By Henrik Bogdan
This quantity is the 1st complete exam of 1 of the 20 th century's such a lot specific iconoclasts. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was once a examine in contradictions. Born right into a fundamentalist Christian family members and proficient 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 up to date 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 mix of non secular workouts drawn from Western eu magical ceremonies and Indic resources for meditation and yoga. This trip of self-liberation culminated in harnessing sexual strength as a paranormal self-discipline, a "sacrilization of the self" as practiced in Crowley's combined masonic workforce, the Ordo Templi Orientis. the faith Crowley created, Thelema, legitimated his position as a charismatic revelator and bring in of a brand new age of freedom. Aleister Crowley's lasting effect will be obvious within the counter-culture move of the overdue Nineteen Sixties and early Seventies and in lots of kinds of substitute spirituality and pop culture. The essays during this quantity provide an important perception into Crowley's foundational position within the examine of Western esotericism, new non secular activities, and sexuality.
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Additional info for Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism
5 Authority was vested in leading individuals, and initiates were given a rigorous and systematic training in the “rejected” knowledge of Western esotericism. They studied the symbolism of astrology, alchemy, and kabbalah; were instructed in geomantic and tarot divination; and learned the underpinnings of basic magical techniques. 6 It was in the Second Order that adherents began to access the secrets of practical or operational magic, that is, magic as a unique undertaking through which invisible forces could be influenced and controlled in order to bring about specific change.
66 These were fears that an emerging literature that opened up discussion of sexual typologies did nothing to allay. For Crowley, however, the decadent “yellow nineties,” typified by the figures of Beardsley and Wilde, were the liberating years of his youth. 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.
There is no sense, for example, that Crowley lived as Chioa Khan in the same way that both Richard Burton and T. E. Lawrence lived as Arabs. Indeed, this was never his intention. Crowley’s impersonation of a Persian prince was simply the occasion for a piece of exotic showmanship, an opportunity to dress up in a series of gorgeous silk robes and swagger about the streets of Cairo. 47 Crowley’s assumption of different identities, was, as he readily acknowledged, mere playacting. ” This was not the case with his magical identity.
Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism by Henrik Bogdan