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Aleister Crowley

A paper I did for my Public Speaking class

Image: Aleister Crowley     "After five years of folly and weakness, miscalled politeness, tact, discretion, care for the feeling of others, I am weary of it.  I say today: the hell with Christianity, Rationalism, Buddhism, all the lumber of the centuries. I bring you a positive and primaeval [sic] fact, Magick by name; and with this I will build me a new Heaven and a new Earth. I want none of your faint approval or faint dispraise; I want blasphemy, murder, … revolution, anything, bad or good, but strong."
             Aleister Crowley in 1909 in a letter to his friend, Gerald Kelly

     "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
      Love is the law, love under will. 
      Every man and every woman is a star."
      ~ by Aleister Crowley

     The quote above is from the book called The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley. In this book he channeled a personage who he thought was the Egyptian God Horus.  Many people have incorrectly assumed that "Do what thou wilt" means "do what you like."  Well, it doesn’t.  It is not a license for immorality and hedonism regardless of the consequences.  According to Crowley doing what you will means a spiritually higher Will not the will of the ego or the mind.


      I became interested in Crowley early in 2006 when I saw the tarot deck that he designed.  The deck was owned by a friend of mine and I eventually bought one of my own.  I also purchased the book that accompanies the tarot deck.  I wanted to read more about him because I was intrigued by this intelligent, seemingly dark man.  I wondered why so many people were interested in him and why I had never heard about him before.  Until now I hadn’t had a chance to read much about or by him; that along with the fact that I wanted to learn more about him is why I chose to do this report on him.  Perhaps I should have chosen someone light and happy, but I chose this man mainly because he wasn’t light and happy and because he is “different” and many people have said he is evil. 

      Aleister Crowley has been called “the wickedest man in the world” by the media.  He called himself “The Beast, Image: Beatles Sargeant Peppers Lonley Hearts Club Band album with Aleister Crowley circled 666.”  (Liukkonen)  Was he wicked?  Was he evil?  He certainly wasn’t what one would call “nice” but I think what he called himself mentioned previously was perhaps a bit harsh.  And anyway, I believe mainly he was just trying to piss off the Victorian people of that era around him.  Or, of course, he could have just been demented or psychotic.

     “At 36 Clarendon Square, Leamington, Warwickshire, England, at 10.50 p.m. on the twelfth day of October, in the Eighteen Hundred and Seventy-Fifth Year of the vulgar era, was born the person whose history is to be recounted.”  The previous quote is about Aleister Crowley and is from the book The Equinox of the Gods by Aleister Crowley.   The birth-date would make him a Libra according to astrology.   He has written over one hundred books plus he designed the original artwork for a Tarot deck, which I mentioned previously.  “He has been known to write for 67 consecutive hours.”  He would do so only if it "excites his imagination"; he could not force himself to write if he was not interested (Crowley, Equinox).  Many people have read his works, including Timothy Leary, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones.  The Beatles have his image on their Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart’s Club Band album.  

Ozzy Osbourne wrote and performed a song about him called Mr. Crowley.
"Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head
Oh, Mr. Crowley, did you talk with the dead
Your lifestyle to me seemed so tragic
With the thrill of it all
You fooled all the people with magic
You waited on Satan's call"

Image: Painting by Aleister Crowley     He was extremely intelligent.  At the age of four he was able to read the Bible out loud.  (Crowley, Equinox).  When he was in school and attended a university he passed all of his exams with honors.  His father was a preacher of a Plymouth Brethren sect and died when Crowley was only twelve years old.  Young Crowley had a dream of his father’s death prior to actually hearing about it.  His father was his friend and his hero.  Before his father’s death he wanted to become a preacher like his father.  After his father’s death he rebelled against his strict Christian upbringing and joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.  The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is a magical spiritual organization which is still in existence today.  (Crowley, Confessions)  In his youth his poor health made him very delicate.  (Crowley, Equinox) 


He also created an extensive collection of artwork including his Tarot Deck.

     He read extensively throughout his life.  He studied the ancient Hebrew Qabalah including the Tree of Life, the sacred Enochian language, The Keys of Solomon, yoga, astrology and the Tarot.   He also studied Latin, Greek, French, Mathematics and Science.   He became a master of the game of chess by the age of 22.  (Crowley, Equinox) 

     He was a mountain climber and taught others how to do so.  It has been mentioned in a British TV show that he once left a fellow mountain climber behind to die in a snow storm.  According to him he told the person to leave early because he thought a storm might be coming but the man refused to leave, so Crowley left the stubborn man behind.  A storm did arrive and the man did die but not, apparently, through the fault of Crowley.  (Crowley, Confessions)   He has walked over two and a half days in the desert; he spent sixty five days on a glacier; he has made expeditions on mountains for over thirty six hours.  But he could get tired out taking a simple short walk if it did not excite him.  (Crowley, Equinox) 

Image: Aleister Crowley      He studied Magick and spirituality in many places.  He spelled magic, M-a-g-i-c-k.  He traveled to Mexico, San Francisco, Honolulu, Japan, China, India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1900’s.  He says that he learned to summon gods, goddesses and spirits, including angels and demons, and even learned to make himself invisible and to heal physical and moral diseases.  He studied Yoga, meditation and learned pranayama (a breathing exercise) and asana (an intense Indian posture exercise). He learned a Mantra (a sacred meditative sound), and practiced this for some time along with the pranayama and the asana.  He gave himself wholly over to these practices when he was interested and excited by them; but when he became bored by them he moved on to something else.  As a side note, I also learned meditation, asanas, and pranayama, probably not the same as he learned and if anyone wants a demonstration I put a video on YouTube of me doing some simple asanas.

     He wanted to start his own religion.  He acquired many followers. Some people have said that he took some man to Egypt and raped him.  Well, what happened was the man was Crowley’s disciple and he was all googly-eyed over Crowley.  He would have done whatever Crowley asked him to do as would many of his disciples.  Aleister Crowley was very charming and persuasive.  What happened was the man and Crowley did go to Egypt but the purpose was to do a Magic ritual.  The ritual did involve sex but the main part of the ritual was that Crowley drew a pentagram in the sand and instructed his disciple to stand and stay within the pentagram.  The pentagram is a protection symbol into which no evil could enter.  Crowley then went off a little ways and performed a ritual to call up a demon from the underworld.  According to the article that I read, he did call up a demon and BECAME that demon.  The ritual eventually ended and Crowley was exhausted and drained.  (Owen)

     He also took his wife to Egypt and performed some ritual in one of the pyramids for their honeymoon.  That must have been some honeymoon!  His wife later went into a trance at their hotel room and spoke with a strange far-away voice and led Crowley into an Egyptian museum and walked straight over to a statue of Horus the God and said, “I am coming” in the same strange voice.  Horus was the God that Crowley had talked to at a previous time.  His wife knew nothing of Horus or of Crowley’s previous contact with him. (Owen)

     Crowley blew through all the money that he inherited from his dad and apparently died addicted to heroin, a penniless lonely old man in an English boarding house in 1947.

    Was he evil?  Was he a beast?  Was he demented or psychotic?  I’d have to spend at least another year reading and perhaps I would still be unable to answer those questions.  I do know that he was brilliant, was charming and could also be very alarming. And he was just a man. A man possessed by a demon or demons? You read all you can if you wish and find out for yourself.

Works Cited

Crowley, Aleister. “The Equinox of the Gods.” The Equinox of the Gods.  The Hermetic Library.  09 October, 2006.  <>

Crowley, Aleister. The Book of the Law.  York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1976, 1909.

Crowley, Aleister.  The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: an Autohagiography. London: Arkana, 1989, 1979.

Liukkonen, Petri. “Aleister Crowley (1875-1947).” Author’s calendar.  2000. Pagasos.  09 October, 2006.  <>

Owen, Alex. The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Aleister Crowley and the Magical Exploration of Edwardian Sybjectivity.  1997.

Also check out the Movie:
Aleister Crowley - The Wickedest Man In the World (2002)

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