was a controversial social figure and writer who lived from 12 October 1875 to 1 December 1947. He is famous for his occult
writings, particularly "The Book of the Law", which is the principle text of Thelema. He was a prominent member of and contributor to the secret
societies Ordo Templi Orientis and Golden Dawn.
He revelled in being branded:
"The wickedest man in the world".
He had many interests and achieved a lot of things in his life. He was a mountain climber, poet, painter, astrologer, drug experimenter, he became a
chess master and was a social critic.
Aleister Crowley was born Edward Alexander Crowley in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England in 1875. Edward Crowley who was his father ran a
successful brewery business before he was born, not a lot is known about his mother Emily Bertha Bishop. Both of his parents were members of an
extreme wing of the Protestant sect known as the Exclusive Brethren. Growing up Aleister was subjected to his father’s fanatical views and was
preached to vigorously on a daily basis with daily bible studies and private tutoring. After his father's death his mother attempted to continue with
the teachings but this only served to provoke Aleister's skepticism. As a child his mother always referred to him as "The Beast" when his
rebellious behavior started to displease his devout mother.
Crowley attended Trinity College, Cambridge in 1895 and his original studies were reading Moral Sciences (philosophy, psychology, and economics), but
he decided that this was not for him and changed to studying English literature, which was not then a part of the curriculum offered. He was at the
college for 3 years that were considered happy ones due in part to a large inheritance that was left to him upon the death of his father. Throughout
this period he is said to have had a vigorous sex life, which was largely conducted with prostitutes and girls he picked up at local pubs and cigar
shops, but extending into homosexual activities in which he played a passive role.
In the December of 1896 Crowley started to peruse occultism and mysticism. He began to read various books by many alchemists and mystics, and books on
magic. The year 1899 saw his first publication of poetry called Aceldama, this was also the year when he decided to leave Cambridge. He later met a
man named Julian L. Baker to was to introduce him to Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn.
The Golden Dawn
This Order was run led by S.L. MacGregor Mathers which taught magick, qabalah, alchemy, tarot, astrology, and other hermetic subjects, It had many
notable members including A.E. Waite, Dion Fortune, and W.B. Yeats. Its influence on development of modern western occultism was profound.
In November 1898,Crowely was initiated into the order as a Neophyte 0° = 0° in the outer order of the Golden Dawn. He took the motto Perdurabo that
means 'I will endure to the end', and was to be known as Frater Perdurabo. Around a month after his initiation he became a Zelator then quickly
after that he rose up another two grades in the order. He finally achieved the rank of Philosophus, which stood on the brink of the second order. He
was soon seen to be a practicing magician in the eyes of the Golden Dawn.
Crowley had been denied the initiation into the second order, to the grade of 5°=6° by those running the second order, which did not please him. He
traveled to meet with Samuel Mathers and demanded that he perform the initiation. Mathers agreed on the condition that Crowley would swear an oath of
allegiance to him, and that Crowley would recognize him as head of the order. Crowley agreed and he became an Adeptus Minor of the Order of the Rosæ
Rubæ ET Auræ Crucis. However when he traveled to the London headquarters of the second Order he was denied access to the degree rituals as they did
not recognize him as an Adeptus Minor since the ritual was performed by Mathers alone.
In his time as a young adult in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Crowley had studied mysticism with William Butler Yeats and Arthur Edward Waite
who were later to become his enemies. Crowley insulted these two men through various critiques of Waite's writings and editorials of other authors'
writings. Crowley later began learning the ideas of Buddhism being taught by an associate in the Golden Dawn Allan Bennett.
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, who taught him western magick and was the chief of the Order, was later considered an enemy of Crowley when Mathers
sued when Crowley tried to publish the Golden Dawn rituals in his magazine the Equinox. The resulting public trial had Crowley and Mathers claiming
that they had called forth armies of demons and angels to fight on behalf of their summoner. They both carried complex Seal of Solomon amulets and
The following are just some of the published works of Aleister Crowley.
- Holy Books of Thelema
- The Magick of Thelema
- The Mark of the Beast Belt buckle
- Complete Astrological Writings
- Magical Record of the Beast 666
- Liber Aleph
- Liber Tzaba
- The Book of Thoth
- Diary of a Drug Fiend
- The Equinox of the Gods
- The Law Is For All
- Magick Without Tears
- 777 and Other Qabbalistic Writings
Essays on Aleister Crowley
Jeff Jacobsen - The Hubbard is Bare
On Knowing Aleister Crowley Personally by Hymenaeus Alpha 777
Crowley’s letters in the early O.T.O.
Fact Sheet on Crowley
The Libri of Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley Foundation
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)
Aleister Crowley: Biography, Bibliography and links
U.S. Grand Lodge, Ordo Templi Orientis
Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn
Crowley and Freemasonary
THE WARBURG INSTITUTE
Youtube Video "Coph Nia - Hymn To Pan" (the band Coph Nia performs Crowley's "Hymn To Pan" set to
Youtube Video "Aleister Crowley - Original Murals 1 - Abbey of Thelema"
- Clouds Without Water. (1974).
- White Stains. (1973).
- The Star and the Garter. (1974).
- Snowdrops From a Curate’s Garden. (1986).
- Golden Twigs. (1988).
- The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist of Shiraz. (1991).
- The Winged Beetle. (1992).