Post by Joanna on Oct 12, 2016 17:56:54 GMT -5
Locations Where Aleister Crowley Worked His 'Magick'
Born October 12, 1875, Aleister Crowley was one of the strangest characters of the 20th century – a poet, magician, journalist, philosopher, spy, self-proclaimed drug fiend and sex addict and an alchemist – he was also known as “The Great Beast,” the “Beast 666 ” and the “wickedest man in the world.” Crowley played a major role in the creation of alternate religions such as Wicca, The Arcane Order and the Ordo Templi Orientis, and founded the Order of Thelema, a semi-Satanic cult, the edict of which is “Do what thou wilt.” Crowley is to the occult as Tolkien is to fantasy – he set the stage on which everyone else plays. If you’re dabbling in things dark and dastardly, Crowley was probably there first.
Crowley’s beliefs and practices led him to travel to faraway places. He pursued exploits in Egypt, India, the Far East, Australia, Europe and North America, dotting the world map with sex magick and weird stunts. Following are six locations where the infamous occultist left his mark:
Blythe Road. In London, 36 Blythe Road is the former site of the Temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Although he was interested in the occult from childhood, Crowley’s first foray into organized magic (or “magick”) was with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Well liked by its co-founder, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, Crowley advanced in the ranks very quickly. However, not everyone liked him. The London chapter, which was already dissatisfied with Mathers’s leadership, found the eccentric, bisexual Crowley intolerable, resulting in a rift between two factions of the Order, but Mathers declined to concede his leadership. In 1900, while the poet and London chapter leader W. B. Yeats was leading a meeting, he was attacked by an “astral siege” when Crowley, wearing a black Osiris mask and kilt, burst into the temple with his mistress. They brandished daggers and cast spells with the intention of taking the temple for Mathers, but failed. The police were called, the matter ended up in court and the London chapter of the Golden Dawn (which paid the rent on the building) came out ahead. Today, the nondescript George’s Café occupies the site.
Boleskine House. The property in Inverness, Scotland, was steeped in darkness long before Crowley purchased the it from the Fraser family in 1899. The manor is allegedly built over the ruins of a 10th century church that burnt to the ground during a service, killing all within. Crowley chose the dwelling overlooking Loch Ness as a place of seclusion where he could perform magic from The Book of Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. It was during this period that Crowley became famous for his occultism and black magic. At some point, Mathers called Crowley to Paris and he left without dispelling the “12 Kings and Dukes of Hell” he had summoned and there are those who believe the subsequent bad luck associated with Boleskin is a result of these evil spirits Crowley left behind:
First, the two children of Crowley’s housekeeper died suddenly and mysteriously. Crowley also bragged that one employee of the estate who had long abstained from alcohol got drunk and attempted to murder his family. Even after the house had changed hands, it still wasn’t free of the dark energy. In 1965, the army major who owned the house committed suicide with a shotgun. The next owner, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, spent very little time at the estate, instead bequeathing it to a friend who didn’t mind the unexplained creaks, groans and entities, but was bothered by the Crowley and Page fans who frequently attempted to break into the house and defiled the grounds. Subsequent owners did not speak of hauntings or devil worship, but in 2015, the residents returned from a shopping trip to find Boleskin House engulfed in flames.
The Medium’s House. In 1916, Crowley spent four months at the home (above) of renowned medium Evangeline Adams, located at 14 Church Lane, Hebron, New Hampshire, in what he called a “magickal retirement.” This didn’t mean he was taking a break from cocaine, heroin, sex magick and prolonged rituals, only that he wrote a lot of magical instructions and poetry. He even contributed to some of the astrology books Mrs. Adams wrote. The house is located next door to Union Congregational Church.
Esopus Island. At another magical retreat – this one in Hyde Park, New York – Crowley spent 40 days and 40 nights (à la Jesus Christ) on a tiny island in the Hudson River. His mission was to translate the Tao Te Ching, a 4th century Chinese philosophical text. He hadn’t brought much food, but had packed plenty of red paint, which he used to paint Thelemic graffiti on the island’s rocks. Curious onlookers watching the bald, robed man on the island from the banks of the Hudson began bringing him rations. He was also visited by fans and artists, who supplied food, drugs and company. Much later, Crowley claimed to have experienced visions of his past lives during his stay on Esopus Island. Interestingly, he was an influential figure in all his past lives, his former “selves” including legendary Taoist Ge Xuan, Renaissance Pope Alexander VI, alchemist Alessandro Cagliostro and the magician Eliphas Levi. Today, Esopus Island is open to the public, but can be reached only by boat. Camping is allowed on the island for those who wish to follow in the footsteps of the infamous occultist.
Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell). Crowley chose a cave in Cascais, Portugal, to fake his own death. In 1930, Crowley was upset at his mistress, Hanni Yaeger, who had abandoned him, and childishly decided to get even. His friend, the poet Fernando Pessoa, delivered Crowley’s suicide note to the newspapers – explaining the magical symbolics contained therein – and translating The Beast’s mangled Portuguese. Three weeks later, Crowley reappeared at the opening of an exhibition of his works in a Berlin gallery, suggesting the whole affair was a publicity stunt. Today, there is a small white plaque mounted on the rock that includes the text of Crowley’s note: “Não Posso Viver Sem Ti. A outra ‘Boca De Infierno’ apanhar-me-á não será tão quente como a tua,” the translation of which reads: “Can’t live without you. The other mouth of hell that will catch me won’t be as hot as yours.”
Abbey of Thelema. Crowley’s career as a master occultist peaked in the little Sicilian town of Cefalù, Sicily. For a small amount of money, the Beast, his two lovers (Leah Hersig and Ninette Shumway) and their small children, along with miscellaneous followers, moved into an old one-story farm laborer’s cottage on the Mediterranean sea and dubbed it the “Abbey of Thelema.” The common room, where there was a circle marked with the signs of the major Thelemic deities, was dedicated to ritual practices. Crowley’s bedroom, which he labeled “la chambre des cauchemars” (“the room of nightmares”), was hand-painted by the occultist himself with explicitly erotic frescos, hermaphroditic goblins and vividly-colored monsters. He used this room for special night initiations involving psychoactive drugs, which lent a terrifying cinematic life to his Bosch-like depictions of hellish debauchery.
Crowley considered his temple a school of magick and chose an appropriately collegiate motto: “Collegium ad Spiritum Sanctum” (“A College towards the Holy Spirit”). His Cefalù period was one of the most prolific and happy of his life, even though he suffered from drug addiction and was forced to write the scandalous Diary of a Drug Fiend to finance his endeavor. The growing interest in dark magic and the occult provided an ample student body, but in February 1923, the experience in monasticism ended when Raoul Loveday, a young disciple, tragically died of typhoid fever from a contaminated stream, which Crowley had warned wasn’t safe. Betty May, Loveday’s wife, determined to destroy Crowley, maintained her husband died from drinking cat’s blood.
Benito Mussolini did not care for pornographic art or mysticism and his government evicted Crowley and his followers in 1924. After the Abbey closed, the villagers whitewashed the demonic murals, erasing much of the history and work of Crowley in Cefalù. The Abbey of Thelema still stands, a hidden monument of mystifying magical decay.
Sources: Molly McBride Jacobson, AtlasObscura, Sept. 22, 2016; “Tiger-Woman: Betty May and the Abbey of Thelema” by Dr. Caroline Potter, A Sketch of the Past, October 2013; and “Scarlet Woman – Babylon,” Forever and a Day.