The Demonizing of Aleister
By James Donahue
A half century after
his death, the Christian demonizing of magickian and occult author Aleister Crowley continues nearly unabated.
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 a recent story about a hotel owner near Inverness, Scotland,
who purchased a bed and some other furniture that came from Boleskine, one of Crowley’s
This story is 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 25.
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 facts.
The story is obviously
a publicity stunt for Pavitt’s hotel, but done at Crowley’s
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, magickian 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 also rejected the entire
concept of Christianity as the hoax on humanity that it is.
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 magick, cabalah, 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 magick and Oriental mysticism.
In 1903 Crowley married Rose Kelly. While in Cairo,
Egypt on their honeymoon, he was contacted by a shadowy entity
identified as Aiwaiss, that dictated three chapters of verse known as Liber AL vel Legis, better known as The Book Of The
The book, which is filled
with symbolism and riddles, heralds the downing 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 the Thelemic philosophy.
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. to conform them to the Law
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 him 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.