Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley via Tumblr

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was an English magician who called himself “the Beast of the Apocalypse.” He claimed to be in touch with astral realms and beings, including his guardian angel, with whom he allegedly conversed with.

Emphasizing the two different spellings, he made a distinction between purportedly real magick and stage magic.

A bisexual, Crowley’s methods often entailed sex, garbed rituals, and blood sacrifice.  This scandalized some and attracted others. Believing (or perhaps just saying) he reached the highest level of spiritual attainment, Crowley took a dim view of those who pegged him a black magician. He, in fact, sued Nina Hamnett, an artist, for describing him as black magician in her book, Laughing Torso (1932). However, Crowley lost the case and was plunged into bankruptcy.

Perhaps revealing the subconscious hypocrisy of the era, the judge who ruled against him spoke thus:

I have been over forty years engaged in the administration of the law in one capacity or another. I thought that I knew of every conceivable form of wickedness. I thought that everything which was vicious and bad had been produced at one time or another before me. I have learnt in this case that we can always learn something more if we live long enough. I have never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by the man (Crowley) who describes himself to you as the greatest living poet. —Mr. Justice Swift ¹

Crowley’s books remain somewhat popular today, especially within some circles of the New Age and contemporary Gnostic movements. And the British, in particular, uphold him as an important figure.² However, some see him as embodying all the worst characteristics of the upper class Victorians; that is, a racist sense of superiority mingled with a fascination with people of color.³

Whatever the case may be, it seems doubtful that Crowley reached the highest high of spiritual attainment. One can’t help but compare to Jesus, who patiently endured slander, flogging and murder to prove a point—namely, that there’s more to life than what’s down here.


² In 2002, a BBC poll described him as being the seventy-third greatest Briton of all time.

³  wiki/Aleister_Crowley, op. cit.


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