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Aleister Crowley & the enchantment of the wicked man

Aleister Crowley & the enchantment of the wicked man

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Published by Mogg Morgan
‘AC was the embodiment of evil, addicted to bestiality, ritual blood sacrifice and corruption of the young.’
(see Guardian Tabloid 2nd July 1997 p.4 by Peter Stanford)

Such is the most widespread assessment of the nature of Aleister Crowley, an opinion now so entrenched in the popular imagination that in my opinion it would be pointless to try and counteract it. Crowley is now one of the folk heroes of the twentieth century, an anti-hero if you like and in my professional capacity as a publisher I find it fruitful to work with this image, for good or ill, rather than to try to work against it. This has brought me a measure of commercial success; I find it easier to generate publicity for our books with such a subject. The little quote I read out at the beginning is an example of this kind of work.
‘AC was the embodiment of evil, addicted to bestiality, ritual blood sacrifice and corruption of the young.’
(see Guardian Tabloid 2nd July 1997 p.4 by Peter Stanford)

Such is the most widespread assessment of the nature of Aleister Crowley, an opinion now so entrenched in the popular imagination that in my opinion it would be pointless to try and counteract it. Crowley is now one of the folk heroes of the twentieth century, an anti-hero if you like and in my professional capacity as a publisher I find it fruitful to work with this image, for good or ill, rather than to try to work against it. This has brought me a measure of commercial success; I find it easier to generate publicity for our books with such a subject. The little quote I read out at the beginning is an example of this kind of work.

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Published by: Mogg Morgan on Sep 21, 2009
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03/25/2012

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Aleister Crowley and the Enchantment of the Wicked Man
‘AC was the embodiment of evil, addicted to bestiality, ritual blood sacrifice andcorruption of the young.’
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(see Guardian Tabloid 2
nd
July 1997 p.4 by Peter Stanford)Such is the most widespread assessment of the nature of Aleister Crowley, an opinion nowso entrenched in the popular imagination that in my opinion it would be pointless to tryand counteract it. Crowley is now one of the folk heroes of the twentieth century, an anti-hero if you like and in my professional capacity as a publisher I find it fruitful to work withthis image, for good or ill, rather than to try to work against it. This has brought me ameasure of commercial success; I find it easier to generate publicity for our books withsuch a subject. The little quote I read out at the beginning is an example of this kind of work.In the following essay I explore some of these issues in more depth.I start with a look at Crowley as a magus, defining what this might mean and placing itwithin a general myth of the magus that he was heir to.I then go on to look at some historical and cross-cultural parallels with magi such asGurdjieff.Finally I reflect on how Crowley’s ‘wicked’ life has influenced me personally; examiningsome of the ‘wicked’ techniques that can be gleaned from the life of the master. I also bring in an eastern concept termed ‘killing the guru’ - the ultimate corrective to Crowley’s
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fraught example. Perhaps also mentioning some of my own run-ins with mad gurus, primarily Kenneth Grant and Dadaji. (Shri Gurudev Mahendranath)1. CrowleyI’ve already stated that I regard Crowley as a Magus. I don’t expect much disagreementwith that assessment but I suppose I better define what a magus might be. The term magi,from which we get the term magick is of obscure origin. Some think that the magi aresome kind of ‘caste’ or ethnic group that have existed throughout human history. Perhapsthe ‘magi’ were an ancient Persia ethnic group of, who underwent an involuntary diaspora.I’ve been playing around with some ideas from Buddhist studies - in Collins’ seminal book 
Selfless Persons
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 ,
the author makes a distinction between the ordinary adherent of areligion, who in for example Buddhism, aim for a good rebirth so they can live a lifedevoted to the spiritual quest. Set against these is what Collins calls the ‘virtuoso’ practitioner. They are usually monks; they may include priests but not so commonly. Ineastern religion they are a small minority of highly individualist practitioners. It made methink that the magi are rather like the fruit in a fruitcake!In ancient society, the magus always had a duel nature - not thought wholly evil or good.See for example
The Bacchae
,
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in which the character Dionysus uses ‘black magick’ for  possibly ‘good’ ends and where ‘a religion of indescribable beauty, rapture, holiness and joy prevailed over an uninspiring official cult by inhuman, indeed devilish means.’
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Thisambiguity was largely tolerated until 2000 years ago when there was a bit of a sea change
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in attitude. This of course coincides with the growth of the Christian cult to world religion
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 but the process of ‘demonisation’ of the magus has probably begun during the reign of emperor Augustus and the Roman hegemony and persecution of Egyptian religion.Crowley can, of course, be compared with Jesus Christ! That Jesus Christ was a magushas been said before in many important books. The full biography of JC
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 is an almostarchetypal version of the life of a magus. Perhaps one of JC’s most powerful pieces of magick was the destruction of the magus archetype itself. The concept of the wholly‘wicked magician’ seems to have first erupted into the collected consciousness with the‘life’ of Simon Magus
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and is therefore partly constructed by one group of Christianmagicians battling against another.
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The Biblical Acts of Peter, tell the story from the point of view of the victors, who unmask the ‘impostor’ and at the same time create thefirst wholly wicked magician.
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The dual nature of the magus, trickster and saint can be observed in almost any knownexample. For example Gurdjieff . Although G was a contemporary of Crowley’s and theymay even have met, they did not see eye to eye - magi seldom do.
 In his posthumousautobiography
Meetings With Remarkable Men
G. describes his colorful adventures inhyper reality. Some people think this book complete bullshit others find real spiritual truthshidden in its pages. I found G’s scams designed to raise a little cash to keep body and soultogether really amusing and educational:Suddenly the thought entered my head: ‘Why not try to make money with thesparrows? The inhabitants of this place, the Sarts, are very fond of canaries andother kinds of song birds; is a sparrow any worse than a canary?’… I made snares … a sparrow soon fell into one of the snares. I carefully took itout and carried it home.
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