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Author Topic: Aleister Crowley  (Read 1457 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Aleister Crowley
« on: November 29, 2015, 03:32:48 PM »
So... do you guys have any opinion on Aleister Crowley?

I'm asking, as his name keeps coming up in biographies of artists, musicians etc. A lot of people seem to have been influenced by him... Meanwhile, I have no concrete opinion on him. Therefore, I'm curious what other people think :)

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 04:51:38 PM »

Wikipedia has an interesting article on him.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleister_Crowley

Personally, I find the idea that he may have been a British spy to be far more interesting than all the religious nonsense that he was caught up in.





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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2015, 09:48:09 PM »
He was certainly 'colorful', and I personally think that the Tarot deck that he had a hand in has some of the most intriguing artwork I've come across (although that really only speaks to his ability to pick out an illustrator).

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2015, 11:11:05 PM »
I personally think he was an eccentric who did many things just to get people talking about him...and it worked.  :P

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2015, 02:10:31 AM »
There's a very funny scene in Hemingway's A Movable Feast where young Ernest, sitting on the terrace of a Paris café with another writer, sees a guy walking sluggishly down the street and tells his acquaintance: "Look, there's Hilaire Belloc. Ford /Madox Ford/ was here earlier and said some spiteful things about him".

Friend corrects him. "Don't be a fool. That's not Belloc, that's Aleister Crowley. He's said to be the most evil man in the world."  :D

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2015, 02:13:02 AM »
As a person he was (it seems) more of a run-of-the-mill squanch than the Archimandrite of Eeeevil that contemporary legend made him out to be. (As in, he had all the prejudices one would expect of upper-classman of Victorian times, but was far from the worst the era had to offer and was capable of rising above prejudice on occasion, too.) His Thelema and other occult work makes a compelling study in the poetics of the paranormal, how a man can make the most outlandish ideas seem both convincing and even threatening to the mainstream with the sheer flair of his delivery. The history of magick is in no small part the history of showmanship and Crowley is a fine example.


Offline Zakharra

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2015, 10:21:04 AM »
 I'd never heard of him until now. The only Crowley I knew of was the main recurring villain from Supernatural.

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2015, 11:10:40 AM »
I'd never heard of him until now. The only Crowley I knew of was the main recurring villain from Supernatural.

Never read 'Good Omens'?  Crowley (possibly spelled a little differently) is the 'other half' of the buddy pair in that one.  An angel that didn't so much 'fall' as 'sauntered vaguely downwards'. 

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2015, 11:18:30 AM »
Also, years ago, there was also a (not really good) cartoon about a group of monster hunters. The group's leader was a guy named Crowley...

Obviously, all of these characters were named after Alesteir.

As a person he was (it seems) more of a run-of-the-mill squanch than the Archimandrite of Eeeevil that contemporary legend made him out to be. (As in, he had all the prejudices one would expect of upper-classman of Victorian times, but was far from the worst the era had to offer and was capable of rising above prejudice on occasion, too.) His Thelema and other occult work makes a compelling study in the poetics of the paranormal, how a man can make the most outlandish ideas seem both convincing and even threatening to the mainstream with the sheer flair of his delivery. The history of magick is in no small part the history of showmanship and Crowley is a fine example.

What's a "squanch"?

So, Cyrano, what do you think of Crowley's philosophy or occult ideas? Do they make any sense? They seem to do to many people, including such intelligent folks as Alan Moore...

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2015, 01:33:35 PM »
Jimmy Page was a big fan of course, and he famously bought Crowley's house in the English countryside sometime in the seventies and lived there for some time. A few years after Zeppelin split up there was a break-in at the house and many Zep concert tapes (made by Pagey for private use) disappeared and came on the bootleg market; I'm not sure if any Crowley memorabilia were stolen too but it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 01:34:37 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2015, 03:32:33 PM »
What's a "squanch"?

My favourite made-up epithet. Google "Rick & Morty" and "squanch." ;)

Quote
So, Cyrano, what do you think of Crowley's philosophy or occult ideas? Do they make any sense? They seem to do to many people, including such intelligent folks as Alan Moore...

Insofar as I'm familiar with him -- which isn't as far as I'd like to really say anything definitive -- his attempts to create a system and ethics of occult ideas are probably about as convincing as the field has to offer. (From what I currently know I actually find Andre Petit -- the syncretist who founded Kimbisa Santo Cristo Buen Viaje, a specific lineage of the palero religion -- more interesting and sophisticated as occultists go; he was synthesizing living traditions rather than trying to piece something together from various texts, though, so it may not be a fair comparison.) Not to say I would stretch to believing it but I can see why there are people who find it compelling.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2015, 03:42:18 PM »
Never read 'Good Omens'?  Crowley (possibly spelled a little differently) is the 'other half' of the buddy pair in that one.  An angel that didn't so much 'fall' as 'sauntered vaguely downwards'.

 Nope, never read it.

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2015, 03:59:08 PM »
Nope, never read it.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  If you like either of those two authors, I recommend it - their synergy is wonderful.

Offline Formless

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2015, 04:26:19 PM »
Never read 'Good Omens'?  Crowley (possibly spelled a little differently) is the 'other half' of the buddy pair in that one.  An angel that didn't so much 'fall' as 'sauntered vaguely downwards'.

Now I'm sold on the idea. Gonna look it up. ::)

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2015, 07:53:10 PM »
Insofar as I'm familiar with him -- which isn't as far as I'd like to really say anything definitive -- his attempts to create a system and ethics of occult ideas are probably about as convincing as the field has to offer.

Hm. What would be your opinion on Thelemic ethics, then: was Crowley proposing ideas that were moral? Immoral? Evil?

Aside from it, do you think his claims could be credible? I.e. that it's possible to summon your Holy Guardian Angel etc.?

Now I'm sold on the idea. Gonna look it up. ::)

Do look the book up, guys. "Good Omens" is, well... good stuff :)

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2015, 08:41:06 PM »
Hm. What would be your opinion on Thelemic ethics, then: was Crowley proposing ideas that were moral? Immoral? Evil?

Aside from it, do you think his claims could be credible? I.e. that it's possible to summon your Holy Guardian Angel etc.?

Do look the book up, guys. "Good Omens" is, well... good stuff :)
'
I much preferred "The Graveyard Book" I read it a lot back in school :3 was a favorite of mine.

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2015, 03:34:01 AM »
I see Crowley much more as an iconoclast and gadfly than evil.  He didn't perform human sacrifices or rape virgin antelope or something.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2015, 04:05:25 AM »
Even if he did, we would be talking about a hand full of lives, maybe a truckload or two at best along with getting some unwed pussy, man ass, having an illegitimate child, getting VD a few times and turning a few souls away from our lord and savior Jesus Christ. I think Jim Jones had him beat. Compare him to those who have been directly responsible for famines and mass murders ie. Mao, Hitler, or Stalin where deaths were counted in the tens of millions. If he is to be labeled as evil, then it should be evil with a lowercase 'e'.  :p

The man wrote fiction and passed it off to the gullible as truth. That's a fucked up thing to do, but it's really not all that uncommon when you really think about it. Religions, cults, governments and rebels do it all the time whether we are talking about using bias to sell things, political propaganda, religious indoctrination, or flat out brainwashing.



Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2015, 05:07:11 AM »
Hm. What would be your opinion on Thelemic ethics, then: was Crowley proposing ideas that were moral? Immoral? Evil?

He only acquired a reputation for "evil" by being libertine and bisexual. Apart from that his basic ideas weren't notably more moral or immoral than those associated with any form of modern neo-paganism.

Quote
Aside from it, do you think his claims could be credible? I.e. that it's possible to summon your Holy Guardian Angel etc.?

I'm a materialist, so in the basic sense I give all of that a resounding "nope."

On the other hand? Spiritual claims can intersect with truths about the mind and human motivation in surprising ways. Mind over matter. When belief is powerful enough it can produce physical phenomena like stigmata, or the symptoms of demon possession, the effect of being ridden by a loa or turned into a zombi in profoundly convincing fashion. What's happening is not that the underlying claims about these things are "true" so much as that the power of the human mind can make them appear to be true. It's in that sense that the occult is interesting.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 05:08:17 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2015, 10:45:42 AM »
I haven't really drawn a conclusion one way or the other about Crowley yet. I've known Thelemites online and talked to OTO people (or maybe it was Thelema) at a spirituality convention. They gave me a bookmark with his picture and a quote on it, as well as cupcakes. I own and sometimes read the Thoth deck (I began by ignoring the booklet that came with it, which I found supremely unhelpful), and I've partially read one of his books (I think it may have been the Book of the Law). My approach to paganism varies greatly from his with very little overlap, and I found his book hard to get my head around, but he is a fascinating man and Thelema is quite intriguing in its own way.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 10:49:23 AM by AmberStarfire »

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2015, 03:31:08 PM »
He only acquired a reputation for "evil" by being libertine and bisexual. Apart from that his basic ideas weren't notably more moral or immoral than those associated with any form of modern neo-paganism.

I've once read that Satanists (some branch of them, at least) were influenced by Crowley...

Quote
I'm a materialist, so in the basic sense I give all of that a resounding "nope."

On the other hand? Spiritual claims can intersect with truths about the mind and human motivation in surprising ways. Mind over matter. When belief is powerful enough it can produce physical phenomena like stigmata, or the symptoms of demon possession, the effect of being ridden by a loa or turned into a zombi in profoundly convincing fashion. What's happening is not that the underlying claims about these things are "true" so much as that the power of the human mind can make them appear to be true. It's in that sense that the occult is interesting.

You seem to know a lot about the occult. Let's discuss it :)

BTW. I'd like to play in a story where my character would be turned into a voodoo zombie... I've always liked White Zombie :)

I haven't really drawn a conclusion one way or the other about Crowley yet. I've known Thelemites online and talked to OTO people (or maybe it was Thelema) at a spirituality convention. They gave me a bookmark with his picture and a quote on it, as well as cupcakes. I own and sometimes read the Thoth deck (I began by ignoring the booklet that came with it, which I found supremely unhelpful), and I've partially read one of his books (I think it may have been the Book of the Law). My approach to paganism varies greatly from his with very little overlap, and I found his book hard to get my head around, but he is a fascinating man and Thelema is quite intriguing in its own way.

Would you like to elaborate on how your approach to paganism differs from Crowley's?

BTW. So, you say you read tarot? If I may ask - what's your opinion of it?

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2015, 12:22:36 AM »
I've once read that Satanists (some branch of them, at least) were influenced by Crowley...

I'd say very much so, say with the modern Church of Satanism in the States, but it's very much retroactive. He would likely never have identified himself as a Satanist per se, FWICT.

Quote
You seem to know a lot about the occult. Let's discuss it :)

Love to, but I certainly don't want to seem to be trying to come off as any sort of expert. :D It's something in which I have an amateur interest but I'm a long way off being an authority; what I know about it mostly comes from having studied religion generally in university and such spotty independent reading and study as I've managed to cobble together since. I have a particular fascination with "ATRs" (African Traditional Religions and their New World counterparts, like candomble, vodoun and especially palo mayombe) which is mostly my angle on it these days.

Quote
BTW. I'd like to play in a story where my character would be turned into a voodoo zombie... I've always liked White Zombie :)

White Zombie is probably my favourite Lugosi film. Glad to discover a fellow fan!  O8)

It's not especially trustworthy as an actual account of vodoun practice, obviously. But (and despite the racialist overtones) it's cracking good horror. I'm mostly underwhelmed by the "zombie" trope in modern culture because I don't think most of it can remotely compare with the menace of 'Murder' Legendre.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 12:38:14 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2015, 03:08:42 AM »
I'd say very much so, say with the modern Church of Satanism in the States, but it's very much retroactive. He would likely never have identified himself as a Satanist per se, FWICT.

I wonder if Thelemic ethics are similar to Satanist ethics, though? I admit that I don't agree with what LaVeyan Satanism proposes...

Quote
Love to, but I certainly don't want to seem to be trying to come off as any sort of expert. :D It's something in which I have an amateur interest but I'm a long way off being an authority; what I know about it mostly comes from having studied religion generally in university and such spotty independent reading and study as I've managed to cobble together since. I have a particular fascination with "ATRs" (African Traditional Religions and their New World counterparts, like candomble, vodoun and especially palo mayombe) which is mostly my angle on it these days.

I know almost nothing about these religions, so I'll be happy to learn more!

BTW. Do you happen to have any opinion on Grant Morrison?

Quote
White Zombie is probably my favourite Lugosi film. Glad to discover a fellow fan!  O8)

It's not especially trustworthy as an actual account of vodoun practice, obviously. But (and despite the racialist overtones) it's cracking good horror. I'm mostly underwhelmed by the "zombie" trope in modern culture because I don't think most of it can remotely compare with the menace of 'Murder' Legendre.

Oh, I certainly don't think that this movie could present Vodoun in a trustworthy way :) Still, as you said - it's a good, atmospheric movie. And, being a mind control fan in general, I've long been fascinated by the state the female lead found herself in this story. What does a zombie feel? Seriously, we could RP this :)

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Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2015, 04:07:48 AM »
Would you like to elaborate on how your approach to paganism differs from Crowley's?

BTW. So, you say you read tarot? If I may ask - what's your opinion of it?

I studied and used to practice different aspects of paganism. I approached from Stregheria and Gardnerian wicca. From there I got into Shamanism and astral projection, as well as Buddhism. I made a choice to no longer practice wicca (it contradicts my perspectives) and instead identify as pagan in a non-specific sense (I follow my own path). My approach embodies elements of Buddhism, Reiki (I trained in Reiki 1), Shamanism (shamanic journeying through meditation. I don't do it much anymore but I did extensively), and spirituality (I follow the Greek, Egyptian and Norse pantheons primarily now, but also Chinese and Italian, and others). I read Tarot  (I have for about 20 years) and the Elder Futhark runes (almost the same length of time). My favourite deck is the Mythic Tarot which is based off Greek myths, and I have a favourite rune set. I also have an interest in bindrunes.

Aleister Crowley's occultism comprises approaches that were different from my own. For instance, an emphasis on Kabbalah, which I know practically nothing about. Its symbolism comes through in the Thoth deck but I choose to ignore those meanings when I read it, and read it intuitively instead.

Personally, I wouldn't associate Thelema with Satanism at all. There is undoubtedly some crossover as there are in many pagan religions but to my senses they're very different things.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Aleister Crowley
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2015, 08:30:29 AM »
Very interesting! Could you tell me more about Shamanism, journeying and astral projection? And what is Stregheria?

Regarding the pantheons you mentioned: what do you mean by following them? Do you believe in them literally? I once talked to a girl who identified as a Hinduist, but she said that, to her, the Hindu gods were metaphores / archetypes...