Abbey of Thelema

Abbey of Thelema, Cefalù, Sicilia., originally uploaded by Hunter333.     The Hermetic Library visual pool is a visual scavenger hunt for images of a living Western Esoteric Tradition. Images of your ritual or ritual space, images of sigils or tools, showing off your own library or special volume from the restricted stacks, sacred spaces […]

The Great Secret

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Great Secret: or, Occultism Unveiled by Eliphas Lévi. The two documents published together as The Great Secret were in all likelihood the final doctrinal work composed by the nineteenth-century French adept Alphonse Louis Constant, better known as Eliphas Lévi. They were written for manuscript circulation among Lévi’s pupils, and published only posthumously. […]

I, Crowley

Phil Hine reviews I, Crowley: Almost the Last Confession of the Beast 666 by Snoo Wilson in the Bkwyrm archive. Crowley remains (doubtless he would be delighted) a controversial figure. He has his detractors, his acolytes, imitators and those who would ‘whitewash over’ all the naughty things he is supposed to have done. In I, […]

Jane Wolfe

Jane Wolfe: The Cefalu Diaries 1920 – 1923 by Jane Wolfe, commentary by Aleister Crowley, compiled and introduced by David Shoemaker, the 2008 deluxe edition from College of Thelema of Northern California (now International College of Thelema), is part of the collection at the Reading Room. The papercover version is still available via print on […]

The Drug

The Drug by Aleister Crowley is the fifth new edition from 100th Monkey Press, available in a hand-bound limited edition.

Aleister Crowley The Drug from 100th Monkey Press

‘The Drug’ was originally published in Great Britain in the January 1909 issue of The Idler, an illustrated monthly magazine that printed various light pieces and sensational fiction.

This work is one of Aleister Crowley’s earliest published short stories and highlights his power as an author of fiction as well as poetry.

It has been said that this short story is one of the first, if not the first fictionalized account of ingesting a hallucinogenic substance. Crowley certainly experimented with a wide variety of mind-altering substances throughout his life, and it is not too far-fetched to consider the possibility that this story may be based, at least in part, on personal experience.

‘The Drug’ may be based on Crowley’s experiences with Anhalonium Lewinii, a now obsolete name for Lophophora Williamsii, commonly known as the peyote cactus. The active constituent of peyote is mescaline, a well-known alkaloid that can produce hallucinogenic effects when ingested.

References to Anhalonium Lewinii by Crowley are found as early as 1907. Crowley’s diary entry for 12 March 1907 seems to indicate that he was using a commercial preparation of Anhalonium Lewinii. He writes that he has taken 10 drops of the preparation and will take no more since this was the maximum dosage mentioned on the label. Crowley also seemed to have had a relationship of some sort with Parke-Davis and even mentions an October 1915 visit to the company in his confessions:

‘They were kind enough to interest themselves in my researches in Anhalonium Lewinii and made me some special preparations on the lines indicated by my experience which proved greatly superior to previous preparations.’

According to Perdurabo, Dr. Richard Kaczynski’s excellent biography on Crowley, the Abbey of Thelema’s copy of Diary of a Drug Fiend contains a marginal note by Crowley stating that he had conducted numerous experiments on people with Anhalonium Lewinii in 1910 and afterwards. These experiments may have formed the basis for Liber CMXXXIV, The Cactus, described as ‘An elaborate study of the psychological effects produced by Anhalonium Lewinii (Mescal Buttons), compiled from the actual records of some hundreds of experiments.’ Unfortunately The Cactus was never published and is now considered lost to history.

Whether ‘The Drug’ is truly a fictionalized account of the use of peyote is, of course, open to debate, but, the story does stand on its own as a very early piece of psychedelic literature. [via]

The Revival of Magick and Other Essays

The Revival of Magick and Other Essays by Aleister Crowley, edited by Hymenaeus Beta, afterword by Samuel Aiwaz Jacobs, a 1998 paperback from New Falcon, the 2nd in the Oriflamme series, with cover design by John Bowie, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. This is the 2nd in the newer Oriflamme series, […]

The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley

The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia 1923 edited, with additional material, by Stephen Skinner, the 1996 paperback from Weiser Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. “The complete diaries of Aleister Crowley cover his entire career in magic, from his initiation into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898, […]

The Progradior Correspondence

The Progradior Correspondence, Letters by Aleister Crowley, C. S. Jones, & Others, edited and introduced by Keith Richmond, the 2009 hardcover edition from Teitan Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. “The Progradior Correspondence comprises the text of ninety letters and other documents that were exchanged between “Frater Progradior” (that is Aleister […]