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‘Aleister & Adolf’: Douglas Rushkoff on his new graphic novel, Crowley and magical warfare


 
Aleister & Adolf is a new graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics, the product of the creative pairing of media theorist Douglas Rushkoff—Professor of Media Studies at Queens College in New York—and and award-winning illustrator Michael Avon Oeming.

In Aleister & Adolf the reader is taken behind the scenes of the capitalist spectacle and inside the boardrooms where corporate-occult marketing departments employ fascist sigil magick developed by the Nazis during WWII in today’s advertising logos. A place where the war for men’s minds is waged with symbols and catchy slogans. It’s a fun smart read and you’ll be much smarter after you’ve read it, trust me. And Oeming’s crisp B&W artwork is perfectly suited for getting across some often difficult and tricky philosophical concepts. He’s a unique talent indeed.

Rushkoff recently told AV Club:

“Swastikas and other sigil logos become the corporate logos of our world. And given that we’re living in a moment where those logos are migrating online where they can move on their own, it’s kind of important that we consider the origins and power of these icons.”

Grant Morrison even wrote the introduction to Aleister & Adolf. I mean, how can you lose with something like this?

I asked Douglas Rushkoff a few questions via email:

Dangerous Minds: Where did you find the inspiration for Aleister & Adolf?

Douglas Rushkoff: It’s almost easier to ask where didn’t I find inspiration for Aleister & Adolf. The moment it occurred to me was when I was in an editorial meeting at DC/Vertigo about my comic book Testament, back in 2005. The editor warned me that there was an arcane house rule against having Jesus Christ and a Superhero in the same panel. Not that I was going to get to Jesus in my story, but the rule got me thinking about other potentially blasphemous superhero/supervillain pairings. And that’s when I first got to wondering about Aleister Crowley vs. Adolf Hitler.

But as I considered the possibility, it occurred to me that they were practicing competing forms of magic at the same time. And then I began to do the research, and learned that the premise of my story was true: Aleister Crowley performed counter-sigils to Hitler’s. Crowley came up with the V for Victory sigil that Churchill used to flash—and got it to him through Ian Fleming (the James Bond author) who was MI5 at the time.

I’ve always wanted to do something about Crowley, but I’ve been afraid for a bunch of reasons. Making him something of a war hero, and contrasting him with a true villain like Hitler, became a way to depict him as something more dimensional than “the Beast.”

Did you think of the ending first? It’s a bit like a punchline, isn’t it?

Douglas Rushkoff: I didn’t think of the ending first. The first thing I thought of was to have a young American military photographer get sent to enlist Crowley in the magical effort. I wanted us to see the story through someone like us—someone more cynical, perhaps—and then get to have the vicarious thrill of being drawn into Crowley’s world.

Then, I decided I needed a framing story - just to show how relevant all this creation of sigils is to our world today. So I created a prologue for the story, that takes place in a modern advertising agency: the place where the equivalent of sigil magic is practiced today. I wanted to set the telling of the story within the frame of how corporate sigils are taking life on the Internet today. So the outer frame takes place in the mid-90’s, when the net was being turned over to marketers. The ending is pretty well broadcast up front.
 

 
Aleister & Adolph reminds me a lot of Robert Anton Wilson’s Masks of the Illuminatus—which I think is his best book—because it sort of forces its ideas into the reader’s head like an earworm that you can’t resist. Also Crowley is a character in that book, too, of course. Do you see it as a bit of a RAW homage?

Douglas Rushkoff: It’s a RAW homage in that the story has verisimilitude—it is told in a way where it’s absolutely possible for this all to happen. There’s no supernatural magic here; it’s just the magick of Will. There’s the black magic of the Nazis. But however extreme the Nazis, it was real. It’s got the reality quotient of Eyes Wide Shut or Apocalypse Now.

And that’s the understanding of sigil magic I got from Bob. It’s all very normal. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Just that you have to participate in its perception. It’s just a different way of understanding the connections. So while the protagonist of the story starts off as a disillusioned atheist and ends up believing in magick as Magic, even Crowley (at least my Crowley) tries to convince him not to take it so literally.

I wouldn’t understand magick that way if it weren’t for Bob. It’s embedded in the fabric of reality. It doesn’t need to break the rules of reality to work. 
 

 
Are you aware of a recent trend among some alt-right types to organize acts of group 4Chan “meme magick”? Some of it’s just blatant harassment and bullying over Twitter, but there’s actually a sophisticated intent behind some of it. Pepe the Frog has become a hypersigil. I’m not being admiring of it—the idea that certain reichwingers would want start a magical war via social media is alarming to say the least—but the concept is a sound one magically speaking: They’ve figured out how to amplify their signal’s strength like a radio transmitter.

Douglas Rushkoff: There’s a real crossover between the alt-right and the occult. I knew a guy writing a book about it, in fact. And remember, it was one of Bush’s advisors who once explained that the future is something you create. And there’s an any-means-necessary quality to libertarianism that is consonant with chaos magic.

Plus, you’re talking about homespun propagandists inhabiting the comments sections of blogs and things. They’re not reading Bernays and Lippman. They’re waging hand-to-hand battle in the ideological trenches. A bit of NLP, rhetoric, and magic are what you turn to.

The interesting thing here is why the left does not use these techniques. It goes against our sense of what is fair. We know we’re “right” and so we want to win with the fact. Sigil magic feels like cheating on some level. So we have to ask ourselves, isn’t the full expression of our Will something we want to unleash? If not, why not?

This isn’t the freethinking/pansexual “Generation Hex” types who seemed to be on the horizon a few years ago, but rather like an evil skinheads contingent at Hogwart’s.

Douglas Rushkoff: Alas it is not. That’s partly because the freethinking pansexuals got a bit distracted by other things. And most of them worked alone. I don’t think there were nearly as many, either. That’s pretty rarified air. Back in the 80’s, there were more kids taking acid in the parking lot at AC/DC concerts than there were in the dorms of Reid College. And likewise - as a result of economics as much as anything - there’s more gamergaters throwing sigils online than Bernie Sanders supporters. Sometimes magic gets in the hands of people you’d rather not find it.
 

Photo of Douglas Rushkoff by Jeff Newelt

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Marc Almond sings Aleister Crowley
12.06.2016
02:57 pm

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Marc Almond


 
Since I have already weighed in on the monumentally brilliant new 10 CD Marc Almond box set Trials of Eyeliner: Anthology 1979-2016 (spoiler: I loved it) I will just direct you to that, but I do want to say that several weeks later I am still deeply into it. If you are looking for something new to give your full attention to—especially if you’re a fan of, say Nick Cave or Scott Walker—then Trials of Eyeliner is the high quality rock snob box set of this Xmas season, hands down. Anyone picking it up who is barely familiar with Almond’s non-“Tainted Love” career is surely in for something… profound. As a long, longtime major major Marc Almond fan, I would almost envy the discovery of his genius via this one fabulous package and not doled out over the decades.

It’s 10 CDs and you can find it for around $75 on Amazon. It would still be a bargain at twice the price. I can’t say enough good things about it.
 

 
Anyway, when I posted about Trials of Eyeliner last month, there was one thing on it that I wanted to hold back on, and present later on its own to call your attention to it especially. One of the “deep cuts”—indeed one of the very deepest cuts of all—is Almond’s emphatic performance of one of the only songs known to have been composed (in this case co-written) by the Great Beast hisself, Mister Aleister Crowley.

The sheet music for this song, referred to in a footnote, was thought to have remained unpublished and lost. None of the major Crowley collections throughout the world had a copy, but in 1991, a copy was discovered.
 

 
“The Tango Song” was written by Aleister Crowley and set to music by Bernard Page. It’s a musical adaptation of Crowley’s poem “The Tango,” first published in The Equinox Vol I, No 9 in March of 1913 as part of a short play co-written by Crowley and Mary D’Este (the mother of the great madcap Hollywood film director Preston Sturges):

What is money to the bliss
Of the honey of a kiss?
What are rank and fame and fashion
To the ecstasy of passion?

Chorus:
Give me dancing!
Give me wine!
Bright eyes glancing—-
Yours in mine!
Kisses sucking
Up my breath—-
Give me passion!
Give me death!

Were the town of Paris mine,
Its renown should drown in wine
I would pay the land of France
For a day and night of dance.

Dreams entrancing float above
Music, dancing, wine and love.
Sober sinks the sobbing breath;
Smiles the sphinx of sleep and death.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Number 666: The Aleister Crowley issue of Flexipop!


 
I learned many things during my recent conversation with David Tibet (Current 93 and related projects) and Youth (Killing Joke, the Orb, the Fireman, Brother Culture, Pink Floyd, et al.) about their fabulous new album as Hypnopazūzu. One of these was that during the early 80s, a British pop magazine had, at Tibet’s urging, numbered its final issue 666 and put Aleister Crowley on the cover. Tibet had written the cover story, too, about the Beast and his influence on pop musicians.

Both Youth and Tibet seemed to think the magazine in question was Smash Hits, but in fact Flexipop! was the one that employed Mark Manning/Zodiac Mindwarp as art editor and concluded with the Crowley issue. Though I wasn’t there, Flexipop! seems much hipper than Smash Hits from my vantage point: Every issue came with a flexi disc, and alongside the shit (and not) pop stars of the day, they profiled quality bands like the Birthday Party, Pigbag, Motörhead, Bauhaus, and Killing Joke (Youth dropped his pants in the pages of No. 19).

Having reached the kabbalistically significant number 32 with their second-to-last issue in June 1983—featuring both Killing Joke sans Youth and Brilliant, Youth’s new band with Jimmy Cauty—Flexipop! made a daring editorial decision at its perch atop the Tree of Life. For the cover of their valedictory number, instead of Paul Young or Sting, they took a chance on this fresh-faced, golden-voiced up-and-comer with a song in his heart and an Enochian key on his lips.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Stained glass windows of Aleister Crowley, Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Cash, JG Ballard & many more


 
In 2010 and 2011 the English artist Neal Fox executed an utterly gorgeous series of stained-glass windows in imitation of the iconography of saints found in cathedrals all over Europe. The series included Johnny Cash, J.G. Ballard, Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Hofmann, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Serge Gainsbourg, Aleister Crowley, William S. Burroughs, Billie Holiday, and Francis Bacon.

Now, it’s perfectly possible that you will see these images and think, “Wow, those paintings in the stained-glass style are awesome.” So it’s important to emphasize that these are not paintings, Fox actually created the stained-glass windows themselves—in fact, he worked with traditional methods “at the renowned Franz Mayer of Munich manufacturer” in order to produce a dozen windows, each using leaded stained glass in a steel frame and standing 2.5 meters tall.

Put them all together in a room, as the Daniel Blau gallery in London did in 2011, and you have “an alternative church of alternative saints.” Here is what that room looked like:
 

 
The Daniel Blau show was called “Beware of the God.” Alongside the well-known provocateurs and trouble-makers like Crowley and Hawkins is a figure that might challenge even the most astute student of antiheroes, a man named John Watson. Far from the complacent invention of Arthur Conan Doyle, this John Watson is the artist’s grandfather, described by his loving grandson as a “hell raiser” and “a World War II bomber pilot, chat show host, writer and publisher, who in his post war years sought solace in Soho’s bohemian watering holes.”

Quoting the Daniel Blau exhibition notes:
 

As traditional church windows show the iconography of saints, through representations of events in their lives, instruments of martyrdom and iconic motifs, Fox plays with the symbolism of each character’s cult of personality; Albert Hoffman takes a psychedelic bicycle ride above the LSD molecule, J G Ballard dissects the world, surrounded by 20th Century imagery and the eroticism of the car crash, and Johnny Cash holds his inner demon in chains after a religious experience in Nickerjack cave.

 
You can order prints of some of these images for £150 each (about $214).
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Meet the wild child ‘Tiger Woman’ who tried to kill Aleister Crowley

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The other morning here at Dangerous Minds Towers (Scotland), while I sat sifting through the mailbag looking for presents and antique snuff boxes, m’colleague Tara McGinley popped a fascinating article in front of me about a wild “Tiger Woman.”

At first I thought this tabloid tale was perhaps about the woman who had inspired Roy Wood to write his rather wonderful and grimy little number “Wild Tiger Woman” for The Move. As I read on, I realized this story of a rebellious singer, dancer and artist’s model was unlikely to have been the woman Wood had in mind when he wrote his famous song.

No, this particular “Tiger Woman” was one Betty May Golding—a drug addict, a boozer, and a dabbler in the occult. She had a string of lovers, worked as a prostitute, had been a member of a notorious criminal gang, an alleged Satanist, and had once even tried to murder Aleister Crowley. This was the kind of impressive resumé one would expect from the original “wild child.” Not that Ms. Golding would have given two hoots for any of that:

I have not cared what the world thought of me and as a result what it thought has often not been very kind… I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement.

You go girl!

Betty May was born Elizabeth Marlow Golding into a world of poverty and deprivation in Canning Town, London in 1895. The neighborhood was situated at the heart of the city’s docks—an area described by Charles Dickens as:

...already debased below the point of enmity to filth; poorer labourers live there, because they cannot afford to go farther, and there become debased.

To get an idea how deprived and “debased” this district was—Canning Town even today “remains among the 5% [of the] most deprived areas in the UK.”  Plus ca change…
 
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A typical London slum 1909.
 
When Betty was just an infant, her father left the family home, leaving her mother to support four children on a pittance of 10/- a week—roughly the equivalent of $1.50. The family home was a hovel with no furniture and no beds. The family slept on bundles of rags, cuddling together to keep warm.

Her mother was half-French with beautiful olive complexion and almond eyes. The struggle proved too much for her and Betty was sent off to live with her father who was then residing in a brothel. Her father was an engineer by trade but he preferred to spend his time drinking, fighting and thieving. He was eventually arrested and sent to jail.

In her autobiography Tiger Woman, published in 1929, Betty described herself as a “little brown-faced marmoset ... and the only quick thing in this very slow world.” She earned pennies by dancing and singing on the street.  After her father’s arrest, she was passed from relative to relative eventually staying with an aunt who described her as “a regular little savage.”

One of her earliest memories was finding the body of a pregnant neighbor hanging from a hook. The woman had caught her husband having sex with her sister.

Her face was purple and her eyes bulged like a fish’s. It was rather awful.

Eventually Betty was sent to another aunt who stayed out in the country in Somerset. Here she attended school but soon the teenager was in trouble after having an affair with one of her teachers.

I can hardly say, in the light of what I have learnt since, that we were in love. At least perhaps he was. Certainly I was fond of him.

When their illicit relationship was discovered, Betty was given an ultimatum.

There was a great deal of fuss and it was made clear to me that unless the ­friendship came to an end it would be the schoolmaster who would be made to suffer.

After a rather tearful scene with my aunt I was packed off with a few pounds.

 
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Betty in her gypsy dress.
 
Arriving in London in 1910 Betty could only afford one outfit:

...but every item of it was a different colour. Neither red nor green nor blue nor yellow nor purple was forgotten, for I loved them all equally, and if I was not rich enough to wear them separately ... I would wear them, like Joseph in the Bible, all at once! Colours to me are like children to a loving mother.

With her exotic looks and green eyes, Betty looked every part the gypsy and was later known for her song “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.” The novelist Anthony Powell described her as looking like a seaside fortune teller. Betty also delighted in her costermonger background:

I am a true coster in my flamboyance and my love of colour, in my violence of feeling and its immediate response in speech and action. Even now I am often caught with a sudden longing regret for the streets of Limehouse as I knew them, for the girls with their gaudy shawls and heads of ostrich feathers, like clouds in a wind, and the men in their caps, silk neckerchiefs and bright yellow pointed boots in which they took such pride. I adored the swagger and the showiness of it all.

 
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The Café Royal in 1912 as painted by artist William Orpen.
 
At first, Betty worked as a prostitute before becoming a model, dancer and entertainer at the hip Café Royal.

The lights, the mirrors, the red plush seats, the eccentrically dressed people, the coffee served in glasses, the pale cloudy absinthe ... I felt as if I had strayed by accident into some miraculous Arabian palace… No duck ever took to water, no man to drink, as I to the Café Royal.

The venue was the haunt of Bohemians and artists—Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, the “Queen of Bohemia” Nina Hamnett, heiress Nancy Cunard, William Orpen, Anna Wickham, Iris Tree and Ezra Pound.

Betty’s flamboyance and gypsy attire attracted their interest and she had affairs with many of the regulars. She modelled for Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. Being an artist’s model was a grey area that often crossed into prostitution. Many of May’s contemporaries in “modelling” died in tragic circumstances—either by their own hand or at the hands of a jealous lover.
 
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The artist Augustus John looking rather pleased with himself.
 
Betty’s life then took the first a many surprising turns when she became involved with a notorious criminal gang.

In 1914, she met a man she nicknamed “Cherub” at a bar who took her to France. Their relationship was platonic but after a night of drinking absinthe Cherub attacked her:

He clasped me round the waist, pinning my arms… I struggled with all the strength fear and hate could give me.

With a supreme effort I succeeded in half-freeing my right arm so that I was enabled to dig my scissors into the fleshy part of his neck.

Betty escaped to Paris where she met up with a man known as the “White Panther” who introduced her into the one of the ciy’s L’Apache gangs. She later claimed it was this gang who nicknamed her “Tiger Woman” after she became involved in a fight with one of the gangster’s girlfriends. When separated by the gang leader she bit into his wrist like a wild animal.

Now part of gang, Betty became involved in various robberies and acts of violence—in one occasion branding a possible informer with a red hot knife. This experience led her to quit Paris.
 
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Apache gang members or hooligans fighting the police in 1904.
 
To be honest, Betty’s autobiography reads at times like a thrilling pulp novel and without corroborative evidence seems more like fiction than fact.

Returning to London, Betty resumed work as a singer and dancer. She sought a husband and found two suitors: the first died after a mysterious boating accident; the second blew his brains out one fine summer’s day. Betty eventually married a trainee doctor Miles L. Atkinson, who introduced her to the joys of cocaine.

I learnt one thing on my ­honeymoon—to take drugs.

Atkinson had an unlimited supply of cocaine via his work with the hospital. The couple embarked on a mad drug frenzy. They fell in with a den of opium smokers. May’s drug intake escalated to 150 grains of cocaine a day plus several pipes of opium. She became paranoid—on one occasion believing the world was against her after ordering a coffee at a cafe and the waiter served it black. She decided to divorce Atkinson, but he was killed in action in 1917 while serving as a soldier in the First World War.

Betty then met and married an Australian called “Roy”—not believed to be his real name—who weaned her off drugs by threatening to beat her if ever he caught her taking any. However, she divorced Roy after catching him having an affair.

Continuing with her career as an artist’s model, Betty sat for Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer, who she claimed painted her as the Sphinx.
 
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Jacob Kramer’s painting ‘The Sphinx’ (1918).
 
Her notoriety grew after the publication of a book Dope Darling by David “Bunny” Garnett, which was based on Betty’s life as a coke addict. The book told the story of a man called Roy who falls in love with a dancer Claire at a bohemian cafe. Claire is a drug addict and prostitute. Roy believes he can save Claire by marrying her. Once married, Roy gradually becomes a drug addict too.

In the book, Garnett described Claire as being :

...always asked to all the parties given in the flashy Bohemian world in which she moved. No dance, gambling party, or secret doping orgy was complete without her. Under the effect of cocaine which she took more and more recklessly, she became inspired by a wild frenzy, and danced like a Bacchante, drank off a bottle of champagne, and played a thousand wild antics

But all of this was by way of a warm-up to her meeting the Great Beast.
 
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‘Dope Darling’ by David Garnett.
 
In 1922, Betty met and married the poet Frederick Charles Loveday (aka Raoul Loveday). This dear boy (aged about twenty or twenty-one) was an acolyte of Aleister Crowley. With a first class degree from Oxford University and a book of published poems to his name, Loveday was utterly dedicated to Crowley and to his study of the occult.

Crowley first met Loveday at a dive in London called the Harlequin. He liked Loveday—saw his potential and claimed he was his heir apparent—but he said this about many other young man that took his fancy. He was however reticent in his praise for May—describing her as a “charming child, tender and simple of soul” but impaired by an alleged childhood accident he believed had “damaged her brain permanently so that its functions were discontinuous.” This condition was exacerbated by her drug addiction—though he was complimentary in her strength of will in curing herself.

Crowley believed he could save Loveday from the “vagabonds, squalid and obscene, who constituted the court of Queen Betty.”

In his Confessions, Crowley recounted a typical scene of Betty “at work” in the Harlequin:

In a corner was his wife, three parts drunk, on the knees of a dirty-faced loafer, pawed by a swarm of lewd hogs, breathless with lust. She gave herself greedily to their gross and bestial fingerings and was singing in an exquisite voice ... an interminable smutty song, with a ribald chorus in which they all joined.

 
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Aleister Crowley
 
Crowley moved to Sicily where he established his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu. He wanted Loveday—and to a lesser extent May—to join him there. However, Loveday had been ill after an operation and several friends including Nina Hamnett warned him off going. But Loveday was determined and the couple traveled to the Abbey.

Arriving there in the fall of 1922, Betty and Loveday were soon party to various sex magic rituals under Crowley’s direction. On one occasion, Betty chanced upon a box filled with blood soaked neckties. When she asked Crowley what these were, he replied that they had belonged to Jack the Ripper and were stained with the blood of his victims.

Crowley may have tut-tutted about Betty’s sexual hi-jinks with other men in the club, but he didn’t seem to mind all the fucking and sucking that went on at the Abbey. Betty was unsure about Crowley. She was intrigued by the occult and her superstition kept her belief from wavering. But she never fully trusted him.

Everything came to a head after a black mass where Crowley commanded Loveday to kill a cat and drink its blood. Crowley claimed the cat was possessed by an evil spirit. Loveday beheaded the cat and greedily drank its blood. Within hours he fell ill and died, on February 16th, 1923.

Betty blamed Crowley for her husband’s death and swore revenge—deciding to kill him.
 
More on Betty May and her life of sex and drugs and the occult, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kenneth Anger unveils unseen occult art masterpieces by Marjorie Cameron and Aleister Crowley


 
Underground film legend Kenneth Anger has seen a huge wave of interest in his work since his acclaimed “ Magick Lantern Cycle” films became widely available to a new generation on DVD over a decade ago. The now 88-year-old director and author has made several new films in recent years, venturing into music with the Technicolor Skull project, and even the world of fashion, shooting a campaign for Italian fashion house Missoni and producing a limited edition reproduction of the iconic rainbow “Lucifer” baseball jacket from his film Lucifer Rising. Archival prints made from high resolution frame scans from his movies sell for top dollar in art galleries in New York, Paris and Tokyo.
 

 
And now, Anger is branching out into the world of retail, debuting a hybrid pop-up art gallery/store at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair. Produced in collaboration with Anger’s longtime associate Brian Butler, the Lucifer Brothers pop-up shop will be selling original art, as well as some reasonably-priced signed limited edition prints, Kenneth Anger tee-shirts and the above pictured Lucifer Rising baseball jacket.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES, CA 1/28/2016

The Lucifer Brothers pop-up art gallery and store is the culmination of Kenneth Anger’s lifelong obsession with the occult. In 1955 Anger was the first to revisit Aleister Crowley’s former temple in Cefalù, Sicily. With the help of Alfred C. Kinsey, Anger painstakingly restored Crowley’s otherworldly murals which spilled across the inside walls of the villa, removing layers of whitewash to reveal the nightmares underneath. Prior to this Anger connected with Marjorie Cameron, the widow of famed JPL rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons, casting her in his classic film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1956. Recently the art world has taken great interest of Cameron’s body of work, with her esoteric art—or what remains of it—included in the popular museum exhibit “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle” and in recent solo career retrospectives of her work in Los Angeles and Manhattan.

After attending the Cameron exhibit at MOCA and a follow up showing at Jeffrey Deitch’s gallery in New York, Anger lamented that Cameron’s most powerful occult works remained unseen. Through his web of arcane connection’s Anger now unveils Cameron’s monumental life-sized portrait of a demon entitled “Blue Prophet” which was inspired by visions Cameron experienced during her marriage to Jack Parsons and her part in the infamous Babalon Working ritual that included Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Other works by Australian artist Rosaleen Norton (aka “The Witch of Kings Cross) whose powerful paintings are seldom encountered in the US, British occultist Aleister Crowley and Anger himself will be made available to the public for the first time.

Kenneth Anger is lauded as an influential experimental filmmaker, actor, and author of the infamous Hollywood Babylon gossip books. His films, which include Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964) and Lucifer Rising (1980) have inspired filmmakers as disparate as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and John Waters.

The Art Los Angeles Contemporary event—and the Lucifer Brothers pop-up gallery—opens this evening. On Saturday January 30th at 3:30pm Anger will make a special appearance onstage at the ALAC Theatre, which will be set up at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, where the fair is being held.

I saw Kenneth at the opening of the Marjorie Cameron retrospective at MOCA in the museum’s annex at the Pacific Design Center in 2014. Ken’s normally quite gracious and a lovely guy to converse with, but that night he was PISSED OFF, alleging that the museum was exhibiting something that was stolen from him in the early 1960s, a rare first edition of Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth, which is worth several thousand dollars today. All 200 original copies of that lavishly published Moroccan leather-bound edition of The Book of Thoth were signed and numbered by Crowley’s hand, and although the book was being displayed locked under glass, Anger was positive that he knew exactly what number this particular book was and demanding that the case be unlocked to prove that it was his stolen property. He even brought along an FBI officer as his guest to the event! I don’t know what ultimately became of the situation, but it was an interesting evening to be sure. I’ve always wanted to see Anger get, er, Anger-y and even at his age, his performance didn’t disappoint.

The press release makes mention of “what remains of it” regarding Cameron’s art. Cameron herself destroyed nearly ALL of her paintings and sketchbooks, burning them in an act of “ritualized suicide.” What you can see below, in Curtis Harrington’s extraordinary portrait of the artist, Wormwood Star, is perhaps the sole surviving documentation of that work (outside of the astral plane…). I don’t think more than two of the pieces seen onscreen below still exist. Maybe only one of them.

So very few pieces by Marjorie Cameron have survived—some smaller watercolor paintings and some pencil sketches, one large oil painting that the late Curtis Harrington had owned—and so the one that Anger is unveiling at his Lucifer Brothers pop-up gallery, titled “Blue Prophet” (see above) is a real coup for the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair. I’ve seen this large watercolor in person, twice, and it’s a truly weird and mind-bending thing to behold. Most of her work is on the small side, but this one is about the size of a door and at least 2x to 3x larger than most of Cameron’s extant work that I’ve ever seen. To my mind, it’s one of the very best ones.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Fire destroys Aleister Crowley’s former home Boleskine House

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A fire has destroyed much of Boleskine House, the former home of occultist Aleister Crowley and later Led Zepplin guitarist Jimmy Page. Firefighters were called to the house situated on the banks of Loch Ness at 13:40. hours GMT today, after flames were spotted engulfing the historic building.

A member of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services told BBC News:

“A large part of the property has already been destroyed by fire and crews are concentrating their efforts on the west wing of the building.

“Crews in breathing apparatus are using four main jets to tackle the blaze and the incident is ongoing.”

 
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Aleister Crowley bought Boleskine House in 1899—then named the Manor of Boleskine and Abertarff—as he considered the building in the ideal location for carrying out the “Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage” from the grimoire The Book of Abramelin. Crowley said the building fitted the necessary requirements for the rite to work:

...the first essential is a house in a more or less secluded situation. There should be a door opening to the north from the room of which you make your oratory. Outside this door, you construct a terrace covered with fine river sand. This ends in a ‘lodge’ where the spirits may congregate.

For Crowley, Boleskine House was a “Thelemic Kiblah,” a “Magical East” where he could do his thing. The intention of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage is to invoke “one’s Guardian Angel.” The rite takes six months of abstinence and celibacy to prepare for. It is claimed that during the ritual Crowley was called away on an emergency to Paris—leaving the rite unfinished and causing a strange, monstrous disruption to the loch.

...the spirits he summoned got out of hand, causing one housemaid to leave, and a workman to go mad. He also insinuates he was indirectly responsible for a local butcher accidentally severing an artery and bleeding to death. Crowley had written the names of some demons on a bill from the butcher’s shop.

Some have said these “demons” are also responsible for the Loch Ness monster.
 
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In 1970, Jimmy Page bought Boleskine House—which was then in considerable disrepair. Page was fascinated by Crowley’s ideas and had the property renovated—though he rarely stayed at the house. He sold the property in 1992.
 
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In 200, BBC Scotland produced a documentary on Boleskine House Aleister Crowley: The Other Loch Ness Monster, which traced the occult history of the property and the story of the infamous unfinished ritual that unleashed evil forces.
 

 
Via BBC

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Aleister Crowley!
10.12.2015
02:50 pm

Topics:
Occult
Sex

Tags:
Aleister Crowley


 
Happy Crowleymass, everyone! Aleister Crowley, thee Great Beast 666 was hatched from a dragon’s egg on October 12, 1875. The eccentric English mage, poet, painter and gourmet rice chef would be 140 years old today if, um, he could like live forever or something…

As somewhat of a noted Crowley buff, I’m often asked “Where is a good place to start reading Aleister Crowley?” and this is a difficult question to answer because, in truth, you have to read, pretty much, all of it to make sense of any of it. Going down the Crowley rabbit hole is comparable, I think, to being a scholar of James Joyce because achieving a proper understanding of the subject takes years of study, decades even (and then what are you going to DO with all that arcane knowledge, anyway, smartass?). But one source that I will point curious folk to is the late Tim Maroney’s excellent “Introduction to Crowley (in Five Voices)” which I published in my Book of Lies anthology back in 2004.

Below, I discuss Uncle AL on the History Channel TV series, How Sex Changed The World. I had fun doing this show and I got to explain a general concept of sex magick to middle America! Good times! The Crowley segments starts around 19:30.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch the first silver screen portrayal of Aleister Crowley in 1926’s ‘The Magician’
05.22.2015
08:43 am

Topics:
Movies
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
W. Somerset Maugham


 
W. Somerset Maugham based Oliver Haddo, the titular character in his 1908 novel The Magician, on Aleister Crowley, whom he had met in literary circles in Paris. It was not an altogether flattering portrait, and Crowley, writing in Vanity Fair as “Oliver Haddo,” argued that Maugham had plagiarized multiple sources in a scathing review of the book.

Almost 20 years later, Rex Ingram brought The Magician to the silver screen with the German actor and director Paul Wegener as the bloodthirsty Haddo. Crowley was living in Paris at the time, and he sought to prevent the movie’s French premiere by legal means. Richard Kaczynski’s definitive Beast biography, Perdurabo, mentions the incident in connection with Crowley’s student Gerald Yorke (the brother of the novelist Henry Green):

[...] Yorke kept AC’s pipe dreams in perspective: one such scheme involved Metro-Goldwyn’s film adaptation of Maugham’s The Magician, which was opening on the Grand Boulevard March 23. Since Crowley received no compensation as the model of Oliver Haddo, he filed an injunction against showing the film. However, when representatives from the film company offered to pay Crowley, he refused. “The lawsuit is a pretext for a business deal,” he explained to Yorke. “I’m holding out for publicity and power.” Crowley wanted a contract to produce a series of educational films on magick. Yorke was pessimistic about the scheme.

(In the event, Crowley got nothing. “I cannot say that I think you will get any damages from Metro-Goldwyn over The Magician film,” Yorke had warned Crowley. “Your reputation is too bad to be damaged by that.”)
 

Paul Wegener as Oliver Haddo: finally, an unbiased cinematic portrait of Aleister Crowley
 
“He looks as if he had stepped out of a melodrama,” the movie’s hero says when he first meets the sorcerer, giving the game away. Briefly: a diabolical sculpture crumbles in a Latin Quarter studio, crushing artist Margaret Dauncey’s spine. Her dashing lover, the famous surgeon Arthur Burdon, cures her paralysis with a scalpel. We first see Haddo in the audience at the operating theater, looking at the beautiful young quadriplegic on the table as if she were a hamburger. Poring over occult books in search of the secret of creating life, the magician has discovered an alchemical working that requires “the Heart Blood of a Maiden.” Can you guess whom he might have in mind for a donor?

There are many visual treats in store—among them a freak show and a snake charmer—but if you’re impatient or easily bored, skip to the 29-minute mark, where Haddo brings Dauncey under his spell, magically transports her to a rite of Pan, and awakens an unnatural lust within her.
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Aleister Crowley’s curried rice recipe
07.24.2014
04:37 pm

Topics:
Food
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley


 
English occultist Aleister Crowley wasn’t merely a poet, painter, mountain climber and the Great Beast 666, he was also an aspiring chef, his specialty apparently being lethally hot curries.

Here’s a passage referring to his “glacial curry” taken from his autohagiography, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley:

“The weather made it impossible to do any serious climbing; but I learnt a great deal about the work of a camp at high altitudes, from the management of transport to cooking; in fact, my chief claim to fame is, perhaps, my “glacier curry.” It was very amusing to see these strong men, inured to every danger and hardship, dash out of the tent after one mouthful and wallow in the snow, snapping at it like mad dogs. They admitted, however, that it was very good as curry and I should endeavour to introduce it into London restaurants if there were only a glacier. Perhaps, some day, after a heavy snowfall”

The exact method by which Crowley made his “glacial curry” has been lost to time, but if you’d like to make some magick in the kitchen tonight, The Master Therion’s recipe for his, I suppose infamous curried rice dish, “Riz Aleister Crowley” was found among his papers at Syracuse University in New York.

Unfortunately, The Great Beat didn’t list any actual quantities for the ingredients, but Nico Mara Mckay added the ratios, which can be modified to make any quantity

Riz Aleister Crowley (to be eaten with curry)

Ingredients
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- sea salt
- 1/4 cup sultanas
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds(1)
- 1/4 cup pistachio nuts
- powdered clove
- powdered cardamoms
- turmeric powder (enough to colour the rice to a clear golden tint)
- 2 tblsp. butter

Steps
Bring two cups of salted water to a bowl. Throw in in the rice, stirring regularly.
Test the rice after about ten minutes “by taking a grain, and pressing between finger and thumb. It must be easily crushed, but not sodden or sloppy. Test again, if not right, every two minutes.”
When ready, pour cold water into the saucepan.
Empty the rice into a colander, and rinse under cold tap.
Put colander on a rack above the flames, if you have a gas stove, and let it dry. If, like me, your stove is electric,  the rice can be dried by placing large sheets of paper towel over and under the rice, soaking up the water. Preferably the rice should seem very loose, almost as if it it has not been cooked at all. When you’ve removed as much water as you can,  remove the paper towel.
Place the rice back into the pot on a much lower temperature.
Stirring continuously, add the butter, sultanas, almonds, pistachio nuts, a dash or two of cloves and a dash of cardamom.
Add enough turmeric that the rice, after stirring, is “uniform, a clear golden colour, with the green pistachio nuts making it a Poem of Spring.”
 

 
You can find larger, readable versions of Crowley’s original cooking narrative here and here.

Via Music is the Heart

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Earliest known Aleister Crowley manuscript surfaces
05.19.2014
11:28 pm

Topics:
Books
Occult
Queer

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
poetry


 
In 1898, heartbroken Cambridge student Aleister Crowley’s love affair with Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt had ended and he looked to his poetry for comfort. A small notebook of these lovelorn poems will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this week.

Rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who discovered the manuscript during a hunt for early gay literature says:

“The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him – and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.”

Pollitt was a female impersonator who went by the stage name “Diane de Rougy,” the future Great Beast 666 was just 22 when they met in 1897. Pollitt was four years his senior, a friend of both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, had been painted by James McNeill Whistler and was the president of the university’s Footlights Dramatic Club. “I lived with Pollitt as his wife for some six months and he made a poet out of me” is how Crowley described their relationship.

Crowley later wrote of his lover:

“Pollitt was rather plain than otherwise. His face was made tragic by the terrible hunger of the eyes and the bitter sadness of the mouth. He possessed one physical beauty - his hair ... its colour was pale gold, like spring sunshine, and its texture of the finest gossamer. The relation between us was that ideal intimacy which the Greeks considered the greatest glory of manhood and the most precious prize of life.”

 

 
According to bookdealer Pearson it is the earliest known Crowley manuscript, a collection of eight sonnets, composed in pencil in a small notebook. Only two of the homoerotic poems have ever been published. Crowley destroyed much of his earliest poetry, but chose to keep this volume, which includes titles like “He, who seduced me first” and “I, who am dying for thy kiss.”

“He destroyed the poetry because he was the priest, the master, the leader, and it didn’t suit his image to be seen as weak and vulnerable. But he kept this little book all his life, so the poems obviously meant a great deal to him.”

The so-called “Amsterdam Notebook of Aleister Crowley” is priced at £12,500 and can be viewed starting Thursday at the Olympia . Here’s one of the poems.

The Red Lips of the Octopus

The red lips of the octopus
Are more than myriad stars of night.
The great beast writhes in fiercer form than thirsty stallions amorous
I would they clung to me and stung. I would they quenched me with delight.
The red lips of the octopus.
They reek with poison of the sea
Scarlet and hot and languorous
My skin drinks in their slaver warm, my sweats his wrapt embrace excite
The heavy sea rolls languishly o’er the ensanguined kiss of us.
We strain and strive, we die for love. We linger in the lusty fight
We agonize; our club becomes more cruel and more murderous.
My passion splashes out at last. Ah! with what ecstasy I bite
The red lips of the octopus.

Crowley’s bisexuality and libertine ways led to his expulsion from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1899, clearing the way for Crowley to develop his own magical order.
 

 
Via The Guardian

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll: The Michael Jackson, Aleister Crowley, Liberace connection


 
They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll is a mildly notorious 2004 Christian indoctrination video series meant to scare kids away from Satanic rock music, and even apparently some easy listening and country and western as well. (Young people have eclectic iTunes playlists and the devil’s minions know this.)

With an awful lot of screen time to fill, the producers of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll didn’t just go for the more obvious targets—KISS (aka “Kids in Satan’s Service”). Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc—they dug deeper into the Satanic morass, managing to pull Garth Brooks, Billy Joel and even Liberace into their rambling and logically spurious “thesis” which is spread out over either four or ten volumes (there are two versions):

Is it true that Satan is the master musician working behind the popular music scene and influencing our youth?

Fasten your seat belts as you go on an eye-popping ride upon the roller coaster of Rock, and find out how Rock’s most popular artists have Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll. In this mind-blowing exposé Pastor Joe Schimmel reveals just how Satan has been effectively using popular music to undermine God’s plan for the family and ultimately heralding the coming of the Antichrist and his kingdom on earth.

This full-length video series contains 10 hours of eye-popping, rare, and some never before seen footage that will leave you picking your jaw up off the ground, as you see hundreds of artists (most of whom are not covered in the abbreviated 3-hour version) being used by Satan to destroy many lives. Come behind the scenes with us as we expose the deceptive agendas of many of yesterday and today’s secular artists, such as: Elvis, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, U2, Creed, Madonna, Britney Spears, DMX, Tupac, Tori Amos, and many more.

It’s time to remove the blinders - guard yourself and those you love from one of Satan’s most powerful tools!

Ooh, talk about earnest. Naturally Marilyn Manson gets blamed for a lot of this devilish devilry and figures prominently, but ascribing all that infernal power to a dude who spends two hours doing his make-up before he leaves the house never seems to strike the producers as even the teensiest bit silly…

Pastor Joseph Schimmel is not actually the host of the series, as stated on the box cover—it’s actor Grant Goodeve who you might recall from The Love Boat, Eight is Enough or Northern Exposure. But if that is Schimmel breathlessly reciting the voice over—you can hear his saliva hitting the mic throughout the entire thing, as he repeatedly trips over his words—he should have paid Goodeve the extra bucks to narrate as well as host. It sounds like he’s amped up on crank and drooling the entire time. Say it, don’t spray it, Reverend…

Here’s one particularly good short sample of the, er… charms, I guess, of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll that explains how Michael Jackson used an Aleister Crowley-style ritual to contact the spirit of Liberace! Crowley gets blamed for everything here, don’t you know? Scroll in to about 2:20 to start.
 

 
image
 
Part one of They Sold Their Souls for Rock N Roll. Should you wish to torture yourself with more, it’s easy enough to find the rest. I recommend the Amazon reviews.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The socialist politician Aleister Crowley nominated as his successor
04.25.2014
10:23 am

Topics:
History
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley
Tom Driberg

yelworcgrebird1.jpg
 
The name Tom Driberg might not mean much today, but Driberg was at the center of nearly every major political and cultural event during the twentieth century. He was, as his biographer Francis Wheen described him, like Woody Allen’s fictional creation “Zelig,” for Tom had been:

...on the picket lines of the General Strike, in Spain during the civil war, in America for Pearl Harbor, in Paris for the liberation, in Buchenwald just after it was relieved, in Korea with the Royal Marines, in London when it was Swinging.

Driberg was a respected British politician, a member of parliament and Chairman of the Labour Party. He was also a journalist and author. As a young man at Oxford University he had been part of the gilded “Brideshead” generation, alongside Evelyn Waugh, W. H. Auden (who he introduced to T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland), and Cyril Connolly, who later wrote of this privileged group:

“We were the last generation of womanless Oxford. Men who liked women were apt to get sent down.”

At university, Driberg indulged his sexual tastes and formed his political allegiance to the Communist Party. He had a brief career as a poet and became friends with Sacheverell and Osbert Sitwell.

After university he started his career as a journalist establishing and writing the “William Hickey” gossip column for the conservative Daily Expres. Though Driberg married Ena Mary Binfield in 1951, he was gay and lived a dangerously promiscuous life in the decades before homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain. Driberg mixed with a variety of notorious gay underworld figures, including Ronnie Kray with whom Driberg was rumored to have had an affair. He also mixed with royalty and celebrities, such as Mick Jagger with whom he discussed revolution and politics and tried to convince the singer into standing for parliament as a Labour MP.

Driberg was expelled from the Communist party. He had links to MI5, knew double-agent and Guy Burgess and was always suspected of alleged treachery. In later years, Driberg famously supported the legalisation of cannabis and contributed to satirical magazine Private Eye where he compiled the crossword. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore famously satirized Driberg as a lecherous and predatory homosexual in stockings and suspenders.

Driberg may seem like a mythical figure, but this brief summation only skims the surface of his life. Indeed, one of the more incredible tales in Driberg’s biography was his association with Aleister Crowley and how the “Great Beast” chose Driberg to be his successor.

When Driberg was at university his writing came to the attention of Aleister Crowley who for whatever reason took an interest in his verse poem “Homage to Beethoven” and invited the young man to lunch at the Eiffel Tower restaurant.

Crowley was already there when I got to the Eiffel Tower. He stood up, stout, bald and middle-aged, in a well-cut plus-four suit of green hand-woven tweed, and greeted me. Then, as we sat down, he said, in a rather high cracked, donnish voice: ‘Pardon me while I invoke the Moon.’

We did not on this occasion go into these deeper matters. I asked him whether at this time he was performing any magical ceremonies in London. He took the opportunity to explain that they were very expensive to set up—the pentacle must be just so, et cetera, or it could be dangerous. All the same, a lot of rubbish had been written about his magic. Magic was simply ‘the art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.’ It operated in quite everyday ways: when you used the telephone it was magic, or would have been thought so a century ago.

After their lunch together, Driberg saw Crowley again from time to time. The Great Beast was under the misapprehension Driberg was rich, a belief founded on Driberg being part of the “Brideshead” generation at Christ Church college, Oxford. Crowley kept hinting to the young poet about the great works he still had to achieve, and his need of finance.

One day [Crowley] wrote to tell me that he had found a reference to myself in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The actual quote was: ‘From no expected house shall this child come’—and ‘what house.’ asked Crowley, ‘could be more unexpected than Aedes Christi?’ (Christ Church—the House’). It was hard to tell if he were serious or joking, as when, soon after this, he told me that he had decided to nominate me as his successor as World Teacher. He had assumed this role some years earlier, and dated all his letters from the year and the day of his epiphany.

However, Driberg wasn’t too impressed by Crowley’s proclamation as he had heard of one other man to whom Crowley had made the same offer.

...and I hope that he, rather than I, has inherited the burdensome legacy.

A few years later, after Driberg had left Oxford and started his career as the gossip columnist “William Hickey” at the Daily Express, he was contacted by a music-hall illusionist called The Great Cosmo who had acquired a trunk (“either as payment in lieu of rent or in the course of a moonlight flit”) that contained a selection of Crowley’s letters and journals.

I went along to see Cosmo. The letters were not ‘compromising’, but I relieved him of them. He also let me have something much more interesting—a small square volume, bound in red morocco and encased in baroque silver which must once must have held a missal or a breviary: this contained Crowley’s manuscript diary, recording his daily magical and sexual doings, for the period covering Loveday’s death at Cefalu and Mussolini’s subsequent expulsion of Crowley from Italy. (He set up another ‘temple’ in Tunis.) It also contained a number of pages bearing what may be called oaths of allegiance, signed in Crowley’s presence by various devotees.

Amongst these devotees was the journalist and “distinguished mathematician”  J. W. N. Sullivan, and on the front page of the diary Crowley had written all the titles he had given himself “Το Μεγα Θηριον” (“The Great Beast”), “The Eternal Word” and “The Wanderer of the Waste.” Having possession of Crowley’s intimate diary gave Driberg the chance to play a trick on the occultist.

One evening Driberg was invited by Crowley to dinner for curry (cooked by himself) and a few bottles of Moët and Chandon’s champagne.

Then Crowley did what he had often done before: he drew the little diagram known as the pentacle, used for telling fortunes by ancient Egyptians, and asked me to stare into the central space between the lines and tell him what I could see. I had never before seen, or pretended to see, anything: but now I recalled the little manuscript diary—which he did not know that I had—and began, in a trance-like voice, to describe it: the shining baroque silver, a monstrance with a Host on one side of it, the red leather, the writing inside which I could not quite read…I had never seen Crowley so staggered: he leaned forward in desperate eagerness. ‘Go on,’ he said, ‘go on!’ But the vision faded. ‘Try again,’ he pleaded. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I can’t see anything more…though perhaps if we had another bottle of Moët…?’

This was, I fear, a rather mean trick to play on the old boy: I excused it to myself by reflecting that it had given him such obvious amazed delight to see one of his own bits of magic actually coming true.

As Francis Wheen notes about the whole affair in his biography of Driberg:

...it was Tom who made the money out of Crowley, not vice versa. By rather dubious means he acquired Crowley’s manuscript diary…many years later Tom sold this for a handsome sum to Jimmy Page, the guitarist with the rock group Led Zeppelin.

In 1973 Tom raised more money by auctioning at Christie’s several volumes presented to him by Crowley. They included a copy of The Book of the Law, inscribed ‘To True Thomas of Eildon Hills with all best wishes from Boleskine and Alertarff’.

Tom Driberg died of a heart attack in 1976. His autobiography Ruling Passions was published posthumously, and the definitive biography The Soul of Indiscretion by Francis Wheen was published in 1990.

Below, the Great Beast speaks: Here’s Aleister Crowley’s recording of “The Call Of The First Ćthyr.”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Aleister Crowley, self-proclaimed Antichrist; Victorian hippie
10.12.2013
04:40 pm

Topics:
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley


 
Happy Crowleymass, everyone! Aleister Crowley, thee Great Beast 666 was hatched from a dragon’s egg on this very day in 1875.

Below, I discuss Uncle AL on the History Channel TV series, How Sex Changed The World

I had fun doing this show and I got to explain a general concept of sex magic to middle America! Good times!

The Crowley segment starts at about the 5:50 mark.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘DO NOT EAT THE CAKE OF LIGHT!’ Dangerous Minds attends Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass
10.06.2013
08:25 pm

Topics:
Belief
Occult

Tags:
Aleister Crowley


 
“A certain magician may 100% believe in the existence of spirits or gods actually existing in the universe,” explains Adrian Dobbie, President of the Electoral College of the UK chapter of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis. “Or, if you do some magical evocation to summon a spirit of the Goetia and you communicate with it, that it is definitely a thing. And then there’s a whole other bunch of people, Crowley being one of them, who say, ‘actually these are simply properties of the mind.’ Personally”—he takes a pull on his pint—“I fall into the camp of the agnostic concerning whether these things exist.”

The two of us are sat in a very old pub in the City of London, near where Adrian works, surrounded by lawyers and bankers whose girth looks directly proportionate to their wealth—as if they got so fat literally eating money. For his part, the magician opposite me is a lean, healthy early forties, with short dark hair, a neat beard, and a ready wolfish smirk. (We have, unsurprisingly, picked out a quiet corner for our discussion.)

“The first solo ritual I ever did was very powerful to me,” he continues. “Because although I thought I’d rid myself of the whole Christian dogma—of a God in the sky who’s gonna punish me and all that stuff—the impact of that first, relatively innocuous ritual had on me was incredible. I thought: if the Bible is right I’m going to hell. That’s the line in the sand.”

A longtime Crowley reader and admirer, Adrian joined the OTO about a decade ago. I ask him about his first impressions—how the OTO’s 21st Century incarnation compared, say, to the Crowley heyday he must have grown up reading about…

“My initial experience was extremely positive. I was looking to contact the genuine article; I was looking for mentors, and I got that in spades. The OTO’s ‘heyday’ is today. When Crowley was alive, there was basically just one lodge in the whole world, and when he died there was still just a handful of people in the OTO—fifteen or thirty. Now, there’s over three thousand… But it’s nowhere near what it could be,” he concedes. “We’re still hiring community halls, and we’re still meeting in people’s houses. One of the biggest thing people have to overcome when they first get involved is a sense of disappointment. But that’s one of the first tests.”

Following our four-pints/interview, Adrian is nice enough to invite me to a Gnostic Mass in his native Brighton. (The official invitation attached to the email informs me that the ritual—designed by Crowley, and the organisation’s central rite—was to be preceded by a “TEDx” style talk!)

So, on an overcast September Sunday, I jump on a train from London, arriving in Brighton around midday. It is drizzling and cold. Stripped of her summer finery, the city feels provincial and drab, abandoned to its druggy intrigues for another nine months.

I may as well lay my cards on the table. Raised Catholic, and carrying a jangling jumble of latent Christian bric-a-brac, I prefer to remain precariously perched on the metaphysical fence. In short, I’m keen to cop a glimpse of a Gnostic Mass, but averse to actually nibbling some Cake of Light.

Regarding which, incidentally, I have other, altogether more mundane concerns…

A couple of days ago, I emailed a friend and mentioned my pending trip to Brighton. Their unexpected, seven-word response had read precisely thus: “DO NOT EAT THE CAKE OF LIGHT.” When I had inquired as to the source of such uncharacteristic upper-case vehemence, he had briefly responded that said cake reportedly included the priestess’s menstrual blood!

[Author’s Note: The OTO would like me stress that in fact the Cake of Light contains the merest homeopathic hint of this, shall we say, unorthodox ingredient. “A single drop of blood (which may be of any kind),” they write—sort of almost disappointingly really—“is mixed into the dough of one singular cake. That cake is then baked before being burned entirely to ash, which is then mixed into the dough of a batch that could make up to 50 or more cakes.” Your correspondent had imagined a kind of womb-drawn black pudding or occultnik yucky cookie. Which it very definitely is not. No occultists are ever harmed in the making of a Gnostic Mass.]
 

 
Quarter of an hour early, and frowning at my creased and printed map, I nervously shuffle up a gravel driveway running beneath a block of flats corseted in scaffolding. I’m early. At the end of the driveway less than half a dozen men are standing around outside the entrance of a small faux-Victorian community center.

Before I even reach them I can already hear the tripwires in my psyche (and stomach) a-twanging.

Adrian isn’t about, but I mention his name and introductions are made. This is a special, invitational Gnostic Mass, and a couple, like me, are invitees (though presumably bona fide neophytes rather than tremulous hacks). At least one seems a little nervous, while the OTO initiates—mostly middle aged men with either long hair or none, each with unusually pale blue eyes—inspect us with that slightly salacious curiosity with which people on one side of an experience examine those at its verge.

In the pub Adrian had referred to magick as “psychological transgression.” I can see what he means! The atmosphere is a distinct mixture of the religious and the illicit—as if we were all here for an afternoon of metaphysical dogging.

More people start to arrive, men and women now of varying ages and types. Adrian, our priest, emerges from the community hall along with our priestess, a beautiful Eastern European with dark eyes and darker jewelry. I smile and nod and shake hands, leaning up against a parked car and feeling disingenuously attired in the guise of a prospect.

A thickset guy perhaps in his early thirties, with protuberant features and a hoodie baring a Crowley sigil, strikes up some conversation. He seems simultaneously affable and sly, and describes a weekend that has taken him from Glastonbury to London to Brighton, conducting various initiations. “We have a saying here,” he says matter-of-factly, fishing out a prepackaged sandwich. “No-one’s going to teach you but there’s lots of people who will help you learn.” He tucks in. It’s cheese and onion, and with each dizzying bite it occurs to me that, given the choice between this and Cake of Light, I might very well plonk for the latter.

“The tech,” he mutters (I think—?), “is powerful.”

“The tech?”

He looks at me, a little incredulously.

“The magick. The magick is very powerful. You might leave with a big smile on your face and you don’t know where it’s come from, or you might not get anything for a couple of days. But you’ll get something.”

“I was kind of hoping just to observe. Is it obligatory to participate?”

He gives me a very close look. It enters me like a stick gauging the depth of the water.

“Everyone,” he says, firmly, “is expected to take the sacrament.”

Shit.

He slips off, leaving me to freak out. I’m feeling as conspicuous as the copper in The Wicker Man

To my left stands a rather dapper old hippy with bright white beard and hair. I seem to remember being introduced to him as a fellow guest. We nod at one another.

“So,” I ask, venturing some occult small talk, “is this your first Gnostic Mass?”

“No, but it is my first for maybe… fifteen years.”

“Why the wait?”

“Oh,” he says, narrowing his (very blue) eyes. “I haven’t been waiting at all.”

Hail Mary, full of grace

I’m just readying myself to go scrambling back up the drive, pebbles pinging off my kicking heels, when the rain picks up, and the congregation, now thirty strong, begins to file into the community hall. And, against my better judgment, I file in along with them.

Within the twee, cake-sale space, an OTO temple has been installed – an effect both amusingly incongruous and disturbing, like an Alsatian mounting a poodle. I clock an embroidered checkerboard, Eye of Horus and nosediving dove, but much seems to be “occluded” in anticipation of the mass (we have, remember, that “TEDx-style” talk scheduled first)—what looks like an alter peeps out above a thick purple curtain.

Chairs have been laid out in rows before a little lectern, which Adrian presently ascends for the oration.

“There’s been a lot of speculation,” he begins, “about this being some kind of big OTO recruitment drive or something like that. So I just want to clear this up right away… it absolutely is.”

The room cracks up. Adrian, in his hyper-articulate fashion, talks Crowley, the OTO, and religious freedom for half an hour. The atmosphere, to be sure, is pretty dense—I’m certainly feeling the tech—and I sit desperate to leave but pinned to my seat by a combination of politeness and self consciousness.

Following the talk a loose-limbed discussion ensues, until the seated priestess starts catching Adrian’s eye and tapping her wrist. I try to remember if, in the Inferno, Virgil ever sweeps a hand across a burning lake of yelping Englishmen, nonchalantly explaining to Dante how “these dickheads managed to damn themselves out of social awkwardness.” Any second, I guess, the Gnostic Mass will get underway, they’ll break out the Cake of Light, and it’ll be even harder to leave.

“Right everyone,” says Adrian, taking the priestess’s visual cue. (This, I suppose, is it. Open wide.) “We’re going to have a short break now, while we get everything ready for the Gnostic Mass.”

Hallelujah! The rain has let up, and about three quarters of the congregation shuffles back outside for a pre-prandial cigarette and chat, while the remaining occultists busy themselves rearranging the chairs, pulling back the curtains, and preparing the hall. I goosestep over them, making a beeline for an amused and bemused Adrian, who I shower in incoherent apologies before hightailing it back to London…
 

 

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
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