Randall Bowyer reviews The A∴A∴ by Aleister Crowley (alleged) in the Bkywrm archive.
This is one of several booklets available from Mandrake which carry this note: “The above excerpts and fragments were copied by Cosmo Trelawny from a mass of papers and typescripts left in his rooms by Macgregor [sic] Reid. The originals were then sold to a bookseller, and lost when his shop was bombed during the war.” There is a faint aroma of herring about this.
I don’t know Cosmo Trelawny, but George Watson MacGregor Reid was Chosen Chief of A.D.U.B., a Druid order established in 1245 E.V., from which the Golden Dawn and Speculative Freemasonry are descended (no, really!)* . His MacGregor pedigree is exactly as legitimate as those of S.L. MacGregor Mathers and several other turn-of-the-century occultists: it seems that in those days it was as popular to be a MacGregor as it is nowadays to be the reincarnation of Crowley. One wonders why Reid was distributing the papers of his cousin (Aleister MacGregor Crowley, you know). It was certainly not because he had inherited them, since AC survived both Reid and the Battle of Britain. Of course, AC did frequently complain about the piles of MSS that had been permanently borrowed or simply stolen from him by various people (see the May 1995 Thelema Lodge Calendar for a fine example), but that is beside the point. So, regardless of how it comes to us, what is this little book about?
There are three introductory paragraphs explaining that the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society were the inner and outer schools of the A∴ A∴, and listing some 45 “Chiefs” of the Order from the XVIII, XIX, and XX centuries e.v. Blavatsky, prime mover of the Theosophical Society, does not appear in this list, but – surprisingly? – Macgregor Reid does. Then we are treated to twelve pages of vitriolic biographical sketches which sling mud at most of the illustrious chiefs just mentioned. Blavatsky appears here (“an exponent of semi-fake Occultism”), but – surprisingly? – MacGregor Reid does not. Eugene Vintras is listed on p. 1 as a Chief, but on p. 8 we are told that he was refused admission to the Order. Two of AC’s life-long heroes, Levi and Bennett, are dismissed as a traitor and a snake, respectively. And, best of all, we read of S.L. MacGregor Mathers that:
“Macgregor [sic] was a drunken sot,
in point of fact God’s incarnated snot.”
I have no idea what the point of this essay might be, other than to discredit the A∴ A∴ and make AC look silly. If it is true, however, that G.W.M. Reid was somehow involved in this nonsense, then I can think of one MacGregor who deserves to be remembered as “God’s incarnated snot.”
(* MacGregor Reid could also refer to G.W.M. Reid’s son. R.A.F.M. Reid, who became Chosen Chief on his father’s death in 1946.)