The psychological dimensions of magical ‘truth’ were not ignored by Crowley.
The Will was seen as the ultimate magical phenomena source, with instrumental forces (angels, demons, spirits) projecting inside the mind. But, if the Will is not enlightened, attempts to engage it in magick use prove ineffective but harmful.
“We postulate the presence of intelligence, either within or without the spiritual, of bits of intelligence instantly aware. It does not matter if the so-called communicative spirit is an objective entity or a secret part of the divine mind.”
Much of the controversy surrounding Crowley developed from the association of the ritual sex magick and the Enochian (or Gothic) magick practiced by John Dee (1527-1608), an astrologer and alchemist who had been a consultant to Queen Elizabeth.
Dee used a grimoire called Goetia (or Salomon’s Less Key) to conjure angels and demons. Crowley believed himself to be the reincarnation of Dee’s secretary, necromancer, and angel-language translator, Edward Kelly (1555-1597). What can be defined as “magic” can differ based on time and meaning?
In England, a long tradition of magic was regarded as demonic, as was any ritual practice that was not sanctioned by the Church. In the Middle Ages, the Jewish mystical teachings of the Kabbalah were repeated by Pico Della Mirandola (1463-94) as the occultists of the late fifteenth century saw the legendary Hermes Trismegistus as the archetype of the Renaissance Magus.
Pico claimed that the “mastery of the Kabbalah can give a person unimagined magical skill, even though the dabbler who uses the Kabbalah can be demolished by demons…[and] the magic grounded in the Kabbalah is the only effective magic.” The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn reintroduced the use of the Kabbalah into occult practice some four hundred years later. Crowley also incorporated it as the basis for many of his teachings.
Crowley’s flamboyance and propensity for ceremonial tabuism created subsequent dissension with other members. Ok, W.B. Yeats, though recognizing Crowley’s talent as a poet, nevertheless found him to be dangerous and maybe even insane.
It is also important to remember that Crowley’s affiliation with number 666 came about after leaving the order. In 1904, while in Cairo, his wife Rose Kelly started to have revelations that contributed to the receipt of the Book of the Law from the supernaturality known as Aiwass, whom Crowley felt he had long sought after by the Holy Guardian Angel.
Crowley examined Rose (who had no knowledge of the Egyptian gods) by making her describe the god Horus in a museum. She picked out the stelae she was most attracted to, and it so happened that her show number was 666.
Crowley then started to describe himself as the Beast 666, referring to Revelation 13:18, followed by a further reinterpretation of the biblical depictions of the Beast, the Slut of Babylon, and Lucifer. It should also be remembered that Crowley associated Aiwass with Satan and Horus’ brother Seth. He is considered an ancient Egyptian counterpart to the Christian Devil.
Claims have raised his infamy and diabolical credibility. Many of the tenets of his new faith, Thelema, appear to contradict. With movements that might be considered spiritual and/or religious, prominent figures are coming to the fore.
These individuals also reflect the cumulative elements of their operation field to a greater degree than their predecessors, at the same time incorporating developments and reinterpretations that actually alter the practice and accept that discipline.
As far as the ceremonial and cosmological elements of magic and the supernatural are concerned, Aleister Crowley tends to be the most powerful and iconoclastic figure of the early 20th century. Since then, his work has been subject to several reinterpretations, with the comprehensive range of Crowley’s work contributing to an exhaustive range of applications.
This led to both uncredited influence and false allegations of a personal relationship with Crowley. Next, I will discuss the process of promoting his person and the creation of his new religion.