters and left volumes of books for followers to study. He fought the
Christian church, which consequently worked hard to discredit all of his works.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.