Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism by Henrik Bogdan

By Henrik Bogdan

This quantity is the 1st finished exam of 1 of the 20 th century's such a lot certain iconoclasts. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) used to be a learn in contradictions. Born right into a fundamentalist Christian relations and knowledgeable at Cambridge, he used to be vilified as a traitor, drug addict, and debaucher, but respected as maybe the main influential philosopher in modern esotericism. relocating past the impression of latest psychology and the modernist figuring out of the occult, Crowley declared himself the revelator of a brand new age of individualism. Crowley's occult bricolage, Magick, used to be an eclectic blend of religious workouts drawn from Western eu magical ceremonies and Indic resources for meditation and yoga. This trip of self-liberation culminated in harnessing sexual energy as a mystical self-discipline, a "sacrilization of the self" as practiced in Crowley's combined masonic team, the Ordo Templi Orientis. the faith Crowley created, Thelema, legitimated his function as a charismatic revelator and bring in of a brand new age of freedom. Aleister Crowley's lasting impact will be visible within the counter-culture flow of the past due Nineteen Sixties and early Seventies and in lots of varieties of substitute spirituality and pop culture. The essays during this quantity provide an important perception into Crowley's foundational function within the examine of Western esotericism, new spiritual events, and sexuality.

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Extra resources for Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

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Aleister Crowley, later to be dubbed “the wickedest man in the world,” was in his early thirties; his companion, Victor Neuburg, had only recently graduated from Cambridge. The stated purpose of the trip was pleasure. Crowley, widely traveled and an experienced mountaineer and big-game hunter, loved North Africa and had personal reasons for wanting to be out of England. Neuburg probably had little say in the matter. Junior in years, dreamy and mystical by nature, and in awe of a man whom he both loved and admired, Neuburg was inclined to acquiesce without demur in Crowley’s various projects.

The two men lit a great fire of purification and obliterated the circle and the triangle. They had undergone a terrible ordeal. ”24 Neuburg, however, had held forbidden converse with the Dweller of the Abyss. Both men now felt that they understood the nature of the Abyss. It represented Dispersion: a terrifying chaos in which there was no center and no controlling consciousness. Its fearsome Dweller was not an individual but the personification of a magnitude of malignant forces made manifest through the massed energy of the evoking magician.

When the New Aeon of Horus beckoned in 1904, Crowley cannot have been altogether unresponsive, for The Book of the Law can be read as a hymn to decadence, while androgyny—possibly the ultimate heterodox masculinity—was an attribute that Crowley wished to claim for himself. Writing in the 1920s, Crowley maintained that he had long held the conviction that he was in certain respects both male and female. Speaking of himself in the third person, a distancing technique reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll’s disclaimer,68 Crowley notes that, while “his masculinity is above the normal,” 38 Aleist er Crowley an d West ern Esot ericism he possesses female characteristics such as slight, graceful limbs and welldeveloped breasts: There is thus a sort of hermaphroditism in his physical structure; and this is naturally expressed in his mind.

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