Satanist Aleister Crowley’s Influence in the Music World

Aleister Crowley may have died in 1947, but his powerful messages regarding the occult and Satanism live on through the musicians he has touched over the years. Known as the Great Beast 666, Crowley wore many different hats, including mystic, poet, ceremonial magician, and founder of a religious philosophy. Well-known celebrities with high status within the music industry have incorporated some of Crowley’s quotes, beliefs, and teachings into their lyrics and personal expression ”“ most famously the saying ‘Do what Thou Wilt.’

Before you understand the importance of Aleister Crowley as it pertains to Satan worship and his influence on musicians, you should know a bit about the Satanist. The son of a wealthy, upper-class family, Crowley was just a young man when he became a part of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn ”“ regarded as one of the largest influences on occultism during 20th-century Western society, the group involved magic and rituals. Over time, Crowley became known as the “the wickedest man in the world.” He was a highly controversial figure because of his views on women, race, religion, Freemasonry, and recreational drug use.

The saying ‘Do as Thou Wilt’ or ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ is attributed to Aleister Crowley who ‘borrowed’ it from Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The meaning behind the saying is to do what you want, take responsibility, and try not to harm others while doing it. The music culture has embraced this phrase. For example, rapper Jay-Z has been seen wearing clothing displaying the words. The saying has also been referenced in the lyrics of musicians, as well as embraced in other ways.  

The guitarist for Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, had an affinity for Crowley. Inscribed in the vinyl of the Led Zeppelin III album, you will find ‘Do what thou wilt. So mete it Be.’ Both Page and fellow member Robert Plant noted that some of the group’s songs had a connection to the occult. Interestingly, Page purchased the former home of Aleister Crowley called Boleskine House, which was located on the shore of Loch Ness. It was at this former hunting lodge and Scottish retreat that people believe the Satanist practiced his rituals, including sex-magick ceremonies. It was also rumored that Crowley practiced human sacrifices as well. During concerts, it is said that Page would perform rituals associated with Crowley, and that their song, “Stairway to Heaven” contained a reference to Crowley. The Satanist had written a poem called ‘May Queen,’ which appears in the band’s lyrics.

Another album cover to pay homage to Aleister Crowley belonged to the infamous Beatles, who scattered the images of people they “liked and admired” on their Sgt. Pepper’s cover. Paul McCartney exclaimed that, “we were going to have photos on the wall of all our heroes.” An image of a bald Aleister Crowley appears in the back ”“ top left corner. John Lennon even went on to say that the “whole idea of the Beatles” was “do what thou wilt.” What exactly did Crowley do or stand for that made the Beatles view him as a ‘hero?’

The temple of Aleister Crowley was called the Abbey of Thelema, and was mentioned in a Marilyn Manson song titled “Misery Machine,” which states: “We’re gonna ride to the abbey of Thelema.”

A handful of musicians, such as Ozzy Osbourne, have openly praised Crowley. In an interview released in a 1980 issue of Circus magazine, Osbourne said that Crowley was “a phenomenon of his time.” In the song titled “Mr. Crowley,” you will find the lyrics, “You fooled all the people with magic/ You waited on Satan’s call / ”¦ Mr. Crowley, won’t you ride my white horse”¦”

Other instances where Crowley has crept into the music scene include:

  • The back cover of the Doors 13 album, icon Jim Morrison and other group members pose with a bust of Aleister Crowley.
  • David Bowie makes a reference to Crowley in the song “Quicksand” from the album titled ‘The Man Who Sold the World.’
  • The lead singer of Iron Maiden admitted to using the ideas of people like Aleister Crowley in their songs in a 1984 interview published in Circus magazine.They have made references to the Beast and 666.
  • Daryl Hall (of popular 80s duo Hall and Oates) admitted to following Crowley, and even owned a signed and numbered copy of ‘The Book of Thoth’ ”“ one of Crowley’s publications.