Aleister Crowley, Frater Perdurabo, The Great Beast 666, father of Enochian Magick, founder of the religious philosophy of Thelema, was born 137 years ago today. A profoundly controversial figure in his time, Crowley was a proponent of libertinism, a pansexual, and a social critic, among many other titles.
Aleister Crowley was:
- a practicing occultist whose mastery of Western magick and Eastern mysticism was unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries, and who continues to be an icon for many of today’s practicing magicians.
- the founder and prophet of the new religious movement of Thelema, best known by its oft-misunderstood catch phrase, “Do what thou whilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
- a prolific poet whose Collected Works, by age thirty, filled three volumes, and whose last published work, Olla, was subtitled Sixty Years of Song.
- a maverick mountaineer whose numerous innovations and world records in the sport are acknowledged by even his most vocal critics.
- an adventurer whose exploits in the Far East were serialized by Vanity Fair as a “Burmese River.”
- an impresario who took the violin troupe Ragged Ragtime Girls on a tour of St. Petersburg, Russia.
- a British secret agent who marshaled his literary and occult connections to the service of his country, including (reputedly) the invention of the “V for Victory” sign as a magical antidote to the swastika.
- a ranked chess master who could trounce many players without even looking at the chess board.
- a pioneering entheogenic explorer who conducted psychedelic experiments with mescaline.
- producer and star of The Rites of Eleusis, a series of ritualistic plays featuring an innovative blend of magick, drama, music, and poetry.
- one of the most unjustly vilified men in the history of journalism, garnering headlines like “The Wickedest Man in the World” and “A Man We’d Like to Hang.”
- The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley, Richard Kaczynski, Ph.D.