Tag Archives: Martin P. Starr

Omnium Gatherum: July 2nd, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 2nd, 2014

Smithonian Remi Benali Corbis Chinguetti Mauritania
Endangered Site: Chinguetti, Mauritania: The rapidly expanding Sahara Desert threatens a medieval trading center that also carries importance for Sunni Muslims — Jeanne Maglaty, Smithsonian

 

  • Thelema and Witchcraft: was Gerald Gardner head of the O.T.O.? — Brandy Williams, Star and Snake

    “Many Witches are unaware how deeply involved Gerald Gardner was with Ordo Templi Orientis. How Gardner came to think of himself of head of the O.T.O. in Europe, however briefly, shines a light on Gardner’s wide contacts in the esoteric communities, the last days of Aleister Crowley’s life, and the chaos caused by the Second World War.”

  • Empathic people are natural targets for sociopaths — protect yourself — Jane McGregor and Tim McGregor, Addiction Today

    “Many sociopaths wreak havoc in a covert way, so that their underlying condition remains hidden for years. They can possess a superficial charm, and this diverts attention from disturbing aspects of their nature.”

    The following case history illustrates how people can be systematically targeted until they feel they can barely trust their own sense of reality – what we call ‘gaslighting’. Sociopathic abuse is targeted abuse. It can wreck lives. Victims can become survivors, but at huge cost.”

    “Let’s look at what we term the Socio-Empath-Apath Triad, or Seat. Unremitting abuse of other people is an activity of the sociopath that stands out. To win their games, sociopaths enlist the help of hangers-on: apaths.”

  • 7 things paganism can teach the modern man: As thousands prepare to celebrate the Summer Solstice this weekend, Lee Kynaston looks at the lessons we can glean from a pagan lifestyle — Lee Kynaston, The Telegraph [HT Spiral Nature]

    “If I were to ask you what the average male pagan looked like, you’d probably have him down as a bearded, middle-aged, cloak-wearing, tree-hugging, mead-swigging, part-time nudist who’s a bit paunchy around the middle and whose favourite film is The Wicker Man.

    And you’d be right.”

  • 9 Stunning Panoramas of Starry Skies, Captured With a Homemade Camera Rig — Liz Stinson, WIRED

    “Last spring Vincent Brady sold most of his belongings, moved out of his apartment and struck out on the road to document the night sky. But instead of taking your typical long-exposure shots, Brady designed himself a custom camera rig that’s allowed him to capture stunning 360 panoramic images of the stars and Milky Way moving in concert.”

    Vincent Brady Monument Valley AZ

     

  • Desiring Life — T Thorn Coyle

    “Include as much of life as you possibly can: Fall in love. Break your heart. Risk. Open. Seek justice. Create. Dance. Listen. Fuck. Desire. Will. Act. Live.”

  • Human Language Is Biased Towards Happiness, Say Computational Linguists — The Physics arXiv Blog [HT Slashdot]

    “Overall, [Peter Dodds, et al., of the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont in Burlington] collected 50 ratings per word resulting in an impressive database of around 5 million individual assessments. Finally, they plotted the distribution of perceived word happiness for each language.

    The results bring plenty of glad tidings. All of the languages show a clear bias towards positive words with Spanish topping the list, followed by Portuguese and then English. Chinese props up the rankings as the least happy. ‘Words—the atoms of human language — present an emotional spectrum with a universal positive bias,’ they say.”

  • Madness…or Mystic? Sylvia Plath and the Occult Taboo — Julia Gordon-Bramer, a presentation for ASE 2014

    “The poet Sylvia Plath’s work is full of the moon, and this is just the beginning of her nod to the occult. Her 1956 marriage to the poet Ted Hughes added astrology, tarot, Ouija boards, hypnosis, meditation, folk-magic, witchcraft, and crystal ball scrying to her repertoire of extra-curricular spiritual activities.

    The facts have been out there all along on Sylvia Plath, but until now no one had thought to view them seriously and collectively.”

  • Invoke the Highest First — Alex Sumner, Sol Ascendans

    “Often I find that, when I am facing a new challenge, perhaps one that I find daunting for some reason, the simplest solution is to apply basic principles. This is especially true in magick. In the Golden Dawn the most important rule of thumb is referred to as ‘invoke the highest first,’ which is a reference to one of the clauses of the Adeptus Minor obligation: ‘I furthermore solemnly pledge myself never to work at any important symbol without first invocating the highest Divine Names connected therewith.'”

  • Immanence by Stuart Davis

    “Every body wants to taste
    a little something carbon-based
    Sex is proof the Holy Ghost
    crawls around in stuff that’s gross
    Yeah

    There’s a serpent in my body
    right below my belly
    When I crave an apple
    you are redder than an orchard”

  • NASA, tweet

    NASA Puff the Magic Sun

     

  • The Other Magi of the New Aeon of Horus — Setem Heb, Beetle Tracks

    “In the period following Crowley’s death the state of organized Thelema largely fell to nothing. In his excellent The Unknown God Martin P. Starr provides an excellent account of Crowley’s O.T.O. heir, Karl Germer’s attempt to hold together the existing Thelemites with little effect. As a result of there being no centralized Thelemic authority quasi-Thelemic groups would form.”

  • Archaeologists recreate Elixir of Long Life recipe from unearthed bottle — April Holloway, Ancient Origins

    “The discovery included a two hundred-year-old glass bottle that once contained the ‘Elixir of Long Life’. Now the research team have tracked down the original German recipe used to create the elixir for fending off death. […] the potion contained ingredients such as aloe, which is anti-inflammatory, gentian root, which aids digestion, as well as rhubarb, zedoary, and Spanish saffron – ingredients still used by herbalists today.”

  • The end of EXESESO — Egil Asprem, Heterodoxology

    “After the untimely death of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke back in 2012 […] there has been much speculation about what would happen with the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) that he ran at the University of Exeter. Since 2005, EXESESO has offered one of the three official university programs for the academic study of esotericism in Europe (the others being in Amsterdam and Paris), and produced a steady stream of MAs through its distance learning program. After an internal evaluation process at Exeter University, in dialogue with the Theosophically oriented Blavatsky Trust who funded the centre, a final decision has now been made to shut EXESESO down.”

  • Whole lotta Led, as songs don’t remain the same — Barry Egan, Sunday Independent

    “Overall, the story of Zeppelin was like something out of an X-rated version of the Bible; with Plant as the messianic, bare-chested prophet from Wolverhampton and Page as the Aleister Crowley devotee who sold his soul to the devil for magic chords to the Delta blues.”

  • The Lost Desert Libraries of Chinguetti — MessyNessy [HT Book Patrol]

    “The sands of the Sahara have all but swallowed Chinguetti, a near ghost town found at the end of a harsh desert road in Mauritania, West Africa. Its majority of abandoned houses are open to the elements, lost to the dunes of a desert aggressively expanding southward at a rate of 30 miles per year. While predictions suggest this isolated town will be buried without a trace within generations, Chinguetti is probably the last place on Earth you would look for a library of rare books.”

  • New Biogaphies of Aleister Crowley and Proto-Fascist Poet Gabriele d’Annunzio Raise Big Questions on the Nature of Evil — Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

    “While it might not seem an obvious pairing, reading [Gary] Lachman’s book as a biography of Crowley (rather than an analysis of his importance) alongside Hughes-Hallett’s Gabriele d’Annunzio provides an opportunity to both compare and contrast these two controversial figures who reportedly were acquainted with one another in their lifetimes (d’Annunzio was 12 years older than Crowley and died nine years before him). It also gives the reader an opportunity to consider what’s truly bad or evil, and think about the quest for pleasure or power. Few figures in the last century will inspire you to ponder those ideas like the figures profiled in these two books.”

 

If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

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.”

 

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.

Golden Twigs

Golden Twigs by Aleister Crowley, the 1988 collected edition from Teitan Press, edited and introduced by Martin P Starr, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Aleister Crowley's Golden Twigs from Teitan Press

This is a collection of short stories written by Crowley in the Summer of 1916, during his “Great Magical Retirement” on the shores of “Lake Pasquaney” (Newfound Lake, New Hampshire) in a cabin owned by Evangeline Adams. Of the eight tales, all inspired by themes from Sir James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough, six appeared in the pages of George Sylvester Viereck’s The International, but two were previously unpublished, in spite of several efforts, until this volume.

 

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.

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, ed. Henrik Bogdan and Martin P Starr, from Oxford University Press:

Henrik Brogdan and Martin P Starr's Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism from Oxford University Press

 

Oxford University Press has published a groundbreaking collection of academic studies concerning Aleister Crowley and his place in modern intellectual and religious history. The component chapters of Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism had been written at various points in the last twenty years, and taken together they demonstrate the considerable breadth of relevant subject matter.

The Alex Owen chapter that follows the editors’ introduction is an earlier version of a paper that was eventually incorporated into her constructive monograph The Place of Enchantment, which provides a revisionary perspective on modern occultism. In this version, she seems to be at lesser pains to make Crowley out to be a villain against liberal ethics, but she has the same uninformed regard for his later career, using one or two references to conclude that he was broken and failed after his Algerian operations of 1909. The simple fact is that his most enduring and successful work was done after that: writing Magick in Theory and Practice, reforming O.T.O., designing the Thoth Tarot, and so on.

Marco Pasi provides a valuable primer for academic readers regarding Crowley’s ideas about magic and mysticism, elucidating a tension between the materialist theorizing of Crowley’s early work and the more metaphysical concessions of the fully-initiated Beast. Pasi rightly distinguishes between the Cairo Operation of 1904 and the subsequent attainment of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel that Crowley claimed in 1906, observing that the identification of Aiwass as Crowley’s personal genius was a later development. He errs, however, in speculating that the equivalence was formulated as late as the writing of Magick in Theory and Practice in the 1920s. In fact, it is a feature of Crowley’s 1909 vision of the Eighth Aire in The Vision and the Voice.

Volume editor Henrik Bogdan’s contribution is a solid paper that fills a lacuna in the literature on Thelema by pointing out the positive contribution of the Plymouth Brethren dispensationalist doctrine to Crowley’s idea of magical aeons. While acknowledging the contemporaneity of occultist “new age” concepts (contrasted as largely pacifist vis-a-vis the martial Aeon of Horus), Bogdan does neglect to point out the important symbolic grounding of Crowley’s hierohistory in the Golden Dawn Equinox ceremony. (For that in detail, see my web-published essay “Aeons Beyond the Three“.)

Gordan Djurdjevic’s paper presents “Aleister Crowley as Tantric Hero” in a morphological, rather than a genealogical sense, stressing the notion of functional parallel between Thelema and Tantra. He makes a sound point about the confusion over Crowley’s Tantric bona fides originating in the secondary materials of biographers and students, rather than Crowley’s own claims. But he fails to address the younger Crowley’s derision of Tantra (“follies of Vamacharya [debauchery]” in The Equinox), and omits to observe that while the older Beast claimed to have studied “numerous writings on the Tantra,” he conscientiously referred aspirant Kenneth Grant to David Curwen for sounder Tantric instruction than the Prophet of Thelema could supply.

In Richard Kaczynski’s chapter, the heroically thorough Crowley biographer provides a somewhat exhaustive exposition of a specific range of Crowley’s own sources, presenting Crowley as a synthesist of Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and phallicist theory of religion. These are certainly the ingredients that most saliently inform the O.T.O., and thus Crowley’s social/institutional legacy, and this chapter amounts first and foremost to a bibliographically-dense essay useful to readers interested in understanding precedents for Crowley’s work with O.T.O.

The Tobias Churton piece on “Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis” is admittedly speculative and conjectural, and terribly sloppy even so. Churton recklessly juggles the historical Crowley with the “‘Aleister Crowley’ of popular imagination,” while his comparisons to Yezidism are nearly all in the subjunctive. The paper goes from bad to worse as Churton provides a long concatenation of mixed-together quotes from Thelemic and Yezidi source material, distinguished from each other only in the endnotes! And then in a big wrapup, he writes like an episode of Ancient Aliens, letting loose a stream of absurd hypotheses in the form of questions (e.g. “Are Yezidis prototypes, or long-lost cousins, of Thelemites? … Was Crowley a Yezidi Prophet?”), and bashfully disdaining to answer them. As an “alternative history” video host might say: “Could these things be true??? The answer is: yes.” But they probably aren’t.

The “Frenzied Beast” paper by Matthew Rogers is excellent, but too short. The author’s conspicuous good looks are absent from the printed page, and the article would have been improved by adding further materials on Crowley’s orientation toward Neoplatonism. In particular, the augoeides doctrine in Crowley’s works should have been given more exposure in connection with the source material in Iamblichus, and there should have been a comparison of “astral travel” in Crowley’s modern occultism with its classical antecedents. Rogers is obviously aware of these features, and if he had known how long it would take this book to get to press, he probably would have expanded the scope of his paper to address them in greater detail.

Martin Starr’s chapter was first written for the prestigious Masonic research journal Ars Quatuor Coronati, and in it he attempts to explain Crowley’s relations with Freemasonry (originally to an audience composed of Masons who jealously assume the priviledged status of the United Grand Lodge of England and the “regular” bodies in its network of recognition). The chapter certainly presents a credible narrative to account for the development of Crowley’s distaste for and derision of Freemasonry. Since its original publication in 1995 however, this paper’s judgment of Crowley’s Masonic standing has received a considered rebuttal from David R. Jones, who also explains some of the technical terminology of Masonic organizing that Starr’s piece takes for granted. The relevant features of Crowley’s American period have been fleshed out in Kaczynski’s Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City.

The real opinions and motives in the relationship between Aleister Crowley and Arthur Edward Waite are a considerable enigma, and the chapter by Robert A. Gilbert provides as complete a picture of their interactions as one could reasonably expect on the basis of the surviving evidence, which makes for very interesting reading. Unfortunately, the closing paragraphs expose Gilbert’s hostility toward Crowley, offering condemnation in a nonsensical comparison with Waite. Supposedly, Waite left (in his writings?) a real means of attainment to later generations, while Crowley did not. And Gilbert derides the contemporary O.T.O. in terms that have had debatable applicability in earlier decades, but are certainly false now. Or is Gilbert here tipping his hand as an exponent for some survival of Waite’s Christianized “Holy Order of the Golden Dawn”? In the end, the matter is no clearer than the true sentiments of the dead occultists.

In another of the collection’s older papers, Massimo Introvigne offers a few startling errors about Crowley (e.g. claims that Crowley hated his father, that Leah Hirsig was his first Scarlet Woman), but none of them have much bearing on his fascinating central topic of Crowley’s admiration for Joseph Smith and Mormonism. Of the various papers in the volume, this is one of those which touches most directly on a larger theoretical issue of scholarship, in exploring the distinction between religion and magic in the inspiring and organizing of new sects. Sadly, Introvigne simply assumes the “magic” character (by his own definitions) of the revelation of Liber AL vel Legis, without any actual inquiry into or discussion of the Cairo working. In this chapter, Crowley ultimately serves as a hostile witness for the defense in an effort to exonerate Mormonism against accusations of having a magical basis. Not that Crowley was hostile to (his own notion of) Mormonism, but he would have wanted to see it convicted of magick!

In Ronald Hutton’s book The Triumph of the Moon (2000) he provided in one chapter what was at that time the most fair and thorough study of Crowley’s influence on the origins of modern religious witchcraft. His chapter here does not merely rehash that material, but updates it with new findings and perspectives. Unlike Introvigne, Hutton does perceive the properly religious character of Crowley’s 1904 revelation and consequent activities. However, he wants to dismiss the religious dimension of Thelema on the (somewhat justifiable) basis of the magical-rather-than-religious orientation of many latter-day Thelemites. It is an understandable position for him, in defense of his slogan touting Wicca as “the only fully formed religion that England has ever given the world.” (In light of the patently and confessedly religious nature of O.T.O., I would suggest a different gambit to Hutton: The revelation in Cairo to the globe-trotting adventurer Crowley, the German roots of O.T.O., and the subsequent formation of the first durable Thelemic communities outside of Britain indicates that Thelema isn’t so much a product of “England” as it is an inherently intercultural, cosmopolitan synthesis.) As in The Triumph of the Moon, Hutton is here focused on English witchcraft, especially as formulated by Gerald Gardner. He consequently gives no attention to the witcheries of American Jack Parsons and Australian Rosaleen Norton, both strongly influenced by Crowley themselves, and not via Gardner’s work.

The case of Norton is taken up in a study by Keith Richmond, who does her full justice. Adding nothing substantial to the reader’s knowledge of Crowley, Richmond instead illuminates Norton’s regard for and understanding of Crowley. She seems to have been friendlier to Crowley’s work in private than in public, which is understandable, in that she had no need to borrow notoriety!

Hugh Urban’s chapter treats Crowley’s possible influence on L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. Urban does some contextual violence to various Crowley quotes from Magick in Theory and Practice, but his readings may be consistent with the way Hubbard approached the material, so for immediate purposes there’s not much point in arguing about them. The chapter’s thesis is the conclusion that any dispassionate observer should reach: Hubbard was influenced by Crowley, but Scientology incorporates so many other elements — some others of which have come to predominate while the ones rooted in magick have faded — that it would be false to simply view it as some sort of crypto-Thelema.

The final chapter, contributed by Asbjørn Dyrendal, is an assessment of Crowley’s influence on two of the seminal organizers of contemporary Satanism: Anton LaVey and Michael Aquino, of the Church of Satan and Temple of Set respectively. Although there is a little confusion of the distinct notions of “black magic” and the “Black Brotherhood” in Crowley’s work, this examination is conducted with great care and accuracy on the whole, pointing out both debts to Crowley and explicit rejections by Satanists of some of his teachings. It is interesting to contrast the Satanists’ criticisms of Crowley with Urban’s appraisals of him, since they come to such different conclusions. (While I differ with their ultimate valuations, I think the Satanists are more accurate here.) Although Dyrendal touches briefly on LaVey’s successor Peter Gilmore, he keeps the discussion very focused on the two Satanist founder figures, and it would have been interesting to bring in some of Don Webb’s outspoken opinions on Crowley, for example (he wrote a short monograph called Aleister Crowley: The Fire and the Force), thus demonstrating Crowley’s direct effects on the enduring Satanist milieu.

With a few minor exceptions, the level of scholarship in this volume is impressive. More than that, the papers tend to be lively and challenging reading. As Wouter Hanegraaff points out in his foreword, the caricature of Crowley as a quasi-medieval Doctor Faustus conceals a figure who is quintessentially modern, and to give the Beast his third dimension places him in the same space that the reader inhabits. [via]

 

 

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.

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, Part 3 of 3

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus posts the third part of a response to Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, ed. Henrik Bogdan and Martin P Starr, from Oxford University Press, over on his blog at “Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, Part 3 of 3” which speaks to essays, about Witchcraft, Scientology and Satanism, by Ronald Hutton, Keith Richmond, Hugh Urban and Asbjørn Dyrendal; giving special attention to the chapter by Ronald Hutton.

“Hutton does perceive the properly religious character of Crowley’s 1904 revelation and consequent activities. However, he wants to dismiss the religious dimension of Thelema on the (somewhat justifiable) basis of the magical-rather-than-religious orientation of many latter-day Thelemites. It is an understandable position for him, in defense of his slogan touting Wicca as “the only fully formed religion that England has ever given the world.” (In light of the patently and confessedly religious nature of O.T.O., I would suggest a different gambit to Hutton: The revelation in Cairo to the globe-trotting adventurer Crowley, the German roots of O.T.O., and the subsequent formation of the first durable Thelemic communities outside of Britain indicates that Thelema isn’t so much a product of “England” as it is an inherently intercultural, cosmopolitan synthesis.) As in The Triumph of the Moon, Hutton is here focused on English witchcraft, especially as formulated by Gerald Gardner. He consequently gives no attention to the witchcrafts of American Jack Parsons and Australian Rosaleen Norton, both strongly influenced by Crowley themselves, and not via Gardner’s work.” [via]

“With a few minor exceptions, the level of scholarship in this volume is considerable. More than that, the papers tend to be lively and challenging reading. As Wouter Hanegraaff points out in his foreword, the caricature of Crowley as a quasi-medieval Doctor Faustus conceals a figure who is quintessentially modern, and to give the Beast his third dimension places him in the same space that the reader inhabits.” [via]

 

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, Part 1 of 3

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus posts the first part of a response to Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, ed. Henrik Bogdan and Martin P Starr, from Oxford University Press, over on his blog at “Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, Part 1 of 3” which speaks to essays by Alex Owen, Marco Pasi, Henrik Bogdan, Gordan Djurdjevic, and Richard Kaczynski.

“Last year, Oxford University Press published a groundbreaking collection of academic studies concerning Aleister Crowley and his place in modern intellectual and religious history. The component chapters of Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism had been written at various points in the last twenty years, and taken together they demonstrate the considerable breadth of relevant subject matter. I am in the process of reading the chapters that I hadn’t yet gotten around to exploring, and I’ll be registering my reactions to all of the book’s contents in a short series of posts here.” [via]

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

You may be interested in Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (and via Amazon), edited by Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr, and scheduled for August 2012 from Oxford University Press and September via other retailers like Amazon. The hardcover is listed at a steep $99, but there’s a $35 paperback due in Sept (and via Amazon).

“Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr offer the first comprehensive examination of one of the twentieth century’s most distinctive occult iconoclasts. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was a study in contradictions. He was born into a Fundamentalist Christian family, then educated at Cambridge where he experienced both an intellectual liberation from his religious upbringing and a psychic awakening that led him into the study of magic. He was a stock figure in the tabloid press of his day, vilified during his life as a traitor, drug addict and debaucher; yet he became known as the perhaps most influential thinker in contemporary esotericism.

The practice of the occult arts was understood in the light of contemporary developments in psychology, and its advocates, such as William Butler Yeats, were among the intellectual avant-garde of the modernist project. Crowley took a more drastic step and declared himself the revelator of a new age of individualism. Crowley’s occult bricolage, Magick, was a thoroughly eclectic combination of spiritual exercises drawing from Western European ceremonial magical traditions as practiced in the nineteenth-century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley also pioneered in his inclusion of Indic sources for the parallel disciplines of meditation and yoga. The summa of this journey of self-liberation was harnessing the power of sexuality as a magical discipline, an instance of the “sacrilization of the self” as practiced in his co-masonic magical group, the Ordo Templi Orientis. The religion Crowley created, Thelema, legitimated his role as a charismatic revelator and herald of a new age of freedom under the law of “Do what thou wilt.”

The influence of Aleister Crowley is not only to be found in contemporary esotericism-he was, for instance, a major influence on Gerald Gardner and the modern witchcraft movement-but can also be seen in the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and in many forms of alternative spirituality and popular culture. This anthology, which features essays by leading scholars of Western esotericism across a wide array of disciplines, provides much-needed insight into Crowley’s critical role in the study of western esotericism, new religious movements, and sexuality.” [via]

“Foreword – Wouter J. Hanegraaff
1. Introduction – Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr
2. The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Aleister Crowley and the Magical Exploration of Edwardian Subjectivity – Alex Owen
3. Varieties of Magical Experience: Aleister Crowley’s Views on Occult Practice – Marco Pasi
4. Envisioning the Birth of a New Aeon: Dispensationalism and Millenarianism in the Thelemic Tradition – Henrik Bogdan
5. The Great Beast as a Tantric hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley’s Magick – Gordan Djurdjevic
6. Continuing Knowledge from Generation unto Generation: The Social and Literary Background of Aleister Crowley’s Magick – Richard Kaczynski
7. Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis – Tobias Churton
8. The Frenzied Beast: The Phaedran Furores in the Rites and Writings of Aleister Crowley – Matthew D. Rogers
9. Aleister Crowley: Freemason! – Martin P. Starr
10. “The One Thought that was not Untrue”: Aleister Crowley and A. E. Waite – Robert R. Gilbert
11. The Beast and the Prophet: Aleister Crowley’s Fascination with Joseph Smith – Massimo Introvigne
12. Crowley and Wicca – Ronald Hutton
13. Through the Witch’s Looking Glass: The Magick of Aleister Crowley and the Witchcraft of Rosaleen Norton – Keith Richmond
14. The Occult Roots of Scientology? L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley and the Origins of the World’s Most Controversial New Religion – Hugh Urban
15. Satan and the Beast. The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Modern Satanism – Asbjorn Dyrendal” [via]