Aleister Crowley was born Edward Alexander Crowley on the 12th of October 1875 in Leamington Spa, England, into a family of Plymouth Brethren, a strict Christian sect. In his autobiography Crowley claimed he was “remarkable from the moment of his birth”. He stated that he bore on his body upon the center of his heart “four hairs curling from left to right in the exact form of a Swastika”. Like many naughty young boys, Aleister entertained himself through several activities, notably creating homemade fireworks which he nearly killed him, as well as torturing a cat in several horrible ways in order to test the “nine lives” theory.
He is best known today for his occult writings, especially “The Book of the Law”, the central sacred text of Thelema. He gained much notoriety during his lifetime, and was infamously dubbed “The Wickedest Man In the World”. The Master Therion, saw himself as ‘666’, the Great Beast of Revelation. A self-proclaimed drug and sex “fiend,” he was a mostly self-published author of books on the occult and magick. After the death of his father, Crowley inherited the family fortune and went on to be educated at Trinity College
Cambridge. In 1898 he published his first book of poetry called “Aceldama, A Place to Bury Strangers In”. It was while he was at Trinity that Crowley became interested in the occult. In 1899 Crowley is reported to have become a member of one of the hereditary withcraft covens situated in the New Forrest but he did not remain there long. The priestess of his coven later described him as “a dirty-minded, evilly-disposed and vicious little monster!”
By this time Crowley had moved out of Trinity Collage without earning his degree, and taken rooms in Chancery Lane, London whereupon he renamed himself ‘Count Vladimir’ and began to pursue his occult studies on a full-time basis. Crowley went on to become the world head of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), or Order of the Eastern Temple, and he further defined his own religion, Thelema. Crowley claimed to have experienced in 1904 a vision in Egypt, prophesying a new era for humanity. Crowley had several encounters with Freemasonry in different guises, and used it as a source of valuable ceremonial theater in his works. It is believed that he rose to the level of 33rd degree Mason.
In 1904, he claimed to have contacted an extraterrestrial intelligence while in Egypt who revealed itself as Aiwass, Crowley’s Holy Guardian Angel. The resuling trance-induced “Book of the Law” is a cryptic combination of Egyptian mythology, spiritualistic Theology, and Qabalism.
Following the start of World War I Crowley moved to America where he supported himself as a journalist and started painting while still attempting to pursue his magical training. In 1920 he moved to Cefalu in Sicily where Crowley built his Abbey of Thelema. The abbey was officially designated Collegium ad Spiritum Sanctum, or College of the Holy Spirit. This was to be a school training students who came in Crowley’s teachings. One could be puzzled by some of the methods which Crowley used to teach magic. Some say he ran the Abbey like a Buddhist monastery or a Brethren prayer meeting, and the Law of Thelema were as strict as and laws taught by the Brethren sect he denounced.
Crowley, Jack Parsons And L. Ron Hubbard
By profession Jack Parsons was a scientist. His early work with rocket fuels paved the way for the more advanced fuel that eventually took Apollo 11 to the Moon. His work was sufficiently respected to have had a Lunar Crater named after him. Interestingly, he was involved in the founding of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Jack hung out with fringe characters and had a lifestyle that would be considered highly unconventional by the standards of the day. Parsons lived a rather Bohemian life style that included Satanism, withcraft, and the occult, and took to calling himself the “Antichrist”. For security reasons he was being watched by the FBI on account of his unconventional activities. Parsons was influenced by Crowley’s book “Sex Magick”, and had recently become head of the Agape Lodge of the Church of Thelema in Los Angeles. The Agape Lodge was an aspect of the Ordo Templi Orientis, the small international group headed by Crowley.
Parson’s house was a gathering center for science fiction writers. L. Ron Hubbard was himself a science fiction writer and the author of the 1950 book “Dianetics”. He was also the founder of the Church Of Scientology. Hubbard met Jack at one of his parties in his commune-style home located at South Orange Grove in Pasadena and hit it off. Parsons and Hubbard together performed their own version of the secret eighth degree ritual of the Ordo Templi Orientis in January 1946. The ritual concerns itself with secret marriages of gods with men. The purpose of this ritual was to attract a woman willing to participate in the next stage of Parsons’ Sex Magick ritual.
Parsons was attempting the most ambitious magical feat imaginable. He was trying to incarnate the Scarlet Woman described in the Book of Revelation as “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth … drunken with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” During the rituals, Parsons described Babalon as “mother of anarchy and abominations”. The woman who they believed had answered their call, Marjorie Cameron, joined in with his sexual rituals in March 1946. Parsons used a recording machine to keep a record of his ceremonies. He also kept Crowley informed by letter.The correspondence still exists.
In his own novel “The Moonchild” Crowley describes a ritual with a similar purpose. The secret IXth degree ritual of the Ordo Templi Orientis contains “Of the Homunculus” a passage in which the adept seeks to create a human embodiment (a baby) from the energies of nature – a god or goddess. The ritual says “to it thou art Sole God and Lord, and it must serve thee.”
So, Crowley, Hubbard and Parsons set out to cause the creation of a new life, a child born of the energies of nature and Marjorie Cameron. Their attempts did not end with the conception of a human child. However, the experience did live on to inspire another famous story – supposedly a work of fiction. A story you probably have heard of; Called: “Rosemary’s Baby”.
Aleister Crowley’s book “Magick in Theory and Practice” is a very popular book among occultists. Given its reputation, it is inevitable that it would appeal to at least some of the more famous rock musicians of the late 20th century. Jimmy Page the Led Zeppelin guitarist bought Crowley’s former mansion, Boleskine House, near Foyers, Scotland, and owns a large collection of Crowley memorabilia. Wouldn’t you know, Crowley’s face appears as one of the many on the album cover of the Beatles’ 1967 album “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.