Tag Archives: aleister crowley

Reader’s Theatre with Hermetic Library for May 2016

Reader’s Theatre with Hermetic Library for May 2016 is unrehearsed, un-staged participatory readings from literature, plays, poetry, and more. Readers for May are Olivia Bishop, Jonah Locksley, William Thirteen, and John Griogair Bell.

The Black Messiah

A typed copy of The Black Messiah by Gérard Aumont has arrived at the Reading Room from an anonymous sender. This essay, circa 1926, was almost certainly written by Aleister Crowley himself although he wrote it under the name of a Tunisian student (as he did with the contemporaneous essay The Secret Conference which appears in The Heart of the Master & Other Papers), is quoted from by Starr in The Unknown God: W. T. Smith and the Thelemites, and was published in the Yorke microfilm archives where it can be found by those who have access to that; but it is otherwise an apparently intentionally rare document to get to read.

Gerard Aumont Aleister Crowley The Black Messiah

“Writing under the name of a Tunisian disciple, Gérard Aumont, Crowley deepened his propaganda war against Krishnamurti, this time setting forth the battle in racial terms, which would most definitely not have swayed Theosophists. A regrettable example is his essay, The Black Messiah, where The Master Therion is touted as the white race’s savior, in contrast to Besant’s ‘marionette Messiah, a kala admi—a nigger!’ It was a new low in self-promotion.” — Martin P Starr, The Unknown God, p 165; quoting the essay.

And, yes, indeed, I feel the essay as a whole expresses just as reprehensible and nauseating a typical racist sentiment as you might think, but is particularly significant because in it Crowley explicitly links Thelemic and racist ideologies; moreover, in that peculiar way that racists have of interpreting religion and peace and love to include racism and war and hate:

“White men and women must choose between these alternatives: Will they yield, content to be the black man’s slave, after having been his master? or will they stand to, and reply by an energetic spiritual reaction, which will restore the threatened equilibrium of the races?

The white champion has appeared, He who, under the aegis of the Spiritual Masters of the planet, has proclaimed the Law of Thelema, the Law of Love, comprehended and directed by Will: the Law which bids each man pursue the proper orbit of his destiny, and develop himself around his own true centre of Light, will bring back welfare to his own race, and establish Peace with Victory upon the Earth.”

Even if one weakly apologises that Crowley was simply and only saying whatever otherwise ethically questionable propaganda was necessary to cajole rubes or just playing a role demanded by wearing his ring on a contrarian hand that day, as if those weren’t also problematic in and of themselves, this still seems to me to sustain as disgusting and damning stuff.

Obviously make up your own mind about such things, but this seems to me one of those times when eyes wide open and unclouded are required. Make of it what you will, but one way or another it seems this must be considered part of the whole corpus of Crowley’s writing and thought on the topic of Thelema. And, in my estimation, if one is to be intellectually honest and serious about The Comment (“All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself”), a Thelemite’s religious duty is to study, and requires ready access to, all of Crowley’s writings (even when not explicitly Thelemic, though this one clearly is).

The essay itself ends with what appears to be a bit of Crowley’s poetry which I don’t immediately recognize appearing elsewhere, so I quote that here as well, though I personally find all this “free, equal” “Savior of the Earth” triumphalism to be strikingly and skin-crawlingly appropriate for what one would expect from extreme and exclusionary religion-infused racist ideological rants:

“Ho! for his chariot wheels that whirl afar!
His hawk’s eye flashing through the silver star!
Upon the heights his standard shall he plant
Free, equal, passionate, pagan, dominant,
Mystic, indomitable, self-controlled,
The red rose glowing of the cross of gold…

Yea! I will wait throughout the centuries
Of the Universal man-disease
Until that morn of his Titanic birth…
The Saviour of the Earth!”

First Night of the Prophet and his Bride, Anno V0

anno-v-0-first-night-of-the-prophet-and-his-bride-tablet

This First Night of the Prophet and his Bride Poster is helpful propaganda from the Hermetic Library Office of the Ministry of Information … for this Thelemic Holy Day in Anno V0. This is the anniversary of the first night Aleister Crowley and Rose Edith Kelly spent together when they were married on August 12, 1903 EV.

Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics by Marco Pasi, from Acumen Publishing.

Marco Pasi Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics from Acumen Publishing

I had known about this book for many years, and while I am unequipped to engage the Italian original, I had more than once considered taking on the German edition. I am glad I waited long enough to benefit from the English version, though. Not only does it include the author’s revision and expansion, the timing has allowed it to come into useful dialog with Richard B. Spence’s Secret Agent 666, another volume drawing on an overlapping set of data. Pasi accuses Spence of overindulging in speculation and of oversimplifying Crowley’s motives. (I find myself more in agreement on the second count than the first.) Whereas Spence offers a picture of a Crowley whose loyalties to his home country are privately invariable, Pasi is more apt to take Crowley on the basis of his mercurial presentation.

Among the many variations in Crowley’s character and political interests as traced by Pasi, there is a single watershed point. Like Alex Owen, Israel Regardie, and Crowley himself, Pasi locates this change in the Algerian desert operations by which Crowley completed his passage of the Ordeal of the Abyss. Prior to this episode, Pasi observes, Crowley’s focus was on the adventure of self-development, while after it he pursued the mission of communicating his Law of Thelema and putting it into practice in society.

On either side of this biographical divide, however, Pasi notices inconsistencies in Crowley’s expressed political affections and associations. He tends to characterize these as a function of the magician’s “opportunism” or “pragmatism” with respect to political movements. Given how very contradictory some of these political positions were, however, a further level of explanation is required. Pasi has dismissed (perhaps too quickly, in light of these contradictions) the solution of double agency proposed by Spence, but he omits another possible rationale to which he should have been attentive.

For the younger Crowley-as-aspirant, radical change of political perspective was a magical discipline for spiritual development. He documents this practice in the form of an instruction in the technical paper Liber III vel Jugorum: “By some device, such as the changing of thy ring from one finger to another, create in thyself two personalities … For instance, let A be a man of strong passions, skilled in the Holy Qabalah, a vegetarian, and a keen ‘reactionary’ politician. Let B be a bloodless and ascetic thinker, occupied with business and family cares, an eater of meat, and a keen progressive politician. Let no thought proper to A arise when the ring is on the B finger, and vice versa.”

For the mature magus, on the other hand, there were the words of the Angel of the Fifth Aire whom he had encountered in Tolga, Algeria in 1913: “For below the Abyss, contradiction is division; but above the Abyss, contradiction is Unity. And there could be nothing true except by virtue of the contradiction that is contained in itself.” The Master of the Temple must thus finally comprehend in himself all political valences, expressing them as demanded by the finite conditions of circumstance. If, as the Thelemic scripture of Liber Porta Lucis avers, “To the adept, seeing all these things from above, there seems nothing to choose between Buddha and Mohammed, between Atheism and Theism,” then how much less between democracy and monarchy, capitalism and communism?

Besides a political biography of Crowley himself, and studies of his most politically significant close associates, Pasi’s book includes a special examination of the Beast’s connection with Fernando Pessoa, and the fake suicide that Crowley staged in Portugal. These events, interesting in their own right, shade into the final topic of “Counter-initiation and conspiracy,” the keynote of which is René Guénon’s allegation that Crowley’s Portuguese stunt was intended to allow him to slip off to Germany where he would become a special adviser to Hitler. As a matter of factual claim, this notion is laughable, but it makes an excellent anchor for a limited survey of others’ use of Crowley as a villain in political narratives.

Pasi’s Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics was first published in 1999, but in its second major revision, it stands as one of the best examples of thoughtful 21st-century scholarship on Crowley. [via]