Tag Archives: Frederic Mellinger

Aleister Crowley: New, Used and Rare Books and Ephemera

You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #110: Aleister Crowley: New, Used and Rare Books and Ephemera. Including a Selection of Books from the Library of Wilfred T. Smith.

Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #110 Aleister Crowley

“Welcome to the one hundred-and-tenth of our on-line catalogues, this being another of our specialised Aleister Crowley lists.

The catalogue begins with three interesting new releases: signed copies of Marlene Cornelius’ Liber AL Vel Legis: The Book of the Law. An Examination of Liber XXXI & Liber CCXX; and David Shoemaker’s Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick, and the always-interesting and beautifully produced AMeTh Lodge Journal. Vol. I, No. II from AMeTh Lodge of the O.T.O. in London. The next item is “Dark Halo,” a signed and numbered Limited Edition Print of a portrait of Aleister Crowley by California artist Heather McMillen, with an accompanying hand-written poetic “homage to Aleister Crowley” by Blair MacKenzie Blake, author of The Wickedest Books in the World and other works.

The third section of the catalogue is devoted to books and ephemera by Aleister Crowley himself. Amongst the rarities included are a copy of the Cambridge University magazine Granta which includes an anonymous poem by Crowley, a copy of the vellum bound first volume of The [Collected] Works of Aleister Crowley with an extraordinary double inscription, and Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper’s personal copy of Magick In Theory and Practice, beautifully bound in full vellum. There is also a group of four autograph letters, signed by Crowley; each is significant in its own way, with topics ranging from Crowley’s alleged share holdings in Australia, to a defense of Aubrey Beardsley! A selection of copies of The English Review, each with a contribution by Crowley, are followed by a varied group of books and journals that in one way or another relate to “the Beast.” Included amongst the journals are a copy of Esquire Magazine from March 1970 with a detailed and heavily illustrated series of essays on Californian occultism, that also reproduces a newsclipping concerning the famous “Solar Lodge” “Boy in the Box” debacle; a complete set of Sothis Magazine from the 1970s, a collection of the first seven issues of the Typhonian magazine Starfire; and 3 consecutive issues of Picture Post Magazine from 1955 which serialised a well-illustrated but breathless account of Crowley’s life. Amongst the books in the same section are a first edition of The Macedonians by Mary Butts, the English novelist and serious occult practitioner who spent some time at Cefalu with Crowley, the very uncommon first edition of Tiger-Woman by Betty May, in which she recounts her own time at Cefalu, and Nina Hamnett’s Laughing Torso, a book which eventually led Crowley into bankruptcy after he sued it’s publishers for libel, and failed.

A selection of the rather abstruse “Ming” booklets by one-time Crowley acolyte C. F. Russell is followed by the first three volumes of his also often-baffling Znuz is Znees, Memoirs of a Magician. A link, to a separate page, leads to listings for a collection of 26 books that were formerly in the library of Wilfred Talbot Smith (1885-1957), founder of “The Church of Thelema,” head of Agape Lodge of the O.T.O. in California, a long term associate of Aleister Crowley, and subject of Martin Starr’s biography The Unknown God. The collection includes a copy of the First US edition of Aleister Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend, and copies of a number of works that Crowley is known to have recommended to his disciples, including The Canon; three books by Sydney T. Klein; the James Legge, translations of The Tao Teh King and The Yi King; etc. Some of the books have presentation or other inscriptions by well known people within the Thelemic community, including C. Stansfeld Jones; Frederic Mellinger; and Helen Parsons Smith. Most of the books are stamped with the personal lamen, with phallic design, of W.T. Smith, which he used as an ownership stamp, and a few also have his ownership signature. Included in the collection are several books that are quite scarce in their own right; notably the works by the obscure American alchemical author Delmar DeForest Bryant and the First Edition of the Pancham Sinh, translation of The Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Returning to the present page, the catalogue finishes with a group of copies of the Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick, a magazine published by a small Thelemic group in Ohio known as the Bate Cabal in the late 1970s and 80s.” [via]

The Unknown God

The Unknown God: W.T. Smith and the Thelemites by Martin P Starr, from Teitan Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Martin P Starr's The Unknown God from Teitan Press

“The first documentary study of Aleister Crowley’s contemporary followers in North America, told through the life of their de facto leader, Wilfred Talbot Smith (1885-1957). Smith, the unacknowledged offspring of a prominent English family, emigrated to Canada where he met Charles Stansfeld Jones and through him, the works of Aleister Crowley. Although Crowley and Smith met only once, their twenty year correspondence proved to be a major link to the few and the faithful attracted to Crowley’s work in the United States and Canada. Smith’s spiritual life centered first on the initiatic structure of the Order of the A∴A∴, complemented by the emerging fraternal and social schemes of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Smith followed Jones into a few long-forgotten movements like the Universal Brotherhood and the Psychomagian Society, but he declined membership in C.F. Russell’s Choronzon Club.

To promulgate the Crowleyan teachings, in 1934 Smith incorporated his own ‘Church of Thelema’—known to Los Angeles newspaper readers as the ‘Purple Cult.’ The following year he initiated OTO activity in Los Angeles which attracted its own cast of occult characters. Smith’s life reached a strange conclusion when Crowley, taking a page from Louis Bromfield’s novel, THE STRANGE CASE OF MISS ANNIE SPRAGG, which explored ‘the twin mysteries of love and religion and the confusion that lies between’ and combining it with a reading of Smith’s natal chart, sent him off on a retreat to determine which God he was incarnating. It was a journey from which Frater 132 never returned …

THE UNKNOWN GOD is a fascinating and complex human story, intimately interwoven with the lives of most of Crowley’s disciples in the United States including C.F. Russell, Jane Wolfe, Max R. Schneider, Jack Parsons, Louis T. Culling, Frederic Mellinger and Grady L. McMurtry as well as occult teachers like H. Spencer Lewis (AMORC) Paul Foster Case (BOTA), and Wayne Walker (OM), Hollywood actors such as John Carradine and even the founder of the Mattachine Society, Harry Hay. Students of 19th and 20th century esoteric movements, including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Theosophical Society and the Crowley-derived organizations, will find THE UNKNOWN GOD worth reading.”

 

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