Aleister Crowley Part 56: DUDE IS NOT FUCKING 40 YET

As advertised: More Aleister Crowley! Giving the people…well, giving the people *something*.

Disclaimer: If you’re into Thelema/OTO stuff in general, that’s awesome! I mock Crowley himself, but he or his sources or those who followed him produced some insights, and it’s not like all the founders of all my own spiritual traditions were paragons of reason and emotional stability.

Frankly, any Western pagan or occultist these days needs to come to terms with the fact that most actual history of our practice boils down to “Brits With Issues want to have varyingly kinky sex, put a spin on a bunch of appropriated stuff, may have stumbled onto some mystical truths or helpful ceremonies in the process, well done.” I sort of distrust anyone who denies that: they’re likely to go on about the “Burning Times” and whatnot as well. 

Recap: Boy is raised by Evil Amish. Boy inherits money, goes to University, gets seriously into sex and drugs, has mystical buttsex experience, is a total asshole to fellow mountain climbers and really should have faced a negligent homicide charge at least. Man becomes involved in Occult Societies and Associated Drama, writes a lot of theory, claims to have made contact with multiple gods/demons, wanders around Europe and the Middle East taking drugs and fucking dudes but as a professional “occult bodyguard.” Man returns to the UK and produces Occult Actual Theatrical Drama, people wig, dude embraces the wigging in the same completely outsized and egocentric spirit with which he does everything including probably making tea. 

(“BEHOLD for I have prepared a cup of DARK AND BITTER FLUID for you to CONSUME.”
“…this is PG Tips, Al.”
“THE P IS FOR PENUMBRAL.”)

We pick up (skipping lightly over a period where Crowley wrote some stuff and hooked up with someone who Wiki, with admirable shade, calls “his next scarlet woman”) with Crowley doing the thing I probably hate him for most: coining the modern usage of “magick.”

If you haven’t spent much time in fantasy or pagan circles, then I’m not sure how to describe the craze for extra consonants and bad spelling (K and Y are to Okkulte Myyyyyyystyry what Z and X  were to Xtreme Znowboarding Lifeztylez in 1996) that has ensued over the last century or so. “Magick,” is endemic, of fucking course, and so is “magyck,” and I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen “majyck” in at least two places. “Wytch/Wyccane.” More pseudo-Olde-English than a Nantucket knicknack shop–excuse me, Shoppe. I don’t per se know that I can lay the blame for stringy-haired second-string vendors at Lilith Fair using “womon” or “womyn” or “wombyn” at Crowley’s feet, but I’m gonna do it anyhow, because: “magick.”

“Blah blah distinguish it from stage magic–” PEOPLE CAN READ FOR CONTEXT, EDWARD ALEXANDER, YOU PRETENTIOUS DRUG-ADDLED EDWARDIAN DIPSHIT.

…and now I need to refill my drink.

Crowley then continued his trend of kinda cuckooing his way into existing occult societies by publishing the “Book of Lies” (Contrarian Titles to Make a Point *probably* weren’t overdone in 1912, to be fair) which “accidentally” contained content similar to secrets of the existing Ordo Templi Orientis. (Which was German, because “Orient” or “Eastern” in Europe back then was roughly equivalent to “New Lemon-Fresh Scent.”)  The OTO’s founder and head, Theodor Reuss, was like “…the fuck, dude?” and Crowley wrote back all oh no it was just a coincidence really, which somehow got Reuss to forgive everything, decide that Crowley was his BFF, and initiate him. 

And by “initiate” I mean “make him head of the British OTO which we create togeeeether”–which was called the “Mysteria Mystica Maxima” because of course–and give him the title of “X° Supreme Rex and Sovereign Grand Master General of Ireland, Iona, and all the Britons.” Crowley’s magical name in the OTO was Baphomet, BECAUSE OF COURSE.

I’m of two minds about the whole “revealing secrets of my order” thing.

On the one hand: there are a lot of “OMG HE REVEALED THE MYSTICAL SECRETS” bits in Occult Order Draaama that really amount to, look, there are only so many ways occult shit works, especially when you’re both using a version of occult shit that is inspired by/blatantly ripped off from/a cocktail of Freemasonry, Jewish mysticism, Theosophy (with its own ripped-off-from-Indian-and-Native-American aspects) and Weird European Egypt Fappery. You’re gonna get rites for the four cardinal directions and channeling and probably a lot of Latin, your standard death-and-rebirth initiation system, Facing the Shadow, etc., and that’s…just how it goes really. Most “stealing ideas” scandals, whether in magic (fuck off extraneous k) or publishing, boil down to “your ideas are not actually that original.”

On the other hand: Crowley Was Fucking Crowley.

Either way, the process from “hey stop publishing my work, asshat,” to “hey buddy do you want to run operations in the UK” was really fast. Extremely persuasive letter? Extremely persuasive sex? (Reuss/the OTO *was* already into sex magic before Crowley.) (Which is like being into a band before it was cool, yes.) Reuss was just the most trusting person ever? Crowley’s first move was the 1912 mystical equivalent of negging? Possibly both of them were spies for British Intelligence?  A cursory look at the Internet reveals no definitive explanation.

If you’ve been reading these blog posts, I invite you to guess at the results of making “Baphomet” the Sovereign Grand Master Double Secret PowerThirst Brigadier General of the UK OTO.

(While you guess: if some adult model/OnlyFans channel doesn’t go by the name PowerThirst, we have failed as a species.)

Everyone who had “rewrote everything to be more Thelema-y and also added anal” may have a cupcake for Being Right. Existing OTO members didn’t seem to mind the anal but were all “…look I signed up for the OTO, not Weird Al’s House of Mystikal Insyghts,” which is frankly a refreshing change for pre-WWI Europe, like, way to have actual priorities OTO folks!

That said, if you’ve heard the name OTO in other contexts, you probably already know those guys didn’t win.

Despite being Master of All Britons (now *there’s* an H-game), Crowley then fucked off internationally again: first to Moscow, for BDSM and violins, and then to an apartment in Paris with that guy he’d gone all Dweller-in-the-Abyss with out in Algeria before. They lived together for like a year, did “The Paris Working” which Wiki, SHOCKINGLY, says involved “strong drug use” and “acts of sex magic,” because we couldn’t have figured that shit out on our own.

And then they broke up, dramatically enough that Crowley cursed the guy, although in all fairness it didn’t exactly seem like Crowley needed a whole lot of motivation for that. 

(“You TAINTED the SACRED FLUID.”
“I like milk and two sugars, Al.””MAY THE POWERS OF THE ABYSS CLAIM YOUR SOUL.”)

Still, a relationship that survived “hey let’s wander around in the desert while I shave your head and BTW kinda maybe try to kill you” disintegrated after a year max in Paris. This suggests either something about the rituals they were doing, something about the wisdom of living with one’s SO, or both.

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isabelcooper

I'm Izzy. I write stuff: mostly vaguely fantasy stuff, and most notably the following books: Hickey of the Beast, published March 2011 by Candlemark and Gleam Romance novels from Sourcebooks: No Proper Lady Lessons After Dark Legend of the Highland Dragon The Highland Dragon's Lady Night of the Highland Dragon Highland Dragon Warrior Highland Dragon Rebel Highland Dragon Master I also like video games, ballroom dancing, and various geeky hobbies like LARPing. I have been known to voluntarily purchase and eat circus peanuts. Like, a whole bag at once.

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