Aleister Crowley was born October 12, 1875, in Leamington, Warwickshire (United Kingdom). He came from a petty-bourgeois family of beer producers, belonging to the extreme Christian sect of the Plymuck Brothers, who used a literal interpretation of the Bible and treated it as the words of the Holy Spirit himself.
The Crowley House was a meeting place for sect members, which always evolved into religious services or disputes. Young Aleister spent most of his time reading the Bible under the watchful eye of his father, and when he was leaving to preach the word of God, he was taken under the tutelage of his mother who hated him – with reciprocity – by whom he was called Beast 666.
The Plymucki brothers school
After his father’s death, Aleister went to a special school The Plymucki brothers, where knowledge was injected into young minds with the help of a rod and a whip, and the lessons were divided by collective prayers.
He was still engaged in fights there, for which he was punished with long fasts and seclusion. Finally, exhausted and at the end of psychological endurance, he was transferred to primary school in Malvern.
The school was famous for its loose morals, and Aleister quickly tasted bodily pleasures. He also tried to take revenge on his mother and seduced the maid almost in front of her eyes. Unfortunately, life played a trick on him: he had to change school again, and in a new town, he got infected from a prostitute with gonorrhoea.
Trinity College in Cambridge
A lush social life did not bother him at all. He got to the prestigious Trinity College in Cambridge, where he studied philosophy, psychology, economics and classical philology. He climbed the rocks and mountains of Scotland, gaining fame for the fastest and bravest in this sport. He wrote poems, fairy tales and pornographic parables. He also played chess, and he was so good at it that he defeated the Scottish champion himself. Only that already at that time, something else ruled his mind.
He had his first mystical experience when he was twenty-one. He understood then that the life path of man leads to divinity and wanted to achieve this goal. The opportunity came two years later when in a hotel restaurant he accidentally met Julian Baker – chemist, metallurgist, and … alchemist. Aleister went on to meet with the leaders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret organisation promoting the teaching of Rosicrucians, alchemists and Kabbalists.
Crowley joined this order in 1898. His career in the Golden Dawn developed at a dizzying pace. He gained subsequent levels of initiation, and after a year he was admitted to the inner circle of initiations, to which only the leaders of the Order belonged.
Some members of the Golden Dawn were opposed the extravagance and bisexuality of this hyper young man who came to religious meetings wearing a coat under which he had nothing. He did not want to dress in old-fashioned magic clothes and practice rituals.
He preferred to explore the secrets of magic himself and develop new techniques. So when his religious brothers refused him access to the Parisian lodge of the brotherhood, he hired several heavily built men and, dressed in a highlander costume, invaded the premises with them, throwing out amazed occultists.
The situation worsened when MacGregor Mathers, head of the Order, became jealous of his attentions. There was then a great war of magicians, during which Mathers’s group tried to kill Crowley with black magic. It was said that animals were raging around him, dishes were breaking, but he himself was fine. Apparently, Crowley invoked a demon who was to quarrel with Mathers. A few months later, the Order of the Golden Dawn broke up into many small factions
During this time, Crowley began a pilgrimage around the world. First, he went to Mexico, where he observed the practices of local shamans, meditated and climbed the mountains with Oscar Eckenstein. From there he went to Asia. He practised yoga with Allan Bennett, wandered around India and Burma.
During his stay in Paris, he earned the friendship of a bohemian artist. He was also very popular with women, which he owed not only to his personal charm but also to “perfumes of immortality”, which consisted of amber and very exciting admixtures for women.
The less pleasant part of this fragrant invention was that he was frightening the cab drivers on the street. When he returned to England, he married an extremely eccentric woman – Rose Kelly.
During the trip to Egypt, the spouses spent the night at the Great Pyramid. Rose soon became pregnant, and Crowley convinced that the child would be unusual, took care of his wife magical. Rose soon had a revelation. Being in a trance, she saw the Egyptian God Horus, who wanted Crowley to communicate with him.
At first, Crowley did not believe his wife’s story, but following her instructions, he finally invoked and made channelling (through automatic writing) contact with Horus.
He received the news that the “Equinox of the Gods” was coming. Through Rose, he also learned that from April 8 to 10 (at noon), he would receive messages from the New Era. Crowley has longed for contact with his Guardian Angel. And just then, as he said, the angel appeared to him, taking the name Aiwass.
For three days, Aiwass dictated him Liber Legis, or “Book of the Law” (which later became his Bible, the basis of the religion created by Crowley – Thelema). Its content indicated that the fall of Christianity was approaching and soon (in 1905) the birth of a new era, the aeon of Horus, in which the only commandment would be “Doing Your Will” will come.
Book of Law
According to the Book of the Law, “Every man and woman is a star,” so every man can find his divinity if he gets rid of his illusions and habits. The path to change would, therefore, be the rejection of morals, the mystery of contact between the sexes and creative freedom.
Crowley, while proclaiming his will for fantasies, was to be the prophet of this new era. However, since he was strongly influenced by Buddhism at the time, this prophecy did not suit him.
So he threw the book in the corner and set off on a journey – with his wife and little daughter, whom he named Nut Ma Ahathor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith. Unfortunately, the child did not survive the hardships of travel and died of typhus in Yangon.
There were rumours that the girl had been killed by her name. In desperation, Crowley abandoned his wife and mourned. He spent most of his time travelling in Morocco with his friend, poet Victor Neuburg.
He also founded the magical order of the “Silver Star” or A..A .. (short for Latin Astrum Argentum), whose task was to individually practice improving the power of the mind and seeking new magic techniques.
In 1912, Crowley was visited by Theodor Reuss, head of the German occult group Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Reuss claimed that Crowley in his Equinox (“Equinox”) revealed some OTO secrets regarding sexual magic.
He demanded that he reveal to him who revealed these secrets. However, after careful discussion, he found that Crowley had reached them through his own studies.
In recognition of this, he appointed him the leader of the English branch of OTO, called Mysteria Mystica Maxima. Over time, Crowley dominated the OTO and preached his religion through it.
At the same time, he developed the activities of A..A .., whose ranks included such figures as George Cecil Jones (one of the pillars of the Golden Dawn), Austin Osman Spare (creator of chaos magic) and Captain Fuller (creator of the Blitzkrieg doctrine of light war).
In 1920 he founded the Abbey of Thelemy in Sicily, in the city of Cefalu, gathering followers of the new religion. He also found a new bride – Leah Hirsig, who gave birth to his child – but unfortunately, he also died.
Behind the abbey walls were things that the villagers spoke only in whispers. In fact, Crowley had magical sex orgies there the world had never seen, sodomy, and animal sacrifices. Crowley himself fell into drug addiction (one of the reasons was increasing asthma).
He was using enough heroin and cocaine to kill every normal human being. Finally, a scandal broke out around the Abbey because a young Lovelock, a young adept, died drinking water from a monastery well.
His wife unleashed a scandal in the press, describing what is happening at the Abbey. At that time fascists ruled in Italy. The scandal caused Crowley to be expelled from Italy.
The end of the earthly journey
From here begins Crowley’s wandering around the world and the end period of his activity. He tries to publish his own books because most publishers refuse him. After the death of Theodor Reuss, he is elected the head of OTO.
He constantly works on his magic system, creates literary works and a deck of reformed tarot. He walks a lot around London. Its inhabitants sometimes see him, when at the sight of a drunkard with his mistress, he takes off his hat or performs exorcisms in front of priests with the Greek formula Apo pantos kakodaimonos (Save us from evil spirits).
Magic Without Tears
In January 1945 he moved to the Netherwood Hotel in Hastings. He writes there one of his greatest works, “Magic Without Tears”. It only feeds on scrambled eggs, cold turkey and heroin. He smokes a pipe with tobacco mixed with rum. Although he is constantly in financial trouble, his personal charm helps him get sponsors, thanks to whom he can live in relative prosperity and always has everything that satisfies his desires.
He died on December 1, 1947. On December 5, the “Last Ritual” takes place, during which Louis Wilkinson reads “Hymn to the Lord” and a fragment of the Gnostic Mass, after which Crowley’s body is cremated. But the legend of the Magician of All Time and the “human beast” is just beginning to form.