Brother Aleister Crowley .:.
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
Edward Alexander (Aleister) Crowley [rhymes with "holy"] was born
October 12, 1875 in Leamington Spa, England. His parents were
members of the Plymouth Brethren, a strict fundamentalist Christian
sect. As a result, Aleister grew up with a thorough biblical
education and an equally thorough disdain of Christianity.
He attended Trinity College at Cambridge University, leaving just
before completing his degree. Shortly thereafter he was introduced
to George Cecil Jones, who was a member of the Hermetic Order of the
Golden Dawn. The Golden Dawn was an occult society led by S.L.
MacGregor Mathers which taught magick, qabalah, alchemy, tarot,
astrology, and other hermetic subjects. It had many notable members
(including A.E. Waite, Dion Fortune, and W.B. Yeats), and its
influence on the development of modern western occultism was
Crowley was initiated into the Golden Dawn in 1898, and proceeded to
climb up rapidly through the grades. But in 1900 the order was
shattered by schism, and Crowley left England to travel extensively
throughout the East. There he learned and practiced the mental and
physical disciplines of yoga, supplementing his knowledge of
western-style ritual magick with the methods of Oriental mysticism.
In 1903, Crowley married Rose Kelly, and they went to Egypt on their
honeymoon. After returning to Cairo in early 1904, Rose (who until
this point had shown no interest or familiarity with the occult)
began entering trance states and insisting to her husband that the
god Horus was trying to contact him. As a test, Crowley took Rose to
the Boulak Museum and asked her to point out Horus to him. She
passed several well-known images of the god and led Aleister
straight to a painted wooden funerary stele from the 26th dynasty,
depicting Horus receiving a sacrifice from the deceased, a priest
named Ankh-f-n-khonsu. Crowley was especially impressed by the fact
that this piece was numbered 666 by the museum, a number with which
he had identified since childhood.
The upshot was that he began to listen to Rose, and at her
direction, on three successive days beginning April 8, 1904, he
entered his chamber at noon and wrote down what he heard dictated
from a shadowy presence behind him. The result was the three
chapters of verse known as Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the
Law. This book heralded the dawning of the new aeon of Horus, which
would be governed by the Law of Thelema. "Thelema" is a Greek word
meaning "will", and the Law of Thelema is often stated as: "Do what
thou wilt". As the prophet of this new aeon, Crowley spent the rest
of his life working to develop and establish Thelemic philosophy.
In 1906 Crowley rejoined George Cecil Jones in England, where they
set about the task of creating a magical order to continue where the
Golden Dawn had left off. They called this order the A:.A:. (Astron
Argon or Astrum Argentium or Silver Star), and it became the primary
vehicle for the transmission of Crowley's mystical and magical
training system based on the principles of Thelema.
Then in 1910 Crowley was contacted by Theodore Reuss, the head of an
organization based in Germany called the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).
This group of high-ranking Freemasons claimed to have discovered the
supreme secret of practical magick, which was taught in its highest
degrees. Apparently Crowley agreed, becoming a member of O.T.O. and
eventually taking over as head of the order when Reuss suffered a
stroke in 1921. Crowley reformulated the rites of the O.T.O. to
conform them to the Law of Thelema, and vested the organization with
its main purpose of establishing Thelema in the world. The order
also became independent of Freemasonry (although still based on the
same patterns) and opened its membership to women and men who were
Aleister Crowley died in Hastings, England on December 1, 1947.
However, his legacy lives on in the Law of Thelema which he brought
to mankind (along with dozens of books and writings on magick and
other mystical subjects), and in the orders A:.A:. and O.T.O. which
continue to advance the principles of Thelema to this day.
Love is the law, love under will.
As told by Frater Robert Anton Wilson; Holy Discordian, OTO Initiate
and CAW Water Brother in his Outstanding Masterpiece of Speculative
Illumination "Cosmic Trigger." Recalling Crowleymas (October 12)
1974, Brother Wilson hath eloquently stated:
I had wanted to talk to Doctor Vallee for several months now and I
immediately kidnapped him into a room which the other party- goers
were not informed about. On the way, we spotted Hymenaeus Alpha
(Grady McMurty), Caliph of the Ordo Templi Orientis, and his wife,
The Skeptic had heard Jacques Vallee talk at a conference on Science
and Spirit, sponsored by the Theosophical Society, earlier in the
year. He had taken a new approach to the UFO mystery and was
systematically feeding all the reports of extraterrestrial contacts
into a giant computer. The computer was programmed to look for
various possible repeated patterns. Jacques said that the evidence
emerging suggested to him that the UFOs weren't extraterrestrial at
all, but that they seemed to be intelligent systems intent on
convincing us they were extraterrestrial. [Indeed, even as our Dear
Brother Terence McKenna hath said, "We are part of a symbiotic
relationship with something which disguises itself as an
extraterrestrial invasion so as not to alarm us." -B:.B:.]
Now the Skeptic started pumping Jacques about his evidence that they
weren't extraterrestrial. He started to explain that, analyzing the
reports chronologically, it appeared that They (whoever or whatever
they are) always strive to give the impression that they are
something the society they are visiting can understand. In medieval
sightings, he said, they called themselves angels; in the great 1902
flap in several states, one of the craft spoke to a West Virginia
farmer and said they were an airship invented and flown from Kansas;
in 1940s-1950s sightings, they often said they were from Venus;
since Venus has been examined and seems incapable of supporting
life, they now say they are from another star-system in this galaxy.
"Where do you think they come from?" I asked.
Doctor Vallee gave the Gallic form of the classic scientific Not-
Speculating-Beyond-The-Data head-shake. "I can theorize, and
theorize, endlessly," he said, "but is it not better to just study
the data more deeply and look for clues?"
"You must have some personal hunch," I insisted.
He gave in gracefully. "They relate to space-time in ways for which
we have, at present, no concepts," he said. "They cannot explain to
us because we are not ready to understand."
I asked Grady McMurty if Aleister Crowley had ever said anything to
him implying the extraterrestrial theory which Kenneth Grant, Outer
Head of another Ordo Templi Orientis, implies in his accounts of
Crowley's contacts with Higher Intelligences.
"Some of the things Aleister said to me," Grady replied carefully,
"could be interpreted as hints pointing that way." He went on to
quote Crowley's aphorisms about various of the standard entities
contacted by Magick. The Abramelin spirits, for instance, need to be
watched carefully. "They bite," Aleister explained in his best
deadpan am-I-kidding-or-not? style. The Enochian "angels," on the
other hand, don't always have to be summoned. "When you're ready,
they come for you," Aleister said flatly.
(The Enochian entities were first contacted by Dr. John Dee in the
early 17th Century. Dr. Dee, court astrologer to Queen Elizabeth and
also an important mathematician, has been controversial from his own
time to ours, some writers regarding him as a genius of the first
rank and others as a clever lunatic. According to two interesting
books, "The World Stage" and "The Rosicrucian Enlightenment," both
by a most scrupulous historian, Dr. Francis Yates, Dee was almost
certainly a prime mover in the "Illuminati" and "Rosicrucian
Brotherhoods" of that time, which played a central role in the birth
of modem science.
The alleged UFOnaut from Uranus which communicated
with the two Naval Intelligence officers gave a name, AFFA, which is
a word in the "angelic" language used by the entities Dee contacted.
It means Nothing. George Hunt Williamson also got some words in
"angelic" from his Space Brothers, remember.)
"The outstanding quality of UFO contactees," Jacques Vallee said at
this point, "was incoherence. I now have grave reservations about
all physical details they supply," he said.
"They are like people after an auto accident. All they know is that
something very serious has happened to them." Only the fact that so
many cases involve other witnesses, who see something in the sky
before the "contactee" has his/her strange experience, justifies the
assumption that what happens is more than "subjective."
"Largely," Doctor Vallee summarized, "they come out of it with a new
perspective on humanity. A religious perspective, in general terms.
But all the details are contradictory and confusing." He regarded
green men, purple giant men, physical craft with windows in them,
etc., as falling into the category psychologists call "substitute
memory," always provided by the ingenious brain when the actual
experience is too shocking to be classified.
I asked how many in the room had experienced the contact of what
appeared to be Higher Intelligence. Grady and Phylis McMurty put up
their hands, as did two young magicians from the Los Angeles area,
and myself. Jacques Vallee, curiously, looked as if he might raise
his hand, but then evidently changed his mind and did not. I said I
inclined to believe the Higher Intelligences were extraterrestrial,
and asked what the others thought.
Grady McMurty -- Caliph of the Ordo Templi Orientis -- said, in
effect, that the theory of higher dimensions made more sense to him
than the extraterrestrial theory in terms of actual space ships
entering our biosphere.
The two Los Angeles magicians agreed
Tom, who had been a witch for five years and hadn't raised his hand
when asked for contactee testimony, said that the Higher
Intelligences are imbedded in our language and numbers, as the
Cabalists think, and have no other kind of existence. He added that
every time he tried to explain this he saw that people thought he
was going schizophrenic and he began to fear that they might be
right, so he preferred not to talk about it at all. Tom-who is a
computer programmer by profession, a witch only by religion-later
added a bit to this, saying that all that exists is information and
coding; we only imagine we have bodies and live in space-time
Doctor Vallee listened to all this with a bland smile, and did not
seem to regard any of us as mad.
(A few days later, in discussion with the former Vacaville prison
psychologist, Dr. Wesley Hiler, I asked him what he really thought
of Dr. Leary's extraterrestrial contacts. Specifically, since he
didn't regard Leary as crazy or hallucinating, what was happening
when Leary thought he was receiving extraterrestrial communications?
"Every man and woman who reaches the higher levels of spiritual and
intellectual development," Dr. Hiler said calmly, "feels the
presence of a Higher Intelligence. Our theories are all unproven.
Socrates called it his daemon. Others call it gods or angels. Leary
calls it extraterrestrial. Maybe it's just another part of our
brain, a part we usually don't use. Who knows?")
Since everybody in the room at this point had either had the
required experience, or was willing to speculate about it and study
it objectively rather than merely banishing it with the label
"hallucination," I went into my rap about the parallels between
Leary and Wilhelm Reich.
"The attempt to destroy both Dr. Reich and
Dr. Leary reached its most intense peak right after they reported
their extraterrestrial contacts," I said. "I keep having very weird
theories about what that means..."
Grady McMurty nodded vigorously. "That's the $64,000 question," he
said emphatically. "For years I've been asking Phylis and everybody
else I know: why does the gnosis always get busted? Every single
time the energy is raised and large-scale group illuminations are
occurring, the local branch of the Inquisition kills it dead. Why,
Nobody had any very conclusive ideas.
"I'll tell you what I think," Grady said. "There's war in Heaven.
The Higher Intelligences, whoever they are, aren't all playing on
the same team. Some of them are trying to encourage our evolution to
higher levels, and some of them want to keep us stuck just where we
According to Grady, some occult lodges are working with those
nonhuman intelligences who want to accelerate human evolution, but
some of the others are working with the intelligences who wish to
keep us near an animal level of awareness.
This is a standard idea in occult circles and it can safely be
stated, without exaggeration, that every "school" or "lodge of
adepts that exists is regarded, by some of the others, as belonging
to the Black Brotherhood of the evil path. Grady's own Ordo Templi
Orientis, indeed, has been accused of this more often than have most
other occult lodges. I have personally maintained my good cheer and
staved off paranoia, while moving among various occult groups as
student or participant, by always adhering rigidly to the standard
Anglo-Saxon legal maxim that every accused person must be regarded
as innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This
obviously spares me a lot of worry, but the more guarded approach is
very well argued by Isaac Bonewitz, the author of Real Magick.
"Paranoid magicians outlive the others," Isaac says.
Somehow the conversation drifted away from Grady's concept of "war
in Heaven." Several times, Grady tried to steer us back there, but
each time we wandered on to a different subject. Tom said later that
he felt a presence in the room deliberately pushing us away from
Dr. H. -- the psychiatrist whose bad acid-trip had started the
Crowleymas party off so jumpily for me -- dropped by the next day,
to thank me for "talking him down" from his anxiety attack.
He also, it soon appeared, wanted to tell me about his accelerating
experiences with magick. It had started over two years earlier,
after an intensive seminar at Esalen. Dr. H. suddenly found that he
could see "auras." (The aura of the human body, known to shamans and
witches since time immemorial, has been repeatedly rediscovered by
scientists, most of whom were thereupon denounced as "cranks." Franz
Anton Mesmer called it "animal magnetism," in the 16th century. In
the 19th, Baron Reichenbach called it "OD." In the 1920s, Gurvich
named it "the mytogenic ray."
Wilhelm Reich rediscovered it in the
1930s, called it "orgone energy," and was destroyed by AMA bigots
who charged that he was hallucinating it. Kirlian photography has
now demonstrated beyond all doubt that this aura exists.) Dr. H.
soon found, further, that he could use the aura as a diagnostic tool
in analyzing new patients. This experience, Leary's books, and a
lecture by me on Crowley's magick, led him to further experiments.
On a beach in Sonoma County, after taking LSD the day before and
programming an opening of the self to higher beings or energies, Dr.
H. (no longer under the direct influence of the drug) had an
experience with Something from the sky. "It wasn't exactly a Higher
Intelligence," he said carefully, "or, at least, I didn't receive
that aspect of it, if it was Higher Intelligence. To me, it was just
energy. Terrible energy. My chest was sore for hours afterward. I
thought it would kill me, but I was absolutely ecstatic and egoless
at the peak of it. If the chest-pain weren't so intense, it would
have been a totally positive experience."
(MacGregor Mathers, Outer Head of the Hermetic Order of the Golden
Dawn, and the first occult teacher of such worthies as Aleister
Crowley, poet William Butler Yeats and novelist Arthur Machen, once
recorded a meeting with the Secret Chiefs. These ambiguous entities,
known in several schools of occult training, are variously believed
to be discarnate spirits of the great Magi of the past, living Magi
who can teleport themselves about as easily as you or I telephone a
friend, "angels" in the traditional sense, or merely "beings we
cannot understand." In any case, Mathers noted that the meeting,
although pleasant, left him feeling as if he'd been "struck by
lightning" and he also suffered chest pains and extreme difficulty
Dr. Israel Regardie has also noted that Alan Bennett,
who was Crowley's chief teacher for many years, developed asthma, a
chest disease. Crowley developed asthma himself as his contacts with
the Secret Chiefs occurred more often; and Regardie finally "caught"
asthma for several years after studying with Crowley, a condition
which was only cured when he went through the bioenergetic therapy
of Wilhelm Reich.)
[As an interesting synchronistic aside here,
Brother Whitley Strieber, the alleged Space Alien Abductee and
prolific author on such topics, also suffers from quite a touch of
asthma. Coincidence...? -B:.B:.]
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