Monday, April 5, 2010

Warlock's Library #5

I am on an Aleister Crowley mission at the moment, studying his system of Thelema at this time (among other systems) and I have just finished three books relating to him that I will review in due course, including this one.

Sandy Robertson as a young lad one day asked his father who Crowley was. The look of horror on his father's face was enough for him to delve into Crowley's history and become a prolific collector of Crowleyana as it's called.

Collected here are artworks, personal photographs, articles and newspaper clipping of the man who was to be dubbed "The Wickedest Man in the World" by the British Press. Crowley did everything in his power to become recognised by the world, partially as a Great Magickian but unfortunately his notoriety got the better of him, and he wasn't taken seriously by the British People much to his chagrin.

Getting expelled from Sicily by Mussolini certainly didn't help, along with his reputation as a drug fiend, the deaths at his Sicily Thelema Abbey (including one of his own children) and his association with many Scarlet Women such as Leah Hirsig (The Ape of Thoth) with whom he sought to produce a mythical in-the-flesh Moonchild. This book doesn't go into the magickal rites of his system Thelema, but discusses his childhood raised into a family of strict (and wealthy) Plymouth Brethren, he was happy to discard as soon as he was able. It was his own mother that labelled him as "The Beast 666" for his chaotic ways, and that name stuck to him. Crowley wasn't a Satanist though, as he was a member of The Golden Dawn, O.T.O, his own society A∴A∴ (Arcanum Arcanorum), and finally his own system of Thelema that was a mixture of magickal systems including Qabala(Kabbalah), Enochian and Egyptian Mysteries.

The book attempts to explain Aleister Crowley as a man, and also as a Magickian and gives evidence of differring degrees from picturing him as a leading figure in Occultism to a conniving con-man who used his influence to take money from his followers for his various schemes. Such 'evidence' is supplied in a letter titled "The Memoir of 666" by Alan Burnett-Rae who claims to have rented a flat to Crowley and explains his eccentric behaviour, wild stories and apparent lack of assets and money.

Also described within is his various quarrels with other occult personalities such as the Head of the Golden Dawn MacGregor Mathers and the poet W.B Yeats who desired to see Crowley removed from the Golden Dawn. From Robertson's own collection of Crowleyana he provides pictures of the Thelema Abbey, poems, plays and stories written by Crowley, and discusses the influence Crowley had on horror fiction such as Dennis Wheatley's occult villain Mocata from The Devil Rides Out, who was portrayed by Charles Grey in the Hammer Film of the same name.

Lastly Robertson briefly mentions a Lovecraft-Crowley connection, and finishes with discussing Crowley's influence in the modern world, from featuring on The Beatles album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, to influencing Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page as well as Ozzy Ozbourne's song "Mr Crowley" and a mention in David Bowie's song "Quicksand" from his album Hunky Dory (Closer to the Golden Dawn/immersed in Crowley's uniform of imagery). More recently Crowley's influence found it's way into Carl McCoy's 80/90s Gothic Rock Band Fields of the Nephilim with such songs as Moonchild and Love Under Will.

If you are interested in learning more about Crowley this is a good place to start, because to understand Crowley the Magickian, you also have to know and understand Crowley the man.


  1. I would like to get a copy of this book. I also am an avid collector of such facinating lore. This would be a nice complement to my collection of Crowley! :D

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