Mister Crowley

Heil the Great Mouthless One

Not long ago, Star Foster was wrestling with Thelema, the religion/spiritual philosophy that was developed by Aleister Crowley. It occurred to me that I know very little about Crowley beyond the pop culture bits, so I picked up a biography.

Before you meet Aleister, you naturally have to meet his father, Edward Crowley. That’s unfortunate, because Edward was one of the most irritating evangelicals ever. Here’s an example of his technique:

At other times, he would simply stop unsuspecting fellows on the street and ask what they were doing; after they answered, he would reply, “and then?” This question would repeat until the other inevitably answered with something like, “Well, I suppose I shall die.” This was the opening Crowley waited for, when he would interject the phrase he was known for: “Then you’d better get right with God!” He would then add the wretched soul’s name and address to his book and for years afterward send religious literature. [Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo]

I think we now know what Aleister was rebelling against.

  • vasaroti

    Foster’s blog is rather depressing – how sad for a 21st century human to be wasting mental effort on the concept of fate v. will.
    ” Paganism has become a movement rife with religious experimentation.”
    That’s because none of it works.

    • http://www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Pagan.html Star Foster

      I aim to please.

  • http://www.patheos.com/Religion-Portals/Pagan.html Star Foster

    Yeah, Crowley’s excesses were definitely a reaction against the Evangelical excesses of his upbringing. Deeply flawed human being who was also deeply brilliant. And the resurgence of his influence in the 60′s and 70′s is almost entirely due to the Beatles including him on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” I’ve been interested in how Thelema relates to Greek philosophy, particularly the Stoicism of Epictetus. Will probably write a long, boring post on it when I have time. But yeah, Crowley is fascinating. James Wasserman’s memoir “In The Center Of The Fire” details how Crowley influenced drug culture.

    • vorjack

      Will probably write a long, boring post on it when I have time.

      I look forward to it.

  • Andrew Irvine

    I find it odd that people can see why someone felt the need to make up a religion, track how they made up that religion, where they plagiarised their ideas and still think they were right.

    • Mark Temporis

      They’re all made up, some of them just admit it.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    Wait, what? Edward Crowley was the very first Facebook user EVAR?

    • UrsaMinor

      Hmmm, no. More like the first spammer.

      • Kodie

        Was he also the first person to get punched in the face?

        • trj

          No, evangelists had existed long before.

  • Nox

    The thing about his father makes perfect sense. I didn’t know that part, but there’s a definite intentional rebellion against strict christianity in Crowley’s worldview.

    He was an interesting cat. Had a talent for stylish blasphemy and a healthy disdain for repression. Went a different way with that than most here would, but was a clever original thinker. And those are always nice to find. Not really as supernatural as you might expect from all the magi imagery. Kind of more about using the power of rituals and symbols to focus one’s will.

    • Mark Temporis

      He was an interesting cat.

      I see what you did there.