By Henrik Bogdan
This quantity is the 1st accomplished exam of 1 of the 20 th century's such a lot specified iconoclasts. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was once a examine in contradictions. Born right into a fundamentalist Christian kinfolk and trained at Cambridge, he used to be vilified as a traitor, drug addict, and debaucher, but respected as possibly the main influential philosopher in modern esotericism. relocating past the impression of up to date psychology and the modernist knowing of the occult, Crowley declared himself the revelator of a brand new age of individualism. Crowley's occult bricolage, Magick, was once an eclectic blend of non secular workouts drawn from Western eu magical ceremonies and Indic assets for meditation and yoga. This trip of self-liberation culminated in harnessing sexual energy as a paranormal 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 usher in of a brand new age of freedom. Aleister Crowley's lasting impact will be noticeable within the counter-culture stream of the past due Nineteen Sixties and early Seventies and in lots of kinds of replacement spirituality and pop culture. The essays during this quantity supply an important perception into Crowley's foundational position within the examine of Western esotericism, new non secular hobbies, and sexuality.
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Extra resources for Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism
67 A poseur extraordinaire in the style of Wilde, and a man who set out to replicate in life the dark, wicked, luxurious world of the fictional Dorian Gray, Crowley consistently experimented with the inversion of dominant categories. This was as much the case with his magic as with his own sexuality and gender identity; in each case, and in different but related ways, he played on the “yellow” theme of perverse delinquency. 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.
Crowley understood much of the symbolism and began to realize that the Calls did indeed give the scryer access to an intricate but cogent and coherent universal system of other worlds and beings. But as the Calls proceeded, Crowley began increasingly to feel something very akin to fear. It was as though, he says, a hand was holding his heart while a whispering breath enveloped him in words both awful and enchanting. ”13 In order to fortify himself against growing feelings of awe and dread, he began to recite the Koran as he marched across the desert.
At its most extreme, it proposed that the mind—the seat of conscious identity—exists as a state of perpetual anomie. Whether intended or not, these new areas of research constituted an implied assault on the integrity of the rational autonomous individual. The founding of the Order of the Golden Dawn coincided with and, I would argue, directly addressed these contemporary concerns. It is surely no accident that the final flowering of the occult revival centrally involved practices such as astral travel, or that advanced magical practice taught adepts how to develop a second magical self that could conduct lengthy forays into worlds that were conceived as simultaneously inner and outer.
Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism by Henrik Bogdan