Thelema is the Law of freedom articulated by Aleister Crowley. He shaped Ordo Templi Orientis into a Thelemic fraternity and Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica into a Thelemic church. He wrote extensively on Thelemic magic and taught many people in his lifetime.
So who was he? He’s been called a genius and the wickedest man in the world. Since he died in 1947, more than half a century ago, few if any are alive who actually knew him. Fortunately those who did know him left many documents, and he left a wide variety of writing himself, including volumes of his magical diaries, all rich materials for biographies.
There are numerous books covering his life, some sensationalist, some serious. How to choose? Here are the top three biographies on Kindle, which fortunately are the most accurate and informative on both the factual level and in terms of analysis of his life and work.
The Eye in the Triangle: An Interpretation of Aleister Crowley. Israel Regardie, Nicholas Tharcher, Robert Anton Wilson and Christopher S. Hyatt.
Kindle Rank: 548,137
Regardie was Crowley’s secretary and friend, then ex-friend. His biography is personal, colorful, and critical of the person while admiring the magician. First published in 1970, it is still an entertaining read.
Aleister Crowley: The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master – and Spy. Tobias Churton.
Kindle Rank: 336,429
Known for his books on Gnosticism, Churton’s outsider biography is surprisingly sympathetic, setting out to establish Crowley as a major thinker. In particular Churton clears him of the libel that he was a traitor to his country during the two world wars. Churton’s Crowley emerges as a sincere, even likeable English gentleman. This is a bracing corrective to the more sensationalist treatments of his life.
Perdurabo, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Richard Kaczynski.
Kindle Rank: 254,680
Dr. Kaczynski’s attention to detail and access to resources makes this the definitive work on the subject. When I need to look up a fact, this is the book I consult. That’s what makes it so satisfying to report that this is also the top selling Kindle biography of Aleister Crowley.