History 4 – Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley was an Occultist, and Ceremonialist Magician who founded the philosophy of *Thelema and in doing so, considered himself a prophet.

Aleister Crowley was born into a wealthy English family and despite being raised a devout and conservative Christian he discovered occultism in the late 1890’s . His father spent his time as a traveling preacher and running the family brewery. When Crowley was 11 his father died of cancer.

In 1895 Crowley began studying Philosophy at Trinity College but shortly after switched to English Literature. During this time (1894 – 1898) he also enjoyed mountaineering in the Alps. He also had been writing poetry since the age of ten and privately published one of his poems in 1898.

Aleister Crowley was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898 by Samuel Mathers at the age of 23. He then studied directly under Allan Bennett of the same order until Bennett moved to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism. Crowley was soon after initiated into the 2nd order of the temple by Mathers. In 1900 Crowley left the order and England to travel the world.. During this time he studied Raja Yoga as well as various Hindu practices and developed the magical word “Abrahadabra”.

During a trip to Egypt with his wife Rose, Crowley believed he was being contacted by an entity known as Aiwass, who dictated to him the text known as “The Book of the Law” (1904). This is where the phrase “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” originated from, as well as the origin of the religion of Thelema which he founded the same year. He also founded his own occult society, The Argenteum Astrum (Silver Star) and became a leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis (1910) before founding a religious commune known as the Abbey of Thelema, from 1920 – 1923. In 1912 Crowley was accused of publishing O.T.O. Secrets in “The Book of Lies”.

In 1904 Crowley also founded the publishing company “The Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth”. In 1907 he wrote “Liber VII” and “Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente”, both of which including his earlier “The Book of the Law” became the Holy Books of Thelema. All of which were dictated to Crowley by Aiwass. He wrote several more of these holy books in the following months and founded the Agenteum Astrum (Silver Star) with George Cecil Jones and J.F.C. Fuller the same year. Over the next few years He wrote a total of 10 Holy Books of Thelema.

Crowley met Dion Fortune in 1939 after she had used Crowley as the inspiration for a magician in her book “The Winged Bull”

Aliester Crowley died in 1947 at the age of 72. There were claims of a sudden gust of wind and a loud clap of thunder being heard at the moment of his death.

Aleister Crowley is now considered the most influential occultist and the Father of Ceremonial Magic

*Thelema: a spiritual philosophy based on a spiritual experience that Crowley and his wife Rose had in Egypt. The Thelemic Pantheon focuses on a trinity of deities adapted from Egyptian religion, Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khuit.

Books by Aleister Crowley:

(not an exhaustive list, inlcudes books published posthumous)

The Soul of Osiris – 1901

Science and Buddhism – 1903

The Star and the Garter – 1903

The Book of the Law – 1904

The Argonauts – 1904

The Book of the Goetia of Solomon the King (as editor) – 1904

Eleusis – 1905

The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, vol 3 – 1905

The Equinox, Volume 1 – 1907

Liber VII – 1907

original Liber AL – 1909

Liber 777 – 1909

Household Gods – 1912

Book 4. Parts I–II – 1912

The Book of Lies – 1912

Magick in Theory and Practice – 1929

The Equinox of the Gods – 1936

The Book of Thoth – 1944

Posthumous:

Liber XXX 1952

Magick without Tears – 1954

Liber Aleph vel CXI – 1961

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley – 1969

Atlantis – 1970

Liber CLVII, The Tao the King – 1971

The Equinox III – 1986

The Revival of Magic – 1998

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