Aleister Crowley

Discussion in 'Esoterica' started by caroleaswas, Feb 20, 2002.

  1. caroleaswas

    caroleaswas Justified & Ancient

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    I watched a very interesting programme on TV last night about Aleister Crowley. I'd heard of him and his connections with the occult, of course, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

    By gum, he were a bad bugger!!

    What's your opinion of him? Did he really have the power to summon evil forces? Was he possessed by evil spirits? Was he just plain evil or merely misunderstood?

    Carole
     
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  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    IMHO I don't think he was evil but he relished in the publicity that gave him. The Evil tag was just an example of good old Tabloid bull. Having read a few books about him I think he knew what he was talking about. As to if his magic worked, I have no idea, but it sounded interesting whilst I was a teenager:D .
    I reckon, if he was around today, he would just be looked on as a bit eccentric.
     
  3. beakboo1

    beakboo1 Justified & Ancient

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    I think he was just one more example of someone f*cked up by a too strict religeous upbringing. And what an egotist.
     
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I watched the show with some trepidation, but actually I thought it wasn't too bad.
    The problem is that people often apply their own agenda to 'Old Crow' and it is phenomenally difficult to cut through the bullsh*t that ensues and get a balanced picture of the man himself. He has become what ever people want him to be IYSWIM.

    Evil? Probably not but certainly egocentric, and determined to push everything to the limits just to see how far people would let him go. More Marilyn Manson than Charles I suspect.
     
  5. many_angled_one

    many_angled_one Ephemeral Spectre

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    I thought the program was unusually well researched and presented for an "occult" program.

    I do think he knew certain things yes. Bit of a mistake to stop that 6 month demon ritual because he couldnt be bothered though....what was it's name again?

    I don't think he was evil, just amazingly self-centered as to make most other people his tools.
     
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I thought the programme was pretty balanced, though the Xtians were clearly there just to make the numbers up.

    My feeling about Crowley is that he's a bit like Freud, in that he obviously had some important insights, but the flaws in his character meant that he took the whole thing further than was reasonable. His cultural legacy is in many ways more important than his actual works.

    In fact, his works are a bit like Jung's, large chunks of them being, to this reader, at least, pretty impenetrable.

    Although they don't like to admit it, modern pagans owe their movement almost entirely to Crowley. 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law'/'An it harm none do as thy will' - coincidence, I think not! For me that's one of his positive achievements.

    On the question of the Abra-Melin ritual, I've always thought it was quite spooky that the Loch Ness Monster comes to prominence (some would say into 'existence') only after Crowley fails to complete the ritual on the shores of the Loch.
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Firstly, I have to admit that I found the presentation of the programme very similar to last week's on Rasputin - all those spooky graphics and split second video clips - it's just a personal opinion but I do find them tedious after the first half hour.

    As for the subject himself - as I see it, Crowley was one of those highly charismatic people who can persuade those around him to do his will despite the consequences. There has been plenty of discussion on these boards of similar characters, who managed to exercise that power over many more people and to a much greater extent. Perhaps with the use of his charisma, plus a powerful voice, a clever use of fire and occult symbolism, Crowley persuaded those around him that they had witnessed the manifestation of evil spirits. What disturbs me is his ability to use these people to his own ends, with little or no concern for the damage to their welfare and mental health. The mountaineering story showed an early example of this disregard for others, even before he began his foray into the occult. Others may disagree but I feel that that's evil.
     
  8. beakboo1

    beakboo1 Justified & Ancient

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    I would agree that he was "evil", but what a wonderful voice he had! We have a record of him somewhere in the house, "The beast speaks" or some such nonsense. I wonder what he would have been like if he hadn't been born to an xtian family-quite a usefull member of society.
    What would we all have been if it wern't for St Paul? Pagans? Or would the Moslems have got here first?
    New thread possibly. But i can't be bothered.
     
  9. DerekH16

    DerekH16 Abominable Snowman

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    I got the impression that he was an egotistical 'poor little rich kid' who turned into a rebel without a clue. If he'd believed in the occult that he was practicing, would he have started, never mind abandoned, such a supposedly dangerous ritual? Instead, he took pleasure wherever he could find it, and abandoned people for whom he had responsibilities.

    Not a nice chap. :)
     
  10. JamesWhitehead

    JamesWhitehead Piffle Prospector

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    Derek is spot on, I think. Reading Crowley's stuff, I feel he was an
    ironist who did not fully believe his own vapourings.

    He attracted an entourage of thrill-seekers but did not seem to
    frisk them for fat wallets quite so efficiently as today's cultists.

    He avoided and was avoided by people more intelligent than
    himself. Those he did encounter eg. Maugham, regarded him as
    a figure of monstrous vanity rather than Evil. :cross eye
     
  11. caroleaswas

    caroleaswas Justified & Ancient

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    Very interesting views, everybody - thanks!

    But, if he wasn't pure evil, what is? Is it possible for evil to be manifested in one person, or do we blame it on mental illness or some such? For example was Hitler himself pure evil, or did he just set in train a series of events carried out by others? He himself didn't kill anyone (unless he did in the Great War), but was ultimately responsible for the killing of millions.

    Carole
     
  12. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I don't think people can be labelled as definitively 'good' or 'evil' but their actions certainly can be can be. Evil would seem to be an effect rather than a cause.
    Branding someone as evil can also be seen as a cop-out in some ways because in effect it is denying that all human beings have an equal potential to do great harm.
     
  13. caroleaswas

    caroleaswas Justified & Ancient

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    Well then, what do you think causes evil actions?

    Carole
     
  14. tastyintestines

    tastyintestines Justified & Ancient

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    free will maybe, i could be wrong, but couldn't a evil person do some good things for humanity, therefore people who only saw those actions think that he was a helpfull and kind person, so i believe its the actions that are evil or good, does that make any sense?
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I would also say that evil actions come from people having free will.
    All humans have the choice to act for the good, or to the detriment, of others. The evil comes in the suffering the latter choice causes. It is possible therefore for someone who usually does good things to make an evil decision or do an evil deed and vice versa. It is also possible for evil to result from someone acting from 'good' motives.
     
  16. beakboo1

    beakboo1 Justified & Ancient

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    Call me a sentimental old fool, but I always think that people do bad things because they're unhappy, afraid and/or desparate in some way. Apart from psychopaths, who are damaged somehow. I work with a psychopath (my diagnosis), and once you've got to know one a bit, the difference is obvious.
     
  17. caroleaswas

    caroleaswas Justified & Ancient

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    Good point, but where does the evil come from? This has probably been discussed in other threads, but is there something (satan?) that causes this evil, or is it just a natural counterfbalance to good or what?

    Carole
     
  18. harlequin2005

    harlequin2005 Abominable Snowman

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    Is there actually a universal standard of good and evil? Or simply shades of grey, which are examined against the 'local' standards of morality?



    8¬)
     
  19. DerekH16

    DerekH16 Abominable Snowman

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    Many of the world's great 'evils' - things like the spate of witchcraft 'trials' a few hundred years back - are started by people doing what they think is good, right and proper.

    It also depends on viewpoint - the Mongol hordes were regarded as evil, rapacious barbarians - but the Khans were, in their eyes, extending civilisation. (In Genghis Khan's day, it was said that a virgin, carrying a bag of gold, could lead a donkey from one end of the empire to the other, and arrive with donkey, gold and virginity intact - a claim that could be made for no other kingdom of the time.)

    OK, this is a limited explanation, and I don't have a universal definition of good and evil, but nobody's perfect! :)
     
  20. JamesWhitehead

    JamesWhitehead Piffle Prospector

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    It may seem strange to accuse Crowley of a lack of imagination but
    he seems to have felt that his creative approach to reality needed to be
    played out in flesh and blood. Poetry wasn't good enough - well his
    certainly wasn't!

    His personal behaiviour seems to be that of a dominant male, exercising
    his will within a fairly small sphere of influence. For every such dominator
    there are plenty of willing acolytes. There are a lot of dark questions
    about pleasure, pain and sexuality at the heart of what we regard as
    Evil and what may pass as mutual pleasure.

    The real damage seems to be done when such flawed personalities rise
    to positions of power and influence in society, though even the freelance
    psychopath can leave a terrible trail of damaged lives. :(
     
  21. _Lizard23_

    _Lizard23_ Justified & Ancient

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    I am far from a Crowley apologist, and it is difficult to find out the truth about such a "mythic" figure.
    I enjoyed the programme but hmmmmm - some of the commentary ..... I have read the text of the Abremalin ritual - it is a means of coming to contact your higher self pretty much, and is ridiculously, impossibly hard work (as is most occult stuff, it is written that way to keep it occult ie hidden) - it involves withdrawing completely from society and eating really badly, working really hard etc .... it isn't really "dangerous" in the way implied in the programme, as far as I could ascertain, the main danger being of exhausion or going a bit loopy from lack of contact with other folk.
    Similarly, while the Goetia is considered an advanced magickal thingy, with contracts being made with "demons", Enochian magick is concerned with contacting "angels" ... basically both are about getting "spirits" (ie external forces) to do stuff for you or give you info, and many consider that these "external forces" are actually externalized forces - ie aspects of your own personality or will or whatever or like archetypes etc etc, like the thought-forms and egregors and servitors etc etc of the various flavours of magic(k) ... and so it is about as "dangerous" or "evil" as saying "I am going to use the part of me that is good with machines to get me a job in I.T."!

    Well.

    All in all Crowley did some reasonable work (his qabbalistic correspondence stuff like 777 is fairly highly regarded and his Tarot stuff is nice) and he both popularized and ultimately demonized magick much like Leary did with LSD (ie he went public big style but ultimately that kinda gave it a bad name) and his influence on modern magick is felt pretty strongly as a result.

    Apart from that he was a very naughty and utterly self-obsessed w*nker but I wouldn't say he was evil, nor "possessed" as the programme implied; possibly a psychopath as regards his complete lack of concern for the welfare of others, but not really a monster.
    I don't have much time for the Thelemites I have come across, as they seem to have adopted his egotism and erm manipulative sexual proclivities and forgotten about the magick ..... like heavy metal etc takes the idea of Satan from "Satanism" without ever actually finding out what Satanism is actually about (ie. not "worshipping the devil").

    Sorry. Long rambling post. Just my 2p.
     
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  22. many_angled_one

    many_angled_one Ephemeral Spectre

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    wintermute - the Loch Ness Monster tales had been around for centires before Crowley's time...it just got famous about then!
    I think the first recorded encounter with it was in the 565 AD by Saint Columba. legends had abounded far before that thogh.

    Here is a translation I found off the web.

    Also at another time, when the blessed man was for a lumber of days in the province of the Picts, he had to cross the river Nes [Ness]. When lie reached its bank, he saw a poor fellow being buried by other inhabitants; and the buriers said that, while swimming not long before, he had been seized and most savagely bitten by a water beast. Some men, going to his rescue in a wooden boat, though too late, had put out hooks and caught hold of his wretched corpse. When the blessed man heard this, he ordered notwithstanding that one of his companions should swim out and bring back to him, by sailing, a boat that stood on the opposite bank. Hearing this order of the holy and memorable man, Lugne mocu‑Min obeyed without delay, and putting off his clothes, excepting his tunic, plunged into the water. But the monster, whose appetite had earlier been not so much sated as whetted for prey, lurked in the depth of the river. Feeling the water above disturbed by Lugne’s swimming, it suddenly swam up to the surface, and with gaping mouth and with great roaring rushed towards the man swimming in the middle of the stream. While all that were there, barbarians and even the brothers, were struck down with extreme terror, the blessed man, who was watching, raised his holy hand and drew the saving sign of the cross in the empty air; and then, invoking the name of God, he commanded the savage beast, and said: “You will go no further. Do not touch the man; turn back speedily”. Then, hearing this command of the saint, the beast, as if pulled back with ropes, fled terrified in swift retreat; although it had before approached so close to Lugne as he swam that there was no more than the length of one short pole between man and beast.Then seeing that the beast had withdrawn and that their fellow- soldier Lugne had returned to them unharmed and safe, in the boat, the brothers with great amazement glorified God in the blessed man. And also the pagan barbarians who were there at the time, impelled by the magnitude of this miracle that they themselves had seen, magnified the God of the Christians.”

    I fully aprove of the Lovecraft excerpt by the way :)


    Crowley did have a great voice, would have made a bundle on redio, tv trailers or voiceovers today!
     
  23. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Crowley + Nessie

    My understanding is that there are no reports of anything resembling the LNM either before or after the alleged Columba incident, until the 1930's, when there's a (some would say suspicious) rash of reports.

    The Columba text has always struck me as either legend plain & simple, or if based on a real event, describing a much more aggressive and river-dwelling creature than anything reported subsequently.

    It pretty clear that the LNM isn't a biological entity, and while I don't really believe Crowley brought it up from the depths, the coincidence is striking.

    I'm suprised no-one has referred to the fact that, although it was not entirely an original idea, Crowley's insistence that it was possible to achieve trascendent states through sex is one of his lasting contributions, despite the fact that his practice in this matter was clearly exploitative. Not to excuse him, but we do have to view some of his actions in terms of the culture of the day, just as we do with other Victorians (and Crowley is in many ways the prime example of 'When Victorians Go Bad').

    (I'm aware he wasn't historically Victorian, but cuturally he was)

    On the matter of Evil, this is essentially a faith based question. How evil is defined and where it comes from are theological issues, and your answers will depend on your religious belief. On a multifaith forum like this I suspect a consensus is impossible.
     
  24. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

  25. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Incidentally, the web site refered to in the last post is owned by 'Bishop' Sean Manchester.
     
  26. FraterLibre

    FraterLibre Justified & Ancient

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    odinz9
    Crowley's Reputation Myth'd the Point

    Crowley was simply not what he's been portrayed. Check this review of Lawrence Sutin's superb biography, which manages to make him human, understandable, and even poignant while giving him his due in the many areas of human endeavor he pursued.

    http://www.xprojectmagazine.com/features/books/aleistercrowley.html
     
  27. Lionheart43

    Lionheart43 Fresh Blood

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    Crowley wasn't evil. Name one thing that he did which you would consider to be truly evil.

    He was selfish and self-absorbed at times but he wasn't evil. He was smart, didn't want to limit himself and didn't like long term relationships. Plus he got a lot of magickal work done and was angry at himself for being lazy. Badda-bing, badda-boom,badda-aleister.
     
  28. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Identifying Crowley's Evil

    There are so many to choose from. Where does one start? Perhaps the most appalling (and, let us not forget, that Crowley was expelled from Italy amid rumours of carrying out such acts) is his recommendation for child sacrifice, which, not unnaturally, has been subsequently emulated by some would-be followers of Crowlianity. I have personally spoken to disciples of Crowley who have privately admitted that they would sacrifice children if there was any chance of them getting away with it, and they would not have to suffer the consequences of such detestable crimes. One person who carried out a ritual child sacrifice, inspired solely by the writings of Aleister Crowley, is Henry Bibby.

    On 12th February 2001 Henry Bibby (alias Edward Crowley) was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Old Bailey for carrying out a Crowleyite ritual of child sacrifice on an innocent twelve-year-old victim. He was obsessed with the Satanist and changed his name to “Edward Crowley” in 1998. He had stabbed the boy, Diego Pineiro-Villar, over thirty times in Covent Garden, London, on 8th May 2000. Police found a holdall that Bibby had kept with him. It contained a small number of legal documents about his change of name, and a chilling sketch that police believe was drawn a few weeks before the attack. Entitled Delendus Est Pineiro, which roughly translates as “destroy Pineiro,” the pencil diagram makes references to child sacrifice, black magic and Greek mythology. The symbols relate to quotations from Crowley’s works. There are a number of references to child sacrifice. The most notorious came from Aleister Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice. It reads: “For the highest spiritual working one must accordingly choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force. A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim.”

    It could be argued that Adolf Hitler never actually murdered a single person himself, but that his written work Mein Kampf, and his speeches, inspired others who followed him to do so. Do we hold Hitler guilty or not? How much more so, then, are we obliged to consider the guilt of Crowley, who almost certainly did partake in the death of certain of his victims.
     
  29. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    OK - lets knock this one on the head. This comes from Crowley taking the piss out of people who'd fallen for his 'Wickedest Man in The World' self-mythologising. He was actually referring to male masturbation, acccording to the (relatively sane) Crowley followers I've spoken to.

    The fact that there are some 'Crowleyites' out there who don't understand this doesn't reflect on Big Al's morality either way. Although I'm not an Xtian, I don't blame Jesus for (say) the conversion by force of the natives of what's now South America.

    There's enough to indict Crowley on without this false allegation, which plays into the hands of Xtian fundamentalists - for starters:

    1)His failure to assist a member of a climbing party who died as a result of Crowley's inabilty to understand his responsibilities

    2)His treatment of his acolytes, in particular his 'scarlet women' which shows a complete lack of concern for them as people. thus undermining any claim he might have had to spiritual insight.

    3)His racist and sexist world view.
     
  30. FraterLibre

    FraterLibre Justified & Ancient

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    Driven

    Let's not forget that Uncle Al adored driving the paranoid xtian loons to distraction, too.

    This is getting hilarious. What other dire horror shall our plucky anti-hero be accused of? Stay tuned...

    On more serious matters: While I agree with criticizing his racist and sexist attitudes, and how he treated his followers, certainly less than enlightened, I'm not at all convinced of his perfidy in the climbing incident, having read so many conflicting claims from so many climbers any time anything goes wrong. Check out Jon Krakauer's relatively balanced book about the recent Everest debacle, Into Thin Air, and contrast it to Beck Weathers's account, Left For Dead.

    I'm not saying his behavior was good or bad on the mountain, only that it's impossible for even those who were there to know for certain.
     

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