Tag Archives: great beast

Occult figures

There’s even more press for the Windows to the Sacred: An Exploration of the Esoteric art exhibition touring in Australia, which is at the S H Ervin Gallery through September 29th, 2013, and which may be of interest. John MacDonald writes a bit about his impressions of the exhibition and of how these “[a]rtists cast a wicked spell as popular culture embraces all things supernatural, mystical and demonic” over at “Occult figures“.

“‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,’ was the personal motto of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), once known to the headline writers as ‘the Great Beast’ and ‘the Wickedest Man Alive’. It was a philosophy that would endear him to the counterculture of the 1960s and make him a hero for rock stars such as Jimmy Page and Jim Morrison. Perhaps the sealer for Crowley’s second coming was his inclusion on the album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), at John Lennon’s insistence.

A famous sorcerer such as Crowley has an obvious appeal for a popular culture saturated in stories of witches and vampires, but he was no Harry Potter. Selfish, brutal, addicted to drugs and sexual perversion, Crowley was a terrifying but hugely charismatic individual. Those who fell under his spell often found themselves ruined for life. Today, Crowley probably has more disciples than ever before, but his image has been cleaned up for public consumption. The Great Beast has been transformed into the Great Libertarian.

Like Crowley himself, the study of the occult has become almost respectable, although the price is a high degree of Disneyfication. One of the revelations of Windows to the Sacred at the S.H. Ervin Gallery is the extent to which contemporary occultists have adopted the trappings of popular culture.

It is a sign of the times that such a show could be held at the S. H. Ervin. Not long ago it would have been unthinkable that a gallery operated by the National Trust would host an exhibition of ‘esoteric art’, featuring work by figures such as Crowley, Rosaleen Norton — the so-called ‘witch of Kings Cross’ — and Austin Osman Spare, a notorious British artist devoted to the supernatural.

This doesn’t mean the S. H. Ervin has become a haven for mystics and Satanists. It would be more accurate to say that nowadays those mystics and Satanists are about as controversial as the Australian Watercolour Institute. If the pictures by celebrated figures such as Crowley and Spare have a hermetic feeling, the works of contemporary esoteric artists such as Barry William Hale and Kim Nelson seem to be pitched at a mainstream audience, rather than an elite group of initiates.” [via]

The Legacy of the Beast

The Legacy of the Beast: The Life, Work, and Influence of Aleister Crowley by Gerald Suster, with foreword by Francis X King, the 1989 paperback from Samuel Weiser, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Gerald Suster The Legacy of the Beast from Samuel Weiser

“Tracing the roots of Crowley’s ideas and demonstrating their enduring relevance, Gerald Suster has produced a much-needed reappraisal of the ‘Great Beast’ and his continuing influence, as well as fascinating exposition of a supremely practical spiritual discipline.

Casting a critical but sympathetic eye over Crowley’s writings, the author reveals a man of enormous and original intellectual gifts, whose contributions to the understanding of the occult sciences are matched only by his daring experiments in the development of human consciousness. Crowley’s own magical system encompassed Buddhism, ritual magic, the Qabalah, Yoga, the Tarot and Taoism, though its most original element derived from the personal revelations Crowley received in Cairo in 1904 and which formed the basis of his most important work—and perhaps the most important occult work of the century—The Book of the Law.”

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Fenris Wolf No 6

The Fenris Wolf No 6, edited by Carl Abrahamsson, cover art by Fredrik Söderberg, published by Edda Publications, Sweden, is available directly or, in the US, from Weiser Antiquarian

The Fenris Wolf No 6 from Edda Publications

“Edited by Carl Abrahamsson. Cover art by Fredrik Söderberg. The sixth issue of The Fenris Wolf touches upon topics as diverse as occult London, Tantric quests, rune magic and neurology, Cannabis, LSD, entheogenic influences on culture, the Mega Golem, Aleister Crowley in China, Bogomil Gnostics, decadent French author Josephin Péladan, the birth and death horoscopes of the Great Beast 666, Liber AL vel Legis, the psycho-sexual surrealism of Hans Bellmer, healing, death, the extraterrestrial origins of language, Ernst Jünger’s psychedelic approaches, recent Satanic cinema, the occult potential of contemporary physics, “Babalon” as a magical formula, the mystical art of Sulamith Wülfing and a never before published poem, The Litany of Ra, by Charles Stansfeld Jones a.k.a. Frater Achad. And more…

Contents

Carl Abrahamsson – Editor’s Introduction
Frater Achad – A Litany of Ra
Kendell Geers – Tripping over Darwin’s Hangover
Vera Nikolich – Eastern Connections
Carl Abrahamsson – Babalon
Freya Aswynn – On the Influence of Odin
Marita – Runic Magic through the Odinic Dialectic
Aki Cederberg – Afterword: The River of Story
Shri Gurudev Mahendranath – The Londinium Temple Strain
Gary Dickinson – An Orient Pearl
Derek Seagrief – Aleister Crowley’s Birth & Death Horoscopes
Tim O’Neill – Shades of Void
Nema – Magickal Healing
Nema – A Greater Feast
Philip Farber – Sacred Smoke
Robert Taylor – Death & the Psychedelic Experience
Michael Horowitz – LSD: the Antidote to Everything
Alexander Nym – Transcendence as an Operative Category…
Carl Abrahamsson – Approaching the Approaching
Renata Wieczorek – The Secret Book of the Tatra Mountains
Sasha Chaitow – Legends of the Fall Retold
Sara George & Carl Abrahamsson – Sulamith Wülfing
Robert C Morgan – Hans Bellmer
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge – Tagged for Life
Carl Abrahamsson – Go Forth and Let Your Brain-halves Procreate
Anders Lundgren – Satanic Cinema is Alive and Well
Anton LaVey – Appendices” [via]